One of the most mysterious of all nations in our occidental world is a people known today as the Celts. It would seem from the study of the remnants left to us that those people had an evolution in which the very highest of the ancient mystery schools had an imbodiment lasting for hundreds of years at least. But for the Theosophical student that period runs back to thousands of years; in fact, by the Theosophical philosophy a clearer vision can be obtained, because it shows that this people that we today call the Celtic people were inheritors of a system of philosophy that had been worked out and lived in a period that far antedated their own dawn as a nation.
These islands were known in ancient days as the Sacred Isles or the Isles of the Mighty, and the old philosophy that was taught and lived there can be summed up today in a way that still shows the same universal keynotes of all philosophies. This teaching of the Celts was presented by the systems of triads, in which three of course is the key-figure. It corresponds to the symbol of the triangle, the two sides and the base; which is only another way of expressing the universal three, whether you speak of Brahma, Vishnu and Siva, or the three logoi of the Grecian system in connection with our own Christian religion: Father, Holy Ghost and Son, or Body, Soul and Spirit, as we would say with Paul — soul and spirit beginning at the other end of the triad.
Now let us see whether we can tell an old Welsh bardic tale that illustrates from a Theosophical point of view the composite nature of man. In telling these old tales no stage need be set; they were told in few words, and the action was swift. It ran something like this:
There were three brothers. The eldest was known as the Lord of Harmonies. He was able to hear the most secret of all music — that which issues forth from the Voice of the Silence, the Music of the Spheres. The wind as it passed through the trees was audible in its inmost self. He knew the music made by the growing grass, and the rhythm of the atoms in the lowest forms of life; he could hear them all; and hearing, he knew the story of their birth and their evolution and the ultimate attainment from the lowest to the highest.
But he had a brother somewhat younger than himself, and he was the Lord of Clear Vision. Nothing could be hid from his gaze. Not only the visible worlds, but the invisible worlds were open to him. He could see the rhythm and majesty of all things. He could divine with his vision not only the past and the present, but he could see the future with understanding.
Another younger brother had that gift too, but he as yet was young, and the responsibilities of life had rested but lightly on his shoulders. And as time passed on he became impatient in this land of harmony and beauty, so that the second brother became alarmed and went to the older brother whose wisdom he knew would give him guidance in this matter. The elder brother listened, and a smile came to his face, and he said to the second brother, "Go get the Gloves of Gwron and put them on the hands of the younger brother."
And this was done: and the minute the gloves were put on the hands of the younger brother he turned and looked on the far horizons and felt in need of adventure. And the gloves themselves seemed filled with magic that lured him, and he began to work and weave and create things with his hands, and in this weaving wonderful things happened. The face of the world itself began to change, and new cities arose, and new peoples filled them, and still the work swept on and on. Civilizations rose and fell. Each time it seemed that he would build to a higher and higher peak — and yet there was something lacking, something seemed to sweep in and destroy the work. Yet again and again the urge of the magical Gloves drove him to try once more. And when it seemed to come within his grasp that something could be builded that would be lasting, a mighty wind swept in, in which man turned against man and cities fell, each one more swiftly than the last, because the Gloves had forged weapons that carried grim and dire destruction.
And when that wind had died away and desolation was everywhere, he stood to wipe the sweat from his brow, and in doing so he pulled off one of the Gloves — and lo! once more vision came to his eyes and there he beheld with him his brother the Lord of Clear Vision — and something in that clear look that he gave him told him that in all his labors and peregrinations he had never left his side. Clear vision should be his the minute he might ask for it. And as he looked and beheld the inner splendor he heard familiar harmonies, and there beheld his brother the Lord of Harmonies, and knew once more the peace that only the Voice of the Silence can bring.
. . . . . .
There is the story that has been swept down like a tiny bark along the river of time. And to a student of Theosophy its inner meaning is one of beauty, because there you have man's own composite nature. His inner divinity, his spiritual self, linked with the intellectual self, that human child which through evolution attains at-one-ment with its Higher Self.
And so in countless stories of similar nature and wondrous beauty you find, like the pearl in the oyster, the jewel of truth left by the Bards of old; and perchance we may at some other time meet around the ancient hearthfire and through the twinkle of the flames that leap upward hear once more the voice of the ancient Bard as he strums his magical harp and tells his tale, bearing the old, old truths that today Theosophy has brought back once more — dressed in the garb of this modern time, and yet the same old truth of long ago.