THEOSOPHY DOWNUNDER

Newsletter of the Theosophical Society (Pasadena) Australasian Section

No: 108 December 2012

 

Cathedral Cove, Hahai, Coromandel Peninsula, North Island of New Zealand.

Photo courtesy of Stefan Carey.

 

CONTENTS

 

Spiritual Initiation: what exactly does that mean? – Andrew Rooke.

Australian News.

Freyja, the Great Goddess of Creation -  Guðrún Kristín Magnúsdóttir.

The Rescuers – Roza Riaikkenen.

Gifts of the Stars – Andrew Rooke.

International News.

A World of Full of Solutions – Julia Butterfly Hill.

Book Reviews: A World Without Bees.

                          Oxford Textbook of Spirituality in Healthcare.     

Introduction to Judaism and the Kabbalah—Tony Downey.

Commentary on Ancient, Medieval and Modern Texts: Part 2: The Zohar —Don Shepherd.

 

 

SPIRITUAL INITIATION: what exactly does that mean?  -  Andrew Rooke

There is a lot of talk these days about spiritual initiation, enlightenment, Ascended Masters, Masters of Wisdom, Mahatmas, etc… but what does it all really mean? Is immediate enlightenment possible as advertised by several religious groups, or, is there a long slow road stretching ahead to spiritual achievement as many ancient traditions tell us?

A ‘new birth’: In Theosophy, initiation is generally used in reference to entering into this long and winding road to the sacred wisdom under the direction of initiates in schools specially dedicated to this type of learning – the Mystery Schools. By the process of a series of tests, a student or candidate for initiation quickens the natural journey of spiritual evolution. The candidate thus anticipates the growth that will be achieved by ordinary humanity at a much later time, but at the price of discipline and strength of character beyond the reach of the majority of people at this stage of spiritual development. He or she unfolds from within their latent spiritual and intellectual powers, thus raising individual self-consciousness, and helping raise world consciousness thereby, to a higher level. The induction of such a candidate into the various and increasing grades or degrees was aptly spoken of as a ‘new birth’.

When were initiations held? The times of the major initiations were/are determined by the earth’s orbit around the Sun, its orientation with the Sun, the other planets, and the Moon. The reason for this is essentially to facilitate the flight of the ‘inner man’ to various ‘worlds’ where initiatory experiences are available. The four major initiations were held at the Solstices (December and June) and the Equinoxes (March and September) being the ‘stations’ along the elliptical orbit of the Earth around the Sun. No doubt other astronomical influences from outside the solar system, such as our position in relation to the different constellations of the Zodiac, also played a part in the timing of initiation ceremonies. Major Christian festivals, principally Christmas and Easter, coincide with the ancient times of spiritual initiation. Theosophical teacher, Dr G de Purucker, summarizes these four sacred seasons:

“…You will remember that the mystic year contains four seasonal points, and that these four seasons in their cycle are symbolic of the four chief events of progress of initiation: first, that of the Winter Solstice, which event is also called the Great Birth, when the aspirant brings to birth the god within him and, for a time at least, becomes temporarily at one therewith in consciousness and in feeling; a birth which indeed is the birth of the inner Buddha born of the spiritual solar splendour, or the birth of the mystic Christos.

Then, second, comes the period or event of esoteric adolescence at the Spring Equinox, when in the full flush of the victory gained at the Winter Solstice, and with the marvellous inner strength and power that come to one who has thus achieved, the aspirant enters upon the greatest temptation, except one, known to human beings, and prevails; and this event may be called the Great Temptation. With this initiation at the time of the Spring Equinox the Avataras are particularly concerned, forming as they do one of the lines of activity — a god-line, in fact — of the Hierarchy of Compassion and Splendour, although the Avataras are outside the circle of temptation except insofar as concerns the human portion of them.

 

The annual cycle of the Solstices and Equinoxes

Then, third, comes the event of the Summer Solstice, at which time the neophyte or aspirant must undergo, and successfully prevail over, the greatest temptation known to man just referred to; and if he so prevail, which means the renouncing of all chance of individual progress for the sake of becoming one of the Saviours of the world, he then takes his position as one of the stones in the Guardian Wall. Thereafter he dedicates his life to the service of the world, without thought of guerdon or of individual progress — it may be for aeons — sacrificing himself spiritually in the service of all that lives. For this reason the initiation at this season of the year has been called the Great Renunciation.

Then, finally, comes the fourth and last period of the cycling mystical year, the event of the Autumnal Equinox, which perhaps is the most sublime … because in the initiation of the Autumnal Equinox the neophyte or aspirant passes beyond the portals of irrevocable death, and returns among men no more. One line of this activity, lofty and spiritual but yet not the line of the Hierarchy of Splendour and Compassion, is that followed by the Pratyeka Buddhas. Aeons will pass before these Pratyeka Buddhas reawaken to take up anew the evolutionary journey, the evolutionary pilgrimage. The Autumnal Equinox is likewise straitly and closely related to the investigation, during the rites and trials of the neophyte, of the many and varied and intricate mysteries connected with death. For these and for other reasons it has been called the Great Passing….” – G de Purucker: The Four Sacred Seasons, pages 42-45.

What about the timing of initiations in the Southern Hemisphere? It is my understanding in the above quote, that Dr de Purucker is referring to both the Northern and Southern hemispheres of the Earth at the time they experience their seasons, ie. at the opposite times of the year to each other. This is because initiation has to do with how the Sun is affecting any part of the earth and all the life forms inhabiting that part of the earth.  So the spiritual "currents" from the Sun depend on how the Sun is affecting the earth and nature at the time these currents are felt on any particular part of the Earth.  So, for the Southern Hemisphere, we could interpolate the first passage from The Four Sacred Seasons: "Birth at the Winter Solstice (June 21st), the beginning of the year; adolescence -- trials and their conquest -- at the Spring Equinox (September 21st); adulthood, full-blown strength and power, at the Summer Solstice (December 21st), representing a period of initiation when the Great Renunciation is made; and then closing with the Autumnal Equinox (March 21st), the period of the Great Passing." – page 3.

Where were these initiations held? the places of initiation were often situated on mountains which, because of this, were regarded locally as holy mountains. Often rocky caves or recesses in mountains were chosen for their inaccessibility, and used as initiation crypts or chambers. Examples would be the Himalayan Mountains and the Nilgiri Hills in India, parts of the Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory of Australia, and man-made structures such as the Elephanta Caves in India, Angkor Wat in Cambodia, and theosophy tells us that the Great Pyramid at Gizeh in Egypt (pictured above) was used in ancient times for this purpose.

Seven Degrees of Initiation: various countries and traditions have different numbers and names for each degree. Essentially it is the same process – an accelerated evolutionary journey to overcome the power of the Ego/Lower Self, and by degrees grow closer to the Higher Self/Inner God within us all. The ancient Egyptians had three degrees/stages with several sub-stages, personified under the ‘Three Guardians of Fire’ in their mystery tradition. In Theosophy, the process of spiritual initiation is usually configured as Seven Degrees as follows:

1st, 2nd, and 3rd Degrees: these were preparatory, consisting of discipline of the whole nature: moral, mental and physical. Particular stress was placed on balancing the emotions, overcoming fear, and seeing the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ experiences of life equally without extremes in either direction. Instruction in the basics of esoteric philosophy, in addition to ordinary academic knowledge, was offered by teachers. At each stage the neophyte had to pass through a carefully graded series of tests in order that he/she might prove his inner strength and capability to proceed. At least in the early stages, the student might be completely unaware of his status as a student of the mysteries, and might largely bring himself through these initial stages by his own unguided efforts doing what he felt was innately right according to his own situation and circumstances of life.

4th Degree: at this stage the candidate advances beyond simply learning from others and must now journey into the realms of his own inner being. The powers of his Inner God having by now become at least partially active in his daily life and consciousness, he was enabled to begin the experience of passing into the other planes and realms of life and of being, and thus to know by becoming them. In this way he acquired first-hand knowledge of the truths of nature and of the universe about which he had previously been taught by others.

                                                                                         Angkor Wat in Siam Reap, Cambodia.

5th Degree: called in ancient Greece, Theophany – the appearance of a God, the candidate meets, for at least a fleeting moment, his own spiritual Ego face to face, and, in the most successful of these cases, for a time actually becomes at one with it. The experience of Epiphany, such as Saint Paul is said to have had on the road to Damascus, might be considered a minor form of Theophany.

6th Degree: Theopneusty – the ‘inbreathing’ or ‘through-breathing of a God or divine inspiration. With this initiation, the candidate becomes the vehicle of his own Inner God, for a time depending on the neophytes own powers of retention and observation, so that he is then inspired with the spiritual and intellectual powers and faculties of his Higher Self.

7th Degree: Theopathy – the ‘suffering’ of a God or ‘suffering’ oneself to be one’s own inner God. The candidate’s personal self has become permanently at-one with his Inner Divinity. The successful passing of the seventh trial resulted in the initiate’s becoming a glorified ‘Son of the Sun’ as the ancient Egyptians would say, to be followed by the last or ultimate stage of this Degree known in Buddhism as achieving ‘Buddhahood’ or ‘Nirvana’. Since limits cannot be set to attainment, however, still loftier stages of spiritual and intellectual unfolding or initiation await those who have already attained the Degree of Buddhahood. – edited from G de Purucker: Encyclopedic Theosophic Glossary: http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/etgloss/etg-hp.htm

elephanta cavesA return to the ‘world of men’: Essentially the initiation process represents the conquest of the last shape assumed by the Ego and identification with the Higher Self within in our daily lives. In ancient Egyptian terms, the initiate wins free to Wisdom, joining the company of the ‘Aakui – the ‘Creatures of Light and Mind’, a ‘Son of the Sun’. It is important to remember that such an exalted person does not sit in a spiritual ‘ivory tower’ remote from the lives of ordinary people. He chooses from his boundless compassion to return once again to the human world to help alleviate the suffering in the world caused by ignorance of spiritual truth. The initiate returns with his ‘Table of Offerings’, before him, being the special faculties and qualities he has perfected within himself for the sake of serving suffering humanity.

Does all of this matter for our daily lives? The initiations described above for very spiritually advanced people were/are for those following the rapid path to enlightenment. What about the rest of us ordinary folk following the path through the ‘underworld’ of daily life experience?

                                                                                      The Elephanta Caves, near Mumbai, India.

The same qualities of the Higher Self manifest in everyday ‘householder’ life are required, viz: humility, patience, understanding, emotional control, physical and mental discipline, compassion and love – all these representing what is generally recognized the world over as being the finest of human qualities. Essentially this means for us to live outside the demands of our own Ego fulfilment and becoming less personal as spiritual awareness grows. We should turn our energies and desires ‘upwards’ towards compassion, rather than ‘downwards’ towards desires for personal benefit. We should generally become ‘other-centred’ rather than ‘selfish’ in our daily behaviour.

This effort does not mean abandoning our responsibility of looking after ourselves or our family. In Hinduism this responsibility was one of the four ‘Purusasthas’ or ‘aims’ in life, called ‘Artha’, or material welfare. It also does not mean that we abandon criticism of others when we perceive there to be wrong-doing, or others are being unjustly attacked – known as the power of spiritual discrimination, or ‘Viveka’.

Our efforts either aid or damage humanity:  the attempt to lift our state of consciousness also helps with uplifting Humanity generally as we are all connected at an inner level of our composite nature. As theosophical founder, HP Blavatsky reminds us:

“It is an occult law, moreover, that no man can rise superior to his individual failings, without lifting, be it ever so little, the whole body of which he is an integral part. In the same way, no- one can sin, nor suffer the effects of sin alone. In reality there is no such thing as ‘Separateness’.” – The Key to Theosophy, page 203.

We have the opportunity everyday in our interactions with other people to express the qualities of the ‘Higher Self’ that will make sure we keep to the ‘Path of Compassion’. This spiritual path, trod by those Masters of Wisdom before us who are dedicated to helping humanity with their knowledge, rather than just using such knowledge and powers for their own personal salvation – the latter known by Buddhists of the Mahayana school as ‘Pratyeka Buddhas’. One day, if we run the race of spiritual development aright, we may perhaps stand ourselves at the entrance to the Temple of Initiation. ­- Andrew Rooke, Melbourne, Australia, with thanks to Jim Belderis of the Theosophical University Library in Pasadena for some information included in this article.

More detailed information on spiritual initiation is available in Grace Knoche’s book: The Mystery Schools, available from our library or at: http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/mysterys/mystsch.htm and in G de Purucker’s book, The Four Sacred Seasons, at: http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/4sacsea/4sacsea.htm

"Compassion is the Law of Laws." – HP Blavatsky: The Voice of the Silence.

AUSTRALIAN NEWS

Meetings December 2012 – April 2013: Meetings all held at the Theosophical Society (Pasadena) Centre, 664 Glenhuntly Rd., South Caulfield, Melbourne (Tel: 0400942613) on Saturday afternoons commencing at 2.30pm. The Centre is open by 2pm the day of the meeting.

 

Sat. December 1st, 2.30pm: Applying Ideals in a Tough World: Panel Discussion – Tony Downey, Paul Rooke and Jennifer Pignataro.

 

Sat. February 2nd, 2.30pm: Desires: Repressing, Overcoming, Transcending or Transforming? – Andrew Rooke.

 

Sat. February 16th, 2.30pm: Study Group based on Grace Knoche’s ‘To Light a Thousand a Thousand Lamps’** – 1: Introduction on the work of Grace F. Knoche and ‘What is Theosophy?’ – Don Shepherd.

 

Sat. March 2nd, 2.30pm: Paganism, Heathenry, and Wicca: echoes of the ancient wisdom of Europe – Heathclyff St. James Deville.

 

Sat. March 16th, 2.30: Study Group - ‘To Light a Thousand a Thousand Lamps’ – Part 2: Evolution – Paul Rooke.

  

Sat. April 6th, 2.30pm: Co-Creation with Nature – Roza and Margarita Riaikkenen.

 

Sat. April 20th, 2.30pm: Study Group - ‘To Light a Thousand a Thousand Lamps’ – Part 3: The Quickening of Mind – Don Shepherd.

 

Weekly discussion group in Melbourne: in association with The University of the Third Age (U3A) a series of lectures and discussions concentrating in Part 1 on comparative study of the religions and philosophies of India and Asia. In part 2 on Basic Concepts of the Ancient Wisdom including Universal Brotherhood; After-Death – What?; Dreams and the Astral World; Reincarnation; Karma; etc. Each week on Tuesday or Wednesday 10.30-12.30. Further information is available from Tony Downey on 0400942613.

 

New books in the Melbourne library: amongst the new books in the library are the following:

 

Algeo, John, The Letters of H.P. Blavatsky, Volume 1, 1861-1879, H.P. Blavatsky Collected Writings, 2003; Armstrong, K., A History of God, the 4,000 Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, 1993; Butcher, C.A., The Cloud of Unknowing, with the Book of Privy Counsel, 2009; Devereux, P., Sacred Geography; Deciphering Hidden Codes in the Landscape, 2010; Egan, The Skilled Helper, A Problem-Management And Opportunity-Development Approach to Helping, 2002; Kaufman, W., I and Thou, A New Translation, with a Prologue and Notes, 1970; Pennick, N., The Ancient Science of Geomancy, Living in Harmony with the Earth, 1979; Plato, The Last Days of Socrates, 1959; Spierenburg, H.J., (compiler and annotator), Astrology of the Living Universe, Helena Blavatsky’s Visionary Philosophy of the Seven Sacred Planets, 1997; Stinson, M.L.,  Heathen Gods, A Collection of Essays Concerning the Folkway of our People, 2009; Sturluson, Snorri, The Prose Edda, 2005; Wenham, D., Did St. Paul get Jesus Right? The Gospel According to Paul, 2010.

 

New on Theosophy Downunder website: our website is at: www.theosophydownunder.org New articles and lectures include: Reincarnation in traditional African religion: the Igbo of Nigeria – Igwe Amakulo; Dreams are better than reality: stories -  George Svenger; Ancient Egypt: perspectives from Theosophy – Andrew Rooke; Trinity and triunity: the main mechanism of creation – Roza and Margarita Riaikennen; Happiness: why does the search for happiness cause us yet more suffering? – Stefan Carey, Doubting Thomas: The Gospel of St Thomas: Gnostic Christianity - Andrew Rooke; Three articles of Questions and Answers on Karma, Reincarnation, and Theosophy  - Andrew Rooke.

 

 

 

 

Iceland - home of Norse tradition.

 

 

FREYJA, THE GREAT GODDESS OF CREATION  -  Guðrún Kristín Magnúsdóttir:

 

In Norse tradition, we have many Goddesses, each one of whom has a profound meaning and a sphere of functioning:

 

Goddesses contain layers of meaning according to each man‘s understanding. Man‘s understanding depends upon his state of consciousness. Men, who are refined and almost enlightened, have the ability to perceive the layers, from the most obvious ones to the most subtle ones, into the Oneness of all, where no differences abide.

 

The coarse man, not yet possessing a refined nervous system -- i.e. in Icelandic terms, his Sleipnir, being not yet apt, pure, and cultured enough -- may perceive only the surface values.

 

Note: In Norse mythology, Sleipnir, is the eight-legged horse of Óðinn (Odin, the main-god of the ancient Norse tradition). Sleipnir is the finest of all steeds, representing man’s refined nervous system, a vehicle to attain pure consciousness, thus being our means to discover enlightened understanding.

 

 

Myths contain layers and allegory, so that every man can enjoy them on his term:

 

Note: ‘Man’ refers generically to Mankind. The plural word ‘Men’ refers to both men and women, and all human children. Please take into account my Icelandic use of these words.

 

In order to understand our beloved and much revered goddess Freyja, we have to see through personifications of her powers, and find the core and essence of them. Personifications are therefore OK -- if we are not led astray by seeing such as ‘people’.

 

When we enjoy the perfection of ancient Greek statues, we tend to forget that these are originally the administrative and creative powers in the universe.

 

We should not let mythological personifications of worldly phenomena blind us to the fact that they are symbolic of something subtle and powerful.

 

Personifications are a good thing, actually, as everything in the created world is in the same pattern and in the image of Ginnungagap, the “Great Void” or “One-ness”, That which alone is, unmanifest eternity. Also the human body is in this image.

Description: C:\Users\Notandi\Desktop\grikk heið\grísk pix\afrodíta 001.jpg

 

 

Description: C:\Users\Notandi\Desktop\grikk heið\grísk pix\afros 001.jpg

 

 

 

The Greek dieties in the pictures above are Afrodita, and Hera or Nerþus “coming out of her bath” as some tended to see it. Greek Afrodita correlates to Roman Venus, to our Norse Freyja, in Sanskrit Shukra. Their week-day is Friday, correlating in all our languages. Afros’ means ‘foam’.

 

What should be known is that Freyja‘s name is also derived from “froða“, foam, froth:

 

The Abyss of Waters, Ægir, is the very “place” from where the great goddess of creation emerges. The space-time ‘quantum’ foam perculates universes. (Please refer to the lectures of quantum-physicist Dr. John Hagelin on this point). Physics tell us that the space-time ‘quantum’ foam emerges from The Unified Field, bubbling in all shapes and forms until some break loose -- to become universes.

 

So, if anything is symbolizing creation, it is Freyja. It is no small thing that she creates, as it is our universe -- along with all that follows. No small thing that little Big Bang, carried out in a wee fraction of a second, by the grace of a female diety, a Goddess.

 

 

 

We should also know that in the foam there are little worm-holes.

 

We human beings can do, as does Óðinn, when he penetrates - in the shape, or guise, of a worm - penetrates the “barrier“ (as some may see that creation-thing to be) into the cliff Hnitbjörg to Gunnlöð, in order to imbibe the mead of wisdom in abundance, enjoying her hospitality.

 

Óðinn (in this myth) can not take his body along, as bodies are of the created world. Neither can we. We have to creep through Freyja without the body, leave our beloved body for a while in its place (in the world where it belongs), and come back to it after imbibing the mead of wisdom. Then we can fly in the world like an eagle.

 

In the ‘Hávamál’, vísa 138 and on:

 

Note: The ‘Hávamál’ in English means literally ‘Sayings of the High One’. It is a single poem in one of the ancient sacred books of the Norse people, ‘The Poetic Edda’.

By ‘layers of understanding’ it contains advice for righteous living, proper conduct, then seeking of the knowledge, and, the last part of Hávamál conveys the supreme wisdom, transcending, and the benefits thereof in human life.

 

In the last part of Hávamál, part of pure supreme wisdom, Hávi (Óðinn) tells us about transcending. He (and we, as ‘everyman’) peeps, or spies, underneath the creation to gain fimbulrúnir, the skill in action, and nine good galdrar, which is the power to “think our world”, i.e. create our world, as perfect as we wish it to be. A world is a man-thought phenomenon.

 

Use it or loose it:

 

Humans are the earth-species endowed with this superb nervous system, Sleipnir, that allows transcendence. We might lose this most precious ability if we do not use it. I recommend the easy, natural technique of Transcendental Meditation, or TM®.

(Please Google TM on the internet for more information and comprehensive scientific research).

 

It is interesting to know that the English word, “world” is the Icelandic word “veröld”:

 

Ver-öld, means a man‘s lifespan in Icelandic. So, each one of us creates his own veröld out of Gungnir. Gungnir in Norse mythology is the spear of Óðinn, but Gungnir really means ‘vibrations’.  Gungnir is the “super-strings” of Physics.

 

Each person, by placing their attention in an aspect of life that attracts him, creates his own conceptual world from ‘vibrations’. Thus, there are as many ‘worlds’ as there are living men. We can, by this knowledge, see that no two men might perceive “a world” in the same way. Worlds are individually designed by us. This is “the world is as you are“.

 

Men of exalted consciousness create a beautiful and loving world. They can easily penetrate the Freyja-creation, and thereby nurture themselves with pure wisdom. These men exalt their fellow-men, enlighten and uplift the whole of mankind. Freyja loves them, and they love her.

 

Freyja, the graceful Goddess, with great joy lends us her feather-guise whenever we need it, so that we can take a gandreið, to wherever we want.

 

Note: a gander is a goose, and gand-reið, a ‘goose-ride’. This is every pure man‘s ability to fly in the world.

 

During the Dark Ages in Europe some men disdained Goddesses:

 

Following the spread of Roman Christianity (theocracy) throughout Europe, Goddess-worship was banned, as was the reverence of the other Gods. But an annoying Goddess-deficiency syndrome seems to have accumulated in the consciousness of the people of Europe! In the end, a Goddess was promoted by the, by then, dominant Christian church throughout Europe. She was a woman obedient to the patriarchy. We know her as Holy Mary.

To her, great churches were dedicated, such as Notre Dame in Paris, and Vor Fruekirke in Denmark.

 

Note: Vor Frue = Our Lady; the title Fru (German Frau) being derived from the name Freyja

 

There is a lovely story of a huge Icelandic seaman visiting southern Europe some few years ago:

 

He was in south of Europe travelling with other Icelanders, visiting a Catholic church. There he watched old ladies in hooded cloaks light candles and put them at the feet of a Holy Mary icon. So he decided to do the same. His friends pointed out to him that the statue was that of Virgin Mary, the mother to Jesus. He replied: “Whatever they call her I do not mind. She is Freyja.”

 

Even if we love Freyja the most of all Gods and Goddesses, we should take heed:

 

It is unwise to take one god or one goddess out of the pantheon.

 

Note: The term God, Gods or Goð, is orginally neuter, i.e. neither masculine nor feminine. Therefore encompasses both Gods and Goddesses. The Roman Empire turned the term God into masculine singular for their theocratic purposes.

 

Our Gods are contained within the complete ‘Wholeness’, Ginnungagap, The Great Void, The Unified Field of Total Natural Law. Ginnungagap, Brahman, is not defined by qualities, only IS. Brahaman is eterniy, is unboundedness, is the unmanifest self-sufficient pure knowledge.

 

Gods and Goddesses are flawless organizing and creative powers in the created universe. All this “existence”, though, is only Ginnungagap, as nothing else is.  The functioning of Gods, or Laws of Nature, comes to an end in the end, when all “broken symmetry” re-unites in Ginnungagap. In the ancient Norse spiritual heritage this is termed as Ragnarök.

Rögn means the gods, æsir, tívar.

 

But Ginnungagap never ceases to be. Freyja is creation at the beginning of a universe, and she will leave as she came, only to start anew - as Ginnungagap perpetually perculates future universes.

 

So why all this playful creation-fun?  Does it have a purpose?

 

We should simply use our live-spans to evolve. That is what we are here for. Thanks to Freyja‘s creative power there is a universe for us for this highest purpose of man‘s many life-spans. So use them well. Set enlightenment as your highest goal in this your present life-span. That we do best by transcending every day, using our worm-holes in the space-time foam, imbibe the mead of wisdom. Great Goddess Freyja is our friend, now that we know the very purpose of life on earth, and strive for the highest goal: enlightenment

 

 – by Guðrún Kristín Magnúsdóttir, Iceland.

 

If you are interested in the symbolic language and allegory of the ancient Norse Edda-poems and myths, please go to YouTube and search under ‘Goiagodi’ to find ‘Iceland Heathenry Chatter’. 

Guðrún’s website is: www.mmedia.is/odsmal

 

Also illustrated books (for now in Icelandic language only) are available via Amazon. Search for: ‘Odsmal’ (or Óðsmál); for more books, search ‘freyjukettir’.

 

Many a man has, through the ages, seen the pure theosophy and spirituality of Heathenry (Paganry) found in the surviving Norse Edda – which is available from our library in Melbourne.

This present research has been inspired by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi who has given us profound understanding of the supreme wisdom.

 

 

“There is only one religion, though there are a hundred versions of it.“ – George Bernard Shaw.

 

THE RESCUERS - Roza Riaikkenen

 

 

In July - August 2012, the Melbourne Jewish Holocaust Centre hosted a touring exhibition from the USA: “The Rescuers: Saving lives in times of genocide.” It presented photographs and extraordinary stories from the Holocaust and genocides in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Rwanda and Cambodia in lectures and films.

 

Melbourne’s famous Jewish Holocaust Museum in Elsternwick.

 

At the opening evening, while listening to the stories, the memories of my childhood overwhelmed me. I was three, when the German army occupied Lithuania during World War II, and my personal Holocaust began in the Kaunas ghetto for Jews. I already shared my story online (see “The Chain of Help” at www.essays.riaikkenen.com) and participated in the book “Hands Bringing Life and Bread” (published by the Vilna Gaon State Jewish Museum). Every story in this book was about the rescuers, mostly Lithuanians, but sometimes Russians, Polish people, or even Germans, educated and country people, priests and communists alike, it didn’t matter. What really mattered – these people saw a living human being in each of us, children and adults. To save the life of a human being they were ready to breach the occupation laws, to share all the meagre goods they had, and to risk their lives and the lives of their families.

 

So, I already was familiar with the Rescuers of the Holocaust, and telling the truth, we then believed that this was the last genocide, and never ever again. But now I was listening to the account of genocide that happened half a century later! A beautiful woman from Rwanda, Faina Iligoga, who is living now in Tasmania with her seven children (three of which are adopted children of her murdered relatives), gave for the first time in public the testimony of her miraculous survival at the time of the genocide in Rwanda in 1994. In just four months, in a kind of “tribal cleansing”, some people from the Hutu tribe of Rwanda, killed a million people from the Tutsi tribe. Faina, a young educated married Tutsi woman with a baby, suddenly appeared in the middle of the mayhem, where she was hunted by the Hutu extermination squads.

 

In such situations, there is no way can you survive without anyone’s help. Faina was rescued in a similar way as I was: by a chain of help by some Hutu rescuers and a chain of miracles that allowed Faina to survive. The lives of both of us depended on a chain of events where a momentary doubt or fear of a participant could be fatal. It completely depended on the conscience and courage of our rescuers.

 

The exhibition’s curator from USA, Leora Kahn, explained that in their research of how some people become Rescuers they usually draw a triangle, where the ‘Perpetrators’, the ‘Bystanders’ and the ‘Rescuers’ form the corners of the triangle, and the ‘Victims’ are placed in the middle. We can understand that the majority of people start as ‘Bystanders’ and as the events unfold, some of them join the perpetrators, but some exceptional people turn into ‘Rescuers’. For a ‘Bystander’, a moment of choice can come at any time, and then – what will they choose?

 

It is easier to join the ‘Perpetrators’ because they are in power, and power is attractive. Many Lithuanians and Hutus alike came to this end and participated in the killings. Many others supported the ‘Perpetrators’ indirectly by readily serving their regime. They usually justified it for themselves by saying that they were just obedient to the laws. The laws were made up by those who were in power at that time, and the obedient people had to give up any victim to the authorities, otherwise they would be persecuted and killed themselves. Even simpler – they had not to think about the victims and just try to live their lives as comfortably as the situation allowed. It seems so benign, but in conformity with the law of karma: “Inaction in a deed of mercy becomes action in a deadly sin” (H.P.Blavatsky).

 

To become a ‘Rescuer’, a person sometimes had to defy the laws and risk their life and the lives of their loved ones. Instead of the officially proclaimed laws and rules, they had to follow the law of their conscience. And obviously, a Rescuer is a person who sees in any victim a human being who requires and deserves assistance unrelated to their age, religion or nationality, or any other circumstances. If even the would be rescuer himself can afford to live in peace and comfort and under the protection of law, he understands that other person’s situation can be quite different, and he or she can be in mortal danger.

 

A question arises sometimes: what can a person do against the entire war machine? This exhibition and the deeds of Faina’s and my rescuers show us examples of what a person can achieve when becoming a Rescuer. He or she can save a human life and provide the possibility to live for all the future generations stemming from the rescued person. Most often, the rescued and all their descendants in many generations carry on the memory of generosity and compassion that had been expressed to their predecessor and feel the obligation to continue the chain of help in their lives. In such a way the ‘Rescuer’s’ deeds are working for the betterment of humanity.

 

Could it be that Australia’s situation as the ‘Lucky Country’ has been procured by the positive karma of Australia’s role as a rescuing country for many generations of people who tried to escape the dangers of war and oppression in different parts of the world? The Rwandan genocide came half a century after the Holocaust, though at that time it seemed that never again would such atrocities be possible. But outrages against humanity continue again and again throughout the world. People are consequently suffering and trying to flee: on foot, by plane and by boat. Let us never forget that they are not just figures, but people like us, and let us never close our hearts and doors to those who need to be rescued!

 

“Be kind whenever possible.  It is always possible.” … “When we feel love and kindness towards others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace.”  - The Dalai Lama

GIFTS OF THE STARS  -  Andrew Rooke

All that we eat, drink, and breathe, the very atoms of our bodies and the earth we walk upon, were forged deep in the fires of massive stars which exploded in their death throes aeons ago. Such supernovae explode in a blinding flash of light which for a few seconds can outshine the total light output of their home galaxy. Supernovae — and the less spectacular but often beautiful planetary nebulae cast off by smaller dying stars such as our Sun seed the universe with elements vital to the creation of other stars and planets and ultimately of the lives upon them. But are these gifts of the stars the result only of blind nuclear processes or are they part of the circle of life within a compassionate living universe?

The Cat’s Eye Nebula – the result of an exploding star as seen through the Hubble Telescope

One of the great questions of modern science has been the origin of the elements, the building blocks of the universe. In July 2012, science took a giant step towards understanding the nature of sub-atomic particles with the probable discovery of the basic ‘glue’ of the universe – the ‘Higgs Boson’ or ‘God-Particle’ as it is more popularly known (see news item below). Current theories on the origin of the elements hold that the cosmos began after a Big Bang with only the simplest hydrogen atoms. The only places we know that are hot enough to transform elements such as hydrogen into heavier ones, such as oxygen and carbon, are at the cores of stars, where the temperatures can reach many millions of degrees. Most massive stars become unstable at the end of their lives and explode in a sudden burst of energy that can propel as much as 90% of their material into space. Furthermore, during such explosions heavier elements such as gold, platinum, and uranium are formed and eventually recycled into new stars, planets, and even new human beings!

Dramatic pictures from the Hubble Space Telescope show fiery circular ring-clouds of superheated gas speeding away from the site of the central explosion at speeds approaching that of light. When this rapidly moving gas collides with existing galactic gas clouds, the energy produced can begin whirlpool motion which in turn creates new stars and solar systems. Further, the speeding atomic particles themselves may form cosmic rays which, when they rain down on earth, may affect the genetic code of living things.

From the death of the great celestial entities we call stars springs new life in the marvellous economy of universal nature. But why speak of stars as living entities when astronomy understands them only as nuclear furnaces relentlessly following the dictates of physical laws? Theosophy presents the cosmos as a living organism composed throughout of beings in all various stages of spiritual growth and development. Thus the bright pinpoints of light in the night sky are the visible aspects of conscious celestial entities which we might call Gods. These beings, from a human point of view, have vast responsibilities for the myriad of lesser entities that inhabit the solar systems we now know are spread throughout our, and presumably other, galaxies. For billions of years these star-gods give of their energies to support us lesser beings, and in death offer their very substance to build future generations of evolving entities, including humans, making us all quite literally "Children of the Stars."

What of the future of our own star, the Sun? Strange as it may seem, in our galaxy the Sun is a mid-sized to small star, though much larger than the majority of red or brown "dwarf" stars. Because of internal nuclear processes as the sun ages, it is theorized that in about seven billion years it will swell to encompass the distance of the earth's current orbit and become what astronomers call a ‘Red Giant’. In time its outer shell or atmosphere will explode outwards, sending its cast-off elements, particularly helium and nitrogen, into the depths of the Milky Way. Some of these elements will find their way into the massive interstellar gas clouds spread throughout the galaxy which give birth to new stars and planets. As one astronomer put it recently: "Calculations suggest the Sun's newly-minted nitrogen could endow roughly 100 million terrestrial planets with atmospheres like our own. Thus, even after it dies, the Sun, which now supports life on earth, may continue to do the same on other planets." - Ken Croswell, "Ready, set, boom!," Astronomy, September 2005, p. 45.

Our star, the Sun (the Aten), offering the gift of life to humanity as pictured in ancient Egypt at the time of the pharaoh Ahkenaten, 1330BC.

Seven billion years! That's a lot of time for us to learn the mysteries of the universe. Through countless incarnations of offering our own gifts to universal nature in daily life, perhaps one day we'll grow enough in spiritual stature to join the star-gods in their compassionate work. - Andrew Rooke, Melbourne, Australia.

For a beautiful video showing pictures from space telescopes illustrating how dying stars seed the universe with the building-blocks for new generations of stars, planets, and all living things that inhabit them,  please see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9D05ej8u-gU&sns=em

 

“…the most astounding scientific fact is the knowledge that the atoms that comprise life on Earth, the atoms that make up the human body, are traceable to the ‘crucibles’ in the cores of long dead stars, that ‘cooked’ light elements under extreme temperatures and pressures. These stars went unstable in their later years, they collapsed and then exploded, scattering their enriched substance across the galaxy, substance made of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and all the fundamental ingredients of life itself. When I look up at the sky, I realize that we are part of the Universe, and the Universe is in us…” – Neil de Grass Tyson.

 

 

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

 

Basic building block of the universe discovered: at a physics conference in Melbourne on July 4th 2012, the discovery of a basic building block of the physical universe, the ‘Higgs Boson’, was announced to an excited audience. Nick-named ‘The God Particle’ the Higgs Boson is the long sort-after subatomic particle that is thought to explain why all particles have mass. After the theoretical ‘Big Bang’ 13.7 billion years ago, scientists believe particles existed without mass and that they became heavier due to the Higgs field. The Higgs field is a theoretical, now perhaps real, invisible energy field that stretches throughout the universe. Particles acquire mass by interacting with this field, which is like ‘cosmic molasses’ holding everything together. We now possibly have the means to discover the nature of ‘Dark Matter’ and ‘Dark Energy’ which together make up about 95% of the mass of the Universe but are completely invisible.

 

Cells influence their own destiny: in Theosophy we often speak of the Doctrine of Hierarchies, that the Universe is a ‘Ladder of Life’ from lowest to highest in a progressive administration of cooperative activity where even the tiniest living things have a measure of individuality and ‘free will’ within the greater economy of the Whole. New research at Melbourne’s Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne shows that living cells behaved as though they are internal machines that governed their own fates. Cells get some external signals from hormones and cell signalling molecules, but there is considerable variation in their fates suggesting they were performing their ‘duty’ as individual cells anyway.

 

Pollution of the world’s oceans: Our oceans cover 72% of the earth’s surface and the average seafood consumed by each person in the US is 36 pounds weight per annum. However, despite this our oceans are becoming increasingly polluted, warmer and more acidic, making life hazardous for sea creatures and therefore for humans who eat seafood. A new site on the internet gives a summary of this distressing situation, and an encouragement to help clean up the oceans at: http://www.mastersdegree.net/ocean-garbage/ or contact Meika Jensen at meikalj.07@gmail.com

 

Video of Ancient Sunken City: Pavlopetri in Greece is the oldest known sunken city which has been surveyed by professional archeologists. A new film has been made about Pavlopetri by the BBC and it is available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XA7bAUp-hiI&feature=related

 

“Happiness to him through whom happiness flows to others.” – Zoroastrian saying.

 

A WORLD OF FULL OF SOLUTIONS – Julia Butterfly Hill

[Editor’s note: Julia Butterfly Hill, is a young American environmentalist. She is best known for living in a 55 metre-tall, 1500-year-old California Redwood tree for 738 days between December 10, 1997 and December 18, 1999. Julia lived in the tree, affectionately known as "Luna," to prevent loggers cutting it down. Julia succeeded in saving ‘Luna’, and a 70 metre ‘buffer zone’ around the tree. Since the ‘tree-sit’ she is now a motivational speaker, best-selling author of The Legacy of Luna and One Makes the Difference, and founder of the Circle of Life Foundation.]

No matter the diversity of beliefs, we all know we live in a world full of problems.  Yet, one of the biggest problems is that not enough of us realize that we also live in a world full of solutions—and then live our lives as these solutions in action. You are more powerful than you could possibly imagine; that your every single thought, word, and action makes a difference; and that living your commitments and visions for the world in service to our planetary family, not only makes a difference, but also creates more joy and fulfilment in your life. The question we need to ask ourselves is not, “Can one person make a difference?”  Each and every one of us does make a difference.  It is actually impossible to not make a difference.  So the question we need to ask ourselves is, “What kind of a difference do I want to make?” We are the ancestors of the future.  What do you want your legacy to be? One absolutely does make a difference.  But you are not alone.  We are part of a global family.  Life is precious. Enjoy the journey. - Julia Butterfly Hill, USA

BOOK REVIEWS

 

A World Without Bees, by Alison Benjamin and Brian McCallum published by Guardian Books in 2009: This book is a really good introduction to the recent phenomenon of the disappearance of Bees around the world known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).It is thought that parasites (especially the Varroa Mite), viral and bacterial infections, pesticides and poor nutrition resulting from human activities on the environment, have all played a role in the decline of bees world-wide since 2006. The decline in bee populations has become a multi-billion dollar threat to agricultural production. For example, in Croatia, it has been reported that around five million bees simply disappeared in less than 48 hours – a truly frightening scenario, yet also a serious ‘wake up’ call. The other issue affecting bees is that of a loss of genetic diversity. The more genetically diverse a colony is a measure of the overall health of the individual bees, the colony and the whole hive. This book has made me appreciate both the bee itself, and the exploitation of yet another creature – do humans ever stop? It brings to mind the words of an American Indian medicine-man, Rolling Thunder, who spoke of man’s responsibility to Nature and her plants and creatures: “These little brothers (the plants and insects) can mirror your soul. They watch you pass and tell the Great Spirit how your foot falls upon the earth…The white man has his ways and it has taken him a long time to discover what the Indian has always known – life is one and you cannot separate it. Form means nothing. Man begins to communicate with himself and others the day he learns that plants (and insects), too, share the universal consciousness.” The authors have done a great job of bringing together facts that are quite complex. My one criticism is that there is not a clear bibliography and as the authors cite a number of experts and others, these are not always clearly-defined in either references or footnotes. – Heathclyff St James Deville, Melbourne, Australia.

 

 

Oxford Textbook of Spirituality in Healthcare - Mark R. Cobb
Oxford Textbook of Spirituality in Healthcare, Edited by Mark C. Robb and others, published by Oxford University Press, 2012: Increasingly, the role of a person’s spirituality is being recognized as an important element of their health and ability to recover from illness. There are many medical and nursing conferences, books and journal articles on this subject for the medical profession these days. For example one medical author has said recently“…Spirituality is by no means a nice fluffy issue. It is integral to the wellbeing of all human beings, whether we are conscious of that need for reflection and wholeness or not. It is the lifelong process through which we find our centre in the world, how we establish our relationships, find love, meaning, and connection….” (Stephen Wright and Julia Neuberger “Why spirituality is essential for nurses” Nursing Standard V.26 (40) June 6th 2012: page 20). Now we have the very first comprehensive medical textbook on the subject from a prestigious university publisher indicating that spirituality certainly has been accepted into the mainstream of medical practice. Written by a team of international writers, this book is divided into six sections each exploring an aspect of the relationship between spirituality and healthcare and how it has emerged as a significant field in health research, healthcare policy, clinical practice and training. The ancient understanding that a person’s spiritual well-being is intimately linked to his state of health is finally receiving due recognition by today’s orthodox medicine. – Andrew Rooke, Melbourne, Australia.

 

 

INTRODUCTION TO JUDAISM AND THE KABBALAH — Tony Downey.

 

The centrepiece of Judaism — the source of its beliefs, rituals and laws — is the Hebrew Bible. The term “Bible” originated among Christians who referred to both the Hebrew Bible, or “Old Testament,” and the “New Testament” as the Bible, but the Jews only referred to the Hebrew Bible. The more common name for the Hebrew Bible is the Tanakh which is made up of three parts. These parts are 1) the Torah or Five Books of Moses 2) the Nevi’im or Prophets, and 3) the Ketuvim or Scripture.  The Torah is considered supreme in terms of prestige; traditional Jews believe it was given to Moses and is read regularly as part of the synagogue ritual. The Torah begins with creation and ends with the death of Moses.

 

For many Jews, their religious experience as a people was shaped not only by the Tanakh but also by other writings particularly based on the visions of the prophet Ezekiel. The system developed from these writings is known as Kabbalah—Hebrew for “Tradition.” The hidden tradition in the Kabbalah, passed on only to worthy initiates, is found in the Sepher ha-ZoharThe Book of Radiance—which originally appeared in thirteenth-century Spain but which may have dated back to the rabbis in the second century C.E. The Zohar was printed in the sixteenth century and has been an influential work offering an alternative system of spirituality alongside the traditional study of the Tanakh. – Edited from – Great World Religions: Judaism – Tony Downey, Melbourne, Australia.

 

COMMENTARY ON ANCIENT, MEDIEVAL AND MODERN TEXTS: PART 2: The Zohar Don Shepherd.

 

The study of monism and enmeshment can be further investigated within the Sepher ha-Zohar, or The Book of Radiance, a thirteenth-century compilation by Rabbi Moses de Leon of second-century writings by Rabbi Shimeon bar Yohai and his successors. Ein Sof, or the Boundless, is self-existent and endless, but it seems to possess a depth that manifests periodically. In that periodicity the first sefirah or emanated power known as Keter, which somehow shares in the nature of the Boundless and therefore is referred to as Ayin or Nothingness, pours forth the other nine sefirah, thereby completing the ten sefirot that construct the Heavenly Man, or Adam Kadmon, who symbolizes the enmeshment of the ONE throughout all its creative subordinate powers within the cosmos. That is, the depth of Ein Sof—not Ein Sof itself per se — is the monistic unity in Jewish Kabbalism.

 

From Keter, or Infinite Space to the extent that it is identified with Ein Sof, emerges a primordial point, a spark of impenetrable darkness so bright it cannot be seen. This primordial point is Hokmah, the second sefirah which corresponds to “reshit” or “the beginning” in Genesis 1:1.

Given impulse by the depth of Ein Sof, the primordial point dilates and elongates into a

              The Sephirothal Tree

column that supports the expansive Womb of Heaven—Binah or the third sefirah—into which the Elohim, or the gods, take up residence to begin their production of the lower seven sefirot or the spiritual and material hosts, angels and demons.

 

The core sefirot unfold next: Hesod, Gevurah, and Tif’eret. While the sefirah Hesod maintains the love and beauty of the higher triad, its dark counterpart, Gevurah, signifies the root of evil and the descent of demonic forces into the lowest four sefirot. Tif’eret balances them under the allegories of the Old Testament figures—Jacob as the sinking of the imperfect man towards the Biblical “end of matter” and Israel as the ascent out of matter by the perfected man.

 

As for the lowest four sefirot, a war rages as the demonic forces pass from the sefirah Hod into Yesod, a phallic symbol which drains its river from the heavenly Garden of Eden into the earthly Garden of Eden of the base sefirah, Malkuth. But just when all seems lost and at its darkest, the true nature of Malkuth reveals itself. As the receptacle of the higher nine sefirot, even this lowest world “constitutes all, a single entity.” At this point of realization, Malkuth takes on the properties of Shekinah, the Holy Spirit or the container of All. As the container of All, it itself is the middle and upper triads of sefirot as reflected or enmeshed in the material world and it appropriates to itself the spiritual qualities of Hokmah and Binah, thereby being figuratively married to the divine Keter.

 

As such, Shekinah comes to be seen as the entire cosmos — the feminine aspect of the Heavenly Man being the Sacred Virgin — and the first primordial point or “reshit” as “the beginning” which precedes Elohim or the gods (God for the monotheists) — a placement corresponding to the Hindu Mulaprakriti, consort of Parabrahman and the first knowable as feminine, whose reflection in Prakriti, or matter, comes to dominate and subsequently raise our lowest earth. In this awareness, Shekinah climbs from the depth of Malkuth — a mirror-image of the depth of Ein Sof — to its source in the phallic Yesod and there metaphorically circumcises the heavy garments of itself (ritualized by the Jews as the soiled foreskin of the male child) to ultimately reach the next rung on the ascent, the sefirah Netzah, and free itself to glide upwards along the Kabbalistic spinal column — or the Hindu kundalini

 — from Yesod, the circumcised male, to Tif’eret, the restored Israel, and finally to her divine husband, Keter. This journey of Shekinah from the multiplicity of matter to the unity of spirit was signified in the nine Hebrew letters, divided in every direction but all joined as one, of the Holy Name—YHVH ALHIM or Jehovah Elohim.

 

Text: The Zohar, Vols. 1-6. Translated and Commentary by Daniel C. Matt. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2004-2011. – Don Shepherd, Melbourne, Australia.

Theosophy Downunder is issued three times per year in April, August, and December and is edited by Andrew Rooke. We can be contacted at the Theosophical Society (Pasadena), Australasian Section, 664 Glenhuntly Rd., South Caulfield, Melbourne, Victoria 3162, AUSTRALIA. Tel : 0400942613 Email : andrewrooke@hotmail.com World Wide Web homepage at: http://theosophydownunder.org/  Our International Leader is Randell C. Grubb.

 

 

From all of us at Theosophy Downunder - May the Blessings of the Sacred Season be with you and sustain your efforts to “Live the Life” in 2013 and Beyond. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to All!

Christmas in Melbourne Australia.