As Mary finished her story, I turned to Helen and asked, "Were you not born in Russia? Somehow, as I see you, you seem to have a Russian heritage."
"Yes, I was born in St. Petersburg and my father was an officer in the Imperial Army. After my father died, we lived our last years in extreme poverty. Except for the company of my mother, my relatives and a teacher, there was nothing to attract me to earth. The development of my physical form could not keep step with the unfoldment of my mind and the cold, starvation and want hastened the disease which caused its dissolution.
"My mind unfolded very rapidly and reveled in the terrestrial joys. I loved poetry and I loved to look at the clouds sailing in the sky and to see the objects of beauty in the world of Nature. I communicated in the Spirit with the heroes of the past, but my wasted body would not stand the consumptive reactions and I was kindly received by the White Brotherhood.
I took a long look at our Lady Helen. I was sure that I had seen her somewhere before, and now I remembered. When I was a mere child, I once had a vision. While in a state between sleeping and waking consciousness, it seemed as though an angel or some other kind of super-terrestrial being, clad in white and holding a lily in her hand, was floating in the air above me. When she was directly over me, she extended the lily toward me.
Many times I had prayed to see this beautiful form again, and now she was here! She was the one I had seen in my dream!
Lady Helen had exceedingly great beauty! Her long, black flowing hair formed a powerful contrast with her plain white flowing robes covering her with great grace and beauty. She had pale but delicate skin; her profile was almost purely Greek, and her dark eyes seemed to penetrate to the innermost center of soul to kindle there a fire of pure love and admiration.
Her modest account of her former life touched my heart and I asked, "Were there none of your country folks intelligent enough to see your genius and aid you and your family in your time of need?"
"Yes, they erected a very costly monument for my body in my memory. Part of the money expended for it would have procured all the necessities to prolong my life. Many people who knew me liked me and admired my works, my talents and my poetry, but most were poor like myself. But let us let that pass, for, after all, my parents and my suffering were my gain and I have cause to be well-satisfied with my life.
"One must remember that the conditions under which man lives are the effects of previously acquired karma."
Again, while she spoke, my mind wandered back to ask if truly it was she who had appeared to me in the dream, waving the lily as if promising a blessing. Perhaps it was the magnetism which streamed from the symbol of the lily into the depths of my heart, convincing me that there was a higher life of activity, that filled my whole being with happiness at the time. Its memory was ingrained in my heart, while thousands of other dreams have faded away.
Helen arose and reached through the open spaces between the pillars. She broke off a white lily which was growing close to the wall and gave it to me, saying, "Keep this flower, it will not fade like a dream. And when you see it, you'll know that I'm not the product of an illusion or hallucination."
Helen ceased speaking and we both were quiet for a while. My thoughts roamed and I thought how nice it would be to have her for a Teacher, to lead me on my path and be my protector. Helen read my thoughts again and said:
"We can only assist and raise those who make an effort to protect and raise themselves, and aid those who are ready to receive our influence. It is also essential that they are spiritually approaching our own spiritual sphere of consciousness."
As she finished speaking, a man of small stature, his highly intelligent expression at once indicating that he was a Master, approached us. His head was almost bald, with traces of gray locks of hair around the sides and back. I recognized him from pictures I had seen as one whose presence I had often felt. I had always called him Jonathan.
He had proved to be a great Master. During his earthly life he had been a noted physician, performing many great healings. He also was a great alchemist and knew many secrets, for he was well schooled in the secrets of the Golden Cross. He also knew of the Red Lion and the White Eagle.
He looked directly at me and said, "I would like to give you a bit of information regarding the subject of your conversation with Helen.
"Remember that love causes attraction, evil repulses; pure will be attracted to the pure, evil to that which is impure.
"It is also part of the law that to give presupposes the capacity of the other to receive. The sunlight of our great light is open to all, but some see it not. The fountain of eternal truth is inexhaustible and universal, but those who open their hearts to that sunshine of truth are few. He who seeks continually to rise above the animal being will be in the company of those who have thrown off the animal elements and live in the Spirit."
Jonathan then informed me that the other Master had been called away to attend to affairs of the mundane plane. The mission was to prevent a certain statesman from committing an act of imbecility which would have caused a great war had not the Master interceded.
"Therefore," Jonathan said, "I have been deputized to pinch- hit for him in taking you into the alchemical laboratory and correcting some of your misconceptions regarding alchemy."
I felt I would rather stay with the two women Adepts, remaining in their presence both spiritually and materially, but I could not gracefully refuse Jonathan's invitation. So I followed him into the monastery.
As Master Jonathan and I walked down the broad corridors, it was as though we were going through a beautiful art gallery. The corridors themselves were exquisite and the side walls contained statues of the finest marble, masterfully executed, representing the gods and goddesses of antiquity and certain heroes of ancient times.
We stopped before one of the statues and Master Jonathan said, "These statues represent the elemental principles and power of Nature. They were thus personified by the ancients to bring the attributes visually into the conceptive power of the mind. Actually, the Greeks and Romans, except for a few ignorant, never believed that Zeus, Pluto, Neptune and so forth were existing personalities nor did they ever worship them. They were merely symbols used to personify formless power.
"One of the great truths which man as a whole misses in his attempt to understand life is that man's body and form are not the real man. They are merely symbols, the personification of the character and attributes of the real man.
"The man we see is merely a form of matter in which the thoughts of the real man have found their external expression.
"Actually, it is the modern intellectual who mistakes the external illusion for the internal truth and the form for the principle. That, of course, turns the modern church into a materialistic institution which has degraded the confined or forgotten the Universal Spirit, stopping the flow of experience of the Universal Spirit and limiting its being and the great powers of Nature."
We walked down the hall to a set of massive doors and an archway which led into the form of a temple. It had no side windows but received its light from a set of cupola windows. As I looked up to the cupola, high over out heads, I saw a large double-laced triangle made of gold and surrounded by the figure of a snake biting its tail and forming a perfect circle. In the middle of the room and directly under the cupola stood a round table with a white marble top. The same symbol -- which was above the table -- the double triangle surrounded by the snake -- was duplicated in silver in the table.
The walls were covered with cases holding a great number of books on alchemy and many other subjects. On one side of the room there was an altar upon which stood a burning lamp. There were a couple of crucibles, a few bottles lying upon a side table and two armchairs. These were the entire furnishings of the room.
I looked around, expecting to see stoves, furnaces, retorts and other implements such as might be used by a chemist. I may even have been expecting to see some gnomes or zombies walking about.
Master Jonathan read my thoughts and laughingly remarked: "Did you expect to find an apothecary shop? That is a mistake. All that array of bottles and pots, stoves, mortars, filters, strainers, distilling and refining apparatus described in the books of alchemy is nothing but nonsense. It is put there to waylay and mislead the selfish and vicious and to prevent them from prying into mysteries which they are not fit to receive.
"The true alchemist requires no ingredients such as are used by chemists and physicists. His materials are in the air around him, the energy and the force are existent, and he finds them in his own being and his own consciousness. The highest processes of alchemy require no mechanical labor, for they exist in the purification of the soul and in command of mind so that the alchemist may transform the animal man into the divine being."