Date: Monday, September 8, 2017
Time: 1:30 PM. to 2:00 P.M.
Sun Phase: Rising
Moon Phase: Waning Gibbous
Planetary Day: Day of the Moon
Planetary Hour: Hour of the Moon into the Hour of Saturn
Activities: Traveling in the Spirit Vision in the Alchemical Sigil of Air
Entering a relaxed and fully-present state of mind, I sat upright in meditative posture, fixating on the image of the Alchemical Sigil of Air in the flashing colours of violet and yellow, following the method described in Flying Roll XXXVI – Skrying and Traveling in the Spirit Vision by V.H. Soror V.N.R.
Closing my eyes, I vividly envisioned the astral form of the sigil until it attained depth like a doorway. Then I projected my consciousness into and through the sigil. As I entered the triangle symbol, it turned into a winding triangular tunnel, through which I plummeted.
At last, I came out of the other side in a space within what V.H.. Sorry V.N.R. calls “the World of Air.” Here, I found myself, astrally garbed in my robe, floating in a sky tinged with blue and yellow.
Looking off to my left, I saw a form approaching. It was a bird, and as I looked at it more carefully, it became clear that it was not just any bird, but a pelican. The pelican seemed to take no real notice of me at first until I greeted it with great love and respect. Hearing my greeting, it swooped down to float near me and greeted me in return. We began to speak.
Me: “Great Pelican! Where are we at present?”
Pelican: “We are in the World of Air, where the wind carries me on its wings. What do you come here for?”
M: “I come here to obtain a deeper understanding of the Element of Air and how to equilibrate its presence within me alongside the other Elements.”
P: “If this is your will, then listen to me carefully. I shall give you a branch. Press it to your forehead and you will have a direct influx of the power of the Element.”
In his beak, he handed me an Olive branch.
I pressed it to my head and felt a flood of moist, warm energy enveloping me. The pelican began to speak:
P: “Air is the element of life. It is the Spirit that breathes into the lungs and animates you as a human being with the breath of life. Without it, there can be no Fire, for Air fuels Fire, and it was Fire that kept humanity alive for aeons. The Air carries evaporated Water in the Clouds of the Sky. I fly over the depths of Water, and a bird of the Air, I draw fish from the Water. Thus, in me, Water and Air are joined; my life is sustained through the union of both. The same is true for you, creature who breathes Air and subsists on Water.
If you would balance the Air within your nature, be not lost in the Fire of your passion and Will, the Water of your unconscious mind and emotions, or the Earth of your flesh. To walk the way of Air, you must walk on the edge of the sword. On one edge, wisdom, on the other, folly. The sword of Air is discerning; it cuts through illusion and ignorance and thereby, reveals Truth. Sharpen the intellect, but do not fixate on it, for the sword of intellect cuts both ways! If you cling to it, it will cut you too; your own thoughts will stir up the Water and Fire of suffering in the Earth of your body. Just as Air can sustain life, but when taken away, can erase it, so can the intellect both preserve and destroy life. Keep it then in balance. Ride its Winds, but be not blown astray.”
I thanked the great Pelican for its insights and bowed to it. It returned the bow, then flew off on its way. I remained a few moments, connecting with the Element. Then, I turned towards the triangular tunnel through which I had come. Flying back through the tunnel, I “landed” back in my upright-seating body. Equilibrating the Air energy with the Qabalistic Cross, I sat for a moment, breathing, before I returned to ordinary consciousness.
In the day that followed, my mind seemed clearer. Thoughts proceeded with ease and clarity, and my mood seemed calmly buoyant and airy. I could feel how the calming perfume of equilibrated air calms the emotions and passions and brings energy and balance into the flow of the body’s rhythms.
Rosicrucian and Alchemical Secrets of the Pelican
At the end of the day, I returned to reflecting on the symbolism of the Pelican and the Olive Branch.
Unknown to me at the time of my visionary meeting while traveling in the spirit vision, the Pelican has rich Rosicrucian and alchemical roots.
In the Rosicrucian symbolism, Fr. William Saunders reports that
“The symbolism of the mother pelican feeding her little baby pelicans is rooted in an ancient legend, which preceded Christianity. The legend was that in time of famine, the mother pelican wounded herself, striking her breast with the beak to feed her young with her blood to prevent starvation. Another version of the legend was that the mother fed her dying young with her blood to revive them from death, but in turn lost her own life.”
To the Christian mystics, the Pelican took on the symbolism of self-sacrifice, compassion, resurrection, charity, and selfless giving for the redemption, healing, and nourishment of others; it thus became a symbol of the Christ-principle.
In support of t his view, Fr. Saunders notes that ”
This tradition and others is found in the Physiologus, an early Christian work which appeared in the second century in Alexandria, Egypt. Written by an anonymous author, the Physiologus recorded legends of animals and gave each an allegorical interpretation. (…) Here too the legend of the pelican feeding her young is described: “The little pelicans strike their parents, and the parents, striking back, kill them. But on the third day the mother pelican strikes and opens her side and pours blood over her dead young. In this way they are revivified and made well. (…) This work was noted by St. Epiphanius, St. Basil and St. Peter of Alexandria. It was also popular in the Middle Ages and was a source for the symbols used in the various stone carvings and other artwork of that period.
He adds that:
Clearly the pelican became a symbol of charity. Reference to the pelican and its Christian meaning are found in Renaissance literature: Dante (1321) in the “Paridiso” of his Divine Comedy refers to Christ as “our Pelican.” John Lyly in his Euphues (1606) wrote, “Pelicane who striketh blood out of its owne bodye to do others good.” Shakespeare (1616) in Hamlet wrote, “To his good friend thus wide, Ill ope my arms / And, like the kind, life-rendering pelican / Repast them with my blood.” John Skelton (1529) in his Armorie of Birds, wrote, “Then sayd the Pellycan: When my Byrdts be slayne / With my bloude I them revyve. Scripture doth record / The same dyd our Lord / And rose from deth to lyve.””
To the Rosicrucian alchemists, the Pelican retained these valences of meaning, but took on additional ones within the alchemical operations in pursuit of the Philosopher’s Stone. Here, it was seen as analogous to the vessel in which ‘circulatio’ or circular distillation was performed, as shown in this image:
As the image also points out, in Inner Alchemy, the pelican came to encapsulate the “circumambulation of a problem from different points of view and at different stages of life.” Fittingly, this is also what is involved in the intellectual manifestations of the Air element as pointed to by the Pelican in my vision.
The Pelican circumambulates in the sky, circles, and examines the scene from different angles, and then swoops in to catch its prey. In the same way, we use the Airy power of the intellect to examine, analyze, consider, survey, and envision the aspects of a problem before swooping in to deliver the solving power of a solution. In a sense, the right exercise of Reason, a power of Air, results in the “circular distillation” of a solution or a gem of insight, knowledge, or understanding from the confusing morass of an ambiguous situation or multidimensional problem.
The Olive Branch
The olive branch is also a symbol that is rich in meaning. In Greek Mythology, Athena planted an olive branch in Athens as a gift of sustenance and food to the Athenians. Olive wreaths were also worn by brides and awarded to victorious Olympians, in the Games. Thus, the symbol was connected to Athena and also to the notion of victory. In the Tree of Life, this links it in part to the Sephirah of Netzach on the Qabalistic Tree of Life, which means not only “eternity,” but also “victory.” To the Greeks, the Olympians were “victorious forever,” ever-hallowed for their victories, and crowned with the olive wreath as a celebration of their victory.
The Roman poet Virgil (70-19 BC) associated “the plump olive” with the goddess Pax (the Roman Eirene) and he used the olive branch as a symbol of peace in his Aeneid:
- “High on the stern Aeneas his stand,
- And held a branch of olive in his hand,
- While thus he spoke: “The Phrygians’ arms you see,
- Expelled from Troy, provoked in Italy
- By Latian foes, with war unjustly made;
- At first affianced, and at last betrayed.
- This message bear: The Trojans and their chief
- Bring holy peace, and beg the king’s relief.”
For the Romans, there was an intimate relationship between war and peace, and Mars/Ares, the god of war, had another aspect, Mars Pacifer, Mars the bringer of Peace, who, according to Ragnar Hedlund in “Coinage and authority in the Roman Empire c. C.E. 260- 295,” is shown on coins of the later Roman Empire bearing an olive branch. If Mars as bringing of War symbolizes the aggressive force of the Sephirah of Geburah on the Tree of Life, Mars Pacifer symbolizes the reverse of the same archetype, balancing it in the bringing of peace.
In addition, Appian describes the use of the olive-branch as a gesture of peace by the enemies of the Roman general Scipio Aemilianus in the Numantine War and by Hasdrubal the Boeotarch of Carthage. Although peace was associated with the olive branch during the time of the Greeks, the symbolism became even stronger under the Pax Romana when envoys used the olive branch as symbols of peace, the origin of our English expression “extend an olive branch” meaning to make a peace offering.
In the Christian tradition, Tertullian (c.160 – c.220) compared Noah’s dove in the Hebrew Bible, who “announced to the world the assuagement of divine wrath, when she had been sent out of the ark and returned with the olive branch” with the Holy Spirit in baptism “bringing us the peace of God, sent out from the heavens.” In his 4th century Latin translation of the story of Noah, St Jerome rendered “leaf of olive” (Hebrew alay zayit) in Genesis 8:11 as “branch of olive” (Latin ramum olivae).
In the 5th century, by which time a dove with an olive branch had become established as a Christian symbol of peace, St Augustine wrote in On Christian Doctrine that, “perpetual peace is indicated by the olive branch (oleae ramusculo) which the dove brought with it when it returned to the ark.” These Christian meanings were preserved in some of the Rosicrucian alchemical and spiritual emblems that were created in the 17th century.
All of these symbols are fascinating and interesting since just this morning, prior to doing the Traveling in the Spirit Vision session, I had been working on what I call my “Lesser Rose Cross Lamen,” a smaller, simpler alternative to the traditional Rose Cross Lamen of the R.R. et A.C., which I call the “Greater Rose Cross Lamen,” shown here:
I may reveal my “Lesser Rose Cross Lamen” in a future post. For now, let it suffice to say that given my recent work within the Rosicrucian current, it is interesting that these symbols with Rosicrucian import previously unknown to me, the Pelican and the Olive Branch, were both revealed in my visionary work for the day.
May we learn to extend olive branches in our interactions with one another to bring healing in the wings of peace, that we may crown ourselves with the olive wreath of victory, and soar with the Pelican through the Winds of reason which seeks solutions rather than dwelling on problems, the Sword (Zayin) of Air that cuts through confusion and shines Light where Clouds once swirled and all was draped in Darkness…