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If we pass from India to Egypt, the land of mystery, we again find the
world-wide doctrine of palingenesis hidden beneath the same veil.

According to Egyptian teaching, the theory of the "fall of the angels"
was accepted; the fallen angels were human souls[99] who had to become
reincarnated till they reached a state of purification; fallen into
the flesh, subjected to its vicissitudes and passions, these souls had
to evolve, in successive rebirths, until they had developed all their
faculties, obtained complete control over the lower nature, and won
back their original purity; then this latter would no longer be the
unconscious purity of youthful innocence, but the conscious purity of
mature age, i.e., of the soul that has known both good and evil in
the course of its experiences, has overcome the serpent of matter, the
tempter, and voluntarily chosen the life of virtue.

The "Judgment" of the after-life is determined by the degree of
purity that has been attained; if insufficient, the soul returns to
earth, there to inhabit a human, an animal, or a vegetable form, in
accordance with its merits or demerits.

These lines prove that Egyptian teaching has come down to us, covered
with gross dross and slag, as it were, which must be subjected to
careful sifting; when this is done, we see that it also sets forth the
transmigrations to which the elements of the various vehicles are
subjected,[100] the physical ternary[101] rises from the dead, the
animal man[102] transmigrates; and man, properly so-called,[103]
reincarnates, but the details of these processes have been so confused
in such fragments of Egyptian palingenesis as we possess that it is no
easy matter to find the traces of this classification.

For instance. Herodotus tells us:

"The Egyptians were the first to hold the opinion that the soul of man
is immortal and that when the body dies it enters into the form of an
animal which is born at the moment, thence, passing on from one animal
into another until it has circled through the forms of all the
creatures which tenant the earth, the water, and the air, after which
it enters again into a human form and is born anew. The whole period
of the transmigration is (they say) three thousand years."[104]

This passage evidently refers to the resurrection of the "life atoms."
H. P. Blavatsky, in the Theosophist, vol. 4, pages 244, 286,
confirms this in the following words:

"We are taught that for 3000 years, at least, the 'mummy,'
notwithstanding all the chemical preparations, goes on throwing off to
the last invisible atoms, which, from the hour of death, re-entering
the various vortices of being, go indeed 'through every variety of
organised life forms.' But it is not the soul, the fifth,[105] least
of all, the sixth[106] principle, but the life atoms of the Jiva,[107]
the second principle. At the end of the three thousand years,
sometimes more, sometimes less, after endless transmigrations, all
these atoms are once more drawn together, and are made to form the new
outer clothing or the body of the same monad (the real soul) which
they had already been clothed with two or three thousands of years
before. Even in the worst case, that of the annihilation of the
conscious personal principle,[108] the monad, or individual
soul,[109] is ever the same, as are also the atoms of the lower
principles,[110] which, regenerated and renewed in this ever-flowing
river of being, are magnetically drawn together owing to their
affinity and are once more reincarnated together...."

Certain authors have stated that belief in Resurrection was the origin
of embalming, because it was thought that after three thousand years
the soul returned to the same body, that it immediately rose again,
when the body had been preserved, whereas if such had not been the
case, it entered wherever it could, sometimes even into the body of a
lower creature. Herodotus, however, says that after the cycle of three
thousand years the soul enters a new body, not the mummified
one,[111] and this would lead one to imagine that there were other
reasons for the process of embalming. Indeed, it became general only
during the decline of Egypt; at the beginning, it was reserved for the
hierophants alone, with the object of allowing their physical
molecular elements to pass into the still coarse bodies of the masses
and help forward ordinary souls by the powerful influence of the
magnetic potency with which they were charged. It is also for this
reason that the body of a Yogi, in India, is interred, whilst in the
case of other men cremation is the rule.

On the other hand, among the multitude of beliefs left in Egypt by
degenerate traditions, there were found some which hinted, more or
less clearly, at occult truths, and which might have perpetuated or
generalised this practice. It was supposed, according to Servius, that
the transmigrations[112] began only when the magnetic bond between the
soul and its remains had been broken by the complete disintegration of
the corpse; consequently they did all in their power to preserve this
latter.

This belief may readily be connected with theosophic teaching which
says that the affinity existing between the visible corpse and the
soul clad in its kamic (astral) body, the animal soul in Kamaloka
(Purgatory), is capable, in certain cases, of detaining this soul on
earth, after its disincarnation, and thus delaying, for a longer or
shorter period, the disintegration of the elements of the passional
body. It is these elements, not the soul, that pass over into animal
bodies, and, contrary to the opinions set forth in Egyptian
exotericism, it is to the interest of the soul to free itself from
terrestrial attraction and from its kamic (astral) vehicle, and not to
remain bound down to earth. Consequently, embalming was a mistaken
action, the result of an error of doctrine, or at all events of
teachings that were incomplete, imperfectly transmitted, and
misunderstood.

Egypt multiplied her symbols of palingenesis. Resurrection--in the
sense of re-birth in general--was symbolised by the toad which then
became the goddess Hiquet. This animal was chosen because it lives in
air and in water,[113] because it can remain imprisoned a very great
number of years without either air or food[114] and afterwards come
back to life. G. Maspero, in his Guide du Visiteur au Musee de
Boulac, tells us that the early Christians in Egypt had adopted this
symbolism, and that the lamps in their churches were formed in the
shape of a toad, and bore the inscription, "I am the Resurrection," in
the Greek language. This goddess-toad may still be seen in the museum
of Boulac.

The Scarabeus, or beetle,[115] symbolised the "personality," the
expansion of the mental substance, projected, so to speak, by the
higher mental body, at each incarnation, into the new kamic (astral)
body; a certain number of them were always deposited with the mummies,
and the beetle was represented standing on an ear of corn, a symbol of
the attainments acquired during the past earth life. Indeed, the
development of the Ego is effected by that of the personality it sends
on to the earth each incarnation; it is the new mental body which
controls the new astral and physical bodies of each incarnation, and
which is, in very truth, the flower and the fruit of the labour of
life.

Sacred Egyptology tells us that the scarabeus requires to be
"osirified," united to its "living soul," or Ego, which sent it forth.
I will now give the reason for this emanation.

When, after disincarnation, the purgatorial life begins, the Ego
endeavours to throw off the kamic (astral) body, to pass into the
higher world--the mental plane--which is its home, there to enjoy the
delights of heaven. Thereupon a veritable battle begins. On the one
hand, the Ego endeavours to withdraw the mental body, which, at the
beginning of the incarnation, it sent into the kamic body, and to take
it to itself; on the other hand, the passional body[116]--which
instinctively feels its life bound to that of the mental element,
which gives it its strength, vital activity, and personal
characteristics--tries to keep back this centre of individual life,
and generally succeeds in doing so up to a certain point. When desire,
during incarnation, has regularly gained the victory over the will,
the passional body, or Kama, maintains the supremacy beyond the grave,
and the Ego, in endeavouring to rescue its mental projection from the
kamic bonds, yields up a more or less considerable fragment thereof,
and this fragment is restored to liberty only when the passional body
of the deceased has become disintegrated by the forces of the astral
world. This has been called the fire of purgatory.

On the other hand, when the Ego, during life, has always refused the
appeals of the lower nature, it easily withdraws, after death, from
the net of passion, the substance it has infused therein, and passes
with this substance into that part of the mental plane which is called
"heaven."

Such is the struggle that Egypt committed to her annals when she
inscribed upon papyrus or engraved upon stone the journeyings of the
soul into the world of shades. The soul--the mental personality--which
demands "osirification," and invokes the Ego, its god and projector,
beseeching him to draw it to himself that it may live with him, is the
lower "I." This "I" has not exhausted the "desire to live" on earth;
its desire is impressed on the germs it has left in the causal body,
and brings the Ego back to incarnation; this is the reason it prays
and desires the resurrection[117] of its "living soul," the Ego.
Denon, in his Journeyings in Egypt, has made known to us the Sha-En
(the book of metamorphoses), written in hieratic signs and republished
in Berlin, by Brugsch, in the year 1851. Explicit mention is here made
of reincarnations, and it is stated that they are very numerous.

The third part of the Book of the Dead sets forth a detailed account
of the resurrection of an Osiris; the identification of the departed
one with Osiris, God of Light, and his sharing in the life, deeds, and
power of the God; in a word, it is the final reintegration of the
human soul with God.

The loftiest and most suggestive of Egyptian palingenetic symbols is
unquestionably that of the egg. The deceased is "resplendent in the egg
in the land of mysteries." In Kircher's Oedipus Egyptiacus[118] we
have an egg--the Ego freed from its vehicles--floating over the mummy;
this is the symbol of hope and the promise of a new birth to the soul,
after gestation in the egg of immortality.[119]

The "winged globe," so widely known in Egypt, is egg-shaped, and has
the same meaning; its wings indicate its divine nature and prevent it
from being confused with the physical germ. "Easter eggs" which are
offered in spring, at the rebirth of Nature, commemorate this ancient
symbol of eternal Life in its successive phases of disincarnation and
rebirth.





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