This is a transcription of the audio lecture Twenty two Arcana of Tarot and Kabbalah 09 Arcanum 9 The Hermit originally given live on Gnostic Radio, which you can download for free.
In the roots of all the ancient religions, we always see consistent symbols. From whichever part of the world the myths arise, there are consistent elements and persistent structures. This in itself indicates to us a universal root, or a great synthesis, which exists outside of the perception of our immediate awareness.
If we do a comparative analysis of all the great mythologies we find the same essential stories, symbols, structures. Gnosis explains the meanings in these ancient and ubiquitous symbols. To comprehend the meanings of those symbols walks hand in hand with work on oneself, because all the ancient mythologies are merely illustrations of aspects of our own inner consciousness, our own psychology. For us to comprehend the symbolism of the great mythologies and all the beautiful stories we have in our heritage requires that we are working sincerely towards the comprehension of our own mind. It is the consciousness itself which reveals the truths hidden in those mythologies, in those symbols.
One of the great always present, always visible symbols that we find in all of the ancient mythologies is the serpent. From any mythology, in any religion, we always find that the serpent is a core element, a core symbol. The Serpent has many levels of meaning and applies to the personal, practical work that we need to perform today. So when we look at mythologies, and we analyze religions and we try to comprehend the stories that they tell, we have to understand that the stories and mythologies are just symbols that illustrate for us fundamental psychological processes, fundamental psychological requirements and needs that the soul has in order for it to develop.
We are not saying that the mythologies lack any literal truth, because often they do have literal truth, but we are more concerned with the practical application of mythology, the actual meaning, the intent, behind the mythology.
When we look at religion, we understand from Gnosis that any religion or mystical tradition has levels. The outward appearance is the exoteric level, which is the level within which the mythologies and stories are taught to the common person, the common devotee, who receives the stories and mythologies in order to develop the beginnings of comprehension, in order to start to have parameters within which to understand the higher Truths.
And that devotee, with experience, with discipline, will gradually be introduced into the real meanings of those stories and mythologies. This is the esoteric level, where the real practical, personal meaning is imparted unto that devotee.
Throughout all the World religions and mythologies, the snake is the most prevalent symbol. In fact, if we look at all the ancient mythologies, there are more cults to the snake than any other animal, or any other form; it is the most universal symbol. We also see it is the most ancient.
In the Egyptian mythologies, the earliest symbol for the Goddess was a snake, and in Egyptian mythology Neith (Net) was the snake or serpent Goddess who is the founder of the universe and the Mother of the Sun (Ra).
I am everything which hath been,
and which is,
and which shall be,
and there hath never been any who hath uncovered my veil.
- Quoted by Plutarch in his "De Iside et Osir."
We also see in Hinduism the same structure: the ancient snake Goddess or snake deity wrapped around the world. In Hinduism or in Sanskrit, she is called Anata, which means "endless one." The symbol of ‘Anata', or the endless one, is a serpent wrapped around the world, which in the West became known as Ouroboros. And we see if we look into the previous lecture that Ouroboros is depicted at the base of the graphic, which is the serpent eating its own tail.
This primeval serpent obviously contains a potent symbolism; we see in it cycles of creation and destruction, evolution and devolution, the Wheel of Life itself. And this wheel is synonymous with the serpent, with the ancient snake. The snake is also an attribute of the Goddess Kali, the Goddess Durga.
And here we see another aspect of this essential duality of the serpent. The serpent can be creative or destructive. This duality is critical and is expressed in all the religions and mythologies. In the Bible, we see Moses raises his serpent upon a staff, and conquers the serpent of the Egyptians. So we see two serpents, one positive and one negative.
Likewise, in the biblical book of Numbers, the fiery serpents of the ‘Seraph' are sent to bite the Israelites when they are disobedient. Moses raises a bronze serpent upon a staff to heal them. So we see two serpents, or two aspects, two polarities; one positive, one negative. One creative, one destructive.
Demeter, the Greco-Roman Goddess, is also related to the serpent. Demeter is the Earth Goddess, or Mother Nature. She is related to crops and fertility. In the same way as that duality is expressed in the Goddesses, we also see the serpent related to fertility, to the corn, to the wheat.
So we see two important points about the serpent: it is dual, and it is related to the seed, to the Earth, the Earth Mother.
The Serpent is also related to death. We see in the Aztec pantheon the Divine Mother Coatlicue, who is the Goddess of death, and wears skulls. We see Kali, or Durga, both of whom are accompanied by serpents, are also related to death. So, the Mother is the source of both Death and Creation.
The Serpent in Greek mythology is also related to Zeus. In the earliest recorded forms of Zeus, he would present himself as a serpent. And in the form of the serpent, Zeus, the Father of the Gods, gave birth to Dionysus. Dionysus as you know is the God of wine, the God of ecstasy. And he is a very controversial figure, because Dionysus also is a duality. Dionysus is the God who provides ecstasy, but his ecstasy is dual. Being the child of the serpent, he reflects the duality of his father, the serpent. So the influence of Dionysus can be either positive or negative.
We also have the sacred python of the Greek mysteries, the Great Serpent, who pursued Leto when she was pregnant with Zeus' children. Python was this great serpent, the child of the God, as well. Leto escaped from Python and had her children Apollo and Artemis, who we discussed in a previous lecture. Apollo of course is the God of the Sun, the God of Light, and Truth. He went back to kill the Python, and after killing the Python in that very place he established the Oracle, which was his famous temple. The Priestesses of that temple were called ‘Pythonesses.'
The symbolism here is again the duality of the serpent. The negative serpent which has to be conquered by the hero, and upon being conquered, that same serpent empowers the hero.
We see this also in the Goddess Athena, whose symbol in her later worship was the serpent. Athena empowers the hero to descend and conquer Medusa, who is a serpent-headed Goddess. So we see the positive / negative influences of the serpent.
In some archaeological digs in Israel there have been found little brass serpents in a temple related to ‘Asharat,' who is a local fertility Goddess. Of course we know in the Bible that Moses creates a brass serpent.
The number nine of the tarot is related obviously to the serpent. The character in Hebrew ‘Tet' illustrates the serpent itself, it has the shape of the serpent, the form of the serpent. And the letter means "serpent," it symbolises the serpent. The word serpent in Hebrew is ‘nahash,' and we know in the Bible that the serpent is the tempter who appears before Adam & Eve.
So we see the ubiquity of the serpent in its dual nature throughout the Bible, throughout all these mythologies and religions that we have presented.
But the number nine in particular, this Arcanum, is pointing to the serpent for a particular reason.
When we look at the previous eight arcana, we see in each letter of the Hebrew alphabet, in each card of the Tarot, symbols which indicate certain processes of energy. Through all these characters, from one through eight, we see different ways that the energy of nature is modified, or is processing, whether in the Macrocosm or in the Microcosm, whether in the Universe or within us. And in the number nine is how that energy is defined.
From one through eight we have the ascension, the process and the flow of that force. The number nine is what provides the opportunity to define it, or in other words to polarize it.
We see of course this letter ‘Tet,' which has the shape of a serpent, but that same shape is in the letter nine, the number nine. The nine with its tail pointing down indicates something; that tail is indicating that the hermit, the initiate, has to descend, in the same way that the heroes and Gods descend in order to fulfil their mission, to fulfil their great journey, to perform their duty.
The heroes Theseus, Perseus, or Orpheus descend into the abyss, descend into the labyrinth. They are descending in order to conquer the Minotaur, the medusa, the serpent, so they may ascend again, but changed.
This is the essential meaning of Arcanum nine.
The hermit is the one who has to grasp the light, the energy we have been discussing in the Arcana one through eight, and to lift that light. In order to ascend and lift the light, the hermit has to descend into the darkness to illuminate those regions. The process is called initiation.
To "initiate" of course means "to begin." Initiation itself is a marker of a stage of a journey. We know in our exoteric traditions we have initiations related to passing into adulthood, in many cultures, in many traditions. And these traditions, these initiations or symbolic events represent the need for the soul to also pass through stages of growth, but as in any process of growth, there is pain. To descend in the nature of oneself implies pain. To descend into the darkness, to descend into the abyss, is a matter of suffering, is a matter of undergoing trials, fighting.
To achieve an initiation implies great struggle, and requires that. But initiation in truth, in its real aspect, has nothing to do with all the stories and tales that we hear about in all the new age literature. Initiation has nothing to do with physical, symbolic events; it has nothing to do with titles, badges, robes, medals, certificates, or the exchange of money. Initiation is a matter of the soul. The receipt of genuine initiation can only occur in one's consciousness by the Being, one's own inner God.
Real initiation is a process through which the soul passes.
The Master Samael Aun Weor wrote that initiation is ones own life, intensely lived, with rectitude and love. But initiation is not received by the terrestrial personality; initiation is received by the soul, by the Being.
This has to be very clear in our understanding, because the ego, the tempting serpent, wants glory.
The ego that we have wants to be recognized, wants to show itself...
Entering into these studies all of us naturally want to know how we are doing. We all have the urge to understand our own place in the work, our own place in the process of the struggles that we go through; we want to know our own level of initiation. We have the urge to see where we have been and to see where we are going. The trick is that the serpent, which resides within our own mind, uses that urge against us. The serpent tempts, but with that subtle voice. The serpent wants you, wants me, wants the hermit to become identified.
And in regard to initiation, related to this ninth Arcanum, the serpent works to say, "What have you accomplished? What have you gained with your struggles, with your pain? Are you receiving recognition? Are you receiving respect? Are others recognizing your accomplishments?" So the mind is tempted.
It is worthwhile for the student to cultivate a sense of humility, to reject this temptation, and instead to cultivate the understanding that the initiate, the walker of the path, does what he does because it is his duty. That is it. Expecting no reward, expecting no recognition, and not being identified with the results of one's own actions, one should walk because one has no other purpose.
This is the advice Krishna gives to Arjuna in the Bhagavad-gita: perform your duty; do not look for reward, for accomplishment. Do not look to the results of your action; meaning, don't become identified.
When we discuss initiation, the stages of initiation, the process of initiation, we should recall this and remember. The initiate, the soul who is walking the path, is doing it because it is one's duty; it is the purpose of being alive. The very point of existence is to develop the soul. To develop the soul is a process of initiations. Each initiation requires great efforts and sacrifices, and anyone who conquers an initiation receives congratulations and honours; and the glory is for the glory for the Being; the initiations are received by the Being, the honours are received by the Being, the powers are received by the Being, not by the human soul, not by the personality.
So why should we as a terrestrial person try to take credit for the glories of God? Who wants to take credit and be honoured and respected? Pride. And pride belongs to the devil, the ego, the tempting serpent.
The stages of initiation are quite long, and quite sophisticated. But the number nine figures significantly throughout all the processes of initiation. The hermit who grasps, understands and practices the mysteries of the number nine seeks to become a Perfect Nine.
To become a Perfect Nine means to achieve perfection and mastery. To become a Master is one thing; to achieve the first form of mastery is a good work, but is not a superior work. It is relatively easy to become a Master. But to become a Perfect Master is very difficult.
Perfection in Mastery requires absolute death of the ego - and beyond - but the number nine figures significantly in every process of initiation. To become the Perfect Nine, we have to invert ourselves - we have to stop being a Six. A six, of course, is an inverted nine. And you'll remember from the lecture on the Arcanum six that the number six is Indecision. And that graphic depicts an initiate, a person standing between two women: a virgin and a whore.
We as a terrestrial people are all sixes; we each have three sixes within, to be exact. We are a six in our mind, six in the intellect, six in our thoughts.
We are "undecided" in the mind; we are always battling back and forth between the opposites in our mind, between good and bad, between and desire and renunciation.
We are a six in our heart because we have conflicting emotions, between trying to develop and realize the virtues of the Being, such as humility and pride, between serenity and anger.
We are a six in our actions, in our impulses to act, because we are always caught in that balance, that struggle between the right thing to do and the wrong thing to do.
So you see three sixes within, which of course in the Bible represents the Beast. That Beast of the Book of Revelation is you and me. That Beast, the 666, is the result of our own psyche, tempted by the serpent, behaving in the wrong way, listening to the ego, listening to desire, listening to the personality.
So to become the Perfect Nine is to invert those sixes in ourselves, to conquer the serpent who is within.
To conquer that serpent requires that we utilize the very force of the serpent; we have to use the serpent against itself. Remember, the serpent is dual.
We see in the hand of the Divine Mother Durga a serpent. We see at the side of the Divine Mother Athena a serpent. We see in the hand of Moses a serpent, and we see in the hand of the initiate of the ninth Arcanum a rod, who is the serpent itself. That rod is the spinal column.
The serpent is the fire itself, the dragon. That fire is polarized according to how we work with it.
When we listen to the temptations of the serpent, to the seductions of sensation, whether the sensation is physical or emotional or mental, then we fall victim to those temptations and we begin to polarize the fires, which process through us, in the wrong way.
The serpent then, is the means - the power - which illuminates the lamp. We discussed in previous lectures that there are two ways to receive illumination, two ways to become Enoch, the "one who sees." You can be one who sees in the light or one who sees in the darkness.
This is related to how the nine works on the Tree of Life, which of course is a map of our own consciousness.
When we look at the structure of the Kabbalah we see a series of spheres.
The very base of this structure (or the center, in some respect) is Malkuth, the 10th sphere, which symbolizes our own physical body.
Above and below it are nine spheres each; nine spheres related to nine Heavens, nine spheres related to nine Hells, for a total of eighteen spheres.
Initiation is the process whereby the consciousness is awakened in all of them. Positive initiation, to become a Perfect Nine, to have perfection and mastery, means the Master has the power to act freely in all of the spheres, all eighteen, symbolically speaking.
These eighteen spheres are symbolized by Dante in his immortal "Comedy." We see that Dante and Virgil descend into the inferno, which has nine levels. They have to descend to the base of the Infernus, or the Klipoth, the abyss, in order to ascend to heaven. This of course is symbolic. In the same way all the heroes have to descend in order to ascend, but changed.
In the center of that base, bottom-most infernal region, Dante finds Lucifer. Master Samael Aun Weor states that in the center of the ninth sphere one finds the sign of the infinite, the holy eight. What you will notice is that that sign of the infinite is the same symbol as the Ouroboros, the serpent eating its own tail. It is a symbol of the cycle of evolution and involution, creation and destruction, birth and death.
When you reflect back on what we were saying at the beginning, that all the early Goddesses; Neef, and Anata, Nut, all these ancients symbols, Coatlicue, the Earth Goddess, the Divine Mother, the Prakriti, we see that the Divine Mother has the form of the serpent. Zeus has the form of the serpent. And that primordial ground is the process or the support, the basic function that supports all of nature, all of existence.
So when Dante descends into the ninth sphere, he finds Lucifer, who is a symbol of the same thing.
Luci-Fer, which in Latin means the bearer of light; Luce which is "light," and Fer which is "to ferry, to carry, to bear"; the bearer of light. That light is the light of the holy eight, which is the root energy that supports all existence.
The initiate then has to understand the symbol: the hermit (symbolized by Dante) walks, to descend into the ninth sphere, and there finds the Bearer of Light; from here the hermit can ascend to Heaven. The ninth sphere of course is the lowest level of Klipoth, or hell, and this is symbolic of our own mind. The initiate has to descend inside the psyche through meditation, in order to clean the stable like Hercules does, to cleanse the mind of all the elements, to conquer the Dragon, which is the mind itself, that tempting serpent.
But the ninth sphere has another application; when we count from the top of the Tree of Life downwards we find the ninth sphere is Yesod. Yesod is the vital energy, the Ethereal World. And when we apply the structure of the Tree of Life over the human body, we see that Yesod sits directly over the sexual organs. And we know very well that Yesod indicates the sexual energy, the sexual forces. So when we say that the initiate has to descend into the ninth sphere, it is an indication that in order to rectify the earth and find the Occult Stone, or the ‘VITRIOL' we have to work with the powers that are hidden in the Earth, our own body.
Samael Aun Weor also stated that in the center of the Earth is the sign of the infinite; this is pointing directly at the great power, root power, serpentine power which is hidden inside the sexual waters of Yesod, which is our own sexual energy.
Deep within the constitution of our very organism is the fire of the serpent, which has to be brought out. This is a matter of struggles and sufferings. That power is symbolized in this character of Teth, the Hebrew letter.
We have discussed in previous lectures about the process of the energies of the Holy Spirit flowing downwards along the Tree of Life. The Arcanum one through eight described those different processes. But in particular we see in six and seven: six is the Hebrew letter Vav, which represents the spinal column, also related to masculine, projective, sexual forces. The Vav of course is also related to our spine, but it symbolises the descending forces that descend down this tree into the ninth sphere in us, through the human soul.
We also have the number seven, the letter Zayin, which looks very similar to Vav, which represents the ascending forces, related to Neshemah, the Divine Soul, or feminine, receptive, sexual forces.
These two of course are also related to Adam & Eve, or Ida & Pingala. But we see a cycle of energy here, when we unite these two aspects - male and female - we come to the character Teth, which is the serpent.
The serpent then, the nine, holds that secret key to take the forces of the sex, to conquer the serpent itself. This is the great secret of the ninth sphere.
This is why in Dante's "Comedy," he states that Lucifer has a ladder on his back, and the ladder ascends and descends, in the same manner as the ladder that Jacob sees in the Bible. There is a ladder upon which the Angels are ascending or descending. That ladder is on Lucifer's back. The meaning here is that Lucifer (the Bearer of Light) is the light which or sexual power which resides in the ninth sphere, which is power of involution and evolution, the power to ascend or descend.
It is a ladder, and that ladder is the spinal column itself, and we walk that ladder according to how that energy of Teth is spent, is utilized.
I mentioned earlier that Apollo in the Greek pantheon was born along with a twin sister, Artemis. We know Apollo is the god of the Sun, and Apollo conquers the serpent Python. But his sister Artemis is a virgin, and chaste. So Artemis represents the feminine sexual energies of chastity, in other words Zayin. These sexual forces have to be brought back up for the glory of God by raising the lamp of the hermit. Apollo is Vav, the masculine force which can conquer the serpent of Python. That Serpent was threatening their Mother. This is a symbol of how our own tempting, destructive serpent threatens the well-being of our own consciousness, the well-being of our own soul, the well-being of our own spiritual development.
The initiate then has to emulate those great heroes, and descend into the ninth sphere to take the weapons provided by Athena, which is the sword and the shield. We have discussed in previous lectures, particularly in number seven, how the initiate grasps the weapons in order to conquer the serpent.
This all entails a process related to the word "Nahash." Of course, we said that in the Hebrew the word for serpent is Nahash. That same word also refers to two other meanings, both of which apply. You can call someone who is a diviner or a prophet a Nahash. You can also say "someone who is shining brass."
Now it is curious that this word Nahash, which means serpent, also means "to shine brass." When we look in the Book of Numbers, we see the Israelites disobey God, begin to doubt and question, and to rebel. God then sends "Seraph." Now this word is a little bit mysterious and the translators of the Bible have never had an exact meaning for this word Seraph, but they always put "fiery serpent" as the meaning. A Fiery Serpent that God sends to punish the Israelites who rebel.
This is a symbol or how the sexual fire causes suffering, when that fire is utilized in the wrong way. In other words, when we behave in the wrong way, the energy that God provides for our use becomes trapped in our egos, and those egos behave even more in the wrong way. So that's why we say "the Israelites rebel."
"Israel" is a compound word, which we have discussed many times, which points to the consciousness of the being.
Is-Ra-El: Isis (Divine Mother), Ra (Solar Father), and El for God. The "nation of Israel" os symbolic of the consciousness which belongs to God. When Israel is rebelling, or trapped in suffering, it is because Israel is trapped in the ego, or in other words, desire.
Our consciousness is trapped inside of slavery, inside of the ego, and our egos misbehave, they rebel. So God sends the seraph, the fiery serpents, to punish them, to make them suffer.
If you ever want to know why you are suffering, this is why: because you have inside of yourself elements which are behaving in the wrong way, or have behaved in the wrong way in the past, so you still have the disposition to behave badly. So the fiery serpent, the Seraph, punishes those elements, so they suffer. In other words, God punishes the ego. If we remain identified with our ego, then we suffer too. Unfortunately, most people only see the ego, and have no idea what the consciousness is, so all they know is suffering.
The Israelites in the story realize they have made a mistake (because of conscious remorse), and they appeal to Moses, to pray on their behalf so they can be healed. Moses does this. And God tells him, "Raise a fiery serpent upon a staff, and anyone who looks upon it will be healed." - A Serpent of Brass - Nahash.
Now in alchemy, the tradition of alchemy, we have the same symbol: "Polish the brass and burn your books." Polish the brass; this is referring to Nahash, the Brass and the Serpent.
Brass (or rather, bronze) is a compound metal. You make bronze by combining copper and tin. Copper is related to Venus, and Tin is related to Jupiter. So you see: feminine and masculine. But in order to do this, alchemically speaking, these metals have to be pure; if there are any impurities that bond does not happen. The brass cannot be created if impurities are in the furnace.
So "to polish the brass" means to combine the masculine and feminine metals and perfect the metal that arises from that combination. This is what is meant by "descend into the ninth sphere," to work in alchemy, to polish those metals. And by this means, the brazen serpent is risen upon the staff, which is the spinal column.
God tells Moses, "Make a brass serpent and raise it upon a staff, and anyone who looks upon it will be healed." The symbol here is that anyone who wants to be healed of the damage, the suffering that they've incurred because of the fiery serpents, has to work in alchemy, in other words "Transmutation."
The word "transmute" is a combination of parts. "Trans" means "across," and "mutate" means "to change." To transmute is to take something and change it across to something else. And what has the power to do that, but the power of the serpent, who is this power of evolution and involution, the power of change, the power to transform, the powers of creation and destruction.
In that process, the alchemical process, the impurities have to be destroyed, that is, the egos, the desires, all of those elements which are opposed to the divine. You see God cannot mix with pride. God cannot mix with anger; God cannot mix with lust, or fear, or envy. When we have those elements God cannot go there. God is perfect, God is virtue itself. If you mix virtue with vice what do you get? Instability, impurity, a mess.
Even though we say the energies of God, the consciousness, is trapped in the ego, it is a root energy. It is not fully developed. It is clearer if you understand that each trapped particle of consciousness is like a little seed. That seed is not developed. It is trapped.
You can also understand this in the same way that you understand heat and cold. These are two energies that act as polarities which always oppose one another, such as light and darkness. You cannot have both present; if you are in a dark room and turn on the light, the darkness has gone. Now there can be a relative level of light, so there can be a certain level of brightness. But generally speaking we understand that as soon as you bring heat to a cold environment the cold is dispelled. What we are looking for in this example is that central axis in the middle of the dual nature of any energy. When an energy is ready to act, it needs to pick one way or another. Nature is a polarity. Everything in nature is dual. Generally, energy seeks to flow in one direction of that polarity.
The same is true of qualities of the mind, qualities of heart. We understand that if we have the quality of impatience, and we continue to perpetuate this quality in ourselves, it will grow. It will grow because we feed it energy. To develop both patience and impatience at the same time is nonsensical, and is in fact a position of Indecision, of conflict. When we feel impatient, and we become identified with that impatience, all the energies that are processing through us at that time feed that impatience, so we are feeding that element, making it stronger. But if we reflect and observe ourselves and analyze that quality, we can make the decision that we need to become free of it. What we do is we begin to analyze how that quality is functioning in us, how that impatience is using our energy. We begin to look at and try to discover the quality of patience or in other words, serenity, acceptance. When we do that and we begin cultivate and utilize the quality of acceptance, the impatience is disempowered, because ultimately those two cannot co-exist. They may struggle, but with continued application the patience becomes stronger, and the impatience subsides.
The same is true in all the other aspects of our psyche.
In other words, we need to define ourselves.
This is the great power of the serpent Teth, or Nahash. Through all the processes of making ourselves from a number six, being in the middle, to a number nine, being defined, we are doing that: we are taking the power of the serpent and utilizing it according to will. Now that is a process of patience, because to polish the brass is not something that is accomplished overnight; it is accomplished in stages, little by little.
As a craftsman, as someone who produces a form of art, you cannot do that quickly. The great immortal works are produced with great conscious attention to every detail, to make them perfect.
When you look at an ancient Greek sculpture or Egyptian architecture, you become astonished.
From any point of view, all you see is perfection in those works.
The same is true of the great immortal works of music, such as the symphonies of Beethoven. As a beginner, as someone who knows nothing about music, those works are impressive, but as someone who knows a lot about music, those works are immortal, they stupefy our understanding.
The same is true of the works of the soul; the work to create the soul is to become a Master, but the work to perfect the soul is to become Immortal. It is to create a spiritual work of such of such artistic and creative genius that it defies any attempt to define it; it inspires awe.
We see this well-represented in the lives of Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, Quetzalcoatl, these Great Masters who achieved Perfection in Mastery and whose every word, whose every action demonstrated a perfection and an attention to detail.
As the hermit, as someone who is walking along the path, in those footsteps, we have to apply the same close attention to detail. To pay attention to the details, to not rush, act, but slowly, with humility, with attention to detail.
The process of initiation involves the number nine, and that nine as we said is the serpent itself, indicating the need to descend.
We have in this process, nine initiations of minor mysteries. These are tests, ordeals, requirements, that the soul has to make, to match, to prove itself.
The nine initiations of minor mysteries are also called "the probationary path." It is in these processes that the soul demonstrates fidelity, persistence, discipline, willingness to do it, the ability to take it. It is not easy. It requires persistence; it requires effort.
The Master Samael Aun Weor in his ‘Esoteric Course of Kabbalah' indicates that the nine minor mysteries are related to the nine spheres of the Klipoth. He further indicates that it is only with the conquering of the ninth minor mystery that one is prepared to enter into the ninth sphere.
This has to be understood as a symbol of the nature of initiation itself. Initiation in all its processes is a scale. We have the nine minor mysteries related to those nine infernal spheres, and we have nine major mysteries related to nine superior spheres. We have eighteen then.
The number eighteen becomes very interesting, and of course in nine weeks, we'll talk about that. But what's interesting for us today is that the number eighteen (18) contains a sign of the infinite (8), and the number one (1).
Samael Aun Weor indicated that to become a Perfect Master is to achieve perfection in all of the eighteen spheres. The eight, of course, is that symbol of the infinite, which is that energy cycling in nature and cycling throughout our organism. And the one, of course, is ‘Kether' the Innermost, the Father of the Father, and that "one" (1) is pointing upwards. But when we take that number and we apply our Kabbalistic numerology (1+8), we add one and eight and it becomes nine. There you have the perfected nine. The Perfected Nine is that soul who has conquered the nine minor and nine major initiations, and has perfected every aspect of the psyche.
Going further than that, what is also interesting is that if you were to number all these spheres, one though nine below, and one through nine above, you start to do a little math, and you see that the number nine multiplied always resolves back to the number nine. 9x1, 9x2, 9x3, right? In each case, the resulting number adds back up to nine again.
There is something significant in that. We know that Kabbalah is the science of numbers; this is no accident. This is something inherent in the structure of creation. Speak to any mathematician and they will tell you that such numerical structures go very deep into the nature of everything that exists.
To become the Perfected Nine is to have completely conquered the serpent. To conquer that serpent means to fully extract from the serpent itself all of its fire, all of its forces, and control it, thereby becoming an absolute conqueror of the ninth sphere.
The Guardian of the ninth sphere, the one who tempts us through that process, is of course the serpent itself. We know that serpent by another name; it is ‘Shatan', or Satan the tempter.
Shatan or Satan is our own psyche inverted, trapped in desire. And for us to conquer that serpent requires great works, but from moment to moment.
We don't conquer the serpent in the future. It is not something that you will do one day, someday when you have time. The serpent is active now. Shatan or "the enemy within" is working inside of you right now. To conquer that serpent starts now by being attentive, by being watchful.
The serpent tempts through thoughts, through feelings, through impulses, impulses to act. And the serpent's voice is subtle.
In fact, in the book of Genesis that particular word is emphasized: "...and the serpent was subtle..."
That subtlety occurs because we hear that voice as if it were our own. The voice of the serpent is subtle because it sounds like ourselves. This is the great difficulty. The Initiate has to learn to discriminate between the voice of the serpent or Shatan, and the voice of the Being, the voice of God. That discrimination comes through experience, comes through meditation, and it comes through the forces of the serpent harnessed in the right way.
When we work in the ninth sphere in the processes of transmutation, we also call transmutation "sublimation"; we are taking something course or dense and making it into something refined.
This isn't something that happens automatically. If we observe nature, just in general, we see that in order for something dense to become something more refined you have to apply pressure. In nature this happens when you leave any compound body within the elements of nature, and with time and pressure that compound body will break down. If you apply great pressure to coal it becomes a diamond. To become a Perfect Nine is to become a diamond soul, a "Vajrasattva."
A Vajrasattva does not arise on its own, it does not arise as a matter of course, it does not come about easily. It comes about because of the application of pressure.
In the ninth sphere, there is tremendous pressure. If you descend into the heart of the Earth, you have all the forces of the Earth compressed into that one point.
And Samael Aun Weor indicated that in the exact center of the heart of the Earth is the sign of the infinite. And the compound pressure of all of the forces, of all of the spheres, meet in exactly the center of the sign of the infinite.
This is the force that the initiate has to harness; this is not easy. This means to work with the sexual energy, to withstand great pressure, tremendous forces in all the levels of the psyche and to harness that force, to take hold of it.
This is well-symbolized in one of the Greek myths; I believe it is Hercules who has to fight the River God (Achelous), and the River God is a serpent. This God of the waters begins to change itself into all kinds of horrifying forms, in order to scare the hero away, but Hercules holds on, eventually conquering it. What is symbolised there is exactly the process that happens to the initiate who tries to work in the ninth sphere.
When you try to grab a hold of that force, it does everything it can to dissuade you, producing all kinds of appearances. This is the nature of the tempting serpent, and those appearances are very convincing. This is the subtlety of that serpent, to produce all kinds of phenomenal displays that look real, that feel real, that taste real. And we are easily fooled.
We are fooled because we have pride, because we like to feel special, we like to feel superior, we like to be recognized.
We are fooled because we have envy, we feel we deserve what someone else has, we want what they have.
We are fooled because we have fear; we want security, we are afraid to be poor, we are afraid to be rejected.
So when we work with those forces in the ninth sphere, Shatan, the serpent we have inside, produces all kinds of appearances in the field of life. People that tell us what we are doing is crazy, People that tell us what we are doing is wrong. People come to us that want us to be a Great Prophet, who want to worship us, or follow us. Other people appear who reject us absolutely, and then we feel maybe we are doing the wrong thing.
The Serpent shakes the mind, shakes the processes of thought, shakes our heart, shakes our impulse to act, shakes us in the sex, shakes us in our instinct.
The Warrior, the Initiate, has to withstand that pressure in order to conquer the serpent. The Initiate has to have the ability to receive all these impressions, all these difficulties, all of these problems without becoming identified.
The Buddha said, "Praise and blame, gain and loss will come and go like a wind. To be happy, rest like a great tree in the midst of them all." And that is the clue to move ahead in processes of Initiation. Work in the ninth sphere and develop acceptance.
The Master Samael Aun Weor stated, "Let us abandon ourselves to the flow of life." This has to understood in the right context. He is not saying we should just go along with the world; quite the opposite. We have to fight against the current of humanity, because humanity is following the current of devolution, or flowing into the abyss, to be dissolved by Nature.
To follow the current of our own life means to have the acceptance to receive what life brings, to not fight against the ordeals and struggles that life brings, because those ordeals and struggles are precisely what we need. Life presents us with what we deserve, because of our karma, because of our past actions.
The initiate who develops acceptance, learns to receive all of the impressions of life without struggle, without fighting. To accept what life brings, to transform that consciously. This requires a lot of discipline, and more than that, it requires a lot of meditation.
The only way, the only factor that we have that can give us that capacity is the Being. Our own inner Being. But he can only do that if he has the energy; we have to provide that. We have to provide the energies transmuted, transformed. So we learn how to transform our sexual forces in the ninth sphere with alchemy; and we learn how to meditate. These two are the basis of the path itself, to move ahead. Learning how to meditate, learning how to transform the energies, that begins everything. Make those energies active. To actually give them cause to produce results, there is another factor.
There are many who achieve certain degrees of realization, or in other words, reach certain levels of initiation, who know how to transform the energies of their body, those sacred forces, and know about meditation. So they are able to achieve a certain degree, but there is one thing missing.
Life reveals much about our inner progress, if we are perceptive. We can see something of how we are doing, if we want to measure our progress on the path. Yes, we need to be aware of pride, but we also need to be aware of becoming stuck. If we are stagnant, if we feel stuck, if we feel we are working in alchemy, we are our transmuting our forces sexually speaking, we are trying to meditate, even having success in meditation, and yet life is stagnant, life is dull, then there is a quote we can look to from the Master Samael Aun Weor. Master Samael Aun Weor states: "One who is owed nothing is paid nothing."
There are three factors. We need to transmute the sexual forces, which provide birth of the soul, birth in the ninth sphere. It also provides for death. Death of those aggregates which cause suffering.
We need to meditate which is also the same: Death and Birth. But we also need Sacrifice, which is the third factor.
Initiations are payments that one has to earn. Initiations are payments given for assisting others.
That is why I say there are plenty who know how to meditate, who know how to transmute but achieve very little in terms of initiation, because they do not sacrifice themselves for others.
Now let us make an important distinction; they may perform service, they may be helpful, but not performing sacrifice.
To understand sacrifice, we can look to the Master Jesus, who performed a tremendous sacrifice.
Sacrifice is not something that can happen mechanically. It is not something that can happen with great comfort. Sacrifice requires giving up something.
A person who donates some money to a charity or to the poor from time to time is performing a service, which is good. But that is not sacrifice. That is service.
To give up something for someone else, to take a great risk, to take a serious chance, to extend oneself beyond what is expected; that is sacrifice.
And that is how initiations are paid. To sacrifice is to go beyond mere service. When sacrifices are performed, it is an act of giving, but it is an act of giving without any expectation of return. It is an act of giving out of compassion, out of love.
Service that is performed out of a sense of duty is good, but it is not equal to sacrifice. So mere service does not earn initiations, particularly higher up the scale you begin to look.
The greater the degree of initiation you aspire towards, the greater degree of sacrifice is required.
Think about that.
The amount of sacrifice required to receive the payments of the minor initiations is quite small, but the amount of sacrifice required to receive the payments of the major initiations is quite large, it is quite difficult. And the higher up the scale you look the greater the degree of sacrifice is required.
This is understandable when you grasp that to enter into the higher degrees of initiation is only possible on the Straight Path, the path of the Bodhisattva. On that path one is incarnating Adam Christ within oneself, and when we look at the examples of the sacrifices performed by the great Christified Masters then we can begin to see the types of sacrifices that will be required of us.
Whether they are sacrifices which are visible to others, or invisible, they will nonetheless be required.
To enter into the ninth sphere is to seek to be born again. There is a law of occultism that says you can only exit through the door you entered. The inverse is true.
We were cast out of Eden through one door; that door is sexuality. We can only return to Eden through that door. And the same way, on the inverse side, the seed enters the womb and gestates for nine months until the child is formed and then that child leaves the womb through the same door.
The same is true in initiation; the initiate, the consciousness, as a seed, as an essence enters into the ninth sphere, and gestates there. Through the processes of the initiations, the nine minor, the nine major. And in the end the soul is born and exits the ninth sphere.
The meaning there is that to work in the ninth sphere, to work in Yesod, is to work with the sexual forces in order to be born again as a soul. This is the meaning of Initiation.
Initiation is to develop, degree by degree, in a sense like the nine months of pregnancy until that soul is ready to be born. And when that soul is born, to achieve the second birth, the soul leaves the ninth sphere and is born. Meaning that at a certain stage of development the initiate abandons sexuality, abandons the sexual act.
This is how the initiate, the hermit in those stages of initiation is recovering all the parts of the Being, the nation of Israel, which is trapped, and giving those back to God, back to the Being.
We meditate on pride, we comprehend pride, and we remove consciousness from pride. Humility is born. Little by little those virtues are established once again. All the parts of the Being are recovered. Then those parts of the Being are perfected, in later works. But all of those forces, all of those energies, are returned back to the Being in the form of initiations, which the Being receives.
When the Being receives all of that, the Soul is born again as a Twice-born. The Being is the owner of all those virtues, all those powers, all those glories and is the owner of sex itself, which is the source of that energy. Meaning that the number nine, that hermit, cannot perform the sexual act. The initiate abandons the ninth sphere.
Now this is where some subtleties come in. Through that process of initiation, recovering all those parts of the Being, the Being is growing in grandeur, becoming more perfected. And when that process is complete there is a certain degree of objective knowledge that has been acquired by the soul, but there are degrees of objective knowledge, there are levels of the Being. In order for that Monad to grow more, the Monad needs more knowledge. To have more objective knowledge, to have greater degrees of objective reasoning, there has to be more experience. Meaning the initiate, the hermit may have to return, to descend again. This is why we state that the process of initiation is scales upon scales. You can imagine a great spiral. So the initiate who achieves Self-realization may yet have to go further.
Now this is where we have to define between two important terms in occultism; to descend, and to fall.
If the Being, if the Monad, if the Father commands it, He commands his human soul to descend. That human soul will return once again and incarnate in order to gain experience, in order to gather knowledge, in order to achieve greater degrees of objective reasoning, but this is under the command of the Being. Some Masters descend once again to incarnate and to acquire more knowledge. However, some fall.
To fall is to enter again into the ninth sphere, but without the permission of the Being. When that happens the soul loses everything! The soul, the human soul, loses everything. The Being remains the Being. The Being remains at the level of development that the Being has, but the human soul falls. This is important to understand clearly. The Being never loses his development, but the human soul, the terrestrial person, can lose everything.
The one who falls loses all the development of the soul and the consciousness; the Being keeps it. The human soul then has to fight to recover it and each time it is more difficult. Meaning that the initiate who falls, who goes against the directions of the Being, revives the ego. The entire ego is re-established, is re-invigorated. So the initiate has to start over, yet, with even more karma.
The entire ego, all the mistakes of the past are revived with additional karma, with additional complications, with more struggle, more pain.
There are many who have fallen, many. And they have to fight in order to regain what they have lost. So they have to enter again into the ninth sphere, and recapitulate all of the initiations that they threw away, but with the additional karma they have acquired.
Are there any questions?
Q: Tell us about the ‘reflection' in the sphere of Lilith and Nahemah. It says, "The inhabitants of the sphere of Lilith do not have any hope of salvation, whereas the inhabitants of the sphere of Nahemah still have hope of redemption." Now, where we thought that sinning against the Holy Spirit is a non-negotiating karma, so how is that possible?
A: This has to be understood in context. Karma is the law of cause and effect; when you produce a cause, there is a consequence for that, but there are degrees.
The sins against the Holy Spirit are related to sins of fornication, sins of adultery, abuse of sexual forces. And when the teachings say that those sins "cannot be forgiven" it means the consequences of those actions have to be fulfilled. It does not mean that you are eternally damned; it means that if you produce that action then you have to withstand the consequences of that action. But once that consequence is accomplished, the debt is paid.
There is no such thing as eternal damnation. This was invented by manipulative people, in order to manipulate the fear of others.
Damnation as eternal does not fit in the context of a loving God. If there were eternal damnation, then God would be a tyrant. God is not a tyrant.
So you have to understand that in context. The teachings say that the door to redemption is always there, meaning that we can always be redeemed. But much of the time redemption comes at a cost, which is pain.
Karma is not forgiven just because. Karma is not forgiven just because we make a promise. We may say, "Oh, I promise never to do that again, please forgive me"; that is not good enough. We all make promises and we fail.
Karma is forgiven when the producer of the action does not exist. Perhaps you have committed a particular crime, lets say, "being jealous," and you have a problem with jealousy, and that jealousy causes you to behave in the wrong way. You have acquired karma because of that activity, certain karmic consequences and pain and suffering that you will have to sustain. If you destroy the producer of that action, which is an ego of jealousy, then that producer is no longer there; therefore the action of jealousy cannot occur anymore. So the residue, the karmic results that you still owe, can be forgiven. And they can be forgiven either by your Divine Mother, or by the Courts of the Law.
This applies in general to many of the processes of the ego, but when it comes to crimes of sexuality, those crimes have to be paid for by facing the consequences of those crimes; those crimes cannot be erased. Even if you destroyed the ego of lust that produced the action, you still have to pay the consequences of the action.
Q: When you say there is no hope for salvation, maybe it is that ... ... homosexuality, or acts of abortion have no chance of salvation...
A: That is exactly what I am trying to say in longer terms, which is that the salvation from those types of activities occurs when the debts are paid.
It means that there is no hope to escape the debt. You cannot be saved from those debts, that is all. You have to pay them.
Q: How exactly does one stand to gain more knowledge, does this mean the human soul develops the ego again?
A: Ok, again we have to define the difference between descent and fall. The question is "How does the human soul descend in order to gain more knowledge?"
In a "descent" the human soul descends in order to gain knowledge; this does not mean the ego is revived. Now there will be work to be done, which applies to the level of being of that particular initiate.
You have to understand that even when the ego is dead, there is work to do. The end of the ego is not the end of the work. In some respects you can say that the end of the ego is beginning of the work. In some ways you can say that.
So if a human soul descends, meaning that they do not fall, they enter again into incarnation in order to develop more qualities of the Being. Which, is a different form of work than what we are doing, because we have the ego alive.
Q: If we killed the ego during our lifetimes then how can it come back when the human soul falls again, would a new ego be created instead if the old ego is killed?
A: The question is, "If we fall how is the ego reborn? Doesn't the ego die permanently when it is killed?"
The answer is related to the atomic strata that form our psyche.
In a sense this is one of the great mysteries in occultism; the reviving of the ego occurs because of karma, and it occurs because the energy is transformed in the wrong way, and the reviving of the ego has to do with the way nature recapitulates things.
There are certain laws in Nature that determine how things arise and fall. When you return once again to the wrong action and you fall, Nature automatically revives the latent seeds, or the latent
forces which reside in the depths of the psyche. Remember the symbol of the phoenix, who is born from mere ash.
It is kind of difficult to explain more simply than that, for me.
Q: What does the number 999 represent? Is this a perfected Master?
A: Where is that number 999 coming from?
Q: I don't know; let me ask you one more then, more on this 999. In the ‘Initiatic Path of Tarot and Kabbalah, Samael mentions the Kabbalah and ... ... inner urgency and the fundamental tendency, what would it mean if these where all nine?
A: The question is about the "fundamental tendency, the inner urgancy and the keynote," which the Master Samael describes in ‘Tarot and Kabbalah,' and what if all these resolved to the number nine.
That means you need to work in the ninth sphere, you need to be the hermit, simple.
Those numbers present subtle meanings that your soul has to comprehend. Your intellect will struggle, so you have to meditate; you have to meditate on the numbers that are resolved from that type of mathematics.
Q: Talking about sacrifice, would that sacrifice ever be, say, to help someone else you would sacrifice your own spiritual practice.
A: In what way?
Q: In say, time and energy.
A: Sure, sacrifice requires that you are giving up something. You can be presented temptations that appear to be sacrificial, like you may be tempted to do something that you would think could be a sacrifice, but actually be the wrong thing. That's the difficulty.
Many initiates fall into that trap; thinking they are performing sacrifice for others, for example, by teaching, lets say, which is good. We need people to teach. But the serpent can tempt the instructor exactly in that place, in the area of teaching, through pride, through lust, through envy. So what seems on the surface to be a good act of sacrifice, can actually become wrong, because the initiate is falling under the hypnotism of that serpent.
Q: You said the voice of the ego, the serpent, is very subtle. The voice of the Being must be even, exponentially more subtle? So I guess the question that I am saying, like the power of the ego is how subtle it is, because we don't even understand, don't even realise what it actually is ... ...?
A: The question is; how do we discriminate between the subtle voice of the serpent and the subtle voice of the Being?
That comes with the experience. It starts with knowledge. To comprehend the Being, you have to learn to speak the language of the Being. If your own inner God is trying to communicate to you, you have to understand that language first. That language is Kabbalah; that is why we study Kabbalah. But the capacity to hear that, to have the Kabel, to receive that, comes through the other tree, which is Daath, Alchemy.
So the energy that we transmute fuels our capacity to hear the voice of the Being, and we channel that force and energy through meditation. We learn to express that willpower and the receptive qualities, masculine / feminine, in order to receive that voice, to hear that voice.
So knowledge is the first part. Study the Kabbalah, study those two trees; Kabbalah and Alchemy, and to understand them in the light of our own experience.
It's a long process, and to comprehend the Being is Self-realization itself. So along the way, along the stages of initiation we are gathering and gaining degree by degree more and more understanding of how the Being communicates, and how the serpent tempts us. Those two are hand in hand.
What happens is this; when you are meditating on an ego, you are meditating on yourself, the processes to analyze ones own behaviour. And to do that, you have to understand what is right and what is wrong.
But the sense of knowing that does not come from any book, it does not come from any moral code. We have some guidance when we have the Ten Commandments, and we have the precepts, we have different kinds of rules that give us a general idea, and that is a form of knowledge.
But to really know right from wrong is a matter of knowing with the consciousness, knowing with the heart, knowing through intuition. And again that comes from transmutation and meditation; those two qualities develop intuition in us.
And I'm putting it to you in that way because to know what is right and to know what is wrong is individual. It is to know according to your own Being and according to your own station in each moment.
An action that is right for me at this point in my life would be wrong for you, and vice versa.
As you analyze yourself and you look at the ego and you observe a particular event, you are analyzing it to see, "what were the elements that were influencing my psyche at that moment."
Yes, the point is to find out where we were identified, true. We have to discover that in the three brains. So if we had a conflict with someone and we became irritated, we have to meditate. "Why did I become irritated with this person?"
But more than that, we have to also see "Did I know better? Was something telling me the right thing to do and I ignored it? Did I have a feeling that I ignored..." which would have been the voice of the Being, potentially.
So we have to analyze both sides. "What did I do wrong," and then we have to say "What should I have done? What would have been the right behaviour?"
It is from this kind of analysis in meditation that you can start to learn to distinguish between the tastes, individually, in terms of what is right and wrong. And again it will change from situation to situation, and moment to moment according to the nature of your own situation and your own idiosyncrasy. This is subtle art.
Q: What exactly does Vajrasattva mean?
A: How long of an answer do you want?
Well, the short version is, it means, "diamond soul." But it means a lot more than that if you break it down. In another lecture we are going to talk about Vajra and what that means. This is a term that has a lot of significance.
Sattva means "essence of," or "embodiment of." So a Vajrasattva means "the essence of Vajra."
Superficially, Vajra can mean "diamond," sort of "essence of the diamond." It can also mean thunderbolt, so "essence of thunder."
So this is referring to the Being, Zeus; the God of thunder and lightning, Thor, too.