What is Tradition?

Often in this blog, there is reference to the term Tradition.  This begs the question, what is meant by the word Tradition?  What tradition are we speaking of?  Are not there many different traditions all over the world?

To answer this, we must differentiate between Tradition and traditions.  There is only one Tradition.  Tradition is what has been passed down to us from the One Source through our foremothers from the beginning of time.  All earthly traditions are imperfect reflections of the One Tradition.  Tradition is where we learn about Universal Truth.  Our modern day religions, folk tradition, fairy tales, and stories we tell our children, like the ones about Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, are examples of traditions.  These stories have changed over time and many of the deep meanings have been lost, but one can still learn about Universal Truth from these stories and traditions.

One such a tradition is the Swedish tradition surrounding St. Lucia Day.  On St. Lucia Day, the oldest daughter is supposed to lead her siblings in a parade wearing a white robe with a crimson sash and a wreath of candles on her head.  She serves their parents coffee and pastries.  There is a traditional pastry served on that day called Lussekatter.  Below is a picture of these pastries:


If one researches this tradition, one will learn of the story of St. Lucia, a Christian martyr, who is stated to have brought prisoners food in the catacombs.  Her sainthood was evidenced by the miracle of food appearing during a famine in Sweden.  Yet, the symbols of this tradition speak to much older stories.  It is celebrated on December 13, which was the date of the Winter Solstice under the older Julian calendar.  The tradition is filled with symbols related to mid-Winter celebrations from long before the Christian or any other current tradition.  The oldest daughter with light on her head coincides with Light from Heaven coming to us from the Northern Gate, bring sustenance, Light and warmth.  As an aside, this is also why Santa Claus comes from the North Pole.  Even the pastries are symbols of Light!

One could ask, well, which tradition is True…the Christian story of St. Lucia or the older symbolism of Light and the Winter Solstice?  While questions like this are common in modern Western thinking, this really represents a false dichotomy.  One can honor the tradition and learn from the tradition whether one sees it as a celebration of the Christian saint or the Winter Solstice.  Both teach us about God’s sustenance and Light being brought to us during the darkest time.  The Christian story of the saint does not supplant the older story; it puts it in a new context.  The story is the same.

Another question one can ask is whether it is worthwhile to continue a tradition if the story is forgotten and all that is left is the form.  Many modern thinkers say that these traditions should be discarded as if they no longer have meaning.  Some will even discard traditions just *because* they are old, and of course, we know better than to have these superstitions in modern times.  To a traditional thinker, this is hubris and arrogance.  Modern minds are less wise and are further from an understanding of Truth than the minds of our ancestresses.  This is axiomatic in Traditional thought throughout the world.  We should assume that the traditions that have been passed to us are good and true.  If we discard the tradition, we lose that which has been passed down to us, and this is sadder and more destructive than the loss of written records from the past.  Even if we do not understand the tradition, the remnants of the tradition can still lead us (or our descendants  to have access to Truth, even in a fragmented form.  If the tradition is gone, there is nothing to learn from.

Does that mean that we should not examine these traditions?  Of course we should examine our traditions.  For one thing, learning the reason for the traditions can teach us much of metaphysical truth.  Are there times that we will find that some of our traditions are based on false teachings or error?  Yes, of course.  On the other hand, we should start with the presumption a tradition is correct, and it is the burden of proof, so to speak, upon the one discarding the tradition rather than on the one arguing to keep the tradition.  Do people sometimes use tradition in ways that are harmful, misguided, or just plain wrong?  Yes, of course, just as they can use science or anything else in such ways.  Does that mean the tradition should be discarded?  Absolutely not.  Erroneous application of tradition does not invalidate a tradition, although the error can and should be corrected, if possible.

The Traditional Model of the Cosmos

“The Earth moves, but Heaven is still.  The rim revolves, but the Centre remains without motion.”

“At the rim is the movement greatest; close unto the centre is it the least.  Where there is no movement, there is purity.”

The Clew of the Horse, The Gospel of Our Mother God, Sun Daughter Press, 2008

The Traditional Model of the Cosmos is not truly a geocentric model as is popularly believed.

Ptolemy Model of Cosmos

The Center of this model is not the earth; the Center is the Highest Heaven, where God in Her Highest Form resides.   The Earth is between the Higher and the Lower Spheres, or the Axial Plane.  In the Christian Bible, the lower realms are referred to as the “outer darkness.”  To understand this, we really must remember that the Traditional Model of the Cosmos does *not* represent the physical universe (or solar system) that we can understand with our senses.  The most commonly known version of this model is the one set forth by Ptolemy.  This model shows the physical representation of this model in the form of the movements of the heavenly bodies, or the substance.  As we have discussed in previous articles, substance is always derived from Essence.  The Higher Planes are “above,” the earth (as in the planet we reside on) and the physical universe are “below.”  The Highest Heaven being the unmoving Center is evidenced by every lower Sphere having movement, and the Higher the sphere, the slower the movement.  The movement is greatest in the Sphere just above the physical universe, the Lunary Sphere.

The Center does not move.  The Earth is below the Higher Spheres.  There are also lower spheres below the Earth, but those I will address in another article.  The Earth is not just the physical planet we live on.  The Earth, in this model, is everything we can experience with the senses or measure with tools and instruments.  This is the world of flux and change.  Everything that modern science would describe as part of “the Universe” is “the Earth” in this model.

Now, there is a sense that the Earth *is* the center, as we see in the Ptolemaic model.  I will address this more fully in a future article, but the Earth also represents the Axial Plane or the place of choice.  There is also a sense that the Sun is the center, as I will discuss further in this article.  This is a matter of perspective, and these three views are not contrary to each other.  One of the differences between Traditional Science and what we consider science in modern times is that paradox is an accepted part of Traditional Science.  For the purposes of this article, though, the Highest Heaven is the Center.

The Highest Heaven is beyond manifestation.  At this level, all is One with the Divine.  Space and time are meaningless at this level.  The Highest Heaven is that which is beyond our human comprehension.  The Highest Heaven is unchanging and unchanged.  Here there is no beginning and no end.

The first sphere below the Highest Heaven is the Sphere of the Fixed Stars.  This Sphere has moved from the Center and is a part of manifestation, but is still very close to the Center.  This sphere is represented in the physical world by the fixed stars that we see in the sky.  These fixed stars are part of “the Earth,” but they are representative of the Sphere of the Fixed Stars.  This Sphere is a Sphere of wonders and is still beyond our comprehension.  This Sphere has moved from the Highest Heaven, as seen in the fact that there are destructive fixed stars such as Algol.  On the other hand, this Sphere has not moved very far.

Below the Sphere of the Fixed Stars is the Sphere of Saturn.  This is the first Sphere of physical manifestation.  This is the Sphere of time and of limitation.  Many words concerning the passage of time derive from Kronos, the Greek name for the ruler of this Sphere.  From the planet Earth, the Sphere of Saturn is represented by the orbit of the planet Saturn.  In the human realm, this Sphere is often experienced as hostile and severe.  In moving down the Heavenly Spheres, the Sphere of Saturn is a harsh fall from the wondrous sphere of the Fixed Stars.  In moving back up the Spheres, the seemingly destructive influence of this sphere is necessary to break down attachment to the material realm to return to the Sphere of the Fixed Stars and eventually return to the One in the Highest Heaven.

Below the Sphere of Saturn is the Sphere of Jupiter.  This is the Sphere of Divine Harmony.  This Sphere gives Order to manifestation.  This is a gentler Sphere than the one of Saturn.  This is where we can find beauty in manifestation.  This is where the Music of the Spheres generates.  It is from this Sphere that “right” and “wrong” come, and this is the sphere from which all societal structure and order stems.  The planet associated with this Sphere is associated with religion, law, music, and culture.

Below the Sphere of Jupiter is the Sphere of Mars.  This is Sphere of Free Will.  This is the first Sphere in which individuality becomes relevant.  The Spheres of Saturn (time) and Jupiter (harmony) are beyond individuality.  The Sphere of Mars is the Sphere of Choice.  For Choice to be meaningful, there must be something to choose between.  The Eternal Battle between Good and Evil, or the Vikhail, is associated with this Sphere.  This is shown in the Judeo-Christian mythology of the Fall, where Adam and Eve, in an act of disobedience (Free Will), eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  After that, the first act of violence becomes possible, and Cain murders his brother, Abel.  Human wars also generate in the Sphere of Mars.

The center Sphere is the Sphere of the Sun, or the Sphere of Self.  There are three planetary Spheres above this Sphere, and three planetary Spheres below this Sphere.  This Sphere is the Sphere of the True Self, the Self that is One with the Divine, and the False Self, or the ego.  This is the Sphere dividing that which is without from that which is within.  The Spheres above the Sun are the Spheres in which the Self interacts with that which is outside of the individual, where the Spheres below the Sun are within the individual.  Contrary to popular belief, the centrality of the Sun was certainly understood in the traditional Model of the Cosmos.  It was just understood in a much less literal way.

Below the Sphere of the Sun is the Sphere of Venus, or Divine Love.  While popular belief is that this Sphere is associated with romantic and physical love, this is the lower manifestation of this Sphere.  This Sphere is also Love in Her Highest Form.  The Way of Love is one of the Paths of the individual to the Divine, or from the Lunar to the Solar.  In the cosmos, this is seen by the Sphere of Venus being between the Sphere of the Moon and the Sun.  Venus is also sacrificial Love, which is seen in the Christian tradition as Jesus being sacrificed on the day of Venus, or Friday, and rising on the day of the Sun, or Sunday.

Next is the Sphere of Mercury, or Divine Intelligence.  Like the Sphere of Venus, the Sphere of Mercury is often trivialized as being related to the cognitive ability of human beings.  The Highest Form is Enlightenment, or the Path of Light.  This leads from the Lunar to the Solar by giving Knowledge of the World Illusion.  In a sense, the “Intelligent Design” of the manifest Universe is shown in this Sphere.  This is also the Sphere from which all knowledge and ideas come.  It is in this Sphere that we are able to contemplate the manifest Universe and what is beyond the manifest Universe.

Closest to “the Earth” is the Lunar Sphere.   This is the Sphere through which we pass from the sublunary sphere, or the physical universe that we experience with our senses and can measure, to the Higher Spheres, which we cannot measure.  The Lunar Sphere is the Sphere of dreams and the imagination.  As the closest Sphere to that of the senses, we do experience this Sphere in our nightly dreams.  Just as we can impact and pollute the sublunary sphere, we also can and do pollute the Lunar Sphere.  One of the ways we pollute the Lunary Sphere is through what we allow ourselves to see and to watch, and by the images we create, through various mediums, including violent and ugly television shows, music, and video games.  Gentle and loving images through those same mediums cleanse the Lunary Sphere.

At one level, we live on the sublunary sphere, but on a metaphysical level, we also live in all of the cosmological spheres at the same time (understanding that time becomes meaningless beyond the Sphere of Saturn).  Our souls descend through the Spheres to enter physicality, and they ascend back through these Spheres to return to the Highest Heaven.  This cannot be understood literally in the manner of most modern Western thinking, but is a Mystery, in the highest sense of the word, or that which must be understood at the Solar level, or within our hearts.

False Dichotomies

The rationalist error and culture of literalism in the West creates a number of false dichotomies.  One of the most famous and controversial is the Creation/Evolution debate between religion and modern science.  To an essentialist, both sides of this debate are in error, and the heated arguments between adherents of these two camps become a bit silly.  There are, of course, shades of grey with respect to the two belief systems, and few actually subscribe to the hardest versions of the two sides.  That being said, the strictest adherents of these camps argue as follows:


Creationist Thought:  The Christian version of Creationism begins with a belief that the Judeo-Christian written Tradition, the Bible, is literally true and historical.  The world we live on was created about 6,000 years ago.  The heavens and earth were created in 6 days according to the Judeo-Christian Creation Story, and we can trace back the age of the earth through the genealogy asrecorded in Genesis.  Adam and Eve were historical figures that lived on this world in physical form and were tempted into disobedience against God and were expelled from the Garden of Eden, which was a physical place on this earth.  There are those in this camp that hold that this version of how we came to be is the basis for their faith, that because they believe in God, the Judeo-Christian written Tradition must be historical and literal.

Now, as I said before, this is only the most extreme version of this belief system.  There are also more moderate versions which take the story regarding the age of the earth as symbolic rather than literal.  That being said, there is a tremendous amount of ink spilled and research dollars spent to research the historical accuracy of stories from the Judeo-Christian Tradition, so I would posit that the literalist viewpoint pervades even moderate Christian thinking.

Evolutionist Thought:  The earth that we live in is countless billion years old and formed by chance from random elements that were left over from a supernova countless more billion years ago, which also happened by chance.  Somehow a random group of amino acids formed together to make proteins which randomly became single celled organisms.  These organisms evolved from these single celled organisms to complex forms of life like human beings through a process of mutation and natural selection for traits that had greater survival value.  This belief system promotes a value system of “survival of the fittest” and that the weak perish so that the strongest survive.  There are those in this camp that hold that the physical evidence that has been found to support this belief system proves that God does not exist, particularly as they believe that they have disproved the story of creation as told in the Judeo-Christian written Tradition.

Of course, again, this is the extreme viewpoint.  Most who believe in evolution do not take the research as a conclusion that God was not involved in our formation or is non-existent.  Still, this viewpoint is what is mostly taught in our culture, and one must subscribe to it, at least in part, to be taken seriously in most Western academic circles.

To an essentialist, both of these camps are in error, and this is a false dichotomy.  To begin with, essentialist thought does not hold that a religious tradition must be historical and literal to be Truth.  In fact, Truth, to be Truth, cannot be historical and cannot be based in space and time.  Space and time belong to the world of flux and change, and therefore, are by nature illusion.  Truth is found beyond space and time and beyond the world of flux and change.  In essentialist thought, we are not our bodies; our souls inhabit a physical form in this place and time.  Our souls have been around from the beginning of time, long before they entered the physical bodies they may currently be in, and our souls will return to their Source at the end of time.  The mechanism by which our physical bodies were formed is immaterial to the nature of our souls or to whether or not our physical bodies were formed in the mind of God from a Sacred Archetype.  The question of how God formed our bodies, whether creating them out of the dust all at once, whether growing them from the seed of a single celled organism, or whether there was some other mechanism involved, may be interesting but tells us nothing about the Truth beyond physicality and beyond space and time.  We can read both the Sacred Tradition and observe the Natural World to speculate as to how our physical bodies were formed, but that tells us nothing about Truth.

This error on the part of both the very conservative and so-called progressive modern thinkers is the basis for the criticism of the practice of astrology by both of these camps.  The very conservative will say that they do not believe in the practice of astrology because they “follow the will of God, not the stars.”  The progressive will state all of the scientific observations of astronomy to point out the superstitions of the primitive humans were in error.  They also will criticize those who believe that their lives are controlled by the stars.

Both sides miss the point.  Even in the Judeo-Christian tradition, it is written, “And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and for years, and let them be lights in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth.”  In all traditional religions, the study of the stars and the planetary bodies marked times for religious festivals and for all human activity.  The stars were seen as signs given to us by the Divine, not as actors in and of themselves.

The “scientific” world-view also mistakes the nature of astrology as the study of how the planets act upon us.  Modern astrology has also followed this error in ascribing meaning to heavenly bodies, such as asteroids and the like, which are not a part of the sacred tradition.  This error also plays a role in the meanings ascribed to the outer planets, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto, but this is another topic for another day.