A Mystical and Symbolical Painting
Description by the Artist, Reginald Willoughby Machell
THE PATH is the way by which the human soul must pass in its evolution to full
spiritual self-consciousness. The supreme condition is suggested in this work by the great
figure whose head in the upper triangle is lost in the glory of the Sun above, and whose feet
are in the lower triangle in the waters of Space, symbolizing Spirit and Matter. His wings fill
the middle region representing the motion or pulsation of cosmic life, while within the octagon
are displayed the various planes of consciousness, through which humanity must rise to attain to
At the top is a winged Isis, the Mother or Oversoul, whose wings veil the face of the Supreme
from those below. There is a circle dimly seen of celestial figures who hail with joy the triumph
of a new initiate, one who has reached to the heart of the Supreme. From that point he looks
back with compassion upon all who still are wandering below and turns to go down again to their
help as a Saviour of Men.
Below him is the red wing of the guardians who strike down those who have not the
"password," symbolised by the white flame floating over the head of the purified
aspirant. Two children, representing purity, pass up unchallenged. In the centre of the picture
is a warrior who has slain the dragon of illusion, the dragon of the lower self, and is now
prepared to cross the gulf by using the body of the dragon as his bridge (for we rise on steps
made of conquered weaknesses, the slain dragon of the lower nature).
On one side two women climb, one helped by the other whose robe is white and whose flame burns
bright as she helps her weaker sister. Near them a man climbs from the darkness; he has money
bags hung at his belt but no flame above his head and already the spear of a guardian of the
fire is poised above him ready to strike the unworthy in his hour of triumph. Not far off is a
bard whose flame is veiled by a red cloud (passion) and who lies prone, struck down by a guardian’s
spear; but as he lies dying, a ray from the heart of the Supreme reaches him as a promise of
future triumph in a later life.
On the other side is a student of magic, following the light from a crown (ambition) held
aloft by a floating figure who has led him to the edge of the precipice over which for him
there is no bridge; he holds his book of ritual and thinks the light of the dazzling crown
comes from the Supreme; but the chasm waits its victim. By his side his faithful follower falls
unnoticed by him, but a ray from the heart of the Supreme falls upon her also, the reward of
selfless devotion, even in a bad cause.
Lower still in the underworld, a child stands beneath the wings of the foster mother (material
Nature) and receives the equipment of the Knight, symbols of the powers of the Soul, the sword
of power, the spear of will, the helmet of knowledge and the coat of mail, the links of which
are made of past experiences.
It is said in an ancient book: "The Path is one for all, the ways that lead thereto
must vary with the pilgrim."
© 2011 Leeds Theosophical Society