In the literature of the Fraternitas Rosæ Crucis you will find the phrase Soul Illumination used again and again. A comprehension of this phrase is paramount to a complete understanding of the Great Work.
Eons ago, when our animal nature managed to corrupt the angelic part of us, our Soul was displaced from the Center it had established when it first entered the human “animal” body. This Soul Center is referred to as a throne, inner sanctum and sanctum sanctorum in sacred literature. Only from this Center is the Soul able to establish conscious contact with God, the Creator. In addition to transmutation, the second part of the Great Work is the effort to assist the remnant of our Soul, the Divine Spark, to come forth and rebuild its Soul Center. The resultant state achieved by rebuilding the Soul Center is called Soul Illumination and immortality is assured.
A Metaphor for Soul Illumination
Perhaps we can clarify this concept if we think of the original combination of angel and human as a nation ruled by an Initiate king or queen- as were many of the finest civilizations of ancient days. Since arcane and sacred literature often refers to the soul in terms of divine feminine, we will proceed with this metaphor using a queen ruler:
This Initiate queen was our angelic being (soul) and the nation she ruled was our animal or lower mortal self. She was like a Solomon in that she was just, compassionate and merciful. She always attempted to follow Divine Law in all aspects of life because it was the Law of her being and her subjects.
Under this fair and gentle governor, the nation prospered and grew in wisdom and strength. However, as was so common then and now, there were those who did not like her rule because they wanted to do those things not allowed by the Divine Law. However, the just queen would not allow it. As long as she stayed on her throne and followed the Divine Law there was little they could do because here, on her throne, she was invincible.
One day a double agent who pretended to befriend the queen, but who in reality was allied with those who would overthrow her (our lower passions), suggested to her that she get to know her people better by moving among them and learning their ways. To the queen this sounded like a good and worthy idea.
So, dressed in common clothes, she set out to live as the common people did. Once the good queen was away from her throne (Soul Center) and among the common people (susceptible to human lower passions), the renegade forces were able to stage a coup and even attempted to assassinate the good queen. This they were not able to do, but they were able to wrest the throne from her and force her to flee into a hidden exile where they could not find her to destroy her. This is where she still resides in most individuals. Although the lower forces of the body were not able to destroy her (except in a few cases), the only way she has to help guide her people is by a few weak communications (our conscience) that she is able to get past the dictators who now control this nation (our dominant lower mortal self).
Now that the renegade forces have control of the nation, there is little or no justice. The common citizens of the nation live lives of quiet desperation and great suffering. At first the citizens of the nation listened to the siren call of the rebels, but they soon realized what they had lost and now long for the wisdom of their exiled queen, but do not know how to help her back to power. The rebels (our lower passions) promise much, but deliver little except short-term pleasures followed by long-term pain and suffering. They, like the emperors of ancient Rome, offer circuses rather than the Bread of Life.
But the deposed queen has not forgotten the people! Even though in her exile she is weak and treated very poorly, she is always trying to help her nation. She sends various emissaries to help enlist the nation's aid in restoring her to her rightful place, but in almost every instance the rebels are able to convince the people that these emissaries are only false prophets, and that the queen is really dead, and that only they, the mortal self passions, have any reality.
This is the situation that most individuals find themselves in today. Our just queen (our Soul) has been exiled also and is now in hiding. More than that, she is in a piteous state, since we give her little support. She must now live in squalor and is clothed in rags. In order for us to reinstate our just and fair queen on her throne, we must do several things.
First, we must do all we can to convince her that we want her back on her throne. After all, it was we who listened to the rebels in the first place and allowed them to displace her. One of the best ways we have of convincing her of our sincerity is by rejecting the siren voice of the rebels and attempting to once again follow the ways of the Divine Law that our faithful queen taught us long ago. As time goes on and we are able to make amends for the grave mistreatment we gave our queen, we will be able to help her invest herself with the raiment of a true monarch. Most certainly we cannot enthrone a queen in dirty rags (our past Karmic indebtedness) and expect her to be accepted as the great and noble ruler she is. Once we have assured her by our desires and efforts that we want her to reign again, we must first remove her disreputable raiment (transmute our ignoble passions), clothe her anew in suitable attire (replace our previous thoughts and actions with those of a more exalted nature) and then help her rebuild her throne (the seat of the Soul) by those methods taught in all of the authentic Mystery Schools. Only when all this is accomplished will she able to return and be re-crowned by the Creator (Soul Illumination).
This procedure of developing the Divine Spark into the glorious radiant Soul in its Center is the crux of what the ancient secret schools called the “Mysteries.” It is a process taught in all of the authentic mystery schools since the very beginning of soul bearing sentient beings. This same procedure was taught in the Mystery Schools of Egypt, the Pythagoreans, the Gnostic schools, the Magi of Persia, and the Alchemists. The Nazarene taught this “Mystery” to his disciples with the same method of procedure as is taught today in the Fraternitas Rosæ Crucis.
Soul Illumination is the state produced when the Divine Spark (the remnant of the angelic part of us) has completed its Center and has been animated by the spiritual “fire” (Illumination) of God. Once this takes place, human mortality has put on immortality and our angelic being within us is in control once again.
Biblical Description of Soul Illumination
One of the most fascinating and revealing passages in the New Testament describes the Soul Illumination of the apostles during Pentecost:
“And when the day of Pentecost was fulfilled, while they were assembled together. Suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues which were divided like flames of fire; and they rested upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they began to speak in various languages, according to whatever the Spirit gave them to speak.”
In all literature available to the public there is no more accurate and beautiful description of Soul Illumination than this. The Holy Spirit (Holy Ghost in the King James Version) is the Illumined Soul, that is, the Soul in its Center that has been activated by the "fire" of the Creator from above. The Biblical “tongues of fire” are what the Illuminating force looked like to the Biblical writers. They had no better words to describe it, and in fact we cannot do very much better today.
The Nazarene had carefully prepared his apostles for the day of Pentecost. They had been taught and had learned to obey the Divine Law, had completed the early steps of the Great Work and needed only a final effort by their embryonic Soul to ready themselves for the Illuminating fire of the Creator.
With a more mundane metaphor, we may think of the event of Soul Illumination as the throwing of the power switch to turn on the lights of a newly constructed stadium. Before the lights can be lit and the structure illuminated, a great deal of planning, effort and work must be expended. Only after all this hard work can the switch be thrown. So it is with our own Soul Illumination. The real work must go before; the actual Soul Illumination is just the culmination of this process.
While Soul Illumination is a major milestone in the potential spiritual development of men and women, it is not an end in itself, but rather the developing of a new insight. If the student of the Great Work is faithful in his or her efforts, the Divine Spark may be able to build and Illuminate the Center for the Soul before all the individual's earthly debts are paid. Once the student has reached Soul Illumination, it should be much easier to pay what indebtedness remains since now, with new Soul sight, he or she will be better able to understand the Divine Law and more likely live in harmony with it.
In arcane literature, Soul Illumination may be presented under many other names, such as Philosophical Initiation, Soul Consciousness, Cosmic Consciousness or God Consciousness. While these terms may each have a slightly different meaning to the Initiate, we may consider them to mean approximately the same thing, the only real difference among them being in degree, not in their nature.
One Soul Conscious poetically summed Soul Illumination as:
“The Divine Spark in every individual is ordained to become a well-rounded, fully defined center of pure, white, radiant Light; a dynamic nucleus, or center of fire that is the expression of love and compassion; kindliness and generosity; devotion and adoration.
We are the architect whose Divine Mission is to Rebuild the temple after the pattern followed by Solomon. We must create a Spiritual structure not built by hands, nor the sound of hammer, but by the refined, exalted desire, devotion and adoration of all that is beautiful; by the love in our heart, and the wisdom we may obtain from the Divine Law. The Light upon the Altar in the innermost Sanctum Sanctorum will be the Flame that is Love from God, who is Love.”