Exact science — could the latter soar so high, while tracing the operations of nature to their ultimate and original sources — would call this idea the hierarchy of Forces. The original, transcendental and philosophical conception was one. But as systems began to reflect with every age more and more the idiosyncrasies of nations; and as the latter, after separating, settled into distinct groups, each evolving along its own national or tribal groove, the main idea gradually became veiled with the overgrowth of human fancy.
While in some countries the Forces, or rather the intelligent Powers of nature, received divine honours they were hardly entitled to, in others — as now in Europe and the civilized lands — the very thought of any such Force being endowed with intelligence seems absurd, and is proclaimed unscientific. Therefore one finds relief in such statements as are found in the Introduction to ‘Asgard and the Gods: Tales and Traditions of our Northern Ancestors,’ by W. S. W. Anson. The author remarks, on p. 3 : “Although in Central Asia, or on the banks of the Indus, in the land of the Pyramids, and in the Greek and Italian peninsulas, and even in the North, whither Kelts, Teutons and Slavs wandered, the religious conceptions of the people have taken different forms, yet their common origin is still perceptible. We point out this connection between the stories of the gods, and the deep thought contained in them, and their importance, in order that the reader may see that it is not a magic world of erratic fancy which opens out before him, but that […] Life and nature formed the basis of the existence and action of these divinities.” And though it is impossible for any Occultist or student of Eastern Esotericism to concur in the strange idea that “the religious conceptions of the most famous nations of antiquity are connected with the beginnings of civilization amongst the Germanic races,” he is yet glad to find such truths expressed as that : “These fairy tales are not senseless stories written for the amusement of the idle; they embody the profound religion of our forefathers […]”
Precisely so. Not only their religion, but likewise their History. For a myth, in Greek μῦθος, means oral tradition, passed from mouth to mouth from one generation to the other; and even in the modern etymology the term stands for a fabulous statement conveying some important truth; a tale of some extraordinary personage whose biography has become overgrown, owing to the veneration of successive generations, with rich popular fancy, but which is no wholesale fable. Like our ancestors, the primitive Aryans, we believe firmly in the personality and intelligence of more than one phenomenon-producing Force in nature.
As time rolled on, the archaic teaching grew dimmer; and those nations more or less lost sight of the highest and One principle of all things, and began to transfer the abstract attributes of the “causeless cause” to the caused effects — become in their turn causative — the creative Powers of the Universe: the great nations, out of the fear of profaning the idea, the smaller, because they either failed to grasp it or lacked the power of philosophic conception needed to preserve it in all its immaculate purity. But one and all, with the exception of the latest Aryans, now become Europeans and Christians, show this veneration in their Cosmogonies.
As Thomas Taylor, the most intuitional of all the translators of Greek Fragments, shows, no nation has ever conceived the One principle as the immediate creator of the visible Universe, for no sane man would credit a planner and architect with having built the edifice he admires with his own hands. On the testimony of Damascius ( Περὶ ᾽αρχῶν ) they referred to it as “the Unknown Darkness.” The Babylonians passed over this principle in silence: “To that god,” says Porphyry, in Περὶ ἀποχῆς ἐμψυχῶν, “who is above all things, neither external speech ought to be addressed, nor yet that which is inward […].” Hesiod begins his theogony with: “Chaos of all things was the first produced,” thus allowing the inference that its cause or producer must be passed over in reverential silence. Homer in his poems ascends no higher than Night, whom he represents Zeus as reverencing. According to all the ancient theologists, and to the doctrines of Pythagoras and Plato, Zeus, or the immediate artificer of the universe, is not the highest god; any more than Sir Christopher Wren in his physical, human aspect is the Mind in him which produced his great works of art. Homer, therefore, is not only silent with respect to the first principle, but likewise with respect to those two principles immediately posterior to the first, the Æther and Chaos of Orpheus and Hesiod, and the bound and infinity of Pythagoras and Plato. […] Proclus says of this highest principle that it is […]. “the Unity of Unities, and beyond the first adyte […] more ineffable than all silence, and more occult than all Essence […] concealed amidst the intelligible gods.” (Ibid.)
To what was written by Thomas Taylor in 1797 — namely, that the “Jews appear to have ascended no higher […] than the immediate artificer of the universe;” as “Moses introduces a darkness on the face of the deep, without even insinuating that there was any cause of its existence,” one might add something more. Never have the Jews in their Bible (a purely esoteric, symbolical work) degraded so profoundly their metaphorical deity as have the Christians, by accepting Jehovah as their one living yet personal God.
This first, or rather one, the principle was called “the circle of Heaven,” symbolized by the hierogram of a point within a circle or equilateral triangle, the point being the Logos. Thus, in the Rig Veda, wherein Brahmâ is not even named, Cosmogony is preluded with the Hiranyagharba, “the Golden Egg,” and Prajâpati (Brahmâ later on), from whom emanate all the hierarchies of “Creators.” The Monad, or point, is the original and is the unit from which follows the entire numeral system. This Point is the First Cause, but that from which it emanates, or of which, rather, it is the expression, the Logos, is passed over in silence. In its turn, the universal symbol, the point within the circle, was not yet the Architect, but the cause of that Architect; and the latter stood to it in precisely the same relation as the point itself stood to the circumference of the Circle, which cannot be defined, according to Hermes Trismegistus. Porphyry shows that the Monad and the Duad of Pythagoras are identical with Plato’s infinite and finite in “Philebus” — or what Plato calls the ἄπειρον and πέρας. It is the latter only (the mother) which is substantial, the former being the “cause of all unity and measure of all things” (Vit. Pyth. p. 47) ; the Duad (Mulaprakriti, the Veil) being thus shown to be the mother of the Logos and, at the same time, his daughter — i.e., the object of his perception — the produced producer and the secondary cause of it. With Pythagoras, the Monad returns into silence and Darkness as soon as it has evolved the triad, from which emanate the remaining seven numbers of the 10 (ten) numbers which are at the base of the manifested universe.
In the Norse cosmogony it is again the same. “In the beginning was a great abyss (Chaos), neither day nor night existed; the abyss was Ginnungagap, the yawning gulf, without beginning, without end. All-Father, the Uncreated, the Unseen, dwelt in the depth of the ‘Abyss’ ( Space) and willed, and what was willed came into being.” (See ‘Asgard and the Gods.’) As in the Hindu cosmogony, the evolution of the universe is divided into two acts: called in India the Prakriti and Padma Creations.
Before the warm rays pouring from the “Home of Brightness” awake life in the Great Waters of Space, the Elements of the first creation come into view, and from them is formed the Giant Ymir (also Orgelmir) — primordial matter differentiated from Chaos (literally seething clay). Then comes the cow Audumla, the nourisher, from whom is born Buri (the Producer) who, by Bestla, the daughter of the “Frost-Giants” (the sons of Ymir) had three sons, Odin, Willi and We, or “Spirit,” “Will,” and “Holiness.” This was when Darkness still reigned throughout Space, when the Ases, the creative Powers (Dhyan Chohans) were not yet evolved, and the Yggdrasil, the tree of the universe of Time and of Life, had not yet grown, and there was, as yet, no Walhalla, or Hall of Heroes.
The Scandinavian legends of creation, of our earth and world, begin with time and human life. All that precedes it is for them “Darkness,” wherein All-Father, the cause of all, dwells. As observed by the editor of “Asgard and the Gods,” though these legends have in them the idea of that All-Father, the original cause of all, “he is scarcely more than mentioned in the poems,” not because, as he thinks, before the preaching of the gospel, the idea “could not rise to distinct conceptions of the Eternal,” but on account of its great esoteric character. Therefore, all the creative gods, or personal Deities, begin at the secondary stage of Cosmic evolution. Zeus is born in, and out of Kronos — Time. So is Brahmâ the production and emanation of Kala, “eternity and time,” Kala being one of the names of Vishnu. Hence we find Odin, the father of the gods and of the Ases, as Brahmâ is the father of the gods and of the Asuras, and hence also the androgyne character of all the chief creative gods, from the second Monad of the Greeks down to the Sephiroth Adam Kadmon, the Brahmâ or Prajâpati-Vâch of the Vedas, and the androgyne of Plato, which is but another version of the Indian symbol.