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Tannhauser: The Rod That Budded
In the prologue of Faust, God is represented as saying, concerning the hero:
This is the actual fact concerning all mankind. At the present time we all serve God imperfectly because of our limited vision. We have not the real, true perception of what is wanted and of how we should use the talents wherewith we are now endowed. Nevertheless God, through the process of evolution is constantly leading us into greater and greater light, and by degrees we shall cease to be spiritually barren: We shall flower and bear fruit. Thus we shall be able to serve God as we would and not as we do. While the foregoing applies to all in general, it applies particularly to those who stand in the limelight as teacher; for naturally, where the light is the strongest, the shadows are also the deepest, and the imperfections of those among us, who must take up the burden of teaching, are naturally more marked on that account.
In the story of Tannhauser, the Pope shuts the door of hope in the face of the penitent because the letter of the law requires it, but not thus is God's mercy frustrated. The Pope's staff blooms to prove that the penitent has been forgiven because of the sincere penitence whereby the evil has been washed from the record made upon the seed atom. Thus by a higher law the lower has been superseded.
There is in this legend of the Pope's staff, a similarity to the tale of the Holy Grail and the spear; to the story of Aaron's rod which also bloomed, and to the staff of Moses that brought the water of life forth from the rock. All have an important bearing upon the problem of the spiritual life of the Disciple who aims to follow the path to the higher life and seeks, like Kundry, to undo the deeds of ill of former lives by a present life of service to the higher self. The legend of the Grail distinguishes between the Grail cup itself and the Cleansing Blood which it held.
The story is told of how Lucifer, when he strove with the Archangel Michael over the body of Moses, lost the choicest gem in his crown. It was dislodged in the struggle. This beautiful gem, comparable to none, was an emerald named "Exilir." It was thrown into the abyss but was recovered by the Angels and from that the chalice or Holy Grail was made which later was used to hold the Cleansing Blood that flowed from the Savior's side when it had been pierced by the centurion's spear. Let us first note the fact that this jewel was an emerald: it was green, and green is a combination of blue and yellow, and is, therefore, the complementary color of the third primary color, red. In the Physical World red has the tendency to excite and energize, whereas green has a cooling and a soothing effect, but the opposite is true when we look at the matter from the viewpoint of the Desire World. There the complementary color is active, and has the effect upon our desires and emotions which we ascribe to the physical color. Thus the green color of the gem lost by Lucifer shows the nature and effect thereof. This stone is the antithesis of the Philosopher's Stone. It has the power to attract passion and generate love of sex for sex, which is the vice opposite to the chaste and pure love, symbolized by the apocalyptic white stone, which latter is the love of soul for soul. As this effect of the complementary colors is well know, though not consciously realized, we also speak of jealousy, which is engendered by impure love, as the green eyed monster.
The Holy Grail finds its replica in the chalice or seed pod of the plant, which is green. The creative fire slumbers within the seed pod. Likewise the same phenomenon must become manifest within each one who enters upon the quest of the Holy Grail. Will is the male quality of the soul; imagination is the female. When will is the strongest attribute, the soul wears male attire in a certain life, and in another, where the quality of imagination is greater, the female garb is taken. Thus under the Law of Alternation which prevails during the present age of the rainbow, the soul wears a different garment in alternate lives, but whether the gender is feminine or masculine, the organ of the opposite sex is present in an undeveloped state.
Thus man is now, and will be so long as the physical body endures, both male and female.
In the hoary past, when his consciousness was focused in the spiritual world, he was a perfect creative unit with both sex organs equally developed as are many flowers today. He was then capable of generating a new body when the old one was worn out, but he was not at that time aware to the same degree as he is now of the fact that he had a body. Then some who were pioneers — some who saw more clearly than others — told to their compeers the astonishing story that man has a body. They were often met with the same skepticism which is now shown to those who affirm that we have a soul.
Thus the symbolical story of Lucifer losing the green gem is the story of how man ceased to know himself and began to know his wife; of how the Grail was lost, and of how it may only be found through the cleansing of the passion filled physical blood which was originally contained in that green vessel.
At a propitious time of the year, but neither before nor after, the rays emanating from the heavenly orbs pierce the planted seed and waken its latent generative force into activity. Then a new plant springs out of the ground to again beautify the Earth. Thus the act of generation is accomplished in perfect harmony with the Law of Nature, and a thing of beauty is generated to adorn the Earth. The result is different in humans since the feminine quality of imagination was roused by Lucifer.
Now the generative act is performed regardless of the propitious solar rays, and as a result sin and death entered the world. From that time the spiritual light has waned, and we are now blind to heaven's glory.
In the hands of the divine leaders of mankind, once of them signified by Aaron, the living rod was a vehicle of power. Later the blooming rod dried up and was laid away in the Ark, but we are not to conclude that there is no redemption on that account, for as man was exiled from the heavenly state when the green gem of passion and desire rolled from the crown of Lucifer, who then led mankind through generation to degeneration, so also there is the white stone, the Philosopher's Stone, the symbol of emancipation. By using the power of generation for regeneration, we overcome death and sin. It then endows us with immortality and leads us to Christ.
That is the message of the story of Tannhauser. Passion is poison. Abuse of generation under the sway of Lucifer, has been the means of leading us downward into the gloom of degeneration, but the same power turned into the opposite direction and used for purposes of regeneration is capable of lifting us out of the gloom and elevating us to a heavenly state, when we have thus won the battle. Through passion the Spirit has been crystallized into a body and only by chastity can the fetters be loosed, for heaven is the home of the virgin and only in so far as we elevate love from that of sex for sex to the standard of soul for soul can we shatter the shackles that bind us. Then, when we learn to make conception immaculate, saviors will be born who will loose the fetters of sin and sorrow that now bind us. In carrying out this ideal let us remember, however, that suppression of the sexual desire is not celibacy; the mind must concur and we must willingly abstain from impurity. This can only be done by what the mystic calls " finding the woman within himself." (Of course for woman, it is to find the man within herself.) When we have found that, we arrive at the point where we can live the same pure life as the flower.
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In this connection it may also be very illuminating to remember that the "Dweller on the Threshold" which we must confront before we can enter the superphysical worlds always has the appearance of a creature of the opposite sex. Yet it seems to be ourselves. It should also be understood that the more licentious or lustful we have been, the worse will be the appearance of this monster, and Parsifal standing before Kundry, when his refusal of compliance has turned her into a virago, is in fact at the very point where the candidate finds himself face to face with the dweller, before the spear is given into his hands.
[You are welcome to e-mail your answers and/or comments to us. Please be sure to include the course name and Independent Study Module number in your e-mail to us. Or, you are also welcome to use the answer form below. (Java required)]
1. When shall we be able to serve God as we should?
2. Where is the replica of the Holy Grail found?
3. How only may the lost Grail be found?
4. In what way do we overcome death and sin, and what is the reward?
5. How can the fetters of crystallization be loosened?
6. When conception is immaculate, what will be the result which will free humanity from sin and sorrow?
Contemporary Mystic Christianity
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