The Four Ordeals

A descriptive term for the qualities of initiatic tests given to disciples in order to measure the state of their psyche and thus the quality of their psychological work. These tests are reflections of the qualities of the four elements of nature. 

"The four ordeals within the White Lodge are in order to examine the white disciple’s morals. For instance, in the ordeal of fire, the disciple is attacked by crowds of enemies who insult him. Instead of returning insults, the disciple throws love towards his enemies. This is how he triumphs in this ordeal, when with serenity, he passes through the fire without becoming burned. The ordeal of water for the Gnostic in the White Lodge is given with the sole purpose of knowing what level the disciple’s altruism and philanthropy has reached. The White Lodge’s ordeal of air is given with the sole purpose of knowing the disciple’s capacity for resistance against great adversities, and for detachment from material things. Whosoever succumbs to the grave inconveniences of life fails in the ordeal of earth. There are many persons who have passed these ordeals within the very struggle of life, within the daily battle of obtaining their daily bread"

- Samael Aun Weor, The Revolution of Beelzebub


"In the solitude of these mysterious sanctuaries, the neophytes were submitted to the four Initiatic ordeals. The ordeals of fire, air, water and earth always defined the diverse purifications of the neophytes. The neophytes are submitted to the four Initiatic ordeals which are verified in the Internal Worlds. The human being still is not a king or queen of nature, but the human being is called to be a king in accordance to Melchizedeck. Disciples must be tested by the four elements in order to examine them. They are submitted to ordeals in the forty-nine regions of thought. These ordeals are for everyone, man and woman. One can help oneself by having pure thoughts, but this is not enough; Meditation is necessary."

- Samael Aun Weor, Tarot and Kabbalah


“Many esoteric ordeals exist on the initiatic path. It is necessary to pass through the ordeal of the Guardian of the Threshold in the three planes: astral, mental, and causal; it is necessary to pass through the ordeals of fire, air, water, and earth; it is necessary to pass through the ordeal of justice, etc. However, all of those ordeals, as hard and difficult as they might be, become gentle and swift when we compare them with the frightening and tremendous ordeal of the Ninth Sphere.”

- Samael Aun Weor, Aztec Christic Magic


Ordeals get harder if we continually fail them. Ordeals also get harder as we succeed and go deeper into the ego. It is especially happens when we are failing ordeals constantly in the internal worlds, that those tests can happen physically. So if you have a dream related with one of these ordeals, and you fail, be prepared: the ordeal might come physically, too.

-Gnostic Teachings



Ordeals of Air

  • We face the loss of what we love, whatever gives us material or personal security, etc.
  • Tests our psychological mobility, attachments, capacity for withstanding great adversities, and detachment from material things
  • Signs in dreams and visions: of falling, or on the edge of a cliff, or in a high place


Ordeals of Fire

  • We will be persecuted, wronged, criticized, blocked, obstructed, betrayed, etc., in order to arouse our anger.
  • Tests our temperature, serenity, sweetness.
  • Signs in dreams and visions: of flames, fires


Ordeals of Water

  • Our circumstances will change radically.
  • Tests our fluidity, adaptability, altruism, philanthropy
  • Signs in dreams and visions: drowning, raging waves or seas, floods


Ordeals of Earth

  • We will be obstructed, have no way to proceed with our goals, be restrained or weighed down.
  • Tests our solidity, perseverance, ability to deal with inconveniences.
  • Signs in dreams and visions: of being crushed between boulders or mountains, buried alive, climbing a mountain, rolling down a mountain



The Four Elements

A symbolic and deeply meaningful structure in ancient philosophy that represents the power of the cross [+] in the creation and formation of any existing thing. Unfortunately, modern people, not being initiated into the hidden meaning of the ancient writings, have interpreted the four elements only literally, as meaning physical air, fire, water, and earth. The primary importance of the four elements in ancient philosophy and religion is that they characterize subtle forces, especially psychological and spiritual forces within us: 

  • Air: Mobility
  • Fire: Temperature
  • Water: Fluidity
  • Earth: Solidity 

"The four Elements were fully characterized by Plato when he said that they were that "which composes and decomposes the compound bodies."

- H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine


"In the words Iod-He-Vau-He, we find the mystery of the Tetragrammaton (the Holy Four), the four words, the four elements. More profoundly, we find our Being, our most complete Divinity."

- Samael Aun Weor, Tarot and Kabbalah


"The sun, masculine principle, is the father of the Stone. The moon, feminine principle, is the mother of the Philosophical Stone. The wind bears the sun in its womb and the earth nourishes it. This is related with the four elements which are living manifestations of the Akash."

-Samael Aun Weor, Tarot and Kabbalah


"All those who want to attain in depth Self-realization, must work in their laboratory with Sulphur (Fire), Azoth (Air), the human being (Water) and the Bull (Earth). These four elements form a cross."

- Samael Aun Weor, The Perfect Matrimony


The psychological importance of the four elements is visible in the temperamental differences among the signs of western astrology: 

  1. Air: Gemini, Libra and Aquarius
  2. Fire: Aries, Leo and Sagittarius
  3. Water: Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces
  4. Earth: Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn


The Five Elements

Esoteric science studies five fundamental elements in nature, which are manifestations of more subtle energetic sources called tattvas. 

  1. Ether (related to the tattva akash)
  2. Fire (related to the tattva tejas)
  3. Air (related to the tattva vayu)
  4. Water (related to the tattva apas)
  5. Earth (related to the tattva prithvi)


"From Atman did space [akash] come into being; 
from space, air; 
from air, fire; 
from fire, the waters, 
from the waters, the earth; 
from the earth, plants; 
from plants, food; 
and from food, man..."

-Hinduism: Taittirīya Upaniṣhad



           Element        Quality           Sanskrit

  1. Air:            Mobility             Vayu, marut, pavan
  2. Fire:           Temperature       Tejas, Agni
  3. Water:        Fluidity              Apas, ap, jala
  4. Earth:         Solidity              Prithvi, kshiti, bhūmi
  5. Space:        Expansiveness    Akash, vyom, shunya


The Fifth Element

Literally “quintessence” from Latin quinta, quintus "fifth" + essentia (essence) "being, essence," abstract noun formed in imitation of Greek ousia "being, essence," from ontos, einai "to be", from essent-, esse "to be".


Space, Æther, Ether, Akash

“ÆTHER, in esotericism, is the very quintessence of all possible energy, and it is certainly to this universal agent (composed of many agents) that all the manifestations of energy in the material, psychic and spiritual worlds are due.”

- Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine


How do you boil something? You apply fire. So we have a mixture here of fire and water. And what happens in the boiling? When you apply fire to water, what happens? Firstly the water changes its constitution, its temperature. Remember the elements? They all have these qualities, right? Fire affects temperature. When you apply the fire to the water, you affect its fluidity, it boils, it moves, and what happens in that boiling? The water begins to mix with the air. Steam: the water is escaping, the water is being freed. What else is happening? The water is separating from the solids (earth). You see how all the elements are engaged here? This is psychological. This is why we need ordeals. 

The ordeals help us dissolve, to take apart the psyche, to see its components, and to rearrange them in the good way, but you can only do that if you are working with space, Akash, the fifth element, which is what allows these things to be reorganized, and that is God. The quintessence, the Kundalini, the prakiti, is the Innermost, the Divine Mother. In other words, you need to be Consciousness, cognizant, present, utilizing your energy to awaken, observe, comprehend: to learn about yourself. This is the process of dissolving and coagulating, and dissolving, and coagulating, and dissolving, and coagulating, continually, again and again, every day. It is not fast, it is slow, but that is how anything immortal is made: slowly, with great care.

-Gnostic Teachings


“By the omnipotent God, and on the salvation of my soul, I here declare to you earnest seekers, in pity to your earnest searching, the whole Philosophical Work, which is only taken from one subject and perfected in one thing. For we take this copper, and destroy its crude and gross body; we draw out its pure spirit, and after we have purified the earthy parts, we join them together, thus making a Medicine of a Poison.”

- The Stone of the Philosophers 



Initiation is your own life. If you want initiation, write it upon a staff. Whosoever has understanding let him understand, because there is wisdom within. Initiation is neither bought nor sold. Avoid those schools that give initiations by correspondence. Avoid all those who sell initiations. 

Initiation is something very intimate to the Soul. The “I” does not receive initiations. Therefore, those who say, “I have so many initiations,” “I have such and such degrees,” are liars and fakes, because the “I” does not receive initiations or degrees. 

There are nine Initiations of Minor Mysteries and five important Initiations of Major Mysteries. The Soul is the one who receives the initiations. This is a very intimate matter; something that one must not go about speaking of, nor something that must be told to anyone. 

Indeed, all the initiations and degrees that many schools of the physical world confer have no value whatsoever in the Superior Worlds, because the masters of the White Lodge only recognize the legitimate initiations of the Soul as genuine. These are completely internal. 

The disciple can ascend the nine Arcades, pass through all the nine Initiations of Minor Mysteries, without having worked in the Arcanum A.Z.F. Nevertheless, it is impossible to enter the Major Mysteries without the Arcanum A.Z.F. 

In Egypt, everyone who reached the Ninth Sphere would inevitably receive by word of mouth the terrific secret of the great Arcanum (the most powerful Arcanum, the Arcanum A.Z.F.).


The Guardian of the Threshold

The first ordeal that the candidate has to face is the trial of the Guardian of the Threshold. This Guardian is the reflection of the “I,” the intimate depths of the “I.” Many are they who fail this terrible ordeal. 

In the Internal Worlds, the candidate has to invoke the Guardian of the Threshold. A terrifying electrical hurricane precedes the terrible apparition. 

The larva of the threshold is armed with a terrible, hypnotic power. In fact, this monster has all the horrible ugliness of our own sins. It is the living mirror of our own evil deeds. The clash is terrible: it is a face to face and hand to hand battle. If the Guardian wins, the candidate becomes enslaved by the horrible monster. However, if the candidate is victorious, the monster of the threshold flees terrified. Then a metallic sound shakes the universe and the candidate is received in the Children’s Chamber. This reminds us of that requisition uttered by the hierophant Jesus Christ who stated: Except ye become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

In the Children’s Chamber, the candidate is welcomed by the holy masters. The happiness is immense because a human being has entered the Path of Initiation. The entire College of Initiates (Children) congratulate the candidate. The candidate has defeated the first Guardian. This ordeal takes place in the Astral World.


The Second Guardian

The Guardian of the Threshold has a second aspect, the mental aspect. We must know that the mind which the present human being possesses is still not a human mind. The present human being’s mind is found in an animal stage. Therefore, in the Mental Plane each person has the animal physiognomy that corresponds with his character. There, the cunning person is a real fox. The passionate man appears as a dog or a male goat, etc. 

The encounter with the Guardian of the Threshold in the plane of the mind is even more frighteningly horrible than in the Astral Plane. Really, the second Guardian is the great Guardian of the Threshold of the World. 

The struggle with the second Guardian is usually very horrible. The candidate is the one who must invoke the second Guardian in the Mental Plane. The Guardian comes preceded by a horrifying electrical hurricane. If the candidate is victorious, he is received with a warm welcome in the Children’s Chamber within the Mental Plane. However, if he fails, he remains enslaved by the horrible monster. All our mental crimes are personified in this larva.


The Third Guardian

The encounter with the third guardian takes place in the world of the will. The Demon of Evil Will is the most terrible of the three. People do their personal will. The masters of the White Lodge do only the Will of the Father, “on Earth as it is in Heaven.” 

When the candidate becomes victorious in the third ordeal, he is again welcomed in the Children’s Chamber. The music is ineffable, the festivity solemn...


The Hall of Fire

After the candidate has triumphed in the three basic ordeals of the Guardian of the Immense Region, he must then enter into the Hall of Fire. There, the flames purify the candidate’s internal vehicles.


The Ordeals of Fire, Air, Water, and Earth

In the ancient Egypt of the Pharaohs, these four ordeals had to be courageously faced in the physical world. Now the candidates have to pass these four ordeals in the supra-sensitive worlds.


The Ordeal of Fire 

The candidate is exposed to this ordeal in order to examine his serenity and sweetness. The wrathful and choleric inevitably fail this ordeal. The candidate experiences being persecuted, insulted, wronged etc. Many are they who react violently and return to the physical body having failed completely. However, the victorious ones are received in the Children’s Chamber and are welcomed with delightful music, the music of the spheres. The flames horrify the weak.


The Ordeal of Air 

Those who despair because they lose something or someone, those who fear poverty, those who are not willing to lose what they love the most, fail in the ordeal of air. The candidate is thrown into the depths of a precipice. The weak ones cry out and return terrified to the physical body. However, the victorious ones are received in the Children’s Chamber with festivities and greetings.


The Ordeal of Water 

The great ordeal of water is really terrible. The candidate is thrown into the ocean and believes himself to be drowning. Those who do not know how to adapt themselves to the various social conditions of life, those who do not know how to live among the poor, those who after being shipwrecked in the ocean of life reject the struggle and prefer to die, they, the weak ones, inevitably fail in the ordeal of water. However, the victorious ones are received in the Children’s Chamber with cosmic festivities.


The Ordeal of Earth 

We must learn how to take advantage of the worst adversities. The worst adversities bring us the best opportunities. We must learn to smile before all adversities. This is the Law. Those who succumb to pain before the adversities of existence cannot victoriously pass the ordeal of Earth. In the Superior Worlds the candidate finds himself between two enormous mountains that menacingly close in upon him. If the candidate screams with horror, he then returns as a failure into his physical body. However, if he is serene, he becomes victorious and is received in the Children’s Chamber with great festivity and immense happiness.


The Initiations of Minor Mysteries

When the candidate becomes successful in all the introductory ordeals to the Path, he has the absolute right to enter into the Minor Mysteries. Each of the nine Initiations of Minor Mysteries are attained within the Innermost consciousness. Thus, if the student has a good memory, he then can bring into his physical brain the memory of those initiations. However, when the candidate’s memory is not good, then the poor neophyte is unaware in the physical world of all that which he learns and receives in the Superior Worlds. Therefore, those who wish to be aware in the physical world of all that happens to them during initiation have to develop their memory. It is urgent that the candidate develop his memory. It is urgent for the candidate to learn how to consciously depart within the Astral Body. It is urgent for the candidate to awake his consciousness. 

The nine Initiations of Minor Mysteries constitute the probationary path. The nine Initiations of Minor Mysteries are for the disciples who are on trial. 

The married disciples who practice the Arcanum A.Z.F. pass these nine elementary initiations very rapidly. However, when the disciple is celibate and absolutely chaste, he can also pass the nine initiations, although more slowly. Fornicators cannot receive any initiation.


The Initiations of Major Mysteries

Five great Initiations of the Major Mysteries exist. Seven serpents exist. Two groups of three, with the sublime coronation of the seventh tongue of fire that unites us with the One, with the Law, with the Father. We need to climb the septenary scale of fire. The First Initiation is related with the first serpent, the Second Initiation with the second serpent, the Third Initiation with the third serpent, the Fourth Initiation with the fourth serpent, the Fifth Initiation with the fifth serpent (the Sixth and Seventh belong to Buddhi, or Soul consciousness, and to Atman, or the Innermost of the human being).


The First Initiation of Major Mysteries 

The first serpent corresponds to the physical body. It is necessary to raise the first serpent through the medullar canal of the physical body. When the serpent reaches the magnetic field at the root of the nose, the candidate attains the First Initiation of Major Mysteries. The Soul and the Spirit come before the great White Lodge without the Bodies of Sin and in complete absence of the “I.” They look at each other, they love and fuse as two flames which unite to form a single flame. Thus, this is how the Divine Hermaphrodite is born, and receives a throne in order to command and a temple in order to officiate. We must transform ourselves into Kings and Priests of Nature according to the Order of Melchizedeck. Whosoever receives the First Initiation of Major Mysteries, receives the flaming sword that gives him power over the four elements of Nature. We need to practice in the Arcanum A.Z.F. intensely in order to raise the serpent upon the staff, as Moses did in the wilderness. Love is the basis and foundation of initiation. It is necessary to know how to love. The struggle in order to raise the serpent is very difficult. The serpent must rise slowly degree by degree. There are thirty-three vertebrae. There are thirty-three degrees. In each vertebra the tenebrous ones attack us terribly. The Kundalini rises very slowly in accordance with the merits of the heart. We need to terminate with all of our sins. 

It is urgent to tread the path of the most absolute sanctity. It is indispensable to practice in the Arcanum A.Z.F. without animal desire. Not only must we kill desire, but the very shadow of desire. We need to be like the lemon. The Arcanum A.Z.F. must become a true religious ceremony. Jealousy must be eliminated. You must know that passionate jealousy terminates household peace.


The Second Initiation of Major Mysteries 

The ascent of the second serpent through the medullar canal of the Ethereal Body is very difficult. When the second serpent reaches the magnetic field at the root of the nose, the initiate then enters into the temple in order to receive the Second Initiation of Major Mysteries. It is good to emphasize that the human personality does not enter into the temple. The personality remains at the door putting its affairs in order with the Lords of Karma. 

The Innermost, together with his Ethereal Body, is crucified within the temple. That is to say, the Innermost clothes himself with the Ethereal Body for the Crucifixion. This is how the Ethereal body is Christified. To Soma Psuchikon, the Wedding Garment of the Soul, the Body of Gold, is born in the Second Initiation. This vehicle is formed with the two superior ethers. The Ethereal Body has four ethers, two superior and two inferior. Thus, with the Wedding Garment of the Soul we can enter all the regions of the Kingdom. 

This Initiation is very difficult. The student is severely tested. If he is victorious, the midnight sun shines, and from it descends the five pointed star with its central eye. This star comes to rest above the head of the neophyte as a sign of approval. The result of the victory is the Initiation.


The Third Initiation of Major Mysteries 

The third serpent rises through the medullar canal of the Astral specter. The third serpent must reach the magnetic field at the root of the nose, and then from there descend to the heart through a secret passageway within where seven holy chambers exist. 

When the third serpent reaches the heart, a most beautiful child, the Christ-astral is born. The outcome of all this is the Initiation. The neophyte has to experience within his Astral Body the entire drama of the Passion of Christ. He has to be crucified, die and be buried. He has then to resurrect and must also descend to the Abyss and remain there for forty days before the Ascension. The supreme ceremony of the Third Initiation is attained with the Christ-astral. Upon the altar appears Sanat Kumara, the Ancient of the Days, in order to grant us the Initiation. Everyone who attains the Third Initiation of Major Mysteries receives the Holy Spirit. It is necessary for the man to know how to love the woman to attain this Initiation. The Arcanum A.Z.F. must be filled with immense love… Each kiss, each word, each caress, must be totally free of desire. Animal desire is a very grave obstacle for the Initiation….



The Fourth Initiation of Major Mysteries 

When the fourth serpent has succeeded in the ascent through the medullar canal of the mental specter, then the Fourth Initiation of Major Mysteries is attained. The fourth serpent also reaches the space between the eyebrows and descends to the heart. 

In the world of the mind, Sanat Kumara always welcomes the candidate saying, “You have liberated yourself from the four bodies of sin. You are a Buddha. You have entered the world of the Gods. You are a Buddha. Everyone who liberates himself of the four bodies of sin is a Buddha. You are a Buddha. You are a Buddha.” 

The cosmic festivity of this Initiation is grandiose. The entire world, the entire universe trembles with happiness, saying, “A new Buddha has been born.” The Divine Mother Kundalini presents her child in the temple saying, “This is my beloved child. He is a new Buddha. He is a new Buddha. He is a new Buddha.” The holy women congratulate the candidate with a sacred kiss. The festival is terribly divine. The great masters of the Mind extract from within the mental specter the beautiful child of the Christ-mind. This child is born in the Fourth Initiation of Major Mysteries. Everyone who receives the Fourth Initiation gains Nirvana. Nirvana is the world of the Holy Gods.

Whosoever reaches the Fourth Initiation receives the Globe of the Imperator of the Mind. The sign of the cross shines upon this globe. 

The mind must be crucified and stigmatized in the Initiation. The universal fire sparkles within the World of the Mind. Each one of the thirty-three chambers of the mind teaches us terrible truths.


The Fifth Initiation of Major Mysteries 

The fifth serpent rises through the medullar canal of that embryo of the Soul that we have incarnated. The fifth serpent must reach the eyebrows and then descend to the heart. 

The body of Conscious Will is born in the Fifth Great Initiation. Everyone who is born in the World of the Conscious Will inevitably incarnates his Soul. Everyone who incarnates his Soul becomes a true human being with Soul. Every true complete and immortal human being is an authentic Master. Before the Fifth Initiation of Major Mysteries no one must be called by the title of Master. 

In the Fifth Initiation we learn to do the will of the Father. We must learn to obey the Father. This is the Law. 

In the Fifth Initiation we must decide between two paths, which one to take to continue on: either to remain in Nirvana enjoying the infinite bliss of the boundless sacred space, sharing with the ineffable Gods, or rather to renounce that immense bliss of Nirvana and remain living in this valley of tears in order to help the poor suffering humanity. Renunciation, the long path of woe and bitterness is different. Whosoever renounces Nirvana in order to live to benefit mankind later attains the Venustic Initiation, this after Nirvanas gained and lost from boundless pity and compassion for humanity. 

Everyone who receives the Venustic Initiation incarnates the Inner Christ. There are millions of Buddhas in Nirvana who have not incarnated the Christ. It is better to renounce Nirvana for the love of humanity and have the joy of incarnating the Christ. The Christ-Man has the right to enter into worlds of Supernirvanic bliss and later, the Absolute.

-The Perfect Matrimony, Samael Aun Weor