This post continues the process of explaining what takes place during the First Initiation (enlightenment experience or expansion of consciousness) as described by Alice Bailey.  Part Two talks about the basic symbolism that is connected with the First Initiation (looking at symbols from different religious traditions). Then it takes us through first of three stages connected to the First Initiation: the Preparation phase. 

First Initiation


            To begin with let’s recall that the Path of Probation is also known as the Path of Purification. In previous chapters of this book Becoming Soul, and I have done my best to  organize the Bailey material so it is easier to see what is involved on that path in regards to purifying the mind, emotions and physical body so that they can be “prepared” to be a fit instrument for the Soul. As we reach the Chela in the Light stage a certain level of purification needs to have taken place for the First Initiation to take place.


FetusThis purification process typically takes place during a period of gestation, which is usually symbolized as taking up to nine months. Bailey says that the “the Probationary Path corresponds to the latter period of gestation, to the building in the heart of the babe in Christ” Initiation: Human & Solar, p. 63. Once a sufficient amount of purification has taken place, the “womb” becomes pure or “virginal” allowing for a “virgin” or “pure birth” to occur. That is when the First Initiation takes places. Bailey says, “At the first initiation this babe starts on the pilgrimage of the Path. The first initiation stands simply for commencement. A certain structure of right living, thinking, and conduct has been built up. That form we call character.  It has now to be vivified and indwelt. Thackeray has well described this process of building, in the words so often quoted:— ‘Sow a thought and reap an action; sow an action and reap a habit; sow a habit and reap character; sow character and reap destiny.’ The immortal destiny of each and all of us is to attain the consciousness of the higher self, and subsequently that of the Divine Spirit.  When the form is ready, when Solomon’s temple has been built in the quarry of the personal life, then the Christ-life enters, and the glory of the Lord overshadows His temple. The form becomes vibrant.  Therein lies the difference between theory and making that theory part of oneself.  One can have a perfect image or picture, but it lacks life.  The life can be modeled on the divine as far as may be; it may be an excellent copy but lacks the indwelling Christ principle. The germ has been there, but it has lain dormant.  Now it is fostered and brought to the birth and the first initiation is attained.” Initiation: Human & Solar, p. 63—64.

Getting the form (or womb) ready through various processes of purification, making sure Solomon’s temple (the foundation stones of having an Integrated Personality in place) is essential here. Without these things in place a number of things can go wrong. The birth may be premature. Not enough purification may have taken place to allow for an easier birth. The foundation stones of the temple may not all be in place so that the person goes through the First Initiation process without the resources, understanding or support to make the birth easier than it might be otherwise. The Christ-life (Soul consciousness) may still enter in, but as we shall see the process of Assimilation (the third phase of the First Initiation) may take a lot longer because too much mental confusion, emotional upheaval, and physical instability may be going on. If too much of this exists the First Initiation, or “birth,” may even be aborted. The person may even have to backtrack from the Chela in the Light phase back into the Probationary Discipleship phase to do more preparation, or purificatory work (ideally by following more carefully the various rules that Bailey suggests to help one prepare so that the First Initiation process is likely to go more smoothly).


Hercules and the Hydra
Hercules and the Hydra

These nine months could be related to the nine heads of the Hydra that Hercules of Greek mythology has to slay. Bailey has this to say about the Nine Heads of the Hydra. “The task assigned to Hercules had nine facets. Each head of the hydra represents one of the problems beset the courageous person who seeks to achieve mastery of himself. Three of these heads symbolize the appetites associated with sex, comfort and money. The second triune group concerns the passions of fear, hatred and desire for power. The last three heads represent the vices of the unillumined mind: pride, separativeness and cruelty” Labours of Hercules, p. 144.

As we look at these nine heads of the Hydra we see how they mirror the problems of those within Group 6 in association with the Integrated Personality at its height of power and influence and why this stage is such a dangerous one to go through. We also see how on the Probationary Path, the Probationer, like Hercules, is attempting to come to grips with these negative tendencies within oneself, not by trying to suppress or cut it off (when Hercules cuts off one head, three more are said to grow back in its place). Rather the heads are destroyed by lifting them up into the light of the Soul, which comes about by understanding and purifying these drives in such a way they serve us and do not take us over in a negative way.

Again we have 9 months of gestation where the nine heads of the Hydra (Integrated Personality tendencies) have been sufficiently incubated in a more purified or “virginal” womb, so that the negative tendencies of these nine heads are now put into the light, or illuminated enough, that the Chela in the Light can now be trusted to live the spiritual life not as an idea, an aspiration, a theory, or an occasional attempt, but as an increasingly disciplined way of living one’s life. The Probationary Disciple has become the Accepting Disciple, willingly and consciously embracing the values and consciousness of the Soul causing that Soul to shine forth or be born. And, to honor this three kings show up representing the mental, emotional, and physical bodies. Each king brings the Chela in the Light (Accepting Disciple) a gift. What are these gifts? Gold, frankincense and myrrh.


Gold Frankincense Myrrh
Gold, Frankincense, Myrrh

Gold represents the material and physical world and the desire for wealth and money. Gold is used as a valuable symbol for wealth because it simulates the light of the sun. It’s golden color is due to it having the correct energy difference between its 5d and 6s electron subshells that help it absorb photos of blue light. By the time one reaches the stage of Chela in the Light one has to have demonstrated that the temptation to use one’s wealth and money (or “bread” as Jesus also represents this) for selfish purposes no longer exists. Rather, all that one gains in the way of wealth, money, “bread” will be used responsibly to further bring Soul values into the world for the good of all, not just oneself. And, when we say that it will be used responsibly we are not saying that it is alright to avoid all responsibility in regards to money and wealth. We saw how in the Probationary Discipleship phase the desire to escape having to earn a living or deal with money exists. We also saw how Probationary Disciples tend to justify their lack of money and financial support as due to the failure of others to see their “high spiritual status” and giving them money for free because of it. The inability to attract and use money and wealth well so that one can lead a stable life and do their soul service in the world, or to become corrupt with money and have a spiritual fall from grace are both signs that one is a Probationary Disciple (or a Little Chela) and not a Chela in the Light. They do not yet merit the “gift of gold” from the “three kings” who bring this gift (enough financial stability to do one’s service work) because one has demonstrated they can handle it, not because one can avoid it or be corrupted by it.

As for frankincense, Bailey says that it, “symbolises the emotional nature, with its aspirations, wishes and longing, and this aspiration must rise as incense to the feet of God. Incense is also a symbol of purification, of that burning which removes all dross and leaves only the essence for the blessing of God” From Bethlehem to Calvary, p. 74. What is interesting about the Frankincense is that modern day chemists know that one of its chemical compounds (incensole acetate) helps alleviate both anxiety and depression. The highs and lows that the typical Little Chela (as an Aspirant and Probationary Disciple) go through have had to become much more relatively stable by the time the Chela in the Light stage is reached. That does not mean that one has no emotions or is still not subject to anxiety and depression. They are just managed in a much better way so these (and other emotional states like anger) no longer are as likely to get in the way of the Soul service of the soon to be Accepted Disciple to come.

Gold Frankincense Myrrh Chemical Compounds               As for Myrrh? Bailey says, “Myrrh or bitterness relates to the mind. It is through the mind that we suffer as human beings, and the further the race progresses and the more the mind develops, the greater seems the capacity for suffering. But when suffering is seen in its true light and dedicated to divinity, it can be used as an instrument whereby we approach nearer to God. Then we can offer to God that rare and wonderful gift of a mind made wise through pain, and a heart made kind through distress and through difficulty surmounted” From Bethlehem to Calvary, p. 73. Looking at the chemical compounds in myrrh is it interesting to see that modern day science indicates that it tends to have an analgesic effect. An analgesic is a painkiller (like Bayer, Motrin, Tylenol) that helps one to achieve analgesia or relief from pain. Analgesic drugs act in various ways on the peripheral and central nervous systems. When one is engaged in pranayama (or breathing exercises) they are attempting to calm the mind  by bringing the “prana” and breath into the “shushumna” or central channel that corresponds with the central nervous system. We see therefore the direct connection of myrrh as  something that helps to alleviate suffering and balance out one’s mental state more. Interestingly enough as we shall soon see when we discuss the Expansion stage of the First Initiation, the presence of these three actual substances can literally help one go through the First Initiation since they will have “gold” or money to provide a stable physical environment to help them get through the birth process, “frankincense” or ways to help stay more emotionally stable when experiencing some of the highs and lows that might go along with the birth process, and “myrrh” or ways to alleviate the mental pain of chaos that can produce undue suffering in regards to encountering the various insights that the First Initiation reveals.

Though Bailey is using Christian symbolism here, but we don’t really need to get stuck to Christian metaphors. You can derive a similar understanding of this process from other world religions, or even from no religious metaphors used at all. Simply said, what we are seeing is that when the motivation to do good is strong enough, and the character of any individual is steady enough to finally have their physical, emotional, and mental inclinations come from a place of unselfishness versus selfishness, then the preparation stage of the First Initiation turns into the expansion stage where some sort of inner realization is happening. What does that inner realization look like?  Let’s take a look.

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