One of the great stumbling blocks to spiritual progress is that we tend to expect the Tradition to be carried forward in a rather linear way, with each successive teacher more or less a carbon copy of whomever came before (whether we consciously wish for this or not does not matter; love of ease, as Steiner often stated, is the main thoroughfare for Ahriman to do his work in our time, and we are all susceptible). The natural response to this for those who feel disenfranchised by one or the other spiritual movement is to react in completely the opposite fashion, rejecting the old for the sake of the new. The purpose of the articles on the 7 Miracles, as well as the current series of articles, is to show that a Living Tradition is maintained and grows by means of a non-linear, organic process of unfolding. We must be ready for what is coming to be as different from what has been to the same degree that blossom differs from leaf. And so we will, through the course of these articles, hopefully get to know better each of the Great Teachers of the 20th Century, and also prepare ourselves inwardly to meet what may be coming to meet us now, in the 21st century.
The series of articles on the 7 Miracles of the Etheric Christ was intended to give a broad description of the activity of the Etheric Christ, via different teachers and representatives, over the course of the 20th-22nd centuries. Primarily, this was a description of Sacred Magic: the uniting of the human will of the teacher with the divine will of Christ in the accomplishment of a creative (i.e. miraculous) deed. The question might arise, what of the other levels of incarnation in the Hermetic School? What of Mysticism and Gnosis, which should precede Sacred Magic? What of Hermeticism, which should be its result?
If we read thoroughly and carefully through the writings of Robert Powell, we find that these questions have, at least in part, been answered. In The Most Holy Trinosophia, Robert Powell speaks at length about the three Great Teachers of the 20th century. The first, Rudolf Steiner, he describes as one who would awaken the human being to the realm of Truth via the 2 petalled lotus flower, the Brow Chakra. His successor, Valentin Tomberg, came to awaken the human being to Goodness, to Morality, via the 16 petalled lotus flower, the Larynx Chakra. Robert then goes on to describe the activity of the Novalis individuality, working completely hidden from the public, in order to inspire Love and Beauty in her pupils via the 12 petalled lotus flower, the Heart Chakra. I would be so bold (and possibly others would as well) to say that Robert is the public representative of the Novalis individuality; his entire lifework has been a deed of Sacred Magic, bowing his will to meet the will of another.
On the other hand, Robert has characterized this progression of the three Teachers as a movement from Gnosis (Steiner) to Mysticism (Tomberg) and then to Sacred Magic (Novalis). Why in this order? Isn’t the Tetragrammaton YHVH, Mysticism then Gnosis, Sacred Magic, and Hermeticism (where Yod=Mysticism, He=Gnosis, Vau=Magic, and He=Hermeticism; see Meditations on the Tarot)? The answer to this question will become clear as we move further into these articles.
Based on the above, the following becomes clear: first of all, the movement from one Teacher to the next should awaken in their students the chakras, beginning with the Brow Chakra and moving downward. In this, we are dealing primarily with the effect of the Teacher and his or her legacy; this is the realm of Hermeticism, the School that is established in the wake of the establishment of a living tradition.
Second of all, the movement through the 7 Miracles of the Etheric Christ is a movement, we could say, in the opposite direction. Whereas the stream of Hermeticism follows the stream of the Stages of the Passion (moving downward through the chakras), the miracles follow the path of the original healing miracles of Christ: upward through the chakras, beginning with the Root Chakra. This is the realm of Sacred Magic, the creative deeds performed by these successive teachers in union with the divine will.
And what of the designation of Steiner as a Gnostic Teacher, Tomberg as a Mystic Teacher, and Novalis (inspiring the work of Robert Powell) as a Sacred Magical Teacher? While there are other explanations for Gnosis to precede Mysticism in this case (see Tomberg’s Lord’s Prayer Course, as well as Robert Powell’s Cultivating Inner Radiance), for our purposes we will have to look to the Tarot to find the explanation. The second Arcanum, The High Priestess, is the representative of Gnosis. The first, The Magician, is that of Mysticism. And the third, The Empress, is that of Sacred Magic. According to Robert Powell, each card in the Major Arcana has its astrological correspondence. For the High Priestess, it is Saturn; for The Magician, the Sun, and for the Empress, the Moon.
This sequence is familiar, isn’t it? Saturn, Sun, Moon: these are the first 3 stages of Cosmic Evolution, the first 3 Pillars of the Temple of Sophia. This then is the progression taken in the realm of Gnosis by the successive Teachers, the path of Cosmic Evolution. This is also the path through the chakras of the Resurrected Christ, as described in Cultivating Inner Radiance by Robert Powell.
Therefore we can see that the expression of Hermeticism for each of the Great Teachers is found in their effect on their pupils, their legacies. The expression of Sacred Magic for each of the Great Teachers is found in their deeds, in their life of will and creativity. And the expression of Gnosis (Knowledge) for each of the Great Teachers is found in the quality of the particular teaching, the type of knowledge they have been inspired to share.
What then of the first step on the Hermetic path, Mysticism? The Yod of the Divine Name YHVH? This remains a mystery to us. After having lived with this question for some time, the answer that appears correct to me is that, first of all, Mysticism is expressed particularly by the inner character of each of the Great Teachers. So we have a progression moving from within to without: Mysticism=Inner Character; Gnosis=Teaching; Sacred Magic=Deeds; Hermeticism=Effect and Legacy. Again, after having lived with this picture for some time, it seems clear to me that the progressive nature of the inner life of each of the Great Teachers follows the path of the Major Arcana themselves. Here are the first 7 Arcana, their astrological correspondences, and a quality expressive of their being:
The Magician = The Sun = Mysticism
The High Priestess = Saturn = Gnosis
The Empress = The Moon = Sacred Magic
The Emperor = Jupiter = Hermeticism
The Pope = Mercury = Love of God
The Lover = Venus = Love of Neighbor
The Chariot = Mars = Self-Mastery
So we could say the Hermetic Path through the chakras (Sun, Saturn, Moon, Jupiter, Mercury, Venus, Mars) shows us the progressive development of the Mystical quality in the successive Great Teachers.
At this point, this is all rather abstract. In the next few sections, we will look more closely at each of the Great Teachers in order to see more clearly how each of these 4 realms has come to expression in their lives. More or less one could say that all of this will be an elaboration of the maxim given by Valentin Tomberg in the Lord’s Prayer Course as to the nature of succession in a Living Tradition: “May the will of the predecessor become the thought of the successor, and may the thought of the predecessor become the will of the successor.”