THE AGELESS WAY OF THE GODDESS
Divine Pregnancy and Higher Birth in Ancient Egypt and China
Though both are related to it, the point of shamanism is really not ecstasy, "archaic" or otherwise, or even "healing," but rather the development of communication with a community of higher than human beings and a modus operandi for attaining an eventual transmutation to more exalted states and powers. Those whom that goal does not attract, authentic shamanism does not address.
The point is theurgy, literally a divine working (theo+urg). More specifically, the oldest preserved theurgic teachings of the Sacred Way Home (see the chart, fig. 1) — those of ancient Egypt and China — tell of a goddess-inspired, transcendent "pregnancy." One that takes place within our still mysterious brain and body (of either sex) (1) leading to the attainment, even during lifetime on earth, of a higher body concealed until the physical death of the former one and far more endowed with energy and capability than the bio-molecular body in which it forms, as within a womb or a chrysalid or pupal shell, symbolized in ancient Egypt as the enswathed mummy in its case.
It is an embryology of metamorphosis that is here involved, stemming from the premise that we are larval forms — a premise very startling to a largely agnostic and indeed rather ignorant culture, knowledgeable really only in the technology of external manipulations upon matter. We know next to nothing of how living bodies organize themselves from within and have their ultimate controls in regions of more than what ordinary quinto-sensory awareness is capable of grasping.
Some Bad News
The current global technological civilization is increasingly showing itself to be inimical to all life-forms except perhaps the most hardy of sewer and wharf rats, other assorted parasites, and those few bacterial prodigies that can survive even in highly radioactive waste. Yet aside from its bio-phobic or life-destroying aspect, the prevalent world society is the first widespread culture in history to be committed to conditioning its members to accepting — without any rational basis, much less evidence — that there is (1) no scheme of things other than the molecular one in which we live on earth, and (2) no higher than human intelligence and ability, and hence (3) that individualized personality and living form cease with the physical dissolution of the molecular body. These unproven and, in fact, quite scientifically dubious dogmas are then made the basis of our educational system, leading at once to both a jungle-law society and, in other aspects, to an essentially hopeless and comfortless collectivism which ultimately reduces all individual suffering and learning to meaninglessness.
Since only love in some form gives meaning to life, the power of love is also finally denied in the shabby and shoddy creed of hopelessness being foisted upon us by patterns of paranoid power-seeking that, by and large, tend to seize control of world society in the dark ages of the latter twentieth century. It is no accident that, contrasted with a 2½ percent rise of general suicide in the United States over the last decade, there was a 44 percent rise in the suicide rate for the age group of fourteen to nineteen-year-olds, about eighteen times as many: our children are being systematically deprived of hope by a system fast losing the perennial ideals.
The voices of the comparatively few leaders of integrity left are voices mostly crying in a growing wilderness of poisoned ecology and psychopathological social systems motivated by tyranny or short-term greed and the increasing fear, panic, and aggression that inevitably accompany such a degraded set of values. To cite one of these voices: "There is a very real possibility that man —through ignorance or indifference or both — is irreversibly altering the ability of our atmosphere to support life." These are not the words of some minor prophet of doom, but the sober, considered conclusions of the chairman of the U.S. congressional committee on the environment, reporting in June 1986 and cited in Newsweek magazine.
The Good News
But most of us now no longer need to be convinced of these trends. We are aware of them only too acutely. We don't need to hear any more bad news. We do want to hear about hope and where we can look for it. This chapter is concerned with that hope. As Joseph Conrad once wrote, the last hope of mankind will contain some almost unimaginably good news, though based on ideas well-nigh unutterable in terms of ordinary ways of thinking. (2)
That hope stretches far back in recorded history and concerns what may be called higher transformation. In brief, the present life-forms, and notably human beings, must be regarded as larval forms whose destiny it is to transform themselves into higher ones capable of living under very different conditions and of exercising powers which would seem quite extraordinary to us in our present state. That is the message of the "Crucible" (fig. 1).
FIG. 1. The Crucible of World Religions and Their Convergence on the Way Home: Distillation of the Essential Central Sacredness. This mandalic-maze-circuit diagram is well-nigh self-explanatory — designed to show in one view the interrelations of the search for the Divine through the religions of human history, both in their institutionalized and more esoteric forms.
Depending on one's inherited cultural background and individual tendencies — and the two might not be in phase — one follows a path in the crucible. For some, whole lifetimes could be spent just on the fringes of the wheel. Others reach one of the spokes. Some again may even gain access to the first central area in which the particular cultural origin of a religion becomes irrelevant in that numinous nimbus. Beyond the door within that nimbus is the meaning of the whole crucible and its gestational process: the essential distillation at its core, where one begins to undertake the far journey home — the Lion Path in ancient Egypt.
The preparation and technique for that path, which transforms one as one treads it, exist in fragmentary form in the old human records. But those instructions, that operational method, are always available in great clarity to those who again reach that place of accessibility in awareness. Then one can start the heroic quest described in these lines from an obscure poet, Kyril Demys, three decades ago (who also wrote "Song of the Far Journey").
The doors are many
but the key is one . . .
that space has room
for a winged and wondrous child
and whirled a little world to being. . . .
That child alone
shall fly the abyss
and reach the Second Sun.
Anyone who has ever raised caterpillars of, say, the lovely giant moths like lo, Cecropia, Luna, or Prometheus knows that the caterpillar does not at all fear its ineluctable metamorphosis, when the larva sheds its skin and becomes the quasi-entombed, cocooned pupal form deprived of almost all exterior mobility except to twist and turn its abdomen. So when author Richard Bach wrote that the caterpillar looks on its pupation as "death," he wrote too superficially, without having well observed a forming or hatching chrysalis.
The truth is far more interesting. The caterpillar shows by all its behavior, so intense at the cocoon-spinning or chrysalis-forming time, that its entire being is focused and intent upon this change — life itself for the caterpillar and not death at all. From a ravenous and mobile feeder, it now becomes very quiet, fasting and renouncing all food. Then it commences a new and excited round of activity in weaving its cocoon around itself, ending with a hard-varnished core-shell in which it leaves an almost imperceptible air pore. Here it finally discards its caterpillar skin, and the pupal case with wings, tongue, and antennae outlined on it appears.
Although there is no outer activity, there is now intense activity within the pupa, called a chrysalis in the case of butterflies because of its often golden (Greek chrysos, "gold") appearance. Inside the pupal form, all the caterpillar's internal organs now become transformed. Reproductive organs and new digestive organs are formed, as well as new organs of locomotion, notably two pairs of gorgeously colored wings. Note well that there is an increase and not a decrease of individuation in this process, and each winged adult is a specifically individual creature of distinct color, pattern, and sex. The imago, as it is called, is more, not less, individually organically differentiated than the caterpillar. So this metamorphic transformation, an actually higher embryology, leads to both greater powers (for example, of sexuality and flight) and to greater individualization.
The Secret Within the Brain
The caterpillar is so intensely active about ensuring its own disappearance for the very good reason that it innately realizes it is preparing a greater and richer life for itself, made possible through a group of neuro-secretory glands connected with the caterpillar's central ganglion or tiny brain. This new life is an individual outcome for each caterpillar — the very opposite of merging into some engulfing collectivity. Tomb-transcending is nothing if not individual, and as I once wrote of tathagatahood in Mahayana Buddhism: "Salvation, though it have universal results, has by necessity particular achievement. (3)
Similarly, the ancient theurgic doctrine taught that in the dim and mysterious recesses of each human brain are lodged the control centers for transducing a higher metamorphic process in that individual, of which the butterfly, wonderful as it is, is but a crude and imperfect analogue. Those who do not come to activate this process during their physical lifetimes have no choice but to enter the postmortem or inter-incarnational state as the "caterpillars" they were here. That state is called the Duat in ancient Egyptian, corresponding to the Bardo of Tibetan shamanistic Buddhism and the intermediate states of ancient Chinese shamanism that came to be Taoism. For those who did not begin the metamorphic process before dissolution of their physical bodies, this intermediate state would be dreamlike: lovely or nightmarish depending on the person's development and stature as a human being.
But if the transformational process were initiated before molecular dissolution, then the intermediate state could continue the process and the "hatching" might take place in the Duat or Bardo state, thus avoiding the necessity for further entries of the individual into relatively crude molecular bodies such as we on earth have, wonderful as they are for this stage. The acquisition of a higher body by an individual meant also, by that very token, the possibility of communicating with beings already so endowed. (4) The entrance into this higher community and fellowship is one of the principal causes for celebration in the Ancient Egyptian liturgy of the sacred transformative process — sacred because it conferred so much beyond ordinary ken. (5)
Higher Rites of Passage
On folio 237 of the great Codex Manesso (dated about 1425) now at the university library of Heidelberg, there is a magnificent depletion of Liechtenstein's renowned thirteenth-century troubadour Ulrich bearing on his helmet an image of the Goddess in her form of Minne, who presided over chivalric love. Her name has a fascinating etymology, linked to the Indo-European root men — English, "mind") as the seat of consciousness — the same that the Ancient Egyptian and Old Chinese called "the heart." Her form, preserved by Ulrich's late medieval chronicler, wields a down-pointing arrow in the right hand, and the left arm holds aloft a flaming torch, (6) for she is Mistress of both death and life in that order. She is Mut, Great Mother of Death, and also Isis/Sothis, whose love makes possible the higher birth of Horus from the inert Osiris. As Ta-Urt, ruling the Great Dipper (in Egyptian called "the skin of Set" or the physical body destined for dissolution), she governs the dismemberment and recycling of that temporary vehicle until enough experience has been garnered to go on to a nondeath-interrupted mode of life. This is the deep reason why all great love, from Tristan and lseut (= Isolde) to the Central Asiatic Na-Khi love-death pacts reported by botanist-ethnographer Joseph E. Rock, is so deeply linked to death as a rite of passage.
In the old Celtic traditions preserved in the early Breton/Gaulish romances of the twelfth century, love characteristically triumphed through death itself. (7) The Goddess was always there, as that prince of troubadours, Dante Alighieri, (8) depicted in his too-soon departed and beloved Beatrice, who became his divine protectress during the cosmic shamanic journey he unforgettably describes in La Divina Commedia, culminating in her Universal Love: "But yet the Will rolls onward like a wheel in even motion, by the Love impelled that moves the Sun in heaven and all the Stars." The goal in this life was to balance heaven and earth (incidentally, a very Chinese function for man). As the Swabian troubadour Meister Vridank (fl. 1200) wrote in his Instruction in Discrimination (Bescheidenheit), "Who God and World can encompass, there is a blessed one indeed." In profound ways the society of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries was the pinnacle of Western civilization, teaching, as it did, an apotheosis through love.
The present society, however, — forcing people more and more to think only of physical survival and material support, — naturally tends to block the perception of supra-biological fact and our participation in such a higher process. There is then the sheer dulling effect of leaving no time for such considerations in a person's daily life, whereas in the anciently taught theurgic societies such truths and participation in them were the central core and point of human life. The blocking tendency must be combated.
It is simply not true that our higher heritage will be just as active if we concern ourselves with our material existence alone. On the contrary, it will not be activated unless concern with it reflects consistently in a corresponding self-attunement with it in our behavior. Our actual creed is inescapably made manifest in how we behave, regardless of what anyone may verbally profess.
The Price & the Process
So the principal price to be paid for development leading to a higher body and life is the price every imminently pupating
caterpillar pays: principal and regular dedication to that process and project. But if a caterpillar's metamorphic glands are tied off or
blocked, it will simply live out its life as a caterpillar and never change. Thus, many human beings will not choose to activate
themselves transformationally. But those who do and will, will inspire and help the rest, just as even our material, technological
civilization rests upon the inventions, dedication, and genius of a comparative handful. The average
Bardo experience is passionate
and dreamlike, releasing the full force of a Freudian type of unconscious. In fact, never having read
Sophocles' Oedipus Rex or
and also incredibly anticipating Freud, the great Tibetan commentator
Drashi Namjal wrote that one who will be born as a man
already begins in the Bardo realm to hate his future father and love his
mother:(9) mutatis mutandi for one who will be born a woman. (10)
The powerful unconscious drives released with full impact in the Bardo must sooner or later be dealt with and sublimed, there or
here (in the alchemical sense).
In The Lion Path, (11) to which the reader is referred for more details, you will find the basis of the ancient Egyptian method. And in the forthcoming Way of the Tiger (Hu Tao — see fig. 2), (12) its Chinese counterpart will be described. Suffice it to say here, just as in Egypt, the ultimate basis for the method is based on the feminine aspect of divinity. Indeed, the earliest theurgic practitioner in China was not the shaman but the shamaness, (13) and the very character wu for shamanic theurgy includes two ritually dancing priestesses, and in the seal characters, doing the work kung of summoning divine powers.
FIG. 2. The Way of the Tiger. This arcane Taoist sentence reads Hu Tao shih tzu yuanz yu: "The Way of the Tiger is nothing but your journey to your original state." What we are here being taught is that humanity's prime problem is not how to "progress" but rather how to regenerate (re-grow), recover, restore, and re-find in us what had been grossly overlaid but now re-found refined.
The word for journey here is the verb yu, which originally meant "to swim," as across a river. Thus, journeying across the great stream of time and death into a region of harmony (ch'i: see fig. 2) was depicted by I Ching hexagram 63 Chi Chi, the meaning and radical of the second "chi" which is deeply related to the last character (yu) of this sentence. As before noted the ordinary (Confucian) interpretation of hexagram 63 is misled and misleading. The key hexagram is 63, expressing the secret of the Book of Changes, and hexagram 64 ("Before the Crossing") expresses simply an anti-climactic recycling for those who did not complete the Heroic Journey of hexagram 63.
Much of this process had to do with perceiving higher light associated with certain stars, (14) in particular with the seven stars of the Northern Dipper, named similarly in Chinese, and their two hidden celestial control centers, making nine in all — the same sacred number as in ancient Egypt, where Sothis-lsis (in hippopotamus form) and Osiris-Horus (in spear-thrower form) controlled the seven stars of the Meskhent or "birth tent" symbolizing the cast-off "skin of Set" (15) (i.e., the earthly body, that Meskhent or bull-skin being the constellational image of the seven principal Dipper stars in ancient Egypt). The Chinese doctrine again reflects Egypt.
The Chinese version involves also the magic Pace of Yu, legendary ruler and spiritual teacher who mastered the use of the celestial powers for the benefit of mankind and taught how to realize an immortal body no longer subject to molecular dissolution. The Pace of Yu was still performed by female shamans in South China as late as the 1960s. (16)
How the ritual nine-steps Pace of Yu was related to the I Ching, and specifically to the nine marks of hexagram number 63 (see fig. 3), we have explained in a paper presented to the American Oriental Society in 1986, and it need not detain us here. Also, it will appear in The Way of the Tiger.
FIG. 3. I Ching Hexagram Number 63. It is named Chi Chi (two quite different characters of same sound and tone) and means "after being fulfilled or aided"; literally, "reaching the harmony (the character ch'i embedded in the second chi) of the other shore after having crossed over the river." Its empty translation as "after completion" is misleading if not erroneous. The nine marks or "footprints" of this hexagram are linked in esoteric Taoist tradition with the nine-fold pace of the eponymous Yu, the ancient demigod ruler of China ("Yu the Great" is the legendary founder of the First, or Hsia, Dynasty), who had been taught by a master of "Bell Mountain" (Chung Shan). Learning and following the Pace of Yu brought the adept starry rescue and power, and its nine steps (allied to the 7 + 2 Dipper stars) are also the nine cauldrons of transformation, in each of which Yu brewed an essential ingredient of the elixir of immortality. They are also his "nine numinous jewels" of the crown of mastery of life, essences distilled from the cauldrons.
The difference between this hexagram and number 64 ("Before crossing over or fulfillment") is that the lines (yang or yin) agree with their places (odd or even), whereas in number 64 they are completely out of harmony with their places. Thus, if we try to surpass the Pace of Yu, we find ourselves recycled and back at square one of the game board and must begin over again. The conventional Confucian interpretation (spread predominantly throughout the West) of this profound and key hexagram is in serious error. But the I Ching is essentially Taoist, and it is in the recondite reaches of Taoist teaching that we learn the Book of Changes.
The Pace of Yu and Hexagram No.63
Ultimate Secret of the I Ching
In the Nei P'ien of Ko Hung (fl. 320), 7 we read (chap. 17, p. 5 recto, col. 3) an ancient tradition recorded by that remarkable compiler:
As you perform the Pace of Yu you will keep forming hexagram number 63:
First one foot forward
from an initial two side by side,
These, though, do not suffice,
for nine prints are needed,
treaded in sequence to the end.
Three steps (three marks per step) yield 21 feet since one pace or step traverses 7 feet. On looking back you will see nine marks (footprints). [See fig. 4.]
Method for treading the Pace of Yu: (From an initial position with the two feet side by side) advance the right foot while left remains' still. Then advance in sequence left and then right foot bringing it up to be side by side with left so that they are again side by side. This is step No. 1.
Now advance first right and then left foot and. then bring up the right foot to be side by side with left. That is step No. 2. Now advance the left and then the right foot, and bring up the left to be side by side with the right. This is step No. 3, which completes a single Pace of Yu. It should be known to all who practice spiritual alchemy.
The rule for step number 1 practice is obviously corrupted here, since the successive steps should start not with the same but with alternating left and right feet to agree with yin/yang Taoist doctrine. But chapter II, page 16 verso, restores the text and adds even more information:
The Pace of Yu: Advance first left foot, then surpass its distance with an advancing right foot, and finally bring up left to right foot, then advance the right foot, pass it with the left, and bring up right to be side by side with left foot. Then advance left foot as at the start. In these 3 steps you will have traversed 21 foot-lengths and 9 prints will thus be made.
The two descriptions of the Pace of Yu thus give (1) right foot first, (2) right first again, (3) left foot first; and (1) left foot first, (2) right foot first, (3) left foot first.
Clearly, the alternation of the second description is in accord with Taoist axioms while step I of the first is not; so we see the partially corrupted passage of Ko's chapter 17, page 5 recto, is to be restored by his passage of chapter II, page 16 recto. Neither passage has been hitherto noticed.
The relation to hexagram 63 is clear if we realize the code: that the movement bringing the two feet together constitutes a joining, designated by an unbroken line or yang stroke; while the motion of two steps formed by the feet being separated by different directions is designated by a broken line or yin stroke. Then, as one looks back at the nine footprints, the lines of hexagram 63 in order (the bottom line of a hexagram being line I and the top one line 6) can be seen in order as (1) —; (2) - - (3) —; (4) - -; (5) —; and (6) - -; which we may translate thus into terms of the Pace of Yu (see fig. 4):
Step 1: From a position of the two feet together (—), advance the left foot curvingly to left and then advance right foot beyond it and forward (--), finally bringing up the left foot to it.
Step 2. From this new, realigned position (—), now advance the right foot curvingly to the right, then the left foot beyond it and forward (--), finally bringing up the right foot to where the left is.
Step 3: From this newly aligned position (—), repeat step 1.
Thus. we have the nine "prints" spoken of in the mnemonic verse encoded as a sequence of the 9 marks —, - -, —, - -, —, - - comprising hexagram 63 with all its lines in agreeing, self-reinforcing places like a laser's coherent light beam.
There are two further considerations here: the key to the I Ching and the relation of this key to sacred stars and their powers or synchronous influences.
First, the entire pattern (and still mysterious) sequence
of hexa-grams presents a procession from separation of yang ( — ) and yin (- -)
lines to their mixing, which is self-annulling in number 64,
since yin lines are on yang places and vice versa, like two waves of light mutually canceling because of their 180° phase difference. The entire process is not static but subtle, dynamic, and ongoing, with a trap or reversal at number 64 if we try to push beyond the full appropriateness of number 63. Thus, hexagram 64 with its theme of retardation in development ("not yet swum across the [time] stream to the harmonious fields") is post-climactic and denotes not a fulfillment but instead an impending recycling or reversion - a going-back-to-square-one, so to speak. Hexagram number 64 (Wei Ch'i) is not the culmination of the I Ching but an anticlimax.
FIG. 4. The Pace of Yu. Making hexagram 63, you will have taken 9 steps (Roman numerals) or 3 paces of 7 foot lengths each and covered 21 foot lengths, leaving 9 footprints (Arabic numerals). The numbers in parentheses refer to the similarly numbered lines of hexagram 63 on the right. (Drawing not to scale.)
Like all texts of any ancient language, the I Ching has not fared too well in translation, and confusions and superficialities tend to be perpetuated by too uninformed popularizers anxious to ride the I Ching bandwagon of growing popularity. Moreover, the Confucian school commentary at worst becomes banal and a rather lifeless equilibrium without development, newness, or point — actually calling for a big "So what?" Thus, hexagram number 64 is mostly seen translated as "Before completion," whereas it actually means "(the state of) not yet having attained harmony," a richer, much more specific concept. Indeed, the wei character also corresponds to the eighth "branch" among the cyclical twelve: the Chinese version of the sign Scorpio, in turn, classically corresponding to death, disintegration, and consequent recycling — the result of not yet having "swum the stream" (i.e., achieved the profound harmony of one's nature with the cosmos leading to regeneration, apotheosis, and the entrance into a higher community of more advanced evolutionary stage than we — a stage possessing a body not subject to mortal conditions). The Taoists called such supra-human beings hsien: "transcendent immortals."
The real climax and culmination of the
occurs at the
sixty-third hexagram: Chi Ch'i or "the Achievement of Harmony" and
its line pattern is (the inverse of number 64)
in which yang (unbroken) lines are on yang (odd) places and yin (broken) lines on yin (even) places. The feminine and masculine
elements are thus each appropriately balanced within and without.
Also, the dragon (18) flies above the sun in this hexagram, carrying it as in the winged disk of Egypt; whereas in number 64, the dragon is below the sun, showing a basic misjoinder, since the dragon's region is the invisible highest heavens, and the visible, fiery jewel is meant to be carried below the dragon in its claws.
The analysis ineluctably leads us to the answer to why the ancient tradition ascribed the Pace of Yu, who walked through the stars to immortality, to the pattern of Chi Ch'i, hexagram number 63, as the Nei P'ien clearly states.
The three like pairs of lines are the three steps that together form the Pace of Yu, comprised of "nine marks," there being nine strokes to the hexagram (as there are in number 64, but there each line is on an inharmonious place for itself; whereas in number 63 the nature of the lines and the places agree and harmonize).
We can also regard this hexagram as a choreographic encoding of the dance of Yu as shown in fig. 4. Each unbroken (or yang) line represents the two feet come together, whereas the broken (or yin) lines show the feet separated by different motions. Thus, the first pair of lines of hexagram number 63 shows that, from the initial together position, one foot (the left, as the ancient tradition recorded by Ko Hung tells us) is advanced in a wavelike path, and then the other, in movements reminiscent of the traditional T'ai Chi Ch'uan practice.
If we fulfill the indicated choreography, we must perform the threefold pace constituting a march of Yu. So not only does each pace or step have nine characteristic code marks, but the unit march of Yu described in the ancient tradition consists of three paces or 9 movements, as we have seen. Hexagram number 63 thus represents the choreography of Yu on his path to a dynamic immortality, to the Ever-Blossoming State, the never-dead condition, the ever-living one.
We can now map the completed Pace of
Yu in three times 9 steps thus, the five rising or male nodes shown by rising arrows
and the four falling or female nodes by descending arrows, in fig. 5.
A different and later scheme by Yuan Miao-tsung (fl. twelfth century) reproduced in Schafer (19)
(each of the nine points here representing a pair of footprints in the clearly corrupted diagram with impossible indications of direction) does not fit the ancient criteria. For instance, in no event would it accomplish the traversal of the thrice seven-foot lengths called for, nor could hexagram number 63 choreograph it.
We are now ready for a second consideration — one of astral affinities. In chapter 15, page II verso, column 2, of the Nei P'ien. (20) the practitioner of the Pace of Yu is related to the seven stars of the Northern Dipper and in one practice imagines its bowl over his head and its "handle" pointing at whatever danger confronts.
From fig. 5 we see that the full Pace of Yu traces out a set of 4+5 = 9 nodes: In the author's collection is a ritual jade "star sword" with the seven sacred dipper stars marked out thus: and, as Edward H. Schafer has made clear in his useful treatise Pacing the Void, there was an important tradition of nine and not only seven sacred stars, the eighth and ninth being invisible and called "the Rescuer-Protector" (21) and "the Sustainer." Confirming our opening quotation from Ko Hung (which he missed), Schafer, however, demonstrated that the Pace of Yu is traditionally linked with these nine sacred stars. The sevenfold scheme is thus enlarged to , agreeing with fig. 5 and the ancient prescription for the Pace of Yu reported by Ko Hung in his Nei P'ien, above cited.
FIG. 5. One makes three times the Pace of Yu with 9 steps in each Pace, thus answering to the 9 stages of each of the 3 High Realms, one traversed in each such pace of 9 steps, significantly making a total of 63 foot lengths, again the number of the key hexagram (see figs. 3 and 4). One thus creates 9 nodes (the black dots on the wave), 5 ascending nodes (denoted by upward-pointing arrows), and 4 descending (denoted by downward-pointing arrows). These respectively correspond to the 5 male and the 4 female divinities presiding over the 9 cranial "grottos" according to the diagram (on the right) of 5+4 small circles found in Taoist esoteric works such as the shang ch'ing ta tung ch'iu kung chao hsiu pi chueh shang tao (mentioned in the section on Taoist sources), where it appears on the first page. These 9 regions and their powers also correspond to the 9 sacred stars. See too fig. 6 and the text around it, including the note on the "All-powerful Goddess."
We have now established that the full set of nine is referred to in the Pace of Yu and that consequently the Rescuer and Sustainer are ancient traditions and that also we naturally arrive at a male/female positioning of the nine, corresponding to the traditional Taoist transcendent group of five male and four female divinities and their palaces (microcosmically located at centers within the brain) as, for instance, in an esoteric Taoist work (22) of which Professor Edward Schafer first made me aware and kindly furnished photostats. (23)
The demonstration of the connection of the Pace of Yu with specific Taoist astro-theurgy and with the secret, central message of the I Ching itself is now completed.
Though Ho Kung or Pao-p'u tzu ("the Simpleton" — his self-adopted, ironic sobriquet) has often been misclassified as a Confucianist, he was always aufond Taoist, and he notes in his Waip'ien that his work Nei p'ien is completely and definitely Taoist, which the text amply confirms. But his heart was, above all, with the Tao, and he eloquently wrote, during a strongly Confucian epoch, in his autobiography, "My spirit was out of tune with my times . . . I walked consistently against the direction of the masses." (24)
Pertinent here also are the nine cranial palaces or regions within the brain devoted to the seven-plus-two principal powers. There are several little-known Taoist treatises describing them. (25) More details will be given in Way of the Tiger (Hu Tao), but the point is that four of those key regions are ruled by female powers, including the principal seat of the higher transformation governed by the All-powerful Goddess (26) whose title was that of Isis: "Mother of the Crown Prince and Heir" (i.e., Mother of Horus, heir [and self-transform] of Osiris whose fourteen-fold severed body symbolized the "fall" from a higher energy-substance into piecemeal molecular matter).
It remains to be said only that the Goddess's highest function was to promote a supernal pregnancy and ultimate birth carrying us beyond molecular dissolution or death and moreover carrying us into a creative and beautiful fellowship with other similarly equipped and evolved beings — a plan as explicit as it is inspiring.
FIG. 6. The Nine Dipper Stars among the Na-khi of Western China. The Nah-khi women (recalling the Chinese wu tradition of women being the original bearers of shamanic lore) wear on the backs of their sheepskin jackets symbols of the ancient doctrine of the 9 stars: 7, plus 2 rulers of great power. They wore these latter as 2 larger disks (which they said represented "a sun" and "a moon") on the back of each shoulder and, between these, 7 small disks for the 7 stars of the Dipper. As a group, these 9 disks were called (using Rock's tonal numbers and transcription, A Na-Khi-English Encyclopedic Dictionary) ma-yu-bpa, the 3 words literally meaning "disks in back / divine primal beings / dipper," the Na-khi using the same constellational image as the Chinese and ourselves for these stars.
Against such a specific and supra-biological backdrop, and verbalizings of some egghead Buddhists and Advaita Vedantists seem puerile exercises in rather pointless intellectualism. There is an apt seventeenth-century Taoist commentary found in Yang Chi-chou's great compilation, Chen-chiu Ta-ch'eng, republished at Peking (Beijing) in 1973: "Alas, the Buddhists do not understand the subtle energy channels in the body. They practice fasting, silence, cutting off their arms [as did the second Zen patriarch to show his piety], burn their bodies, stay seated and dry out. How sad!" For a commentary and French translation of part of his work, see Catherine Despeux's edition of the nineteenth-century Taoist teacher Chao Pi-ch'en (b. 1860.27)
We also must not stop short, as Mircea Eliade and Carl Jung tend to do, in merely patronizing the old shamans while still denying the ontological validity of their claims, as though the whole subject were susceptible of being psychologized or anthropologized away. Rather must we undertake a super-shamanic enterprise, that Heroic Journey (28) described so eloquently by Joseph Campbell, (29) knowing the instrumentalities for it can be forged within us by paying careful attention to what the Old Ones taught; for the nature of life and of our universe goes back to profoundly natural powers and wisdom we cannot even yet begin to conceive. The arrogant myth that "modern science" can "conquer nature" is mere hubris and, like all false pride, is very weak when the chips are down, as they are today.
In the closing days of a long cosmic cycle, we can gird up our loins and walk the lion path and the way of the tiger — walk to our natural and quite glorious destiny and heritage. Then nature will no longer be at war with humanity, as it is now because of human insult and injury upon her. But nature will then join hands with humanity as a friend and most powerful of magical allies. Our destiny is not to impose our dangerously limited intelligence upon all other living beings and ecological components but rather to walk with all of them into the dawn of a higher day — that "Coming Forth into Day" which was envisioned millennia ago on the banks of the Nile.
There is an almost clairvoyant intuitive testimony to the foregoing, one we found only shortly before this chapter was finished. It consists of less than five hundred words from early (1971) Doris Lessing, treating of a theme she never resumed and with an inspiration never surpassed. (30) Those who read The Lion Path concerning the sacred way home, written well before knowing of this passage of extracts from Briefing for a Descent into Hell, will be as interestingly surprised as we were.
Earth is due to receive a new pattern of impulses. The First Class Emergency Conference was convened on Venus and had delegates from as far away as Pluto. ...
But the element in which this process exists is — Time. Time is the whole point. Timing. The surfer on the wave.
The life of humanity is governed elsewhere . . . was set by Mercury and Venus, Mars and Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, Uranus, and Pluto. . . . This particular configuration of planets will really be so powerful - the equivalent of several centuries of evolution all in a decade or so. . . . But I expect there'll be the usual few who will listen. It's enough. ...
Well, whatever stark and dire nature of the shortly-to-be-expected celestial configurations, and whatever man's backslidings, there is confidence in the outcome. . . . And if worse comes to worst, the Celestial Gardener will simply have to lop off that branch, and graft another.
People don't know it but it is as if they are living in poisoned air. They are not awake. They've been knocked on the head, long ago, and they don't know that is why they are living like zombies and killing each other. They know they should be doing something else, not just living hand to mouth, putting paint on their faces and decorating their caves and playing nasty tricks on their rivals.
But how can we be different? How can we get out? If you find out, will you come and take me with you?
It's all timing, you see. Sometimes it is easier for us to get out than other times.
There are people in the world all the time who know, but they are quiet. They just move about quietly, saving the people who know they are in the trap. And then, for the ones who have got out, it's like coming around from chloroform. They realize that all their lives they've been asleep and dreaming. And then it's their turn to learn the rules and the timing. And they become the ones who live quietly in the world. . . .
When the time comes, it will be our task to wake up those of us who have forgotten as well as to recruit suitable inhabitants of Earth — those, that is, who have kept a potential for evolving into rational beings; and to generally strengthen and defend our colonies on Earth for their task. That has always been so, of course, but this time it will be all that and more — it will be an assisting of the Earth's people through the coming Planetary Emergency.
It is significant that this explicit prophecy of divine transformation came through a woman. The Goddess still speaks. . . .
Indeed, as the following anecdote tells.
'The late twentieth century may well go down as one of the darkest ages of human history. Yet, just as the blackest shadows are cast by the brightest of lights, so, along with all the terrible evils of environmental pollution, deep mental and emotional confusion, fruitless hatred, and lack of perception of anything higher than the merely human — along with all that, come the rays of highest inspiration, shed by the Lamp of Lamps for those to see who can.' Those words were written in April 1986 across a continent and an ocean to a remarkable young woman, one of those rare persons seeking self-development at the expense of self-aggrandizement.
She replied that "it is because of the Infinite Mercy that at a time when the Truth is completely denied it is also opened in all its forms to those who still seek it. One could also say that this is a time when the most developed and highest evolved representatives from all religions can unite. I have personally noticed that there seems to be a sifting out of all those who adhere to the universal truth all over the world; they are being brought together or being put in touch with each other in the most incredible of ways. A network is being established from the briefest of encounters or the minimum of communication."
The reply, in part, was that what is now needed is no longer mere hand-wringing but a map and a method of walking to the Sanctuary and helping (and being helped by) those whose free decision is to walk there, too. "It is a high calling. But I believe nothing less would satisfy you."
Her next question was, "What makes you say that? I am sure you understand that I am asking not from idle curiosity." The answer lies in the Path itself and those who desire it above all things. It is like the Sacred Floor, in the ancient hieroglyphic Book-of-the-Three-Ways, that asks, "Who tries to tread on me? Declare, if you can, my true name and nature, and your own intentions."
The Way is a living one, infinitely adaptable to individual natures but also infinitely discerning and discriminating in appraising those who profess to seek it. The opportunity is there for those with the self-dedication to perceive and pursue it. Vamanos.
The Taoist Sources
This section, principally addressed to those with some knowledge of or at least interest in the Chinese sources, concerns a briefly annotated selection of texts bearing importantly on ideas raised or discussed in this chapter. It also furnishes short indications of English, French, and German works containing translations, commentary, or further leads.
For the Chinese texts, we turn principally to that vast repository of the Tao Tsang or Hoard of the Tao (the Taoist prototype of the much later Tibetan Tanjur and Kanjur). It will be abbreviated as TT and exists in a contemporary edition published at Shanghai in 1924-26. A branching compilation, the Tao Tsang Ching Hau, or "The Cultivation of the Blossoms of the Tao Treasury," shall likewise be abbreviated TTCH. Tones are indicated by the usual superscripts in titles or phrases of special interest. For reasons of economy, the Chinese characters of titles are not printed here, but their TT and other references are sufficient, for those with enough knowledge to use them, to find them.
1. Shang ch'ing ta tung chiu kung chao hsiu pi chueh shang tao (TT 319), "The Dawn Practice of the Secret Teaching of the Supreme Way in the Nine Palaces of the Great Grotto of Superlative Clarity"; attributed to an otherwise unknown Chou Teh-ta as its transmitter from ancient times.
This text assigns both sun and moon ten rays each and makes the lunar image (yellow- or orange-rayed) one-ninth greater in diameter than the solar (complementarily purple-rayed). More importantly, it speaks of "a new-born child" within the cranial space of the aspirant, a divine babe embodying the power of the Lord of Immortality and who is named ''germinal essence made visible." This whole idea is closely linked with the technical term "sacred pregnancy" (sheng t'ai), esoterically synonymous with "jade pregnancy" (yu t'ai), that is, the nurture of an embryonic immortal being within one.
Many later teachers, for example, Yang Chi-chou, speak of this divine pregnancy that takes place within the aspirant, recalling that profound seer Jacob Boehm's inspired teaching that the Virgin Birth must take place within each of us if we are truly to become enlightened and "born again of the Spirit." It is interesting how little the fundamental parameters of a perennial teaching change.
2. Shang ch'ing ming t'ang yuan chen ching chueh (TT 194), "Scripture of Esoteric Teachings of the Primal Perfected Ones in the Luminous Chamber of Highest Clarity [i.e., the brain and its ventricles within the cranium]." The word yuan ("primal") is given in the TT in the first mention of the title instead of hsuan ("hidden," "mysterious"), which is given in subsequent reference. But the two are not incompatible. This compilation contains as its principal treatise a work of singular import, the Hsuan chen fa, or "Method of the Mysterious Perfected Ones."
This text, we found, exists in two somewhat differing TT versions, one translated by Isabelle Robinet and the other by Edward Schafer a little later. For these references, see the second, or Western, section of this note.
This treatise may profitably be studied in conjunction with the T'ao huang-ching: Teng-cheng yin-chueh chen-ching (TT 193).
3. Shang-ch'ing ming-t'ang hsuan-tan chen-ching, "The Scripture of Self-Perfecting by the Mysterious Elixir of the Bright Hall of the Realm of Highest Clarity" (TT 1043 = L. Wieger's designation 1362). This text contains a valuable description of the nine (4 goddess-governed + 5 god-ruled) cranial palaces, mentioned also in other texts and includes a conversation involving the T'ang dynasty Taoist teacher, Lu Tung-Pin (in TT 641 = Wieger's no. 1005).
4. Fei hang chiu chen ching (TT 195 and 1042), "The Scripture of the Nine Perfected Winged Ones Who Fly [through celestial realms]." In this compilation is found the important Chiu hsing tao, or "Way of the Nine Stars," that is to say, the Seven Dipper Stars and their two secret ruling stars (cf fig. 4).
5. Huang ch'i yang ching ching (TT 27) and Chin chou yu tsu (TT 581); both these works date from well before A.D. 300 and are concerned with the practitioner's translation to the transcendent cosmic realm resonantly attuned to the stars of the Northern Dipper. It is worth noting that t'ai, the word for the Great Dipper constellation, is also contained in the character of another t'ai, meaning "embryo" or "pregnant womb." The Northern dipper was thus viewed as attuned to the process of higher pregnancy that eventuated in the divine embryo (yu t'ai) of the immortal body.
Now we cite two works from the auxiliary Taoist treasury (TTCH).
6. Ssu hsiu chiu kung fa, "Method of Contemplative Practice on the Nine [Cranial] Palaces." TTCH, collection 7, book 4, is the Yun chi ch'i ch'ien, and the above-cited important treatise is its forty-third chapter. The entire work is listed immediately following.
7. Yun chi ch'i ch'ien, "The Cloud [i.e., celestial] Steps [as footprints on a path] of the Seven Symbols" — the seven refer to the cosmic powers assigned to the manifest Dipper Stars (TTCH, as above cited, and also cf. TT 677-702, in the Ssu pu ts'ung k'an collection).
To those may be added the following.
8. Chiu tz'u or "Nine Songs," basically invocatory poems of shamanesses of the old Ch'u kingdom (that in 750 B.C. was in the south in the Han and Yangtze valleys; then it spread north and eastward, annexing southern Kiangsu in the fourth century before our era). This work, admirably translated by Arthur Waley into English, dates as a compilation from ca. 350 B.C. and is part of the old shamanic anthology from Ch'u times, the Ch'u tz'u. Individual compositions in it are much older.
9. The Nei P'ieni or "Inner (esoteric) Treatise" of Ko Hung (fl. A.D. 320). It still exists in the 1592 Chinese edition, and it was translated into English by James R. Ware.
We shall now, in the second part of this section, briefly give some indications of sources in Western languages. Some of these have already been mentioned at least in passing in the previous discussion of sources.
1. Isabelle Robinet, "Randonnees extatiques des Taoistes dans les astres," Monumenta Serica 32 (1976): 159-273. This is a valuable work and veritable mine of otherwise inaccessible translations and sources. She is a pioneer in this subject of theurgic journeys in Taoist tradition.
2. Edward H. Schafer, "The Jade Woman of Greatest Mystery," History of Religions (1978): 393-96 especially. Another extremely valuable source for both subject material and further leads. In the meantime, Schafer's Pacing the Void appeared (University of California Press, Berkeley, 1977), a unique book also worthwhile consulting, to which can be added a masterly study.
3. Michael Strickmann, Le taoisme du Mao Chan; chronique d'une revelation. (Paris: Institut des Hautes Etudes chinoises, 1980). And of course the path-breaking classical papers of Maspero published posthumously in:
4. Henri Maspero, Le taoisme et les religions chinoises, edited by Paul Demieville (Paris: Gallimard, 1971).
5. Rolf Homann, Die Wichtigste Korpergottheiten der Huang-t'ing ching, Goppingen Akademische Beitrage Nr. 27 (Goppingen: Verlag Klimmerle, 1971). A pioneering and useful reference work containing some translation and more sources. Sometimes he is too literal and misses the esoteric terminology, thus translating hsuan tan as dunkler Zinnober ("dark cinnabar") instead of "mysterious elixir"; but his book is very helpful.
6. Arthur Waley, The Nine Songs, (London: Alien & Unwin, 1965). An excellent annotated and commented translation. These shamanic songs had first been translated (into German) in Vienna in 1852 by August Pfizmaier in an extremely good rendition for its time. Nonsinologues still await a translation of the rest of the captivating Ch'u tz'u, the oldest extant shamanic anthology of China.
7. James R. Ware, The Nei P'ien of Ko Hung (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1966). Ware is an excellent translator and furnishes an excellent Chinese glossary and useful discussion. He engagingly captures Ko Hung's loquacity and wit.
Finally, the writer is grateful to Isabelle Robinet, Edward Schafer, and Michel Strickmann for kindly providing time-saving guidance in the labyrinth of Taoist sources.
As this book was about to go to press, I came across a twelfth-century Taoist source authoritatively confirming a central
conclusion of this chapter: that hexagram number 63 is the key to the deepest message of the
I Ching and the doctrine underlying it. It is
the work of Chang Po-Tuan (fl. 1250), one of the founders of the "Whole Reality" Taoist tradition, which played such an important
role in the fourteenth-century edition of the Dao Tsang, the Taoist counterpart of the Tibetan Kanjur and
In particular, in Chang's works Comprehending Reality and Taoist Esoteric Doctrine regarded the trigrams Li (fire) and K'an (water) as referring to the conscious and unconscious mind, in turn. The former "flies up" and the latter "flows down," thus they must be reversed from their mutually separating configuration in hexagram 64. This inversion, then — shown in hexagram 63 — is a symbol of the true alchemical process that must take place within the aspirant if she or he (the Taoists fully admitted female adepts) actually undertook the sacred inner development of the germ of the immortal body. The key importance of hexagram 63 to the solution of the enigma of the Pace of Yu and of the deepest meaning of Chinese alchemy is, of course, a central leitmotif of this chapter.
1. The caterpillar is latently already male or female, metamorphosing into the winged adult of its own, now manifest, sex.
2. "I am inclined to think that the last utterance [of humanity] will formulate some hope now to us utterly inconceivable." Joseph Conrad.
3. C. Muses, Schopenhauer's Optimism and the Lankavatara Sutra (London: Watkins, 1955).
4. A Gnostic inheritance from Egypt was the notion of a "body of light," the self-luminous vehicle called augoeides.
5. The Lion Path (obtainable through House of Horus, 45911 Silver Avenue, Sardis, British Columbia, V2R IY8, Canada) explains this process in more detail based on the hieroglyphic texts.
6. This ancient trait is preserved by the French sculptor Frederic Bartholdi in the famous, recently rededicated American Statue of Liberty, first unveiled in October 1886 in New York harbor after having been offered to and refused by the British authorities of Suez.
7. Millennially antedating the Judeo-Christian veneer as the later attempts (for example, in the rambling Lancelot-Grail narrative) to christianize those ancient traditions prove. See Muses, "Celtic Origins and the Arthurian Cycle: Geographic-Linguistic Evidence, "Journal of Indo-European Studies 7 (1979): 31-48; and also Destiny and Control in Human Systems (Boston and Dordrecht: Kluwer-Nijhoff, 1985), chap. 5.
8. See his Canzoni.
9. See his commentary-abridgment of Naropa's Six Yogas. The only available translation we know of Drashi's work is that of C. C. Chang (Naropa's Six Yogas [New Hyde Park, NY: University Books, 1963], 51ff.), who worked with the present writer on the book Esoteric Teachings of the Tibetan Tantra, 2d ed. (York Beach, ME: Weiser, 1982).
10. This sentence, no more than Freud's metaphoric processes, should not be taken too literally or applied too rigidly. It is not a universal problem. We are simply making the point here that the Freudians were well anticipated by early Tibetan psychologists.
11. Musaios, The Lion Path (Berkeley, CA: Golden Sceptre, 1989).
12. The superscript numbers (1, 2, 3, or 4), in the transliteration of Chinese words, denote tones by the usual convention.
13. I prefer this to Edward Schafer's more artificial and opaque shamanka.
14. Someone, with an air of pseudo-profundity, once wrote that we never see light but only see by light. Worse, that someone was solemnly quoted: blind leading the blind. The would-be sage had evidently seen only objects by reflected light and had never seen transmitted light. In fact, we see light all the time: the light of the stars is the only star we ever see — and sometimes that light is very old light at that — millennia old and more. We see nothing but the light from the stars. We must improve the quality of our intellectual light so that we are not subservient to superficial paradoxes. Enough said . . .
15. The inm-n-Sts or "hide-of Set": mes-n-Sts.
16. W. Eberhard, Local Cultures of South and East China (Leiden: Brill, 1968), 74-75.
17. This is his "inner" or esoteric book, as contrasted with Ko Hung's Wai P'ien, the external or exoteric book. See our section on Taoist sources, part 2, item 7. ~g let
18. Compare this trigram's ancient form:
19. See our section on Taoist sources, second part, under item 2: Pacing the Void, p. 240.
20. See section on Taoist sources, part two, item 7.
21. We prefer this as a translation of the character whose etymology shows an imprisoned man being aided on either side by armed helpers.
22. Item I of the first part of the section on Taoist sources.
23. Personal communication of December 1, 1985.
24. Ware translates this lively and trenchant autobiography in style. See Taoist sources, part two, item 7, pp. 6-21.
25. See the later discussion of the Taoist sources.
26. Sometimes called Jade Lady of Greatest Mystery, the Chinese character for "jade" (yu) here being a euphemism for "immortal" or a "mysterious perfected one" (hsuan chen). Thus, in ancient Chinese formal burials, six ritual jades were placed around the body of the deceased in each of the cardinal directions as well as above and below (B. Lauffer, Jade [New York: Dover, 1974], 294—305, 120ff.). On one of these jades the seven (— cum-nine) stars were featured, the same that still survived until recent times as the nine symbolic ornaments (fig. 6) on the backs of women's garments (as in ancient China, the women carried on the shamanic tradition) among the Na-khi, a Sino-Tibetan people of far-West China (J. E Rock, A Na-Ki-English Encyclopedic Dictionary, part I [Rome: Istituto Italiano per il Medio ed Estremo Oriente, 1963]). See fig. 5 also.
27. Published by Les Deux Oceans, Paris, 1979.
28. Muses, Schopenhauer's Optimism, 49.
29. In his Hero with a Thousand Faces, Bollingen Foundation, New York, 1949.
30. D. Lessing, Briefing for a Descent into Hell (New York: Alfred A. Knopf 1971).
Muses, C., Schopenhauer's Optimism and the Lankavatara Sutra, Watkins, London, 1955.
Muses, C., "Celtic Origins and the Arthurian Cycle: Geographic-Linguistic Evidence" in J. of Indo-European Studies, vol. 7 (1979), pp. 31-48.
Muses, C., Destiny and Control in Human Systems, Kluwer-Nijhoft Boston-Dordrecht, 1985.
Drashi, Namjal, Naropa's Six Yogas (tr. C.C. Chang), University Books, New Hyde Park, New York, 1963, pp. 51ff
Muses, C., ed.. Esoteric Teachings of the Tibetan Tantra (tr. C.C. Chang), 2nd. ed., Weiser, York Beach, Maine, 1982.
Musaios, The Lion Path, Golden Sceptre, Berkeley, California, 1989.
Eberhard, W, Local Cultures of South and East China, Brill, Leiden, 1968 pp. 74-75.
Laufer, B., Jade, Dover, New York, 1974, pp. 294-305 and 120ff:
Rock, J. E, A Na-Khi-English Encyclopedic Dictionary (Part 1), Istituto Italiano per il Medio ed Estremo Oriente, Rome, 1963.
Lessing, D., Briefing for a Descent into Hell, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1971.
In All Her Names