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Mysteries of the Sun: The Hermetic Teachings of Omraam Mikhaël Aïvanhov

 
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Mysteries of the Sun: The Hermetic Teachings of Omraam Mikhaël Aïvanhov
Mysteries of the Sun: The Hermetic Teachings of Omraam Mikhaël Aïvanhov

Published in GNOSIS, Spring 1998

by Siobhan Houston

"Eternity, therefore, is an image of god; the cosmos is an image of eternity; and the sun is an image of the cosmos. The human is an image of the sun."

Corpus Hermeticum

As twilight settled over the verdant countryside, the dilapidated bus in which I rode neared the city of Sherbrooke in Eastern Québec. My ultimate destination was a few miles outside the city--the Domaine Blagoslovenie, a retreat center situated on 22 pristine rural acres, founded by the Bulgarian philosopher, Omraam Mikhaël Aïvanhov (1900-1986). Ever since I first heard about the Domaine (whose name translates into “the Realm of Blessings”), I had longed to visit.

In July 1996, I finally had a chance to spend a week there, during the annual three-week summer congress of the Canadian branch of the Fraternité Blanche Universelle (the Universal White Brotherhood), the organization of Aïvanhov’s students. Although a little nervous about the trip (I knew no one at the center and was to be the only non-Francophone in attendance), I was excited about finally meeting the students of Aïvanhov, whose books I had read since 1988.

Aïvanhov, considered by many to be an adept, taught in the classic Western esoteric tradition. Inspired by Pythagoras and Plato, he taught his students to reawaken to the gnosis or spiritual knowledge within them by interpreting the “living book of Nature”; in esotericism, Nature is often understood as book of “symbols and hidden realities to be ‘read’ by the intuitive mind.”[ii] He believed that in order for people to become reintegrated with the Divine, which was the aim of human life, certain practices were paramount. These included living a morally pure life, which included a modified vegetarian diet (he sanctioned the eating of fish). Moreover, music was paramount to one’s spiritual advancement, in his opinion. His students spend many hours singing sacred Bulgarian songs in complex four-part harmonies, as well as listening to classical music, especially oratorios and masses. But the most significant aspects of his teaching revolved around solar meditation.

At the age of 17 while living in Bulgaria, Aïvanhov met his spiritual mentor, Peter Deunov. A teacher of gnostic Christianity, Deunov advocated sun contemplation in the curriculum of his initiatic school.[iii] The young Aïvanhov later attended college and graduate school, concentrating on psychology, philosophy and the natural sciences. During the 1930s, he held a professorship at a Bulgarian university and subsequently worked as a college principal in the country's capital city of Sofia.

In 1937 his spiritual master sent him to France to teach, and the following year Aïvanhov gave his first public lecture in Paris at the Place de la Sorbonne, speaking on the role of astrological symbolism in spiritual life. He resided in France for the next 50 years, and spent considerable time traveling worldwide, lecturing on the Hermeticist philosophy. [iv] Aïvanhov died in France on Christmas Day, 1986. Although he appointed no successor, he left behind an international fellowship of students.[v]

For his North American students, the retreat center in Québec is the motherhouse, as it were; currently there is no residential center in the United States. Located in the beautiful Estrie region of Québec, this bucolic establishment includes guest houses, permanent residences, a dining and lecture hall, as well as seven ponds and many vegetable, flower and herb gardens. Aïvanhov’s students purchased the land, formerly a golf course, in 1984.

When I arrived for the retreat last July, I was shown to the women’s dormitory, a spotlessly clean and sparsely furnished dwelling. I quickly stowed my gear under my bunk bed and met some of the other participants. Most were middle-aged, between 30 and 60 years old, and a few were quite elderly. My sense was that the attendees, for the most part, were well-educated middle-class professionals. The majority lived in Québec, although a few came from other provinces. American visitors, I was told, were a rarity.

Awakening in my bunk bed on the first morning of my stay, I quickly dressed and headed outside for the silent sunrise meditation, which began at 5 AM. We carried our folding lawn chairs to a small plot of land overlooking a magnificent valley. Sitting in the chilly air, we waited quietly for the sun to rise. Slowly, rose and lavender ribbons of light streaked the dusky sky, followed by the effulgent solar orb rising above the gorge. Only the occasional bird call and a mild breeze murmuring in the leaves broke the stillness. My sunrise meditations from my apartment balcony, situated in the midst of the Boston metropolis, in no way compared with the intense experience of that morning. After forty-five minutes, the president of the Canadian fraternity, Frère Romeo, began a pranayama (yogic breathing) exercise, and we all joined in. At six o’clock, we saluted the sun with raised right palms, then headed back to our lodgings. The entire exercise took place in complete silence.

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Re: Mysteries of the Sun: The Hermetic Teachings of Omraam Mikhaël Aïvanhov
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