Kenosis to Gnosis
Hear the silence
Death and Resurrection
It's always hard to tell someone they are dying, but it is even harder to tell someone they are already dead.
This video, by Marilyn Manson, shows an autopsy scene where a dead man is giving birth to a baby in his skull. The baby in his skull represents his soul being reborn after the body and his old self have died. Marilyn Mansons song called Rock is Dead, has a strange line in it that says, "All simple monkeys, with alien babies", which was explained on the page called Mechanical Animals and it means that humans are monkeys, or animals that are living in ignorance of the place the alien babies are from. The alien babies refer to the souls of the babies being alien to this world and the people they are born to. That line describes the condition of the soul very well.
Death and resurrection is a theme that has come up so many times in religions, movies, music and the occult that it needs its own page. Death and resurrection can be called order out of chaos and Alchemy, which is about breaking things down and building it back into something better.
Johannes Helmont, in his book Alchemy Unveiled, put it really well with this statement, "It should not be forgotten here, that the Holy Ghost was not poured out until after the Exaltation through the Cross. That means, through the Azoth, after the Blood and Water flowed! Just as the first labour of the Magnum Opus was a work dissolution and Death, the second labour is a restoration of Life and a work of rebirth."
Psalm 107:18, "They loathed all food and drew near the gates of death. 19Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. 20He sent out his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave."
The best known death and resurrection story that is in the most sold book in history, is the story of Jesus Christ. Everyone knows the story, so it doesn't have to be repeated, but there are hidden occult themes in this story. The cross that Jesus Christ died on represents the four elements, the four cardinal directions, the four seasons etc. Jesus Christ being nailed to the cross means that his soul was bound to the physical world and his resurrection came after his death. The name of the hill that Jesus Christ was crucified on is called Golgotha, which means skull, could that be any more of an obvious metaphor for the soul being "crucified" while it is in the body.
Matthew 27:33, "They came to a place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull")
The cross that Jesus Christ died on represents the four elements, the four cardinal directions, the four seasons etc. Jesus Christ being nailed to the cross means that his soul was bound to the physical world and his resurrection came after his death. The name of the hill that Jesus Christ was crucified on is called Golgotha, which means skull, could that be any more of an obvious metaphor for the soul being "crucified" while it is in the body.
27:51, "At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection ande went into the holy city and appeared to many people."
The temple is a metaphor for the body and the veil that covers the holy of holies from the rest of the temple is the soul. When Jesus died, that veil was torn and his spirit was released. It's interesting that after the veil was torn, then the tombs were opened and other holy people were released from death. As mentioned on this page, death had a different meaning in Jesus' time and it represented the ignorance of the soul and the place it came from. Jesus made it very clear in John 2:19 that he was the temple and that is how it was going to be destroyed and rebuilt in three days. The veil that covered the holy of holies takes on a new meaning when looked at it like this.
The idea of the temple representing a body may have its origin in Egypt. The temple of Luxor seems to be set out in the shape ofa human body and as mentioned in the page called The Hermetica, the Great Pyramid has the image of a king in the layout of its passages and chambers and of course, the Great Pyramid has the best representation of death and resurrection in the form of the empty sarcophacus.
The death and resurrection of Osiris was a predecessor of that story and that was the most famous myth in ancient Egypt.
From Azoetia, by Andrew Chumbley.
"I go to the Field of the Dead at Midnight
to lay myself upon the Grave,
to sleep upon the Bed of Black Earth -
which holds Those whom I have been.
Beneath the Bat's Wings and beneath the Owl's Screech,
Under Weeping Sky and Whispering Tree,
the Dead and I will share our Dream.
Our Prayer is this: a Cipher of the Hand and Eye.
We meet in Silence who listen for the Old Gods' Voice -
'Hekas Hekas Este Bebeloi'."
Escape the Underworld
The concept of the Underworld is very much linked to death and resurrection and they will be included on the same page. It is said that when various gods, including Jesus Christ, died they descended into the Underworld and then they rose up again back into the world of the living, thus overcoming death.
In ancient mythology the Underworld was a place where the dead went. The Underworld appears in many different religions and cultures from all over the world, so this is an idea that is universal. But in Gnosticism and the occult, as well as in certain Hollywood movies, the Underworld has another meaning, it isn't so much a place where people go when they die, it is the world of materialism and ignorance of the soul.
In THX 1138, Resident Evil and The Matrix, the people in them are trapped in that society and the only way they can get freedom is to ascend into the light. THX 1138 and Resident Evil are discussed on the movie metaphors page.
The Matrix movies are a Gnostic metaphor given a modern technological look. The movie is about people being asleep in a dream world and being ignorant of the real world. This movie is full of Biblical themes and is a strong metaphor for this world. In one scene in the third Matrix movie, they rise above the clouds, which is making the world of the machines, or the Archons, dark and they see the Sun for the first time. The machine cannot rise above the darkness of this world and have to stay in the darkness. The world of the machines and the dream world is the Underworld.
Think of humanity as being soil of one kind or another. The seeds that are planted in them are underground out of sight of the light, but if the soil is good enough, then that seed will grow and emerge out of that underworld and into the light. Then it will start producing a flower to create a rebirth. If the soil is barren and it doesn't get rain, that seed will go to waste and that soil will be lifeless and not be productive in anyway. The flower is an important symbol in many cultures and occult societies. It always represents the opening up of the soul and being reborn into the light. This is salvation, which means allowing that seed to grow so that it will pierce the veil to the world above and get into the light. In order for a flower to emerge it needs fertile soil and it needs help from above, in the form of rain.
The Parable of the Sower is a very good teaching from the Bible, Matthew 18 “Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. 20The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 22The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. 23But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown."
The Trimorphic Protennoia from the Nag Hammadi Library compares this world, being full of ignorance, chaos and darkness to being the Underworld. Salvation is about liberating people out of this ignorance and bringing them back to the place they came from.
I descended to the midst of the underworld, and I shone down upon the darkness. It is I who poured forth the water. It is I who am hidden within radiant waters. I am the one who gradually put forth the All by my Thought. It is I who am laden with the Voice. It is through me that Gnosis comes forth. I dwell in the ineffable and unknowable ones. I am perception and knowledge, uttering a Voice by means of thought. I am the real Voice. I cry out in everyone, and they recognize it (the voice), since a seed indwells them.
Then there came forth a word from the great Light Eleleth, and said, "I am king! Who belongs to Chaos and who belongs to the underworld?" And at that instant, his Light appeared, radiant, endowed with the Epinoia. The Powers of the Powers did not entreat him, and likewise immediately there appeared the great Demon who rules over the lowest part of the underworld and Chaos. He has neither form nor perfection, but, on the contrary, possesses the form of the glory of those begotten in the darkness.
Chaos is a major feature of this world, there is chaos in all of nature, things are being built up and they die to be regenerated as something else. Chaos is mentioned numerous times in the Trimorphic Protennoia and it is always connected to the Underworld.
Then I too revealed my Voice secretly, saying, "Cease! Desist, (you) who tread on matter; for behold, I am coming down to the world of mortals for the sake of my portion that was in that place from the time when the innocent Sophia was conquered, she who descended, so that I might thwart their aim which the one revealed by her appoints." And all were disturbed, each one who dwells in the house of the ignorant light, and the abyss trembled. And the Archigenetor of ignorance reigned over Chaos and the underworld, and produced a man in my likeness. But he neither knew that that one would become for him a sentence of dissolution, nor does he recognize the power in him.
I am their Father, and I shall tell you a mystery, ineffable and indivulgeable by any mouth: Every bond I loosed from you, and the chains of the demons of the underworld I broke, these things which are bound on my members, restraining them. And the high walls of darkness I overthrew, and the secure gates of those pitiless ones I broke, and I smashed their bars. And the evil force, and the one who beats you, and the one who hinders you, and the tyrant, and the adversary, and the one who is King, and the present enemy, indeed all these I explained to those who are mine, who are the Sons of the Light, in order that they might nullify them all, and be saved from all those bonds, and enter into the place where they were at first.
The very last part is interesting when it says, "be saved from all those bonds, and enter into the place where they were at first." That is the very definition of Gnosticism, because Gnosticism is about people being freed of ignorance and darkness and returning to where they came from.
Then, when the great Authorities knew that the time of fulfillment had appeared - just as in the pangs of the parturient it (the time) has drawn near, so also had the destruction approached - all together the elements trembled, and the foundations of the underworld and the ceilings of Chaos shook, and a great fire shone within their midst, and the rocks and the earth were shaken like a reed shaken by the wind. And the lots of Fate and those who apportion the domiciles were greatly disturbed over a great thunder. And the thrones of the Powers were disturbed, since they were overturned, and their King was afraid.
Then the Powers answered, saying, "We too are at loss about it, since we did not know what was responsible for it. But arise, let us go up to the Archgenitor and ask him." And the powers all gathered and went up to the Archgenitor. They said to him, "Where is your boasting in which you boast? Did we not hear you say, "I am God, and I am your Father, and it is I who begot you. and there is none beside me"? Now behold, there has appeared a Voice belonging to that invisible Speech of the Aeon which we know not. And we ourselves did not recognize to whom we belong, for that Voice which we listened to is foreign to us, and we did not recognize it; we did not know whence it was. It came and put fear in our midst and weakening in the members of our arms. So now let us weep and mourn most bitterly! As for the future, let us make our entire flight before we are imprisoned perforce, and taken down to the bosom of the underworld. For already the slackening of our bondage has approached, and the times are cut short, and the days have shortened, and our time has been fulfilled, and the weeping of our destruction has approached us, so that we may be taken to the place we recognize. For as for our tree from which we grew, a fruit of ignorance is what it has; and also its leaves, it is death that dwells in them, and darkness dwells under the shadow of its boughs. And it was in deceit and lust that we harvested it, this (tree) through which ignorant Chaos became for us a dwelling place. For behold, even he, the Archgenitor of our birth, about whom we boast, even he did not know this Speech."
The Gnostic gospels have passages in them that make it clear that the Gnostics believed that people are living in an underworld right now.
The Gospel of Truth, "He labored even on the Sabbath for the sheep which he found fallen into the pit. He saved the life of that sheep, bringing it up from the pit in order that you may understand fully what that Sabbath is, you who possess full understanding. It is a day in which it is not fitting that salvation be idle, so that you may speak of that heavenly day which has no night and of the sun which does not set because it is perfect. Say then in your heart that you are this perfect day and that in you the light which does not fail dwells."
The Tripartite Tractate, 8:89, "They acknowledged the light which had come into being as one stronger than those who fought against them. The beings of the likeness, however, were exceedingly afraid, since they were not able to hear about him in the beginning, that there is a vision of this sort. Therefore they fell down to the pit of ignorance which is called "the Outer Darkness," and "Chaos" and "Hades" and "the Abyss."
The Interpretation of Knowledge, 10 "
What now is the faith laid down by the master who released him from the great ignorance and the darkness of the ignorant eye? He reminded him of the good things of his Father and the race. For he said to him, "Now the world is not yours, may you not esteem the form that is in it as advantageous; rather (as) disadvantageous and (as) a punishment." Receive now the teaching of the one who was reproached - an advantage and a profit for the soul - and receive his shape. It is the shape that exists in the presence of the Father, the word and the height, that let you know him before you have been led astray while in (the) flesh of condemnation.
Likewise I became very small, so that through my humility I might take you up to the great height, whence you had fallen. You were taken to this pit. If now you believe in me, it is I who shall take you above, through this shape that you see. It is I who shall bear you upon my shoulders. Enter through the rib whence you came and hide yourself from the beasts. The burden that you bear now is not yours. Whenever you (fem.) go ... (14 lines missing)... from his glory [...] from the first. From being counted with the female, sleep brought labor and the sabbath, which is the world. For from being counted with the Father, sleep brought the sabbath and the exodus from the world of the beasts. For the world is from beasts and it is a beast. Therefore he that is lost has been reckoned to the crafty one, and that one is from the beasts that came forth. They put upon him a garment of condemnation, for the female had no other garment for clothing her seed except the one she brought on the sabbath. For no beast exists in the Aeon."
In the book called The Secret School of Wisdom, by Josef Wages, it mentions on page 90, in a lecture for the initiation of a candidate for the Minerval degree of the Bavarian Illuminati, that the Illuminati believed that Mankind was living in the abyss and they were in a higher world, "And he to whom this does not seem important, let him sink back into the abyss from which we lifted him for a while." Being enlightened is about existing in a higher world and not living in the pit.
The Chemical Wedding of Christian Rosenkruetz
This book is one of the three manifestos of Rosicrucianism. The start of it has Christian Rosenkruetz going to sleep and then ending up in a dungeon in chains along with the rest of Humanity. The dungeon is opened and a few of the prisoners, Christian Rosenkruetz included, is freed so he can attend the marriage between the king and the queen. This is a metaphor for the soul falling asleep in the body and the Earth itself is the dungeon. Every so often higher beings open up reality and free some of the prisoners by raising them up to the level of the higher beings. Christian Rosenkruetz has been freed from the Underworld.
"Thus stuck between hope and fear, examining my self again and again, and finding only my own frailty and impotence, not being in any way able to succour myself, and exceedingly amazed at the fore mentioned threatening, at length I betook myself to my usual and most secure course - after I had finished my earnest and most fervent prayer, I laid myself down in my bed, so that perchance my good angel by the Divine permission might appear, and (as it had sometimes formerly happened) instruct me in this doubtful affair. Which to the praise of God, my own good, and my neighbours’ faithful and hearty warning and amendment, did now likewise come about.
For I was yet scarcely fallen asleep, when I thought that I, together with an innumerable multitude of men, lay fettered with great chains in a dark dungeon, in which, without the least glimpse of light, we swarmed like bees one over another, and thus rendered each other’s affliction more grievous. But although neither I nor any of the rest could see one jot, yet I continually heard one heaving himself above the other, when his chains and fetters had become ever so slightly lighter, though none of us had much reason to shove up above the other, since we were all captive wretches.
Now when I with the rest had continued a good while in this affliction, and each was still reproaching the other with his blindness and captivity, at length we heard many trumpets sounding together and kettle drums beating in such a masterly fashion, that it even revived us in our calamity and made us rejoice.
During this noise the cover of the dungeon was lifted up from above, and a little light let down to us. Then first might truly have been discerned the bustle we kept, for all went pell-mell, and he who perchance had heaved himself up too much, was forced down again under the others’ feet.
with my weighty fetters slipped up from under the rest, and then heaved myself upon a stone, which I laid hold of; howbeit, I was caught at several times by others, from whom yet as well as I might, I still guarded myself with hands and feet. For we imagined no other but hat we should all be set at liberty, which yet fell out quite otherwise."
In an Alchemical sense it is necessary to descend to the Underworld and transform into a higher state. In that sense Hell isn't a bad place, just a harsh place. This is a good statement from Johannes Helmont from Alchemy Unveiled, "The german Alchemist Siebmacher writes: "This Stone's Genus is everywhere. His Conception occurs in Hell. His Birth he has on Earth. His Life he leads in Heaven." The alchemistical work actually takes place in three Worlds; the lower, darker world, followed by the middle, paradisiacal world, and eventually in the upper, heavenly world. Each and every one of the three Main-Works of the Maganum Opus takes place in the appropriate sphere. The first work of the so-called preliminary work ends after the dissolution, through which the old world is being drowned by the flood; therefore, in reality in hell, that is, in the Darkness of the Underworld. The christian Mystic Angelus Silesius had knowledge of this, when he said: "Christ, for once you must be in the Abyss of Hell. If you do not go when you are alive, then you must enter when you are dead." -(Cherubinischer Wandersmann) Jacob Boehme said this: "Forthwith after several severe Storms, my Spirit broke through the Gates of Hell into the Innermost of the Deity, and was there embraced by Love, like a Groom embraces his Bride."
This art is called The Awakening and it shows a man emerging out of the Earth. It is located in Washington DC. This man is waking up from his state of death and reemerging into the light.
These chapters are from Alchemy Unveiled by Johannes Helmont and they go into detail about how death and resurrection were integral parts of the ancient Egyptian and Greek mystery religions and consequently the occult after those two civilisations disappeared.
The Rebirth as the Mysterium of Initiation.
"Even today, Plato's words are fully valid, when he said that those who sink in the mire, entered into the underworld uninitiated and unchastened, and only those who went through a mystical life, will enter into eternity.
According to Apuleius, the initiation is a voluntary death and it is a rebirth to a new and higher Life.
The endeavour towards true wisdom is comparable to dying, because the true Philosophers aspire to nothing more than the secession of the Soul from the earthly body. As long as the Soul is bound to the transitory body and is affected by it, the Soul cannot reach her true being, because the sensory perceptions are deceiving and nothing certain can be found in it.
The actual truth cannot be recognized by means of the body, but only through the Spirit, which has withdrawn from everything physical, the enlightened insight, the truth in us, that which is eternal and unchangeable.
The Spirit must concern itself with pure thoughts, which have withdrawn from everything earthly, that means sensual. The one who totally immerses himself into the pure Spirit, lives solely in truth. For the true Philosopher, death does not contain any terror! Also, all the higher ethics must be based on the liberation of the Soul from everything earthly.
Only when the Soul is alone with herself, and she observes the pure, the eternal, the immortal and what always remains unchangeable in and through herself. Then is she united with the wisdom. Then the Soul lives, as the Initiates say, in the Divine.
It is not possible for anyone to enter into the Society of the Divine, unless he has led a mystical life. He has to be totally free from everything earthly and transitory, such as only an Initiate, whose only endeavour is wisdom.
Those Souls, however, that are totally bound and incarcerated by the body are of a coarse earthly substance. Through this, they become coarsely material and impure. It is impossible for them to enter into the other world in a pure and clean condition, and they always pass away burdened with the earthly body, and that is why they do not reach the point, where they unite with the Divine, Pure and being One.
That Soul, however, that follows the higher insight and remains loyal to it, considers and nourishes herself always with the truth and the divine, and all that is superior to the intelligence-speculation, will be transformed into the nature of this divinity. She (the Soul) does not have to fear when separating from the body (while death occurs), that it enters into the chaos and that it will be torn apart there, and will be strewn into the winds and dissolved.
Even Human Beings, who are purely sensuous, have the spiritual-divine powers hidden within them, but only within the Initiate have they manifested in reality. Therein lies the transformation that took place in the Mystic rebirth. The external world made a sensuous Human Being out of him, and he then was left to himself. Nature thereby fulfilled its mission. Nature cannot bring him to a higher perfection, than what is according to its own being. But wherever Nature stops, the art must begin. Therefore, Human Beings must take over by themselves, when it comes to this perfection. He must resurrect the God that is concealed in him by himself.
In antiquity, Human Beings were subjected to secret procedures in those places, where the mysteries took place. His lower earthly nature was killed in that manner, whereas the higher and divine within him was awakened to life.
The reason for the initiation lies in the confession, which were once given by Apuleius, who passed through the Isis-Mysteries himself: "I was close to the Kingdom of Death, after I crossed over the threshold of the Goddess of Death Persephoneia, I travelled through all the elements and returned again. In the middle of the night, I saw the Sun shining radiantly; I was close to the gods of the Underworld and the Upperworld, and I worshipped them from countenance to countenance."
And he adds to this, and rightfully so: "See, I have reported something to you, which you do not understand yet, even though you have heard it!"
Much can be said about the Initiation into the Mysteries and about the rebirth, but to whosoever is not himself initiated and has not experienced the rebirth himself, these words are only sound and smoke.
Only the Initiated consider themselves to be authorized to speak about God and immortality. They know, whosoever has not passed through the Mysteries, and speaks about this, says something, that in principle he does not understand himself. Because, in the uninitiated, the Divine and the Eternal has not yet been awakened, and therefore, it does not exist alive. Would he speak of someone Divine, then he speaks about something which is Nothing. Only when the Mystic has carried out his trip through Hades and has awakened the Eternal in him, can he speak of God and rebirth and not until then.
What Apuleius wanted to say, was this: "What I had in my mind was an infinite perspective, and at the end of that, was the Perfection of the Divinity located. In myself, I felt this power of the Divine. I carried to the grave, whatever this power kept down in me. I have died, when it comes to the earthly and was dead. As a lower Human Being, I had died. I was in the Underworld and I have travelled through the Kingdom of Death. There I associated with the superior Spirits and I received from them important information or instructions.
In the middle of the darkness, I saw the eternal Light which illuminated my Path. After I had travelled through all the regions of the Underworld, I arose from the dead on the third day. I have overcome death, I became another, because I am transformed and I changed my form like Osiris, twelve times, whereby I passed through Earth, Water, Air and Fire. I have nothing to do with my former lower and transitory Nature because this, my Nature in me, is now saturated by the Divine. I belong now to those, who live eternally in the Land of the Living to the Right of Osiris.
I, myself, have become a true Osiris and hold the keys of Life and Death, and to dissolve and to bind the power in my hands."
The Initiation of the Mysteries of Antiquity is also an anticipation of those course of events and conditions, which occur at death. A mystical death, a philosophical dying, is just as serious and as real, as the true dying. Yes, it is even considerably more real, because it takes place with full consciousness.""
The Osiris Mysterium.
"The ancient egyptian Osiris Mysterium refers to the Inner, to the Soul of the Human Being, and to the course of events and transformations which take place there, and what determines the secret process of rebirth.
Osiris is the expression of the Soul's human drama. He is the pure human Soul, descending from the World-Soul (Isis). He is also a Son of the Sun, like Habal (Abel) is the Son of Adam-Kadmon.
Every Human Being is, according to the Soul, a part (Ray) of the original Osiris. However, within the Human Being, Osiris is dead, through the lower Nature (Set-Typhon), that means, through the evil demon, the animal Soul, which like Cain slew his brother Abel. He is buried in the shrine of the mummy of the Earth-Body and thrown into the Nile (River of Life).
But Isis (the Love for the Divine), is seeking, with the help of Anubis (reason), the parts of the corpse, to collect them and to care for them, that means, to mummify them. Out of that, the higher Soul (Horus), the new divine Osiris is born, which conquers the Demon (Seth).
That is how the Osiris-Mythus is the prototype of Initiation for Human Beings, who endeavour to awaken the eternal within themselves. The Human Being himself must become an Osiris, who experiences the fate of God upon himself. The Human Being who descends from the "Father" (Ex Deo nascimur), should produce within himself the divine "Son". Human Beings unknowingly carry within them, this Son of God as an archetype of the Soul, concealed within themselves. However, the eternal should become alive in them and reveal itself. But, for the time being this God, which is hidden in the Inner, is being suppressed in Human Beings, through the demonic force of the earthly Nature (Set-Satan). This lower, earthly Nature must be conquered and killed first (in Christo morimur), so that the higher divine Nature can rise up (per spiritum sanctum reviviscimus).
God (Osiris) is also killed and buried in the Human Being. The Human Being, however, must have him rise out of the mummy and bring him to resurrection. The fiery Soul is impalpable, incomprehensible and escapes into the heights of the free Ether, as soon as the Human Being grasps for her. He must, through the art of Alchemy, draw out of the Earth's volatile Sulphur of the Philosophers, this pure elementary Gold-essence of the Alchemist, somehow fix and bind it in a new manner, through an arcanum of the hermetic arts, so that it, although bound, yet be free and immortal. This Arcanum is the Mercury of the Philosophers, the mediator between God and the Human Beings, that is, between Spirit and Body. The Soul is fiery-volatile; the Mercury is a water-being, half volatile and half fixed. He can take on all forms of the world, since he is extremely plastic; that is why he is also called Proteus. But, this Proteus must first be changed and tamed. He must shed his Dragon-Form and accept his divine Form before he can acquire the Gift of Prophesy.
God (Osiris) is dead and buried in Human Beings. The Human Being must, however, search for him in the darkness of his earthly being, like Isis (the Love of the Divine)
Alchemy Unveiled Page 86 with the Lamp of Anubis (the Light of Reason) searches at night for the corpse of Osiris, until she finally finds him in the waters of the Nile, that means, in the magic fluid, whose Life's Stream flows through and enlivens the whole earthly Nature (Egypt). However, Seth dissected the corpse (the Nature of his Being) of Osiris into 14 parts, that is, into 7 active and passive spiritual-psychic potencies, as the ancient Sages of Egypt depicted them in their Hieroglyphs.
Isis (the divine Love) gathers and unties these parts and protects them with mummy-bandages of the preserving magic energies of her female principle, against putrefaction.
Eventually, Isis will be impregnated from the brought-to-life-again Osiris Mummy, and bears Horus, the new Osiris, God's Son, who can now say this about himself: "I am Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow; I am Geb - Osiris - Horus!"
That means: I am the eternal and unchangeable One, which was, is and will be.
Osiris was resurrected in the Son. The Son took on the form of the Father.
Geb is the egyptian God of the Earth (Saturn), that means, the God which is buried in the earthly body, the Father of Osiris, the Osiris of Yesterday. Osiris himself is the out-of-Shrine, out-of-the-Mummy liberated, but in the water-dissolved Soul, the midnight sun of the Underworld in her course through the descending arc of the spiritual zodiac, wherefore the egyptian Priests whispered into the ears of Mystics during the Initiation, the secret word: "Osiris is a black God!"
The Mysteries of Osiris concluded with the discovery of the God. As Plutarch reports, the Mystics went, on the last night of the initiation, to the water, where the Priests carried with them in the holy drawer a golden receptacle. They poured water in this receptacle, whereupon the Mystics called out: "We found him, we wish good fortune!. Then the fertile Earth was mixed with this water, and a human image was formed out of that, which was dressed and blessed with noble incense, to indicate that Osiris and Isis are Beings of the water and the earth.
In paradise, Adam's body was also made out of water and earth! Whereas Horus is the purpose of the Whole of Initiation. He is white, like Osiris is black. In him, as his Son, Osiris is resurrected. He is the one Out-of-Water and Spirit born-again divine Soul, the winged Sun, the divine Light-Falcon who rises up into the free ether and ascends to heaven.
That is the path of purification of the fiery Soul through Earth, Water and Air, until she will be again united with the divine Light, and can say about herself: "I am Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, I am Geb - Osiris - Horus!""
The Mysteries of Eleusis.
"As the grand drama of the Soul in the egyptian mysteries took place, so is how it happened in the greek Mysteries.
There were a number of minor mysteries and number of great mysteries, into which the candidates would only gain entrance by degree, and only after a strict previous examination.
The minor Mysteries were held every year at Agrai. There were the preparations for the great Mysteries, and they were held every 5 years in the Autumn at Eleusis. Any disclosure about the Mysteries was punishable by death. New members were called Neophytes.
The minor initiations began with preparatory symbolic purifications, a bath in the river Jlissos. The Neophytes also had to sacrifice a pig, and fast for several days.
Then they would be led by Hierokeryx (the Herold of Holy Things) into the Temple region of Demeter. Here a choir sang an ancient dorian Song about life as a dream and the real Life.
Then the Neophytes were led by Hierokeryx (which represented Hermes), into the sacred grove, where the climax of the minor Mysteries took place; the first act of the sacred drama of Persephone, which was presented to them live, in the form of a drama.
In an utmost impressive and breathtaking scene, it was shown to the Neophytes, how Persephone (the Human Soul), succumbed to the temptation of Eros (the demon of the lower Nature), instead of thinking about Dionysos, her Husband appointed from heaven (the divine Light), and being subsequently abducted by Pluto (the Earth-Zeus or Saturn) into the Underworld, to be imprisoned there forever (the captivated Soul in the bounds of the coarse corporeality).
After Act 1 of Persephone's drama, the Neophytes were deeply moved by the performance. At this point, it was explained to them by Hierokeryx, that they had just witnessed the history of their own human Soul.
It was further explained to them, that even now, they were walking in darkness, in a life that was nothing more than an appearance. At one time, however, they did live the real true life, until they were blinded or bedazzled through the sorcery of Eros and fell into the earthly abyss. They were advised to reflect upon the words of Empedocles, who wrote: "that the formation of a Human Being was an awful catastrophe, through which the eternal, living beings became a mortal."
Now the Neophytes had become Mystics, that means, veiled.
They recognized that their present life was only a transition towards their true existence. They are the "Veiled," because they had not seen the "Great Light," the full truth, yet, but they suspected it, and they saw it from afar, like through a veil. They also had to impress upon their minds, the statement made by Olympiodorus: The Purpose of the Mysteries is to bring the Souls back into the condition, from where they (before the fall into the lower world)
Prepared in this manner, the Mystics expected further enlightenment about the mysterious process of rebirth from the experience of the great mysteries, through which they are led to the "Great Light" and in this manner become true initiates, intellectuals, seers (Epopts)."
The Great Mysteries of Eleusis.
"Only the Mystics were allowed to partake in the great Mysteries; those who had already received the minor initiation. The great mysteries took place every 5 years, at the time of the harvest in the month Boedromion (September) in Eleusis for the duration of 9 days.
The First Day was called "The Assembly.. The mystics gathered for admittance to the great Mysteries and prepared for it.
The Second Day was called "To the Ocean, You Initiates.. On this day, they walked in a festive procession to the ocean's shore to undergo a symbolic purification in the ocean water.
On this day, the showing of the sacred Drama was continued. Act 2 was shown, the subject of which was the pain and despair of Demeter (World-Soul) over the loss of her daughter Persephone (human Soul). It was portrayed to them in a moving manner. They saw how the grieving Demeter, for nine days and nights, wandered about with a torch, searching for her lost daughter, as Isis once searched for the missing Osiris. Hierokeryx explained to them the esoteric sense of the sacred drama. He spoke to them about the divine Love of the World-Soul, which is searching for the Soul of the Human Being, to liberate her out of the bounds of mortality, and to unite herself again with her. Then he spoke to them about the transformation to which the human soul, during her migration through the different levels of existence, is subject. Holy Songs concluded these celebrations.
The Third Day was "The Day of Mourning.. On this day, the Mystics, while mourning with Demeter for Persephone who was staying in Hades, were reflecting upon their own souls. Esoteric Exercises, such as holding communion with oneself, fasting, prayers and quiet meditations were taking place. In the evening, the Mystics gathered for a sacred meal. At the conclusion, they drank a mysterious mixed drink.
On the Fourth Day, offerings were given to Demeter and Persephone.
The Fifth Day was "Torch Day.. At the onset of darkness, the Mystics were led by Daduchos the Torch-Bearer (representing the Sun), with burning torches to the Temple of Demeter, to symbolically repeat the search for the Goddess. The burning Torch represents the symbol of the Love ignited from within for the Divine.
The Sixth Day is called "Iacchos." It was the most festive and the highlight of the Great Mysteries.
On this day, a column of Iacchos-Dionysos was carried in a festive procession by the Initiates and Mystics for over four hours on the long, sacred road from Athens to the Temple of Demeter in Eleusis. This was done to symbolize the introduction of the Light and the presence of the Divine. Every Mystic received, before the beginning of the procession, a Thyrsus-Staff and a sealed basket, the sacred chest which they had to carry with them the whole day and were not allowed to open. The sacred chest contained three blessed objects, and was opened in the forthcoming grand and sacred night of the initiation by the Hierophant himself, and he showed and explained these things to the Mystics. The Hierokeryx also told them that even the carrying of the sealed basket had a deeper meaning for them. Because, even as a Human Being, they carried all kinds of things with them, of which they had no knowledge; concealed abilities that would only reveal themselves at a later date.
At the onset of darkness, the Mystics were received in the Temple of Eleusis by the Holy Herold, with the call: "Escato bebeloi!" - "Begone from here, all unconsecrated and ungodly, whose Souls are covered with crimes!," and drove thusly all of the trespassers out. Unauthorized intrusion to these secret celebrations were punishable by death.
The Mystics had to cleanse themselves once more in blessed water, and took vows not to disclose anything to the uninitiated of what they would now see and experience.
After the vows, Hierokeryx told the Mystics that they were now on the threshold to Persephone's infernal dwelling. However, in order to reach the "Great Light", they had to walk first through the darkness. In order to understand something about the true existence of their Soul, they must first walk through the Kingdom of Death. This is the test through which they would change from Mystics into Initiates (Epopts). The Mystics now had to undress and they don a deer hide (the Symbol of animalism, the "Coat of Skins," which Adam received upon leaving Paradise).
Then Daduchos extinguished his torch. All other torches were also extinguished, as in Death the Light of the external World becomes extinct.
Now the Mystics are led by their Mystagogues to the entrance of the infernal labyrinth. Total darkness reigns there. This represented the condition of their Soul, which only possessed her illuminated natural intellect from the external sensual Light, which is being filled with the deepest darkness, as soon as the external sensual Light becomes extinct. Such a Soul knows nothing about her once-higher existence, because the "Great Light" of the true Recognition and Initiation has not yet risen up in her.
The Mystics moved forward slowly and with uncertainty in the dark labyrinth. They were being transposed into a particular mood through fasting, prayers and instructions, and through a mysterious mixed-drink. Eerie noises, horrifying moans, and terrible screams reached their ears. The roar of thunderbolts, the force of which shook the arched passageways, startled them with fear. Glaring lightning pierced the darkness and showed the frightened Mystics gruesome appearances, so that they were over-come with dizziness and were horror-stricken. But only for moments did they see this terror that surrounded them; then they were again enveloped by absolute night. The Mystics also felt themselves being seized, beaten and thrown to the ground by invisible hands. Fearful natures preferred at times to turn back through the labyrinth to seek the exit. But, by doing that, they lost forever the Right to receive the initiation.
Even though the Mystics were still in their physical bodies, in this hour however through the art of the Priests, the curtain that separates the invisible world from the visible world was lifted, and they were granted access to the lower demonic depths of the Spirit-World. Plutarch, who was initiated into the Mysteries, compares the horror that the Mystics experienced in the infernal labyrinth, with the terror of death.
Finally, the Mystics saw a dim light in a crypt. It illuminated a horrible scene. They saw the Tartarus, the brazen gate opened with a horrible noise. They saw the domicile of the from-the-furies tormented damned., they heard their lamentation, their fruitless repentance, the sound of fear and the longing for the lost paradise. In between the voice of Hierokeryx could be heard, who at times shouted to the Mystics words of warning and then threats, and at times gave certain explanations of what represented itself to their eyes and ears. Then the Gates of Hell closed and the Herold communicated to the Mystics, that they would now enter the Plutonium, the domicile of the Ruler of the Underworld, where they would view the Third Act of the sacred drama.
Amongst solemn festive singing by invisible Spirit-Choirs, the Mystics entered now into a large, endless, illuminated, infernal hall, which was filled with an eerie twilight.
The ceiling was carried by an out-of-copper embossed, dull, shadowy elm, the "Tree of Dreams," whose pale silvery leaves roofed the whole room. From up above, through the branches, giant bats and grimaces stared down upon the Mystics.
Pluto was sitting on a black ebony throne, with a Crown of thorns upon his head, and a sceptre in his hand that was double-pointed at one end. Next to him sat Persephone. Covered in a black veil, her face reflected great sorrow.
The Hierokeryx now explained to the Mystics that they should recognize in Persephone's destiny, the drama of their own Souls. Just as Persephone suffers under the rulership of Pluto and is longing for her mother and her eternal Light-Homeland, that is also how their soul is suffering under the might of darkness and sensuality, and is longing unceasingly for the heavenly Light. The grimaces that stare at them out of the "Tree of Dreams" are phantoms of the past; transitory pleasures and suffering, which prevent Human Beings during their earthly life, which is only a dream, from the real life. The Herold kept silent. Persephone however, was giving her suffering and longing, a heart-wrenching expression. The Mystic had to make a Flower-Offering of Narcissus-Wreaths.
All of a sudden a big double gate opened, and a radiant light penetrated into Pluto's gloomy Hall. A shout rings out: "Come you Mystics, come here; Iacchos-Dionysos is here! Demeter expected Persephone! Evohe!"
Persephone jumped up, as if she were awakened from of a deep sleep. "Light," she cried out, "my Mother! Dionysos!. She wants to rush off towards the Light, but Pluto grasps her and forces her back into her seat. There she collapses and dies.
With one stroke, all light becomes extinct, and in the deepest of darkness a voice speaks: "Dying is to be reborn again!"
What is spoken of here is the mystical death. Since Persephone (the Soul) dies to the Underworld, she becomes free of the might of Pluto (the Earth) and returns to the true existence in the divine Light.
Now the Mystics were led to the surface again by the Mystagogues. The terror of the Underworld and the Tartarus is now behind them. On the surface, they are being received again by Daduchos and Hierokeryx. They have to take off their deer hides and bathe in blessed water. They received white raiments and are led into a gigantic Temple, which sparkles in the brilliance of a thousand torches. Now they are being led to the Hierophant, who is dressed in purple. He reads to the Mystics, from old stone plates, regarding the hermetic secrets of the process of rebirth; revealing these secrets carries the death penalty.
The sealed baskets were now brought in and given to the Mystics, and then the Hierophant opened them. After the Mystics removed the objects (One Egg, One Pinenut, and a Spiral Snake made out of copper) from the basket, the Hierophant explained their symbolic meaning. The egg, with its seven components, is like the seven colours of Persephone's veil, a symbol of the seven spiritual-psychic potencies of the nature of a Human Being, which was already known to the old Egyptians.
The Pinenut is a symbol of the divine Light-Seed, which is concealed in it. During the sacred procession, they already carried the Thyrsus-Staff with the pine cone. They should remember that the Titan-Son, Prometheus, who formed the first Human Being out of moist clay and brought him to life through the divine fire, which he brought from Heaven, hidden in a Narthex-Staff. This divine spark is not brought to life in everybody. That is why Plato said: "There are however, many Thyrsus-Carrier, but there are only a few enthusiasts" ("polloi men narthekophoroi, pauroi de te bakchoi" - that means, many are called, but only a few are chosen).
The spiral Snake is composed of the metal of the foam-born Aphrodite; she stepped in Cyprus on land. Aphrodite is the Love, which entwines Persephone (the Soul) like a snake. However, this snake must wind itself upward, instead of winding itself downward, to become the snake of wisdom, as the two snakes on Hermes Staff wind themselves upwards, up to the golden-winged sun. (The Uraeus - the snake on the forehead of the Egyptians, as a symbol of divine wisdom).
As soon as the Hierophant has finished, the door in the Temple to the inner sanctum opened, and radiated in the brightest of lights. Heavenly sounds enchanted the minds of the mystics. Wonderful scents seasoned the air. In the distance, they could see lovely groves filled with eternal spring and meadows of the Elysium covered with flowers, where the departed were peacefully resting or strolling.
Now they were also viewing the fourth and last act of the sacred drama. They viewed how Persephone (the human Soul) was liberated through her mystical death from the power of Pluto (the earthly corporeality) and then led by Hermes (the higher Genius) and returns her to her paradisiacal homeland, where she is brought back to her mother, Demeter (the World-Soul), and by Dionysos (the Divine-Light), to her father Zeus (God-Father).
Following that, a hymn was sung to honour Zeus, Demeter, Dionysos and Persephone. Then the Hierophant bestowed upon the mystics the highest of blessings, with the following words: "May your wishes be fulfilled, return back o human Soul to the Soul of the World!"
The holy initiation was now concluded, and the mystics had become seers, epopts, true initiates. A happiness never before known to them, and an inexpressible peace filled their hearts. They had overcome the fear of death, the dark puzzle of life was solved, the "Great Light" of Eleusis had arisen in them.
The Effect of the Grace of the Mysteries is praised by a homeric hymn to Demeter, with the words: "Blessed of the mortal earthly dwellers are only those, who have seen this; those however, who died without this initiation and if they were strangers to this holiness, they do not have part of this share, instead they are dead in the moist mess of the Kingdom of the Night."
Greece's greatest lyric poet, Pindar, glorifies the Eleusinian Mysteries in the same manner: "Blessed, who has seen them and then descends below the Earth! Only he knows life's goal, he knows also the God bestowed beginning."
The Tragedian Sophocles said the following about the Eleusinian Mysteries: "O blessed, thrice blessed are those mortals, who have at one time seen these initiations and then descended to Hades; for them Life is only there, the others await only hardship and severe misery!"
The Eleusinian Mysteries flourished from 150 B.C. to the end of the 4th century A.D.
It was a grandiose system for conducting Souls, it was an extraordinary blessing, it had a character-forming effect, and it made the Greeks into a Nation of Philosophers. In the times that followed, up to now, there have been no institutions, which can be compared or even come close in spiritual depth, religious seriousness and psychological mastery to the Eleusinian Mysteries.
Virgil and Dante attempted poetically to sympathize with the Eleusinian Mysteries, but, through the mere word, they were never able to replace the immediate fascinating power of the liveliness of the sacred drama.
It was one of the darkest hours of mankind, when the zeolitic Emperor, Theodisuis the Great, upon the instigation of the Catholic Church closed the Temple in Eleusis in the year 385. Before that, he had the Alexandrian Library burned, by orders of the same authority, and thusly robbed mankind of an irreplaceable treasure of knowledge and culture.
The Soul of a Human Being is placed between the Materia (Body) and the highest of intelligence (her immortal Spirit or Nous). Which of the two will be victorious.
The outcome of a conflict of a long life lies within this triad. Should the Soul, during this time, be predominantly occupied with the purely physical pleasures, then the destruction of the earthly body would result inevitably in the death of the astral body. Through this, the astral body would be prevented to unite with the highest Spirit of the triad, which (the highest Spirit) alone can transfer to us, immortality. -(Galatians 6, 8)
Or we become immortal Mystics before the death of our earthly body and we will be initiated in the divine truth of the Life hereafter. That was the main subject of the Mysteries, and was considered by the catholic Church to be satanic, and regarded by modern Psychologists as being ridiculous.
However, to deny that Human Beings are in possession of certain concealed powers that can be aroused through the hermetic art, that Human Beings can unfold to the highest degree, that Human Beings can become initiates (even a Hierophant) and can communicate this knowledge to others is a gross insult to a great number of the most outstanding and wisest Human Beings of antiquity and the middle ages.
What the initiate was allowed to see in the last hour of the holy mystery, can only be cautiously implied. Philosophers such as Pythagoras, Plato, Plotinus, Iamblichus, Proclus, Plutarch had knowledge of this, and they and many others confirmed its reality. Whatever the last Epopteia was, was implied by Plato in Phaedrus: "...after we had been initiated into these mysteries, we were liberated from the annoyances through evil, which would have awaited us otherwise with certainty in a future period of time. Likewise, consequently of this divine Initiation we became onlookers of a totally homogeneous, lasting and merciful visions, which dwell in the pure light."
Out of this, you can gather that the most exalted of the Epopsy, consisted in that the gods themselves could be seen in their own light. That was not a pathological hallucination, as modern Psychologists would like to make us believe, but it is the awakening of a totally new sense; a supernatural Spirit-Eye, with which the initiate can see into the World Beyond, and in this manner can, from the Beings which exist there, and from the course of events that take place there and conditions that exist there, procure unfailing knowledge through their own immediate perception. -(2. Corinth. 12, 2-4)"
All Rites of Passage Create an Inbetweeness of Liminal Space where transformation happens.
The book called Oneing has a chapter called Liminality and Creativity, by Tom Gunning, that goes in depth into how the purpose of pretty much any Rite of Passage, or initiation rite, anywhere in the world has the three basic features of death, tranformation and rebirth, also called separation, transition and reincorporation. This seems to be part of the Perennial Philosophy where certain concepts seem to appear again and again in so many different cultures, even if they are widely separated from on another.
The word Liminal means threshold, which further means barrier or doorway and in that sense, in between the death and rebirth stage is the doorway from the old state to the new state. That is the real purpose of these Rites of Passage, including Alchemy. Before the new is developed, the old must be broken down and only by doing that is the doorway opened to the new.
"In 1908, Arnold van Gennep (1873–1957) published his book Les Rites de Passage. In this seminal work, he identified the dynamics of a particular form of ritual which would prove universally applicable to various situations in the life of the individual and the life of the community. As an ethnographer, he investigated the rites of various tribes and cultures and realized that these rites were very much interrelated. He concluded that when an individual or an entire tribe was moving from one social status to another, due to particular life crises or transitions, there were definite phases or rites within the ceremonies which he identified universally as rites of passage.
These rites of passage included the dynamics of separation, transition, and reincorporation. The structure or process of these rites could be seen predominantly in initiation, betrothal, birth, and death ceremonies, but also in the cosmic rites. The process of human separation, Oneing 24 transition, and incorporation, he noted, could be linked to the nature of the celestial passages of the planets and the moon. Moreover, this tripartite process could be seen in nature, being evident in the cycles of death and rebirth, decay and renewal, growth and harvest.
One of the principles that governs rites of passage is that of regeneration. While a mechanistic or cosmic system will always maintain its levels of energy, a biological or social system does not. Its energy becomes exhausted and needs to be regenerated at specific times. This occurs in life crises, when a person simply cannot continue with the usual momentum of their ordinary lives. The rites of separation through reincorporation correspond to this dynamic of inertia and generativity, death and rebirth.
It was during rites of transition that Gennep first detected the phenomenon of liminality, further developed in the work of Victor Turner (1920–1983). In fact, the necessity of separation and subsequent incorporation stems from what occurs in the liminal stage. It is during this stage that regenerativity occurs. According to Turner, it manifests outside the realm of the profane, inside the crucible of the sacred. It is ultimately the sacredness of the transition which demands that the rites be separated from all else.
The tribal groups that Gennep studied perceived that universal truths were embedded in the very fabric of the cosmos and human life. Everything is in a state of change and flow. Old systems lose their energy and need to be transformed and regenerated. Creativity and the demand for transformation, it would appear, are embedded in the very fabric of our universe. The barrenness of winter fields is regenerated by sowing and harvest. The moon waxes and wanes. Humans pass through various stages and phases. Old things must die, and new things must be created. In human life, initiation and death go hand in hand. Yet Gennep was clear in illustrating that psychological and social passage often involved a physical, spatial passage. The liminal phase required liminal places.
The characteristics of liminality are best seen in the rites of initiation that accompany the transition from childhood to adulthood in tribal societies. During rites of separation, the children were physically liminal space 25 taken from their mothers and placed in special small huts that embodied a dual symbolism, as both a womb and a tomb. Symbolically, the child was to die in the tomb and the womb would give birth to the adult. This was a time of non-activity that marked the beginnings of deep ontological change. Surrounded by lunar symbolism, masks, and snakes sloughing their skin, the neophyte began to lose all sense of who they once were. The rites of transition were seen as a time “betwixt and between.” Based on their dreams and deep unconscious yearnings, the neophytes were initiated into the world of adulthood. A new role was identified for them within the group —be it shaman, hunter, warrior, or medicine man.
Yet it was the “sacra” or sacred knowledge that was seen to transform them at the deep ontological level. This was the traditional knowledge, passed down from generation to generation, that held the evolved wisdom of the group. The rites were accompanied by lengthy periods of solitude and rest to allow the change to ferment and morph inside. Once the adult was created, the newly initiated person returned to the group during the celebratory rites of incorporation. The child had died and the adult had been created, regenerated, and renewed by a deep sense of belonging and purpose.
These cultural phenomena provide a clear illustration of the notion of liminality. It is the location of change, transformation, and creativity. Everything changes at the threshold; nothing stays the same. What drew recognition to Gennep’s work was his exposition of a process that could create a completely new identity. An older identity disappeared and a new one was born. It would appear that liminality was the space within which this metamorphosis was encoded.
As primitive tribes marked the passage from one season to the next with rites of departure through reincorporation, they placed themselves at the center of the great cosmic drama unfolding all around them. These rituals echo the ancient Taoist teaching that the Tao flows through everything as it gives birth to infinite worlds. The true nature of everything is to be in a state of flow and change. The significance of this is mirrored in the practice of the early Christians, who baptized only in flowing water to capture something of the transformative dynamic at the heart of the paschal mystery, which is death, resurrection, and rebirth.
THE CREATIVE PROCESS
In Tibetan, there is no word for creativity. The closest translation is “natural.” For Tibetans, to be human is to be creative. This understanding also challenges the widespread misconception that only some of us are blessed with the creative muse. Born in the image of a God who creates, we are also called to become co-creators within the unfolding divine plan. Though challenging, the true impulse that lies at the heart of the human condition is not to stay static and unmoving; this leads to stagnation. The co-creative impulse drives us to embrace the creative processes bubbling underneath the familiar and safe landscape of everyday life. We are drawn to the yin/yang worlds of the familiar and the unfamiliar, the known and the unknown.
Though there is no universal agreement as to the mechanics of the creative process, it broadly follows the tripartite structure of separation, liminality, and return. If an individual or group wants to generate a new idea or consider how to do things differently, they first have to separate themselves from familiar ways of doing and thinking about things. They have to immerse themselves in many different ideas before they can come up with a new one. This is simply how the brain works. To become creative, we need to develop new neurological circuits. In some ways, creativity can be understood as a process of joining new neurological pathways together. In order to do this, we have to separate from the familiar in order to nourish curiosity and Creativity needs a liminal space, where normal and familiar activity ceases. The brain requires new stimulation to create these new circuits. This, in turn, is what liminal spaces allow us to do. They make us see things differently because, through separation, we are immersed in what is unfamiliar.
During the twenty-five years I have spent creating ritual and liminal spaces, I have observed a surprising phenomenon. The first thing people invariably want to do upon arrival is rest. Most people active in a Western society now find themselves overstretched. Levels of stress are on a constant rise. Once people have been removed from the environment that has kept them so busy, their first inclination is to do nothing except rest. It reminds us of the huts in which the tribal leaders put the neophytes during the rites of separation. Leaders left them alone for a week or so, just to allow them to settle and rest themselves. Yet this period of rest is crucial to the creative process. The incubation phase of creativity occurs when the person stops thinking about the problem, challenge, or obstacle. The subconscious mind works six hundred times quicker than the conscious mind. During this transitional or incubation phase of the creative process, it is this part of the brain that is forging new relationships and circuits, deep in our neurological networks. Far away from the distractions of the conscious mind, it is creating new ideas and solutions.
Creativity needs a liminal space, where normal and familiar activity ceases. It is during rest and the incubation phase that the brain begins to generate special alpha and beta brainwaves. These are crucial to the creative process, when the brain begins to behave differently in order to pave the way for a later and final “eureka!” moment. The liminal phase ends when the person returns to the familiar world they left behind. The creative process ends when the person returns to the group with their new idea in order to test it. This new idea might succeed, or it might fail. The creative process succeeds for those who have the courage to fail fast and fail often. Creativity is a cyclical and spiral process that can demand many attempts before a breakthrough occurs.
AN ECOLOGICAL RESPONSE
In the Parable Garden Education Project in Ireland, we are creating an Idea Laboratory in response to the current ecological crisis. In collaboration with students, we are developing a space where they can create and grow new ideas. There are two possible responses to our current ecological challenge. One is fear, which simply paralyzes us. The other is to respond creatively. This is the response we are attempting to encourage. In our experience, students find it very difficult to become truly creative in the familiar surroundings of their school setting. This is why we created a liminal space in two old walled gardens beside the seashore, amidst acres of old marsh and woodland.
The physical journey to the gardens achieves an experience of separation from the familiar routine of class bells and playground noises. Here in this threshold place, the students are immersed in a variety of approaches, perspectives, and ideas. To generate one good idea, it is necessary to play with many ideas. Once the students have discussed, critiqued, and reflected on ways to solve our ecological problems, they then remove themselves from this type of analytical work to allow time for the incubation phase. Walks in nature and specially created meditative experiences help to achieve this liminal phase of betwixt and between, which allows the subconscious processes to distill and ferment. There may or may not be a eureka moment, but we prepare the students for their return to the world to test their ideas in a manner that is similar to the incorporation phase after any liminal experience. We teach them about the importance of failure and how to perceive it as a positive instead of a negative, thus promoting a growth mindset instead of a fixed mindset.
When Gennep discovered a blueprint for the creative process within the tripartite structure of rites of passage, he invited us to glimpse a potential enshrined in human identity. We are created to create, to leave the familiar, to cross thresholds and give birth to bold new ideas. We are invited to the borderlands of the known, to imagine a new earth, healed not scorched, rested not exploited, and regenerated by human ingenuity and innovation."