Chapter 9 Principles of Esoteric Evolution: Symbolism and Astrology in the Bible and the Vedas (The Vedas and the Bible)
This chapter is another section of the spiritual evolutionary concepts and is a good prelude to Esoteric Buddhism and the Secret Doctrine; not as detailed, but the basic principles as basically the same. Having finished with the historical critical analysis, with this chapter we get a final generous helping of esoteric theological doctrine, essentially presenting an exoteric exegesis of the creation story from Genesis, with comparisons from Hindu texts, the centerpiece being probably the esoteric explanations of Ezekiel’s Wheel.
This chapter is one of Blavatsky’s most important astrological writings, written from a unique, mystical/kabbalistic perspective. Moreover, it can be considered as a seminal influence on the fields of historical astrology and evolutionary astrology. It is one of the most difficult chapters in Isis Unveiled, probably the closest in style to Secret Doctrine.
1- Seven in Ancient Scriptures (405)
Myth Interpretation 405/Seven in Hinduism and Judaism 406 / Mantras 409 /Symbolism 411 / Symbolism of Seven 417
This number reappears likewise on almost every page of Genesis, and throughout the Mosaic books, and we find it conspicuous (see following chapter) in the Book of Job and the Oriental Kabala. If the Hebrew Semitics adopted it so readily, we must infer that it was not blindly, but with a thorough knowledge of its secret meaning; hence, that they must have adopted the doctrines of their “heathen” neighbors as well. It is but natural, therefore, that we should seek in heathen philosophy for the interpretation of this number, which again reappeared in Christianity with its seven sacraments, seven churches in Asia Minor, seven capital sins, seven virtues (four cardinal and three theological), etc.
Have the seven prismatic colors of the rainbow seen by Noah no other meaning than that of a covenant between God and man to refresh the memory of the former? To the kabalist, at least, they have a significance inseparable from the seven labors of magic, the seven upper spheres, the seven notes of the musical scale, the seven numerals of Pythagoras, the seven wonders of the world, the seven ages, and even the seven steps of the Masons, which lead to the Holy of Holies, after passing the flights of three and five. 408
One must consult the Pythagoreans and Kabalists to learn the potentiality of this number. Exoterically the seven rays of the solar spectrum are represented concretely in the seven-rayed god Heptaktis. These seven rays epitomized into THREE primary rays, namely, the red, blue, and yellow, form the solar trinity, and typify respectively spirit- matter and spirit-essence. Science has also reduced of late the seven rays to three primary ones, thus corroborating the scientific conception of the ancients of at least one of the visible manifestations of the invisible deity, and the seven divided into a quaternary and a trinity.
The Pythagoreans called the number seven the vehicle of life, as it contained body and soul. They explained it by saying, that the human body consisted of four principal elements, and that the soul is triple, comprising reason, passion, and desire. The ineffable WORD was considered the Seventh and highest of all, for there are six minor substitutes, each belonging to a degree of initiation. The Jews borrowed their Sabbath from the ancients, who called it Saturn’s day and deemed it unlucky, and not the latter from the Israelites when Christianized. The people of India, Arabia, Syria, and Egypt observed weeks of seven days; and the Romans learned the hebdomadal method from these foreign countries when they became subject to the Empire. Still it was not until the fourth century that the Roman kalends, nones, and ides were abandoned, and weeks substituted in their place; and the astronomical names of the days, such as dies Solis (day of the Sun), dies Lunae (day of the Moon), dies Martis (day of Mars); dies Mercurii (day of Mercury), dies Jovis (day of Jupiter), dies Veneris (day of Venus), and dies Saturni (day of Saturn), prove that it was not from the Jews that the week of seven days was adopted. Before we examine this number kabalistically, we propose to analyse it from the standpoint of the Judaico-Christian Sabbath. 417-18
“Thus, the week of six days and the seventh, the Saba or Sapta-day period, is of the highest antiquity. The observance of the lunar festivals in India, shows that that nation held hebdomadal meetings as well. With every new quarter the moon brings changes in the atmosphere, hence certain changes are also produced throughout the whole of our universe, of which the meteorological ones are the most insignificant. On this day of the seventh and most powerful of the prismatic days, the adepts of the “Secret Science” meet as they met thousands of years ago, to become the agents of the occult powers of nature (emanations of the working God), and commune with the invisible worlds. It is in this observance of the seventh day by the old sages — not as the resting day of the Deity, but because they had penetrated into its occult power, that lies the profound veneration of all the heathen philosophers for the number seven which they term the “venerable,” the sacred number. The Pythagorean Tetraktis, revered by the Platonists, was the square placed below the triangle; the latter, or the Trinity embodying the invisible Monad — the unity, and deemed too sacred to be pronounced except within the walls of a Sanctuary. 418-19
2- Symbolism in Genesis (420)
Genesis 420 / Early Vedic Civilisation 430 / Ethiopeans and Egyptians 435 / Bible History 439 / Moses and Sargon 441 / Symbolism of Noah 443 / Dragon symbolism 446 / Ark symbolism 447 / Patriarch Symbolism 449 / Symbolism of the Four Beasts 451 / Cross Symbolism 453
The allegories of the “fall of man” and the “deluge,” are the two most important features of the Pentateuch. They are, so to say, the Alpha and Omega, the highest and the lowest keys of the scale of harmony on which resounds the majestic hymns of the creation of mankind; for they discover to him who questions the Zura (figurative Gematria), the process of man’s evolution from the highest spiritual entity unto the lowest physical — the post-diluvian man, as in the Egyptian hieroglyphics, every sign of the picture writing which cannot be made to fit within a certain circumscribed geometrical figure may be rejected as only intended by the sacred hierogrammatist for a premeditated blind — so many of the details in the Bible must be treated on the same principle, that portion only being accepted which answers to the numerical methods taught in the Kabala. 424
Vaivasvata (who in the Bible becomes Noah) saves a little fish, which turns out to be an avatar of Vishnu. The fish warns that just man that the globe is about to be submerged, that all that inhabit it must perish, and orders him to construct a vessel in which he shall embark, with all his family. When the ship is ready, and Vaivasvata has shut up in it with his family the seeds of plants and pairs of all animals, and the rain begins to fall, a gigantic fish, armed with a horn, places itself at the head of the ark. The holy man, following its orders, attaches a cable to this horn, and the fish guides the ship safely through the raging elements. In the Hindu tradition the number of days during which the deluge lasted agrees exactly with that of the Mosaic account. When the elements were calmed, the fish landed the ark on the summit of the Himalayas. 425
The exoteric plan of the Bible was made to answer also to four ages. Thus, they reckon the Golden Age from Adam to Abraham; the silver, from Abraham to David; copper, from David to the Captivity; thenceforward, the iron. But the secret computation is quite different, and does not vary at all from the zodiacal calculations of the Brahmans. We are in the Iron Age, or Kali-Yug, but it began with Noah, the mythical ancestor of our race. 442
This statement that the story of Noah is but another version in its hidden meaning of the story of Adam and his three sons, gathers proof on every page of the book of Genesis. Adam is the prototype of Noah. Adam falls because he eats of the forbidden fruit of celestial knowledge; Noah, because he tastes of the terrestrial fruit: the juice of the grape representing the abuse of knowledge in an unbalanced mind. Adam gets stripped of his spiritual envelope; Noah of his terrestrial clothing; and the nakedness of both makes them feel ashamed. The wickedness of Cain is repeated in Ham. But the descendants of both are shown as the wisest of races on earth; and they are called on this account “snakes,” and the “sons of snakes,” meaning the sons of wisdom, and not of Satan, as some divines would be pleased to have the world understand the term. 449
Comparing the biblical patriarchs with the descendants of Vaiswasvata, the Hindu Noah, and the old Sanscrit traditions about the deluge in the Brahmanical Mahabharata, we find them mirrored in the Vaidic patriarchs who are the primitive types upon which all the others were modelled. But before comparison is possible, the Hindu myths must be comprehended in their true significance. Each of these mythical personages bears, besides an astronomical significance, a spiritual or moral, and an anthropological or physical meaning. The patriarchs are not only euhemerized gods — the prediluvian answering to the twelve great gods of Berosus, and to the ten Pradjapati, and the postdiluvian to the seven gods of the famous tablet in the Ninevean Library, but they stand also as the symbols of the Greek AEons, the kabalistic Sephiroth, and the zodiacal signs, as types of a series of human races.*** This variation from ten to twelve will be accounted for presently, and proved on the very authority of the Bible. Only, they are not the first gods described by Cicero,* which belong to a hierarchy of higher powers, the Elohim — but appertain rather to the second class of the “twelve gods,” the Dii minores, and who are the terrestrial reflections of the first, among whom Herodotus places Hercules.** Alone, out of the group of twelve, Noah, by reason of his position at the transitional point, belongs to the highest Babylonian triad, Noah, the spirit of the waters. The rest are identical with the inferior gods of Assyria and Babylonia, who represented the lower order of emanations, introduced around Bel, the Demiurge, and help him in his work, as the patriarchs are shown to assist Jehovah — the “Lord God.” 450-51
3- Ezekiel’s Wheel Astrological Symbolism
Astrological Symbolism 455 / Bible Patriarchs and the Zodiac 459 / Symbolism of Ezekiel’s Wheel 461 / Cycles 466 / Kabbalah on Adam and Eve 468 / Biblical Scholarship 469
The true Sabean astrological doctrine secretly taught that within this double sign was hidden the explanation of the gradual transformation of the world, from its spiritual and subjective, into the “two-sexed” sublunary state. The twelve signs were therefore divided into two groups. The first six were called the ascending, or the line of Macrocosm (the great spiritual world); the last six, the descending line, or the Microcosm (the little secondary world) — the mere reflection of the former, so to say. This division was called Ezekiel’s wheel, and was completed in the following way: First came the ascending five signs (euphemerized into patriarchs), Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, and the group concluded with Virgo-Scorpio. Then came the turning-point, Libra. After which, the first half of the sign Virgo-Scorpio, was duplicated and transferred to lead the lower, or descending group of Microcosm which ran down to Pisces, or Noah (deluge). To make it clearer, the sign Virgo-Scorpio, which appeared originally thus , became simply Virgo, and the duplication, , or Scorpio, was placed between Libra, the seventh sign (which is Enoch, or the angel Metatron, or Mediator between spirit and matter, or God and man). It now became Scorpio (or Cain), which sign or patriarch led mankind to destruction, according to exoteric theology; but, according to the true doctrine of the wisdom-religion, it indicated the degradation of the whole universe in its course of evolution downward from the subjective to the objective. 456-457
The following diagram represents Ezekiel’s Wheel, as given in many works, among others, in Hargrave Jennings’ Rosicrucians:
EZEKIEL’S WHEEL (exoteric).
These signs are (follow numbers):
1, Aries; 2, Taurus; 3, Gemini; 4, Cancer; 5, Leo; 6, Virgo, or the ascending line of the grand cycle of creation. After this comes 7, Libra — “man,” which, though it is found right in the middle, or the intersection point, leads down the numbers:
8, Scorpio; 9, Sagittarius; 10, Capricornus; 11, Aquarius; and 12, Pisces.
While discussing the double sign of Virgo-Scorpio and Libra, Hargrave Jennings observes (p. 65):
“All this is incomprehensible, except in the strange mysticism of the Gnostics and the kabalists; and the whole theory requires a key of explanation to render it intelligible; which key is only darkly referred to as possible, but refused absolutely, by these extraordinary men, as not permissible to be disclosed.” 461
EZEKIEL’S WHEEL (esoteric).
To explain the presence of Jodheva (or Yodheva), or what is generally termed the tetragram , and of Adam and Eve, it will suffice to remind the reader of the following verses in Genesis, with their right meaning inserted in brackets.
Adam, is written with one letter, Jod or Yodh; therefore it must not be read Jehova but Ieva, or Eve. The Adam of the first chapter is the spiritual, therefore pure androgyne, Adam Kadmon. When woman issues from the left rib of the second Adam (of dust), the pure Virgo is separated, and falling “into generation,” or the downward cycle, becomes Scorpio,*emblem of sin and matter. While the ascending cycle points at the purely spiritual races, or the ten prediluvian patriarchs (the Pradjapatis, and Sephiroth)** are led on by the creative Deity itself, who is Adam Kadmon or Yodcheva, the lower one is that of the terrestrial races, led on by Enoch or Libra, theseventh; who, because he is half-divine, half-terrestrial, is said to have been taken by God alive. Enoch, or Hermes, or Libra are one. All are the scales of universal harmony; justice and equilibrium are placed at the central point of the Zodiac. The grand circle of the heavens, so well discoursed upon by Plato, in his Timaeus, symbolizes the unknown as a unity; and the smaller circles which form the cross, by their division on the plane of the Zodiacal ring — typify, at the point of their intersection, life. The centripetal and centrifugal forces, as symbols of Good and Evil, Spirit and Matter, Life and Death, are also those of the Creator and the Destroyer, — Adam and Eve, or God and the Devil, as they say in common parlance. In the subjective, as well as in the objective worlds, they are the two powers, which through their eternal conflict keep the universe of spirit and matter in harmony. They force the planets to pursue their paths, and keep them in their elliptical orbits, thus tracing the astronomical cross in their revolution through the Zodiac. In their conflict the centripetal force, were it to prevail, would drive the planets and living souls into the sun, type of the invisible Spiritual Sun, the Paraatma or great universal Soul, their parent; while the centrifugal force would chase both planets and souls into the dreary space, far from the luminary of the objective universe, away from the spiritual realm of salvation and eternal life, and into the chaos of final cosmic destruction, and individual annihilation. But the balance is there, ever sensitive at the intersection point. It regulates the action of the two combatants, and the combined effort of both, causes planets and “living souls” to pursue a double diagonal line in their revolution through Zodiac and Life; and thus preserving strict harmony, in visible and invisible heaven and earth, the forced unity of the two reconciles spirit and matter, and Enoch is said to stand a “Metatron” before God. Reckoning from him down to Noah and his three sons, each of these represent a new “world,” i.e., our earth, which is the seventh* after every period of geological transformation, gives birth to another and distinct race of men and beings.
Cain leads the ascending line, or Macrocosm, for he is the Son of the “Lord,” not of Adam (Genesis iv. 1). The “Lord” is Adam Kadmon, Cain, the Son of sinful thought, not the progeny of flesh and blood, Seth on the other hand is the leader of the races of earth, for he is the Son of Adam, and begotten “in his own likeness, after his image” (Genesis v. 3). Cain is Kenu, Assyrian, and means eldest, while the Hebrew word means a Smith, an artificer. 462-464