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Watkins, Allen – The Straight path in Wisdom teaching – The Stages of Initiation



Type of Spiritual Experience


After Alfred Watkins died, his son took up the baton, and allowed himself a great deal more freedom to express his findings [and those of his father] than his father felt able to.  Torn between the necessity to be extremely conservative in promoting his findings and his actual beliefs, Alfred Watkins remained relatively conservative in the descriptions in his books.  But he knew far more than he ever let on, he refers to numerous symbolic objects, indicating that he knew all the hidden Freemason and universal symbols embodied in sacred geography.  His father was a businessman and it would seem a Freemason, as such Alfred would have known all about the significance of the Smith, and what Cole as a a name meant.

Here Allen provides a superb description of the method of initiation during the Mysteries.

A description of the experience

Allen Watkins – The Straight path in Wisdom teaching

Between Earth and Water there is Mire, which is a mixture of the physical and the sensual elements in Man.

Between Water and Air there is Mist, which nicely describes the confused thought consequent on mixing emotion (Water) and reason (Air).

The last intermediate is the Halo or Rainbow, which is the fiery barrier between reason (Air) and final intuition or revelation (Aether).

By these seven symbolical terms we can express the whole range of post-mortem experience of the human soul, as well as the whole range of subjective experience during life. The central Wisdom teaching was that Man had fallen from the highest plane (Aether or Fire) to the lowest plane (Earth), and that if he wished to recover his lost estate he must retrace his path upwards through all the elements.

The ritual initiations of the pagan Mysteries expressed through the actual experiences of the candidate the difficult stages in Man's ascent through the elements. There were three initiations. The first was from Earth to Water, the second from Water to Air, and the third from Air to Fire or Aether..

He starts from a high initial point and descends from high estate to EARTH.
He goes along a stoned causeway through a muddy pond: MIRE.
The old track leads straight through a ford: WATER.
Visibility is bad: MIST.
He climbs upward into a clearer in a sphere: AIR.
The blazing beacon on the summit is reflected in a circular moat: HALO.
He arrives at the terminal beacon point FIRE.

After two millenniums we still continue to use exactly the same ley-metaphors to express the permanent realities of Man’s inner life. They are born in us as part of our heritage from the past. We describe a man whose mind and conversation is purely material as 'down-to-earth'. We refer to a sensualist as 'wallowing in the mire’. We say a passionate man is overcome by a 'flood of emotion’ (Water). We speak of a brave man as having received his baptism of Fire'. We speak of a strikingly true thought as a .flash of in- tuition' (Fiery Light). An honest man is said to 'go straight’, identifying the Path with right conduct and morality.

The source of the experience

Watkins, Alfred

Concepts, symbols and science items

Science Items

Activities and commonsteps