The Fourth Day
by Jack Courtis
It is instructive to begin this Day, by considering the invitation to another wedding, in Matthew ch 22 v 1-14. There, a king issued an invitation to his son’s wedding, but he was scorned and insulted by the people he had invited. His retribution was terrible and he uttered the rule for admission into the Mysteries: "many are called, but few are chosen." We cannot demand admission, we must be called or invited. Even so, that is not enough. We have to pass tests of worthiness and we can still fail at an advanced stage of the proceedings. Let us see how CRC behaves.
I still lay in my bed, and leisurely surveyed the noble images and figures up and down my chamber. While doing so, I suddenly heard music of coronets, as if they had been already in procession. My page skipped out of the bed as if he had been at his wit's end and looked more like one dead than living. In what case I was then, is easily imaginable, for, said he, "The rest are already present to the King." I knew not what else to do, but weep out-right and curse my own slothfulness; yet I dressed myself, but my page was ready long before me and ran out of the chamber to see how affairs might yet stand. But he soon returned and brought with him this joyful news, that the time indeed was not yet but only I had over-slept my breakfast. The others being unwilling to waken me because of my age.
Fortunately, CRC has not insulted the king by being late for the ceremony. He has only missed his breakfast, by over-sleeping. Note the subtlety; he has fasted, not because that is his intent, but because he has been lazy. Fasting is one of the 12 Spiritual Disciplines, but it is pointless if not done for the right motive.
Now it was time for me to go with him to the fountain, where most were already assembled. With this consolation my spirit returned again, wherefore I was soon ready with my habit, and went after the page to the fountain in the aforementioned garden, where I found that the lion instead of his sword had a large tablet by him. Now having well viewed it, I found that it was taken out of the ancient monuments, and placed here for some especial honour. The inscription was somewhat worn out with age, and therefore I am minded to set it down here, just as it is, and give every one leave to consider it.
The Discipline of guidance is again emphasised. We are now back at the garden and fountain, the place of entrance to a higher realm. The lion, symbol of the Sun and therefore the Son, no longer needs the sword of right discrimination. He has a tablet and because it refers to Hermes, we can infer it is a type of Emerald Tablet. It is about the work of the Sun.
POST TOT ILLATA
GENERI HUMANO DAMNA.
MEDICINA SALUBRIS FACTUR
Bibat ex me qui potest: lavet, qui vult: turbet, qui audet:
BIBITE FRATRES, ET VIVITE
I, Hermes the Prince
After so much injury
Done to the human race,
Through Divine Council
And the help of the Arts
Made into wholesome Medicine
Drink from me who can: wash in me who likes
trouble me who dares
Drink, brothers, and live.
We are able to drink only because we have achieved this step in the mysteries. We live the higher life only because we can drink. This is the water of life spoken of in the Apocalypse ch 22 v 1&17. It is also the Elixir of Life that comes from the Fountain of Youth. The fountain of the water of life is also mentioned in the Apocalypse in ch 21 v 6. We are entitled to drink freely from it but only if we have succeeded in getting there. Whereas the Apocalypse ends with this image, CRC discovers that this is only a stage in the journey. But, this is only a necessary stage of the initiatory process. It is not by itself sufficient. Note the boldness of the mystery tradition. We are admonished to do (drink), to desire (who likes), to dare and to live. Clearly, these are the 4 steps we must now take for the next phase. We should also remember the Emerald Tablet and the 4 steps of descent.
And what of 1378? Astute readers of the Fama Fraternitatis and the Confessio Fraternitatis will realise that this is the birth year of CRC. What is the point, bearing in mind that this is an allegory? Since CRC is going to a Hermetic Wedding, is this about a Hermetic Birth? After all the author of the tablet proclaims himself to be Hermes. Hidden in the year 1378 is the code for the "birth" of CRC. The code is the sefirot on the Tree of Life. Sefira 1 is Keter. This is the primal will, the causeless cause and the prime mover. It is from here that the Divine Spark emanates. Sefira 3 is Binah, the Great Mother and the principle of creation. Keter forms the intention to create and activates Binah for that purpose. Sefira 7 is Netzach. This is the principle of desire. The point is subtle. The intent to create is not the same as a desire to do so. Desire creates karma; intent does not. Karma causes the Wheel of the Law to turn. Hence Keter is the causeless cause because it is not driven by karma or by the Law; Keter acts from intent not compulsion. Finally, Sefira 8 is Hod and the principle of intellect. This gives the power to focus desire so as to act with discipline in order to efface karma and escape the Wheel. These are just the attributes needed by someone who incarnates for the purpose of seeking initiation into the mysteries. This is the Hermetic Birth. Does it throw any light on the Virgin Birth?
This writing might well be read and understood, and may therefore fitly be here placed, because it is easier than any of the rest. Now after we had first washed ourselves at the fountain, and every man had taken a draught out of an entirely golden cup, we were once again to follow the Virgin into the hall, and there put on new apparel, which was all of cloth of gold gloriously set out with flowers. There was also given to every one another Golden Fleece, which was set about with precious stones, and various workmanship according to the utmost skill of each artificer. On it hung a weighty medal of gold, whereon were figured the sun and moon in opposition; but on the other side stood this poesie:
After drinking from a golden cup, reminiscent of the Holy Grail, CRC is dressed in new clothes (like the saints in the Apocalypse) and given a medal. Upon it, we are told, are the sun and the moon in opposition. This small comment can easily be overlooked. A koan of the western mystery tradition tells us that the Great Work is the conjunction of the sun and the moon. Here, we are told of an opposition. This is a different process. This suggests a dynamic tension between the masculine and feminine, the Above and the Below; but not their reconciliation and union. Yet again, a stage in the journey that is necessary without being sufficient.
The light of the Moon shall be as the light of the sun,
and the light of the sun shall be seven times lighter than at present.
On the back (polar opposite) of the medal is another koan. This is a verbal description of the inner sight that comes from the principle of opposition. The number 7 hints at the 7 pairs of opposites that must be reconciled by each aspirant of the mysteries. Reconciliation is the conjunction of the opposites.
Our former jewels were laid in a little casket, and committed to one of the waiters. After this the Virgin led us out in our order, where the musicians waited ready at the door, all apparelled in red velvet with white guards.
Note the red and white and remember how CRC dressed himself at the end of Day 1. This is the Hermetic path of redescent - except that he is now about to go up. A reversal of the usual flow. Why?
After which a door (which I never saw open before) to the Royal winding-stairs was unlocked.
At last, CRC is about to experience the Greater Mysteries. He is going to rise to a higher level, by a method described in the Apocalypse - through an open door.
There the Virgin led us together with the music, up three hundred and sixty five stairs;
Why is CRC led with music? Is this the Hermetic music of the spheres? And why 365 stairs? It is trite to recall that the earth takes 365 days to revolve around the sun. However, it is not trite to realise that according to the gnostics, the secret name of the Sun is Abraxas and his number by Greek gematria is 365. He is the fiery initiatory principle.
there we saw nothing but what was of extreme cost and splendid workmanship; and still the further we went, the more glorious still was the furniture, until at length at the top we came under a painted arch, where the sixty virgins attended us, all richly attired. Now as soon as they had bowed to us, we as well as we could returned our reverence. Our musicians were dispatched away, who were willing to go down the stairs again; the door was shut after them.
Royal Arch Freemasons will immediately understand the painted arch, but why this continual emphasis on virgins? This is a deep mystery and involves a degree of spiritual integrity that can only be symbolised by a sexual image. An image we constantly misunderstand. We should recall the Hermetic Birth.
After this a little bell was tolled. A beautiful Virgin came in who brought every one a wreath of laurel. Meanwhile a curtain was drawn up, where I saw the King and Queen as they sat there in their majesty, and had not yesterday's Queen so faithfully warned me, I should have forgotten myself, for what equalled this unspeakable glory to Heaven. The room glistered of gold and precious stones. The Queen's robes were such and so royally made that I was not able to behold them. And whereas I before esteemed any thing for handsome, here all things so much surpassed the rest, as the stars in heaven are elevated. In the meantime the Virgin stepped in, and so each of the virgins taking one of us by the hand, with most profound reverence presented us to the King, whereupon the Virgin began thus to speak:
The curtain that is drawn up is the veil of the mysteries being pulled aside for the privileged few, the initiates. The little bell is another small detail easily overlooked. Inner hearing enables us to discern subtle truths. CRC needs this faculty, because his eye cannot see the Queen for the blinding brilliance of her robes. This is a reference to her aura. The spiritual discipline of guidance manifests once again when a virgin holds CRC by the hand to take him to the King. Let us pause and remember that on the back of the gold medal, we are told that the moon (feminine) shall be as bright as the sun (masculine) and the sun shall be 7 times brighter. Yet here, we have the Queen so bright she cannot be seen, whilst the King is in ordinary light. Why the reversal; why the polarity? There is no logical answer to the 7 pairs of opposites. They must be lived and experienced.
"That to honour your Royal Majesties (most gracious King and Queen) these lords here present have ventured hither with peril of body and life, your Majesties have reason to rejoice, especially since the greatest part are qualified for the enlarging of your Majesties Estate and Empire, as you will find the same by a most gracious and particular examination of each of them. Herewith I was desirous to have them in humility presented to your Majesties, with most humble suit to discharge me of this my commission, and most graciously to take sufficient information from each or them, concerning both my actions and omissions." She laid down her branch upon the ground.
The initiates are presented as having braved life and limb, but they are still to be examined. There is no end to trial and testing. We can never become smug and self satisfied. There is always more to do. And courage is not enough; we need more than that.