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From Bethlehem to Calvary - Chapter Five - The Fourth Initiation - The Crucifixion
Christianity is the restatement of a very old doctrine. It is not new. It is so essential to the salvation and to the happiness of the world that God has always proclaimed it. [180] The Gospel narratives are dependable and true, just because they are integrated with the spiritual revelation of the past, and are being reinterpreted today in terms of Christ. Therefore, mankind being more evolved and intelligent, that reinterpretation will more readily and adequately meet humanity's need. But it is no new thing, and Christ never proclaimed Himself in such terms. He foretold a new age and a coming kingdom of God. Out of the wide sweep of time and out of the aeonian grasp of God's consciousness, mankind is only today beginning to see a world and a humanity ready for the new revelation - a revelation which will be based upon truly Christian ethics and vital Christian truths. That for which Christ stood, the truth which He embodies, is so old that there has never been a time when it was not present as a need in the human consciousness, and yet it is so new that there will never be a time when the story of the birth and the death of the world Savior will not be of the utmost moment to man. Edward Carpenter points this out, throwing light upon this ceaseless and age-old focusing of the love of God and the desire of man in the person of a son of God. He says:

"If the historicity of Jesus, in any degree, could be proved, it would give us reason for supposing - what I have personally always been inclined to believe - that there was also a historical nucleus for such personages as Osiris, Mithra, Krishna, Hercules, Apollo and the rest. The question, in fact, narrows itself down to this, Have there been in the course of human evolution certain, so to speak, nodal points or periods at which the psychology currents ran together and condensed themselves for a new start, and has each such node or point of condensation been marked by the appearance of an actual and heroic man (or woman) who supplied a necessary impetus for the new departure, and gave his name to the resulting movement? or is it sufficient to suppose the automatic formation of such nodes or starting-points without the intervention of any special hero or genius, and to imagine that in each case the myth-making tendency of mankind created a legendary and inspiring figure and worshiped the same for a long period afterwards as a god? [181]

"As I have said before, this is a question which, interesting as it is, is not really very important. The main thing being that the prophetic and creative spirit of mankind has from time to time evolved those figures as idealizations of its "heart's desire" and placed a halo round their heads. The long procession of them becomes a real piece of history - the history of the evolution of the human heart, and of human consciousness."
- Pagan and Christian Creeds, by Edward Carpenter, pp. 217, 218.

The Crucifixion and the Cross of Christ are as old as humanity itself. Both are symbols of the eternal sacrifice of God as He immerses Himself in the form aspect of nature and thus becomes God immanent as well as God transcendent.

We have seen that Christ must be recognized, first of all, in the cosmic sense. The cosmic Christ has existed from all eternity. This cosmic Christ is divinity, or spirit, crucified in space. He personifies the immolation or sacrifice of spirit upon the cross of matter, of form or substance, in order that all divine forms, including the human, may live. This has ever been recognized by the so-called pagan faiths. If the symbolism of the cross is traced far back, it will be found that it antedates Christianity by thousands of years, and that finally, the four arms of the cross will be seen to drop away, leaving only the picture of the living Heavenly Man, with His arms outspread in space. North, south, east and west stands the cosmic Christ upon what is called "the fixed cross of the heavens." Upon this cross God is eternally crucified.

"The sky is mystically spoken of as the Temple and the eternal consciousness of God. Its altar is the sun, whose four arms or rays typify the four corners or the cardinal cross of the universe, which have become the four fixed signs of the Zodiac, and as the four powerful sacred animal signs, are both cosmical and spiritual... These four are known as the consecrated animals of the Zodiac, while the signs themselves represent the basic fundamental elements of life, Fire, Earth, Air and Water."
- The Celestial Ship of the North, by E. V. Straiton, Vol. 1, p. 104. [182]

These four signs are Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius, and they constitute pre-eminently the cross of the soul, the cross upon which the second Person of the divine Trinity is crucified. Christ personified in His mission these four aspects, and as the cosmic Christ He exemplified in His Person the qualities for which each sign stood. Even primitive man, unevolved and ignorant, was aware of the significance of the cosmic spirit, immolated in matter and crucified upon the four-armed cross. These four signs are to be found unequivocally in the Bible, and are regarded in our Christian belief as the four sacred animals. The Prophet Ezekiel refers to them in the words:

"As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side; and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle." (Ezekiel, I, 10.)

And again in the Book of Revelations, we find the same astrological symbology:

"And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes, before and behind.

"And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast was like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle."

(Rev. IV, 6.7.)

The "face of the man" is the ancient sign of Aquarius, the sign of the man carrying the water-pot, to which Christ referred when He sent His disciples into the city, saying: "Behold, when ye are entered into the city, there shall a man meet you bearing a pitcher of water; follow him into the house where he entereth in." (St. Luke, XXII, 10.) This is the zodiacal sign into which we are entering. It might be as well to point out that this is astronomically true and not simply a pronouncement [183] of the astrologers. The symbol which stands for the zodiacal sign Leo, is the Lion. This sign is the symbol of individuality, and under its influence the race arrives at self-consciousness and men can function as individuals. Christ, in His teaching, emphasized the significance of the individual and in His life demonstrated the supreme value of the individual, his perfecting, his service and his ultimate sacrifice in the interests of the whole. The constellation Aquila is always regarded as interchangeable with the sign Scorpio, the serpent, and it is therefore frequently used in this connection when considering the fixed cross of the cosmic Savior. Scorpio is the serpent of illusion from which the Christ nature finally frees us, and it is to the illusory wiles of this serpent Scorpio that Adam succumbed in the garden of Eden. The "face of the ox" is the biblical symbol for the sign Taurus, the Bull, which was the religion immediately antedating the Jewish revelation, and which found its exponents in Egypt and in the Mithraic Mysteries. Upon this fixed cross all the world Saviors, not excepting the Christ of the West, have been eternally crucified, as reminders to man of the divine intent based upon the divine sacrifice.

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