At a certain point in the Royal Arch degree, the blindfolded candidate is asked to read something he holds in his hand – which of course he cannot. Instead, he is forced to answer: “For want of Light, I am unable to discover.” Anyone with merest smattering of spiritual understanding will realise that the Light being referred to is Illumination from God, which I interpret as meaning that it is ultimately impossible to understand the true meaning of Holy words without Divine assistance. This in turn further implies that all scripture is in some ways Esoteric, as the true meaning, which comes from God, will always be more than what is written in black and white. How ironic that so many people over the past two thousand years or more – both believers and non-believers – have tried reading the Bible without praying for the benefit of Divine Intuition – or Grace – when doing so. Crowley said “If one were to take the bible seriously one would go mad. But to take the bible seriously, one must be already mad.” No, indeed! Attempting to read it without the benefit of Light would not make you go mad, but with Light, you would become MAD.
But I digress. This book is not about Aleister Crowley, Royal Arch, Freemasonry, or lame jokes in Enochian. Instead, it is the sequel to 44 Letters to Gustav Meyrink, by Alois Mailänder.
As previously noted, the profile of Mailänder (1843 – 1905) has risen in recent years due to the website Pansophers.com, of which the translator of the current work, Samuel Robinson, is the founder. Mailänder apparently had a spiritual awakening in 1877, which led him to become the leader of a group of spiritual seekers known as “The Covenant of the Promise.” Tellingly, the membership comprised mostly German and Austrian members of the Theosophical society, seeking a Rosicrucian path as opposed to the Eastern flavour espoused by Blavatsky.
Mailänder himself avoided publicity: instead, new members came to him by word of mouth, but he only accepted them after he consulted with what is described as his “inner word.” I rather suspect this was meant in the same sense as “Im Anfang war das Wort,” and hence was equivalent to the his Inner Christ. Once accepted, he would give each pupil individual teachings upon which to meditate, and hence ultimately discover their own “inner word.”
The main feature of this particular book, however, is a series of Mailänder’s teachings translated into English for the first time. Of these, the “Soul Teachings” comprise over four hundred cryptic statements with little apparent elucidation, e.g.
301Robinson (2021) p200.
The first baptism is the attraction of Christ and the Crucifixion. Then we step into the Spirit of Truth.
The second baptism is the reception of the power of spirit through accepting the Lord in the spiritual life.
The third baptism is the conception of the Holy Spirit, which is the work of the spirit.
The above passage has at least three distinct layers of meaning: firstly, the bare meanings of the words themselves; secondly, the context in relation to Mailänder’s teachings in general. Mailänder characterised an individual’s spiritual progress into three stages which he termed “Baptisms.”
However, the third and most important layer is the meaning which the individual intuits after meditation – and the influx of Light from God, rather like the candidate for the Royal Arch degree. In this sense I see the similarity between Mailänder’s approach and that of Jakob Boehme, who noted that there is a barrier to full Divine knowledge which must be overcome, which “is not to be done by thyself, but by the Light and Grace of God received into thy Soul.”
The book also contains “Form Teachings” – to wit, Mailänder believed that certain signs appearing on one’s flesh (e.g. letters) could be interpreted as spiritual messages for the individual.
Overall, this book is essentially a reference work, ideally suited for an English-speaker wishing to investigate Mailänder’s teachings in detail. It is a rather curious read: because it is only newly-translated, it may come as a surprise to English-readers that here was a man for whom Rosicrucianism consisted of privately teaching a small group of followers in his parlour at home – yet after his death his students acclaimed him the greatest authority since Christian Rosenkreutz himself. He has languished in obscurity up to now, what with his wish for anonymity during his lifetime, and the fact that his works were not available, but hopefully that will now change.