One of the fundamental tenets of occultism, founded on the law of analogies, is that Nature can reveal to us what is taking place within our own being.
A striking and typical example of this law, but one which is wholly ignored by orthodox science, is given in the Philosopher's Stone, known to the Rosicrucians. In a German magazine published at the end of the eighteenth century, we find mention of this Philosopher's Stone. It is spoken of as something quite real and the writer says: “Everyone contacts it frequently although he knows it not.” This is literally true. In order to understand this mystery we must penetrate into the laboratory of Nature even more deeply than is the habit of modern science.
All the world knows that man inhales oxygen and exhales carbonic acid. In Yoga this has both a physical and spiritual significance. Man cannot inhale carbonic acid for the purposes of nourishing his being. He would die, whereas the carbonic acid keeps the plants alive. The plants provide man with the oxygen which gives him life; they renew the air and make it fit to breathe. On the other side, man and the animals provide the plants with the carbonic acid by which they, in their turn, are nourished. What does the plant do with the carbonic acid it absorbs? It builds up its own body. We know that the corpse of the plant is coal. Coal is thus crystallised carbonic acid.
The red blood in man must be refreshed and renewed with oxygen, for the carbonic acid cannot be used for the purpose of building up the body. The exercises of Yoga are a training which enables man to make the red blood into a body-builder. In this sense the Yogi works at his body by means of his blood, just as the plant works with the carbonic acid.
Thus we see that the power of transmutation in Nature is represented in coal which is a crystallised plant. The Philosopher's Stone, in its most general sense, signifies this power of transmutation.
The law of regression, as well as the law of ascension, is true for all beings. The minerals are plants which have degenerated; the plants are the remnants of animal life; animals and man (his physical body) have a common ancestor. Man has ascended, the animal has descended. The spiritual part of man proceeds from the Gods. In this sense, man is a God who has degenerated, and Lamartine's words are literally true: “Man is a fallen god who remembers the heavens.”
There was an epoch when all life on the Earth was semi-plant and semi-animal. The Earth herself was, as it were, a great animal-being. Her whole surface was one mass of peat-like ‘turf’ with gigantic forest growing from it. This is the epoch when the Earth and the Moon were united in one body. The Moon represents the feminine element of the Earth.
There are beings whose progress is checked, who remain at a lower stage of evolution. The mistletoe, for instance, is a token of this ancient epoch. It is a survival of the parasitic plant-beings which once lived on the Earth as upon a plant. Hence its peculiar, occult properties, known to the Druids who spoke of it as the most sacred of all plants. Mistletoe is a survival from the lunar epoch of the Earth. It is parasitic because it has not learned, like other plants, to live directly upon mineral substance.
Disease is something of an analogy. It is a regression, caused by the parasitic elements in the organism. The Druids and the Skalds knew of the relation between the mistletoe and man. There is an echo of this in the legend of Baldur. The God Baldur is put to death by the mistletoe because the mistletoe is a hostile element from the preceding epoch — an element no longer united with man. The other plants, having adapted themselves to the subsequent epoch, swore friendship to him.
When this plant-earth became mineral, it acquired, through the metals, a new property — that of reflecting the light.
A star is visible in the heavens only when it has become mineral. Thus there are many heavenly bodies imperceptible to the physical eye of man and visible only to clairvoyant vision.
The Earth has been “mineralised,” so also has the physical body of man. But the characteristic feature of man is that a twofold movement takes places in him. As a physical being, man has descended; as a spiritual being he has ascended. St. Paul spoke of this truth when he declared that there is one law for the body and another for the Spirit. Thus man represents both an end and a beginning.
The vital point, the point of intersection and of change in the ascending life of man, lies at the time of the separation of the sexes. There was an age when the two sexes were united in the being of man. Even Darwin recognised this as a probability. As the result of the separation of the sexes, a new, all-embracing element came to birth: the element of love. The attraction of love is so powerful, so mysterious, that tropical butterflies of different sexes, brought to Europe and then released to the air, will fly back again and meet each other half-way.
There is some analogy between the relations established by the world of man with the divine world and by the human kingdom with the animal kingdom. Oxygen and carbonic acid are in-breathed and out-breathed by man. The plant-kingdom breathes out oxygen; man breathes out love — since the separation of the sexes. The Gods are nourished by this effluence of love.
How comes it that the animals and man out-breathe love?
The occultist sees in the man of today a being in the full swing of evolution. Man is at the same time a fallen God and a God in the becoming.
The kingdom of the heavens is nourished by the effluence of human love. Ancient Greek mythology expresses this reality when it speaks of nectar and ambrosia. The Gods are so far above man that their natural tendency would be to subjugate him. But there is a half-way state of being between man and the Gods, just as the mistletoe is half-way between the plant and the animal. It is represented by Lucifer and the Luciferian element.
The interest of the Gods is the element of human love by means of which their life is sustained.
When Lucifer, in the form of the serpent, induces man to seek for knowledge, Jehovah is wrath. Lucifer is here understood as the fallen God who instills into man the desire for personal knowledge. This sets him in opposition to the Divine Will which has created him in its image.
Rosicrucian science explains the rôle of Lucifer in the world. We shall return to this later on. Here we will merely recall the following saying of the Rosicrucian Order: “Know, O man, that through thy being flows a current which ascends and a current which descends.”