27. The true design and method of the Gospels, together with the process of their degradation, become clear in proportion as the nature of their real subject – the Man Regenerate – is understood. In dealing with this we are met at the outset by an example of perversion, one of the most conspicuous and disastrous in the whole history of religion. This is the perversion of the doctrine of the “Incarnation.” Of this doctrine the original basis was a prophecy – or declaration of universal import founded in the nature of existence – of the means whereby, both as race and as individual, man is redeemed. Born originally of Matter and subject to the limitations of Matter, Man, according to this prophecy, is redeemed, and made superior to those limitations, by being reborn of Spirit, a process by which he is converted from a phenomenal into a substantial being, one in nature with original Deity, and having, therefore, in himself the power of life eternal. Of this perfected man the foster-father is always that which, spiritually, is called Egypt – the body or Matter, and, by derivation, the Intellect, or reason of the merely earthly mind – the mystic name of which is always “Joseph.”
On his first appearance in the drama of the soul, as set forth in the Bible, this Joseph is represented as a youth already sufficiently developed, in his affectional nature, to return good for evil and to succor his kindred; in his intellectual nature, to fill with credit posts of responsibility and to secure the confidence of his sovereign; and in his moral nature, to resist the seductions of the world. He is, thus, a type of the philosophical element, both in itself and in its relations with the State; and a representative of the rising Hebrew Mysteries. In the Gospels he reappears – like Egypt itself – aged and past the glories of his prime. And he is represented as the adoptive father only of the Man Regenerate, because this last is really the product, not of the mind, but of the soul; not of “Egypt,” but of “Israel;” not of the “man” Intellect, but of the “woman” Intuition, being “begotten” through her, not by any physical process, but by Divine spiritual operation. Nevertheless he has the benefit of the wisdom and knowledge of his “foster-father,” for he is instructed in the sacred Mysteries of Egypt, which are, indeed, one with those of Israel, only first of Egypt, – a priority denoting the precedence, in point of time, of the development of the intellect over that of the intuition. In representing Joseph as the foster-father only, and not the real father, the parable implies that man, when regenerate, is so exclusively under the influence of his soul, or Mother, as to have but a slender connection with his external part, using it only for shelter and nourishment, and such other purposes as may minister to the soul’s welfare.
28. He who would redeem and save others, must first be himself redeemed and saved. The Man Regenerate, therefore, first saves himself, by becoming regenerate. He receives, accordingly, a name expressive of this function. For, of Jesus one of the significations is Liberator. This name is given, not on the birth of the man physical, nor to the man physical, – of whose birth and name the Gospels take no note, – but to the man spiritual, on his initiation, or new birth from the material to the spiritual plane. And it is the name, not of a person, but of an Order, the Order of all those who – being regenerate and attaining perfection – find, and are called, “Christ Jesus.” (As see Eph. iii. 15.)
29. Of the miracles worked by the Regenerate Man, some are on the physical, some on the spiritual plane; for, being himself regenerate in all, he is master of the spirits of all the elements. But while the terms in which the Miracles are described are uniformly derived from the physical plane, the true value and significance of these Miracles are spiritual. That, for example, known as the Raising of Lazarus, is altogether a parable, being constructed on lines rigidly astronomical, and having an application purely spiritual. To a like category belongs also the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand. For the “loaves” given to the multitude represent the general doctrine of the lesser Mysteries, whose “grain” is of the Earth, the kingdom of Demeter, and of the outer; and the “fishes” – given after the loaves – denote the greater Mysteries, those of Aphrodite, – fishes symbolizing the element of the sea-born Queen of Love, and her dominion, the inner kingdom of the soul.
It may be noted in this relation that the Gospels represent their typical Man as at first speaking explicitly to the people, but afterwards, warned by experience, addressing them in parables only. Of the Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension, also, notwithstanding that these have a physical correspondence, the signification intended to be enforced, and which alone is valuable, is spiritual. Wherefore the Gospel narrative, though told as of an actual particular person, is a mystical history only of any person, and implies the spiritual possibilities of all persons. And, being thus, it represents, designedly, that which is general rather than that which is particular, and makes no pretence to an accuracy which is merely historical, the object being not to relate facts, but to illustrate doctrines.
34. He is then qualified to proceed to the greater Mysteries of which the final scene is the “King’s Chamber.” This, as already said, is placed at the extreme summit of the passages, and beyond the centre of the Pyramid; and its purpose is to symbolize that kingdom of heaven which the Initiate attains by what is called the Divine Marriage, an act which separates him altogether from his life of the past. The six superposed beams which compose the ceiling of this chamber denote the “six crowns” of the Man Regenerate, that is, the six acts or stages of initiation, of which three appertain to the lesser and three to the greater Mysteries. These “crowns,” therefore, are Baptism, Temptation, Passion, Burial, Resurrection, and Ascension. Of all these the ultimate object is that full and complete Redemption which, by its realization of the soul’s supreme felicity, is termed the “Marriage of the Son of God.” And in the second shaft passing upwards through the pyramid, from the topmost point of the last gallery, and pointing in one direction to the coffer in the King’s Chamber, and in the other direction to the Pole-star at it greatest altitude, may be seen symbolized the return to God of the soul, perfected and triumphant, on her final release from Matter. So that by the two pole-star-pointing shafts are typified respectively the forces centrifugal and centripetal, the Will and the Love, from the operation of which proceed Creation and Redemption.
35. Between the “Resurrection” and “Ascension” of the Man Regenerate, is an interval which – in accordance with the mystical system of making all dates which relate to the soul’s history coincide with the corresponding solar periods – is termed “Forty Days.” The actual length of the period, however, is dependent upon individual circumstance. The New Testament contains nothing in compatible with the suggestion that Jesus may have lived on the earth for many years after his “Resurrection,” and was therefore still in the body when seen of Paul. For that which occurs at the expiration of this cycle is not a quittance of the earth in the physical sense ordinarily supposed, but the complete withdrawal of the man into his own interior and celestial region. The Spirit attains the Sabbath of perfection only by attaining Rest or Quiescence; and to this Sabbath – or Nirvana – the Man Regenerate necessarily attains, sooner or later, after his “Crucifixion” and “Resurrection;” and the attainment of it constitutes his “Ascension.” There are then no longer two wills. The man has “ascended to his Father,” and he and God are One. Henceforth he is Lord of his own microcosmic universe, having the “kingdom, the power, and the glory” thereof. And all things in “heaven” and on “earth” are subject to him. “He hath put all things under his feet, that God may be all in all.”
36. But although the true signification of the Gospel narrative of the Ascension is spiritual only, the process of Redemption is not without its physical results; for every faculty is enhanced thereby to the degree ordinarily deemed “miraculous,” rendering the Subject clairvoyant and clairaudient, enabling him to impart health and recall life by the touch or by the will, to project himself in visible form through material obstructions, and to withdraw himself from sight at will. And not only is disease eliminated from and rendered impossible to his system, but his organism becomes so highly refined and vitalized that wounds, however severe, heal by first intention and even instantaneously. So that, if only for this reason, it is quite impossible that the Gospels should have intended to represent their typical regenerate man as dying, in a physical sense, of the injuries described by them as received on the cross.
37. By the Crucifixion of the Man Regenerate is denoted no physical or brief exterior act, but the culmination of a prolonged Passion, and its termination in the complete surrender of the soul. And this arrival of the “last hour” of the earthly man, or old Adam, is symbolized by the action of tasting the very dregs and lees of the cup of suffering, – the soul’s experience, that is, of the limitations of existence. Accordingly it is written: – “Jesus, knowing that all things were accomplished, said, I thirst. And they put a sponge full of vinegar upon a reed, and gave him to drink. Jesus, then, when he had tasted the vinegar, said, It is consummated. And bowing his head, he gave up the ghost.” By this exclamation is announced the emptying of that cup of spiritual bitterness which may not pass from the Christ until the dregs even be consumed. This selfsame cup it is, of which the symbol, fixed on the summit of a reed, was borne in the hand of an attendant priestess at the ceremony of final initiation as practiced in the Mysteries.
38. By this cup is represented the chalice of Existence or Incarnation, wherein is contained that Substantial Water, or Soul, which by the “marriage” of the will of the man with the Will of God, becomes the Wine of the holy Sacrament, or Communion with God. The Reed which supports this Cup is the universal rod or Staff which so constantly recurs in Hermetic Scriptures, and is at once the rod of Moses, the wand of the Magician, the sceptre of the King, the reed of the Angel, the rod of Joseph that flowers, and the caduceus of Hermes himself. For it is the symbol of Force, the Line, or Jod, by which is typified alike the creative act of projection into Matter and individualization thereby and the energy of the will – inflexible and undivided – through which the return to Spirit is accomplished and salvation achieved. Of these cup-surmounted reeds the bearers, in the Greek Mysteries, were called Canephorae, or reed bearers. And the corresponding celebration in the Gospels is appropriately described as occurring at Cana of Galilee, where, as may be gathered from Josephus, was a cave of initiation. The nature of the occasion depicted in Fig. 9 is further denoted by the symbol carried in the right hand, both of the priestess and of the candidate.
This is the Crux ansata, or handled cross, called the Cross of Osiris, and already referred to as an indispensable emblem in all religious ceremonials, in that, combining the cross with the circle, it denotes Renunciation as the means whereby Eternal Life, the object of initiation, is attained. This symbol it was which, transferred to Christian hands, became the model of the Papal Keys of the kingdom of heaven; while, mounted on four steps, or traversed by four bars, it indicated also the fourfold nature of the existence to be comprehended by those who would attain to perfection. The character of this perfection is, moreover, symbolized in the cross, in that, being formed of two transverse beams, it portrays the at-one-ment between the divine and human wills. The “new-born” is represented as overshadowed by a dove – emblem of the Holy Spirit – as is the Man Regenerate of the Gospels at his baptism of initiation. The two figures on either side of the candidate are, respectively, the male representative of Thoth or Hermes, wearing the ram’s horns – emblematic of Intelligence; and the female representative of Isis, the initiating priestess, bearing the Rosary of the Five wounds or Decades already mentioned. By the presence of these two, as representatives of the Intellect and the Intuition, is denoted the absolute necessity to the individual of perfecting himself alike in both regions – the masculine and feminine – of his nature, so that by tile coequal unfoldment of head and heart he may attain to the stature of the whole humanity. It is the man thus complete and become, spiritually, man and woman in one, that, primarily is typified by the Greeks under the dual form of Hermaphroditus, the joint child, as his name denotes, of Intelligence and Love.
39. As the last substance tasted by the Regenerate Man of the Gospels before his death on the cross, is the “vinegar” of the exhausted Chalice of the Passion, so the first food partaken by him after his resurrection is “fish,” to which some add “an honeycomb”. By these is symbolized the commencement of the new life inaugurated by the greater Mysteries. For the fish, as already stated, is the symbol of Water, and therein of the Soul, its Greek name being the monogram of the Christ and the tessera of redemption. And the honey, uniting sweetness of taste with the color of gold, and contained in the six-sided cell on “cup” of the comb, typifying the six acts of the Mysteries, – is the familiar emblem of the Land of Promise “beyond Jordan,” to which only the Man Risen can attain. For, as the River of Egypt denotes the Body, and the Euphrates the Spirit, – the redeemed man being promised the dominion of the whole region contained within these (Genesis xv, 18.) – so the Hiddekel, the Ganges, and the Jordan, in the mystical systems of their respective countries, denote the Soul, and constitute the boundary between “the wilderness” of the Material, and the “Garden” of the Spirit.