From the depths of non-being bursts the germ of life — in India Manu, the Adam Qadmon of the Jews, the Edda's Buri — celestial archetype of man, which differentiates and becomes any tree of life. Through transcendent, unimaginable realms of spirit, through levels of ideation and intelligent plan, through ethereal and ever-coarser, still intangible substances, spirals the divine will-to-be, forming, organizing, arranging, until all principles and aspects of a twelvefold world with its appropriate life-forms have been breathed forth. The dust of long-dead antecedent globes, of stars and galaxies, spread dormant throughout fields of sleeping space — the Frostgiant of the Norsemen and the Sleeping Beauty of myths and stories — receives anew the breath or kiss of life and, obeying the creative urge, is formed into vortices of energy which become the ranges of matter from which worlds are fashioned. Manu, the ideal "man," seed of karma, all that remains of its former imbodiments, becomes the root of new spheres of existence: a sun or planet seeks its rightful home in dimensionless infinitude.
How? How would you find a certain place in a particular galaxy of stars?
One Norse legend tells how the gods Thor and Tyr (Thor is cosmic electromagnetic power, the Tibetan Fohat, and more specifically the regent of the planet Jupiter; Tyr is "god": any planetary deity and specifically the regent of Mars. Tyr [or Dyr] means "animal" — an animate entity, or consciousness-will-desire.) went to seek in the land of the giants (matter) a certain caldron fit to brew the mead of life or experience for the Aesir, the twelve twelvefold gods of our solar system. The tale is imaginative and amusing; only after many perusals did it dawn on the writer that here, through oblique references, is pinpointed our own solar system's exact location in space. Casually, without emphasis, the story mentions six consecutive zodiacal constellations! It is noteworthy that only from this one relatively minute portion of space arc to be seen at once six constellations that cover 12 hours (180°) of sky and only here do they present precisely the appearance we associate with that half of the zodiacal belt. (Any half-circle might have been chosen with equal validity and would have been seen by night at other seasons.) From any other point in space, above or below the ecliptic or in any other portion of the galactic disk, the stars would form different patterns. Here then, and nowhere else, do these gods find their "caldron," wherein the giant Ager (our matter-space) can "make feast for the gods." It is a curious fact that the zoa or "animals" of space — the twelve directions as they are seen from our solar neighborhood — are readily recognizable in the zodiacs of all nations, often bearing the same names or names having similar connotations. This points to such lore having been widespread among early races of men; long-forgotten sages of all parts of the earth related or hinted at identical facts.
To this particular environment of twelve direct — and countless reflected — qualities of magnetic force, our sun with all its family is irresistibly drawn. Each unit of the system, analogous to organs in a body, expresses its own multiple qualities within this context, each planet being a twelvefold compound or "chain" of globes, each of them having its own twelvefold constitution. The Norse myths are particularly explicit, and indeed enumerate the gods or planetary hierarchs and their relations to the respective terrestrial mansions disposed on the several "shelves" (planes) of variously dense or coarse substances, and these correspondences accord perfectly with the theosophic enumeration published during the past century. This remarkable agreement indicates perhaps more clearly than anything else that in the myths may be sought the profound and sophisticated science of astrology known to the ancient world, which took into account the unseen, intangible forces that interact throughout our solar system. Visible orbs too interact magnetically and gravitationally, but their complex relationships are a relatively insignificant fraction of the far more vital intellectual and spiritual currents of life that flow through the total organism, whereof humanity in its essential consciousness forms one component wave of lives. Other life-waves of like nature but at varying stages of evolutionary unfoldment are represented by our planet's other kingdoms. All evince characteristic properties that belong to their own degrees of awareness, whether recognized by us as such or not. The forms used are adapted to the corresponding globes they help constitute, but the indwelling energies have their home throughout the solar realm and partake in a rhythmic circulation which is comparable, even numerically proportionate, to the pulsing flow of blood through the smaller cosmos of a human body.
Man in his inmost being is thus an integral part of our solar essence, using and dwelling in life-forms proper to his condition in each world within the sun's own spirit, soul, and body. Each kingdom of nature reflects in miniature the Manu or world tree of the greater cycle of life. Myths emphasize man's likeness to his divine creators and tell in various ways how the gods — universal qualities — have each contributed to his constitution a portion of themselves. Genesis has man created in the image of the 'elohim (creative deities); in the Bhagavad-Gita, Krishna creates the world from a portion of himself; Webster's dictionary derives the very word man from Manu, cosmic intelligence, and other examples could be cited. The Norse sagas describe the part played by three universal forces in the creation of man. These Aesir "found man on the earth, of little power," symbolized by trees, for he was already possessed of the material elements and vegetative growth-force of the earth, but lacked the principles which make man truly human: spirit, mind, and the light of understanding. "Odin gave them spirit, Höner discernment, Lodur gave them blood and godlike light/likeness." These properties were infused into the unconscious dreamy races of early mankind by the Aesir whose characteristics they are, qualities inherent in the universal structure and personified as "gods."
It remained for the human race to become aware of its endowments. The dormant minds must be roused to function self-consciously before man could take an active part in his evolutionary course. Although eons of slow unfoldment would eventually have brought self-awareness, without the guidance of a cohesive spiritual influence, intellect alone might well have led to abnormal excesses against the natural harmony, if not to abuses deadly to the race. And so, the compassionate gods, seeing the plight of man, initiated the most sublime event in human history on earth. Blending their own essence with the nascent human race, they stimulated the still latent mind into awareness and remained to aid their nursling, humanity, through its infancy. The tale is told in every mythology, usually as a fall from innocence and eviction from the primal state of spiritual quiescence into one of harsh reality and "sin."
In the Biblical Genesis the 'elohim say: "Behold the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever" they evicted humanity from Eden. In the Norse myths, Loki, the lightbringer, is represented as a figure of mischief and — although counted among the Aesir or gods — he is the cause of much controversy and is often antagonistic to them. One tale relates the coming of Rig, an emanation of Heirndal, the solar deity, as the awakening of mankind's innate abilities, in three stages. "Rig, the beneficent, wise, powerful Ase" visits the human realm: first he comes to a hovel, whose door is closed. There he leaves his seed, and the ensuing offspring is a poor, deformed creature named Thrall. The second visit is to a comfortable house whose door is ajar. His seed there produces a race of free men. Only the third effort, where the god finds a mansion whose door is wide open, brings forth a worthy scion, who later is taught and trained by his divine sire.
This tale is a transparent replica of the teachings of ancient wisdom, which tell how the divine influence made successive attempts to awaken the higher human qualities, until at length a race of men was born who were capable of being taught by the gods how to live nobly and with full consciousness of responsibility. It was then that the gods walked the earth and instructed the third humanity, implanting in the racial memory an intuitive sense of right and fitness which remains as a sacred inner monitor within every human being — although all too often ignored.
Since that time many ages have rolled by. Our very earth has undergone transformations so radical that dim recollections of catastrophic events have faded into "myth" and are largely disbelieved. The time spans involved are so vast that our common history does not begin to record the events through which humanity has lived during its sojourn even on this globe. Vague recollections of former eons are confined to the legends and traditions that persist after innumerable generations of retelling, and the wisdom left by the preceptors of the race must be rediscovered with the aid of the intuitional memory each human consciousness retains, aided at periodic intervals by an influx brought from the gods by Messengers who have attained the perennial wisdom at firsthand. Humanity has never been wholly deserted by the gods; from time to time the thought atmosphere wherein we share is infused once more with the eternal verities that have inspired some of the noblest civilizations of the past and must bring a resurgence of their grandeur as the cycles of the future run their course. But with the ebb tide even ageless truths become misunderstood and degraded. Still, the eternal science remains, although unknown to the unthinking who seek it not. As our solar home moves into ever-new areas of space with the rotation of the great galactic sphere whose visible disk contains our zodiacal environment, we traverse successive fields of interstellar magnetism, each of which exerts its impact on our lesser sphere, giving impulsion to forces that are in harmony with it, counteracting others, while a multiplicity of vectors combine their characteristic vitalities on all planes of thought and consciousness. The worlds whose light we see play but a minor part in a far greater drama than we dream of.
Man, we are told, contains everything the universe contains, and may, through inner lines of attraction, ascend to the spheres of the gods and commune with the universal being of which he is a part. For not merely dust of earth's dust, magnetism of the globe's magnetic field, but mind of solar mind, and spirit of galactic grandeur, man has in himself the means of communing with the governing intelligences that rule our portion of the universe. We are verily one with the solar divinity which infills space to the uttermost limits of its light, seen and unseen.
We are "between Manus," a universe unfolded to its full extent, all planes of being fled with sentient life, as we embark on the return back to the source from which we sprang in the beginning. The mead is brewing in the caldron of the gods. Our human thoughts and deeds become the nectar whereby these gods are nourished. As we progress through time toward loftier spheres, ascend through cycles within cycles, the essence of humanity will find itself at home in globes of substances not now perceived, as one by one the hosts of lives regain their lost divinity with ever fuller awareness. Manu, the root of this great tree of life, will come into its own, harvesting seed for future worlds of unimaginable splendor.
(From Sunrise magazine, November 1977. Copyright © 1977 by Theosophical University Press)