Olivia Robertson - The Call of Isis Thirteen
Illustration by Olivia Robertson, Chapter Thirteen
"She aspired to the stars"
The Call of Isis
13. Stones and Stars.
In our small Temple of Isis my two small nieces, aged fourteen and ten, were waiting to dance. Alexander began the enacted scene by playing Schumann on the small Dutch organ. Bernard waited to play the dulcimer that he had made himself. At each stage of the story a different instrument was to take over. Owen had his flute to play at the climax. I was telling the story for the girls to act. The younger dark girl, Rosalind, began dancing in the first scene. She was playing the part of a fairy, a few inches high, an elemental spirit in charge of a very tiny patch of grasses, daisies, buttercups and clover. At first she enjoyed herself. Then, I explained in my narration, she got bored. In her discontent she showed in mime that she wanted to do something a great deal more interesting than looking after a patch of earth with its plants.
Now the organ gave way to the dulcimer. The older fair girl, Helena, appeared on the platform by the statue of Isis carved by their brother Finn. Her style of dancing was different from that of Rosalind. Rosalind danced thoughtfully, working out each movement with her mind and executing it with precision. She seemed to know intuitively movements that looked like those of Egyptian ritual. Helena, on the other hand, danced with the style of a classical Greek dancer. Her movements were free, yet balanced, like those depicted in a Tanagra vase. Both had learnt European Ballet, but recently had been studying the depicted movements of Egyptian, Classical and Oriental styles. We were all of us experimenting. Bernard composed his own music, Indian style. Owen's flute playing was Spanish sounding, also composed by himself.
The part Helena had to play was that of a Goddess appearing to the fairy that belonged to the same evolving devic kingdom as herself. She played the rôle with elegant humour, one of those devis born rather than made! She had no self-consciousness at standing with her back to the altar, a living embodiment of the statue.
She offered to show the little girl a greater sphere of activity. So off the two of them went - to the world of animals and men. This sphere was represented in the temple by two small side chapels, one containing pictures of various creatures, including Dürer's hare and a Chelsea china lamb: the other containing small images of Buddha and a wooden Venus carved by Finn.
However, though first attracted by the idea of guiding animals and humanity on their evolutionary path, the fairy soon became bored by her rôle of Guardian Angel. She aspired to the stars.
This was time for Owen's flute playing to take over. The Devi indicated that to accomplish this, the fairy had to go back to her patch of earth. There, amidst the wild flowers and grasses, she was to make a little circle of small white stones. This seemed easy enough. To the high sound of the flute, Rosalind made movements of creating a stone circle. She was then told to stand in the middle of it - shut her eyes, and turn three times round. She did so.
Now the Devi took her by the hand and led her up the three steps to the platform in which stood the altar. She then was told to open her eyes.
I now explained that the circle had become a great spiral of stars: the flowers shone as star dust; and the patch of earth had been transformed into the great void of space. And through the darkness came the unearthly song of the great Gods and Goddesses, the Star Angels.
But this was too much for the little fairy. Overcome by this vastness, she begged, hands clasped, to be allowed to go home to her patch of earth. This the Devi permitted, with a downward movement of her hand ... Now the sound of the flute gave place to the gentler dulcimer. Helena guided Rosalind down the three steps. As the fairy reached the expanse of flowery carpet, the dulcimer was lost in the familiar deeper sound of the organ. The little fairy found herself once more in the centre of her circle of little white stones. Hastily, she scattered them. She was glad to return to her task of looking after her few plants and little bit of earth.
Usually, when we performed this drama, I let it end there. But later I added one final piece. Helena, as she bade farewell before she returned up the three steps, explained that if ever the fairy wanted another trip to the stars, she had only to make a circle of white stones, stand in the middle, shut her eyes and turn round three times ...
For those who have had mystical experience, however overpowering this may have been at the time, will one day, some time, wish to touch a greater level of consciousness again. And why not? It is our goal.
In our Temple my aim in producing these mystery dramas was to create rituals that taught the laws of expanding consciousness. These dramas were not ritual magic in the practical sense: they were not intended to produce effects on the physical environment. Rather were they to affect the minds and feelings of those taking part, in group participation. For what is life as we know it but a group dreaming? Our waking lives have all the qualities of a dream. Dreams are fleeting and disappear with the coming of day. But our waking activities end when we fall asleep. And this waking fantasy of day-time has the effect of involving us totally in the story we call 'life'. Yet when we sleep this 'total' identification is completely forgotten! How transient then is our waking existence! Also, when we learn the art, we can change the pattern of our physical lives as we have learnt to re-create our dreams.
But there is one snag here. We can only change our nightmares to beautiful dreams through the aid of greater consciousness, the all-embracing awareness of the day.
From the vantage point of an active physical brain and the use of will, we can manipulate our dreams and trances. But what greater mind can possibly organize this dream of physical existence, and mould it nearer to our heart's desire? Must we be forever like leaves in the wind, pushed about by circumstances, passive in our weakness?
It is only by awakening into a more universal consciousness that we can truly create our earth lives into meaningful pattern, part of a greater design. Otherwise, blind and deaf, though we think we see and hear, we make false moves and blur our own true ends. And how indeed can we even see that there is a grand design and any relevant part for ourselves within it, unless we can transcend identifications with the passing moment?
Understanding the relationship of past, present and future, we may develop the ability of seeing causes and their effects, forming one related pattern worked through the web of time.
Symbols are the language that help the finite human consciousness to have glimpses of a greater reality. For everything on a lower level is a symbol for some higher reality. So grasses, trees and rivers, and everything that exists on this level, form living symbols of their own transcendent reality in a higher sphere. One's personality is a shorthand of one's true self; sometimes a poor translation. We are like actors wearing a mask that typifies what we wish to be in this life's projected drama.
So in order to go higher, we first have to sink lower. Or, if you like, we have to limit our consciousness still further in order to expand into cosmic awareness. Because if we can through Myth, Ritual or Mystery identify with the play of life itself, we can then see for ourselves that this life also is an illustration of a transcendent reality.
So with organ, dulcimer and flute, with meaningful symbols, with incense and candles, we make a temple that makes sense of the jumbled, apparently meaningless environment in which we have our physical being. Here in the temple, at any rate, is order, and no blind chance. There are no accidents, no irrelevancies in church or temple. The sanctified circle typifies a chosen environment. Bread and wine, paintings, stained-glass, colours for altar frontals, images, are put in a temple with specific intention. The intention is to express a chosen spiritual reality. So a cup represents the Grael; living water: a sword, the element of spiritual fire; a wand; the creative mind. Two stones, one rough and one smooth, are symbolic of earth. Pestle and mortar, hammer and knife, are no mere tools, but have a specialised meaning.
Each note of music used in a Ritual draws down its great meaning, and works upon the being of those taking part in a Mystery. Every word has its archetypal response from higher spheres: so in a temple are no meaningless words. For words are translations of the speech of angels. Not only this. Tablets marked with sigils are a means of communication with beings of brighter worlds: and every dance movement and gesture produce their appropriate effect in the world of causes. For the world of causes produces effects, and so responds to its own echo.
In the intensely meaningful world of the Temple or Church, half-way between physical and spiritual reality, the aspirant learns to recognise affinities and correspondences through the language of symbols. First through dreams, and then through enacted mystery dramas, the neophyte finds his own consciousness beginning to respond. And in this way he learns safely to expand into greater levels of awareness, without becoming unbalanced. Every movement in a Ritual itself brings about balance: and the flow of 'Vril' is channelled through in its appropriate traditional way, without destroying the practitioner's mind.
And this is why it can be very dangerous to use hallucinogenic drugs. Admittedly the use of these can induce mystical experience without work and discipline. But those who, as it were, climb over God's fence into the hidden garden, and steal the apples from the forbidden Tree, may suffer terrible retribution. True, they may and often do, have the vision of Deity and the knowledge of the existence of Cosmic Consciousness. The unfortunate Semele unwisely demanded to see Zeus not as man, but as God; and so was burnt. So may the unwary aspirant who takes drugs destroy his etheric double.
To put too great a charge of electricity through wires means a fuse. A fuse may be repaired. But how does one repair the damaged etheric body when it has been struck by the lightning of Zeus? The Gods do not deny humans the golden apples of the sun through jealousy or selfishness. Only when the aspirant has a psychic and physical makeup ready, can he safely be initiated into wider consciousness. For instance, a telepathic dog, suddenly at the receiving end of the mind of a human Professor, would undoubtedly go mad!
We must then approach the Temple of the Zodiac with caution. It is not enough to have self-sacrificing love. We need that handmaid to wisdom, common-sense. Sure of our emotional control, the moon at our feet protecting our steps, we may attempt at last our ascent to the stars. And to do this, we must learn more about ourselves. Are we ready for cosmic consciousness? Our further step is to find out. We need to face the effects of previous Lives.
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Text presented on this site as it appears in the 1975 edit