The Theosophical Forum – September 1936

THE TURN OF THE YEAR — L. L. W.

[Note: page numbers cited for The Esoteric Tradition are to the 2-vol. Second Edition and do not correspond to the 1-vol. 3rd & Revised Edition.]

The perpetual miracle of Nature! How blind to it are often the children of this outer world — eyes that see not and hearts that will not understand. Yet every year the shining indicators of the celestial clock mark the inevitable cosmic hours. Shedding bounty, the Sun journeys through space. The tides of solar vitality wax and wane, unfolding the rich pageant of the seasons. Winged creatures obey his secret call and follow his sweep with beautiful unerring trust.

But man at last is awakening to the forgotten knowledge of his own past in ancient and happier civilizations. He begins to feel once more the rhythms of the spirit. The Mystery-Teachings have touched his soul, and Nature is no longer a painted veil but dissolves before his quickened sight, and he perceives the depths upon depths of the inner worlds. The Autumnal Equinox is a period of balance when Father Sun crosses the line of our equator. Day and night are then of equal length. There comes as it were a sacred pause when Nature holds her breath that the listening heart may hear the music of the spheres.

Life was so ordered in ancient times that its outer forms expressed these divine inner rhythms. In Egypt there were solemn religious festivals at the times when the sun's annual cycle brought the seasonal changes. Similarly, Greece celebrated these sacred periods, and Scandinavia too. In fact, the whole antique world felt and vibrated to the grand pulsations of the Solar Heart. And even we, at our blindest, often unconsciously register these secret promptings. That is why we have the illuminating phrase, "the turn of the year." Farmers and poets, children and animals, seem to know with a sure instinct — can sense, indeed, almost the very moment when Nature, enjoying her drowsy autumnal dream, turns over and drops into winter sleep. Even on the pavements of city streets a hurrying worker, when he emerges into the morning air, may sometimes think, "Why, it smells like spring!" or, "It feels like winter today."

Theosophists everywhere know an especial quickening of the heart at the four Sacred Seasons — the Winter Solstice, the Spring Equinox, the Summer Solstice, and the Autumnal Equinox which we are approaching now. For we are assured that it is at these mystical turning-points of the sun's annual cycle that a great hope and a sublime promise whisper their secret across the cosmic spaces. All over the world are those who are weary of the common round; for whom the unending, monotonous changes rung upon the limited personal emotions have begun to pall; those who suspect that within this labyrinth of dissatisfactions and fevers and frustrations which we call life there lurks a secret clue. Finding and following it, they are sure they may enter upon the Great Adventure for which man feels that life was originally designed. That we have somehow missed it only the more convinces us that it can and must be attained. And into these groping hands Theosophy puts the long lost clue — Initiation.

Initiation has been described, from the technical standpoint, as a short cut to knowledge. It is reached through intensive spiritual training under a spiritual Teacher, one who is himself an Initiate, a Master of life. This intensive training can teach a man how to become strong enough so that he can run through rapidly what to average men are the enormously long courses of evolution. And we are told that the periods where initiation follows upon these stretches of intense self-development occur at the four Sacred Seasons of the Year. Dr. de Purucker thus refers to them in The Esoteric Tradition (p. 1081):

. . . it was the attempt in all the Mystery-Schools of all the ancient nations to bring the seasons on earth into harmony with . . . man's inner life and future destiny.

So for Theosophists the Sacred Seasons are events, very happy, very solemn, very inspiring, when we pause for a time to reflect how different are the real meanings and purposes of Nature from those which humanity is pursuing today. Ignorance, blindness, "just not knowing" — these are the bane of the human soul. So we rejoice at these seasons because we understand that our recognition of them and their significance heralds the first swelling buds upon a tender shoot transplanted in our modern desert from the Gardens of the Hesperides. And grateful hearts are lifted then to our Elder Brothers and their spiritual Helpers to whom we owe our restoration to a place in the spiritual sun.


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