-Transformation into a truly new being
After drinking from the two goblets, the neophyte came to a beautiful garden in which were young men and women dancing, frolicking, and embracing.
Laid out on the lawns were baskets of succulent fruit and pitchers of exquisite wines, and he, famished and burning with thirst though he was, had to resist all these temptations.
He also had to resist the charms of the lovely young women, clad only in veils of transparent gauze, who beckoned to him as they reclined seductively on their couches. If he succumbed to the temptations they represented, he would be lost and would have to remain for ever in the temple as a slave. Then these ravishingly beautiful girls stripped him and flogged him with rods, while he struggled to overcome the pain and the urgings of his carnal desires.
At last, when he had proved himself invincible, the priests used their knowledge of the magical powers of certain sounds to put an end to his ordeals and plunge him into a state of harmony in which he became conscious of the reality of the divine world.
There! This gives you some idea of the ordeals that candidates for initiation had to endure. Those who came through their ordeals successfully walked out of the sanctuary robed in white and preceded by the priests in ceremonial vestments. A crown of myrtle was put on their heads and in their hands they held the palms fronds that symbolized victory. As the procession moved through the town, onlookers in the streets and on the balconies of the houses they passed acclaimed the new initiates by name, and even the Pharaoh sent gifts.
Actually, the ordeals I have just described were no more than the preliminaries required of all disciples before they were entitled to aspire to the higher degrees of initiation. The last ordeal of all was the experience of death and resurrection. The candidate was led into the sanctuary where he was told to lie down in a sarcophagus, and, by the recitation of certain formulas, the priests induced in him a death-like state of lethargy.
His etheric and astral bodies left his physical body and were free to travel through space, to contemplate the different regions of the universe, and to see and understand the laws that govern it. And all that he saw was recorded in the memory of his etheric body. As there is always a danger in such circumstances that the cord linking the subtle bodies to the physical body might break, the priests watched over him while he stayed in this state for three days and three nights. At the end of this time, other formulas were used to bring him back into his physical body.
This last experience was one that the candidate could never forget, for it made a truly new being of him. Indeed, the experience of death and resurrection, although in a different form, lies at the heart of the Christian religion. Jesus said: ‘Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.’
To be continued…
Omraam Mikhaël Aïvanhov
Complete Works, Volume 30. Life and Work in an Initiatic School
Chapter 8, The Meaning of Initiation