compiled by Dee Finney

10-12-08 - DREAM   I was taking care of a young blonde infant, whom they called Bomi.  His mother was a blonde with fly-away hair.

I found out then, when his other female relatives came to visit that their name was really Boehme and they all had the fly-away blonde hair - even through several generations of women.

Boehme's Heart

Symbol by early 17th-century Christian mystic Jakob Boehme
including a tetractys of flaming Hebrew letters of the Tetragrammaton


Jakob Boehme  -  (1575-1624), German Lutheran theosophical author

Boehme, the German mystic, was born in the East German town of Goerlitz in 1575. He had little in the way of an education and made his living as a shoemaker; he married and had four children.

One day in his master’s shoe shop, a mysterious stranger entered who, while he seemed to possess but little of this world’s goods, appeared to be most wise and noble in spiritual attainment. The stranger asked the price of a pair of shoes, but young Böhme did not dare to name a figure, for fear that he would displease his master. The stranger insisted and Böhme finally placed a valuation which he felt was all that his master possibly could hope to secure for the shoes. The stranger immediately bought them and departed. A short distance down the street the mysterious stranger stopped and cried out in a loud voice, "Jakob, Jakob, come forth." In amazement and fright, Boehme ran out of the house. The strange man fixed his eyes upon the youth—great eyes which sparkled and seemed filled with divine light. He took the boy’s right hand and addressed him as follows: "Jakob, thou art little but shall be great, and become another Man, such a one as at whom the World shall wonder. Therefore be pious, fear God, and reverence His Word. Read diligently the Holy Scriptures, wherein you have Comfort and Instruction. For thou must endure much Misery and Poverty, and suffer Persecution, but be courageous and persevere, for God loves, and is gracious to thee." Deeply impressed by the prediction, Boehme became ever more intense in his search for truth. At last his labors were rewarded. For seven days he remained in a mysterious condition during which time the mysteries of the invisible world were revealed to him. It has been said of Jakob Boehme that he revealed to all mankind the deepest secrets of alchemy.

His thought drew on interests including Paracelsus, the Kabbala, alchemy and the Hermetic tradition. His first written work, Aurora, went unfinished, but drew to him a small circle of followers. Like Eckhart and others, Boehme's thought drew fire from the church authorities, who silenced Boehme for five years before he continued writing in secrecy. He again raised the cockles of church authorities, and he was banished from his home. He died soon thereafter, in 1624, after returning home from Dresden. His last words spoken, as he was surrounded by his family, were reported to be, "Now I go hence into Paradise." His thought has since influenced major figures in philosophy, especially German Romantics such as Hegel, Baader, and Schelling. Indirectly, his influence can be traced to the work of Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Hartmann, Bergson, and Heidegger. Paul Tillich and Martin Buber drew heavily from his work -- as did the psychologist, Carl Jung, who made numerous references to Boehme in his writings.


Diagram by Boehme, incorporating the Kabbalistic Tree of Life, the traditional Four Elements,
a Christian mandala, and other themes

Graphic from Bruce B. Janz's external link Jacob Boehme Resources page

From an early age he saw visions, and throughout his life he claimed to be divinely inspired.  In his manuscript The Morning Redness Arising, written in 1612, he recorded his visions and expounded the attributes of God.  The work was condemned as heretical by local ecclesiastical and civil authorities, and Boehme was forced to flee to Dresden, Saxony. There he was cleared of charges of heresy and allowed to return to Görlitz.  His best-known treatises include Of the Three Principles of the Nature of God, (1619) and The Way to Christ, (1624), The Signature of all Things, and Mysterium Magnum.

As well as alchemical themes his writings contain Kabbalistic concepts.  Boehme describes the absolute nature of God as the abyss, the nothing and the all, the primordial depths from which the creative will struggles forth to find manifestation and self-consciousness.  The Father, who is groundless Will (c.f. Kabbalah - Keter the first principle is identified with Will), issues forth the Son, who is Love.

Boehme held that everything exists and is intelligible only through its opposite. Thus, he believed, evil is a necessary element in goodness, for without evil the will would become inert and progress would be impossible. Evil is a result of the striving of single elements of Deity to become the whole; conflict ensues as man and nature strive to achieve God.  God himself, according to Boehme, contains conflicting elements and antithetical principles within His nature.  (c.f. Sri Aurobindo - the Supermind (Godhead Truth-Consciousness) which contains and reconciles all opposites within Itself)

Although Boehme's style is very turgid and heavy, his works were widely read and popular in Germany, the Netherlands, and Great Britain. His English followers called themselves Behmenists. Many of them later were absorbed into the Quaker movement.  Boehme's writings have influenced modern Western thought in both philosophy and theology.  He exerted a profound influence on the philosophies of Baader, Schelling, Hegel, and Schopenhauer. His ideas have also had a formative influence on Theosophy.

Boehme's Leben

Boehme's Mysterium Magnum


Drawing on the left by Jacob Boehme from his Theosophische Wercke, Amsterdam, 1682.
Note the Phoenix (soul) of rebirth rising through the Alpha-Omega ‘gap’ in the cycle as symbolised by the Ouroborus
(serpent-snake) and where it is swallowing its own tail.
The side angles of the triangle are 52 degrees – the same as the Great Pyramid of Giza.
Note also the cross intersecting the center of the triangle.

other images of the mysterium magnum


"Aurora" and writings

Boehme had mystical experiences throughout his youth, culminating in a vision in 1600 that he received through observing the exquisite beauty of a beam of sunlight reflected in a pewter dish. He believed this vision revealed to him the spiritual structure of the world, as well as the relationship between God and man, and good and evil. At the time he chose not to speak of this experience openly, preferring instead to continue his work and raise a family.

Jacob Boehme’s persecutions and suffering began with the publication of his first book, "Aurora," at the age of thirty-five. then not withstanding five years of enforced silence, banishment from his home town, and an ecclesiastical trial for heresy, his "interior wisdom" began to be recognized by the nobility of Germany; but at this time, at the age of forty-nine, Boehme died, "happy," as he said, "in the midst of the heavenly music of the paradise of God."

Then after another vision in 1610, he began writing his first treatise, Aurora, or Die Morgenroete im Aufgang. Aurora was circulated in manuscript form until a copy fell into the hands of Gregorius Richter, the chief pastor of Görlitz, who considered it heretical and threatened Boehme with exile if he did not stop writing. After years of silence, Boehme's friends and patrons persuaded him to start again, and circulated his writings in handwritten copies. His first printed book, Weg zu Christo (The Way to Christ, 1623), caused another scandal; he spent the last year of his life in exile in Dresden, returning to Görlitz only to die. In this short period, Boehme produced an enormous amount of writing, including his major works De Signatura Rerum and Mysterium Magnum. He also developed a following throughout Europe, where his followers were known as Behmenists.

The son of Boehme's chief antagonist, the pastor primarius of Görlitz Gregorius Richter, edited a collection of extracts from his writings, which were afterwards published complete at Amsterdam with the help of Coenraad van Beuningen in the year 1682. Boehme's full works were first printed in 1730.


The chief concern of Boehme's writing was the nature of sin, evil, and redemption. Consistent with Lutheran theology, Boehme preached that humanity had fallen from a state of divine grace to a state of sin and suffering, that the forces of evil included fallen angels who had rebelled against God, and that God's goal was to restore the world to a state of grace. Where Boehme appeared to depart from accepted theology (though this was open to question due to his somewhat obscure, oracular style) was in his description of the Fall as a necessary stage in the evolution of the Universe.[2]

A difficulty with his theology is the fact that he had a mystical vision, which he reinterpreted and reformulated.[3] To Boehme, in order to reach God, man has to go through hell first. God exists without time or space, he regenerates himself through eternity, so Boehme, who restates the trinity as truly existing but with a novel interpretation. God, the Father is fire, who gives birth to his son, whom Boehme calls light. The Holy Spirit is the living principle, or the divine life.[4]


In Boehme's cosmology, it was necessary for humanity to depart from God, and for all original unities to undergo differentiation, desire, and conflict -- as in the rebellion of Satan, the separation of Eve from Adam, and their acquisition of the knowledge of good and evil -- in order for creation to evolve to a new state of redeemed harmony that would be more perfect than the original state of innocence, allowing God to achieve a new self-awareness by interacting with a creation that was both part of, and distinct from, Himself. Free will becomes the most important gift God gives to humanity, allowing us to seek divine grace as a deliberate choice while still allowing us to remain individuals.

Boehme saw the incarnation of Christ not as a sacrificial offering to cancel out human sins, but as an offering of love for humanity, showing God's willingness to bear the suffering that had been a necessary aspect of creation. He also believed the incarnation of Christ conveyed the message that a new state of harmony is possible. This was somewhat at odds with Lutheran dogma, and his suggestion that God would have been somehow incomplete without the Creation was even more controversial, as was his emphasis on faith and self-awareness rather than strict adherence to dogma or scripture.

Marian views

Boehme believed that the Son of God became human through the Virgin Mary. Before the birth of Christ, God recognized himself as a virgin. This virgin is therefore a mirror of God's wisdom and knowledge.[5] Boehme follows Luther, in that he views Mary within the context of Christ. Unlike Luther, he does not address himself to dogmatic issues very much, but to the human side of Mary. Like all other women, she was human and therefore subject to sin. Only after God elected her with his grace to become the mother of his son, did she inherit the status of sinlessness.[6] Mary did not move the Word, the Word moved Mary, so Boehme, explaining that all her grace came from Christ. Mary is "blessed among women" but not because of her qualifications, but because of her humility. Mary is an instrument of God, an example, what God can do: It shall not be forgotten in all eternity, that God became human in her.[7]

Boehme, unlike Luther does not believe that Mary was the Ever Virgin. Her virginity after the birth of Jesus is unrealistic to Boehme. The true salvation is Christ not Mary. The importance of Mary, a human like every one of us, is that she gave birth to Jesus Christ as a human being. If Mary would not have been human, to Boehme, Christ would be a stranger and not our brother. Christ must grow in us as he did in Mary. She became blessed by accepting Christ. In a reborn Christian, like in Mary, all that is temporal disappears and only the heavenly part remains for all eternity. Boehme's peculiar theological language, involving fire, light and spirit, which permeates his theology and Marian views, does not distract much from the fact that his basic positions are Lutheran, with the one exception of the virginity of Mary, where he holds a more temporal view.[8]


Boehme's writing shows the influence of Neoplatonist and alchemical writers such as Paracelsus, while remaining firmly within a Christian tradition. He has in turn greatly influenced many anti-authoritarian and mystical movements, such as the Religious Society of Friends, the Philadelphians, the Gichtelians, the Society of the Woman in the Wilderness, the Ephrata Cloister, the Harmony Society, the Zoarite Separatists, Martinism, and Christian theosophy. Boehme was also an important source of German Romantic philosophy, influencing Schelling in particular. [9] In Richard Bucke's 1901 treatise Cosmic Consciousness, special attention was given to the profundity of Böhme's spiritual enlightenment, which seemed to reveal to Boehme an ultimate nondifference, or nonduality, between human beings and God. Boehme is also an important influence on the ideas of the English Romantic poet, artist and mystic William Blake.

In later works—The Way to Christ (1622), The Mysterium Magnum (1623), and De Signatura Rerum (1623)—he praised the spiritual life, criticized the growing formalism of the Lutheran church, expressed traditional German mystic teachings, discussed Paracelsan speculative alchemy, and considered questions of freedom, good, and evil.  Alcott, who purchased the English translation (by John Sparrow and John Elliston) in William Law’s four-volume edition in 1842, extolled Boehme as “the master mind of these last centuries.”


"When thou art gone forth wholly from the creature [human], and art become nothing to all that is nature and creature, then thou art in that eternal one, which is God himself, and then thou shalt perceive and feel the highest virtue of love. Also, that I said whosoever findeth it findeth nothing and all things; that is also true, for he findeth a supernatural, supersensual Abyss, having no ground, where there is no place to dwell in; and he findeth also nothing that is like it, and therefore it may be compared to nothing, for it is deeper than anything, and is as nothing to all things, for it is not comprehensible; and because it is nothing, it is free from all things, and it is that only Good, which a man cannot express or utter what it is. But that I lastly said, he that findeth it, findeth all things, is also true; it hath been the beginning of all things, and it ruleth all things. If thou findest it, thou comest into that ground from whence all things proceed, and wherein they subsist, and thou art in it a king over all the works of God." [The Way to Christ, 1623]

Jacob Boehme was concerned about "the salvation of his soul." Although daily occupied, first as a shepherd, and afterward as a shoemaker, he was always an earnest student of the Holy Scriptures; but he could not understand "the ways of God," and he became "perplexed, even to melancholy, — pressed out of measure." He said: "I knew the Bible from beginning to end, but could find no consolation in Holy Writ; and my spirit, as if moving in a great storm, arose in God, carrying with it my whole heart, mind and will and wrestled with the love and mercy of God, that his blessing might descend upon me, that my mind might be illumined with his Holy Spirit, that I might understand his will and get rid of my sorrow . . .

"I had always thought much of how I might inherit the kingdom of heaven; but finding in myself a powerful opposition, in the desires that belong to the flesh and blood, I began a battle against my corrupted nature; and with the aid of God, I made up my mind to overcome the inherited evil will, . . . break it, and enter wholly into the love of God in Christ Jesus . . . I sought the heart of Jesus Christ, the center of all truth; and I resolved to regard myself as dead in my inherited form, until the Spirit of God would take form in me, so that in and through him, I might conduct my life.

"I stood in this resolution, fighting a battle with myself, until the light of the Spirit, a light entirely foreign to my unruly nature, began to break through the clouds. Then, after some farther hard fights with the powers of darkness, my spirit broke through the doors of hell, and penetrated even unto the innermost essence of its newly born divinity where it was received with great love, as a bridegroom welcomes his beloved bride.

"No word can express the great joy and triumph I experienced, as of a life out of death, as of a resurrection from the dead! . . . While in this state, as I was walking through a field of flowers, in fifteen minutes, I saw through the mystery of creation, the original of this world and of all creatures. . . . Then for seven days I was in a continual state of ecstasy, surrounded by the light of the Spirit, which immersed me in contemplation and happiness. I learned what God is, and what is his will. . . . I knew not how this happened to me, but my heart admired and praised the Lord for it!"







  1. Books by Jacob Boehme (Behmen)

    The Incarnation of Jesus Christ - 1993 - 289 pages

    John Wesley, in his day, required all of his preachers to study the writings of Jacob Boehme; and the learned theologian, Willam Law, said of him: "Jacob Boehme was not a messenger of anything new in religion, but the mystery of all that was old and true in religion and nature, was opened up to him," — "the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God."


See also


  • Aurora: Die Morgenröte im Aufgang (unfinished) (1612)
  • The Three Principles of the Divine Essence (1612)
  • The Threefold Life of Man (1620)
  • Answers to Forty Questions Concerning the Soul (1620)
  • The Treatise of the Incarnations: (1620)
    • I. Of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ
    • II. Of the Suffering, Dying, Death and Resurrection of Christ
    • III. Of the Tree of Faith
  • The Great Six Points (1620)
  • Of the Earthly and of the Heavenly Mystery (1620)
  • Of the Last Times (1620)
  • De Signatura Rerum (1621)
  • The Four Complexions (1621)
  • Of True Repentance (1622)
  • Of True Resignation (1622)
  • Of Regeneration (1622)
  • Of Predestination (1623)
  • A Short Compendium of Repentance (1623)
  • The Mysterium Magnum (1623)
  • A Table of the Divine Manifestation, or an Exposition of the Threefold World (1623)
  • The Supersensual Life (1624)
  • Of Divine Contemplation or Vision (unfinished) (1624)
  • Of Christ's Testaments (1624)
    • I. Baptism
    • II. The Supper
  • Of Illumination (1624)
  • 177 Theosophic Questions, with Answers to Thirteen of Them (unfinished) (1624)
  • An Epitome of the Mysterium Magnum (1624)
  • The Holy Week or a Prayer Book (unfinished) (1624)
  • A Table of the Three Principles (1624)
  • Of the Last Judgement (lost) (1624)
  • The Clavis (1624)
  • Sixty-two Theosophic Epistles (1618-1624)

Books in Print

  • The Way to Christ (inc. True Repentance, True Resignation, Regeneration or the New Birth, The Supersensual Life, Of Heaven & Hell, The Way from Darkness to True Illumination) edited by William Law, Diggory Press ISBN 978-1846857911


  1. ^ [1]. Some sources e.g. this one say he was born "on or soon before" 24 April 1575.
  2. ^ F.von Ingen, Jacob Böhme in Marienlexikon, Eos, St.Ottilien 1988, 517
  3. ^ See Schopenhauer's On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason, Ch II, 8

External links

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Wikisource has original works written by or about:
The Saints are listed in Liber XV, also known as the Gnostic Mass, which is the central rite of Ordo Templi Orientis and its ecclesiastical arm, Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica. They are found in the fifth Collect of Liber XV, titled "The Saints."

In the Catholic and Orthodox churches, a saint is a person who has been canonised (officially recognized) after their death. However, in the EGC, death is not necessarily a prerequisite for sainthood, since Aleister Crowley was certainly alive when he wrote Liber XV (he included himself twice, in fact). The Gnostic Saints are generally considered to those who have embodied the essential principles of Thelema and formed a line of adepts through the ages.

The only Gnostic Saint to have been officially added to the original list is William Blake, based on a discovered writing by Aleister Crowley who described him as such. It is also considered approprate to include the name of deceased Grand Masters of O.T.O., such as Hymenaeus Alpha.

From Liber XV, the entire Collect is written below. Those names in italics are commemorated in ordinary masses, whereas the entire list is entoned for a "celebratory mass," such as when it is performed in conjunction with a Wedding.

Collect V: The Saints

"LORD of Life and Joy, that art the might of man, that art the essence of every true god that is upon the surface of the Earth, continuing knowledge from generation unto generation, thou adored of us upon heaths and in woods, on mountains and in caves, openly in the marketplaces and secretly in the chambers of our houses, in temples of gold and ivory and marble as in these other temples of our bodies, we worthily commemorate them worthy that did of old adore thee and manifest they glory unto men,

Lao-tzu, Siddhartha, Krishna, Tahuti, Mosheh, Dionysus, Mohammed, To Mega Therion, Hermes, Pan, Priapus, Osiris, Melchizedek, Khem, Amoun, Mentu, Heracles, Orpheus, Odysseus, Vergilius, Catullus, Martialis, Rabelais, Swinburne, Apollonius Tyanæus, Simon Magus, Manes, Pythagoras, Basilides, Valentinus, Bardesanes, Hippolytus, Merlin, Arthur, Kamuret, Parzival, Carolus Magnus, William of Schyren, Frederick of Hohenstaufen, Roger Bacon, Jacobus Burgundus Molensis the Martyr, Christian Rosencreutz, Ulrich von Hutten, Paracelsus, Michael Maier, Roderic Borgia Pope Alexander the Sixth, Jacob Boehme, Francis Bacon Lord Verulam, Andrea, Robertus de Fluctibus, Johannes Dee, Sir Edward Kelly, Thomas Vaughan, Elias Ashmole, Molinos, Adam Weishaupt, Wolfgang von Goethe, William Blake, Ludovicus Rex Bavariae, Richard Wagner, Alphonse Louis Constant, Friedrich Nietzsche, Hargrave Jennings, Carl Kellner, Forlong dux, Sir Richard Payne Knight, Paul Gaugin, Sir Richard Francis Burton, Doctor Gerard Encausse, Doctor Theodor Reuss, Sir Aleister Crowley

—Oh Sons of the Lion and the Snake! With all thy saints we worthily commemorate them worthy that were and are and are to come.


Christianity as a mystery religion

The word used by Early Christians to indicate the Christian Mystery is μυστήριον (mysterion). The Old Testament versions use the word mysterion as an equivalent for the Hebrew sôd, "secret" (Proverbs 20:19; Judith 2:2; Sirach 22:27; 2 Maccabees 13:21). In the New Testament the word mystery is applied ordinarily to the sublime revelation of the Gospel (Matthew 13:11; Colossians 2:2; 1 Timothy 3:9; 1 Corinthians 15:51), and to the Incarnation and life of the Saviour and His manifestation by the preaching of the Apostles (Romans 16:25; Ephesians 3:4; 6:19; Colossians 1:26; 4:3). Theologians give the name mystery to revealed truths that surpass the powers of natural reason,[8] so, in a narrow sense, the Mystery is a truth that transcends the created intellect. The impossibility of obtaining a rational comprehension of the Mystery leads to an inner or hidden way of comprehension of the Christian Mystery which is indicated by the term esoteric in Esoteric Christianity. [9]

Even though revealed and believed, the Mystery remains nevertheless obscure and veiled during the mortal life, if the deciphering of the mysteries, made possible by esotericism, does not intervene.[10]

This esoteric knowledge would allow a deep comprehension of the Christian mysteries which otherwise would remain obscure.

Ancient roots

Some modern scholars believe that in the early stages of Christianity a nucleus of oral teachings were inherited from Palestinian and Hellenistic Judaism which formed the basis of a secret oral tradition, which in the 4th century came to be called the disciplina arcani.[11][7][12] Important influences on Esoteric Christianity are the Christian theologians Clement of Alexandria and Origen, the main figures of the Catechetical School of Alexandria.[13]

Origen was a most prolific writer - according to Epiphanius, he wrote about 6,000 books[14] - making it a difficult task to define the central core of his teachings. The original Greek text of his main theological work De Principiis only survives in fragments, while a 5th century Latin translation was cleared of controversial teachings by the translator Rufinus, making it hard for modern scholars to rebuild Origen's original thoughts. Thus, it is unclear whether reincarnation and the pre-existence of souls formed part of Origen's beliefs.

While hypothetically considering a complex multiple-world transmigration scheme in De Principiis, Origen denies reincarnation in unmistakable terms in his work, Against Celsus and elsewhere.[15][16]

Despite this apparent contradiction, most modern Esoteric Christian movements refer to Origen's writings (along, with other Church Fathers and biblical passages[17]) to validate these ideas as part of the Esoteric Christian tradition.[18]

Early modern esotericism

In the later Middle Ages forms of Western esotericism, for example alchemy and astrology, were constructed on Christian foundations, combining Christian theology and doctrines with esoteric concepts.[19]

Giovanni Pico della Mirandola's Apologia ("Apologia J. Pici Mirandolani, Concordiae comitis" published in 1489) states that there are two types of "magic", which are theurgy (divine magic), and goetia (demonic magic). These disciplines were explained as the "Operation of the Stars", just as alchemy was the "Operation of the Sun", and astrology the "Operation of the Moon." Kabbalah was also an active discipline. Esoteric Christian practitioners might practice these forms or traditions, which made them adepts, alchemists, astrologists, and Hermetic Qabalists, while still being Esoteric Christian practitioners of a passive discipline which helped them better use the "mystery knowledge" they gained from the elite, or Higher Beings.

In the 17th century this was followed up by the development of Theosophy and Rosicrucianism.[20] The Behmenist movements also developed around this time. In the 18th century, Freemasonry came about.

Modern forms of Esoteric Christianity

Many modern Esoteric Christian movements admit reincarnation among their beliefs, as well as a complex energetic structure for the human being (such as etheric body, astral body, mental body and causal body). These movements point out the need of an inner spiritual work which will lead to the renewal of the human person according to the Pauline sense. Max Heindel and Rudolf Steiner gave several spiritual exercises in their writings to help the evolution of the follower. In the same direction are Tommaso Palamidessi's writings, which aim at developing ascetic techniques and meditations. According to all of these esoteric scholars, the ensemble of these techniques (often related with Eastern meditation practices such as chakra meditation or visualization) will lead to salvation and to the total renewal of the human being. This process usually implies the constitution of a spiritual body apt to the experience of resurrection (and therefore called, in Christian terms, resurrection body).[21][22][23]

See also





Central concepts

External links


  1. ^ Western Esotericism and the Science of Religion: Selected Papers Presented at the 17th Congress
  2. ^ Besant, Annie (2001). Esoteric Christianity or the Lesser Mysteries. City: Adamant Media Corporation. ISBN 9781402100291. 
  3. ^ From the Greek ἐσωτερικός (esôterikos, "inner"). The term esotericism itself was coined in the 17th century. (Oxford English Dictionary Compact Edition, Volume 1,Oxford University Press, 1971, p. 894.)
  4. ^ Wouter J. Hanegraaff, Antoine Faivre, Roelof van den Broek, Jean-Pierre Brach, Dictionary of Gnosis & Western Esotericism, Brill 2005.
  5. ^ Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary: esotericism
  6. ^ Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary: esoteric
  7. ^ a b G.G. Stroumsa, Hidden Wisdom: Esoteric Traditions and the Roots of Christian Mysticism, 2005.
  8. ^ The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume X. Published 1911
  9. ^ Besant, Annie (2001). Esoteric Christianity or the Lesser Mysteries. City: Adamant Media Corporation. ISBN 9781402100291. 
  10. ^ Tommaso Palamidessi, Introduction to Major and Minor Mysteries, ed. Archeosofica, 1971
  11. ^ Frommann, De Disciplina Arcani in vetere Ecclesia christiana obticuisse fertur, Jena 1833.
  12. ^ E. Hatch, The Influence of Greek Ideas and Usages upon the Christian Church, London, 1890, Chapter 10.
  13. ^ Jean Danielou, Origen, translated by Walter Mitchell, 1955.
  14. ^ Haer., lxiv.63
  15. ^ Catholic Answers, Quotes by Church Fathers Against Reincarnation, 2004.
  16. ^ John S. Uebersax, Early Christianity and Reincarnation: Modern Misrepresentation of Quotes by Origen, 2006.
  17. ^ See Reincarnation and Christianity
  18. ^ Archeosofica, Articles on Esoteric Christianity (classical authors)
  19. ^ Antoine Faivre, L'ésotérisme, Paris, PUF (« Que sais-je?»), 1992.
  20. ^ Weber, Charles, Rosicrucianism and Christianity in Rays from the Rose Cross, 1995
  21. ^ Rudolf Steiner, Christianity As Mystical Fact, Steinerbooks.
  22. ^ Tommaso Palamidessi, The Guardians of the Thresholds and the Evolutionary Way, Archeosofica, 1978.
  23. ^ Max Heindel, The Mystical Interpretation of Easter, Rosicrucian Fellowship.
  24. ^ Heindel, Max, Freemasonry and Catholicism, ISBN 0-911274-04-9


Christian mysticism

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaChristian mysticism is traditionally practised through the disciplines of:

In the tradition of Mystical Theology, Biblical texts are typically interpreted metaphorically, for example in Jesus' "Sermon on the Mount" (Matthew 5–7) the text, in its totality, is held to contain the way for direct union with God. Also, in the contemplative and eremitic tradition of the Carmelite "Book of the First Monks", 1 Kgs. 17:3-4 is the central Biblical text around which the work is written.

Whereas Christian doctrine generally maintains that God dwells in all Christians and that they can experience God directly through belief in Jesus, Christian mysticism aspires to apprehend spiritual truths inaccessible through intellectual means, typically by learning how to think like Christ. William Inge divides this scala perfectionis into three stages: the "purgative" or ascetic stage, the "illuminative" or contemplative stage, and the "unitive" stage, in which God may be beheld "face to face."

Biblical foundations

The tradition of Christian Mysticism is as old as Christianity itself. At least three texts from the New Testament set up themes that recur throughout the recorded thought of the Christian mystics. The first, Galatians 2:20, says that:

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (KJV)

The second important scriptural text for Christian mysticism is 1 John 3:2:

Beloved, now we are the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

The third such text, especially important for Eastern Christian mysticism, is found in II Peter 1:4:

...[E]xceedingly great and precious promises [are given unto us]; that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. (emphasis added)

Two major themes of Christian mysticism are (1) a complete identification with, or imitation of Christ, to achieve a unity of the human spirit with the spirit of God; and (2) the perfect vision of God, in which the mystic seeks to experience God "as he is," and no more "through a glass, darkly." (1 Corinthians 13:12)

Other mystical experiences are described in other passages. In 2 Corinthians 12:2–4, Paul sets forth an example of a possible out-of-body experience by someone who was taken up to the "third heaven", and taught unutterable mysteries:

I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) how that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

Perhaps a similar experience occurred at the Transfiguration of Jesus, an incident confirmed in each of the Synoptic Gospels. Here Jesus led three of his apostles, Peter, John, and James, to pray at the top of a mountain, where he became transfigured. Jesus's face shone like the sun, and he was clad in brilliant white clothes. Elijah and Moses appeared with Jesus, and talked with him, and then a bright cloud appeared overhead, and a voice from the cloud proclaimed, "This is my beloved Son: hear him."


While such phenomena are associated with mysticism in general, including the Christian variety, for Christians the major emphasis concerns a spiritual transformation of the egoic self, the following of a path designed to produce more fully realized human persons, "created in the Image and Likeness of God" and as such, living in harmonious communion with God, the Church, the rest of humanity, and all creation, including oneself. For Christians, this human potential is realized most perfectly in Jesus and is manifested in others through their association with Him, whether conscious, as in the case of Christian mystics, or unconscious, with regard to persons who follow other traditions, such as Gandhi. The Eastern Christian tradition speaks of this transformation in terms of theosis or divinization, perhaps best summed up by an ancient aphorism usually attributed to Athanasius of Alexandria: "God became human so that man might become God."

Going back at least to Evagrius Ponticus and Pseudo-Dionysius, Christian mystics have pursued a threefold path in their pursuit of holiness. While the three aspects have different names in the different Christian traditions, they can be characterized as purgative, illuminative, and unitive, corresponding to body, soul (or mind), and spirit. The first, the way of purification, is where aspiring Christian mystics start. This aspect focuses on discipline, particularly in terms of the human body; thus, it emphasizes prayer at certain times, either alone or with others, and in certain postures, often standing or kneeling. It also emphasizes the other disciplines of fasting and alms-giving, the latter including those activities called "the works of mercy," both spiritual and corporal, such as feeding the hungry and sheltering the homeless.

Purification, which grounds Christian spirituality in general, is primarily focused on efforts to, in the words of St. Paul, "put to death the deeds of the flesh by the Holy Spirit" (Romans 8:13). The "deeds of the flesh" here include not only external behavior, but also those habits, attitudes, compulsions, addictions, etc. (sometimes called egoic passions) which oppose themselves to true being and living as a Christian not only exteriorly, but interiorly as well. Evelyn Underhill describes purification as an awareness of one's own imperfections and finiteness, followed by self-discipline and mortification. Because of its physical, disciplinary aspect, this phase, as well as the entire Christian spiritual path, is often referred to as "ascetic," a term which is derived from a Greek word which connotes athletic training. Because of this, in ancient Christian literature, prominent mystics are often called "spiritual athletes," an image which is also used several times in the New Testament to describe the Christian life. What is sought here is salvation in the original sense of the word, referring not only to one's eternal fate, but also to healing in all areas of life, including the restoration of spiritual, psychological, and physical health.

It remains a paradox of the mystics that the passivity at which they appear to aim is really a state of the most intense activity: more, that where it is wholly absent no great creative action can take place. In it, the superficial self compels itself to be still, in order that it may liberate another more deep-seated power which is, in the ecstasy of the contemplative genius, raised to the highest pitch of efficiency. Mysticism: A Study in Nature and Development of Spiritual Consciousness by Evelyn Underhill (Public Domain)

The second phase, the path of illumination, has to do with the activity of the Holy Spirit enlightening the mind, giving insights into truths not only explicit in scripture and the rest of the Christian tradition, but also those implicit in nature, not in the scientific sense, but rather in terms of an illumination of the "depth" aspects of reality and natural happenings, such that the working of God is perceived in all that one experiences. Underhill describes it as marked by a consciousness of a transcendent order and a vision of a new heaven and a new earth.

The third phase, usually called contemplation in the Western tradition, refers to the experience of oneself as in some way united with God. The experience of union varies, but it is first and foremost always associated with a reuniting with Divine love, the underlying theme being that God, the perfect goodness,[3] is known or experienced at least as much by the heart as by the intellect since, in the words 1 John 4:16: "God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God and God in him." Some approaches to classical mysticism would consider the first two phases as preparatory to the third, explicitly mystical experience, but others state that these three phases overlap and intertwine.

Author and mystic Evelyn Underhill recognizes two additional phases to the mystical path. First comes the awakening, the stage in which one begins to have some consciousness of absolute or divine reality. Purgation and illumination are followed by a fourth stage which Underhill, borrowing the language of St. John of the Cross, calls the dark night of the soul. This stage, experienced by the few, is one of final and complete purification and is marked by confusion, helplessness, stagnation of the will, and a sense of the withdrawal of God's presence. It is the period of final "unselfing" and the surrender to the hidden purposes of the divine will. Her fifth and final stage is union with the object of love, the one Reality, God. Here the self has been permanently established on a transcendental level and liberated for a new purpose.[4]

Another aspect of traditional Christian spirituality, or mysticism, has to do with its communal basis. Even for hermits, the Christian life is always lived in communion with the Church, the community of believers. Thus, participation in corporate worship, especially the Eucharist, is an essential part of Christian mysticism. Connected with this is the practice of having a spiritual director, confessor, or "soul friend" with which to discuss one's spiritual progress. This person, who may be clerical or lay, acts as a spiritual mentor.

Christian mystics

Some examples of Christian mystics:

Notes and references

  1. ^ John 7:16–39
  2. ^ Christian Mysticism (1899 Bampton Lectures)
  3. ^ Theologia Germanica, public domain
  4. ^ Greene, Dana, "Adhering to God: The Message of Evelyn Underhill for Our Times", Spirituality Today, Spring 1987, Vol. 39, pp. 22–38

See also



External links


Hallucinations (VISIONS) in the sane

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A hallucination (vision) may occur in a person in a state of good mental and physical health, even in the apparent absence of a transient trigger factor such as fatigue, intoxication, or sensory deprivation.

It is not yet widely recognised that hallucinatory (visionary) experiences are not merely the prerogative of the insane, or normal people in abnormal states, but that they occur spontaneously in a significant proportion of the normal population, when in good health and not undergoing particular stress or other abnormal circumstance.

The evidence for this statement has been accumulating for more than a century. Studies of hallucinatory (visionary) experience in the sane go back to 1886 and the early work of the Society for Psychical Research,[1][2] which suggested approximately 10% of the population had experienced at least one hallucinatory (visionary) episode in the course of their life. More recent studies have validated these findings; the precise incidence found varies with the nature of the episode and the criteria of ‘hallucination’ adopted, but the basic finding is now well-supported.[3]

Editors note:  It has been well studied in recent years that people can be trained to have visionary experiences, as well as channel spirits for their wisdom information.



Of particular interest, for reasons to be discussed below, are those hallucinatory (visionary) experiences of the sane which are characterised by extreme perceptual realism, sometimes to the extent that the subject does not at first achieve insight, indeed may only achieve insight after the experience has ended.

Apparitional experiences (ghosts)

An apparitional experience may be defined as one in which a subject seems to perceive some person or thing that is not really there. Self-selected samples tend to report a predominance of human figures, but apparitions of animals,[4] and even objects[5] are also reported. It is interesting to note that the majority of the human figures reported in such samples are not recognised by the subject, and of those who are, not all are of deceased persons, apparitions of living persons also being reported.[6]

 Out-of-body experiences

Out-of-body experiences (OBEs) have become to some extent conflated in the public mind with the concept of the near-death experience. However, the evidence suggests that the majority of out-of-body experiences do not occur near death, but in conditions of either very high or very low arousal.[7]McCreery [8]has suggested that this latter paradox may be explained by reference to the fact that sleep may be approached, not only by the conventional route of low arousal and deafferentation, but also by the less familiar route of extreme stress and hyper-arousal.[9] On this model OBEs represent the intrusion of Stage 1 sleep processes into waking consciousness.

OBEs are to be regarded as hallucinatory on the grounds that they are perceptual or quasi-perceptual experiences in which by definition the ostensible viewpoint is not coincident with the physical body of the subject. Therefore the normal sensory input, if any, that the subject is receiving during the experience cannot correspond exactly to the perceptual representation of the world in the subject’s consciousness.

As with hallucinatory experiences in general, attempts to survey samples of the general population have suggested that such experiences are relatively common, incidence figures of between 15 and 25 percent being commonly reported.[10] The variation is presumably to be accounted for by the different types of populations sampled and the different criteria of ‘out-of-body experience’ used.

Dreams and lucid dreams

Main articles: Dream and Lucid dream

A dream has been defined by some (e.g. Encyclopaedia Britannica) as a hallucinatory experience during sleep.

A lucid dream may be defined as one in which the dreamer is aware that he or she is asleep and dreaming. The term ‘lucid dream’ was first used by the Dutch physician Frederik van Eeden,[11] who studied his own dreams of this type. The word ‘lucid’ refers to the fact that the subject has achieved insight into his or her condition, rather than the perceptual quality of the experience. Nevertheless, it is one of the features of lucid dreams that they can have an extremely high quality of perceptual realism, to the extent that the dreamer may spend time examining and admiring the perceptual environment and the way it appears to imitate that of waking life.[12]

Lucid dreams by definition occur during sleep, but they may be regarded as hallucinatory experiences in the same way as non-lucid dreams of a vivid perceptual nature may be regarded as hallucinatory, that is they are examples of 'an experience having the character of sense perception, but without relevant or adequate sensory stimulation […]' [13]

False awakenings in dreams

A false awakening is one in which the subject seems to wake up, whether from a lucid or a non-lucid dream, but is in fact still asleep.[14] Sometimes the experience is so realistic perceptually (the sleeper seeming to wake in his or her own bedroom, for example) that insight is not achieved at once, or even until the dreamer really wakes up and realises that what has occurred was hallucinatory. Such experiences seem particularly liable to occur to those who deliberately cultivate lucid dreams. However, they may also occur spontaneously and be associated with the experience of sleep paralysis.


Auditory hallucinations (CLAIRAUDIENCE)

Auditory hallucinations, (clairaudience) and in particular the hearing of a voice, are thought of as particularly characteristic of people suffering from schizophrenia. However, normal subjects also report auditory hallucinations (clairaudience) to a surprising extent. For example, Bentall and Slade[15] found that as many as 15.4% of a population of 150 male students were prepared to endorse the statement ‘In the past I have had the experience of hearing a person’s voice and then found that no one was there’. They add: ‘[…]no less that 17.5% of the [subjects] were prepared to score the item “I often hear a voice speaking my thoughts aloud” as “Certainly Applies”. This latter item is usually regarded as a first-rank symptom of schizophrenia[…]’

Editors note:  That is the basic problem with psychiatrists - they have no or little spiritual training and don't understand that its normal for people to be able to speak with spirits and deceased loved ones with a little effort - and often when they are thinking of a particular spirit being, particularly during meditation..

Green and McCreery[16] found that 14% of their 1800 self-selected subjects reported a purely auditory hallucination, (clairaudience) and of these nearly half involved the hearing of articulate or inarticulate human speech sounds. An example of the former would be the case of an engineer facing a difficult professional decision, who, while sitting in a cinema, heard a voice saying, ‘loudly and distinctly’: ‘You can’t do it you know’. He adds: 'It was so clear and resonant that I turned and looked at my companion who was gazing placidly at the screen[…] I was amazed and somewhat relieved when it became apparent that I was the only person who had heard anything.'[17]

This case would be an example of what Posey and Losch[18] call ‘hearing a comforting or advising voice that is not perceived as being one’s own thoughts’. They estimated that approximately 10% of their population of 375 American college students had had this type of experience.

The ‘Sense of Presence’

This is a paradoxical experience in which the person has a strong feeling of the presence of another person, sometimes recognised, sometimes unrecognised, but without any apparently justifying sensory stimulus.

The nineteenth-century American psychologist and philosopher William James described the experience thus: 'From the way in which this experience is spoken of by those who have had it, it would appear to be an extremely definite and positive state of mind, coupled with a belief in the reality of its object quite as strong as any direct sensation ever gives. And yet no sensation seems to be connected with it at all... The phenomenon would seem to be due to a pure conception becoming saturated with the sort of stinging urgency which ordinarily only sensations bring.'[19]

The following is an example of this type of experience: 'My husband died in June 1945, and 26 years afterwards when I was at Church, I felt him standing beside me during the singing of a hymn. I felt I would see him if I turned my head. The feeling was so strong I was reduced to tears. I had not been thinking of him before I felt his presence. I had not had this feeling before that day, neither has it happened since then.'[20]

Experiences of this kind appear to meet all but one of the normal criteria of hallucination (clairaudience) . For example, Slade and Bentall proposed the following working definition of a hallucination:(clairaudience)  'Any percept-like experience which (a) occurs in the absence of an appropriate stimulus, (b) has the full force or impact of the corresponding actual (real) perception, and (c) is not amenable to direct and voluntary control by the experiencer.'[21] The experience quoted above certainly meets the second and third of these three criteria. One might add that the 'presence' in such a case is experienced as located in a definite position in external physical space. In this respect it may be said to be more hallucinatory than, for example, some hypnagogic imagery, (visions) which may be experienced as external to the subject but located in a mental ‘space’ of its own.[22][23]

Hallucinations (VISIONS)  in bereavement

Rees[24] conducted a study of 293 widowed people living in a particular area of mid-Wales. He found that 14% of those interviewed reported having had a visual hallucination of their deceased spouse, 13.3% an auditory one and 2.7% a tactile one. These categories overlapped to some extent as some people reported a hallucinatory experience in more than one modality. Of interest in light of the previous heading was the fact that 46.7% of the sample reported experiencing the presence of the deceased spouse.

Theoretical implications


The main importance of hallucinations (visions or clairaudience)  in the sane to theoretical psychology lies in their relevance to the debate between the disease model versus the dimensional model of psychosis. According to the disease model, psychotic states such as those associated with schizophrenia and manic-depression, represent symptoms of an underlying disease process, which is dichotomous in nature; i.e. a given subject either does or does not have the disease, just as a person either does or does not have a physical disease such as tuberculosis. According to the dimensional model, by contrast, the population at large is ranged along a normally distributed continuum or dimension, which has been variously labelled as psychoticism (H.J.Eysenck), schizotypy (Gordon Claridge) or psychosis-proneness.[25]

EDITORS NOTE:  I totally disagree with the diagnosis of schzophrenia in that it is a name given by psychiatrists to experiences they never had themselves. They drug the hell out of the experiencer, which I do and do not agree with depending on the severity of the disruption or fear of the client.  If a psychiatrist called in a priest, minister, nun, or true experiencer for consultation, they might find that what the client is experiencing is normal and just doesn't have the awareness that such a thing exists.  Schizophernia truly is a word of the dark ages and should be sorted out in spiritual terms before drugging such people.

The occurrence of spontaneous hallucinatory (visions or clairaudience) experiences in sane persons who are enjoying good physical health at the time, and who are not drugged or in other unusual physical states of a transient nature such as extreme fatigue, would appear to provide support for the dimensional model. The alternative to this view requires one to posit some hidden or latent disease process, of which such experiences are a symptom or precursor, an explanation which would appear to beg the question.



The following is clearly written by someone who has absolutely no spiritual or metaphysical training whatsoever.

The argument from hallucination has traditionally been one of those used by proponents of the philosophical theory of representationalism as against the theory of direct realism. Representationalism holds that when perceiving the world we are not in direct contact with it, as common sense suggests, but only in direct contact with a representation of the world in consciousness. That representation may be a more or less accurate one depending on our circumstances, the state of our health, and so on. Direct realism, on the other hand, holds that the common sense or unthinking view of perception is correct, and that when perceiving the world we should be regarded as in direct contact with it, unmediated by any representation in consciousness.

Clearly, during an apparitional experience, for example, the correspondence between how the subject is perceiving the world and how the world really is at that moment is distinctly imperfect. At the same time the experience may present itself to the subject as indistinguishable from normal perception. McCreery[26] has argued that such empirical phenomena strengthen the case for representationalism as against direct realism.


  1. ^ Gurney, E., Myers, F.W.H. and Podmore, F. (1886). Phantasms of the Living, Vols. I and II. London: Trubner and Co..
  2. ^ Sidgwick, Eleanor; Johnson, Alice; and others (1894). Report on the Census of Hallucinations, London: Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, Vol. X.
  3. ^ See Slade, P.D. and Bentall, R.P. (1988). Sensory Deception: a scientific analysis of hallucination. London: Croom Helm, for a review.
  4. ^ See, for example, Green, C., and McCreery, C. (1975). Apparitions. London: Hamish Hamilton, pp. 192-196.
  5. ^ Ibid., pp. 197-199.
  6. ^ Ibid., pp. 178-183.
  7. ^ Irwin, H.J. (1985). Flight of Mind: a psychological study of the out-of-body experience. Metuchen, New Jersey: The Scarecrow Press.
  8. ^ McCreery, C. (2008). Dreams and psychosis: a new look at an old hypothesis. Psychological Paper No. 2008-1. Oxford: Oxford Forum. Online PDF
  9. ^ Oswald, I. (1962). Sleeping and Waking: Physiology and Psychology. Amsterdam: Elsevier.
  10. ^ See Irwin, op.cit., for a review.
  11. ^ van Eeden, F. (1913). A study of dreams. Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, 26, Part 47, pp. 431-461.
  12. ^ See Green, C. (1968). Lucid Dreams. London: Hamish Hamilton, for examples.
  13. ^ Drever, (1952). A Dictionary of Psychology. London: Penguin.
  14. ^ Cf. Green C. and McCreery C. (1994). Lucid Dreaming: the Paradox of Consciousness During Sleep. London: Routledge. Chapter 7.
  15. ^ Bentall R.P. and Slade P.D. (1985). Reliability of a scale measuring disposition towards hallucination: a brief report. Personality and Individual Differences, 6, 527 529.
  16. ^ Green and McCreery, Apparitions, op.cit. p.85.
  17. ^ Ibid., pp. 85-86.
  18. ^ Posey, T.B. and Losch, M.E. (1983). Auditory hallucinations of hearing voices in 375 normal subjects. Imagination, Cognition and Personality, 3, 99-113.
  19. ^ James, W. (1890; 1950). Principles of Psychology, Volume II. New York, Dover Publications, pp. 322-3.
  20. ^ Green and McCreery, Apparitions, op.cit., p.118.
  21. ^ Slade and Bentall, op.cit., p.23.
  22. ^ Leaning, F.E. (1925). An introductory study of hypnagogic phenomena. Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, 35, 289-409.
  23. ^ Mavromatis, A. (1987). Hypnagogia: the Unique State of Consciousness Between Wakefulness and Sleep. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.
  24. ^ Rees, W.D. (1971). The hallucinations of widowhood. British Medical Journal, 4, 37-41.
  25. ^ For a discussion of the concept of schizotypy and its variants, cf. McCreery, C. and Claridge, G. (2002). Healthy schizotypy: the case of out-of-the-body experiences. Personality and Individual Differences, 32, 141-154.
  26. ^ McCreery, C. (2006). "Perception and Hallucination: the Case for Continuity." Philosophical Paper No. 2006-1. Oxford: Oxford Forum. Online PDF

See also



From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Tetractys
The Tetractys

The Tetractys is a triangular figure consisting of ten points arranged in four rows: one, two, three, and four points in each row. As a mystical symbol, it was very important to the followers of the secret worship of the Pythagoreans.

Pythagorean symbol

  1. The Tetractys symbolized the four elementsearth, air, fire, and water.
  2. The first four numbers also symbolized the harmony of the spheres and the Cosmos.[citation needed]
  3. The four rows added up to ten, which was unity of a higher order (in decimal).
  4. The Tetractys represented the organization of space:
    1. the first row represented zero-dimensions (a point)
    2. the second row represented one-dimension (a line of two points)
    3. the third row represented two-dimensions (a plane defined by a triangle of three points)
    4. the fourth row represented three-dimensions (a tetrahedron defined by four points)

A prayer of the Pythagoreans shows the importance of the Tetractys (sometimes called the "Mystic Tetrad"), as the prayer was addressed to it.

"Bless us, divine number, thou who generated gods and men! O holy, holy Tetractys, thou that containest the root and source of the eternally flowing creation! For the divine number begins with the profound, pure unity until it comes to the holy four; then it begets the mother of all, the all-comprising, all-bounding, the first-born, the never-swerving, the never-tiring holy ten, the keyholder of all".[citation needed]

As a portion of the secret religion, initiates were required to swear a secret oath by the Tetractys. They then served as novices for a period of silence lasting three years.[citation needed]

The Pythagorean oath also mentioned the Tetractys:

"By that pure, holy, four lettered name on high,
nature's eternal fountain and supply,
the parent of all souls that living be,
by him, with faith find oath, I swear to thee."

The Pythagorean SourceBook claimed that there were 2 quaternaries of numbers, one which is made by addition, the other by multiplication; and these quaternaries encompass the musical, geometric and arithmetic ratios of which the harmony of the universe so composed. The first quartenary is 1,2,3,4. There are 11 total quartenaries. And the perfect world which results from these quaternaries is geometrically, harmonically and arithmetically arranged."

It is said that the Pythagorean musical system was based on the Tetractys as the rows can be read as the ratios of 4:3, 3:2, 2:1, forming the basic intervals of the Pythagorean scales. Pythagorean scales are based on pure fifths (in a 3:2 relation), and pure fourths (in a 4:3 relation) which form a stable optimally blending intervals. The ratios of 1:1 and 2:1 generate stable purely blending intervals. Note that the disdiapason, 4:1 and the diapason plus diapente, 3:1, are consonant intervals according to the tetractys of the decad, but that the diapason plus diatessaron or perfect 11th, 8:3, is not.


"The Tetractys [also known as the decad] is an equilateral triangle formed from the sequence of the first ten numbers aligned in four rows. It is both a mathematical idea and a metaphysical symbol that embraces within itself — in seedlike form — the principles of the natural world, the harmony of the cosmos, the ascent to the divine, and the mysteries of the divine realm. So revered was this ancient symbol that it inspired ancient philosophers to swear by the name of the one who brought this gift to humanity — Pythagoras."

Kabbalist symbol

Symbol by early 17th-century Christian mystic Jakob Böhme, including a tetractys of flaming Hebrew letters of the Tetragrammaton.
Symbol by early 17th-century Christian mystic Jakob Böhme, including a tetractys of flaming Hebrew letters of the Tetragrammaton.

There are some who believe that the tetractys and its mysteries influenced the early kabbalists. A Hebrew Tetractys in a similar way has the letters of the Tetragrammaton (the four lettered name of God in Hebrew scripture) inscribed on the ten positions of the tetractys, from right to left. It has been argued that the Kabbalistic Tree of Life, with its ten spheres of emanation, is in some way connected to the tetractys, but its form is not that of a triangle.

Tarot card reading arrangement

In a Tarot reading, the various positions of the tetractys provide a representation for forecasting future events by signifying according to various occult disciplines, such as Alchemy. [1] Below is only a single variation for interpretation.

The first row of a single position represents the Premise of the reading, forming a foundation for understanding all the other cards.

The second row of two positions represents the cosmos and the individual and their relationship.

  • The Light Card to the right represents the influence of the cosmos leading the individual to an action.
  • The Dark Card to the left represents the reaction of the cosmos to the actions of the individual.

The third row of three positions represents three kinds of decisions an individual must make.

  • The Creator Card is rightmost, representing new decisions and directions that may be made.
  • The Sustainer Card is in the middle, representing decisions to keep balance, and things that should not change.
  • The Destroyer Card is leftmost, representing old decisions and directions that should not be continued.

The fourth row of four positions represents the four Greek elements.

  • The Fire card is rightmost, representing dynamic creative force, ambitions, and personal will.
  • The Air card is to the right middle, representing the mind, thoughts, and strategies toward goals.
  • The Water card is to the left middle, representing the emotions, feelings, and whims.
  • The Earth card is leftmost, representing physical realities of day to day living.

Other symbols

Roman Catholic archbishop's coat of arms
Roman Catholic archbishop's coat of arms

See also