Now we turn to The History of Anna, an Ethiopian manuscript that is read in the Ethiopian Orthodox Churches in honor of Saint Anna, the mother of the Virgin Mary. From it we can glean information about the Virgin, her immaculate daughter. Much that is in the book has already been covered before, and a great deal is fulsome praise of Saint Anna and the Virgin, so I will only give the salient points found there. The book begins:
Let us return and again praise the daughter of Joachim and Anna, that is to say, the Virgin Mary, the seat of the Flame Whose Name is Emmanuel.
Although it is more common to speak of the universal energy, the Holy Spirit, as Fire, since Christ, the Only-begotten, is Her counterpart in emanation from the Absolute, the Father, He, too, is Fire and bears within Him the three qualities of fire: light, heat, and consumption (burning)for our God is a consuming fire.1 Christ illumines, stirs up to action (as heat causes the molecules to move rapidly) that which is true within us and consumes that which is false. These are the powers of Christ universally and within the individual.
The Virgin is the seat of divine Fire, Its proper throne. She is Its repository, and It can be obtained through Her. The Christian life is the Marian life. The Holy Spirit is the mirror of the transcendent divine countenance, and the Virgin is the perfect mirroring of the Christ Life in incarnation. When considered esoterically, the Virgin Mary represents the awakened powers within the Christian. Thus what seem to be poetic praises of Her are actually object lessons in cultivation of our own Christ nature. Here are a few significant similes.
Exalted then is the memorial of the praise of the virgin, who became like a plant in the house of God, and like the cedar tree on Lebanus, and like the cypress tree on the mountains of Hermon, and like a palm tree on the river bank, and like a rose on the margin of a pool, and like a beautiful olive tree in the sanctuary of God.
These six botanical references indicate qualities exemplified in the Virgin Mary which must be ours as well if the Christ within is to be revealed.
First we must be planted within the house of God, the consciousness of Gods reality. There is no other way. Then, like a plant we must growevolve. Our evolution must be upwards, extending our consciousness into the highest reaches of our being, just as the cedars grow upward within the exalted valley of Lebanon (Lebanus). Our growth must also be downwards, into the depths our being, so we may become firmly rooted in our inmost consciousness of spirit, as the cypress tree is rooted deep within the stone of the mountain. We must never be separated from the continual flow of the inner life, established upon the right bank (righthand path) of that river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God.2 In this way we can manifest and reflect the inner Christ in the outer world, just as the rose is reflected in a pool. Then, established within the sanctuary, the Holy Place, we can not only become Christs, but can also be the source of the Christ-anointings of others, as the olive tree produces the oil for the anointing of kings and the consecration of sacred vessels. All these things were shown forth in Mary and shall one day be manifested in us.
In this next section let us not lose sight of the fact that the words apply equally to the Virgin as the Queen of Christians and to the Holy Spirit Mother in Her form as the Power of Christ.
I desire greatly to be her servant,
Everything that exists is God. All that appears to be separate from God is just thatmere appearance. The internal workings of God are perceived as though they were external independent entities for the process of cultivating Gnosis. The Holy Spirit-Christian Power is actually the divine will, the seed carrying within Itself the perfect plan of evolution. So to be the servant of that Power is not to be a passive or helpless leaf being whirled along by It, but to be an intelligent, conscious, intentional worker with that sacred force. The term servant is used because a servant acts according to direction, rather than in a blind or aimless way. The implication is that the seeker of Christhood acts intelligently in a precisely guided manner according to a definite plan, making manifest the intention of the inmost spirit: the deification of the individual.
for I know that she will become unto me a counsellor for good,
The Divine Power is inspirer and enlightener as well as guide. When hearkened to through the deep movements within that are Her words of counsel to the meditator, She will unerringly guide him to the fulfillment of his destiny in God. At first external scriptures are our only guides, but in time the inspirer of the scriptures Herself must be heard from within where She is always speaking. It is this internal monologue that has guided our higher self through all stages of evolution within relative existence until now when we begin to realize the fact of this and to attune our internal ear to hear Her call.
and that she will console me in my sorrow and affliction,
The Holy Spirit does not prevent us from undergoing sorrows and afflictions, but the wisdom gained by following Her words, and the insights revealed by that following, strengthen the aspirant and enable him to maintain his inner equilibrium and to deal with those experiences from an illumined perspective. Having already received a foretaste of the good things to come,3 he is motivated to press on through the difficulties to freedom, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.4
and that through her I shall find affection with the multitude and honor with the elders.
Saint Paul speaks of our being compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses.5 The multitude and elders are the saints, angels, and other beings of superhuman evolution. They take an interest in our spiritual growth just as adults care about the growth and development of children. They observe our treading of the evolutionary path and will help us if we so ask. Otherwise they only watch, willing but not able, since they never interfere with the operation of our free will. But their interest in us is not academic or detached. As this passage states, they love us with the love of God, with an infinite care and solicitude. Therefore we must not neglect calling upon such ready helpers.
I shall make myself to be considered marvellous before the face of the mighty, even though I hold my peace, and they shall wait until I speak.
The Fathers have said that a persevering aspirant is a wonder even unto the angels. Thus we have no need to speak out and declare our inner statusit will be perceived by those holy ones even better than we ourselves perceive it. Indeed, our silence will itself be witness of our worthiness and progress. As the Upanishad says: He who knows tells it not, and He who says I know, does not know.
They shall draw nigh unto me, and I shall appear as a good man among the congregation.
Appear in this instance does not mean to look like or seem to be, but to actually enter into a place. In English we say appearing nightly or make an appearance, meaning to really be someplace. Through the grace of the holy ones we enter into their company, into the cloud of witnesses, unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect.6
When this occurs we can say with Jesus: If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true. There is another that beareth witness of me; and I know that the witness which he witnesseth of me is true. And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me.7 And since there is none good but one, that is, God,8 we shall be godlikeperfect images of the perfect Archetype.
Such glory is not won easily, but only through great tribulations, as is indicated in the book of Revelation.
After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;
And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.
And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God,
Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.
And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?
And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.
They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.
For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.9
The History of Anna continues:
For in sorrow and weeping there is nought but joy and gladness. The will of the Virgin is deathless, and her love for man is abundant, happiness and goodness are in her hands and never-ending riches, in her speech are doctrine, and knowledge, and honor, and in her words are peace and love. [She is] the mother of light.
The book states that Moses made an image of the Virgin Mary and placed it upon the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant, and this image was always kept in the Holy of Holies upon the Ark. The images of the Cherubim overshadowed this image with their wings. Thus the Ark was mostly intended to be a shrine for this image.
Images of the Virgin made long before Her birth were found in Europe and in the Mediterranean world. A well-known temple in Egypt was dedicated to The Virgin Who Shall Give Birth To God. When the Holy Family visited there, a voice from the image told the worshippers to go forth to meet the living Original. They did so, and found that Marys appearance was identical to that of the image.
The conception of the Virgin is related by the Ethiopic text in this way.
Joachim said unto Anna his wife, I saw the heavens opened, and a white bird went forth therefrom and hovered over my head. and likewise Anna said unto him, I had a dream this day, and I saw a dove sitting upon my head, and it entered into my belly. And thirty days after they had told each other these things, Anna conceived our Lady Mary.
Queen Mayadevi had the vision of a white elephant roaming the hills as their monarch (in India the elephant is considered the king of beasts). Then he came toward her, shrank to small size, entered into her right side, and she conceived the Buddha in that moment. Whenever we study the lives of the great world saviors, we find many correspondences. The similarities of Jesus life to that of Buddha and Krishna are proofs of His divine statusnot denials as some would have it be. It is His consonance with all the Masters of Wisdom that establishes Jesus reality, not any forced uniqueness. Such an idea is absurd, especially when we realize that Jesus is in the final analysis a revelation of what each human being is destined to become.
More is told later about the white bird appearing to Anna.
God appeared unto Anna that day in a vision of the night, in the form of a White Bird which came down from heaven. Now this Bird had its being [i.e., existed] in the days of old, for it overshadowed the Cherubim of glory; and there was the hand of a man beneath the wing thereof, and it held in it the cord of life. Now this was the Spirit of Life, in the form of a White Bird, and it took up its abode in the person of Anna, and became incarnate in her womb. Now the white bird is mentioned because her soul [existed] aforetime [with] the Ancient of Days, and it was with Him on the right hand of His Father.
Although we think of the Holy Spirit being symbolized by a dove as unique to Christianity, it is evident that such an appearance was known long before, that the Shekinah of Glory hovering over the Ark sometimes was seen as a white bird or dove. The identity of this Bird with the Holy Spirit is surely beyond questionas is the identity of the Virgin with the Bird. Here again we see that the original Christians understood the divinity of Mary as an incarnation of the Holy Spirit. This also makes clear why Mary imparted the Light of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, rather than Jesus doing so before His Ascension. Further the statement is made regarding Mary: Her flesh was the flesh of the Godhead. And addressing Anna it says: Thou art the Mother of the Life, and that Life [is] Mary, in whom the heavens and the earth rejoice. It further praises Anna for giving birth to Mary, addressing her as thou tabernacle of the vivifying Holy Spirit.
In the accounts of Jesus infancy we have seen that immediately after His birth His healing powers were revealed. The Virgins healing abilities were shown even before Her birth.
Six months after it had become known that the blessed Anna had conceived, the kinsfolk of Joachim her husband and those of herself heard thereof, and they came unto her and said, Is the matter that we hear concerning thee true? What is this thing that hath come upon thee after thy days for child-bearing are past?
Now there was a certain woman among the kinsfolk of Anna who was bind in one eye, and she touched the belly of Anna, saying, Is it true, what I have heard? My sister, how canst thou conceive, being an old woman? And afterwards the woman touched her eye which was blind, and straightway it was opened for her, and she saw the light.
The she said unto Anna, O Anna, blessed art thou because thou hast in thy womb a child who whilst unborn can heal the sick; when he hath made himself manifest and hath come forth from thee, how many will be the people whom he shall heal!
And many sick folk came and touched Anna, even as the woman had done, and they were made whole and recovered from their sicknesses.
Here we see an important principle: faith is not necessary for healing or any other miracles. Such an assertion is the resort of the spiritually incapable who wish to blame others for their inability. Saint Matthews Gospel tells us that when Jesus came to his own part of Israel, he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.10 This is mistakenly taken to mean that their doubt blocked Jesus ability to perform miracles. It really means that God will not violate our free wills. If we actively do not want divine intervention or help then God (Who alone is humble and respects us) does not interfere. What an awful politeness! Yet it is so. God never violates our free will. Never. We must remember this throughout spiritual life, especially in our relations with others.
It should also be pointed out that God did not get angry at their unbelief and smite them with some kind of punishment, but healed their unbelieving hearts, just as he did their bodies. God is always love,11 however much we forget it.
In virtually all systems of religion that acknowledge the Fatherhood and Motherhood of God, the sun and the moon are used as their symbols respectively. This was very much the case in the Mediterranean world at the time of Christ. Such symbolism was well known to the Hebrews, and it is interesting to discover that the Virgins grandmother had prophesied: The seventh daughter of my daughter shall bring forth the blessed moon.
Although it is of no particular significance to our study, the History of Anna says that Eve had sixty childrenthirty male and thirty female. It also states that Anna was a great prophetess, and that she revealed to the Virgin everything that would happen to Her and to Jesus, including His death and resurrection.
1) Hebrews 12:29 [Go back]
2) Psalms 46:4 [Go back]
3) Hebrews 9:11 [Go back]
4) Hebrews 12:2 [Go back]
5) Hebrews 12:1 [Go back]
6) Hebrews 12:23 [Go back]
7) John 5:31,32, 37 [Go back]
8) Matthew 19:17 [Go back]
9) Revelation 7:9-17 [Go back]
10) Matthew 13:58 [Go back]
11) God is love. (I John 4:8,16) [Go back]