The Call of Isis
11. The Magic of Ritual Drama.
to now I had worked with
either one person in trance, or with a group
practising meditation. The only physical work I had undertaken was that
healing, using the force of 'Vril' for cure
and to induce trance. Now, however, I became aware of the need for
beauty that links our earth life with other
spheres. Through painting, music and sculpture I realized that a human
himself with inspiration from spiritual
In the past, inspiration was accepted as being necessary
creativity. The Muses were invoked to inspire
their appropriate medium. Later, when people lost their faith in
this degenerated into a mere poetic
tradition. But when true communion still obtained between Gods and
humans, there was the
cult of the God Apollo, and that of the
Minerva bestowed divine inspiration for philosophy,
then be transmuted into words from the
writer's mind. So the artist, as well as the priest, was regarded as a
Later, during the humanist revival of the
Renaissance, came the cult of the incarnated demi-god called 'The
The word itself came from the concept of
incorporeal beings, the Djinns of Arabia - elemental spirits.
when held to be divinely inspired by the
Gods, had the virtue of humility. Like the present-day mediums, they
to be channels for the afflatus of Spirits.
But those incarnated demi-gods, the Geniuses, knew no such modesty!
was their aggressive originality. The cult of
the Genius particularly flourished when I was a young girl. Not in
did the young hope to be saints, and
day-dream of performing miracles, to the amazement and edification of
Rather did the young hope that they might be a
genius like James Joyce or Hemingway. I remember laughing within myself
so many university students confiding in me
that 'someone says I am a Genius!' There were so many of them. The only
disadvantage to being a genius like Beethoven
or Michelangelo was that one's family and teachers expected some great
to appear! After all, when saints were
popular, they were expected to perform miracles.
genius would retire into his
bed-sitting-room, remote from his bourgeois family, later to emerge with
a work of art, safely
incomprehensible. He was not of today, but of
the future, and would only be appreciated then. Meanwhile he could be
as he chose! I say 'he' because I did not
come across female 'genii'. Glamour was more our aim: we inspired
the geniuses, who made peculiar paintings of
us, or wrote us lengthy involved poems.
Now, studying the
I took another look at the question of
'inspiration' and 'geniuses. What was it all about? I had read of
Fire and Afflatus; of Newton hearing voices:
of William Blake conversing with sundry spirits at night. Perhaps he
I always like to prove things to myself from actual
experience, And in this matter I had the most unexpected instructor.
It began with an actual psychic vision. I
saw, eyes open and in waking consciousness, the head of a young man
He had curled hair that had been gilded. His
face was Greek in shape, save for slightly high cheek-bones. His eyes
Otherwise lips and chin were so like those of
a Greek statue, that I thought for a moment that the face was made of
But it was of flesh of a deathly hue: a flesh
that had been painted. Not made up with our blended creamy colouring:
painted delicately like a picture, with
carmine on cheeks and lips. The shoulders were very broad, and draped
a cream-coloured wool material.
What struck me about the face was its expression. He looked like a very petulant
and sulky 'Pop-star'.
cross-reference with an occult friend identified this young man. He was,
she said, Antinous, favourite of the Emperor
Hadrian. He had appeared to another of our friends during a Mithraic
Then he had worn his hair long, but still had
the same fed-up expression. He was strikingly handsome.
we got through his story, which we found
extremely interesting. Not that is, about his earth life, but about his
career as a god! It was in that deified form I
had seen him. For after his alleged suicide in the Nile, his corpse had
taken out, embalmed, painted, and his
surviving spirit decreed a god of manly sports and exercises, under the
aegis of Apollo.
He had, he told us, been given work to do,
for that was expected of gods, like the hardworked royal personages of
His office or welfare department was his
temple, his medium, a priest. How did he appear to us? He tried to come
using my friend as a medium: but then
declared that this was not the intention of our group. He found it more
project his appearance and voice to a
sensitive, but learnt to do so.
What we gathered was that
and other notables who were 'deified' after
death acted as spirit guides, healers and helpers. If provided with the
necessary power, they could work 'miracles':
that is, produce manifestations. Offerings were helpful, in that they
provided psychic counterpart, used by the god
concerned. This could take the form of 'ectoplasm' or lifetrons -
atoms. Prayers, incantations and singing
could also give the god or goddess necessary power.
This gave me
into ritual observances in churches. I had
often heard sceptics wonder why God liked so much bad hymn singing! The
of sound, and the effort put into such
singing through concentrated thought and feeling could be used for the
the group by the deity concerned.
regards the particular reason for Antinous contacting us: he wished to
what his present work was. He had incarnated
since Roman days, and was now primarily concerned with working for world
In fact, in character he reminded me of
members of the Society of Friends. He had, we gathered, always liked
music, and the
simple life of woods and fields. He commented
that he liked the simplicity of our way of meditating.
to know, had he appeared looking so miserable
at a revival of a Mithraic rite? He gave the answer that though the
of Zoroaster, that of Mithra, was pure and
solar, concerning itself with the right use of power - to defend the
weak - it
had in the latter days of Rome become too
much entangled with blood cult. In fact his expression was
understandable; as apparently
during his initiation he had been deluged
with the blood of a bull!
I could imagine how disgusting this
be, as Valentine had endured a similar
initiation when a little girl of five. Her father, an M.F.H., had, she
on her after a kill with the bleeding pad of a
fox. While she screamed, he had smeared the bloody torn off pad down
She had continued to scream all the way home.
Her usually kind nannie would not wash off that blood mark in her bath.
by tradition to remain until next day. And
the memory remained, as it was intended to do. The effect had been the
Antinous. His subsequent drowning had
produced the disagreeable psychological effect I had seen on the face of
the newly created
god. I understood his partiality for a world
freed from violence.
It appeared to me, therefore, that ritual,
pleasant or unpleasant, affected the
subconscious mind of the participant, not only in this life but in the
next. When one
moves from the passive to the active rôle in
para-psychology, one is changing from trance experience, to the
of power from one sphere to another. I
noticed, when I began making friends with occultists, that they used a
phraseology as compared with mediums. When
faced with a problem, they would say: 'I am going to do something about
Having little faith in most people's
'expertise' in magic, I would beg them not to do me any good! I would
be left alone.
When people have taken
a course in magic, they usually want to try out their new skill. They
around for areas where their help is needed.
And then they start 'manipulating the web.' And even a beginner can do
this, with possibly unpleasant effects on
himself and others. A reckless youth in a drunken state in charge of a
motor-car is less of a public menace than
some amateur occultist! Such an enthusiast, having mad a few books,
with drugs, and joined some questionable
'order' then proceeds to use the force of ritual magic. It is not enough
that our planet is being threatened by misuse
of physical science and that we face extermination through possible
war and industrial pollution. Some ignorant
occult practitioners try to affect the etheric web as well; so
patterns of thought and feeling of those
However, the scope of occult misuse is at the
We have lost so much in the non-material
field that our quickest way to affect physical matter is still to use
Maybe one can bend a fork if one concentrates
enough. But one could better employ the energy in creating a beautiful
of jewellery Beauty exerts a more powerful
impression on the mind of those who see it than any mere show of
For humanity responds finally to the great
realities of love and beauty and truth. Anything else, however showy,
ends by boring
us. The first time one is shown a scientific
wonder or occult demonstration of power over physical matter - one is
The second or third time, one loses interest.
I noticed that the great exploit of man landing on the moon only
attention. Emotionally we were unmoved. 'Pop'
stars who appealed to the feelings still adorned the walls of the
I never see a 'pin-up' of an astronaut.
my study of the use of occult force, I realized that we humans
are not fundamentally interested in force for
force's sake. We have an inner longing for a world of drama and beauty;
for wonder and surprise. This may be brought
about by first acquiring money and worldly importance: but few regard
ends in themselves. Examine people's
day-dreams: they express the need for affection and beauty. There are
few who see
divinity expressed in terms of scientific
formulae, though such rare people do exist. Most of us, however, are
We wish to act in the theatre of life in an
emotionally satisfying way; to identify ourselves with what we admire:
the plaudits of the multitude.
the Western school of the Mysteries caters for this. We of the West tend
be actors. We like working and playing with
other people. We are gregarious. We like splendour and pageantry and
to get any good out of it, we must be
presented with an exciting, moving part to play in the drama of life.
roughly classify 'the West' in this way,
although there are natural quietists in the West, and exhibitionists in
East. As Hari once said: 'The Quakers are the
Brahmins of the West.' Maybe. but there are not many Quakers. One
studying our newspapers, novels, films and
television, that we feed on sensationalism.
And why not?
the higher path is to withdraw from 'the
dream of life'; to enter a trappist monastery or enclosed convent, and
a life of prayer. But most of us want to join
the processions, the revolutions, the happenings. Whether at funerals
crowd scenes appeal to us. Need we be ashamed
of this? The great Christian Mystery is essentially dramatic. And after
although in the crowd, we need not shout
'crucify him,' but rather be among those who shouted ‘Hosanna‘,
and strewed palms in the way.
work with those in trance, I noticed what exciting adventures people
I enjoyed them myself. The adventurer would
have a release of pent-up emotion in fighting in his joust, in facing a
in rescuing a princess. But nonetheless, the
body still remained totally inactive. I found it hard to persuade some
pilgrims to meditate on their own - to do
something useful in everyday life. Could there be any half-way zone
adventure and daily work? Otherwise I was
only giving a substitute for drugs and dreams.
I tried the
of attending church service with these
students. I myself could participate. But they found the part there was
As one girl said: one knelt, sat, got up, and
sang, and that was all. The priest had the more interesting rôle; but
only the priest. The 'audience' as she called
it, sat barred off from the chancel, the stage. She was bored and would
not go again. I found the same reaction with
others. They resented being at the receiving end of a ritual. Nothing
Life outside at least promised them activity.
They could not be passive.
It came to me that a new age was
about a move from passive to active rôle
among our planet's millions. Up to now, in church, one knelt meekly on
one's knees facing the place of
transcendental Deity. Only a select and trained band of priests or
Brahmins could be channels
for Deity and stand in the Holy Place. But
now the neophyte, whether man or woman, expected to be a priest: to
stand in the
appropriate position, and act as channel for
the Deific Presence.
We were moving, as had been prophecied,
the era of God the Holy Spirit: of Pantheism.
Innate Divinity could be realised by those willing to express this
that is latent within all existences.
the interlinking area between the spheres of Divinity and the earth
sphere, was that of the Temple of Ritual. For
the law of Octaves of sound prevailed throughout the universe in the
correspondences. Strike a note on one level,
and you produce a corresponding response in the sphere you wish to
a symbolic gesture on this plane with
deliberate intention, and you affect the area on which you are
Each of the five senses, then, had an affinity
with supernatural senses. And one could only understand sacred
the Bible, Bhagavad Gita, the Sutras, if one
read them with heightened faculties, understanding this law of
'sight'. 'hearing', 'touch', and so-forth
each had an inner meaning to the initiate - that is, one
who had been awakened to this level of
So one could recognise the mysteries performed in
the ancient Greek dramas producing their
archetypal effect through living men and women. Such playwrights as
and Yeats were consciously aware of this, and
drew it to the attention of the audience. Through art, a human-being
with Ulysses, Oedipus, Elektra, or indeed the
The only difference then, between great drama presented
to an audience, and the Mysteries, was that
the Mysteries were not for an audience, but brought each performer into
participation with the enacted drama. The
neophyte identified with the questing Psyche in her search for Eros;
seeking Eurydice in the netherworld.
According to his own development, he underwent each deepening layer of
Stage One, Stage Two, Stage Three. Each stage
brought its peculiar ordeal. And, according to his capacity, he
failed. Success meant permission to advance
further. Failure was no disgrace. It merely meant that the candidate was
ready to undergo further trials, at any rate
during that life-time. He would try again and one life-time he would
And yet even these Mysteries were not
fully realized, lacking embodiment on earth. The greatest, because the
inclusive, of these divine dramas had to
happen in every-day life: have a human face; a physical environment. I
however well one might cope with lunar
initiation through trance experience, it really was easier than having
to face actual
physical happenings. It was, for many of us,
easier to be 'dead', in the psychic sphere, than to live well on earth.
Thus Solar Initiation, inspired living, was
the next stage to be faced. And, looking around at the world, one could
we were nowhere near achieving it. Some of us
had good ideals, fine dreams. But could we bring them through
earthly actuality? That was what we had to
learn: to achieve the union of heaven and earth.
Back to The Call of Isis
On to Chapter Twelve
Text presented on this site as it appears in the 1975 edition.