IMAGE CREDIT: “Ave” by Mary Angelico
Okay, so today’s the Feast of the Assumption. It’s my favorite feastday, and when my first student and I tried to start a magical order in the late 90s, the rubrics for the Discipulus Regni ritual mandated that grade’s initiation take place on this day.
I’m not sure what’s more ironic, the fact we tried starting an order, or the fact we actually attracted about 14 people with almost no advertising or even organization between 1999 and 2002.
Yet the question is, why the Feast of the Assumption? Why set the beginning of one’s path on this particular day?
The answer can be summed up with the Dies Irae, namely the face that sequence was not originally intended for the Mass for the Dead, but instead for the First Sunday of Advent. What we have here is an illustration of the cyclical nature of time, with the universe’s end set before us at the year’s beginning.
The doctrine of Mary’s Assumption, likewise, sets before us the image of the end. Not the world’s end, but the end of a life well-lived and a reward well-earned. This is illustrated by its spiritual fruit when we pray the Holy Rosary: the grace of a happy death.
“Assumption of Mary” by Hieronymous Wierix.
For those who think esotericism is an exercise in needless eclecticism, one could perhaps draw parallels with the Nineteenth Key of the Major Arcana, where the “upright” meaning relates to a worked-for reward deservedly won, the crossing of a finish line of sorts. Or at least that’s the meaning you’ll find in beginner-level books like Eden Gray’s The Complete Guide to the Tarot. In fact a liturgically-savvy eclectic could even point to the Feast’s introit as corroborating the connection to this card: Signum magnum appáruit in caelo: mulier amícta SOLE: et luna sub pédibus ejus…
(Okay, in fairness I read that book when I was six, and that’s the meaning that stays stuck in my head. I’m not a Tarot reader so don’t judge.)
This is one of those times where the eclectic would actually be right. The card of The Sun conveys a sense of optimism and successfully traversing through the darkest night (compare to Key XVIII, The Moon), and the Spiritual Fruit of the Assumption – the reward of a happy death – likewise conveys an optimism that we shall have progressed victoriously on the path of divinization by the time of our life’s end, that we shall see the Son once this time of “geméntes et flentes in hac lacrimárum valle” comes to its end.
Back to the Discipulus Regni grade, I say the hope we have for our end is an appropriate image to place before our beginning. This gives us a definite plan and a definite impetus to persevere (the fifth of the Five Keys explained in the Introspector grade; this lecture is now part of the Epilogue to The Magic of Catholicism).
It is through persevering, likewise, that we refine the base metal that is our initial state upon birth into the golden metal of the soul’s inner sun, and in the Mystery of the Assumption we have Mary’s perseverance as our example to press forward and stay the course no matter what is lost or gained, as she herself stayed the course even during the wrongful torture and execution of her Son.
This contemplation – the wrongful torture and execution of her Son – leads us further to contemplate the power of a mother’s love and how she persevered even through the pain of what unfolded before her eyes. We have our own pains and our own crosses to bear, our own demons to fight, and our own problems to conquer. She conquered hers through staying focused on the reason for the mission, just as we too may conquer by remaining focused on ours.
This, right here, is why I fixed the date of a first-degree initiation on the Feast of the Blessed Mother’s Assumption, and why, if I were ever to found a serious magical school, I would do the same thing again in a heartbeat: because she is a true “Inner Plane Adept” and “Ascended Mistress,” thus it is proper to place her before the new initiate’s eyes – on this day of her triumph over the physical plane’s limitations – as an example and guide as we go forth in the path toward our own spiritual victory.