From Suggestive Inquiry into the Hermetic Mystery by Mary Anne Atwood:
161. I am perfectly sure that the Hermetic is the only true key to the old myths, and to Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, because the solution which it gives is entirely adequate to the subject. Proclus develops the ontological basis of the Iliad; Virgil wrote on the same initiated ground; the Georgic’s are an allegory all through, an analogical instruction in celestial and spiritual agriculture. I regard the whole of the Aeneid as illustrative of the same truths in another form, — the 6th Book markedly so.
162. When the Divine presence arises in the human life, all that is alien and contrary is dispelled “as wax before the fire”, as David says in the 68 th Psalm, and there is great rejoicing and a setting free of the life which has been so long imprisoned, and at the further of the Divine Power all the circumferential etherical sphere is shaken up and there is an abundant influx of the Holy Spirit; and underneath all this there is revealed that wonderful White Light which Van Helmont speaks of, though in a very superficial way, as the Quellem, and which the Kabalists celebrate as belonging to the Ancient of Days, i.e., the primeval Light. This action is a merging of the whole of the variety of Life into its first unity.
163. In the process of the Hermetic regeneration there is a drawing of power and life up through the feet which may be called breathing, pumping up of the rich essences of the spirit; the essential fold which is of the substance of light; that, drawn up in this manner, becomes through our organization into operation and visibility if permitted, or unless returned for a higher purpose to its fountain. “The ransom of a man’s life are his riches”; man at that moment craving the riches of the whole world set before him, gives them up. This is imaged even in our ordinary life in the world, where we find men giving up the chance for acquiring wealth for science and her rewards, for poetry, for duty and what not. How much more does this hold good for the true seeker when he is brought to the fountain head of all riches and wisdom essential.
164. Those old Grecian fables are wonderful, most acute, refined, witty; when understood they are most relishing. Take for instance the fable of Midas turning everything into gold and thereby starving himself. He is thus a representation of one whose will, for want of returning the aurific substance of life into its source and living there, becomes fossilized and starved in the mere possession of that life, holding it as he did the selfhood.
165. The process is a passage of life through various spheres of being, in any of which the will may rest, but every one of which presents a law of progress at its development which should be pursued to the end — the Divine manifestation — and every stoppage of the will short of this is in its way punished. There is no standing still in those spheres of perpetual motion. Upwards or downwards the will must go.
166. It is quite true that Nature, as the Bishop of Oxford (Wilberforce) says, is as much the voice of God as Revelation is; but Nature, I think, no longer presents a true image or echo of that voice since the fall off from the Divine Law. Revelation is given to rectify and draw back man and all Nature through man to the original Truth. The present form of Nature is a fall off from the true representation, it gives a distorting shadow of the true. Nevertheless this has no reference to the possibility of facts of science contradicting the Bible. It does not alleviate that difficulty; where the Bible makes reference to natural facts the question stands on its own ground.
167. The Matter is seen with the inner eye, either of the agent in the patient, or the patient in the agent, for in the working of the Material they alternate.
Synesius refers to that when he says in his Isis and Osiris, “You also have been initiated into those mysteries where there are two pairs of eyes; those which are beneath are closed, when those which are above are opened”, and vice versa.
168. The handling of the Matter is this, that when the Matter flows forth exteriorly from the new-born consciousness, it passes out into the hand and flows through the fingers, and is able to ferment another life and bring it into the same consciousness; this in its turn rises higher, and is able to react, raising again that other which raised it.
169. The entrance of the essential light of the reason into the chaos of the Vital Spirit (which always is in chaos, i.e., always coming to be, never is, and whilst in this life wants the rebirth), that entrance constricts the chaos at first into vivid images, but persisting in its direct look or intellectual perscrutination of the life, dissolves and disperses the images of which the chaos is full.
Strictamqu Aeneas aciem venientibus offert
Et ni docta comes:, etc. (Aeneid VI, 291, etc.)
Then the light goes on seeking the Paternal Life, the fundamental life; and finding it through the maternal instinct (the doves of Venus) is conjoined, and so far as it is conjoined is strengthened for further warfare.
170. Without the Golden Bough Aeneas could not proceed over or pass by Tartarus to see his Father. Tartarus is the death of this life. By propitiation, through the offering of the Golden Bough, he is passed safely through to the Elysian regions, where the Paternal ens resides in liberty.
171. The Rational Light is the strongest of all lights, and overcomes every other. All life moves orderly round the focus of that Alight when that Light is found or realized. This constitutes the re-integration of being, the manifestation of the Logos in man.
172. We are all of us drawn to our Ideal as to a star; to us the Ideal is a Light, a real objective attraction or magnet.
173. What you find all depends on what you look with; ontologically you find what you seek, that is, the ontological quality of the faculty you seek with determines what you find; if you seek with a selfish, covetous, desiring spirit you find its object in the lower spiritual atmosphere, the first emanation from this life. We on earth live in the first arising from nature. Thoughts, images, passions, desires, words, loves, hates, all rise up through this first Ether Natural and abide on a sphere of their own above it. The higher faculties, the moral nature, with their results, are related to the pure Ether, which overlies the passion sphere. Above that is the Divine Light region which is the proper habituation of the high Reason when informed by the Love, and after it has been purified by passing through the humiliation.
174. The Protean life is very difficult of discovery; the last subterfuge of Proteus according to Homer in the Odyssey is transformation into a tree. This tree appears to be identical with that bearing the Golden Bough which Aeneas was ordered to find and take as his talisman to pass through the Infernal Regions to Elysium, where the Paternal Spirit lives. Prior to the ultimate transformation, however, it takes various other shapes. As the enquiring spirit enters into the ether life, the light that it seeks by compresses the ether and drives it about and causes it to take all sorts of fantastic forms: the imaginative spirit is the maker of these images. “No one”, says Vaughan, “enters into the Magian School but he wanders awhile in the region of Chimaeras”. These Chimaeras have all to be destroyed in order to reach the simple Hypostasis or radix of the reason that seeks; the “aurai simplicis ignem.”
175. True Science is the contact identical of the thing knowing with the thing known, subject with object. Of course, I mean ontologically; for Truth is, as it were, Light in its own ether, the Divine Wisdom self-conspicuous.
176 What a wonderful analysis of Time Proclus works out in his Commentary on the Timaeus; he there takes it to be a created or secondary essential participation of the eternal Unit, or, better, a participation of the Paradigm by the image; not a mere relation as you make it, or a condition of thought as modern metaphysicians have it.
177. The solution of the sensuous spirit or vehicle is effected by the Perpendicular Magnetism, the fixation by the Horizontal; altitude and latitude. By the former the soul is set free — it translates the consciousness into another medium. By it, the consciousness is brought into relation to another world and new experiences. “Quis deus,” says Virgil in introducing the myth of Aristaeus, a myth which bears altogether on the Vital transmutation in an advanced stage, “Quis deus hac musae quis nobis extudet artem? Unde nova ingressus hominum eperientia caepit?” (Georgics IV, 315, etc.)
178. It is an awful thing that when the Divine Life is being elicited in a man, the sins of this world press heavily upon him, through his sympathy with it, and his perception of the evil; it is as if the individual soul was responsible for all.
179. How nothing the individual is in comparison with the universal! We know noting of Causality — i.e., we have no experience of the Efficient Power. When the individual mind comes in contact with power universal, it then can understand the meaning of the words, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom, for that experience is the initial of the regenerate life; that which ferments the sensorium of this life, and lives upon its decease ultimately: its decease I say, for it comes up again ultimately.
180. Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte’s book, wants writing over again, or rather rewriting twice. It is a Saturnine mass of power in mere potentiality; a dark cloud; chaos before Light strikes through it. It wants the Jupiter element to clear it. Charlotte ought to have taken it in hand for her sister, for Emily was not capable of clearing it. Charlotte Bronte was Jupiter and Lune; Emily Bronte was Saturn; Anne Bronte was Venus and Lune.
181. The “One Thing”; it is our psychical essence; our nervous system. “Solution” refers to the separation of the sensuous medium itself. You cut off the sensuous life and get into the intuitional; and when again you dissolve the intuitional, you get into the intuitional (sci.,divine).
“Help Manual.” The hand outward is an image of the invisible hand, its clothing; which, according to its attainment, (i.e., the perfection of its own nature), works effects. The hands of the Ether are its transverse poles, which are formed by the divine differentiation everywhere, and are in man a natural fire —i.e., the fire of the Ether in us, or of our life organism.
The “Philosophical Matter” is the entelechy of body bearing the spirit, the antecedent cause, right up through. The human soul is more than a mere resultant of body; it is its ultimate perfection, for it is a mesothesis between two spheres.
The Ether is the universal extended Matter; the Divine posit everywhere; life.
The “Metals” of the philosophers are the ethereal metals; the Ether’s progressive stages; its processes; the arising of the Ether from and through its lower to its higher forms and qualities.
The adept regards nature inwardly and as a whole; he feels all in himself.
The soul’s angelic essence is a metallic humidity. The soul in its perfection is the Christian philosopher’s stone. The soul in its metalline perfection is the philosopher’s stone.
Alchemy can be fully understood only by those who have entered on and are working the philosophic process; by those who, as Plato well says, are conversant with the soul in her philosophy — i.e., the recreative, or rather separative, process.
All you get first of all is a pure matter which is passive, having no power of perfecting itself; it is the attractive power. But you must set free the masculine ferment, the sulphur or divine ferment (which is doubly hidden and beyond in this life of ours) to effect the perfection of the matter.
Our life is threefold. The “salt”, the will, opens it secondfold. Each life must have its key and representative; the first has its status and being in sense. Dissolve the sensuous medium and you have the second or medial life. Dissolve the medial and you reach to the divine, which rectifies the whole individual. Visitabis interiore terrae, etc.
Alchemy is philosophy; it is the philosophy, the seeking of The Sophia in the mind.
For production of effect there must be a return of the sulphur (this third, this obscure, this radical life) on its matrix. Each principle of the life — active, passive, and resultant — must be produced or evolved separately, and represented personally produces a universal work.