The Theosophical Forum – January 1947

THE UNIVERSAL MADONNA — Hazel Boyer Braun

Today when Modern Science is challenging every person to Cosmic thinking, we seem to be a people climbing up a mountain side from which we view the past five hundred years as a valley, in which we have been occupied with what Plato termed "Our shadows on the cavern wall."

Now we can see the vista of so many mountain tops, each the crest wave of a culture that gained its impetus in the Mystery Schools of antiquity — each one hailing us with its art, its religious beliefs, and eternal search for truth.

No theme in all the glamor of these sunlit peaks is more fascinating than that of the Universal Mother, which is recalled to us so intimately at the Christmas time. Every race has its idealized motherhood, ranging from human to Cosmic symbolism. The beauty, self-forgetfulness, and nobility of mother love as we know it in our everyday human homes is cherished in the heart of everyone.

We have been taught that every great truth has its deeper meanings, that each one has seven keys, and as yet from the peaks on which we stand today but a few of them have been turned. At least three or four may be suggested for this motherhood idealized in every land.

The Madonna, the Virgin Mother of the Savior, is adored in every Christian Church, and the beauty with which the artists have interpreted her adorns the valley from which we are emerging. "As above, so below." Human motherhood is in every respect a reflection of Mother Nature with her Spiritual Compassion and Mercy; for, the Cosmic Forces of Universal Life reflect or manifest according to their plane of evolution the Divine Love which is at the Heart of all Life. The beauty and compassion of this Divine Love is beyond the limitations of any descriptive terms, but manifests in human motherhood, a dim reflection, but nevertheless carrying at its core the Divine Truth.

 The Madonna is, then, a symbolic figure. We have been educated, in our study of Art, to know the Italian Renaissance Madonnas, but we can better understand the tradition back of them if we take a more universal viewpoint. All of the culture of the Orient springs from the Mystery Schools where great Sages, Seers, Saviors, taught those initiated in the Mysteries the truths of Cosmic Reality, and these disciples in their turn taught the public with veiled truths and held secret the Sacred Knowledge. So we need our seven-fold keys to search out the hidden thought in type-figures, myths, and symbols.

It is generally known today that there were very many Saviors who came as did the Syrian Jesus to teach humanity. The same identical stories cluster about the birth of each one. Ever so many Saviors from the peaks beyond had mothers named Mary, or Maria, suggesting the Ocean of Space. We note that the noun mother in the Greek is meter, from which comes Demeter. In the Latin it is mater, and in the German, mutter, while Mut-em-Ua was the Virgin Mother of Amenhotep III of Egypt. We learn that the Sanskrit root ma suggests a relationship to the Sanskrit word Maya, which means the great illusion.

Here is a key to be turned, and we find the teaching that a Divine Being descended from a hierarchy above ours to this realm of illusion to teach. Always the Seers are born in a stable, a cave, or a meadow, where there are cows or sheep. The Divine One took on an animal or physical body as does every human being.

The Savior was born of a Virgin Mother, which means that he attained a "Second Birth." It means that he became as a little child through Initiation in the Mysteries, and there is an even deeper and more Esoteric meaning to this term. We find this same story told about Mithras, Apollonius of Tyana, Sankaracharya and Krishna of India, Quetzalcoatl of Ancient Mexico, and so many others. All were born at Christmas time, which gives us the key to the fact that this refers to the second birth. It is the most sacred of all the initiatory cycles. The time when Great Souls are initiated, when the sun having reached the lowest point, gives birth to the New Year, and makes an appropriate time for inner illumination.

Now, we find reflected in the Art of the Ancients the more Cosmic symbolic use of the Madonna. In Egypt we find engraven on the temple walls and modelled in amazing sculpture the lovely figure of Isis holding the child Horus. This is symbolic of a Cosmic Drama. Osiris, the Sun God, represents some great Raja Sun about which perhaps our Universal Solar System or a great Galaxy is revolving. Isis is Mother Nature, the Cosmic forces, and her son Horus is the sun that rises for us in the morning. Note the beauty of these majestic thoughts.

This majesty is reflected in the sculpture and painting representing the Cosmic Mother of the Orient as well as of Egypt. The great figures of Kwan Yin, the Chinese Madonna, who in Japan is called Kwannon, often reveal a dignified and compassionate goddess of Mercy holding in her arms the child, earth.

As we look up to the skies we recall that every Madonna wears a blue cape, and this garment of heaven links the Mother of Jesus with all the Cosmic Mothers of all lands, and turns another key to her symbolism. The Spaces of Space, the Great Deep, the Womb of Being, the Unknown Darkness, is the teaching revealed with this key. The Chinese term it Tsi-Tsai, also Wu Wei.

A key to the Chinese thought about the Spaces of Space is to be found when we note the embroidered coats of Emperor Initiates, designed with Dragons, clouds, and waves — the waters of the deep.

Is it not clear, viewing it as we do from our distant mount, that all these peoples studied the same universal truths? That the Mystery School taught deep truths about the Universe, how it is mysteriously generated, its female side, the procreative power in nature?

We find this evidenced in the fact that the very word Parthenon means in Greek "virgin," and in this Temple of Athena, the virgin mind-born goddess, men and women went to be taught about "The Great Deep," the "Mysteries of the Spaces of Space."

Then there is Mylitta, the virgin goddess of the temples unearthed on the island of Malta or Melita, suggesting that the island took its very name from its Virgin Mother, as does Arizona, Ari being a Mexican Virgin, and zona meaning valley.

There can be no doubt of a cosmogony that is parent to the secret teaching, which suggests to us that we may view the trinity in so many of the ancient legends as conjoined to make the pathway for man's release, whether we call it Zeus, Semele, and the child Dionysus; Osiris, Isis, and Horus, or The Sun God, Mama Ocolla Huaca, and their son Manco Capac of the mystic isle in Lake Titicaca at that seat of the Mysteries near Cuzco in Olden Peru. The Apple so often held in the hand of the Christ Child may suggest the same thing, the fruitage of man's life, the becoming his Divine Self.


The Theosophical Forum

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