The Fifth Day
by Jack Courtis
Meantime my companions had arisen from sleep too and were again in the hall. To whom I also joined myself, making as if I were then first risen. After Cupid had carefully made all fast again, he came likewise to us, and would needs have me show him my hand, where he still found a little drop of blood, at which he heartily laughed, and bade the rest have a care of me, as I would shortly end my days. We all wondered how Cupid could be so merry, and have no sense at all of the yesterday’s sad passages. But he was untroubled.
The companions of CRC were asleep, that is, did not reach his level of consciousness whilst he was undergoing his rite. But why is Cupid joking and laughing? Particularly when he tells CRC that he will shortly end his days? Paradox is a useful clue to a deep issue. CRC is about to experience the "death" of initiation. That is because death and initiation have a similar result, a transcendence of the limitations of the consciousness imposed upon us by our vehicle of consciousness, our Body. Freemasons will be familiar with the death and resurrection ritual.
Now our president had in the meantime made herself ready for the journey, coming in full black velvet, yet she still held her branch of laurel. Her virgins too had their branches. Now all things being in readiness, the Virgin bid us first drink somewhat, and prepare ourselves for the coming procession, wherefore we did not tarry but followed her out of the hall into the court. In the court, there stood six coffins. My companions thought nothing else except that the six Royal Persons lay in them, but I well observed the contrivance. Yet I knew not what was to be done with these other coffins. At each coffin, there stood eight muffled men.
With all the symbolism about love, what can we infer about the 6 coffins each with 8 men? We can reasonably assume that love is related to the heart of the Tree, that is, Tiferet. In fact, there are 6 sefirot (including Da’at) surrounding Tiferet. Further, there are 8 paths that lead to Tiferet. Since each of us can be thought to function like the Tree because we are made in the image and likeness, then we too have a Tiferet to which, lead 8 spiritual functions. One of those functions is the sword of right discrimination, the path Zain, from Binah to Tiferet.
Now as soon as the music began (it was so mournful a tune, that I was astounded at it) they took up the coffins, and we (as we were ordered) followed after them into the aforementioned garden. In the midst of the garden, there was erected a wooden edifice, having on the roof a glorious crown with seven supporting columns. Within it were formed six sepulchres and by each of them a stone, and in the middle, it had a round hollow rising stone. In these graves the coffins were quietly and with many ceremonies laid. The stones were shoved over them and they were secured. The little chest was to lie in the middle. Herewith my companions were deceived, for they imagined no other but that the dead corpses were there. Upon the top of all there was a great flag, having a Phoenix painted on it, perhaps therewith the more to delude us. Here I had great occasion to thank God that I had seen more than the rest.
The glorious crown suggests Keter and the 7 columns are the 7 vertical paths on the Tree of Life. The little chest occupies the position of Tiferet and the 6 sepulchres are the 6 sefirot surrounding it. What is all this about? The phoenix flag is the clue, because the phoenix is the bird that resurrects itself from its own ashes. Furthermore, the phoenix is the 5th of the alchemical birds and represents the Quintessence.
Now after the funerals were done, the Virgin, having placed herself upon the middle-most stone, made a short oration, that we should be constant to our engagements, and not repine at the pains we were hereafter to undergo, but be helpful in restoring the present buried Royal Persons to life again, and therefore without delay to rise up with her, to make a journey to the tower of Olympus, where we should fetch medicines useful and necessary for this purpose. This we soon agreed to, and followed her through another little door rather close to the shore.
Sitting on the 7th stone, in the midst of the 7 columns, the virgin speaks of the universal medicine of the alchemists, the Elixir of Life. It has to be acquired from a tower that will be found to have 7 levels. We are entitled to consider the 7 pairs of opposites that have to be reconciled. It is clear that the Elixir of Life is the fruit of the Tree of Life. Hence it will be used to restore to life, the 7 people currently presented as being dead. Another little door is opened. These are secrets of initiation to which we are not admitted until we have done the work.
There the seven previously mentioned ships stood empty, the ones which all the virgins stuck up their laurel branches. After they had distributed us in the six ships, they charged us in God’s name to begin our voyage, and looked upon us as long as they could have us in sight, after which they, with all the watch-men, returned into the castle. Our ships had each of them a peculiar symbol. Five of them indeed had the five regular bodies, but mine (the one in which the Virgin sat), carried a globe. Thus we sailed on in a singular order, and each had only two mariners. First in line was the ship a, in which, I believed the Moor lay. On board, there were twelve musicians, who played excellent well, and its symbol was a pyramid. Next followed three ships abreast, b, c, and d. I sat in vessel c. Following these there sailed the two fairest and stateliest ships, e and f, ornamented with many branches of laurel, but having no passengers in them. The symbols decorating their flags were the sun and moon. In the rear of the line, the ship g, bearing forty virgins. After passing over this lake, we came through a narrow strait, into the right sea, where all the sirens,
The 7 ships emphasise the 7 pairs of opposites, because the ships are the vehicles for the inner journey about to begin. They are vehicles in consciousness, not vehicles of consciousness. The distinction is subtle and important. Vehicles in consciousness are thoughtforms that we create and use for meditation, visualisation and projection of consciousness, in the inner journey, as part of the process of personal transformation. Vehicles of consciousness (Body, Soul, Spirit) are not our creation. They are made by the One who created us.
Since the inner journey has now begun, let us look at the ships. The 5 with the regular bodies, are symbolised by the 5 lower astrological planets; Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Venus, Mercury. This reminds us of the 5 sefirot (including Da’at) on the central pillar of the Tree of Life. Two other ships symbolise polarity by the Sun and the Moon. The first ship has 12 musicians. This is a reference to the 12 signs of the zodiac and behind them, to the 12 Spiritual Disciplines. By implication, the musicians are an orchestra, that is, they must play together to produce a pleasing and harmonious result. That is what we must do with the Disciplines, use them together for a unified purpose. The Disciplines are all in the first ship, because we must do them all to a minimum standard, as the first major phase of our spiritual journey. All else follows behind. This is the ship of the pyramid. What does this mean? A pyramid shows 4 faces plus 8 edges. A total of 12 features. This reinforces the reference to the 12, above. Furthermore, a pyramid is a place where the polarity of death and resurrection is enacted. The last ship has 40 virgins. There are 4 levels of reality; Atzilut/Emanation, Briah/Creation, Yetzirah/Formation, Assiah/Action. On each level there is a Tree of Life and each Tree has 10 sefirot. There are 40 sefirot in all.
The ships are set out like this:
They are like 2 triangles with apexes pointing in opposite directions; polarity again. Since there are 7 ships, the pairs of opposites are again emphasised. Perhaps we should review them at this stage: