The most tremendous powers are concealed in fire: it has the power to melt, liquefy, burn and transform. It is all-powerful; nothing can stand against it. The other elements, earth, water and air, also have great powers, but they cannot really change matter. Earthquakes have the power to disturb the earth's crust, to split open mountains, swallow up towns and villages, but earth cannot change the underlying nature of things. Water has the power to sweep things away or to dilute them; air has the power to disperse; only fire has the power truly to transform. In the wake of fire, only ashes-or a totally transformed body-remain. Try to look at the fire as thought you were doing so for the first time. Some very beautiful and very powerful creatures live in fire, not only salamanders, the fire spirits, but many human beings, who have been freed from their physical bodies, delight in steeping themselves in fire in order to continue themselves.
I remember that when I was young, in Bulgaria, if I caught a chill and began to feel feverish, I would light a fire in the stove and settle down close to it and go to sleep wit a feeling of great gratitude and love for the warmth. When I work up I war cured. It was then that I understood the healing properties of fire, for it is not only the warmth that heals; fire contains other healing elements. The Vestal Virgins represented the purest aspect of the Divine Mother. For purity is a necessary condition of fire and light. The presence of the Divine Mother is indispensable if the flame of the sacred fire of love is to be keep alive. In his soul, every human being must become a virgin in order to draw this fire into himself so that the masculine principle within him-the will, the spirit-may use it in order to create, for all creation has its origin in fire. Look at the evidence: from something as simple as the preparation of a meal to something as complex as the launching of a spaceship, fire is necessary.
When you know how to look at fire you will become more 1 lucid and find peace and freedom, for lucidity, peace and freedom are the virtues of the center. The center, as we have often said, is analogous with the summit (you must have noticed that the flames rising from the fire form a cone and call to mind the notion of a summit). Someone who stands on the top of a mountain can see much more clearly and much farther than someone who is in the valleys and canyons down below. Fire always rises towards the top of the mountain in order to have a clearer view to the horizon all around. This is why, when fire visits an Initiate, it opens his intelligence to vaster horizons. This is what we call illumination. Without fire, the fire of the Holy Spirit, there can be no illumination. The first thing we acquire from the center, therefore, is lucidity, a true vision of reality. Also, the inner movement of one who turns back to the center begins to accelerate, and the more it accelerates the more intense it becomes. Harmony and peace take root firmly within him and he escapes from the chaotic forces seething at the periphery. In order to be safe, we have to enter that `high place' of which the Psalms speak, and that `high place' is the center of the circle where we find fire, the eternal fire. And, finally, he who reaches the center is much freer to act; he stands at the intersection of forces and becomes extremely powerful.
Once again, this evening, we find ourselves in the presence of the greatest mystery of life : fire. I say the greatest mystery of life, for fire is at the origin of life; fire holds the secret of eternal life, and we must try to make friends with it, get to know it, draw it to us and vibrate in harmony with it. The fire that we have kindled here, tonight, contains a certain degree of life, but it is to the sun that we must turn to find the fire that is the source of life to a far greater degree. This is why it is so important to learn to gaze at the sun, to seek to unite yourself with the sun : because of its fire. Fire produces heat and light, but fire itself is neither heat nor light, it is neither hot nor luminous. It is a mistake to think that fire is hot and luminous. Man still does not know fire; the fire that we know is only a dim reflection of true fire. We still know nothing about true fire; we can see and feel the light and heat that it produces, but we have no perception of fire itself. A tree could not store up the sun's rays and all the energies that bombard it day and night, unless its composition included a material element capable of absorbing them, and that element is earth. Man is made of fire, and this fire comes from the sun. A human being possesses the same quintessence as the fire of the sun. Why do people mislead others by telling them that they are made of matter and need only material nourishment? The Initiates, on the contrary, tell us that we are made of fire, of light.
There is a tradition that when Zoroaster asked the supreme god, Ahura Mazda, what the first man ate, he was told: `He ate fire and drank light'. And man still eats fire and drinks light, but he is not conscious of doing so. People attach importance only to what is visible and tangible, so they say that they eat, drink and breathe, in other words, that they nourish themselves with solid, liquid and gaseous matter. That is true, but it is not the whole truth. If man were nourished only with this material food, he would always be undernourished, because his true nourishment is fire and light. And now, since man is made in the image of God, he, too, can create as God created, with and by the power of light. This is why Esoteric Science tells us that if you possess the light you can possess everything else. You must seek light, fill yourself with light, with this pure, brilliant, radiant matter, matter so subtle that it cannot be weighed or measured or even touched, and yet, thanks to which, man can create. Of course, light dwells at a great height, close to God, and we can only reach it if we think about it constantly, meditate on it, wish for it, inhale it with the air we breathe. He who succeeds in filling himself with light can set to work to fashion and mould it and create what he needs. Someone who is truly capable of working with light should be able to rebuild an organ of his body that has been destroyed by illness. If this strikes you as totally impossible, even mad, it is because human beings have lost the secret of how to work with light.
Initiates, for whom the only true reality is light, work with it constantly, and use it to establish communications with each other and with the divine world. It is essential to understand this: human beings can communicate with the divine world only if they themselves weave `cables' of light linking them to Heaven. Once they have created this communication network between the two worlds, they can exchange and unite in a kind of osmosis. He who cuts his ties with light, with the sun, condemns himself to spiritual death. To eat and drink and breathe is, perhaps, sufficient for physical life, but in order to live spiritually, we have to nourish ourselves with the spiritual food of warmth and light, with the fire of the sun. Fortunately, God has organized things in such a way that, even without knowing it, human beings do nourish themselves with the light and heat of the sun. In this way you will be working on your etheric body, your Body of Glory, by means of light and fire. This is our true food and drink, the fire of divine love and the light of divine wisdom. He who understands this will enjoy rue life. `The secret of eternal life is very simple: work until you become as luminous, warm and life-giving as I am. If you do this you will never die!' Yes, but although this secret is very easy to understand, it is very difficult to do. It takes a very long time, several thousand, perhaps several million, years. But the philosophy of fire, the philosophy of the sun, is so marvelous that it is worth building one's whole life on it. Fire is associated with the sun, with light, warmth and love. When you think about fire, you must think about these ideas, walk round them, examine them from all directions, explore them, dig down into them until you uncover the mystery of fire. If you do not want your heart to grow cold you must never stop loving. But then Jesus came and attempted to lead men to a more exalted notion of sacrifice. Instead of immolating some poor animals which had done nobody any harm, he taught men to immolate their own inner animals, their lusts and passions, etc., for he sacrifice of these animals releases energies which are far more precious and which can be used for spiritual work. Those who have understood this are on the road to perfection; those who don't understand it, are still locked into stables or cages-symbolically speaking-with their own animals.
As I have already said, there are two kinds of fire. The first is the celestial fire of the sun, the divine fire that frees us from imperfections and weaknesses and causes all that is purest and best in us-our qualities, our vitality, our beauty, strength and intelligence-to shine. The other is the fire of earth, the fire of our base desires, which devours and reduces to ashes whatever it touches. It is advisable to ask for the help of a spiritual Master in seeking the divine fire, for it is extremely difficult to light this fire by oneself. Sacrifice is the secret of every transformation. All true Initiates understand this, that is why they offer themselves as willing victims to be consummated and consumed by the Angel of fire, that is to say, by divine love. And this fire transforms them, too, into light and heat. Even our physical bodies must be purified and illuminated by divine fire, for this work of transformation is not restricted to our thoughts and feelings. If man is to be totally transfigured, this transformation must also operate on the physical plane.
The creation of the world began with fire, with light. God created light, fire, before anything else. Part of this fire condensed and became air; part of the air condensed and produced water, and part of the water condensed and produced earth. Fire was at the beginning of all things; fire is at the heart of all things. The Elixir of Everlasting Life is nothing but a condensation of fire. This is why someone who sipped a drop of that Elixir felt himself burning as though he had swallowed fire and was rendered unconscious. But, when he came round a few seconds later, his whole organism had been freed of its impurities and, thenceforth, he triumphed over sickness and death.
If we want to burn away the impurities that prevent both the physical and spiritual currents from flowing freely within us, we have to invoke fire, the fire of divine love, the fire that sets us free. But this fire will come to us only if we make sacrifices, if we dedicate ourselves to working, not only for ourselves, but also for the divine principle. This is the whole secret. This is what you must try to understand and feel. I know that it is a long and difficult task; for my part, I try to understand it a little better every day.
Water, as you know, is composed of two gases, oxygen and hydrogen, and, in order to get the two gases to combine and produce water, the intervention of fire is necessary. Without fire, nothing happens, but as soon as a spark is added to the mixture, the two gases are inflamed with an eternal love for each other and are welded together to form water. The striking thing is that, instead of forming another kind of gas, they combine to form a liquid; from a gaseous state, they change to the liquid state. But the fusion of the two gases and the change in their appearance cannot occur unless a new element is introduced. Oxygen and hydrogen are invisible, intangible and volatile, whereas water can be seen, touched and handled and even kept in a container. If you heat water, it becomes steam and disappears, whereas if you chill it sufficiently, it solidifies and becomes ice.
Water is the expression of life. The chemical formula (Hz0) indicates that it is made up of two atoms of hydrogen for every atom of oxygen. Hydrogen is traditionally associated with the feminine principle (water), and oxygen with the masculine principle (fire). If the combination of the two gases (with a preponderance of hydrogen) produces water, it seems reasonable to think that fire must also be a combination of the masculine and feminine principles but, in this instance, with a preponderance of the masculine principle. Fire is an active principle and water is passive, but the mystery of it is that the passive principle represented by water is, itself, a combination of the two principles, active and passive.
Water, therefore, Hz0, is composed of two atoms of hydrogen and one of oxygen. The feminine principle corresponds to the number Two and the masculine principle to the number One. Esotericists often express the duality of woman by depicting her as an open book. The closed book is One, whereas the open book is Two, the polarization of One. Oxygen (One) and hydrogen (Two) combine to produce Three, which is water. But there is a fourth element that enters into the composition of water, the element fire or life, for life is fire. Life comes from fire; of itself, water does not possess life; it needs fire to infuse life into it, and it is the sun, fire, that looks on water and impregnates it with life. For an alchemist, fire vivifies the whole of creation: although dormant, it is present in metals and rocks as well as in water, even in the depths of the oceans.
Water, therefore, is the symbol of matter on which the spirit works to give it form, for the principal property of water is its adaptability: it takes whatever form one chooses to give it. Its second characteristic is that it can be impregnated. The sun impregnates water with its rays; the earth impregnates it with various substances; animals and men, too, through their contacts with water, impregnate it with numerous elements. In this way, water gives birth to a multitude of different creations. Similarly, pristine cosmic matter takes whatever form the Spirit chooses to give it and is impregnated and made fruitful by the seed of the Spirit. This is why he who knows how to work, has the power to create by means of this matter.
Jesus certainly possessed the science of fire and water, for he said, `Unless a man be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.' The meaning of these words has remained hidden to most Christians for the last two thousand years. What does it mean to be born of water and the Spirit in order to enter into a new state known as the Kingdom of God? Water and the spirit, that is to say, water and fire, the two great principles, the masculine and feminine principles, are symbolized on the spiritual plane by love and wisdom. It is the union within us of love and wisdom that gives us access to that higher state of consciousness known as the Kingdom of God, a higher world of order, beauty, harmony and light.
Gold being the symbol of the sun and silver that of the moon, the alchemists put gold and silver into the crucible to be heated together. They said, too, that the most auspicious moment for this work was when the sun was just entering Aries and the moon was in Taurus, for the sun is exalted in Aries and the moon in Taurus. Here, again, not only do we have a transposition of the masculine and feminine principles signified by the Sun and Moon, but we also have Mars, domiciled in Aries, and Venus, which is at home in Taurus. Mars in Aries, Venus in Taurus : Venus follows Mars.
Water is white and blood is red, because red and white are the two colors of the one divine energy manifested in the two principles: white for woman and red for man, on the spiritual plane; red for woman and white for man, on the physical plane. When alchemists wanted to express the two principles, they spoke of the sun, which is red, and the moon, which is white. In point of fact, red blood and white water are not two different principles, but the two poles of the one, feminine principle. The other, the masculine principle, is fire, and its opposite pole is light. Fire is red and light is white, but they are of the same nature. You could say that they are brother and sister but, also, that one is born of the other. Light comes from fire; it is fire that gives birth to light, whereas blood comes from water; water gives birth to blood. White gives birth to red below, and red gives birth to white above.