"From times immemorial the Mother of the World has sent forth to achievement. In the history of humanity, Her Hand traces an unbreakable thread."
Helena Roerich: Leaves of Morya's Garden II
Before proceeding with the main theme of this article, it is necessary firstly to look at the principle of gender in general, and thereby point out that both polarities, feminine and masculine, are of equal importance, and that it is through their complementary interplay that we arrive at the totality or wholeness of life.
Although the fundamentals of gender have been defined in Hermetic Philosophy, and discussed at some length in The Kybalion, in which the authors, the Three Initiates, attempt to elucidate Hermetic Teachings in a practical way, it is only with the advent of C. G. Jung's concepts of the anima and animus that the dual aspect of gender is treated with true insight and psychological understanding.
According to Jung, the anima and animus are the unconscious or true inner self of an individual, as opposed to the persona or outer aspect of the personality. Anima is defined as the feminine inner personality in the unconscious of the male, while animus is the masculine inner personality in the unconscious of the female.
In the male, anima development is reached by four distinct stages, extending from the purely physical, which is a male's object of desire; followed by the second phase in which women are biewed as self-reliant, intelligent and insightful; which in the third phase sees woman as the embodiment of virtue and holiness; and finally in the fourth stage acknowledges woman as Sophia, or the representative of wisdom.
A similar process can be traced in the female. In the first stage the animus is identified as the embodiment of physical power; followed by the second stage of the independent planner of action and initiative. The third stage sees the animus as the embodiment of the intellectual or scholar; and the final or fourth stage, is similar to the fourth stage regarding the anima, and embodies the guide, Hermes, the wise counsellor, or messenger of the gods.
Thus, Jung's view, when considering a person's level of balance, maturity and wholeness, is dependent on how complete the anima and animus, or true inner self has become in men and women respectively.
An Historic Overview
In considering the feminine principle down the ages, goddess worship dates back to Palaeolithic times, and there is much agreement among anthropologists that most ancient tribes and cultures were matriarchal. This is evidenced by the numerous archaeological finds that have been unearthed, the earliest being the "Venus figures" that date back to a period between 35,000 and 10,000 BCE at the time of Cro-Magnon Man.
Goddesses down the ages have been worshipped in various forms, but they all shared common characteristics that were associated with the Earth, the Mother, Love and the household, and thus were also the embodiment of emotion, intuition and psychic faculties. The influence of the Goddess, under different names and varying cultures, extended throughout the ancient world to include almost all nationalities, including Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Canaan, Pre-Islamic Arabia, the Indo-Iranians, the Greco-Romans, the Celts and the Germanic Peoples.
Perhaps special mention should be made of Hinduism, which propagates a dual form for deity, which pairs off gods and goddesses as complementary counterparts, and where the male god is generally referred to as Shaktiman and his female partner as Shakti, thus Shiva pairs with Parvati, Vishnu with Lakshmi, Brahma with Sarasvati, and Krishna with Radha. When the goddesses in Hinduism are grouped together under one archetype, they acquire the name of the great goddess, Devi.
We might attribute the decline and subjugation of the feminine principle and goddess worship to the rise of monotheism, which started with the ascent of Judaism, but with a little reflection and speculation on how early societies evolved, we could well imagine that with the increasing growth of populations, the development of cities and their amassed wealth, territories were becoming more precious and became vulnerable to conquest and invasion. Thus well organised armies had to be developed, fortifications built, and up to date weaponry designed, all of them activities that fall into the domain of the masculine principle, and which in cases of crises, naturally took precedence over mundane activities.
With wars, virtues like bravery, endurance, strength, loyalty and self-sacrifice acquired a new meaning, but were accompanied by its paralleling vices such as greed, brutality, deceitfulness, cruelty, and the lust for power. Consequently men started to gain a new image of themselves, and though in all probability they treated their own women with equanimity, they would have no scruples in raping and enslaving the women of their enemies.
Whilst in early agricultural times fertility goddesses played an important part by which the community invoked the goddess to ensure the success of a good harvest, the new wave of "might is right" that followed in the wake of territorial wars made it inevitable that the male ego began taking on unprecedented proportions. Conquerors and warlords commemorated their victories with monuments that glorified their actions, and written records ensured that future generations would remember their histories. Is it any wonder that the feminine principle, with its virtues and qualities of preservation, growth and nurturing, began to recede into the background, and was thus forced to assume a place of secondary importance? And, even if the feminine principle was more active in the domestic atmosphere of hearth and home rather than the battlefield, was it really less important than the masculine principle - or, if we are absolutely unbiased and sincere - an indispensable complementary, in the sphere of which the family unit, with all its intricacies, found a solid base?
Irrespective of how the role of women was perceived throughout the course of history, the feminine principle was very much at work, and just like their male counterparts, we could cite numerous examples by which exceptional women have excelled in a variety of fields. Perhaps the greatest contribution that women are capable of is their life sustaining approach, which will always come up with alternatives when it comes to violent and drastic decisions. It is a well-known fact in the corporate world that generally men tend to be more competitive, while women tend to be more cooperative and inclusive, thus contributing a quality of balance and harmony which is so desperately needed for the successful functioning of a corporation.
Three Exceptional Women
However, in more recent times, there is one branch of learning in which women played a unique role, and made a major contribution that is fast changing our way of thinking, and consequently the world we live in, namely Esoteric Studies and their consequent influence in inaugurating the New Age. Three women in particular, who have left a lasting legacy, and who's independent and adventurous spirits allowed them to think outside the scope and accepted norms of their times, are well worth our attention and closer consideration, namely H. P. Blavatsky, Alice A. Bailey and Helena Roerich. All three share certain characteristics that single them out as true visionaries and innovators of the New Age, namely their courageous and dedicated personalities, organisational abilities, and higher psychic sensitivity, by means of which they were able to present new ideas, that are in accordance with the Divine Plan, and which need to be assimilated by humanity in order to make a successful transition into the New Age. Their exceptional mediatorship allowed for the first time in history to acknowledge and make public the existence of the Masters of Wisdom, and the role of the Spiritual Hierarchy, both as the repository of the fifth, or Spiritual Kingdom, as well as an intermediary between Shamballa and humanity.
H. P. Blavatsky
Although Esotericism has existed from the earliest of times in human history, it only gained large scale publicity and recognition with the advent of H. P. Blavatsky (12 August 1831 - 8 May 1891). With her exceptional psychic powers, the Masters of Wisdom deemed her to be the most suitable mediator in establishing a more intimate contact between the Spiritual Hierarchy and Humanity. The first direct contact between the Master Morya and Blavatsky took place in London when she was twenty. Trusting him implicitly, because her psychic abilities had allowed for previous encounters with him in visions as a child, she fully accepted his guidance. In 1855 she successfully entered Tibet and started her esoteric training under his tutelage.
By 1868 Blavatsky had visited numerous countries on several continents, and thereby gained exposure to a wide variety of cultures and peoples. This was essential if she was to start a movement that was to gain international significance and importance, thus these travels included countries that were as divergently different as Russia, Egypt, Greece, England, the United States, South America, India, France and Germany.
In 1873 she was instructed by her Teacher to go to New York City. After her arrival, in 1874, her Teachers put her in touch with Colonel Henry Steel Olcott who, at the time, showed a keen interest in the newly spreading phenomenon of Spiritualism, and with whom Blavatsky formed a firm friendship. It was during her stay in New York City that Blavatsky also met William Quan Judge, a young lawyer who showed a keen interest in mysticism and the occult, and the three of them, backed by several others, on September 7, 1875, founded the Theosophical Society.
The objectives of the Theosophical Society were "to collect and diffuse a knowledge of the laws which govern the Universe", which later, and somewhat more specifically, was changed to three objectives, namely, "to form a nucleus of the universal brotherhood of humanity, without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste, or colour", "to encourage the comparative study of religion, philosophy, and science", and "to investigate unexplained laws of nature, and the powers latent in humanity".
It was also during this period in New York that Blavatsky started writing her first monumental work, Isis Unveiled, which was completed and published in September 1877, and the one thousand copies of the first printing sold out within ten days. It outlines the history, scope, and development of esotericism, and at the time the New York Herald-Tribune considered the work as one of the "remarkable productions of the century".
In 1879 Blavatsky and Olcott travelled to India, and in February that year established their Theosophical Headquarters in Bombay, which later, in 1882, were moved to Adyar, near Madras. In India the newly founded society caught the attention of some important people, amongst them that of A. P. Sinnett, then Editor of the Government paper, the Pioneer; as well as the statesman Allen O. Hume; and various high-caste Indians and English officials. It was in October 1879 that the first issue of the Theosophist was published, with Blavatsky as editor, and it is still published to this day.
In 1884 Blavatsky and Olcott visited France, England, and Germany to build up their contacts, and it was in Germany where Blavatsky started writing her second great book, The Secret Doctrine, which was to become her magnum opus. Its subtitle is The Synthesis of Science, Religion, and Philosophy, and it became the cornerstone of all subsequent esoteric writing. It is written in two parts, Volume 1 dealing with Cosmogenesis, or the creative forces that are responsible for the creation of the universe; and Volume 2 dealing with Anthropogenesis, or the ascent and evolution of mankind from its earliest beginnings to modern times. Although Blavatsky was already seriously ill at the time, she courageously completed this monumental work in a relatively brief time of four years, and the first edition of the book saw the light of day in 1888.
By the end of 1889, Blavatsky had completed two more books, The Key to Theosophy and The Voice of the Silence, but by the end of 1890 her health had deteriorated to such a degree that she could no longer walk. On May 8, 1891, her weakened state could no longer fight off an epidemic of influenza, and in the presence and care of a small group of loyal friends, she passed away peacefully.
Alice A. Bailey
In the opening paragraph of The Unfinished Autobiography, Alice A. Bailey (16 June 1880 - 15 December 1949) explains the reason for writing about herself with the following words: "It might be useful to know how a rabid, orthodox Christian worker could become a well-known occult teacher. People might learn much by discovering how a theologically minded Bible student could come to the firm conviction that the teachings of the East and the West must be fused and blended before the true and universal religion - for which the world waits - could appear on earth".
Although materially she lacked nothing as a child and her environment was characterised by great physical comfort and luxury, she recalls in her autobiography that "at the same time (they were) years of miserable questioning, of disillusionment, of unhappy discovery and of loneliness". Both her parents had died before she was nine years old, and being looked after by relatives, she and her younger sister never had a real home. She ascribed her "constantly recurring misery" as "perhaps the first indication of the mystical trend" in her life, which she believed later to have motivated all her thinking and activities. She made three attempts at suicide before the age of fifteen.
Bailey's first encounter with her Master, Koot Hoomi, occurred shortly after her fifteenth birthday. He told her there was some work that was planned for her to do in the world but first she had to try to get some measure of self-control. Her future usefulness to him and to the world was dependent upon how she handled herself and the changes she could manage to make.
Overwhelmed by this brief interview, Bailey believed that it had been the Master Jesus she had seen, but it took another twenty three years until she discovered her visitor's true identity. In 1918 as a member of the Esoteric Section of the Theosophical Society she went into the Shrine Room and saw the customary pictures of the Christ and the Masters of Wisdom. And, to quote her own words, "to my surprise there, looking straight at me, was the picture of my visitor".
But back in 1895, such wondrous discoveries were reserved for the future. All this time Bailey was given to good works as an ardent Y.W.C.A. worker. Before coming of age she had also travelled numerous times to the continent. She had an exceedingly good classical education and also spoke fluent French and some Italian. When she finally chose a career at the age of 22, she became an evangelist in connection with the British army. In retrospect, she said that this had been the happiest and most satisfying time of her entire life.
Even whilst working as an evangelist, Bailey's mystical disposition suspected that there was more to life and God than she was led to believe by the narrow theological training in the Church of England that she had received. She constantly asked herself questions which she was afraid to answer, and yearned for some revelation that would reveal God not only as transcendent but also imminent.
Just like Blavatsky had done, Bailey also managed to do a considerable amount of travelling, and thereby came to the conclusion that humanity as a whole basically had the same needs and aspirations, and that cultural and geographical differences merely added to the diversity of peoples, but did not subtract from the fundamental truth that subjectively and potentially humanity is One. Her evangelical work first took her to Ireland, and later to India, and after overcoming initial difficulties, she became a proficient public speaker, able to address any number of people.
Firstly, as an evangelist, she learnt to capture people's attention by appealing to their emotions; whilst later, as an esoteric teacher, she appealed to people's minds, challenging their outmoded and compartmentalised way of thinking with new and innovative ideas and thereby succeeded in changing their mindsets.
Yet, before this marked transition could take place, she had much to learn and endure, and only after the vicissitudes brought about by a failed first marriage and the endurance of abject poverty and the harshest of living conditions did her personal destiny allow those promises to be fulfilled which her Master, Koot Hoomi, had hinted at when he had made initial contact with her.
Bailey's first marriage had brought her to the United States, where she soon realised that her husband had a violent disposition and a total lack of responsibility when it came to money matters. After he had physically assaulted her several times, she realised that there was no other choice but to get divorced. Left with three small children and herself to fend for, she was finally forced to find employment in a sardine factory as a factory worker. It was at this point in her life that she first came into contact with the teachings of Theosophy, and where she was fortunate enough to make the acquaintance of people who had still intimately known H. P. Blavatsky, and were thus able to instruct Bailey in the teachings the way Blavatsky had intended them to be. Bailey was now 35 years old, mature and responsible, and free of any illusions, she was ready to embark on the most creative and meaningful part of her life.
It was during her association with the Theosophical Society at Krotona, Hollywood, that Bailey made two all-important contacts that were to give a new and highly meaningful direction to the rest of her life. The first contact was her introduction to Foster Bailey, a high-ranking Freemason and lawyer, whom she met in January 1919, and with whom she not only shared her interest in the Ageless Wisdom, but also a personal attraction that was later to lead to their marriage.
In November 1919 she made her second important contact, this time with the Master Djwhhal Khul, also known as the Tibetan, with whom she formed a telepathic rapport that would last for the next thirty years, and result in the writing of 18 books which he dictated. These books would include A Treatise on Cosmic Fire, which is a psychological key and an expansion of The Secret Doctrine; A Treatise on the Seven Rays, consisting of five volumes entitled Esoteric Psychology Vol. I and II, Esoteric Astrology, Esoteric Healing and The Rays and the Initiations; and other important titles such as Letters on Occult Meditation, Light of the Soul, and A Treatise on White Magic.
Both Alice and Foster Bailey were deeply involved in the work of the Theosophical Society which, at the time was experiencing major problems due to internal power struggles caused by some members of the Esoteric Section, who wanted to run the society on their own terms. As the situation held out no promise of being resolved in an equitable manner, Alice and Forster Bailey decided to form their own independent group, which finally led to the founding of the Arcane School.
There are seven principles or governing objectives to which all the Arcane School workers and students are asked to conform (Alice A. Bailey, TheUunfinished Autobiography, pp 281 - 282):
1. The Arcane School is a training school for disciples. It is not a school for probationary disciples or for devotional aspirants.
2. The Arcane School trains adult men and women so that they may take their next step upon the path of evolution.
3. The Arcane School recognises the fact of the Spiritual Hierarchy of the planet and gives instruction in the mode whereby that Hierarchy may be approached and entered.
4. The Arcane School teaches the practical belief that the "souls of men are one."
5. The Arcane School emphasises the necessity to live the spiritual life and rejects all claims to spiritual status.
6. The Arcane School is non-sectarian, non-political, and international in scope.
7. The Arcane School emphasises no theological dogmas, but simply teaches the Ageless Wisdom, as recognised in all lands down through the ages.
In 1947, Alice A. Bailey wrote in The Unfinished Autobiography, p 282 : "At the close of the world war (1914 - 1945) the Arcane School had been in existence for nearly 25 years and had, in that time, serviced over 20,000 people. Its curriculum is progressive; step by step the studies deepen and the meditation work becomes more intensive as the student passes from one degree to another. Our whole emphasis is laid upon spiritual living, upon the mental grasp of the occult teaching and upon those rules and processes which will bring about right relations to one's fellowmen, right relation to one's own soul, right relation to the Spiritual Hierarchy (of which the Christ is the Supreme Head), and right relation to a Master and His ashram, or group".
As it so often happens with highly creative people, once her task had been completed for the Tibetan, and she had laid a firm foundation for the Arcane School, she passed away peacefully and happily on December 15, 1949. Some of her last words to her husband, Foster Bailey, were: "I have so much to be thankful for. I have had a rich and full life. So many people all over the world have been so kind to me."
Helena and Nicholas Roerich
It is impossible to write about Helena Ivanovna Roerich (12 February 1879 - 5 October 1955) without mentioning her husband, Nicholas Konstantinovich Roerich (9 October 1874 - 13 December 1947), with whom she shared a rich and eventful life trying to live up to those ideals which they both believed in. Both of them were disciples of Master Morya, who had inspired them and guided them even before Helena and Nicholas had met each other, and the collaboration between the Master and his two disciples would turn out to have dramatic and far-reaching results.
In her biography, Nicholas & Helena Roerich, (p xxiv), Ruth A. Drayer writes the following: "A widely held concept (among esotericists) is that intermittently, when humanity is ready, the Masters initiate new ideals and aspirations by sending powerful waves of thought and feeling into the mental currents of the subtler worlds, which account for the important innovations and expanded perceptions that occur simultaneously in different parts of the world. The Hierarchy is credited with inspiring new goals, such as the intense desire for universal peace, the ideal of religious tolerance, and a society based on cooperation and responsibility for the welfare of others. These ideals are then picked up as inspiration or through meditation by more highly attuned people, who relay them throughout the flow of human consciousness. Helena and Nicholas Roerich were among those who received guidance from the spiritual Masters and shared their teachings through writing and art".
Helena was born into a distinguished and aristocratic family, the composer Moussorgsky was her uncle, and her great-uncle had commanded the Russian forces opposing Napoleon in the War of 1812. She suffered from frail health as a child, yet she was cultured, mature, and exceptionally sensitive. An excellent pianist and avid reader, by age seven she could read and write in French, German, and Russian. It was at the age of six when she first met the "tall figure, dressed in white" (Master Morya) ,whom she came to know as a "Teacher of Light, who lived somewhere far away". (Ruth A. Drayer, Nicholas & Helena Roerich, p 8.) Before 1899, when she met Nicholas for the first time, Helena had managed to read the entire collection of books in her grandfather's library, and in addition, she read such Eastern classics as the Bhagavad Gita, the Vedas, and the Mahabharata.
Nicholas was born into a family that was part of the intelligentsia, educated and liberal thinkers who mingled with royalty, and who, among their guests, received archaeologists and Orientalists. Nicholas had a special fondness for history, and interested in anything from the olden days, he dug up valuable finds among old battlefields and ancient burial sites. He had a love for beauty and music and a desire to travel, and on holidays, he roamed the countryside on their summer estate, Iswara, situated fifty-five miles to the southwest of St. Petersburg. He also showed a talent for drawing, and was consequently given lessons by a family friend. To satisfy both his father and himself, he later attended both the Imperial University and the Imperial Academy of Art. Using vivid primary colours in his paintings, he achieved an impression of clarity and monumentality.
Helena and Nicholas met at the home of Prince Putyatin in 1899, while Nicholas was touring the eastern provinces of Pskov, Tversk, and Novgorod to study Russia's oldest monuments. They soon discovered that, except for Nicholas' passion for hunting, they had much in common, and before the end of the year they announced their intention to marry. This intention was realised two years later in the autumn of 1901. Their home was characterised by a spiritual atmosphere, and they both studied the writings and ideas of Vivekananda, Ramakrishna, the Buddha, and Rabindranath Tagore. Their two sons, Svetoslav and George, were born within the first three years of their marriage.
With Nicholas' work and travels, their joint spiritual studies, and raising their sons, the first years of the new century passed relatively quickly. Nicholas was promoted to director of the society for the Encouragement of the Arts, and in this capacity he established a museum to display collections of art and culture predating Peter the Great. Bolshevism was on the rise, and Nicholas had been offered a position in the prospective new government, but he feared that accepting would cost him his artistic freedom. Apart from that, Helena saw great hardships ahead, and acting on her intuitions, the couple gathered their sons and left for Finland on December 17, 1916, just as the revolution in Russia began erupting.
The Roerichs could have remained safely in Finland, but Nicholas' true objective was the Himalayas and India, which he regarded as the ancient land of spirituality and splendour. Looked upon as the home of the Masters and the Theosophical Society, the Roerichs considered it as the "Abode of Light". But for practical reasons, this dream of reaching India would have to be postponed for several years, and would only materialise in 1923, after they had spent some time and experience both in England and America.
In 1919, at the invitation of Sir Robert Beecham, Nicholas was offered a commission to design scenery in Covent Garden, and the family crossed Scandinavia and reached London. It was there, while the couple were walking in Bond Street, that they had one of their biggest surprises. Passing a group of Indian men, they immediately recognised the piercing eyes of Master Morya. Later that night, Master Morya visited them in their studio flat at Queen's Gate Terrace. In March 1920, the telepathic communications from Master Morya began, and the transmissions were chiefly channelled through Helena, who, over the decades, transcribed these in books, that dealt with the subject of Agni Yoga. These teachings explained the creative relationship of human thought as it related to the energy or fire of which the universe is made.
The Roerichs had made arrangements to enter India, but to their dismay they learnt that Beecham's Opera Company had gone into receivership. Left without sufficient funds to sustain them in India, the couple exchanged their Bombay tickets for passage to America. It was at the Kingore Gallery on Fifth Avenue, New York that Nicholas' first exhibition in the United States opened, exhibiting no less than two hundred of his paintings. The Roerichs had already made many friends in London, so their reputation preceded them to America, and with the success of his exhibition, the name Roerich became widely known in cultural circles throughout the States.
By this time the Roerichs had a clearly defined mission in life, and that was to achieve international unity through culture and the Arts. Their ideals were enthusiastically accepted by the Americans, and led to much publicity and organising, and a circle was formed which finally established the founding of the Master School of United Arts, later to be changed to the Master Institute of United Arts, so that the school could become incorporated. When the Master Institute matters were settled, the circle turned to the next phase: the creation of the Roerich Museum and Corona Mundi, the international art centre.
Now the Roerichs could finally set their eyes on India. From there, they planned to go on an extensive expedition, hoping to find the cradle of mankind and the origins of human culture. It was agreed that Nicholas would contribute all paintings resulting from the expedition to the Roerich Museum, and in compensation could use money raised by the Master Institute, the Roerich Museum, and Corona Mundi to purchase artistic treasures for Corona Mundi during their travels. Travelling first back to Europe, they finally sailed for India on November 17, 1923 from Marseilles.
The main routes of the Roerichs' travels in Asia, which lasted from 1924 to 1929, included India, China, Siberia, Mongolia, the Gobi Desert, and the Himalayas. They travelled in a caravan at times consisting of eighty two pack horses and the necessary number of men employed as their handlers. During their long journey they experienced extremes of temperature ranging from the freezing cold of the Himalayas to the sweltering heat of the Gobi Desert. Yet advantages outweighed the discomforts, because all along the way they met with people who had an unshakable faith in the existence of the Masters, Shamballa, and the coming of Maitreya, the Future Buddha, evidence of the fact that Asia was religiously and culturally saturated with those spiritual traditions which the Roerichs had read about in their earlier years in Russia.
All the while, when opportunity offered, Nicholas was working on his paintings, and Helena faithfully recorded the telepathic dictations from Master Morya, which later would form that great body of work which expound the teachings on Agni Yoga. Towards the end of the expedition they returned to India and settled in the Kulu Valley, which is situated on the border of Lahul and Tibet, forming the northern part of the Punjab. It was known as the cradle of culture and some considered it the most beautiful spot on earth. Helena was recovering from the hardships of their journey, but Nicholas was keen to return to New York and report on their experiences during the expedition to their circle of friends. On his return to America, the Roerichs made front page news and Nicholas was even received in a private audience at the White House, where he presented President Hoover with a Himalayan painting.
Since 1904 Nicholas had been toying with the idea of finding a way to preserve art treasures of the world from the devastation of wars. Now, at the height of his popularity as a public spokesman who wanted to see world unity by means of the Arts and culture, he felt ready to present his idea to the world at large, and on March 16, 1930, the New York Times printed a letter from Roerich. The headline was as follows: "Special Flag is Suggested to Protect Art Treasures". In this letter he wrote among others: "The plan is to create a flag to be raised above museums, libraries, universities, and other cultural centres, so they will be respected as international and neutral territory…This international flag is for the protection of beauty and science and to prevent the repetition of atrocities of the last war to cathedrals, museums, libraries, and other lasting memorials of the creation of the past."
As the idea gained popularity and support it came to be known as the Roerich Peace Pact, and on April 15, 1935, was agreed to by twenty-one nations of the Americas and signed as a treaty in the White House, in the presence of Franklin Delano Roosevelt by all members of the Pan-American Union. Later, it was signed by other countries too.
While Nicholas was in America, Helena continued her work with Master Morya, and also kept up a vast correspondence, which included an exchange of letters with Franklin D. Roosevelt. In a letter to a friend, (Letters of Helena Roerich I, 1 March 1929), she wrote: "The approaching great epoch is closely connected with the ascendancy of woman. As in the best days of humanity, the future epoch will again offer woman her rightful place alongside her eternal fellow traveller and co-worker, man. You must remember that the grandeur of the Cosmos is built by the dual Origin. Is it possible, therefore, to belittle one Element of It?" Her mission to uplift women to their rightful status was untiring, and in her book Fiery World III, she wrote as follows: "Hence it is so indispensable to affirm in the spirit the Feminine Principle. For the Banner of the great Equilibrium of the World has been given to woman to uplift. Thus the time has come when woman must fight for the right that was taken away from her and that she did voluntarily give up. How many powerful records fill space with the attainments of the Feminine Principle! As the Teacher creates through the disciples, so does woman create through the masculine principle. Therefore woman flamingly uplifts man. Hence also degeneration, because without true knighthood the spirit cannot rise."
In 1937 Nicholas returned to Kulu Valley, where he continued to be active until his death on December 13, 1947. It is estimated that he had left a legacy of 7000 paintings which he had painted in his lifetime. Helena continued with her work for Master Morya, and her writings for the Master amounted to no less than seventeen volumes, that came to be known as the Agni Yoga Books, and which by many are considered as some of the most advanced writings on the subject of esotericism and spirituality. She is also credited with the Russian translation of The Secret Doctrine by Blavatsky. Helena outlived her husband by eight years, and on October 5, 1955, after two heart attacks, died in her sleep.
As a concluding tribute to the Roerichs' lives it is worth mentioning that even though the teachings of the Roerichs were banned in Communist Russia, they had their secret admirers. Among these admirers were to be found Mikhail Gorbachev and his wife Raisa. We might well ask ourselves what forces were at work in Gorbachev's heart when he came in touch with the teachings and ideals of the Roerichs. If he had never known their influence, would the ideals of perestroika and glasnost still have been implemented, and would the Cold War between East and West have carried on indefinitely?
Although the theme of this article is mainly concerned with the feminine principle, in conclusion, it is necessary to emphasise once more that both genders, whether masculine or feminine, are but two sides of the same coin, and that each gender in isolation is but one-sided, simplistic, and impoverished. A psychologically healthy and rounded-out person, whether male or female, always incorporates the best of both genders in their psyche, and is able to display qualities that range from tenderness, compassion, sympathy and tolerance, all the way through to qualities of strength, courage, steadfastness, patience and endurance.
Three Initiates. The Kybalion, Jeremy P. Tarscher/Penguin, 2008.
Jung, C.G. Psychology of the Unconscious, London: Kegan Paul, 1922. Encyclopedia of World Mythology, Phoebus Publishing Company, 1970-1971.
Caldwell, Daniel H. The Esoteric World of Madame Blavatsky, Quest Books, Theosophical publishing House, 2000.
Bailey, Alice A. The Unfinished Autobiography, NY: Lucis, 1981.
Drayer, Ruth A. Nicholas & Helena Roerich: The Spiritual Journey of Two Great Artists and Peacemakers, Quest Books, Theosophical Publishing House, 2005.
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