Father-Mother

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Father-Mother (or sometimes, Mother-Father) is a compound term used by H. P. Blavatsky in some different ways. She defines it as the "primordial Substance or Spirit-matter". In this sense, Father-Mother is related to svabhavat. In other passages "father-mother" is used to refer to the more concrete emanation akasha. In yet another sense, "father-mother" refers to the second Logos. Finally, there is a more generic use, in which it represents the male and female poles of the universe.

General description

In its general application, Father and Mother are a symbol of the masculine and feminine aspects of the Cosmos, which during Pralaya are still united and, therefore, unmanifested. H. P. Blavatsky wrote:

The Father-Mother are the male and female principles in root-nature, the opposite poles that manifest in all things on every plane of Kosmos, or Spirit and Substance.[1]

Primordial Substance

Mme. Blavatsky said that the "Eternal Parent" of the Stanzas of Dzyan (Mūlaprakṛti)[2] becomes the "seven skinned Father Mother" at the first flutter of differentiation,[3] when matter comes out of its Laya condition:[4]
. . . Matter had begun to differentiate, but had not yet assumed form. Father-Mother is a compound term which means primordial Substance or Spirit-matter. When from Homogeneity it begins through differentiation to fall into Heterogeneity, it becomes positive and negative; thus from the “Zero-state” (or laya) it becomes active and passive, instead of the latter alone; and, in consequence of this differentiation (the resultant of which is evolution and the subsequent Universe),—the “Son” is produced, the Son being that same Universe, or manifested Kosmos, till a new Mahapralaya.[5]
The Worlds, including our own, were of course, as germs, primarily evolved from the ONE Element in its second stage (“Father-Mother,” the differentiated World’s Soul, not what is termed the “Over-Soul” by Emerson).[6]

The phrase "Spirit-matter" suggests that, though there is a primordial differentiation between these two principles, they are still united.

The Father-Mother contains the germs for the manifestation of all the planes in the universe, and, therefore, the seven fundamental manifestations of force, consciousness, etc. For this reason, the Stanzas of Dzyan portray it as being "seven-Skinned":

Space is called in the esoteric symbolism “the Seven-Skinned Eternal Mother-Father.”[7]
Q. What, then, are the seven layers of Space, for in the “Proem” we read about the “Seven-skinned Mother-Father”?
A. Plato and Hermes Trismegistus would have regarded this as the Divine Thought, and Aristotle would have viewed this “Mother-Father” as the “privation” of matter. It is that which will become the seven planes of being, commencing with the spiritual and passing through the psychic to the material plane. The seven planes of thought or the seven states of consciousness correspond to these planes. All these septenaries are symbolized by the seven Skins.[8]
The Stanza II.5 of Cosmogenesis identifies Father-Mother with Svābhāvat.[9] Mme. Blavatsky also stated:
In Esotericism it [Svabhavat] is called “Father-Mother”. It is the plastic essence of matter.[10]
As for Svabhavat, the Orientalists explain the term as meaning the Universal plastic matter diffused through Space, with, perhaps, half an eye to the Ether of Science. But the Occultists identify it with “father-mother” on the mystic plane.[11]
Finally, there are some references to the Father-Mother as being the Ākāśa (the third, rather than the second stage of differentiation).[12][13][14]

Father-Mother of the gods

Another aspect of Father-Mother is that this principle is from where the Logoi and subsequent gods are born:

The first [Logos] is the already present yet still unmanifested potentiality in the bosom of Father-Mother.[15]
The first line or diameter is the Mother-Father; from it proceeds the Second Logos, which contains in itself the Third Manifested Word.[16]
In The Secret Doctrine, that from which the manifested Logos is born is translated by the “Eternal Mother-Father”; while in the Vishnu-Purâna it is described as the Egg of the World, surrounded by seven skins, layers or zones.[17]

It is also said that the Primordial Seven are born from the Father-Mother, before it becomes the Mother under the fecundation of the Third Logos:

Latent, during Pralaya, and active, during Manvantara, the “Primordial” proceed from “Father-Mother” (Spirit-Hyle, or Ilus); whereas the other manifested Quaternary and the Seven proceed from the Mother alone.[18]
Question: Is Father-Mother here synonymous with the third Logos and not with Svābhāvat in Darkness, as before, since it has now manifested and differentiated existence. . .?
Mme. Blavatsky: It is synonymous now with the third Logos. And Svābhāvat is light, or manifestation. It is called both; it is perfectly interchangeable.[19]
The first primordial seven are born from the third Logos. This is before it is differentiated into the mother, when it becomes pure primordial matter in its first primitive essence--father, mother potentially.[20]

This apparent contradiction can be understood if we remember that the "Father-Mother" is related to the Second Logos, which is regarded to be both manifested and unmanifested.

Second Logos

Although the Father-Mother is seen as the origin of all the Logoi, we also find an identification between this and the Second Logos:

At the time of the primordial radiation, or when the Second Logos emanates, it is Father-Mother potentially, but when the Third or manifested Logos appears, it becomes the Virgin-Mother.[21]

As shown above, the Father-Mother has been defined as "primordial Substance or Spirit-matter". In the First Fundamental Proposition it is written: "Spirit-matter, Life; the “Spirit of the Universe,” the Purusha and Prakriti, or the second Logos".[22] She also states that "the Point in the Triangle represents the Second Logos, “Father-Mother”.[23]

Also, although Father-Mother is identified with Svābhāvat, in Stanza III.10 of Cosmogenesis the former is portrayed as an active principle building on latter, which could be interpreted as referring to the second Logos:

Father-Mother spin a web whose upper end is fastened to Spirit (Purusha), the light of the one Darkness, and the lower one to Matter (Prakriti) its (the Spirit’s) shadowy end; and this web is the Universe spun out of the two substances made in one, which is Swâbhâvat.[24]

Notes

  1. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 41.
  2. Michael Gomes (transcriber), The Secret Doctrine Commentaries (The Hague: I.S.I.S. foundation, 2010), 3.
  3. Michael Gomes (transcriber), The Secret Doctrine Commentaries (The Hague: I.S.I.S. foundation, 2010), 2.
  4. Michael Gomes (transcriber), The Secret Doctrine Commentaries (The Hague: I.S.I.S. foundation, 2010), 66.
  5. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. X (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1988), 333.
  6. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 140.
  7. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 9.
  8. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. X (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1988), 304.
  9. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 60.
  10. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Theosophical Glossary (Krotona, CA: Theosophical Publishing House, 1973), 314.
  11. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 98.
  12. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 18.
  13. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. II, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 400, fn.
  14. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 75-76.
  15. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. X (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1988), 334.
  16. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. X (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1988), 314.
  17. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. X (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1988), 313.
  18. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 88.
  19. Michael Gomes (transcriber), The Secret Doctrine Commentaries (The Hague: I.S.I.S. foundation, 2010), 313-314.
  20. Michael Gomes (transcriber), The Secret Doctrine Commentaries (The Hague: I.S.I.S. foundation, 2010), 313.
  21. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. X (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1988), 358-359.
  22. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 16.
  23. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. XII (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1980), 564.
  24. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 83.