Ask me your questions, bridgekeeper! I am not afraid!

The Secret Teachings of All Ages, Part LXXXIII
Not only was the mistletoe sacred as symbolic of the universal medicine, or panacea, but also because of the fact that it grew upon the oak tree. Through the symbol of the oak, the Druids worshiped theSupreme Deity; therefore, anything growing upon that tree was sacred to Him.

Firstly, I wonder why the Oak particularly was chosen to represent the supreme deity. Birch is quite nice. The Larch is easy to recognize from quite a long ways away; why not the Larch? Actually, I might know the answer to this. I read a splintered history of wood, and learned that Oak is the Breakfast of Civilization, for a number of good reasons.

Secondly, there is a bit of a counter-intuitive thought process on display here:

"Oh, most holy of trees, divine oak, symbol of the Supreme...wait a tick... there seems to be some sort of parasitic spongy growth blooming on the body of our most sacred of trees! What surer sign could there be? That spongy growth is the solution to all our problems, and the answer to all our prayers."


Wisdom Crandor, there appears to be a man in black using a hempen rope to scale our monument to Zeus! In the dead of night he furtively ascends and makes ready to, yes, chip away at the sky god's ruby eyes using a flint chisel. By these actions we know him to be...

A: a thief.
B: our new high priest and prophet.

At certain seasons,according to the positions of the sun, moon, and stars, the Arch-Druid climbed the oak tree and cut the mistletoe with a golden sickle consecrated for that service. The parasitic growth was caught in white cloths provided for the purpose, lest it touch the earth and be polluted by terrestrial vibrations. Usually a sacrifice of a white bull was made under the tree.

Someone should do a science experiment to see how well plants grow when they are watered with blood. Could be a fun project.

The Secret Teachings of All Ages, Part LXXXII
Its been *quite* a while, I know, but the Ancient Mysteries have only become more ancient and therefore mysterious in my absence.

My wife Jenova has given birth to my first child, a son. We named him Sephiroth Weregyld Theodred Andrus, due to his elevated midichlorean count. After everyone he knows and loves succumbs to the cataclysm in 2012, he'll embark upon a multi-stage quest to discover his true identity and quite possibly discover the doorway to another world. But, enough of my personal life, which is doubtless 3 kinds of dreary drab to you, dear reader.

What of the Secret Teachings? Well, they continue to stretch out before us, as if the fabled serpent Jörmungandr itself were unspooled into the vanishing point. The writings of the inestimable Manly P. Hall continue to guide us in examining this serpentine road, paragraph by paragraph, scale by terrible scale.

Before we resume our heady philosophical woolgathering, I'd like to share some philosophical musings of my own.

1. We've learned in previous parts that Philosophy is the Greatest Consolation God has given Man. While I wholeheartedly agree, I think that this is but a meager compass. To know Philosophy is the Greatest consolation is itself a consolation even greater. What I mean is, to know that which most do not, to be aware of the fact, to hold it in one's heart, and to know that your thoughts are yours alone and yet universally true, is among the purest of goods.

2. The sun is a remarkable symbol of the divine origin of things, because it is invisible. I say that the sun is invisible because it is entirely obscured by the heat, light, and several radiations that it constantly sheds. The divine is just so, obfuscated by its own emanations. Also, the sun is silent and golden, and silence is golden. Coincidence?

And there you have it, the fruit of months of rumination on the miracle of life. Let us, then, continue with the Secret Teachings, and audit the words of one more profoundly steeped in rich enigma.

On the subject of druids:

At the time of the Roman conquest, the Druids were thoroughly ensconced in Britain and Gaul. Their power over the people was unquestioned, and there were instances in which armies, about to attack each other, sheathed their swords when ordered to do so by the white-robed Druids.

It is difficult to read these words without picturing Gandalf the White running bandy-legged along a line of battle, his stentorian tones commanding surcease of futile bloodletting.

No undertaking of great importance was scatted without the assistance of these patriarchs, who stood as mediators between the gods and men. The Druidic Order is deservedly credited with having had a deep understanding of Nature and her laws. The Encyclopædia Britannica states that geography, physical science, natural theology, and astrology were their favorite studies. The Druids had a fundamental knowledge of medicine, especially the use of herbs and simples. Crude surgical instruments also have been found in England and Ireland. An odd treatise on early British medicine states that every practitioner was expected to have a garden or back yard for the growing of certain herbs necessary to his profession.

Example of a crude surgical instrument: a rock. As it turns out, crude surgical instruments have been found pretty much everywhere.
Also it strikes me that to "have a fundamental knowledge of medicine" is not a ringing endorsement.

Here's my impression of a druid barber:

"Hello, welcome, what seems to be the trouble? Pain in your ab-doe-men, you say? Not a problem, step on in to the... my backyard. I grow certain herbs here necessary to my profession, so its convenient... I also have a few crude surgical tools scattered about... ah, here we go. Lemme just brush this one off... Now just lay down on the lawn here and we'll get to it. Oh, not to worry, I have a fundamental knowledge of medicine."

Eliphas Levi, the celebrated transcendentalist, makes the following significant statement:
"The Druids were priests and physicians, curing by magnetism and charging amylets with their fluidic influence. Their universal remedies were mistletoe and serpents' eggs, because these substances attract the astral light in a special manner. The solemnity with which mistletoe was cut down drew upon this plant the popular confidence and rendered it powerfully magnetic. * * * The progress of magnetism will some day reveal to us the absorbing properties of mistletoe. We shall then understand the secret of those spongy growths which drew the unused virtues of plants and become surcharged with tinctures and savors. Mushrooms, truffles, gall on trees, and the different kinds of mistletoe will be employed with understanding by a medical science, which will be new because it is old * * * but one must not move quicker than science, which recedes that it may advance the further. " (See The History of Magic.)

Wow. If there are any druids reading this blog, feel free to chime in right about now. Fluidic Influence? Magnetic Progression? Spongy Growths? Astral Light? Gall on Trees?

The Secret Teachings of All Ages, Part LXXXI
The origin of the word Druid is under dispute.

Hah! Oh, sure, its well known that the people of Atlantis were sun worshipers. But watch out folks, the Origin of the word "Druid" is under dispute! On with the show:

Max Müller believes that, like the Irish word Drui, it means "the men of the oak trees." He further draws attention to the fact that the forest gods and tree deities of the Greeks were called dryades. Some believe the word to be of Teutonic origin; others ascribe it to the Welsh. A few trace it to the Gaelic druidh, which means "a wise man" or "a sorcerer." In Sanskrit the word dru means "timber."

Wow, what a hotly contested origin story. I can almost feel the tense commitment of these embattled academics. No one is backing down, not now, not ever. I know how I come down on this issue, do you? Its time to cut the cord, dear reader, and reach your own benighted conclusion. Pick a side, take a fucking chance once in your life. And when next we meet, perhaps it will be on opposite sides of this critical issue, no? Shall we be enemies, or friends? Kisses, or Death? Choose your fate.

The Secret Teachings of All Ages, Part LXXX
Up until this point, my knowledge of druids (and, therefore, yours) was based entirely upon the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Players' Handbook. Manly is going to correct that deficit in a subsection he likes to call:


The original and primitive inhabitants of Britain, at some remote period, revived and reformed their national institutes. Their priest, or instructor, had hitherto been simply named Gwydd, but it was considered to have become necessary to divide this office between the national, or superior, priest and another whose influence [would] be more limited. From henceforth the former became Der-Wydd (Druid), or superior instructor, and [the latter] Go-Wydd, or O-Vydd (Ovate), subordinate instructor; and both went by the general name of Beirdd (Bards), or teachers of wisdom. As the system matured and augmented, the Bardic Order consisted of three classes, the Druids, Beirdd Braint, or privileged Bards, and Ovates." (See Samuel Meyrick and Charles Smith, The Costume of The Original Inhabitants of The British Islands.)

As a faithful reader, I'm sure odd names, eccentric circles of power, and obsolete titles are meat and mead to you now.

In an eerie parallel to my rant on or about the discovery of Secret Teaching #1, observe that priests and instructors are (and ought to be) one and the same.

The Secret Teachings of All Ages, Part LXXIX
Space prohibits a detailed discussion of the secret schools. There were literally scores of these ancient cults, with branches in all parts of the Eastern and Western worlds. Some, such as those of Pythagoras and the Hermetists, show a decided Oriental influence, while the Rosicrucians, according to their own proclamations, gained much of their wisdom from Arabian mystics.

The only thing I can think of to say: Arabia must have been a very different place before Islam.

Although the Mystery schools are usually associated with civilization, there is evidence that the most uncivilized peoples of prehistoric times had a knowledge of them. Natives of distant islands, many in the lowest forms of savagery, have mystic rituals and secret practices which, although primitive, are of a decided Masonic tinge.

I love this. The purpose of the Mystery school is to aquaint us with our higher natures, a task as elusive and difficult to define as it is to accomplish. Yet, all that is necessary is a conspiracy to control information, an enterprise which comes naturally to any creature endowed with even the rudest sort of animal cunning.

The Secret Teachings of All Ages, Part LXVIII
In the ancient world, nearly all the secret societies were philosophic and religious. During the mediæval centuries, they were chiefly religious and political, although a few philosophic schools remained. In modern times, secret societies, in the Occidental countries, are largely political or fraternal, although in a few of them, as in Masonry, the ancient religious and philosophic principles still survive.

So, philosophy is unpopular even secret societies.

It strikes me that, after I rack up a fair number of secret teachings, I ought to seek out one or more of these extant societies in my area, if such a thing is even possible. We could compare notes, and I might share my findings here. I think that would be grand.

Perhaps we might find some metric by which we can chart just how much of humanity's "lost estate" they have managed to reclaim.

The Secret Teachings of All Ages, Part LXXVII
Sun worship played an important part in nearly all the early pagan Mysteries. This indicates the probability of their Atlantean origin, for the people of Atlantis were sun worshipers.

Wow, what a find! This is definitely Ancient Secret #4! Let's put it up on the big board!

At second thought. Let's not. I'm going to spare Manly the shame of seriously considering Atlantis, for now. He'll try and convince me about it later on, I'm sure.

The Solar Deity was usually personified as a beautiful youth, with long golden hair to symbolize the rays of the sun. This golden Sun God was slain by wicked ruffians, who personified the evil principle of the universe. By means of certain rituals and ceremonies, symbolic of purification and regeneration, this wonderful God of Good was brought back to life and became the Savior of His people. The secret processes whereby He was resurrected symbolized those cultures by means of which man is able to overcome his lower nature, master his appetites, and give expression to the higher side of himself. The Mysteries were organized for the purpose of assisting the struggling human creature to reawaken the spiritual powers which, surrounded by the flaming ring of lust and degeneracy, lay asleep within his soul. In other words, man was offered a way by which he could regain his lost estate. (See Wagner's Siegfried.)

I followed this all the way up to "regain his lost estate." If I, or more to the point you, dear reader, were to overcome your lower nature, master your appetites, and give expression to your higher self, would you say you had regained your lost estate?

So the problem with human nature, if I understand correctly, is that your spiritual powers are trapped behind a hellish barrier of lust and appallingly low character.

I guess its not surprising that the greatest obstacle to enlightenment is lack of interest.

The Secret Teachins of All Ages, Part LXXVI
The ancient philosophers believed that no man could live intelligently who did not have a fundamental knowledge of Nature and her laws. Before man can obey, he must understand, and the Mysteries were devoted to instructing man concerning the operation of divine law in the terrestrial sphere.

Its terribly important to keep in mind that their idea of God is as an invisible, intangible, supernatural, inhuman force or first principle which causes all things to be as they are. The irony is, that even though God may be an impersonal first principle, that doesn't mean He/She/It hasn't left us a handy instruction booklet.

This "divine law" isn't written in a real and actual book, the bible is just a metaphor. To believe that the bible is the literal word of God is to be fully as lost as one who looks for heaven up in the sky. It is written in the world around us, in the nature of things.

Few of the early cults actually worshiped anthropomorphic deities, although their symbolism might lead one to believe they did. They were moralistic rather than religionistic; philosophic rather than theologic. They taught man to use his faculties more intelligently, to be patient in the face of adversity, to be courageous when confronted by danger, to be true in the midst of temptation, and, most of all, to view a worthy life as the most acceptable sacrifice to God, and his body as an altar sacred to the Deity.

This is so important, I think its worth calling Ancient Secret #2.

This isn't a secret to many people in the world, but I live in a Judeo-Christian nation, one founded by puritans who looked on the most natural functions of the body as obscene and offensive to God. So I'm putting it up on the big board:

SECRET OF ALL AGES #1: Religious Matters are fit subjects for scientific exploration. The doctrine that belief in God (if accepted at all) must be accepted on Faith alone, is false.

SECRET OF ALL AGES #2: To uphold virtue is the most holy of sacrifices, and the body is an altar sacred to God.

Now, I'm not being a fanatic, here. We can discuss and debate on just what virtue is, and how bodies should be treated. I expect a wide range of opinion on these particulars.

But let us please, as one, arrive at the conclusion that salvation does not consist of being forgiven from sin or from castigating the flesh, but from practicing virtue and caring for ourselves.

The Secret Teachings of All Ages, Part LXXV
Thomas Taylor has written, "Man is naturally a religious animal." From the earliest dawning of his consciousness, man has worshiped and revered things as symbolic of the invisible, omnipresent, indescribable Thing, concerning which he could discover practically nothing. The pagan Mysteries opposed the Christians during the early centuries of their church, declaring that the new faith (Christianity) did not demand virtue and integrity as requisites for salvation. Celsus expressed himself on the subject in the following caustic terms:

"That I do not, however, accuse the Christians more bitterly than truth compels, may be conjectured from hence, that the cryers who call men to other mysteries proclaim as follows: 'Let him approach whose hands are pure, and whose words are wise.' And again, others proclaim: 'Let him approach who is pure from all wickedness, whose soul is not conscious of any evil, and who leads a just and upright life.' And these things are proclaimed by those who promise a purification from error. Let us now hear who those are that are called to the Christian mysteries: Whoever is a sinner, whoever is unwise, whoever is a fool, and whoever, in short, is miserable, him the kingdom of God will receive. Do you not, therefore, call a sinner, an unjust man, a thief, a housebreaker, a wizard, one who is sacrilegious, and a robber of sepulchres? What other persons would the cryer nominate, who should call robbers together?"

First of all, I can accept the general point. Christianity distinguished itself from earlier "mysteries" by making certain assumptions about the human condition. To an outsider, the doctrine of original sin seems perverse. I find the point to be persuasive and sound, as far as it goes. Personally, I wouldn't want to be a part of an organization if it calls me a sinner before learning anything about me personally, no matter how much love and compassion it may get packaged with.

Yet, as an argument, I find it fairly incoherent. From a modern perspective, isn't Celsus maintaining a willful ignorance about certain basic truths?

1. If I'm starting a new religion, and my competitors have already recruited all the "virtuous" folks, well, I'm going to have to try and round up the rest, aren't I?

2. There's good and bad everywhere. Regardless of how you address your congregation, the basic truths of human nature remain the same. Does a call for virtue really attract good people, and does a call for corruption really attract bad?

3. Purity and corruption go hand in hand. Lao Tzu teaches that the Dao, like water flows down into the lowest and filthiest of places. What is a good man? Someone who takes care of a bad man. What is a bad man? A good man's charge.

4. Manly carefully explained that some people believe in myths and gods literally, and others understand them as allegory and metaphor. What does this have to do with salvation? The introduction of "salvation" is off-topic, it seems to me, unless Manly would like to define his terms. It isn't clear just what is at stake with this evaluation.

It was not the true faith of the early Christian mystics that Celsus attacked, but the false forms that were creeping in even during his day. The ideals of early Christianity were based upon the high moral standards of the pagan Mysteries, and the first Christians who met under the city of Rome used as their places of worship the subterranean temples of Mithras, from whose cult has been borrowed much of the sacerdotalism of the modem church.

From Wikipedia:
Sacerdotalism is the idea that a propitiatory sacrifice for sin must be offered by the intervention of an order of men separated to the priesthood. This system of the priesthood is taught in the Old Testament.[1]

The term sacerdotalism comes from the Latin sacerdos, priest, literally one who presents sacred offerings, sacer, sacred, and dare, to give

The Secret Teachings of All Ages, Part LXXIV
With the decline of virtue, which has preceded the destruction of every nation of history, the Mysteries became perverted.

Decline of... virtue? I would have said competitive weapons technology, but hey, that's why Manly is the Master. Still, the destruction of every nation of history has been preceded by a distinct lack of swivel-mounted plasma cannons. Just sayin'.

Sorcery took the place of the divine magic. Indescribable practices (such as the Bacchanalia) were introduced, and perversion ruled supreme; for no institution can be any better than the members of which it is composed. In despair, the few who were true sought to preserve the secret doctrines from oblivion. In some cases they succeeded, but more often the arcanum was lost and only the empty shell of the Mysteries remained.

On the one hand, this is just the sort of rhetoric I signed up for. Manly describes a foul Pervertocracy, dominated by Sorcerers who plunge the sacred doctrines into oblivion, resisted by a band of "the true", burdened to devise some remedy against their assault. Good stuff.

On the other hand, has Manly lost his damn mind? I mean, is any of this based on research of any kind, or is he just copying out of the Silmarillion?


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