The title of this article may seem anachronistic in an age in which we can just pop down to the registry office to tie the knot, or go to the other extreme and use it as an excuse to put on a lavishly extragavant event on some far flung sun-kissed beach that most of our relatives have to remortgage their houses to attend.
However, once we begin to learn a little about alchemy, which provides the true blueprint for how Mother Nature likes to organise herself, and we also perceive that we are part of Her creation and so know that the same rules apply to us, we can then start to recognise that all successful endeavours to create the fertility that contributes to the longevity of the human species are based on a wholly magic sacrament known to alchemists as the Alchemical Wedding, the Divine Wedding or the Marriage of the Sun and the Moon.
Clues to the magic of the marriage sacrament, which was once much more widely understood, are still to be found today in the modern wedding service, if you know how to read it.
Marriage is a gift of God in creation
through which husband and wife may know the grace of God.
It is given that as man and woman grow together in love and trust,
they shall be united with one another in heart, body and mind,
as Christ is united with his bride, the Church.
Here comes the Bride
However, this extract also shows us a profound misunderstanding: the white-veiled Bride is not the Church. In fact, the Bride exists from a time long before the religion of Christianity was conceived. As the magician Dion Fortune was fond of saying, “There’s a big difference between real Christianity and Churchianity.”
It is true that the clues to Christian mysticism can be found in the glorious architecture of the churches and cathedrals that were built by the descendants of the Templars, which are in effect transformers for communicating divine devotion. But they are not the Bride herself. She comes from an ancient Mystery play in which the fertility of the land was dependant on the lovemaking between the Queen of the May, named in Celtic myths as Bride or Bridie, and her groom of the white horse of Sovereignty, Gwythyr ap Greidawl.
This Bride and her groom play out the circular zodiac dance of the Alchemical Marriage, or the Marriage of the Sun and the Moon, in the wisdom stories of our ancestors. If you would like to know more, it is explained more fully in Stories in the Summerlands, so that needn’t delay us here.
The problem with modern conceptions of love and marriage is that in a secular society, they are so often underpinned by a sort of vague abstract idea that the two should become one. However, Mother Nature does not give a fig for how modern minds think; two becoming one is directly anathema to how She works, and therefore should a married couple try to follow that process, it will end in tragedy … by which I mean an unhappy marriage or even divorce.
If we want to follow natural trajectories, which is always the best course to success, then two doesn’t become one; in fact, the two unite in an endeavour to produce a third thing, known in Celtic myths as the birth of the Radiant Child, who then goes on to become the hero whose trials and challenges win him the Cauldron, the Holy Grail, otherwise known as the Sovereignty of the land.
In a sacred marriage, the man and woman are not intent upon each other, but upon their relationship with “God” or “spirit”, which is the source of their union, and through which they form a trinity.
This alchemical process is also represented in sacred geometry by the Vesica Piscis, and in Chinese alchemy by the yin-yang symbol.
Like the male Sun and the female Moon, the couple have different roles. The man goes about during the day, making hay while the Sun shines. The woman keeps the home so that he can return at night and together, under the Moon, they can fertilise their ‘nest’.
I know all this might sound wildly old-fashioned and anti-feminist; but probably the same people who will complain about it are those who also decry the horrors and travails of modern, secular existence. I think a real feminist is one who pursues a course that will help a woman to feel fulfilled, noble and honoured in her own home.
The role of the Sun is to beat out the rhythm of Time within the harmony of the spheres; the role of the Moon is to supply the melody, through the ebbing and flowing of tides, with her spiralling dance around her shining paramour. The two planetary orbs come together at the time of eclipses to “make love”. That is why megalithic stone circles like Stonehenge were built according to sacred geometrical principles so that they could be used as calendars to predict eclipses and as sites for the practice of ritual sex rites.
The Wedding at Cana
There is a further clue to the sacrament underlying the marriage ritual in the modern wedding service that is only visible to those who have the eyes to see it.
Marriage is a way of life made holy by God,
and blessed by the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ
with those celebrating a wedding at Cana in Galilee.
There is a reference to the Divine Wedding found in the texts of the Christian Gnostic literature. These writings were banned by Bishop Irenaeus in the third century. He was the first to promote a literal version of the Jesus story and would only use stories with which he could make that case; hence, we are left with only the authorised canon of four gospels.
Before Iraneus’s time, those who believed in a historical Jesus Christ were very few and far between, and those who we call Gnostics were in the majority. They composed metaphorical stories about this mythological, death-rebirth hero that were actually vehicles for great, eternal cosmological truths based on alchemical and astrological wisdom. But after Bishop Irenaeus’s ruling, they had to hide their scrolls in the deserts.
Eventually, in 1945, a cache of these banned gospels was discovered in the caves of Nag Hammadi in Egypt and, alongside stories about Jesus which were plainly allegorical, were also the alchemical works of Plato. Once seen through the revived perspective of the Nag Hammadi texts, Jesus’s turning of the white water into red wine at the Wedding in Cana, as recounted in the Gospel of John, takes on a wholly different meaning.
The Gnostic Christian alchemical marriage or Divine Wedding takes place in the ‘bridal chamber’ and in the Nag Hammadi text Exegesis of the Soul, the whore abandons her work in the marketplace to prepare the bridal chamber for the Christ/brother/husband.
“And when she had intercourse with him, she got from him the seed that is the life-giving spirit, and this is the resurrection from the dead.”
The “resurrection from the dead” and “seed that is the life-giving spirit” is code for the fruit of the Marriage of the Sun and the Moon, the Alchemical Marriage which culminates in the birth of the Radiant Child. It is also known as the Philosopher’s Stone, which turns everything it touches into gold. So we can only conclude that if we wish our marriage to thrive as far as the Golden Wedding anniversary, we will have to learn to recast our union according to the blueprint of the divine sacrament.
I suspect that the seed for the Spiritual Marriage concept was planted in Ancient Egypt with the legend of Isis and Osiris.