In this tenth section of the series of articles on the seven sacrifices of Jesus and Christ, we will look specifically at what the form of a modern Johannine Rite might be. This Rite ought to be as authentic as possible, stripped of arbitrary elements as much as possible; it also must be complementary to existing Tradition as much as possible—remembering that it is a temporal Rite, developing a completely different spiritual body (Buddhi or Life-Spirit—the “Tree of Life”) than the Orthodox Rite (which is developing Atman or Spirit-Human, the Resurrection Body).
The Orthodox Church is concerned with re-establishing the connection between human beings and the Father God in the heights, via the nine spiritual hierarchies. In doing so, it transforms the human kingdom into the tenth hierarchy—that of Love and Freedom. The centre of gravity of the Church is the Eucharist, the Communion of Bread and Wine. And the main time of year during which the Church focuses on the birth, life, death and resurrection of Christ is from Advent through Whitsun—the rest of the year (between Whitsun and Advent) is referred to as “Ordinary Time.”
Nowadays Advent begins somewhat less than four weeks prior to Christmas Day, at the end of November/beginning of December. This was not always the case. Originally, the season of Advent began on the Sunday after Martinmas (November 11), and was referred to as the Fast of St. Martin. It was an approximately 40-day fast leading up to Christmas, akin to Lent leading up to Easter. This is still the custom in both the Ambrosian and Mozarabic Rites, in which the Advent season begins six Sundays before Christmas, rather than four.
Martinmas, in many Northwestern cultures, marks the end of the farming season. If Michaelmas is the harvest festival, Martinmas is the butchering festival. It is often celebrated with a harvest feast and bonfire. It marks the “turning within” of the Christian year, when the focus is no longer meant to be on outer affairs, but on the life of Christ.
On the other hand, Whitsun is a moveable festival which can occur anywhere from early May to mid-June. One could say this festival marks the proper beginning of the farming year (again, from a Northwestern cultural perspective)—it is usually at this time of year that animals go back out to pasture, the final frosts have occurred, and biodynamic preparations are sprayed on the fields and gardens. The “turning within” to the life of Christ ceases; we once again become concerned with outer affairs.
And now let’s take into consideration the aims of the Second Coming of Christ, in the Elemental realm. It is his task—and ours—in this age to turn our gaze below, to the Mother, rather than above. We must find the Mother in the depths; and we can only find her through the redemption of elemental beings of natural and sub-natural realms. If our task in Orthodoxy is to return to the Father via the Angels, it is our task in the Johannine Rite to return to the Mother via the Elementals. This time of year during which we turn to Mother Nature—so-called “Ordinary Time”—is the time of year during which the Johannine Rite ought to be performed.
We can find a clue to this in the mystery of the number 153, the quantity of fish that were caught by the disciples through the guidance of the Risen One. One hundred fifty three days is just one day shy of 22 weeks (22×7 = 154); the Tree of Life, the transformed etheric body of Christ, is made up of 22 Paths, 22 Arcana, represented in the Tarot of Marseilles. The “Christian year” of the Mother Service would ideally run from the 153 prior to the first Sunday of Advent in the traditional sense—that is, the sixth Sunday prior to Christmas.
This year, for example, the first Sunday of the Fast of St. Martin will be November 15. This would place the season of the Mother, of the Johannine Rite, from June 15 through November 15. Generally speaking, this about the time of year that the Johannine season would take place—from mid-June to mid-November. Notice that the start of this liturgical season would be marked very nearly by St. John’s Tide—a feast that is also celebrated with great bonfires. The death and resurrection of Lazarus, historically speaking, took place in the second half of July. The Assumption of the Virgin Mary is celebrated (and occurred historically) in mid-August; and the Feast of the Beheading of John the Baptist is celebrated on August 29. Along with Michaelmas (the theme of which is the rescuing of the Divine Feminine from the attack of the Dragon), comes the Feast of St. Francis—the reincarnated John Zebedee—who had a very special relationship to Nature. And the season ends with St. Martin of Tours, who could be seen as a similar figure to St. Francis—a soldier who turns to a life of piety and service.
Just as the Father Church enters beautiful stone cathedrals, from the cold of winter to the rebirth of spring, ideally the Mother Service would take place outdoors in the beauty of Nature. For this church does not exist primarily for human beings. The key gesture of this service would be to redeem Nature, just as humanity has been redeemed by the spiritual world—in other words, to wash the feet of Nature. The gesture of footwashing is the higher bending over to honour the lower—the lower which has sacrificed itself for the sake of the development of the higher. This was the gesture of Christ toward his disciples on the night of the Last Supper.
In terms of aesthetic and core orientation, the outdoor paneurhythmy celebrations of the Universal White Brotherhood developed by Beinsa Douno (Peter Deunov) in the early part of the 20th century lay a great deal of groundwork. Paneurhythmy was developed specifically with the elemental beings and the world of Nature in mind. In fact, the songs and movements of Beinsa Douno could become an integral part of a modern Mother service. There are 28 paneurhythmy exercises, as well as the culmination of these exercises in the “Sun’s Rays” and “Pentagram” dances. The first 10 of the 28 exercises form a unity; therefore, this gives us 1+18 = 19 exercises and 2 culminating dances—21 celebratory songs and movements that align very closely with the 153 day/22 week liturgical season of the Mother. (Many thanks to Natalia Haarahiltunen for her valuable input regarding paneurhythmy—amongst many other things!).
As to the basic content and structure of the celebration, the Sophia Mass of milk and honey, introduced by Robert Powell over thirty years ago, and celebrated by many involved with the Sophia Foundation (mainly, up until now, in the United States) is a huge step in the right direction. In particular, the focus on the Our Mother prayer, given through Valentin Tomberg at the height of World War II in Amsterdam, is as central to the Mother service as the Lord’s Prayer is to the Eucharist:
Thou who art in the darkness of the underworld,
May the holiness of Thy name shine anew in our remembering,
May the breath of Thy awakening kingdom warm the hearts of all who wander homeless,
May the resurrection of Thy will renew eternal faith, even unto the depths of physical substance.
Receive this day the living memory of Thee from human hearts,
Who implore thee to forgive the sin of forgetting Thee,
And are ready to fight against temptation which has led thee to existence in darkness,
That through the deed of the Son, the immeasurable pain of the Father be stilled, by the liberation of all beings from the tragedy of Thy withdrawal.
For thine is the homeland and the boundless wisdom and the all-merciful grace, for all and everything in the Circle of All.
However, the orientation of the Sophia Mass would need to be somewhat altered. As it stands currently, the service culminates in the eating of milk and honey. A separate service replicates the bread and wine communion of the Orthodox Church; and a third, partially developed service includes a communion of fish. First of all, the bread and wine communion belongs to the Church and to the liturgical year running from Advent through Whitsun. It does not belong in a Mother service (the Johannine Rite), as it is not a part of the Gospel of John. Remember that this new Rite needs to complement and complete—not replace—the pre-existing Rite of the Church.
Second of all, the eating of milk and honey should not necessarily stand at the centre or culmination of the Mother service. You see, in the Orthodox Church, what is of primary importance is the taking of the Eucharist in the Mass—the sacrament that is ingested is of primary importance. On the other hand, the sacrament of baptism—a tactile sacrament—is of secondary significance. With the Johannine Rite, it is the reverse. What is of primary importance is the Washing of the Feet. Footwashing is mentioned not once, but twice in the Gospel of St. John. On Holy Wednesday, Mary Magdalene anoints Christ’s feet with precious spikenard oil and her tears, drying his feet with her hair. Then, on Maundy Thursday, Christ anoints the disciples’ feet with water. The tactile sacrament is of primary importance here—the Sophia or Mother service ought to culminate in the Washing of the Feet, rather than the tasting of milk and honey. Certainly, in the early tradition of the Church, milk and honey were taken only once, with one’s first communion—just as one is only baptised once, usually as a newborn in the Orthodox churches. The Johannine Rite could adopt this historical tradition, giving milk and honey only at the “first communion”—or rather, first foot washing.
At the time of Christ, the actual baptism administered by John was an initiatory event performed on full-grown adults, during which they were submerged in the water until they had a near-death experience. This was adapted to a sprinkling of water on the heads of newborn infants in the tradition of the Church. Similarly, the immersive and thorough foot washing performed by Christ and Mary Magdalene could be similarly adapted—one’s feet would be sprinkled with the water at the culmination of the service. One would then take water and douse the surrounding Nature, as in the application of biodynamic preparation. In fact, there is already a “Milk and Honey Prep” that is used in biodynamic agriculture:
Here we have an excellent beginning to the holy substance that would be regularly sprayed on the feet of the celebrants, as well as the “feet” of Mother Earth. One might only need to add to this a small amount of spikenard oil in order to have the fullness of the five communions:
(1) Incense and (2) Oil = Spikenard Oil
(3) Fish = Feet
(4) Milk and (5) Honey
So we have in many ways the basic elements required for a proper service. We have the Our Mother rather than the Our Father. We have Footwashing rather than the Eucharist. For liturgical music and movement we have paneurhythmy. For a chapel we have the natural world. But an essential beginning to any liturgical service is the Gospel reading. What is the equivalent for a modern rite?
Over the course of the years 1940-43, Valentin Tomberg led a group of individuals in Amsterdam through an in-depth study of the Lord’s Prayer, what is now known as the Lord’s Prayer Course. In the years after World War II, he distilled the essence of this study into powerful mantra—akin to the mantra of the First Class of the School of Michael. Originally there were 22 of these mantra; Tomberg’s handwritten notes (in German) for 14 of these mantra are still in existence. Since 2012, they have gradually been translated into English and paired with eurythmy gestures by Robert Powell as the Grail Knight’s Practice. Each of these mantra aligns with a certain section of both the Lord’s Prayer and the Our Mother Prayer; each aligns with one of the 22 Major Arcana; and each is a distillation of a portion of the Christian-Rosicrucian Path developed in the Lord’s Prayer Course.
For example: the first mantra is a distillation of the Nine Beatitudes, and relates to The World as First Petition of the Our Mother (or The Magician as First Petition of the Our Father). The second mantra is a distillation of the Stages of the Passion, and relates to The Fool as Second Petition of the Our Mother (or High Priestess as Second Petition of the Our Father). These modern “Gospel readings” are like the fruit of the Tree of Life, as this Tree is the underlying archetype of both the Our Father and Our Mother Prayers, as well as the Major Arcana of the Tarot.
Unfortunately, only 14 out of the 22 original mantra are still extant, at least from what material is currently known of and available. They are related to:
The Nine Beatitudes
The Stages of the Passion
The Apocalyptic Levels of Judgement
Nourishment from the Force of Seeds
The Healing of the Breath
Levels of Communion
First Healing Miracle
Second Healing Miracle
Third Healing Miracle
Fourth Healing Miracle
Fifth Healing Miracle
Sixth Healing Miracle
Seventh Healing Miracle
And this is as far as the notes go. The remaining parts would have related to the seven Words from the Cross, the seven sayings of the Risen Christ, and the seven days of Creation. In a way it is fortunate that we are not given this content in its completeness: an opening has been left in the spiral to complete these 22 mantra—the “Gospel readings” of the new 22 weeks of the Johannine Rite.
And so: an ideal celebration of the Mother would be an outdoor biodynamic foot washing using a special mixture of several sacramental elements; weaving together the work of Valentin Tomberg, Robert Powell, and Peter Deunov; focusing on the revivification of Mother Nature and the Elementals. It would be celebrated during “Ordinary Time,” the height of the farming season, from the time between Whitsun and St. John’s until Martinmas. And what would we call those who lead this service? Are they Priests? Ministers? I am not sure exactly, but not titles like this. The word “Priest” comes from “Presbyter” which means “Elder.” Those who are leading this service are not elders or masters, they are servants and children at heart. Some suggestions that have arisen amongst conversations with friends: “Grail Sharer”…”Grail Servant”…”Grail Celebrant.” But I think right now the preferred term, the one that captures the essence of what this role ought to be, is simply: “Grail Friend.”
In the next sections we will turn our gaze to where the potential lies for this to unfold; and what the future holds in terms of the biography of Philosophia and the sacrifices of Jesus and Christ: https://treehouse.live/2020/08/15/the-sacrifices-of-jesus-and-christ-pt-11/