Lily of the field, and tower of alchemy
This post is a concluding chapter from the book “Manishya – On Being Human” which my friend Actaeon and I wrote and illustrated together, a few years ago.
I like to see Kabbalah and Alchemy in the historical context because – for any whose interest it quickens – it is your/our history, the recurrent surfacing of our threads of life in the broad human tapestry.
Crossroads: The Mandala of the Star, Cross and Crescent
Star Cross Crescent with Omkara of the east
SOME HISTORICAL CROSSINGS OF THE GOLDEN SEED
OUR THEME includes Christ’s parable of the Talents, any talent or potential in Reality.
In the New Testament story, (Luke, 19) three stewards were given each a talent or treasure to look after while the King was away. The first one invested his, and with it made ten more; the King on his return, rewarded his trust. The second steward made five talents and was also rewarded, but the third hid his away safely in a piece of cloth. He felt the King was a hard man who took out what he did not put in, and reaped what he had not sown. The King replied, “Take his one talent from him and give it to the one who has ten.”
In other words, the Talent is the sowing and harvesting of a golden seed. From the golden seed we grow our White Roses of forgiveness and vitality. We dare to be wise, to know, and to create.
profiles welcome across time
In 2014, we don’t have to be tourists to enter our own sacred space and bring heaven to earth down the lightning-flash.
The Knights Templar were lightning-conductors. They opened a road for the pilgrim between light and darkness. Their art transforms night into light, and in their cathedrals the Christ was uncrucified, like risen bread.
But their Order was powerful, and was feared and destroyed by the Church, though their buildings of the sanctuary still stand. A century after Chartres, the last of the Knights were hunted down by a pair of popes, and burned alive. The popes survived them by barely a year. Then the plagues attacked the body and fabric of genetics, society and politics, fracturing and fragmenting space and time. There was a charnal, collective shock in medieval Europe. From this compost grave, a flower of Renaissance would arise.
Botticelli’s Aphrodite on the wave, a body of light, is beautiful to touch and see.
Aphrodite, after Botticelli (1992)
We can trace the Talent or seed potential through history, as the Tree of Life was nurtured in the collective unconscious.
Concurrently with the Cathedral builders, during the 11th and 12th centuries in Spain, a flowering of culture occurred as Jew, Moslem and Christian lived in harmony with one another. These communities expressed freely their traditions, which developed through the teachings of the Tree. A great Jewish teacher called Nachmanides of Cordoba consolidated the ancient Tradition. It seems that the working model of the Tree with its Ten sefiroth and Twenty-two paths emerged during this period. It was reformulated from the Biblical Merkabah (Chariot) of Ezekiel’s vision, which had been conserved in the visionary vessels of the Essenes.
The Jewish people had historically been so scattered – some felt that in order for the Tradition to survive, what had always been taught verbally should now be written down. The form we have today is the ‘Kabbalah’: ‘to receive‘ in Hebrew. ‘Qaba-Allah’: ‘the house of God‘ in Arabic.
Sacred geometry – lily and rose
By 1492 the ‘golden gathering together’ ended, as the Christians dominated Spain; the Jews and the Moslems were persecuted and thrown out of the country.
The Spanish Inquisition almost annihilated the inner knowledge, wiping out the mystical aspects of Christianity and its connections to its Judaic roots and Moslem brothers and sisters. Some who survived accepted token conversion to Christianity, in order to continue working where their roots were.
Eight path Tifareth mandala: Part the waves, kiss the lips, turn the wheel, fingers touch numbers on the clock, enter the cave, find the jewel, and climb the mountain through the rainbow.
The Tradition was taken to the Medici courts of Florence; Leonardo, Michelangelo and Raphael were possible receivers of the knowledge. The Renaissance expanded this golden seed throughout the Arts and Sciences.
The Tree inspired creative work but remained secret in the background, from fear of persecution and the Inquisition. The golden seed and its alchemical symbolism found its way into the “Primaveras” and stone work of the great Italians.
After the expulsion of the Jews from Spain a revival of the Tradition took place in Safed in Northern Israel. Associated with this, are the names Moses Cordovero and Isaac Luria.
Some groups of Jews were welcomed by other European Jewish communities. The city of Thessalonika, in northern Greece, was under the rule of the Ottomam empire. Commenting that “Ferdinand of Spain was a fool for exiling the Jewish population”, the Sultan celebrated the culture of this displaced people who enriched his city. From this Jewish community emerged many healers and doctors who practised their art in the Sultans’ Courts.
The Sephardic Jews continued to live in Thessalonika until many centuries later, when they were decimated by the Nazi persecutions in 1942.
Solomon’s Cube, rosicrucean Emblem 6
Alchemy also became linked to the Teachings, with Moslems particularly adept in this science. Through the stimulus of Dhjabir Ibn Hayyon of Baghdad a scientific School arose. The Moors brought the alchemical chemistry to Europe. An English monk in 1144, Robert of Chester, translated works on alchemy, from the Arabic.
The conditions for this work were solitude, silence, patience, perseverence and discretion.
Alchemy became a part of the inner tradition. One exponent was Nostradamus whose prophetic writings reverberate through time; one of his later prophecies being:
“The two great masters will be friends, their great powers will be increased.
The Sun and Eagle will appear to be victorious.
Peace prosecuted by death, it shall be achieved.
In one night the Tree that has been long dead and withered shall grow green again.
After this war which would have lasted for a good while,
there shall be a renewed reign of Saturn and a Golden Age.
Here shall begin an age of Universal Peace – a Peace of 1000 years.”
This prophecy relates to the nature of the Tree; when it is seen and practiced as part of the living spiritual tradition, the feminine aspects of Binah (Saturn) will revive, and a Golden Age will flourish once more.
Chevalier Inconnu (1992)
In the 15th and 16th centuries, esoteric societies emerged through the Rosy Cross. They developed the Tradition from the root Sefira of the Tree, Malkuth. The aim was to square the circle and build heaven on earth: to balance the four elements alchemically: and to guard the Tree as a living symbol.
The early Rosicruceans, with a mystical connection to the Christ, developed discreetly in France, Germany and England. They offered a Utopia – a Hermetic alignment for scientists, intellectuals, artists and philosophers. Rene Descartes, Robert Boyle, Thomas Haydon and Thomas Vaughan all became exponents of the Rosicrucean Tradition. Elizabethan England witnessed a flowering of literature and plays. Francis Bacon, Shakespeare and Robert Flood were the main distributors of Hermetic knowledge. Further schools developed in England influencing Sir Isaac Newton, Christopher Wren and William Blake. During this period, writers such as John Bunyan in Pilgrims Progress and John Milton in Paradise Lost repeated the theme of the spiritual journey: our descent and ascent of the Tree of life paths, towards symbolic discovery of the eternal city.
In Blake’s hymn Jerusalem, the second verse resonates symbolically the journey of the ascent through the Sefiroth and paths to Kether:
“Bring me my bow of burning gold
Bring me my arrows of desire
Bring me my spear of clouds unfold
Bring me my chariot of fire.
I will not cease from mental fight
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England’s green and pleasant land.”
Mystics who travelled the pathways of the “Kabbalah” were known as the Merkabah riders, those who drive the chariot or vehicle to ascend to the upper worlds.
There are very interesting parallels around the Sufi teachings of Mevlana and the Mevlevis, the whirling Dervishes. The turning practice called Mukableh means “coming face to face” – an encounter with the self and God.
The two words Merkabah and Mukableh have a resonance. The Merkabah riders have the same intention of coming face to face with God through the Tree.
The golden seed, an alchemical symbol, is perceived and cultivated in the pineal centre through yoga which means “Union”. The golden seed becomes an irresistible focus, aligning the Worlds and the centuries. It grows among groups and circles of friends in the transmission, and tends to avoid publicity and large crowds.
From the fifteenth-century Renaissance culture in Europe, the cult of the individual Master took root, as the fair art of Perspective opened up. Then the Baroque broke forth. With the loss of innocence, and focus upon sensational artistic effects, the Talent became vain. Dazzling rococo and gilt surfaces, devoid of symbol or meaning, decayed into pure decoration. Power and clarity were lost behind the fig leaf -whose guilt obscured original innocence.
In the seventeenth century, the same Talent branching into physical sciences, became an urgent quest for all roads of history to meet and rediscover wisdom.
At this crossroads, the golden seed was nurtured by a regenerated Rose Cross Fraternity in Germany, and by the masonic founding fathers of America. “Our strong child” was announced in European pamphlets such as the Fama Fraternitatis, which satyrised religious intolerance, superstition and charlatans.
Telescoping the stars to earth, the New Astronomy straddled the sixteenth and seventeeth centuries with the soul’s need to re-define, verify the motions, and share the result with colleagues. A scientific community was born, inheriting from Pythagorus and from the early Renaissance a hidden truth: the Discovery always transcends – is greater than – any individual who discovers.
Discovery 1963 – painted at school
Subsequently, the Talent became channeled into a narrow band of Reason by rationalists and cynics, who “wrapped it up in a cloth”. From that confined place emerge the birth pangs of today – a multicultural crossroads, a rapidly changing global matrix. The Talent is a young bird sitting on a quantum nest of probable parables, crying “Quark!”
The shadows and distortions we experience, seem to be cast onto the screen of our life by a greater Light emerging behind them: “I am a hidden treasure, and I seek to be known.”
Our Journey into the Tree of Life, at any age or era, enquires into the soul’s origins, and with awe receives the Greater mystery – the golden Conscious seed. As we walk forth into the coming day, we may recognise and welcome these histories daily, as our own; for we are humanity. We have seen and been it all.
Part Two – the Present
See also my earlier post “Alchemy and Self-enquiry“.
Ez haim tree of life, with three granthi..
Journeying into the Tree of Life – THE GRANTHI KNOTS
THE KNIGHT (male) journeys through the mandala of the Rose (female). The Knight and the Rose symbolise our learning process from childhood. The task of the child throughout life, is to reconcile and honour his or her parents – the incarnation’s archway whose horizons expand. They, the right and left pillars of the Tree of Solomon, stand south and north. I journey through their portal, travelling from the west to the rising sun.
This is a quadriform Key to life:
“All experience is an arch where thro’
gleams that untravell’d world
whose margin fades
for ever and for ever, as I move … “
Alfred Lord Tennyson
In our shadow are rigidities of beliefs and indoctrination which devour their own tail, and become a closed circuit of births or reactive patterns of behaviour.
In alchemy, the arrow’s flight is put into reverse, and flies “upside down” into the heart of Dante’s Rose of paradise. Our attachments to “life-and-death” matters begin to drop away of their own accord. They fall out of the pockets of that powerful tarot symbol, the Hanging Man – the path of MEM, the Waters of Life. Diving into the unconscious, he smiles as he performs a cosmic headstand, treads the starry firmament, and is born again – as dew from heaven.
The personal becomes transpersonal, moving deeper into the Tree.
We reach our own interior crossroads,
where the granthi of our genetic, karmic and mental tendencies are knotted.
In Indian Yogic culture which parallels the Tree of Life, the granthis correspond to the solar plexus, the throat, and third-eye centres. Kundalini – the Shekhinah/Shakti – has to break through these knots in the course of her journey up the spine, and free their energy potential. The first is sometimes called the knot of Brahma (creator), the second that of Vishnu (sustainer), the third that of Rudra (destroyer).
Human consciousness reaches union with its own true Self, through these three states.
The first concerns personality, ancestral and genetic codes (ahamkara).
The second addresses issues still deeply engraved in the Soul Law
from previous lives, which await resolution (buddhi and ahamkara).
At the third, (beyond chit and manas, the mind) time and space dissolve, and grace prevails.
These points of tension or conflict, seek resolution. In the Tree’s Lower Face, the cutting of the first granthi of Yesod to Tifareth, across the “Red Sea” path of Hod and Netzach, frees our spiritual heart, Tifareth, from ancestral ties which bind. After we have lived along the paths forming the Soul cup, we start to understand the nature of our second granthi, – the intersection of Tifareth centre pillar with the horizontal Path of Strength – Gevurah and Hesed. Unravelling this knot, where very deep Karmic issues adhere, releases a potential to receive the Cup of divine grace: Tifareth, Binah, Hokhmah.
Conditioned tensions in the Tree’s Lower Face melt away, as our centre of gravity shifts to the heart; to cross the Abyss “beneath the Angels’ Wings”. The great Wings of Archangel Mikael open from between the shoulder blades. “As children we shall re-enter the mystery of our Heavenly Mother and Father” .
O Angel – 1988
The Soul Law
THE INCARNATIONS of the soul are a journey to expand consciousness, truth and love – through conflict towards harmony. This is what unconditional love ultimately embraces and contains. At the second granthi, we break the deeply ingrained Soul patterns of victim, persecutor, rescuer. These obscured consciousness (Tifareth), truth (Gevurah) and love (Hesed). They lay embedded for lifetimes to resolve.
Gevurah and Hesed in the Soul triad, are the feminine and masculine pillars of our individual soul Law. The soul Law is reflected in the parental Hod and Netzach to which it gravitates for an incarnatory purpose, seeking resolution. And so, appropriating a bundle of soul memory, the personal “I” – Yesod – takes shape. The soul Law breathes into our ear a Word – the essence of why we have incarnated this lifetime.
Kundalini shakti, 1988
As we are born again and pick up this live vibration, we acknowledge in ourselves, our parents, their genetic framework, their gift to us however arduous, and our way of discovery through it. If you rest against a tall beech or oak in the woods, you can listen to the Word: the golden core within. Then you may intuit how time’s ancestral concentric rings in the wood are a plane which crosses the Tree’s height, root and breadth. These are layers of the onion. Let us reach the core of our soul Law “that I am“.
This Reality moves and flowers through all our seemingly separate births, linking and drawing them together by soul osmosis. Osmosis is the law of growth. Moisture and nitrates in the ground are drawn up through the roots as sap, towards the Sun. The sap rises through the cell membranes. As nature abhors a vaccuum, each cell as it empties, draws nourishment up into itself. This is Ascension. In the branches and leaves it photosynthesises with light, and releases life-giving oxygen.
Alchemy calls this ‘the green dragon’; a sensitive extra-terrestrial onlooker may witness the flow of renewed life over the continents, as a quiver of springtime’s emerald ray. Thus, the soul’s release into Spirit from Tifareth, begins to nourish humanity.
Bearing rather than scatter the seed
whose fire liberates us,
we are the glowing lamp the Hermit holds.
We are the honey of the melting snows.
A YANTRA or sacred circle is a mandala across the stem of soul Law’s osmosis. We practice techniques such as yoga, breath work, meditation, astrology, astrocartography, déja vue, dream exploration and reincarnation regression. We enquire into our own soul Law, what it may be.
Path-working on the Tree of Life awakens the soul’s osmosis and cellular memory. Some of the jigsaw pieces fall into place. As we begin to map some coastlines of the vast interior continent, we gain compassionate access to “that untravell’d world”.
pentacle, after E.Levi
Squaring the Circle: A Yoga
CONFLICT SEEKS resolution. (See illustration below – “Mandala of the Mind’s four aspects”). Like integrating the Circle with the ellipse, we may “square our own Circle.”
squaring the circle, old illustration
There are procedures in sacred geometry for this, but in brief, we square our Circle by drawing together mind and heart organically as one, and regulating the breath. This vibrates the vagus nerve. Mind focused in the third eye centre flares like a cobra’s hood and comes to a point. It bows and dives inward. The mind immersed in the heart transcends time and space, and is the key to the opening.
Even when we know we have the key, we cannot always use it; for it comes to the hand of interior peace. By surrendering to the law of gravity which is love, we are usually guided to our roots. The deeper and higher and wider we trust and are transparent, while remaining focused in the heart centre, the simpler the opening way becomes.
Uniting Force to Formation, the Circle is squared when she becomes a garden, a landscape, an organic view of earth from within. She is seeded by Hokhmah through the door of the Queen of Nature – (the Hebrew letter for this, is DALETh).
She as Time – Binah – gives birth to Space at Hesed, over ‘the quantum abyss’ of DAAT. As in the Emerald Table of Hermes Trismegistus:
“The father is the sun, the mother the moon.
The being is carried in the belly of the wind
and the earth is its nurse.
It is the seed of all beauty throughout the universe.
The power of it is realised when it is reduced to earth.”
Manas Mandala of the Mind’s Four Aspects (2004)
On the Mandala of the Mind
OUR THOUGHT constructs formulate our consciousness. In Indian Yoga, the mind is divided into consciousness (the seer, the observer, Chit) then all the many thoughts we have (Manas). Then the choice, the discrimination to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ (Buddhi). Finally, the accumulation of conditioned memory, ego, survival concepts and belief structures (Ahankara).
If we only identify to thought in its possessive context – my work, my art, my child, my thoughts with the comparisons that this is mine, this is yours, then these thoughts will cause fragmentation and separation in time. A division occurs between the internal and the external. For what is in the present is all that can be known.
The same fracture is caused by religious beliefs. If I say ‘I am Moslem and you are a Christian”, then your beliefs and mine cause fragmentation and separation in the identification. When we empty the mind of thought, we are undivided.
sukhthai rock crysal buddha, 15th century
The “I” as sacred space takes us beyond time. In this space – the trust and transparency of the Crystal Buddha – all is Holy: all is compassion. A wise mind remains still. Time equals thought. Space is empty for the fullness. See what it is, then Be. As thinking comes to an end, we are free to love.
When freedom is not bound by thought, then that freeing is absolute. When the mind is still, that is the ending of time.
“The rest is silence.”
Hamsa Great Swan – jnana (wisdom) floats on bhakti (dedication)
How will God come today?
God came today only to be gone tomorrow
but what is in the heart of God
is also in mine
so God and I
are eternally One
My adventure invites fellow travellers. I am a poet, an artist and a seer. I welcome conversation among the PHILO SOFIA, the lovers of wisdom.
This blog is a vehicle to promote also my published work – The Sacred India Tarot (with Rohit Arya, Yogi Impressions Books) and The Dreamer in the Dream – a collection of short stories (0 Books). Watch this space.
All art and creative writing in this blog is copyright © Janeadamsart 2012-2014. May not be used for commercial purposes. May be used and shared for non-commercial means with credit to Jane Adams and a link to the web address https://janeadamsart.wordpress.com/