Why is Mysticism Important Today?
By Tanis Helliwell
Throughout history the established religion of the time persecutes the founder and disciples of the incoming religion. This is what the Jews did to the Christians and what the Christians did to those who worshipped the Goddess. We might wonder how these rabbis and priests could be called initiates into divine law and still do this. There were levels of attainment within the ancient mystery schools and some students would only achieve the first few levels and then return to the outer world. A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing and these students would not have learned to transcend the old law with the new law.
Also, the traditional religion and mystery schools often existed side by side in a culture and a person could study one and not the other tradition. You can be a priest, nun or minister and not be a mystic who has direct experience of spiritual truths. A priest, nun or minister may teach the first level, the moral truths to the majority of people but are unable to teach the higher truths because they do not have an experience of these themself. Both types of ministries are necessary in our world.
The Gnostics preserved the deeper level of Jesus teachings in their gospels but the early Catholic church destroyed both them and their teachings in the fourth and fifth centuries. It is only in the last forty years that the Gospels of Thomas, Mary and others have been recovered. Now, we are able to see the differences between these gospels and the edited ones which have come down to us through traditional religion. The Gnostics believed in reincarnation and direct access to the divine. In fact Christianity is the only major world religion that does not believe in reincarnation and now we find that it was part of the original beliefs of Christianity. This is in keeping with Buddhism and Hinduism as well as beliefs of aboriginal cultures who had vision quests and dream time to open the doors to higher realms.
The mysteries did not die out in the western world despite the persecution of the Gnostics. Mysticism went underground and during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries resurfaced in France and Spain. The Cathars and Templars worshipped the Black Madonna, who was Mary Magdelaine. We know now from the re-discovered gospels that Magdelaine was one of the early leaders of the Christians and that the apostle Peter and she did not view Jesus’s teachings in the same way. Peter was the founder of the traditional Christian church and Magdelaine was the head of the mystical order.
We find, even in the four traditional gospels, the importance of both women and Mary Magdelaine in Jesus’s ministry. The male disciples abandoned Jesus and only the three Marys and the beloved disciple witnessed the most sacred mystery of the death and re-birth of the God. It was Magdelaine who saw the arisen Christ because only she could partake of the mystery of the ascension. Even today our Christian church is fixated on the death and not on the re-birth of Jesus. Without the re-birth he is only Jesus and not Christ because Christ is a title and not last name like Jesus Smith.
Christianity took two paths. The one which is easily observed is that of the traditional Christian church which is a patriarchal organization where women have inferior status to men. This organization has been intolerant of anything other than them and this includes mystics, women, and other religions. The Catholic church has always been intolerant of mystics because they see it as a direct challenge to their power. If individuals are able to have a direct relationship with the Creator why would they need priests to intercede for them. Also, why would they support an institution which is based on religious power in this and not in the spiritual world?
The Catholic church exterminated all mystical groups. These include the Gnostics, the Cathars and the witch hunts of the medieval ages. About ninety percent of witches were women who believed in the ancient religion of the goddess and this was a direct challenge to the patriarchal religion of the all powerful god. Also women were priests in both the Gnostic and Cathar religions and this could not be tolerated either.
The Cathars believed in reincarnation, asceticism, celibacy and direct mystical union with the divine. These beliefs were also those of the Essenes in ancient Judea of Jesus’s time. It is likely that John the Baptist was an Essene and Jesus’s teachings are in keeping with their beliefs. The Essenes kept themselves apart from the traditional religion of the time as did the Cathars because the traditional religion is intolerant of what it does not understand. Those who have power in the world are reluctant to give it up and that is so even for religious organizations.
Why is mysticism important today?
What is amazing is that despite the intolerance of mysticism during the last two thousand years of Christian supremacy in our western world people still become mystics. It is because mystics are fed from the divine current within them. Even if there are no teachers of organizations to support their growth they still learn. This is why mysticism is terrifying to people who put their faith in controlling the material world. Mysticism shatters this control. Mystics usually gravitate towards a religious life because they feel they will be fed there.
Several mystics have been called to the Catholic priesthood within this century. Teillard de Jardin, Thomas Merton and Matthew Fox are three of these. You have only to see their lives to appreciate that the Catholic church is still persecuting them. They have been silenced, sent into exile and their works censored. Although it is no longer acceptable to kill them the church has attempted to kill their influence which for a mystic is tantamount to killing them.
Very seldom do mystics arise through the Protestant tradition because the lack of ritual, common sense approach to religion and virtually non-existence of the Virgin Mary and the feminine principle is not fertile ground for mysticism. However, there are many Protestants who become mystics. They usually do so by reading about the inner mysteries through people such as Rudolph Steiner, Madame Blavatsky and Alice Bailey.
I do not think it by accident that there is a resurgence of mysticism at this time in our evolution. People’s belief in the existing religious structure has collapsed. Attendance in churches has fallen to its lowest and young people seem increasingly reluctant to spend time there. This decline in traditional religion occurs at a time when people are increasingly sceptical about all power structures in our society. We have lost faith in our government and in our business organizations. We have lost faith in the patriarchal system of which these structures are representatives.
People are searching for new meaning, new connections to the Earth which has been betrayed and to species and peoples who have been murdered through greed. People are attempting to find meaning in their life, a purpose for their existence and this search leads them to becoming a mystic.
Tanis Helliwell, a mystic in the modern world, has brought spiritual consciousness into the mainstream for over 30 years. Since childhood, she has seen and heard elementals, angels, and master teachers in higher dimensions. Tanis is the founder of the International Institute for Transformation (IIT), which offers programs to assist individuals to become conscious creators to work with the spiritual laws that govern our world.
Tanis is the author of The High Beings of Hawaii, Summer with the Leprechauns, Pilgrimage with the Leprechauns, Embraced by Love, Manifest Your Soul’s Purpose, Hybrids: So You Think You Are Human and Decoding Your Destiny.
For information on Tanis’ courses, click here.