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To Serve the Light

An address given by Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki
at the 1996 SOL Conference
by Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki

Photo of  Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki by Ylva Tuck

We live in strange and terrible times. When you hear of sixteen 5-year-old children being massacred as they played, or watch on the television the aftermath of terrorist bombs with the bodies of innocent men, women and children lying around, one might be forgiven for thinking that Nostradamus was right. As we draw closer to the end of this fear ridden century there seems to be very little "love of one's fellow man" around.

Since 1990 we have seen more scientific progress than at any other time in recorded history. But peace, friendship and compatibility are in short supply. Politicians tell us that we have had peace for fifty years but the truth is that the world has been at war in one part or another for almost a century.

Yet, in the last thirty years there has been an upsurge of interest in everything to do with the occult, Theosophy, Ancient Mystery Religions, Witchcraft, Shamanism, and alternative therapies of every kind. How is it then, that while much of the world is seeking a spiritual life, joining groups, Orders, Schools, attending workshops and seminars etc, we still do not seem to be making progress towards our goal of world peace.

Because I travel so frequently and to so many different countries I have had the opportunity to observe many different groups at work and to talk to people about their approach both to the world as it is today and their belief systems. In my travels I have seen a recurring syndrome which amounts to what I have called The Maze Effect.

We have in England many mazes, some made of living plants, others of wood or even stone. All have the same thing in common: they are easy to enter and hard to get out of. In fact the Maze is a very ancient symbol often used in the Mystery Traditions. Then it was often a part of the initiation process and the Neophyte was ushered in with great ceremony and then left to find his or her way to the centre, to where they had been told they would meet The God. There they would receive the Touch of Divinity, would become one with the God-Form and return to the world bringing back, as all initiates do, the gift of the Gods - Knowledge. Sometimes they got lost on the way in, most got lost on the way out, but those who made it never spoke of what they had encountered there at the dark, mysterious centre of the Maze. But one thing was certain according to ancient records: those that won through returned changed beyond recognition. Those who were unsuccessful returned confused and disorientated in fact very like many people today.

Confused and disorientated is a good description for many of those who desperately want something to believe in and who rush from group to group, therapy to therapy, religion to religion seeking for something stable on which to base their lives. Unless they can find something they will simply go on in the same way getting more and more desperate.

Thirty years ago before the Alternatives became fashionable you might spend five or six years looking for books or information on the occult, alternative religions, etc. When and if you found it, it would cost you a lot of money. In 1965, twenty years ago, I spent £15 on a book by Dion Fortune, in 1965, £15 was a lot of money. I only earned £25 a week. But because there was so little to read on the subject, I was thrown back on my own meditations, my own thoughts, my own findings. I read what I could, listened to what I was told by my teachers, pondered over it, thought about it and tried desperately to puzzle it all out. I was totally engrossed in my studies and made my way slowly and carefully. I valued what I had and sought to expand my knowledge through my own efforts.

Today there are quite literally millions of books on every alternative subject you can name. There are too many; where once you took what you could get and savoured it, now you are spoilt for choice and there is so much information - most of it of no value at all - that one's own inner work is no longer considered of importance. It has become a case of reading what other people say and write, not what you think, have meditated on and found out for yourself. Everyone writes a book - well that's OK, I've written one or two myself - but I have never based any of my books on other people's books. But I can go into a book shop in New York tomorrow and find at least 15 books that are based on one of mine.

No one wants to work and study and spend time searching things out anymore. Everyone wants to find THE ONE BOOK THAT WILL EXPLAIN IT ALL TO THEM. There is no such book. The only truth to be found is a personal truth, the only findings worth anything are those you have found for yourself. The only knowledge worth having is what you have sought out, tried and tested by your own efforts. That is what Occult training is all about: you, and what you think and know from personal experience. So now, let us look at the title of this lecture and imagine that we are newcomers to all this. "To Serve the Light". The title provokes a series of questions.

  • What Light?
  • In what way do we serve this light?
  • With what do we serve it.
  • Why would we wish to serve anything anyway?
  • Whom are we serving ?
  • Does everyone serve or is it only a few?
  • Who have served before us?
  • Who will serve after us and is there any point in serving?
  • Will anyone serve me?
  • Well, we have enough there to last us for the evening I should think.

The First Question Asks:
What is this Light we are supposed to serve?
Good question.

New Agers talk a lot about "The Light", but what do we mean by that? The thing is that with so many versions of God/Goddess now "on the market" so to speak, we have little reference to go by when we speak of the Creator. "God" has become old-fashioned, sexist, and dull. We now have to have not just a monotheistic God, it has to be unisexual as well.

Well I was taught by one of the finest, most knowledgeable teachers of this century, and he said God has no sex. Sex came later, after IT emerged from the Void and even then was not to be applied to IT. Imagine then if you will a complete void containing an awesome amount of nothing. Suppose this nothing was a Cosmic sized end of a black Hole that had begun in an entirely different void elsewhere, maybe several millions voids away. Still supposing, we will say that a Cosmos has come to its end, the Individualised parts of it have been siphoned off and are now on the way to becoming a Creator. What is left of it, plus bits of several other Cosmoi get swallowed up by the Black Hole travelling through the immense pressures, suffused by radiations we cannot even imagine, subjected to Laws beyond our dimension, that matter is compressed into something smaller than a Neutrino. The Black Hole may be its nursery, and it is birthed into our void completely alone and without any knowledge of existence except that It is.

There is only one thing for it to do, and that is to expand and in expanding to create a Cosmos out of Itself with all that that implies. When something expands like this, it is an explosion of immense force, force that we could not possible comprehend. A blinding flash of energy, heat and light that would expel the compressed matter in every direction. The Void would at that moment be filled with Light; a Light inflamed with its own creative energy. That Creative Light is what we serve. That Light has not dimmed, it is still going on, it has become aware of itself as a entity and aware that every particle of what it once was is now scattered and capable of becoming aware of itself, by itself.

This Primal Light still fills our cosmos, still seeks its lost parts, and as they become aware of themselves, It becomes aware of them. When we actively seek out the Light we are in a sense going home. We look for it, long for it, strive to see it in our ancient myths and legends. It has become our goal, our Phoenix rising from its own immolation. We surround it and are surrounded by it. And so we come to our next question.

The Second Question Asks:
In What Way Do We Serve the Light?

First and foremost we serve by becoming aware of the Light and of ourselves as being part of that Light. The first requirement of any faith is that one believes, or undergoes a realisation, or has a vision of the Beginning of Ourselves. There is a fleeting moment in everyones life when we catch a glimpse of the Divine, if we are aware of things in the occult sense, we know that this is like a mirror image, that the Divinity we see is part of ourselves. So the first law of serving the Light comes when we begin to serve ourselves by taking control of our lives and our environment. When we stop allowing ourselves to be blown by the winds of chance. This is the moment when we approach the Maze. It can be a frightening time for the way is unknown and dark.

But it is only when we know how to serve ourselves that we can safely serve others, those who have not yet become aware of the ancestral Light that surrounds them. By serving ourselves we come to understand what is needed by the soul, the mind, and the body. We begin to see that each person's different and cannot be just lumped together.

When we have taken control of our lives and have experience of the way in which the Light can help us, we begin to look around and ask if we can do the same for others. Sometimes the answer is, not yet Child of Light, you have more to learn. We go foreword into the dark Maze and stumble towards the centre. This time in our lives is often called The Dark Night of the Soul.

I once complained to my teacher that these dark nights were a damned nuisance and asked what value they had. I was told that "any fool can find their way with the light on, to find it in the dark is a test of courage and tenacity." Those who turn back will eventually have to try again and again until they win through. If we press on it can become a time of pain, suffering, fear and despair. The darkness presses in upon you and you feel as if the end of the path will never come. Every hand and every voice is against you and nothing you say or do can lift this miasma of misery.

Those who have been well prepared will go on, thought even they will often sink down and resort to tears and prayers for the Cup of Bitter Herbs to be taken from them. But every moment, every fall should be remembered and cherished for it is a lesson learned. You do not know it then, but you will go back into the maze time and again throughout your life, and indeed lives.

Sometimes you will go for yourself, to learn another lesson, most often you will go to guide someone weaker than yourself, or to find someone who has become lost in the darkness and cannot find the way. Those who have trodden the dark path to the centre and returned become the initiates, and when they enter the maze they become Lights for those they guide. They shine in the darkness of ignorance like a human Pharos, a Lighthouse sent to guide the weary ones home. This is the way in which one serves the Light, you serve by becoming the Light. Only by experiencing and braving the darkness can you become fully aware of the power of Light. You must have darkness in order to understand light. Darkness has a right to exist because its task is to throw Light into relief.

The darkness of night is a welcome respite from the labours of the day. The darkness of the earth is a haven for small seeds where they will grow strong before emerging into the light. A wombs darkness holds and nurtures a child so that it can emerge strong and ready to face the sun. Strange as it may seem, even the darkness of evil has a purpose, though it is hard to understand sometimes. But every act of evil highlights those of love and light and makes us more aware of them. We see this in the symbol of the ying and yang. In every act of darkness there is a seed of light that given the chance will overcome it. In every act of light there is a seed of darkness that can destroy it. Balance is everything in the universe and the initiate knows that this everlasting battle between light and darkness will never end for then Chaos would overcome all.

In a working temple the floor is covered with black and white squares. This teaches us to step on the darker events of life with as much faith and joy as on the white ones. When we look back over our lives we often remark how it is the hard times that we remember best, this is because they are the learning times. It is the same on a larger scale. Out of every dark point in history there has come something that alleviated it. We are told that when the Saviour returns there will be a millennium of peace for humanity. It may seem a strange thing to say, but if we had a millennium of peace we would stagnate, because it is only by struggle, effort, and sorrow that we progress.

The Third question asks: With What do we serve?

We serve with what we are and what we have learned and with how we have dealt with others. As soon as we have learned a lesson well enough to help others cope with the same thing, we are thrown into another experience. It is this that makes me laugh a little cynically when people tell me they want to become an initiate. I laugh and then I look at them and feel love and pity and fear for them fill my heart. You see I know what they are going to find. I also know that only a few of them will make it to the centre, for the others it will be too hard, too demanding, too painful. But I will try to lead them to the beginning of the Maze. I will stand and wait and if they call I will go in to them. Why? Because a long time ago I stood in a darkened temple, surrounded by initiates, placed my hand upon the Book of Truth and offered myself without reserve to the Light. The Masters of the Inner Worlds never turn down a good offer. They grabbed me and threw me in at the deep end. One learns to swim well in such circumstances.

One serves with Joy, with love, with determination and often with trepidation. By teaching and by example, sometimes by causing pain against which they will re-act and go forward. Sometimes by letting yourself be hurt unbearably by those one has loved. It does not matter how and with what, the important thing is that you offer.

One serves with the heart and soul, mind and hands. With prayer when that is all you have, with physical labour where it is appropriate, by simply being there, listening, sometimes to the same thing over and over again. It mean watching through the night, or doing or walking a friend's dog and feeding the cats when they have to care for a relative or go into hospital. Serving is being there, anywhere when you are needed. Not having to be asked but offering with a glad heart.

Service is not always with people. It seldom occurs to those who profess the occult way of life that the subtle realms also need help at times. Humanity seems to think that if it is of a subtle nature, from the inner planes that it is self sufficient. Not always so. If you have been trained properly you will know of the Group Souls, the mighty all embracing Oneness that is the carrier of the consciousness of each and every species on this planet. When a forest is slashed and burned its Group Soul ceases to exist, when the last of a species dies its Group Soul has no where to be. When the last Tiger dies old, lonely, mateless and cubless in some filthy zoo, its Group Soul will return to the One never to be in that form again. It will have gone. The last oak tree, the last whale, the last dolphin, the last unpolluted lake, stream, river - or the last man or woman.

We can help, we can serve, both here in the physical and on the inner levels. We can contact those Group Souls, we can feed them energy both mental and physical, we can join with them, mourn with them whenever we see a tree cut down with no purpose, or when we lose and animal friend, or when we read of the senseless slaughter of the younger life of the earth. A life that is given to sustain another life, is one not lived in vain or without purpose. This is why we say or should say Grace before a meal. This blesses that life that we take in and enriches the Group Soul by recognition of the sacrifice. But like so many other things, saying Grace before a meal - giving thanks for the food - has become old fashioned, outmoded, thought of as silly or stupid. The very seas around us, the mountains we watch as they change through the seasons, the earth covering the roots of a potted plant, the cat on the window ledge lying in the sun, the sheep dog herding sheep, the horse running wild or waiting in terror at the door of the slaughter house, the child in your arms - this is all Life and Life must be served. To answer the question: you serve the Light with everything you have, whenever it is needed, for as long as it is needed.

Who is Served?

Life is served, in all its forms. You are served, by others. We tend to look at things from our point of view, how can I serve, what or who do I serve, with what do I serve. I, I, I, I, all the time. But I serve you by teaching; you serve your families and friends; they serve you and their families, etc, and so it goes on. Take time to ask yourself, "Who serves me?"

You are part of a wholeness that includes all life anywhere in the universe, you may not like the idea of being at one with an intelligent crystal on Alpha Centauri 4, or a lump of animated jelly that has just emerged from an acid sea on Cepheus Epsilon and is wondering if the effort was worth it - but that's tough, because life is life in whatever form. Sooner or later that lump of jelly will invent space travel!

In Arthurian legend, among the stories of The Grail there is one that concerns the moment when Perseval sees the Grail for the first time. If he asks the right question the Fisher King will be healed, and the Grail offered to the Knight. The first time he fails to ask the question. Knowing human nature he probably wanted to know where supper was, where he was going to sleep and do they take American Express? However, the second time round Perseval is older and wiser and asks the question. One that we are also asking:

Whom does the Grail serve?

If we leave the Mysteries aside for a moment and look at the Christian side of things, we see that the Grail is seen as the Cup of the first Christian Communion, i.e., the Sacrifice of the Saviour of the Age for those He serves by his ministry. Taking this viewpoint the Grail serves Humanity, or rather the Saviour serves humanity through the physical sacrifice of life as symbolised by the Christian Communion. The Grail serves you as being part of the whole of your species.

Every Saviour serves in this way, whether it be Mithras, Orpheus, Dionysos, Osiris, Jesus, Buddha, or Inanna. All we willing to go down into the darkness of physical death in order to bring humanity back to the light. We must therefore understand by this that while we serve, we are also served in our turn. We serve our fellow human beings, they serve us, we serve the Inner levels, they serve us, we serve the Saviour of the age, that Saviour serves us. There is a rhythm here that speaks of continuity through the ages of the cosmos, like the oceans it surges back and forth immutable in its power. We begin to realise others things as well: that rhythm is a part of the Light, that it is like a lighthouse with a turning light; it flashes for a moment and then is gone until it comes again. Rather like the alternating squares of black and white on the floor of the temple, like our lives, some dark and full of hard-won learning experiences, others gentle and pleasurable and restful. Whether we walk the path of the magician or the mystic, the orthodox faith or one of the Alternatives, Service is a part of it.

We cannot say, "I will serve this, but I will not serve that." You cannot say, "I will serve the light if it is called God or Jesus, but I will not serve that Light that is called Jehovah or Buddha, or Allah". Or Osiris or Isis or Zeus for that matter. Have you ever seen a prism? It breaks light up into its components parts, each of which vibrates at a different rate so we interpret this as colour. We can see seven colours and variations of those seven. There are others above and below the spectrum that we cannot see. The Light can be seen in a similar way, there is the one blindingly pure beam of Light, but the physical level acts like a prism and divides the Original Light into separate beams. We may call these separated beams God, Jehovah, Zeus, Osiris, Isis, Jesus, Hermes, Orpheus, Allah and so on. But they all emanate from the one original beam of light. They are the same but seen and interpreted differently. Some can only see the Violet hue of Christianity, other the Green of the Mysteries etc. We blind ourselves to the beauty of the full range of colours, as we blind ourselves to the truth that is there to see all around us.

Who has served the Light Before me?

Everyone who has ever lived. No matter how low a human being may sink there can be found, somewhere, one small area of goodness. Perhaps just one moment in life when something was done for someone else without thought of self. Conversely no matter how blameless a life is led, there will be somewhere, hidden deeply, an act of pure selfishness.

We may look and point to the first great sacrifice as a moment of pure grace and love. Maybe it was, But the One was also being selfish, because IT needed to experience all levels of existence in order to understand manifestation. Without us the One cannot become complete. IT will gain no experience of physical condition unless the lifewave of this Cosmos eventually returns with that information and shares it. One of the truly awesome secrets of the Ancient Mysteries is that God, or whatever you care to call IT, is as dependent upon its creation as that creation is upon IT. This of course will give any orthodox Churchman a complete nervous breakdown. However if you read any of Teilhard de Chardin's books you will realise that at least some of them have an idea that this may well be the case.

Let us consider the great sages, the men and women of wisdom who have blazed a trail of knowledge and information before us. The list is very long and extends beyond the Christian era into the time of the Egyptian and Sumerian civilisations. It may well extend beyond that if we take into account those whose names are simply legend and of whose work little or nothing remains. Narada, Melchisedek, Sanchuniathon, Thales, Anaxamander and Anaxagoras. Plato, Pythgoras, Socrates, Hypatia, Ptolemy Philadelphus, Orpheus, Hermes Trismegistus, Imhotep, Khamwas, Moses, Elijah, Enoch - we could go on and on for hours. Each of these human beings has contributed to our knowledge of the Light, and how it sustains us and demands of us. Much of the knowledge has been lost because of the stupidity and fanaticism of which our species is capable at times. Even today, in the Vatican Library, there are wooden boxes full of decaying vellums, some almost a thousand years old, left to rot because the church does not think it expedient to allow it to be read or even preserved. I often wonder how different might the world be if the Alexandrian library had not been lost to us. Would it have made a difference? Is there, anywhere in this world some place where a lost book still lies waiting to be found? With human luck as it is, if an ancient book was found, it would probably be a treatise on curing haemorrhoids.

Who will serve after me?

A good question. One that should give us pause for thought. Will there be anyone left to bother about ? Or will Nostradamus have the last word and Armageddon erupt in the middle east? Or will China's brain-washed millions overflow into the rest of the world and all things other than Communism lost to whoever is left.

Or can we be optimistic and look forward to seeing working space-stations in our life time, or see TV travel programmes advertising holidays on the Moon and Mars? Will we meet up with other life-forms? And will we, must we, also serve them? Or only if they are nice and friendly and look enough like us to feel safe around them ? Will they have their own version of The Light or God? Without doubt, they will. There are many decisions to be made in the next hundred years.

Each and every person here is a Servant of the Light in some form or another. When Ernest Butler chose that name I was very much against it. I felt it was too old fashioned. Hell, who wanted to be called a "Servant of the Light"? And I must tell you that our local post office does refer to us as the spiritual electricity company... But as the years have gone by and I have grown wiser, I have understood what he meant by that name and how wise he was to choose it. That is exactly what we are and what we do. He chose a name that reflects the whole of humanity and it on going spiritual quest.

All of you will, each in your turn, take on the torch and guide and teach each in your own time and in your own ways. We may see ourselves when we watch the carriers of the Olympic Flame travelling across lands and oceans, each one taking on the burden for a short while, each handing over to a chosen successor then standing and watching them as they speed on into a future we will never see. There is a sadness in that, a sadness also when we realise that it will be a different Light for each carrier is different in their approach.

I know now the sadness that Ernest Butler must have felt when he retired. He retired completely, leaving it all in younger hands and trusting that those hands would not let it fall, would not desecrate it would keep it alight. My way is very different to his, just as the one who takes on from me will be different. I will feel the same sadness that things will never be the same, but that is as it should be, things must change, must adapt, must be different. One must trust that the right one will come along at the right time. There are some who will tell you that I have not carried my teacher's light well, that I have not done this or that, or that I am not worthy and they could have done it much better. They would certainly have done it differently, but better? Well, who knows. All those who teach and who reach a level where they are envied for what others see as power and influence must deal with the egos of others.

One sad side effect of carrying the Light is that at some point you will be betrayed by a Judas figure. All teachers experience it in a greater or lesser form and it is the last and the hardest test of all, for it seems that the Light has turned away from you. But this is not so. Like all the other Dark Nights of the Soul that you have endured before, this too has meaning and a symbolism that must be understood. The Light has merely hidden itself from you for a while in order that you may see what was overshadowed by its brilliance.

The Morning Star is beautiful but one sees it rarely because the Light of the Sun prevents a clear sight of it.

Only when you approach the level of the Adeptus Exemptus is this demanded of you, only then does one have the ability to offer everything you have achieved to be placed in the balance and abide by the decision of the Lords of Karma.

Does one have to be an occultist to Serve the Light?

No. The most ordinary lives are full of service, dedicated doctors, nurses, teachers in schools, ordinary men and women who care for others in many different ways. All these may surely name Servants of the Light. In my travels I look around me in strange cities, airports, stations, and supermarkets and I see that Ernest chose the right name after all, for there is nothing else that we could be. The higher one reaches, the longer one lives, the more one knows, and teaches, the more one is a servant. Nor is this a derogatory term: to be such a servant is to know a joy and a fulfilment that is worth every time of darkness, now matter how bitter.

Remember that we do in truth carry a light within us. The Pituitary gland deep in the brain is phospherent, the Egyptians knew this and called it The Star Chamber of Isis and spoke of it as having walls that shone like the moon. Situated where it is, in the middle of the head we might look upon it as the Root of the Thousand-Petalled Lotus. The Lotus is born in water, as indeed humanity was born. It moves upward seeking the Light and breaks the surface of the water to open up to the light of the Sun. It too serves the Light. One of the humblest of flowers, tiny in size is the Heliotrope, yet small as it is it faithfully keeps its face turned to the sun as it travels form east to west through the day. We too should keep our faces to the Inner Sun of the spirit, but when the night comes welcome that also for it gives rest from the brightness and gives us time to look at the stars, teaching us that there is an opposite to everything in the cosmos.

I no longer feel embarrassed when saying the name of my school but take pride in a statement of truth. No matter what others say, no matter what they think or may try to undermine it, I know where the Light is and I know that is the path that all of us must tread. In many ways it is the path of the Hermit who stands with his lamp at the top of the mountain pass waiting for someone to come and take on his task, to set him free to seek his own Light. Seek your Light, use it to light the way for others, don't be afraid to enter the Maze, trust and put one foot before the other. When you get to the centre you will meet... the Divinity... yourself. Remember that you must return, if only to speak of your experience and encourage just one to take the same path. Then your task will be done.

My wish for all of you is that your Light may shine brightly and purely, that your Dark Nights of the Soul may bring you awareness and knowledge. That you may at the last find someone to take on your light and set you free.


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