Descent and Sacrifice
There is always a choice of two paths, and it is a choice which must,
for the human being, be guided by free will.
Reprinted from The Beacon, September-October 1989
by Sarah McKechnie
The mystery of the descent or "fall" to Earth of the rebellious angels—the solar angels or agnishvattas—is said to be the mystery hinted at in the Scriptures, and "the secret of the ages" (Esoteric Psychology II, p. 93). Thus it is not surprising that there is so much confusion and misunderstanding concerning the "fallen angels" of which Lucifer is the best known representative.
The secret of the "fallen angels" is essentially the mystery which lies behind the very Plan of evolution, for the solar angels' willingness to "fall", to sacrifice themselves in order to bring the light of the principle of mind to what was then animal man, marked the coming into action of the great Law of Duality by which matter, form—negative and passive—could be quickened by spirit. This act of sacrifice at the dawn of human history is a thread woven throughout the great scriptures and mythologies of the world, including the myth of Prometheus who stole fire (mind) for man, and the biblical story of the Prodigal Son, who left the Father’s home to embark upon the path of experience in the life of form and the senses—the journey to "the far country".
The role of the solar angels and their sacrifice on behalf of humanity is discussed at length in The Secret Doctrine by H.P. Blavatsky. In fact, in 1887 the magazine of the Theosophical Society took "Lucifer" as its name in an effort to bring clarity to what it regarded as an unfairly maligned sacrificing angel.
The name "Lucifer" comes from the Latin words, Lux or Lucis (light) and ferre (to bring); thus Lucifer literally means "light-bearer". It is linked with the planet Venus in Revelations XXII: 16 when Christ says "I am the bright morning star", which is Venus, heralding the coming into full light of the Sun—the Son, the Christ. Interestingly the role of "light-bearer" is linked with Mercury, or Hermes—the divine messenger for the Gods in Greek and Roman mythology. In Christianity Mercury’s function is served by St. Michael, "the Angel Guardian" of Christ, according to St. Thomas. The esoteric interrelationship of this Angel Guardian and Christ is further illumined in the statement by the Tibetan teacher with whom Alice Bailey collaborated to write a series of books on the Ageless Wisdom, that "Mercury and the Sun are one".
Esoterically, the role of Guardian Angel was made possible by the sacrifice of the solar angels in their preservation of the principle of mind or, occultly, fire, through persistent repeated incarnations in form until animal man became thinking man and, finally, began to awaken to his true spiritual heritage: human/divine man. Thus the solar angel creates the form for the incarnating soul principle—the causal body—and it also withdraws that body at the fourth initiation, when the link between form and spirit has been permanently fused and the causal body is shattered.
The notion of the "rebellious angel" seems to trace back to the poet John Milton in Paradise Lost, which seemed to anchor in human consciousness the idea of the descent of the solar angels as an act of rebellion and therefore a fall from grace. ("To reign is worth ambition, though in Hell: Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven.") Yet this spirit of rebellion and ensuing pain is not found on Venus, we are told by the Tibetan. The rebellious spirit appears to rest squarely on Earth, for the Tibetan suggests that this spirit of rebellion qualified the attitude of our planetary Logos himself, the "Divine Rebel". The Tibetan quotes the Old Commentary:
He entered into life and knew it to be death.
He took a form and grieved to find it dark.
He drove Himself forth from the secret place and sought the place of light, and light revealed all that he sought the least.
He craved permission to return.
He sought the Throne on high and Him who sat thereon.
He said "I sought not this. I looked for peace, for light, for scope to serve, to prove my love and to reveal my power. Light there is none. Peace is not found. Let me return.
But He who sat upon the Throne turned not his head. He seemed not even to listen nor to hear. But from the lower sphere of darkness and of pain a voice came forth and cried: "We suffer here. We seek the light. We need the glory of an entering God. [I can find no other words except these last two to express the ancient symbol from which I am translating.] Lift us to Heaven. Enter, 0 Lord, the tomb. Raise us into the light and make the sacrifice. Break down for us the prison wall and enter into pain.
The lord of Life returned. He liked it not, and hence the pain.
(Esoteric Psychology II, p. 98)
Evil of Separatism
Yet sin and evil do exist on Earth. We are told by the Tibetan that the only true evil is the sin of separatism. And in this sense we gain some understanding of how Lucifer became identified with evil, for the awakening mind which characterises the stage of advanced humanity today is, as we know all too well, our means both of liberation and of further separation and imprisonment. The mind, functioning and powerful but devoid of soul, can be the great crystallising factor which builds powerful barriers of separation. "The mind is the slayer of the Real. Slay thou the slayer", the disciple is commanded. In this sense the mind in its concrete and analytical element becomes the refuge (and the unrecognised prison) of the ideologue, and is indeed capable of the sin of separatism through prejudice and hate and the wiilingness to accept the distortions of half-truths.
Further clarification of the role of the solar angels is found in a consideration of the fourth Ray of Harmony through Conflict and the fifth Ray of Knowledge, and the planets Mercury and Venus, through which they respectively channel their energies. For Mercury is the "Messenger of the Gods" and the fourth ray is the fluid principle which links the Plan and Purpose of divinity, known on the level of buddhi or intuition, which is ruled by Mercury, with the mind or manas, ruled by Venus and the fifth ray. "Venus was the custodian of what we call the principle of Mind and brought it as a pure gift to embryonic humanity", we are told in The Rays and the Initiations. Or as the Buddha said, "Love is the deliverance of mind". And the fifth ray, channelled by Venus and mental in expression, "operates in connection with the Law of Cleavages", and "is also responsible for the rapid formation of great conditioning ideologies" (Ibid., p. 602). In this we are reminded that the solar angels who chose to descend to Earth submitted to the Law of Duality so that the evolution of the human being could be dependent upon the development of mental discrimination and free will, and thus upon the capacity to make choices and to choose the higher way. There is always a choice of two paths, and it is a choice which must, for the human being, be guided by free will.
The substance of the mental plane is fifth ray, channelled through Venus, and because the angel kingdom works with substance—with the form aspect—so the solar angels brought the substance of mentality to man by establishing the link of the causal body of the soul on the mental plane—a link preserved until the fourth initiation which shatters the no longer needed form of the causal body. Some idea of the magnitude of this act of the solar angels is suggested in the realisation that the fifth Ray of Knowledge "is the energy which admits humanity (and particularly the trained disciple or initiate) into the mysteries of the Mind of God Himself. It is the 'Substantial' key to the Universal Mind" (Ibid., p. 591).
Further, the link of the fifth Ray of Knowledge and the second Ray of Love-Wisdom is said to be exceedingly close, because the second ray rules this present solar system, and in the sacrifice of the "Light Bearing" solar angels on behalf of animal man, the second ray aspect of wisdom was awakened, for "wisdom is knowledge gained by experience [the journey of the Prodigal Son] and implemented by love". Thus the descent of the solar angels into substance brought the legacy of experience to the unfoldment of the divine Plan.
So, returning to the story of the Prodigal Son, to understand the deeper implications of the Prodigal Son’s experience, it is important to note that, upon his return to the Father’s home, the Father joyously rushed out to embrace him, leaving the elder son who had remained at home feeling jealous and unappreciated. That such a journey to "a far country" is part of God"s Plan seems to be verified by the following passage from the Tibetan:
This urge to sacrifice, to relinquish this for that, to choose one way or line of conduct and thus sacrifice another way, to lose in order eventually to gain—such is the underlying story of evolution. This needs psychological understanding. It is a governing principle of life itself, and runs like a golden pattern of beauty through the dark materials of which human history is constructed. When this urge to sacrifice in order to win, gain or salvage that which is deemed desirable is understood, then the whole clue to man’s unfoldment will stand revealed. This tendency or urge is something different to desire, as desire is academically understood and studied today. What it really connotes is the emergence of that which is most divine in man. It is an aspect of desire, but it is the dynamic, active side and not the feeling, sensuous side. It is the predominant characteristic of Deity.
(Esoteric Psychology II, p. 97)
Through the energy of the fifth ray, which is "essentially a light-bearer", the evolution of humanity is hastened, bringing about the descent of the Kingdom of God to Earth as a result of the ascent of so many taking initiation in this age. The fact that The Secret Doctrine equates Venus with Gaia (Earth), and the awakening consciousness of the Gaia theory recognises that Earth is a living and unified organism, suggests that humanity may now be beginning to awaken and cooperate somewhat with the reason for which the angels descended into matter: for the salvaging of substance and the awakening of mind in form so that the Purpose of Deity could be registered and expressed in substance. The solar angels "fell" as an act of choice and of supreme sacrifice on behalf of humanity. Those "Lords of Knowledge and Compassion and of ceaseless persevering Devotion" are ourselves, and we in turn must consciously choose to take control of our incarnation in form, seeking Purpose and thereby rendering life on Earth a gift of sacrifice to the lesser lives dependent on our care.
Christ said, "I am the bright morning star". His promise, and the legacy of the presence on Earth of all such "light bearers", may best be summarised in the following words: H. P. Blavatsky wrote that "in all the ancient cosmogonies light comes from darkness". And Alice Bailey expressed a similar recognition in the following words: "The Master M. . . adds darkness unto light so that the stars appear, for in the light the stars shine not, but in the darkness light diffused is not, but only focussed points of radiance." (The Rays and the Initiations, p. 170)