Initiation is the preparation for immortality.
Man is only potentially immortal. Immortality is acquired when the purely human part of man becomes allied to that spiritual essence which was never created, was never born, and shall never die. It is to effect his spiritual bond with the highest, that the Order of Ancient Illuminists owe all its rituals and practical work.
Initiation means to begin, to start something new. It represents the beginning of a new life dedicated to an entirely different set of principles from those of what Wilhelm Reich once contemptuously termed “homo normalis”. With the enormous development of scientific pragmatism, it is conceivable that sometime in the near or distant future, robots or computers will be completely free man from the daily drudgery of common toil. When that occurs, what will the average man do with his leisure time? Despite the claims of various protagonists of the free future of man, I doubt that many will turn their time and energy to the pursuit of the Great Work in any of its forms. Most of them will continue to hunt, fish, travel in recreational vehicles, drink beer, and grow fat, watch television more and more, concentrate on spectator sports, and continue their lives on a thoroughly prosaic and mundane level. If there are excursions into outer space, with a view of setting up colonies outsied of the earth, I am far from certain that the same fate will not await them as it did all ventures into utopian communities. There are only a mere handful who can tolerate more than a glancing casual look at other than the superficial aspects of what life presents to them.
For this handful, the Order of Ancient Illuminists presents itself and method as the answer to their innumerable questions. The system itself is timeless. It did not owe its origins to the formation of that particular Order called the Illuminati in earlier times. The greater part of it, in one form or another, has existed for aeons — actually forever — not necessarily in the open where it could be attacked by secular and ecclesiastical authorities, but un der cover, secretly and safely. Those who were in need of its teaching and work would inevitably be attracted to some one or other of its members, and undergo initiation. This process occurred in the past even as it does today. When the time comes for the inner awakening, as it may be called, all sorts of synchronicites, as Jung might call them, occur which lead them inevitably in the right direction, to the Western Esoteric Tradition.
THE WESTERN ESOTERIC TRADITION
There are many legends circulation within the occult field that may clarify what is commonly called the Western Esoteric Tradition as being opposed to the so-called Eastern Tradition.
It is held that several centuries ago a group of wise men gathered in the Near East to discuss ways and mean of dissemination the ageless wisdom so that no opposition from vested interests would be encountered, and at the same time evoke recognition from those who had evolved to a state of psycho-spiritual readiness. After much discussion, it was agreed that they should devise a set of pictures that could be circulated as playing cars. Pistures that would tell a story relative to man, and who he was, as well as where he came from. Pictures that would relate him as a person to the greater world in which he found himself. In a word, the Tarot cards came into being to serve such ends. Originally employed as playing cards for fortune telling, they were carried all over the Near East and Europe by gypsies and other traveling bodies, and eventually permeated all civilized countries in the Western World.
The other legend is to be found in a document circulated early in the 17th century, the Puma Fraternnatitas. It purports to narrate the history of one Christian Rosenkruez, a young man who was educated in one of the monasteries in Germany. He wandered to North Africa and the Near East where he was well received by the wise men resident there. They taught him Alchemy, Astrology, and Qabalah, together with other occult subjects. When he left he had acquired a liberal education in the occult arts which he took with him to Germany, to the monastery from which he originally came. Gradually he conveyed his knowledge to a monk here and there, until there were enough more or less enlightened monks to comprise an organizational body that came to be known as the Rosicrucians.
A great deal of the above is legend. Many modern authorities insist that that is all it is — a legend. This runs counter to some of the more common preudo-Rosicrucians orders of today that claim an impossible antecedence for their own group. Be that as it may, the legend itself gives evidence to the belief that there was definite body of occult knowledge in existence which could be and was communicated in an orderly manner.
A third factor that should never be overlooked, but which often is, related to the nature of monasteries in Roman Catholic Europe. These were the primary centers of the learning in an otherwise ignorant world — the Europe of those dark days. They kept alive the learning of every kind then known, and passed it on faithfully to succeeding generations. We know that many of the faithful studied and practiced both alchemy and astrology. It is also known that the Qabalah of the Hebrews was also studies, even though the motive exoterically seemed to be that it was a valuable tool with which to convert the unhappy Jews to the joys and blessings of Christendom.
There is another most interesting set of circumstances too often glossed over or not well understood. It relates to one of the most crucial and interesting periods of European history. At one time, it must be recalled that the Arabs had invaded Europe and had virtually conquered a part, if not all of Spain. They brought with them not merely a victorious army, but Islamic culture as well. That included not solely mathematics, though it is well to reflect on what this one item did to European knowledge, but in addition the Greek classics and literature, from Aristotle on. Their contribution included alchemy as well, astrology and the other occult arts. Above all it brought Islamic mysticism, Sufiism. It flourished not merely in North Africa but in Spain as well. From there it was carried by one means or another to all parts of Europe and to every center of learning.
Simultaneously, Christian mysticism was flourishing in Spain and Europe, and some great and wonderful people were active spreading mystical knowledge far and wide. It was a period of rejuvenation and spiritual growth for Spain and for the Church as a whole.
It is well to remember that in Spain at that time, therefore, there was a favorable climate for the emergence and blossoming of Islamic, Christian, and Jewish mysticism which has never since been surpassed, if not equaled. Each religious mysticism cross fertilized the other in a magnificent manner.
All of these trends, and they were powerful each in its own specific way, contributed to a body of esoteric knowledge and experience that was particularly Western. It may have had numberless resemblances to the traditions extant in the East, but they also had their own individual differences that characterized it as a system wholly apart from its Eastern counterpart. It is this that today we call the Western esoteric tradition. It has reared its head in different times and places and in different ways. On many occasions it may have been wiped out and disappeared from the face of the eath. But always it seemed to reappear revivified by its absence, spreading wider and wider, influencing more and more people, leavening always the institutions most hostile to its continued existence.
From time to time, organizations were formed here and there as means of perpetuating the hidden Hermetic knowledge. The Order of Ancient Illuminists is another of these Orders which sprang up, using the wisdom of prior ages, in order to initiate mankind into a higher level of psycho-spiritual functioning.
Parallel to all of this, there is a concurrent “legend” of statement that there is a hidden Order, whether on the inner spiritual planes of here on the mundane level where most of us live, of Adepts, and enlightened beings who watch over mankind and its travails. They seek to further the evolution of mankind without interfering with the apparent free choice of human beings to determine their own destiny either towards personal destruction or the attainment of communion with God. From time to time, it is said, these beings permit or direct the appearance of an external organization such as we have previously described. It is also believed that periodically, either towards the end of a century or in some historical crisis, one of them make a public appearance in one guise or another in order not merely to ward off wholesale disaster but to guide some few or many in a new creative direction.
They also are the embodiment of the Western Esoteric Traditions, and rather than an external organization, are the custodians of its teachings.