Anna Bonus Kingsford-From “CLOTHED WITH THE SUN”: CONCERNING THE GREEK MYSTERIES
Paul Serusier (1864-1927) ~ The Eleusinian Mysteries 1888.
Today’s sharing from the Blue House of HYGEIA is another excerpt from ‘Clothed with the Sun, being the book of the illuminations of Anna Bonus Kingsford.’ London, John M. Watkins, 1889. Edited by Edward Maitland.
‘Anna Kingsford was one of the first English women to obtain a degree in medicine, after Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, and the only medical student at the time to graduate without having experimented on a single animal. She pursued her degree in Paris, graduating in 1880 after six years of study, so that she could continue her animal advocacy from a position of authority. Her final thesis, ‘L’Alimentation Végétale de l’Homme’, was on the benefits of vegetarianism, published in English as ‘The Perfect Way in Diet’ (1881). She founded the Food Reform Society that year, travelling within the UK to talk about vegetarianism, and to Paris, Geneva, and Lausanne to speak out against animal experimentation.
Kingsford was interested in Buddhism and Gnosticism, and became active in the Theosophical movement in England, becoming president of the London Lodge of the Theosophical Society in 1883. In 1884 she founded the Hermetic Society, which lasted until 1887 when her health declined.’ (Wikipedia)
“Illumination is the Light of Wisdom, whereby a man perceiveth heavenly secrets.
Which Light is the Spirit of God within the man, showing unto him the things of God.”
[Clothed with the Sun, Illuminations (Part I), No. 9-10.]
CONCERNING THE GREEK MYSTERIES (1)
In the celebration of the mysteries of Phoibos Apollo, it was forbidden to eat anything upon which terrestrial fire had passed. Wherefore all the food of his votaries was sun-baked, and his chief sacrifice consisted in fruits from high trees ripened by the sun’s rays.
With these mysteries of Apollo were associated those of Zeus and Hera, the King and Queen, because both man and woman are admitted to the highest; and also because Eve and Adam, being thus initiated, were eaters only of fruits uncooked; and, in one of the historical senses of the allegory, Eve and Adam were the first Messengers. It was, therefore, an offence against Phoibos and Zeus for their votaries to eat anything on which fire had passed, or any fermented wine. Their wine was the pure juice of the grape drunken new, and their bread was unleavened and sun-baked.
The last Messengers must be initiated, as were Eve and Adam, into these inmost and highest mysteries of the perfect humanity, which constitute the highest of all castes, and entitle those who attain to them to sit on the golden seats. (2)
These mysteries have also an inward significance which is not hard to find.
In the mysteries of Phoibos and Zeus, the initiated attained to the condition of a grand Hierophant. (“See! I tell you all things.”) He was enlightened by the “sun,” and was in the fourth interior circle of spirits, which is that of the Christs of God. (3) To this interior circle Jesus of Nazareth aimed to pass after his resuscitation; as was implied when he said, “I will drink no more of the grape until I drink its blood new in the kingdom of God.”
In the mysteries of Hermes, the second circle, – the God who guards the Soul, – it was forbidden to eat any creature which had life, or, rather, which had seeing eyes. (4) For Hermes is the Seer. His votaries partook only of vegetable food, which might be cooked with terrestrial fire, and of wine, which might be fermented.
Next in order were the orgies of Her who rose from the sea; and in these the initiates might eat fish which are truly fish, having fins and scales, but baked with fire, not raw. Wherefore as that Goddess is the Angel of Harmony, or of the Sweet Song, the eating of fish became a symbol of brotherly love and union; and two small fishes together was the mystical type of little children dwelling together in unity or charity. (5) For fishes swim in pairs; and He who fished for men drew them unto him by love. And all fishers were under the protection of the Sea-Queen. There are two mystical truths belonging to the mysteries of Maria the Sea-Star; and they are, in their interior sense, the two fishes which Jesus imparted to the multitude. Of this I shall tell you more afterwards when I speak to you of the twelve baskets of bread. For these are the baskets which the twelve virgins carried in the divine orgies.
In the mysteries of Bacchos it was permitted to the outer circle to eat, if indeed they would, of all flesh save of the unclean. This is, they might eat of all clean beasts of the field and birds of the air. This was the fourth and lowest caste. But the votaries of Iacchos (the mystic Bacchos), having known all the higher rites, abstained from these things, though they allowed them to the multitude who are in the body only. For none of those who worshipped Dionysos (or Iacchos) were uninitiated in the rites of Demeter and Aphrodite. And for this reason there were substituted for the mysteries of Dionysos those of Ceres, the Earth Mother, in which the use of flesh was entirely prohibited. For this reason also one hears not of the mysteries of Bacchos save in connection with wine, whether fermented or not; for the interior significance of his rites had reference to the truth and meaning of things. The orgies of Ceres and Bacchos were therefore united, the Goddess being honoured in her bread, and the God in his chalice of truth. For in that these are body and spirit, solid and fluid, outer and inner, they comprise all things in earth and in heaven.
And beyond the circle of Dionysos lay yet another – that of a God who also had indeed his orgies, but these were forbidden save in certain fierce nations and barbarous times. For in the mysteries of Ares, the Man of War, they sacrificed and ate human flesh and the flesh of horses, which also war together with man. For this circle is outside the kingdom of the fourfold circles, and belongeth to the beasts of prey. And his star is red, as with the blood of the slain. But the orgies of Ares the Ram-headed no man celebrated save in war; and he who knew the God spared not his life, but freely sacrificed himself. For it was an abomination to eat at the altar of Ares in time of peace.
Yet hath Ares also his interior meaning: – O Knowledge, thou art hard of access! The Horse (which is the symbol of the intellect) dieth for thee, and the Warrior is pierced. Thou art the Man of War, and of iron are the wheels of thy chariot!
The Hebrew Scriptures describe the Lord Jehovah, or Logos, as operating as the Spirit of the fifth circle, when they speak of God as a Man of War. And the book of Wisdom (xviii, 15) thus represents Him. For the Divine Word takes many forms, appearing sometimes as one, sometimes as another, of His Seven Angels, or Elohim. These are only Seven, because this number comprises all the Spirits of God. So that when the seventh is passed, the octave begins again, and the same series of processes is repeated without, as reflects – becoming by distance weaker and weaker – of the same Seven Lights.
See that above all things you teach the doctrine of Caste. The Christians made a serious mistake in requiring the same rule of all persons. Castes are as ladders whereby to ascend from the lower to the higher. They are, properly, spiritual grades, and bear no relation to the outward condition of life. Like all other doctrines, that of caste has been materialised. The castes are four in number, and correspond to the fourfold nature of man.
The Daimons, Guardian Angels, or Genii belong to the order of Seraphs, or Serpents of Light, which surround and spring from the supreme orb. Hence the idea of the serpent as a fallen angel, the astrals being serpents of fire, springing from Hades, or the lower – the material and astral – world, which is the obverse of the upper.
Venus, or Aphrodite, is celestial Harmony, – that binding power of sympathy which purifies, enlightens, and beautifies. The Apple in her hand is the Kosmos (denoting the world sustained and redeemed by Love).
The Owl, sacred to Pallas, and the Cat to Hermes, are types of the Seer. For Wisdom and Understanding can behold things in dark places.
The Spoiling of the Egyptians has a secondary reference to the appropriation of their sacred mysteries by the Hebrews. The primary reference is to the enrichment and edification of the soul by means of the lessons obtained through the experiences of the body, symbolised as Egypt.
Air, Pallas, is the offspring of Ether, Jupiter, or original Substance in its masculine aspect. Ether is universally diffused, penetrating everywhere, or, rather, impossible to be excluded from anywhere. The whirling atoms of the densest solids revolve in ether, as do the planets in space. In a sense Ether is space.
The Soul, Persephone, is the daughter of Earth, Demeter or Motion, and of Ether, Zeus or Rest, respectively the visible and invisible. To him who knows the mysteries of Demeter or Ceres, the eating of flesh is an abomination.
These mysteries contained, among other things, the relation of the soul to the elements by which on either side it is beset, – namely, to motion and matter on the outer side, and to rest and spirit on the inner. Hence Demeter and her mysteries are of profound import, and relate to secrets the most interior. As the force which causes spirit to become manifest as matter or earth, she is the Earth-Mother and the power whereby germination occurs. Constituting all that is fixed and solid, she is creation, or manifestation through action or motion, the invisible made visible. And to her is due the phenomenal or illusive by which her daughter Persephone – or the soul – is drawn outwards and downwards. Illusion, the “fiery” or electric body generated of motion, and operating as a veil to hide the inner reality, is Maya and Glamour; and the soul following this is carried off to Hades by its ruler Pluto (the God especially of riches, themselves, illusive as products of the earth). Eating of the Mystic Pomegranate (the “Apple” of Eve), the volatile becomes alchemically fixed, the soul is incorporated with the body, and in part, at least, materialised, and is no longer “virgin” or pure, because wedded to flesh and sense. At the entreaty of her mother, who fears her total immersion in matter, and consequent final loss, Zeus grants that she may divide her existence between the two worlds or conditions, the earthly and the heavenly, being – while in the lower – Queen of the Shades or those who sleep, being unconscious of things spiritual.
Thus the volatile or astral body, which is the immediate manifestation of the soul, is the daughter – or product – of Motion; and Motion is the daughter of Time (Kronos or Saturn), and of Substance, which is Rhea, or the Holy Spirit in its feminine aspect. This last is the Great Mother, the original Panthea. The production of the material body by the fixing of the particles of the volatile body comes of the reversal of the poles of those particles through the outward tendency of the will of the individual, and its separation or divergence from the divine or central will.
The force whereby Zeus, the central spirit, produces the soul or ethereal body, and which also the soul uses to project itself still further, is the same force whereby the system is transmuted and indrawn again to its divine centre and made volatile. The force is one, it is the will and direction that are various.
In one application Persephone is the grain of wheat, Ceres the soil, and Hades the darkness which hides the seed, until under solar influence it emerges and returns to the light. It was through a misunderstanding of the mysteries of Ceres, and of the true meaning of the resurrection of the body, that the custom of burning the dead was given up for that of burying them.
The Gods of the elements, Athena (air), Poseidon (water), Hephaistos (fire), and Demeter (earth), are among the greatest, and are close to the throne, having universal sway, inasmuch as their empire is universal. (6)
(1) London, March 27, 1881. Received in sleep.
(2) See No. XXII: also Dreams and Dream-Stories, No. IX.
(3) Comp. Hymn to Phoibos, Part II, No. XI.
(4) Comp. Hermes to his Neophytes, Part II, No. XII, pt. 2.
(5) Comp. Hymn of Aphrodite, Part II, No. XIV (2).
(6) See Part II, No. XIII, pt. 2, and Appendix, note R.