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The Egyptians Chaldeans Druids Etc

After considering the existence of the doctrines of Reincarnation among
the primitive peoples, and its traditional existence among the vanished
peoples of the past, we find ourselves irresistibly borne toward that
ancient land of mystery--the home of the mystics and occultists of the
past--the land of Isis--the home of the builders of the Pyramids--the
people of the Sphinx. Whether these people were the direct descendants
of the people of destroyed Atlantis, the home of the Ancient Wisdom--or
whether they were a new people who had rediscovered the old
doctrines--the fact remains that when tracing back any old occult or
mystic doctrine we find ourselves gradually led toward the land of the
Sphinx as the source of that hidden truth. The Sphinx is a fit emblem of
that wonderful race--its sealed lips seem to invite the ultimate
questions, and one feels that there may be a whispered answer wafted
from those tightly closed lips toward the ear that is prepared to hear
and receive it. And so, in our search for the origin of Reincarnation,
we find ourselves once more confronting the Egyptian Sphinx as we have
done so often before in our search after Truth.

Notwithstanding its obvious prehistoric origin, many have claimed that
Metempsychosis has its birthplace in old Egypt, on the banks of the
Nile. India disputes this claim, holding that the Ganges, not the Nile,
gave birth to the doctrine. Be that as it may, we shall treat the
Egyptian conception at this place, among the ancient lands holding the
doctrine, for in India it is not a thing of the past, but a doctrine
which has its full flower at the present time, and which flower is
sending forth its subtle odor to all parts of the civilized world. And
so we shall defer our consideration of India's teachings until we reach
the present stage of the history of Reincarnation. Herodotus, many
centuries ago, said of the Egyptians that: "The Egyptians are the first
who propounded the theory that the human soul is imperishable, and that
where the body of any one dies it enters into some other body that may
be ready to receive it; and that when it has gone the round of all
created forms on land, in water, and in air, then it once more enters
the human body born for it; and that this cycle of existence for the
soul takes place in three thousand years."

The doctrine of Reincarnation is discernible though hidden away amidst
the mass of esoteric doctrine back of the exoteric teachings of the
Egyptians, which latter were expounded to the common people, while the
truth was reserved for the few who were ready for it. The inner circles
of the Egyptian mystics believed in and understood the inner truths of
Reincarnation, and although they guarded the esoteric teachings
carefully, still fragments fell from the table and were greedily taken
up by the masses, as we may see by an examination of the scraps of
historical records which have been preserved, graven in the stone, and
imprinted on the bricks. Not only did these people accept the doctrine
of Reincarnation, but Egypt was really the home of the highest occult
teachings. The doctrines and teachings regarding several "sheaths" or
"bodies" of man, which are taught by occultists of all times and races,
are believed to have been fully taught in their original purity on the
banks of the Nile, and in the shadow of the Pyramids--yes, even before
the days of the Pyramids. Their forty centuries of history saw many
modifications of the philosophical and religious beliefs, but the
fundamental doctrine of Reincarnation was held to during the entire
period of history in Ancient Egypt, and was not discarded until the
decadent descendants of the once mighty race were overwhelmed by
stronger races, whose religions and beliefs superseded the vestiges of
the Ancient Doctrine. The Egyptians held that there was "Ka," the divine
spirit in man; "Ab," the intellect or will; "Hati," the vitality; "Tet,"
the astral body; "Sahu," the etheric double; and "Xa," the physical body
(some authorities forming a slightly different arrangement), which
correspond to the various "bodies of man" as recognized by occultists

The Ancient Chaldeans also taught the doctrine of Rebirth. The body of
Persian and Chaldean mystics and occultists, known as "the Magi," who
were masters of the Hidden Wisdom, held to the doctrine of Reincarnation
as one of their fundamental truths. In fact, they managed to educate the
masses of their people to a much higher point than the masses of the
Egyptians, and, escaping the idolatrous tendencies of the Egyptian
populace, they manifested a very high degree of pure philosophical,
occult, and religious knowledge. The Magi taught that the soul was a
complex being, and that certain portions of it perished, while certain
other parts survived and passed on through a series of earth and
"other-world" existences, until finally it attained such a degree of
purity that it was relieved of the necessity for further incarnation,
and thenceforth dwelt in the region of ineffable bliss--the region of
light eternal. The teaching also held that just before entering into
the state of bliss, the soul was able to review its previous
incarnations, seeing distinctly the connection between them, and thus
gaining a store of the wisdom of experience, which would aid it in its
future work as a helper of future races which would appear on the face
of the earth. The Magi taught that as all living things--nay, all things
having existence, organic or inorganic--were but varying manifestations
of the One Life and Being, therefore the highest knowledge implied a
feeling of conscious brotherhood and relationship toward and with all.

Even among the Chinese there was an esoteric teaching concerning
Reincarnation, beneath the outer teaching of ages past. It may be
discerned in the teachings of the early philosophers and seers of the
race, notably in the work of Lao-Tze, the great Chinese sage and
teacher. Lao-Tze, whose great work, the "Tao-Teh-King," is a classic,
taught Reincarnation to his inner circle of students and adherents, at
least so many authorities claim. He taught that there existed a
fundamental principle called "Tao," which is held to have been identical
with the "primordial reason," a manifestation of which was the "Teh," or
the creative activity of the universe. From the union and action of the
"Tao" and the "Teh" proceeded the universe, including the human soul,
which he taught was composed of several parts, among them being the
"huen," or spiritual principle; and the "phi," or semi-material vital
principle, which together animate the body. Lao-Tze said: "To be
ignorant that the true self is immortal, is to remain in a grievous
state of error, and to experience many calamities by reason thereof.
Know ye, that there is a part of man which is subtle and spiritual, and
which is the heaven-bound portion of himself; that which has to do with
flesh, bones, and body, belongs to the earth; earthly to earth--heavenly
to heaven. Such is the Law." Some have held that Lao-Tze taught the
immediate return of the "huen" to the "tao" after death, but from the
writings of his early followers it may be seen that he really taught
that the "huen" persisted in individual existence, throughout repeated
incarnations, returning to the "tao" only when it had completed its
round of experience-life. For instance, in the Si Haei, it is said that:
"The vital essence is dispersed after death together with the body,
bones and flesh; but the soul, or knowing principle of the self, is
preserved and does not perish. There is no immediate absorption of the
individuality into the Tao, for individuality persists, and manifests
itself according to the Law." And Chuang-Tze said: "Death is but the
commencement of a new life." It was also taught by the early Taoists,
that the deeds, good and evil, of the present life would bear fruit in
future existences; in addition to the orthodox heavens and hells, in
which the Chinese believed, and of which they had a great variety
adapted to the requirements of the various grades of saints and sinners,
the minute details of which places being described with that attention
to minor details and particulars peculiar to the Chinese mind. The
teachings of a later date, that the soul of the ancestor abided in the
hall of the ancestors, etc., were a corruption of the ancient teaching.
Other Chinese teachers taught that the soul consists of three parts, the
first being the "kuei," which had its seat in the belly, and which
perished with the body; the second being the "ling," which had its seat
in the heart or chest, and which persisted for some time after death,
but which eventually disintegrated; and the third, or "huen," which had
its seat in the brain, and which survived the disintegration of its
companions, and then passed on to other existences.

As strange as it may appear to many readers unfamiliar with the subject,
the ancient Druids, particularly those dwelling in ancient Gaul, were
familiar with the doctrine of Reincarnation, and believed in its tenets.
These people, generally regarded as ancient barbarians, really possessed
a philosophy of a high order, which merged into a mystic form of
religion. Many of the Romans, upon their conquest of Gallia, were
surprised at the degree and character of the philosophical knowledge
possessed by the Druids, and many of them have left written records of
the same, notably in the case of Aristotle, Caesar, Lucan, and Valerius
Maximus. The Christian teachers who succeeded them also bore witness to
these facts, as may be seen by reference to the works of St. Clement,
St. Cyril, and other of the early Christian Fathers. These ancient
"barbarians" entertained some of the highest spiritual conceptions of
life and immortality--the mind and the soul. Reynaud has written of
them, basing his statements upon a careful study of the ancient beliefs
of this race: "If Judea represents in the world, with a tenacity of its
own the idea of a personal and absolute God; if Greece and Rome
represent the idea of society, Gaul represents, just as particularly,
the idea of immortality. Nothing characterized it better, as all the
ancients admit. That mysterious folk was looked upon as the privileged
possessor of the secrets of death, and its unwavering instinctive faith
in the persistence of life never ceased to be a cause of astonishment,
and sometimes of fear, in the eyes of the heathen." The Gauls possessed
an occult philosophy, and a mystic religion, which were destroyed by the
influences of the Roman Conquest.

The philosophy of the Druids bore a remarkable resemblance to the Inner
Doctrine of the Egyptians, and their successors, the Grecian Mystics.
Traces of Hermeticism and Pythagoreanism are clearly discernible,
although the connecting link that bound them together has been lost to
history. Legends among the Druids connected their order with the ancient
Aryan creeds and teachings, and there seems to have been a very close
connection between these priests and those of Ancient Greece, for there
are tales of offerings being sent to the temples of Greece from the
priests of Gaul. And it is also related that on the island of Delphos
there was once a Druidic tomb in the shape of a monument, believed to
have been erected over the remains of Druid priestesses. Herodotus and
others speak of a secret alliance between the priests of Greece and
those of the Druids. Some of the ancient legends hold that Pythagoras
was the instructor of the Druidic priests, and that Pythagoras himself
was in close communication with the Brahmins of India, and the
Hermetists of Egypt. Other legends have it that the Druids received
their first instruction from Zamolais, who had been a slave and student
of Pythagoras. At any rate, the correspondence between the two schools
of philosophy is remarkable.

Much of the Druidic teachings has been lost, and it is difficult to
piece together the fragments. But enough is known to indicate the above
mentioned relationship to the Pythagorean school, and of the firm hold
of the doctrine of Reincarnation upon the Druids. The preserved
fragments show that the Druids taught that there was in man an
immaterial, spiritual part, called "Awen," which proceeded from an
Universal Spiritual Principle of Life. They taught that this "Awen" had
animated the lower forms of life, mineral, vegetable and animal, before
incarnating as man. In those conditions it was entangled and imprisoned
in the state of "abysmal circling," called "Anufu," from which it
finally escaped and entered into the "circle of freedom," called
"Abred," or human incarnation and beyond. This state of "Abred" includes
life in the various human races on this and other planets, until finally
there is a further liberation of the "Awen," which then passes on to the
"Circle of Bliss," or "Gwynfid," where it abides for aeons in a state of
ecstatic being. But, beyond even this transcendent state, there is
another, which is called the "Circle of the Infinite," or "Ceugant,"
which is identical with the "Union with God" of the Persians and Greek
Mystics, or the "Nirvana" of the Hindus. Rather an advanced form of
philosophy for "barbarians," is it not? Particularly when contrasted
with the crude mythology of the Roman conquerors!

The Gauls were so advanced in the practical phases of occultism that
they gave every condemned criminal a respite of five years, after
sentence of death, before execution, in order that he might prepare
himself for a future state by meditation, instruction and other
preparation; and also to prevent ushering an unprepared and guilty soul
into the plane of the departed--the advantages of which plan is apparent
to every student of occultism who accepts the teaching regarding the
astral planes.

The reader will understand, of course, that the degree of advancement in
spiritual and philosophical matters evidenced by the Gauls was due not
to the fact that these people were generally so far advanced beyond
their neighbors, but rather to the fact that they had been instructed by
the Druid priests among them. Tradition has it that the original Druidic
priests came to Gaul and other countries from some far-off land,
probably from Egypt or Greece. We have spoken of the connection between
their teachings and that of the Pythagoreans, and there was undoubtedly
a strong bond of relationship between these priests and the occultists
of other lands. The Druidic priests were well versed in astronomy and
astrology, and the planets had an important part in the teachings. A
portion of their ritual is said to have correspondences with the early
Jewish rites and worship. Their favorite symbol--the mistletoe--was used
as indicating re-birth, the mistletoe being the new life springing forth
from the old one, typified by the oak. The Druids traveled into Ancient
Britain and Ireland, and many traces of their religious rites may still
be found there, not only in the shape of the stone places-of-worship,
but also in many curious local customs among the peasantry. Many a bit
of English folk-lore--many an odd Irish fancy concerning fairies and the
like; symbols of good-luck; banshees and "the little-folk"--came
honestly to these people from the days of the Druids. And from the same
source came the many whispered tales among both races regarding the
birth of children who seemed to have remembrances of former lives on
earth, which memory faded away as they grew older. Among these people
there is always an undercurrent of mystic ideas about souls "coming
back" in some mysterious way not fully understood. It is the inheritance
from the Druids.

Next: The Romans And Greeks

Previous: The Early Races

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