St. Paul also refers to the “inner experience” by which we come to KNOW. He says, “We speak of wisdom among the perfect, not the wisdom of this world, nor of the Archons (Rulers) of this world, but divine wisdom is a mystery, secret, which none of the Archons of this world know.” An initiation is an extension of consciousness toward an appreciation of universal realities. The mystical ceremonials of the pagans and early Christians were but the outward symbols of inward processes. By obscure rites and pageantries the precious arcana of perfection was transmitted from age to age. The profane were satisfied by the solemnity of the outward forms and rituals, but the Adepts, those who had received the keys, applied the wisdom which was locked within the allegories to perfecting their internal spiritual faculties.
Perfection is not bestowed: it is achieved. Men do not become wise merely through the witnessing of sacred dramas… rather, by the understanding of them. Symbolism is the language of divine truths, a writing by means of which may be intimated things which it is unlawful to actually reveal. “For the mystic symbols are well known to us who belong to the Brotherhood.” (Plutarch). By initiation the rule of works is established. The divine man and the divine in man are brought to completeness by works alone. The adepts of the old schools were “wise Master Builders” with vision to see, with courage to do, and wisdom to remain silent. “There is a secrecy and silence observed in all Mysteries,” wrote Tertullian, the creator of ecclesiastic Latinity.
Says Aretaeus, “Until the soul is set free it works within the body and is obscured by vapors and clay.” By vapors is arcanely signified the appetites and excesses of the emotions which are as substanceless as a mist, and by the clay is meant the unresponsiveness of the corporeal form.
With each increase of our ability to appreciate the magnitudes of the divine plan, we are said to be reborn. Rebirth is the passing out from an old condition into a new state, from an old limitation to a new extension. As we grow in knowledge, our universe seems to enlarge with us, taking on the measure of our new constitution. Wisdom releases.
With the collapse of the old pagan world and the corruption of the early Christian Church, the Mysteries ceased as great institutions. Their doctrines were lost, their priestcrafts were scattered, and their temples fell to ruin. New theories, for the most part superficial and insufficient, took the place of the earlier wisdom; and education, divorced from its spiritual part, laid the foundation for our present chaos. But the wise remained true to the ancient Rites. Those who had received the arcana could not, did not, forget. They gathered in secret, taught in secret and worshipped in secret. The temple fire burned in the hearts of its initiates. The outer forms crumbled away; but the inner spirit, strengthened by its participation in an everlasting truth, was immortal. Out of the darkness of a degenerate civilization, across the desert of sterile centuries, and finally through the Red Sea of the Inquisition the Mystics of the ancient wisdom carried triumphantly the Ark of their covenant.
~Manly P. Hall (from introductory material and commentary of “The Most Holy Trinosophia of the Comte de St.-Germain”)