True initiation is the acquisition of superior states of awareness. Since there are many such states, there are many levels of initiation. In the Fool’s Journey there are four Tarot cards called the Hell cards. They are The Blasted Tower, The Wheel of Life and Death, The Devil, and The Hanging Man. They represent ordinary, even inferior, states of consciousness. Completing the successive stages of the Fool’s Journey corresponds to achieving certain higher, superior states that cannot be achieved passively. It takes a sustained attack by a spiritual warrior. This is exactly why this Journey requires sustained work on your part. No one can do it for you, nor can you get anywhere without doing it.
In the Journey, a descent must be made first to “clean out the basement.” This occurs with the practices associated with The Moon Pool, especially the Constellation work. But more generally, the mastery of each stage is an initiation.
We can visualize the Fool’s Journey as an ascent up a mountain. Each stage of this journey represents what mountain climbers call a false summit. This means the climber can see the ground immediately ahead of and above him, but no further. Each stage is a plateau where the Fool engages with what is directly in front of him nothing more; the tasks of subsequent stages do not appear and are not accessible until the present stage is mastered. Here, mastery means the assimilation of the experiences proper to that stage and the ability to safely exist in the conscious modalities of that stage.
The term palingenesis means the birth of a new being out of oneself, a re-creation or rebirth, but one on a higher ontological level of existence. As used here, it has nothing to do with anything moralistic, psychoanalytical or merely mystical. Nor does it mean a mere ritualistic baptism featuring water in a Christian faith, which is the modern meaning adopted in the early centuries of the Roman Church. Its original meaning has long been hidden by those who viewed that meaning as a heresy. Therefore they kept quiet about it.
Implied at the center of palingenesis is the idea that man may partake of two quite different natures. One is the nature of mortal man as we observe and experience it: contingent, ruled by illusion, and destined to be short-lived. The four Hell cards depict this nature, illustrated finally by the Hanging Man. The second nature may be called the nature of the immortals, and the idea is that these two natures were at one time a single nature, which was the normal human state. Said differently, a god was an immortal man, and man was a mortal god.
So there is the idea of some sort of continuum implied here between mortal man and immortal god. The level of your consciousness has to do with your progress on the Journey. If you could transform your consciousness to a higher level, you could become a divine being, where the word divine specifically means a human who has transformed his or her consciousness into a permanently altered state that is able to apprehend and eventually exist in the subtle, spiritual realms. That’s all it means.
However, there is a gap—an abyss—in this continuum that requires a leap of real effort to cross, so merely saying you are reborn, or having some “official” say it to you has no effect, because your consciousness remains essentially the same.
Passage from the lower to the higher state is enabled by initiation. By initiation people could escape from the lower nature and achieve the higher, thereby becoming “more than” human. Their arrival at the plane of another form of existence constituted an event on the new plane exactly equivalent to generation and physical birth on this plane. Those who are reborn are regenerated.
Regarding the Fool’s Journey, initiations occur in two distinct phases. In the Journey of the Lesser Mysteries, the Fool becomes aware of the higher realms, and learns to accurately communicate with the beings who live there—the Few, who are his or her guides. One thus becomes a bridge between the mundane and spiritual worlds. The basics of this Journey are what is taught in the Initiation Event, and this is will be quire sufficient for most people.
In the Journey of the Greater Mysteries the Fool learns to transfer his or her consciousness to the divine realm—and this constitutes the final initiation: one joins the ranks of the Few, and returning to the human state or going on permanently to a higher state is entirely at the discretion of the Initiate.
Being of Service
We are each placed here for a reason. Most of us don’t know what that reason is, or we don’t know until an advanced age, when the knowledge may come with regrets. There is real work to be done here on this plane by us, but we are almost completely unaware of this fact, much less aware of what that reason might be.
The first glimmerings of this come when we realize that life lacks the meaning—even deep meaning—we know it should have. We waste time with one thing and another, and our time gradually slips away. If we never make the effort … The great Sufi poet Rumi put it this way: “The way in which you may approach what you want may be too long a way to suffice you before you are too late.”
The Fool’s Journey is a way to approach what you want. If you make a sincere start, you will not be too late.