The Lion of Fire
The best way to behold such mysteries is through the gleaming prism of story. Thus we begin with a spell-binding ancient text which sits at the core of the mystery tradition. This esoteric tale describes an extraordinary scene which takes place in Jerusalem in roughly 500 BCE, almost two centuries before Plato and Aristotle,
The masters of the day were distressed. Adultery was spreading rampant as plagues among the people. The authorities were at a loss as to how to curb this powerful drive. Finally, driven to desperation, they began to pray. For three days, they fasted, weeping and pleading with God, “Let us slay the sexual drive[i] before it slays us.”
Finally God acquiesced. The masters then witnessed a lion of fire leap out from within the Temple’s Holy of Holies. A prophet among them identified the lion as the personification of the primal sexual drive.
They sought to slay the lion of fire. But the result was that for three days thereafter the entire society ground to a standstill. Hens did not lay eggs, artists ceased creating, businesses faltered, and all spiritual activity[ii] came to a halt.
Realizing that the sexual drive was about more than just sex, that it somehow echoed with the divine, the masters relented. They prayed that only its destructive shadow be removed, while retaining its creative force. Their request was denied on high with the insightful psychological response,“You cannot have only half a drive.” The greater the sacred power of a quality, the greater its shadow; the two are inseparable. So they prayed that the lion at least be weakened, and their prayer was granted. The lion, less potent but no less present, re-entered the Holy of Holies.
[i] yetzir harah* –
in the sense of Do not turn (Tifnu) after idols…The word turning is but an extension of the Hebrew word Face – Turning as in the Turning of the face;—Do not turn after foreign Gods
..and if you do…God will hide his face from you .. cite As a result of the sin of idolatry – that is to say the the betrayal of face implicit in the turning to idolatry will in a loss of face…Face as we will shall soon see is the key concept in defining both the Temple and the cherubs.
[ii] In the reading of the Maggid of Mezeritch that Beita BeKutc