26. The Temple of Jupiter

Near the source of the Ebro rises Mount Kaoukaion. Thick oak forests mantle its sides and a circle of rocks and Cyclopean stones crown its summit. For thousands of years this has been a sacred mountain. Pelasgians, Celts, Scythians and Getes had driven one another out and in turn came here to worship their various gods. But is it not always the same God that man seeks when he climbs so high? If not, why does he so painstakingly build a home in this region of thunder and winds?

A temple of Jupiter now rises in the center of the holy site, massive and unapproachable like a fortress. At the entrance stands a peristyle of four Dorian columns, its enormous shafts outlined against a dark portico.

At the zenith the sky is calm, but the storm still howls over the mountains of Thrace, which extend their valleys and peaks in the distance, -- a black ocean churned up by the tempest and streaked with lightning.

It is the hour of sacrifice. The priests of Kaoukaion perform this ritual by fire only. They descend the steps of the temple and light the aromatic wood offering with a torch from the sanctuary. Then the pontiff leaves the temple. Clothed in white linen like the others, he wears a crown of myrtle and cypress. He carries an ebony scepter with an ivory head, and wears a golden belt upon which crystals flash their dark lights, symbols of a mysterious royalty. This is Orpheus.

He leads a disciple, a child of Delphi, by the hand. Pale, trembling and enraptured, the pupil awaits the words of the Great Inspired One, echoing the Mysteries. Orpheus sees this, and to reassure the neophyte, chosen by his warm heart, he gently puts his arm around his shoulders. His eyes smile, but suddenly they are aflame. And while down below the priests move around the altar and sing the hymn of fire, Orpheus solemnly tells the beloved the mystic words of initiation, which rise from the depths of his heart like a divine fluid.

These are the winged words of Orpheus to the young disciple:

"Withdraw deep within yourself in order to lift yourself to the Principle of things, to the Great Triad which flames in the immaculate ether. Consume your body with the fire of your thought; detach yourself from matter like the flame from the wood which it devours. Then your spirit will ascend into the pure ether of Eternal Causes as the eagle rises to Jupiter's throne.

"I shall reveal to you the secret of the worlds, the soul of nature, the essence of God. Hear first the great mystery: A single Being rules in the deep sky and in the abyss of earth, the thundering Zeus, the ethereal Zeus. His are profound counsel, powerful hate and delightful love. He rules in the depths of earth and in the heights of the starry sky. He is the Breath of things, the untamed fire, eternal Male and Female, a King, a Power, a god, a Grand Master!

"Jupiter is divine Husband and Wife, Man and Woman, Father and Mother. From their sacred marriage, from their everlasting union, unceasingly come fire and water, earth and ether, night and day, the proud Titans, the changeless gods and the floating seed of men.

"The loves of heaven and earth are not known to the uninitiated. The mysteries of husband and wife are unveiled only to divine men. But I wish to state what is true. A little while ago the thunder shook these rocks; lightning fell like living fire and a rolling flame, and the echoes of the mountains roared with joy. But you, you were trembling, not knowing whence this fire comes nor where it strikes. It is the male fire, the seed of Zeus, the creative fire. It comes from the heart and brain of Jupiter; it moves in all beings. When lightning falls, it bursts from his right hand. But we, its priests, know its essence; we avoid and sometimes direct its shafts.

"And now, look at the firmament. See that shining circle of constellations over which the filmy veil of the Milky Way, the dust of suns and worlds, is thrown! Behold Orion flaming, Gemini scintillating, the Lyre shining! That is the body of the divine wife, who is revolving in celestial harmony to the songs of the husband. Look with the eyes of the spirit, and you will see her head inclined, her arms extended, and you will lift her veil, strewn with stars!

"Jupiter is both the divine husband and wife. That is the first Mystery.

"But now, child of Delphi, prepare yourself for the second initiation. Tremble, weep, rejoice, worship! For your spirit is about to plunge into the burning zone, where the great Demiurge unites soul and world in the cup of life. Upon drinking from this intoxicating chalice, all beings forget the divine sojourn and descend into the painful abyss of incarnation.

"Zeus is the great Demiurge. Dionysus is his son, his Word made manifest. Dionysus, radiant spirit, living intelligence, was the splendor of his father's habitation, the eternal palace of ether. One day as he viewed the depths of the heavens through the constellations, he saw reflected in the azure abyss his own image, extending its arms to him. Fascinated by this beautiful phantom, enamored with his double, he hastened to grasp it. But the image constantly fled before him. Finally he found himself in a shadowy, perfumed valley, enjoying the delightful breezes which caressed his body. In a grotto he saw Persephone. Maia, the beautiful weaver, was weaving a veil, upon which one could see pictures of all beings moving to and fro. He stopped before the divine virgin, dumb with rapture. At that moment, the haughty Titans and the free Titanides saw him. The former were jealous of his beauty, and the latter, mad with passion, threw themselves upon him like the furious elements, and tore him to pieces. Then, distributing his limbs among themselves, they boiled them in water. His heart they buried. Jupiter struck the Titans with thunderbolts, and Minerva carried the heart of Dionysus away with her into the ether. There it became a glowing sun. But from the smoke of Dionysus' body came souls of men, ascending toward heaven. Once the pale spirits have rejoined the flaming heart of the god, they will flame like torches, and Dionysus will be revived, more alive than ever, in the heights of the empyrean.

"This is the Mystery of the death of Dionysus. Now listen to the Mystery of his resurrection. Men are the flesh and blood of Dionysus; unhappy men are the scattered members, which seek one another by becoming snared in crime and hate, in pain and love, through thousands of lives. The burning heat of the earth, the abyss of the lower powers, forever attract them nearer to this gulf, always tearing them asunder. But we, the initiates, who know what is above and what is below, are the saviors of souls, the Hermes of men. Like magnets we attract them to us, ourselves in turn attracted to the gods. Thus, by means of heavenly incantations we reestablish the living body of the Divinity. We make the heavens weep and the earth rejoice, and like precious jewels we bear in our hearts the tears of all beings, in order to change them into smiles. God dies in us, and in us he is reborn."

Thus Orpheus spoke. The disciple of Delphi knelt before his master, his arms raised in a gesture of supplication. And the pontiff of Jupiter raised his hand above his head, as he spoke these words of consecration:

"May Ineffable Zeus and Dionysus, three times revelator, -- in hell, on earth and in heaven-be kind to your youth, and may he pour into your heart the knowledge of the gods."

Then the initiate left the peristyle of the temple and went to throw storax on the fire of the altar, calling three times upon thunderous Zeus. The priests moved in a circle around him, singing a hymn. Deep in thought, the pontiff-king had remained beneath the portico, his arm resting upon a stele. The disciple returned to him.

"The way leading upward to the gods is rough," said Orpheus, who seemed to answer inner voices rather than his disciple. "A flower-strewn path, next a steep incline, and finally rocks, illumined by lightning flashes, with infinity everywhere. This is the destiny of the seer and prophet on earth! My child, continue on the flower-strewn paths of the plain, and do not seek to go beyond them!"

"My thirst increases as you quench it," said the young initiate. "You have taught me about the essence of the gods. But tell me, great master of the Mysteries, the one inspired by divine Eros, shall I ever be able to see them?"

"With the eyes of the spirit," said the pontiff of Jupiter, "but not with those of the body. As yet you know how to see only with the latter. You must undergo long tests or great suffering in order to open the inner eyes."

"You alone know how to open them, Orpheus! With you, what can I fear?"

"Do you wish to attempt it? Listen then! -- In Thessaly, in the enchanted valley of Tempe rises a mystic temple, closed to the uninitiated. It is there that Dionysus shows himself to the mystics and seers. In one year from now I shall invite you to his festival. Plunging you into a magic sleep, I shall open your eyes to the divine world. Until then, let your life be virtuous, your soul spotless. For truly the light of the gods frightens the weak and destroys the profaners!

"But come into my house. I shall give you the book you will need for your preparation."

The master and the Delphic disciple returned to the interior of the temple. Orpheus led the pupil into the great cella which was set aside for him. There an ever-burning Egyptian lamp, held by a winged genius fashioned of forged metal, glowed. Locked in coffers of scented cedar were many papyrus scrolls, inscribed in Egyptian hieroglyphs and Phoenician characters, as well as books written in the Greek language by Orpheus himself. These contained his magic wisdom and his secret doctrine.50

Master and disciple conversed in the cella for the greater part of the night.


Notes for this chapter:

50. Among the numerous lost books which the Orphic writers of Greece attributed to Orpheus was the Argonautics which was concerned with the great Hermetic work; Demetriad, a poem on the mother of the gods, to which a Cosmogony corresponded; the Holy Songs of Bacchus or The pure Spirit, which has as its complement a Theogony, not to mention other works such as The Veil or The Network of Souls, on the art of the Mysteries and rituals; The Book of Mutations, on chemistry and alchemy; The Corybantes, on terrestrial mysteries and earthquakes; the Anemoscopy, on the science of atmospheres, a natural and magical botany, etc....


27. A Dionysan Festival

The Great Initiates