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Blavatsky Net - Theosophy

This site focuses on Madame Blavatsky and her teaching - Theosophy. It features an introduction to Theosophy, study aids, research tools, original text, supporting evidence, membership, and visitor interaction.


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CROSS AND FIRE


 

PERHAPS the most widespread and universal among the symbols in the old astronomical systems, which have passed down the stream of time to our century, and have left traces everywhere in the Christian religion as elsewhere,--are the Cross and the Fire--the latter, the emblem of the Sun. The ancient Aryans had them both as the symbols of Agni. Whenever the ancient Hindu devotee desired to worship Agni--says E. Burnouf (Science des Religions, c. 10)--he arranged two pieces of wood in the form of a cross, and, by a peculiar whirling and friction obtained fire for his sacrifice. As a symbol, it is called Swastica, and, as an instrument manufactured out of a sacred tree and in possession of every Brahmin, it is known as Arani.

The Scandinavians had the same sign and called it Thor's Hammer, as bearing a mysterious magneto-electric relation to Thor, the god of thunder, who, like Jupiter armed with his thunderbolts, holds likewise in his hand this ensign of power, over not only mortals but also the mischievous spirits of the elements, over which he presides. In Masonry it appears in the form of the grand master's mallet; at Allahabad it may be seen on the Fort as the Jaina Cross, or the Talisman of the Jaina Kings; and the gavel of the modern judge is no more than this crux dissimulata--as de Rossi, the archæologist calls it; for the gavel is the sign of power and strength, as the hammer represented the might of Thor, who, in the Norse legends splits a rock with it, and kills Medgar. Dr. Schliemann found it in terra cotta disks, on the site, as he believes, of ancient Troy, in the lowest strata of his excavations; which indicated, according to Dr. Lundy, "an Aryan civilization long anterior to the Greek--say from two to three thousand years B.C." Burnouf calls it the oldest form of the cross known, and affirms that it is found personified in the ancient religion of the Greeks under the figure of Prometheus "the fire-bearer," crucified on mount Caucasus, while the celestial bird--the Cyena of the Vedic hymns,--daily devours his entrails. Boldetti, (Osservazioni I., 15, p. 60) gives a copy from the painting in the cemetery of St. Sebastian, representing a Christian convert and grave-digger, named Diogenes, who wears on both his legs and right arm the signs of the Swastica. The Mexicans and the Peruvians had it, and it is found as the sacred Tau in the oldest tombs of Egypt.

It is, to say the least, a strange coincidence, remarked even by some Christian clergymen, that Agnus Dei, the Lamb of God, should have the symbols, identical with the Hindu God Agni. While Agnus Dei expiates and takes away the sins of the world, in one religion, the God Agni, in the other, likewise expiates sins against the gods, man, the manes, the soul, and repeated sins; as shown in the six prayers accompanied by six oblations. (Colebrooke--Essays, Vol. I, p. 190.)

If, then, we find these two--the Cross and the Fire--so closely associated in the esoteric symbolism of nearly every nation, it is because on the combined powers of the two rests the whole plan of the universal laws. In astronomy, physics, chemistry, in the whole range of natural philosophy, in short, they always come out as the invisible cause and the visible result; and only metaphysics and alchemy--or shall we say Metachemistry, since we prefer coining a new word to shocking sceptical ears?--can fully and conclusively solve the mysterious meaning. An instance or two will suffice for those who are willing to think over hints.

The Central Point, or the great central sun of the Kosmos, as the Kabalists call it, is the Deity. It is the point of intersection between the two great conflicting powers--the centripetal and centrifugal forces, which drive the planets into their elliptical orbits, that make them trace a cross in their paths through the Zodiac. These two terrible, though as yet hypothetical and imaginary powers, preserve harmony and keep the Universe in steady, unceasing motion; and the four bent points of the Swastica typify the revolution of the Earth upon its axis. Plato calls the Universe a "blessed god" which was made in a circle and decussated in the form of the letter X. So much for astronomy. In Masonry the Royal Arch degree retains the cross as the triple Egyptian Tau. It is the mundane circle with the astronomical cross upon it rapidly revolving; the perfect square of the Pythagorean mathematics in the scale of numbers, as its occult meaning is interpreted by Cornelius Agrippa. Fire is heat,--the central point; the perpendicular ray represents the male element or spirit; and the horizontal one the female element--or matter. Spirit vivifies and fructifies the matter, and everything proceeds from the central point, the focus of Life, and Light, and Heat, represented by the terrestrial fire. So much, again, for physics and chemistry, for the field of analogies is boundless, and Universal Laws are immutable and identical in their outward and inward applications. Without intending to be disrespectful to any one, or to wander far away from truth, we think we may say that there are strong reasons to believe that in their original sense the Christian Cross--as the cause, and Eternal torment by Hell Fire--as the direct effect of negation of the former--have more to do with these two ancient symbols than our Western theologians are prepared to admit. If Fire is the Deity with some heathens, so in the Bible, God is likewise the Life and the Light of the World; if the Holy Ghost and Fire cleanse and purify the Christian, on the other hand Lucifer is also Light, and called the "Son of the morning star."

Turn wherever we will, we are sure to find these conjoint relics of ancient worship with almost every nation and people. From the Aryans, the Chaldeans, the Zoroastrians, Peruvians, Mexicans, Scandinavians, Celts, and ancient Greeks and Latins, it has descended in its completeness to the modern Parsi. The Phœnician Cabiri and the Greek Dioscuri are partially revived in every temple, cathedral, and village church; while, as will now be shown, the Christian Bulgarians have even preserved the sun worship in full.

It is more than a thousand years since this people, who, emerging from obscurity, suddenly became famous through the late Russo-Turkish war, were converted to Christianity. And yet they appear none the less pagans than they were before, for this is how they meet Christmas and the New Year's day. To this time they call this festival Sourjvaki, as it falls in with the festival in honour of the ancient Slavonian god Sourja. In the Slavonian mythology this deity--Sourja or Sourva,--evidently identical with the Aryan Surya . . . sun . . . is the god of heat, fertility, and abundance. The celebration of this festival is of an immense antiquity, as, far before the days of Christianity, the Bulgarians worshipped Sourva, and consecrated New Year's day to this god, praying him to bless their fields with fertility, and send them happiness and prosperity. This custom has remained among them in all its primitive heathenism, and though it varies according to localities, yet the rites and ceremonies are essentially the same.

On the eve of New Year's day the Bulgarians do no work and are obliged to fast. Young betrothed maidens are busy preparing a large platiy (cake) in which they place roots and young shoots of various forms, to each of which a name is given according to the shape of the root. Thus, one means the "house," another represents the "garden"; others again, the mill, the vineyard, the horse, a cat, a hen, and so on, according to the landed property and worldly possessions of the family. Even articles of value such as jewellery and bags of money are represented in this emblem of the horn of abundance. Besides all these, a large and ancient silver coin is placed inside the cake; it is called bábka and is tied two ways with a red thread, which forms a cross. This coin is regarded as the symbol of fortune.

After sunset, and other ceremonies, including prayers addressed in the direction of the departing luminary, the whole family assemble about a large round table called paralyà, on which are placed the above-mentioned cake, dry vegetables, corn, wax taper, and, finally, a large censer containing incense of the best quality to perfume the god. The head of the household, usually the oldest in the family--either the grandfather, or the father himself--taking up the censer with the greatest veneration, in one hand, and the wax taper in the other, begins walking about the premises, incensing the four corners, beginning and ending with the East; and reads various invocations, which close with the Christian "Our Father who art in Heaven," addressed to Sourja. The taper is then laid away to be preserved throughout the whole year, till the next festival. It is thought to have acquired marvellous healing properties, and is lighted only upon occasions of family sickness, in which case it is expected to cure the patient.

After this ceremony, the old man takes his knife and cuts the cake into as many slices as there are members of the household present. Each person, upon receiving his or her share, makes haste to open and search the piece. The happiest of the lot, for the ensuing year, is he or she who gets the part containing the old coin crossed with the scarlet thread; he is considered the elect of Sourja, and every one envies the fortunate possessor. Then in order of importance come the emblems of the house, the vineyard, and so on; and according to his finding, the finder reads his horoscope for the coming year. Most unlucky he who gets the cat; he turns pale and trembles. Woe to him and misery, for he is surrounded by enemies, and has to prepare for great trials.

At the same time, a large log which represents a flaming altar, is set up in the chimney-place, and fire is applied to it. This log burns in honour of Sourja and is intended as an oracle for the whole house. If it burns the whole night through till morning without the flame dying out, it is a good sign; otherwise, the family prepares to see death that year, and deep lamentations end the festival.

Neither the momtzee (young bachelor), nor the mommee (the maiden), sleep that night. At midnight begins a series of sooth-saying, magic, and various rites, in which the burning log plays the part of the oracle. A young bud thrown into the fire and bursting with a loud snap is a sign of happy and speedy marriage, and vice versa. Long after midnight, the young couples leave their respective homes, and begin visiting their acquaintances, from house to house, offering and receiving congratulations, and rendering thanks to the deity. These deputy couples are called the Souryakari, and each male carries a large branch ornamented with red ribbons, old coins, and the image of Sourja, and as they wend along sing in chorus. Their chant is as original as it is peculiar and merits translation, though, of course, it must lose in being rendered into a foreign language. The following stanzas are addressed by them to those they visit:

Sôurvá, Soúrvá, Lord of the Season,
Happy New Year mayst thou send;
Health and fortune on this household,
Success and blessings till next year.
With good crops and full ears,
With gold and silk, and grapes and fruits;
With barrels full of wine, and stomachs full,
You and your house be blessed by the God . . .
His blessing on you all.--Amen! Amen! Amen!

The singing Souryakari, recompensed for their good wishes with a present at every house, go home at early dawn. . . . And this is how the symbolical exoteric Cross and Fire worship of old Aryavart go hand in hand in Christian Bulgaria. . . .

Theosophist, November, 1879




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List of Articles
1888
1890!
African Magic
Ahkoond of Swat
An Astral Prophet
An Unsolved Mystery
Ancient Doctrines Vindicated
Ancient Magic in Modern Science
Animated Statues
Answers to Queries
Antiquity of the Vedas
Apollonius Tyaneus and Simon Magus
Are Chelas "Mediums"?
Are Dreams but Idle Visions?
Arya Samaj
The Babel of Modern Thought
Black Magic in Science
Blessings of Publicity
Bright Spot of Light
Buddhism, Christianity and Phallicism
Buddhism in America
Can the Double Murder?
Can the Mahatmas Be Selfish?
Case of Obsession
Chelas
Chelas and Lay Chelas
Chinese Spirits
Christmas Then and Christmas Now
Civilization, the Death of Art and Beauty
Claims of Occultism
Classification of "Principles"
Count St. Germain
Cross and Fire
Cycle Moveth
Denials and the Mistakes of the Nineteenth Century
Devil's Own-Thoughts on Ormuzd and Ahriman
Diagnoses and Palliatives
Dialogue on the Mysteries of the After Life
Dialogues between the Two Editors
Do the Rishis Exist?
Does Vaccination Prevent Smallpox?
Dr. Beard Criticized
Dreamland and Somnambulism
Drift of Western Spiritualism
Dual Aspect of Wisdomhe
Echoes from India. What is Hindu Spiritualism?
Eddy Manifestations
Editorial Comment
Editorial Appendix
Eighth Wonder
Electric and Magnetic Affinities between Man and Nature
Elementals
Elementaries
Esoteric Axioms and Spiritual Speculations
"Esoteric Buddhism" and its Critic
"Esoteric Buddhism" and the "Secret Doctrine"
Esoteric Character of the Gospels
Fakirs and Tables
Fall of Ideals
Fate of the Occultist
Few Thoughts on Some Wise Words from a Wise Man
Force of Prejudice
Fragments
French View of Women's Rights
Genius
Grand Inquisitor
"H. M." and the Todas
H. P. Blavatsky on Precipitation and Other Matters
H. P. Blavatsky's Masonic Patent
Have Animals Souls?
Hindu Widow-Marriage
History of a "Book"
History of a Planet
Holmes Controversy
Holmes Controversy(continued)
Huxley and Slade
Hypnotism
Hypnotism, and Its Relations to Other Modes of Fascination
Imperfections of Science
Indian Metaphysics
Intro-Version of Mental Vision
Is Creation Possible for Man?
Is Denunciation a Duty?
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"Is it Idle to Argue Further?"
Is Suicide a Crime?
Is the Desire to "Live" Selfish?
Is Theosophy a Religion?
"Isis Unveiled" and the "Theosophist" on Reincarnation
Isis Unveiled and the Vishishtadwaita
"It's the Cat!"
Jews in Russia
Kabalah and the Kabalists
Kabalistic Views of "Spirits"
Karmic Visions
Knout, The. As Wielded by the Great Russian Theosophist
Kosmic Mind
Lack of Unity among Spiritualists
Lamas and Druses
Land of Mystery
Last Song of the Swan
Le Phare de L'Inconnu
Leaven of Theosophy
Leo Tolstoi and His Unecclesiastical Christianity
"Let Every Man Prove His Own Work"
Life and Death
Life Principle
Literary Jottings on Criticism, Authorities, and Other Matters
Lodges of Magic
Logic versus Peripatetic
Madame Blavatsky on "The Himalayan Brothers"
Magic
Mahatmas and Chelas
Memory in the Dying
Mind in Nature
Missing Link
Missionaries Militant
Mistaken Notions on "The Secret Doctrine"
Modern Apostles and Pseudo-Messiahs
Mote and the Beam
Mr. A. Lillie's Delusions
My Books
Mysterious Race
Nature's Human Magnets
Negations of Science
New Cycle
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Note on Eliphas Levi
Note on "Memory"
Notes on some Aryan-Arhat Esoteric Tenets
Notice to Mediums
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Number Seven and Our Society
Occult or Exact Science?
Occult Phenomena
Occultism or Magic
Occultism versus the Occult Arts
Old Hindu Ships
Old Philosophers and Modern Critics
On Pseudo-Theosophy
On The New Year's Morrow
"Oppressed Widowhood" in America
Organisation of the Theosophical Society
Origin of Evil
Our Cycle and the Next
Our Three Objects
Paradoxical World
Parting Words
Persian Zoroastrianism and Russian Vandalism
Pertinent Queries
Pertinent Questions
Philosophers and Philosophicules
Popular Idea of Soul-Survival
Posthumous Publication
Practical Occultism
Pralaya of Modern Science
"Precipitation"
Premature and Phenomenal Growths
Progress and Culture
Protest
Psychic and Noetic Action
Psychic Warning
Psychology - The Science of the Soul
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Puzzle in "Esoteric Buddhism"
Queries and Answers
Questions Answered about Yoga Vidya
Re-Classification of Principles
Rebuke
Recent Progress in Theosophy
Reincarnations in Tibet
Reply to Our Critics, A.
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Retort Courteous
Roots of Ritualism in Church and Masonry
Russian Atrocities
Sacred Tree of Kum Bum
Science of Life
Science of Magic
"Scrutator Again"
Search after Occultism
Seeming "Discrepancies"
Seventeen-Rayed Sun-Disc
She Being Dead Yet Speaketh
Signal of Danger
Signs of the Times
Six-Pointed and Five-Pointed Stars
Society Without a Dogma
Some Scientific Questions Answered
Spiritual Progress
Spiritualism and Occult Truth
Spiritualism and Spiritualists
Spiritualism in Russia
Spiritualistic Tricksters
Star-Angel-Worship in the Roman Catholic Church
Stars and Numbers
Stray Thoughts on Death and Satan
Substantial Nature of Magnetism
Tetragrammaton
Theories about Reincarnation and Spirits
Theory of Cycles
"Theosophical Mahatmas"
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Theosophists and their Opponents
Theosophy and Spiritualism
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Thoughts of the Dead
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Acknowledgement