THEOSOPHY, Vol. 44, No. 9, July, 1956
(Pages 413-417; Size: 15K)
THE SERPENT'S DWELLING(1)
EGYPT -- dark, sublime, mysterious -- has never yet yielded up all her secrets. This is true today, especially of her colossal architecture, many of the mysteries of which lie unresurrected with the memories of those master masons who framed them. In 1888 H. P. Blavatsky said of descending Egypt: "One would imagine that, thanks to the numerous records of the Egyptian theogony and mysteries preserved in the classics, and in a number of the ancient writers, the rites and dogmas of Pharaonic Egypt ought to be well understood at least; better, at any rate, than the too abstruse philosophies and Pantheism of India, of whose religion and language Europe had hardly any idea before the beginning of the present century. Along the Nile and on the face of the whole country, fresh relics which eloquently tell their own history are exhumed yearly and daily, and there stand to this hour. Still it is not so." Max Müller is then quoted as saying:We see still standing the Pyramids, and the ruins of temples and labyrinths, their walls covered with hieroglyphic inscriptions and with the strange pictures of gods and goddesses. ... On rolls of papyrus, which seem to defy the ravages of time, we have even fragments of what may be called the sacred books of the Egyptians; yet, though much has been deciphered in the ancient records of that mysterious race, the mainspring of the religion of Egypt and the original intentions of its ceremonial worship are far from being fully disclosed to us."The mysterious hieroglyphic documents remain," says H.P.B.; "but the keys by which alone they become intelligible have disappeared."
The great Pyramid of Gizeh remains even now in many ways one of the ancient wonders of the world. The hieroglyphic carvings with which the marvelous structure was originally covered have centuries since disappeared with the granite casings -- which once shone over the breadth of Egypt as the symbol of her ageless dynastic life. For almost a thousand years the sacred interior has been violated by men of shod feet and profaning eyes; yet how many even today can lay claim to the planes of knowledge exhibited in the canons of its time-defying proportions, though the original and secret purposes of the Pyramid are now made clear? We are left to conjecture when we depend upon modern authorities. They can neither tell us for what the pyramids were constructed, under what dynasty the first was raised, nor the material of which they are built. The Secret Doctrine declares that the Egyptians descended from the Atlanteans, whose civilization was greater even than that of the Egyptians; and that it is their descendants who built the first pyramids in the country. This was before the advent of the Eastern Ethiopians, under their human king, Menes. It is likewise declared that the pyramidal structures in Europe were built after the submersion of the last Atlantean continent (850,000 years ago) before the arrival of the Aryans; while others were built by the earliest immigrants from the East.
Thus the date of the hundreds of pyramids in the valley of the Nile is impossible to fix by any of the rules of modern science; but Herodotus tells us that each successive king erected one to commemorate his reign and serve as his sepulcher. But Herodotus did not tell all, although he knew that the real purpose of the pyramid was very different from that which he assigned to it.
The pyramids are closely connected with the ideas of both the Great Dragon (the constellation), the "Dragons of Wisdom" or the great Initiates of the Third and Fourth Races, and the flood of the Nile, regarded as a divine reminder of the great Atlantic Flood. "The Great Dragon has respect but for the Serpents of Wisdom, the Serpents whose holes are now under the triangular stones" -- i.e., the pyramids, at the four corners of the world. This tells us clearly that which is mentioned more than once elsewhere in the Commentaries; namely, that the Adepts or Wise Men of the three races (the Third, Fourth and Fifth) dwelt in subterranean habitats, generally under some kind of pyramidal structure, if not actually under a pyramid. For such pyramids existed over the world, and were never the monopoly of the land of the Pharaohs, though, until found scattered all over the two Americas, under and over ground, beneath and amid virgin forests, as in plain and vale, they were supposed to be the exclusive property of Egypt.
Internally, the Pyramid was a majestic fane, in whose somber recesses were performed the Mysteries, and whose walls had often witnessed the initiation-scenes of members of the royal family. Externally, it symbolized the creative principle of nature, and illustrated also the principles of geometry, mathematics, astrology, and astronomy. Mr. Ralston Skinner, author of the Source of Measures, discovered that a system of exact science, geometrical, numerical, and astronomical, founded on very ancient ratios, was used in construction of the Great Pyramid. Mr. Proctor, an American astronomer, speaking of the multitude of relations independent of the Pyramid which have turned up while the Pyramidists have been endeavoring to connect the pyramid with the solar system, says: "These coincidences are altogether more curious than any coincidences between the Pyramid and astronomical numbers: the former are as close and remarkable as they are real." To this Mr. Staniland Wake observes: "They must, however, have been more than mere coincidences, if the builders of the Pyramid had the astronomical knowledge displayed in its perfect orientation and in its other admitted astronomical features."
The Egyptian pyramid symbolically represents the idea of the Mundane Tree. Its apex is the mystic link between heaven and earth, and stands for the root, while the base represents the spreading branches, extending to the four cardinal points of the universe of matter. It conveys the idea that all things had their origin in spirit -- evolution having originally begun from above and proceeded downward, instead of the reverse. It is on this knowledge that the program of the Mysteries and of the series of initiations were based: thence, the construction of the pyramids, the everlasting record and the indestructible symbol of these Mysteries and Initiations on earth, as the courses of the stars in Heaven. The cycle of Initiation was a reproduction in miniature of the great series of Cosmic changes to which astronomers have given the name of tropical or sidereal year (25,868 years). Just as, at the close of the cycle of the sidereal year the heavenly bodies return to the same relative positions as they occupied at its outset, so at the close of the cycle of Initiation the inner man has regained the pristine state of divine purity and knowledge from which he set out on his cycle of terrestrial incarnations.
In "The Origin and Significance of the Great Pyramid," Staniland Wake writes: "The so-called King's Chamber, of which an enthusiastic Pyramidist says, 'The polished walls, fine materials, grand proportions and exalted place, eloquently tell of glories yet to come' -- if not, the chamber of perfection of Cheops' tomb, was probably the place to which the initiant was admitted after he had passed through the narrow upward passage and the grand gallery, with its lowly termination, which gradually prepared him for the final stage of the SACRED MYSTERIES." Had Mr. Wake been a Theosophist, he might have added that the narrow upward passage leading to the King's Chamber has a "narrow gate" indeed; the same "strait gate" which "leadeth unto life," or the new spiritual rebirth alluded to by Jesus.
The King's Chamber in Cheops' Pyramid is thus an Egyptian "Holy of Holies." On the days of the Mysteries of Initiation, the candidate, representing the solar god, had to descend into the sarcophagus (the baptismal font), and represent the energizing ray, entering into the fecund womb of Nature. Emerging from it on the following morning, he typified the resurrection of life after the change called Death. In the great Mysteries his figurative death lasted two days, when with the sun he arose on the third morning, after a last night of the most cruel trials. While the postulant represented the Sun -- the all-vivifying Orb that "resurrects" every morning but to impart life to all -- the sarcophagus was symbolic of the female principle.
For the ancient nations, the passage entrance and the sarcophagus in the King's Chamber meant regeneration, not generation. It was the most solemn symbol, a Holy of Holies indeed, wherein were created immortal Hierophants and "Sons of God." "To crucify before the sun" is a phrase used of Initiation. It comes from Egypt, and primarily from India. The enigma can be unriddled only by searching for its key in the Mysteries of Initiation. The initiated adept, who successfully passed through all the trials, was attached, not nailed, but simply tied on a couch in the form of a tau (or cross) and plunged in a deep sleep. He was allowed to remain in this state three days and three nights, during which time his Spiritual Ego was said to confabulate with the "gods," descending into Hades, and do works of charity to the invisible beings, whether souls of men or elemental spirits; his body remaining all the time in a temple crypt or subterranean cave. In Egypt it was placed in the sarcophagus of the King's Chamber, and carried during the night of the approaching third day to the entrance of a gallery, where at a certain hour the beams of the rising Sun struck full on the face of the entranced candidate, who awoke to be initiated by Osiris, and Thoth, the God of Wisdom.
Let the reader turn to some most suggestive Egyptian bas-reliefs. One especially from the temple of Philoe, represents a scene of initiation. Two Gods-Hierophants, one with the head of a hawk (the Sun), the other ibis-headed (Mercury, Thoth, the god of Wisdom and secret learning, the assessor of Osiris-Sun), are standing over the body of a candidate just initiated. They are in the act of pouring on his head a double stream of water (the water of life and new birth) which stream is interlaced in the shape of a cross and full of small ansated crosses. This is allegorical of the awakening of the candidate (now an Initiate) when the beams of the morning sun (Osiris) strike the crown of his head (his entranced body being placed on its wooden tau so as to receive the rays). Then appeared the Hierophants-Initiators, and the sacramental words were pronounced, ostensibly, to the Sun-Osiris, addressed in reality to the Spirit Sun within, enlightening the newly-born man.
In the extraordinary sculpture and painting of the throne of Rameses II, and on a fragment from the Hall of the ancestors of Totmes III, preserved by the National Library of Paris, one sees the disc of the Sun beaming upon an ansated cross placed upon a cross of which those of the Calvary were perfect copies. The ancient manuscripts mention these as the "hard couches of those who were in (spiritual) travail, the art of giving birth to themselves." A quantity of such cruciform couches, on which the candidate, thrown into a dead trance at the end of his supreme initiation, was placed and secured, were found in the underground halls of the Egyptian temples after their destruction.
A learned Kabalist wrote in a private letter to H.P.B.: "The measurement from the surface of the Great Step (it is on that step that one arrives on the plane of the level or floor and open entrance to the King's Chamber) and the Grand Gallery to the top of the said gallery ... [gives] an indication of cosmic man on this high grade or step, at the entrance of the King's Chamber -- which is the womb. Now this passage is of such a height that a man to enter it must stoop." This same esotericism exists to this very day in India, with regard to the "Holy of Holies." This is the passage through the "golden cow," in the same stooping position as the one shown in the gallery of the pyramid. With the ancient Hindus the meaning was grandiose, sublime and poetical. The ceremony of passing through the golden cow -- itself a symbol of universal, abstract nature -- meant spiritual conception and birth, or rather the re-birth of the individual and regeneration; the stooping man ready to pass through the matrix of mother nature, or the physical creature ready to become the original spiritual Being -- pre-natal MAN.
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