FOI Online Liturgy
Isis of Alchemy, Transformation through the Goddess
By: Olivia Robertson
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"At midnight I saw the sun shining as if it were noon."
Priest of Isis, from "The Transformations of Lucius," Antonine period, Rome.
This sentence has always haunted me. I felt that I had in part missed some vital part of my vocation as Priestess of Isis. I attained my Vocation to Her Priesthood directly from Isis in the autumn of 1946. My brother Lawrence, an ordained clergyman in the Church of England, received his Vocation during the sixties. We worked together promoting the religion of the Goddess for thirty-four years, founding the Fellowship of Isis in 1976. I noticed writers on the Isian Mysteries would refer to this "sun" as merely symbolic, attaching no actual happening to Lucius' experience.
Since receiving my Vocation, I saw many luminous Beings while I was fully conscious. They were composed of crystallised golden, silver or copper-coloured Light. But I only once saw the sun physically, only reflected on the Adriatic, in a vision of fifteenth-century Venice.
Aged eighty-three, on the night of Thursday the 22nd June, I went to bed early after this longest day of the year 2,000. I fell into a deep sleep - but was abruptly woken up by a brilliant flash of white light, like a star. The South-East wall of my room seemed to evaporate, and I felt the presence of beings, who had caused this flash. Then, to my delight, I saw a Sun floating in the centre of my room. It shone brilliantly with golden light slightly flushed as is the sun at dawn. I wondered why it was not nearer the ceiling. I fell into deep sleep, thinking: "I have seen the sun." Once or twice I woke up repeating this with happiness.
During July and August clairaudience was added to my usual clairvoyance. On three occasions, at night, I heard attractive bell-like music within my room. On the third occasion I jumped out of bed while the music was still being played and looked out of my window which is at the very top of the castle. Outside was total darkness and country stillness. The music, with its clarion of bells, ended not in our modern scale but in one of the ancient Greek modes.
On Wednesday the 6th of September that same summer I was as usual in bed early and drifted off to sleep. I was briefly aware of the "sun" which had wavy radiations. I fell deeply asleep - but was dragged violently awake by an explosion of light within my body, centred on my solar plexus. It felt friendly and warm. I was also aware of the star which was like a shower of silver light through my head.
None of these experiences affected my consciousness. I knew they were of an etheric nature - that realm so near our physical plane. The climax came on Tuesday the 26th September, the first day of the Demeter Harvest Mysteries, The Thesmophoria. I slept deeply through the night, and in the early hours I woke up to see a shining woman standing by my bed. She glowed with white light and wore an "angel" dress. Her oddest feature was her short hair. It seemed made of liquid gold and was cut strangely in large petals. The reader may examine my illustration, which is reasonably accurate.
On the Lady's left was a high and wide transparent pillar, within which were gyrating spirals composed of motes of gold, with one or two dots of red and blue. The Lady was manipulating these spirals through sound. On her right was suspended a long crystal rod, and the Lady was striking beautiful notes from this with a wand. As the Lady struck a very long exquisite high note - she vanished. I lay awake enjoying the bell-like sound, which finally faded away.
It was during my subsequent tour of the United States in October and November, attending F.O.I. Conventions, that I learnt more. Kadea, member of our Archpriesthood Union and Teacher of Spiritual Alchemy, introduced me to her friend, a well known alchemist who identified the Lady to my satisfaction. He told me that other people had seen her. What they had all agreed upon was her curious hairstyle, which they described as being "cut in hearts." She never speaks. She also appears as an earthy woman with longer chestnut hair, and as a Nature Spirit in a green dress, with red wavy hair cascading down her back.
My own series of experiences occurred while I was writing the Alchemical Rituals now presented in this book. Yet when I began writing, I knew little of the subject. I often re-read three of my favourite classics: "Le Comte de Gabalis" by the Abbe de Montfaucon de Villars, "The Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz," and "The Most Holy Trinosophia" by le Comte de Saint Germain.
They had a magical fascination for me, through quaint imagery and emblems, unknown scripts and odd drawings - but I understood nothing! That is why I liked them, I think. Too many authors write with the intellect. These came from some other sphere. So I decided to join that adventure that has lured many a traveller to doom or glory - the quest for the Philosopher's Stone!
Kadea showed me various Alchemical books, but what impressed me the most, because of its simple profundity, was the script of the Emerald Tablet. Let us see if my readers feel as I did:
Inscription from the Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus, author of the Divine Pymander. Exact date unknown.
"In truth, without deceit, certain and most veritable. That which is Below corresponds to that which is Above, and that which is Above corresponds to that which is Below, to accomplish the miracles of the One Thing. And just as all things come from this One Thing, through the meditation of the One Mind, so do all created things originate from this One Thing, through Transformation.
“Its Father is the Sun; its Mother is the Moon. The Wind carries it in its belly; its nurse is the Earth. It is the origin of All, the consecration of the Universe; its inherent Strength is perfected if it is turned into Earth.
“Separate the Earth from Fire, the Subtle from the Gross, gently and with great ingenuity. It rises from the Earth to Heaven and descends again to Earth, thereby combining with Itself the powers of both the Above and the Below.
“Thus will you obtain the Glory of the Whole Universe, All Obscurity will be clear to you. This is the greatest force of all powers, because it overcomes every Subtle thing and penetrates every Solid thing.
“In this way was the Universe created. From this comes many wondrous Applications, because this is the Pattern.
“Therefore am I called Thrice Great Hermes, having all three parts of the Whole Universe. Herein have I completely explained the Operation of the Sun."
In many cultures the sun is female, the moon, male. The basic ethic of this script is Universality, the inter-relation of all that is. Duality is resolved into cosmic spirals of being, from high to low. We have here the Hegelian dialectic. "Thesis, antithesis, synthesis." In Hinduism the primary three are "Rajas - Sattva - Tamas." Activity - balance - inertia. The Yin-Yang symbol of China is similar. In feminine form, there is the Three-fold Sophia, the Divine Wisdom.
I still wondered what relevance this tablet - this alchemy - had for followers of the Goddess. The tablet was first discovered by the Emperor Alexander, who erected an imposing monument to the Thrice-holy Hermes. Hermes was held to be a Greek embodiment of the Egyptian God of Wisdom, Thoth, Whose lost books provided a quest for many a seeker.
The most dramatic reappearance of the Emerald Tablet occurred hundreds of years later, during the reign of the unpopular Roman Emperor Commodus. A young student of the Mysteries, Balinus, was gazing at the monument to Hermes, re-reading the words of the tablet inscribed thereon. Suddenly an idea came to him. Maybe the "look Below" instruction was not merely a spiritual injunction. Why not dig? So he got a spade and dug. Deep down he came upon a secret cave, later named the Vault of the Adepti. And there, dead and in full ancient if worn robes - was enthroned no less than the Thrice Great Hermes. And on his chest reposed The Emerald Tablet.
Balinus made good use of his discovery, and was later revered as a God, honoured with a new name, Apollonius of Tyana.
About fifteen hundred years later the same Mystery was reenacted. This time the dead Magus had with an inscription declaring that he was a Christian - his name? Christian Rosenkreutz. This was the seed-myth of the Rosicrucian Order. Later it surfaced through the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Members would be given words of wisdom from a Priest lying in a coffin.
Here was Patriarchy itself - precept, rules, instructions, practices, issuing from a corpse of an aged man with a long beard. God the Father with white beard reigned in Heaven: here He was below. Yes, it made sense, but had no relevance to the religion of Isis. So why had I been endowed with the mysterious sun? Surely there must be a link with Lucius’ rebirth through seeing this sun, and the sun-gold which was the goal of all Alchemists?
Whenever a truth is concealed, it may be discovered in the most unexpected, even ridiculous places. I found the Mystery of Isis, reputed Mother of the Sun, Mother of the Philosopher's Stone, concealed in three legends, presented in a critical even hostile light by philosophers.
The first is the story of Isis and Ra - how the Goddess obtained His secret name by underhand means. She took his spit or semen - that dropped from the aging Sun God as He was approaching death. She made a serpent from this mixed with clay, which bit the God. He was in agony, burning with fire and frozen with ice. To end such torture, He gave Isis His secret name.
I have heard lovers of the Goddess declare that this story is a fabrication invented by priests to denigrate Isis. But is it? My brother Lawrence advised me to study again the symptoms caused by the snake. It was the Life Force itself. Seen in this way, the underlying teaching is simple. Isis revives the dying God, and She gives Him rebirth as Her son Horus, God of the rising sun. In a similar way Her mother, Goddess Nuit of the stars at day-time and Her twin, Naut of the night stars, are reputed to eat the sun at night-fall and give it rebirth at dawn.
The next story is not hostile to Isis, and is the underlying myth of the Isian and Greek Mysteries, for thousands of years. The story is deceptively simple. The disguised Isis, seeking for Her dead husband Osiris - later to be reborn as Horus - is employed by Queen Astarte to be wet-nurse for her son and heir. Isis gives the child no earthly food, but only nectar and ambrosia, food of the Gods. These two produce the life-blood of the Immortals - Ichor.
But the Queen is suspicious of the strange nurse and spies on her. She sees the nurse holding her child within the flames of the hearth fire. She screams and snatches the child away from the nurse. Isis then manifests in Her divine form. She tells the mother that She would have made her son immortal but now he will be as other men. But here comes the hope. She entrusts the mother, father and neighbours with Her Mysteries which will, through successful initiations, bestow immortality upon those found worthy.
The Mysteries of Isis lasted for about three thousand years, and were later adapted by the Greeks, who named Isis "Demeter" and the boy "Demophoon". This method of spiritual development continued through the Christian period in secret occult orders.
However, the most entertaining yet possibly the most important legend is one that is the most contemptuously treated by the orthodox. This is the story of Isis and the Angel. Sometimes Isis is called "Cleopatra". Isis wished to make gold. So She went to an Angel who said he would teach Her - on two conditions. One was that She was to give Herself to him. Secondly, that on obtaining the secret of the Philosopher's Stone, She should only reveal the secret to Her son and friend. That is all. But it was enough to shock one author, who complained that this heathen Goddess allowed Herself to be seduced by a fallen angel in order to get money.
To me the meaning was clear, cunningly hidden by Alchemists. The Angel was the Sun God Ra, representing Love. Isis represented Sophia - Truth. Both needed the other, in alchemical polarity. So Isis gained Love, the inner sun. And Ra recognised Truth - Isis Unveiled.
In our own day thousands of people were present when Maria appeared to three children in Fatima, Portugal, 1917. She appeared on the 13th of each month - a Goddess number - from May to October. On each occasion She was heralded by a brilliant golden disc that travelled through the sky before and after the apparitions. Most people saw the discs - I have seen a photo of one - but not the Lady. She gave the children Prophecies which, as is usual with Marian warnings, predicted disaster unless people repented.
On the 13th October there came the miracle of the Dancing Sun. At noon, on a grey, wet day, after the Lady had appeared, the "sun" began whirling around and then zig-zagged towards the earth - towards about 90,000 people. It emitted rainbow coloured rays which were so hot they dried the people's clothes. This was seen by all.
This is the Alchemy of the miraculous, drawing heaven and earth into harmony. It is traditional. But now there is a new form of the Art involving the humble non-existent "Nought". During the Middle Ages Arabic numbers were replacing Roman numerals, and this of course included "0" - the decimal. The Pope of the period and his cardinals declared that "nought" was heresy. To use it would involve prosecution, possibly the stake.
Why did the Pope and his advisers fear humble "nought"? One thinks of famous astronomers having total denial of Black Holes. The "0" was a secret known to architects and mathematicians. Vitruvius, the Roman Architect, used the ratio 1.61803 in his architecture! It was the proportions of the Golden Section, the Divine Ratio through which God made Man. It was used by adding "nought" to arithmetical progression. 1. 0. 1. 2.5. 8. 13. 21 to infinity.
Many people still find Black Holes horrifying. As one man described the phenomena: "An old witch snatching up stars and putting them in her coal-sack." Isis and Ra?
This "0" was feared, despised by those exclusive followers of The Light regarded the womb - Yoni - Matrix as a prison impeding Illumination. But now "0" has become worse - it is a Black Hole that courses its mole-like tunnelling through Einstein's physics. As popular Science Fiction films assure us, we may travel faster than light - through Black Holes.
How does this involve the new Alchemy - through Chaos Physics? The Black Hole forms a divine link from the Below to the Above - to the Heavens from earth. Once divine spheres were the domain of Saints and Philosophers. Now any of us, through near-death or death experiences, reach paradise through a long black tunnel. So the greater is reflected in the lesser. We are born through the womb into new life. We return to the Matrix to achieve nobler Rebirth. And so do the stars.
Searchers are now enjoying magic designs of Chaos Physics, Sacred Geometry, the Golden Section and fractals, through mysterious symbols that regularly appear among earth's field crops. This strange harvest is being added to our food chain! So it was in Ancient Egypt, when devotees ritually sowed corn in the form of Osiris, in order to eat the food sacramentally. So they hoped to live well, and to survive into His realm in the hereafter.
Are we facing a new expanding twist in the spiral of life? Are we becoming aware of our angel selves? Brigid, striking crystal notes that affect atoms and stars, may furnish a clue. Ever rising octaves of sound and the spectrum show a way of finding the buried sun within ourselves, and hence in all that surrounds us. Many already are seeing turquoise-blue and violet rays. Others hear "The Hum."
As to my own quest, it has led me home. I have discovered the hidden sun within the transforming fire on Brigid's Hearth.
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