AS ABOVE SO BELOW
I would’ve loved to enhance this photo and show a good view of Abram, Isaac and Jacob depicted underneath Melchizedek. However, the original painting was destroyed by bombs dropping in WW2. Finding Anna May-Rychter’s own words on the subject proved to be increasingly difficult. Early anthroposophists weren’t exactly public figures in spite of the large following they have now.
However, the depiction of Abram, Isaac and Jacob alludes to a running theme found elsewhere in Anna May’s work. We find the zodiac signs over the heads of King Solomon, Queen Sheba and Hiram Abiff. The zodiac crops up again in the bottom left corner of the Grail painting. (I’ll tackle that later)
So what does the zodiac have to do with Father Abraham and the Twelve Tribes of Israel?
To answer that question we must pay careful attention to the words found in scripture:
“I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed”-Genesis 26:4
Rudolf Steiner explains the phrase “like all the stars in Heaven” implies a deeper esoteric meaning. He felt that what it actually means is “in accordance with the 12 constellations of the zodiac.” While some people tend to write this line of thinking off I am under the impression that everything is interconnected. Everything.
Hermetic Philosophy doesn’t shy away from the interconnected nature of reality. There is a threefold axiom shared in occult circles:
- “As Above, So Below”
- “As Within, So Without”
- “As the Universe, So the Soul.”
Steiner valued meditative practice. He felt the best way for any person to understand the mysteries was to meditate on them and receive Wisdom directly. A simple way to understand the first axiom of “as above, so below” is to meditate in nature.
BASIC MEDITATIVE PRACTICE
By simply leaning against a tree and silencing the mind our Spirit begins to tune into the cosmic play of energy. As we breathe in we can sense the rays of the sun being absorbed by the branches of the tree. Within a few more rounds of breathing we begin to sense the roots digging deep into the earth drawing in water.
This interplay of energy is constantly taking place around us. Trees have the acute advantage of being the second half of our lungs. They absorb the carbon dioxide that we exhale and transform it into the oxygen we breathe. It’s because of this connection that we can easily verify the first line of the axiom with ease.
So why Jacob?
In Kabbalah we find an ancient meditative practice known as Merkabah. Think of a sacred chariot that ascends to the higher dimensions. This was the way of the Prophets. By that I mean this is the way they received Divine Instruction from the Ein Soph- the Endless One. They moved beyond all concept of physical reality into the arms of the Being Beyond.
Look, this is heavy heavy mysticism here. Great spiritual teachers like Abraham Abulafia, and the Ari dedicated their entire lives to the study and application of this mystic wisdom. The type of internal isolation and spiritual discipline required to even embark on such a journey cannot be emphasized enough.
Yet somehow we find Anna May referencing this ancient tradition without ever directly mentioning a sacred chariot. The fact this wisdom was even transferred to an artist, who by her own accounts stated-
“Section after section of this painting appeared before me in a manner which I have never experienced again”-Anna May-Rychter’s own words
-is beyond me. In fact, I have absolutely no logical explanation and couldn’t write off her account even if I wanted to. Why would she paint Jacob at Bethel? This is the exact spot where Jacob wrestled with God.
Of course, we modern Kabbalists know that the Sefer Yetzirah- the Book of Formations- could very well be an unbroken meditative manual that passed down the line all the way back from Abraham but… it’s one thing to intellectualize… It’s another to see.
Yet there it is.
“He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. There above it stood the Lord, and he said: “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring.”-Genesis 28:12-14
This ladder ascending and descending from Above to Below took Jacob before the face of God. By cross referencing the accounts of Ezekiel we can clearly see Jacob experienced riding in the Merkabah. Then God tells him he is to become the founder of the 12 Tribes of Israel.
This sentiment alone is enough to convince me that a Divine Hand guided Anna May through this painting. She truly depicted the Christian Mysteries with the stroke of a brush.
My inner fanboy wishes I could’ve laid eyes on the actual artwork. My inner mystic longs to settle into a meditative posture before it and feel the painting’s vibration. But alas, war and destruction are a part of our human experience.
Besides, all is not lost. We have photos and roughly 40 volumes of Steiner’s insight to decipher. Who am I to argue with kairos time?
Thank you so much for reading. I hope you received as much value as I did when I first learned of the mysteries. Peace be with you.