The fifty gates [of Ain Soph] reveal a certain evolutionary process and it was declared by the Rabbins that he who would attain to the highest degree of understanding must pass sequentially through all of these orders of life, each of which constituted a gate in that the spirit, passing from the lower to the higher, found in each more responsive organism new avenues of self-expression.
After the deluge sent by the gods to destroy mankind at the close of the Iron Age, only Deucalion and Pyrrha were left alive. Entering a ruined sanctuary to pray, they were directed by an oracle to depart from the temple and with heads veiled and garments unbound cast behind them the bones of their mother. Construing the cryptic message of the god to mean that the earth was the Great Mother of all creatures, Deucalion picked up loose rocks and, bidding Pyrrha do likewise, cast them behind him. From these rocks there sprang forth a new and stalwart race of human beings, the rocks thrown by Deucalion becoming men and those thrown by Pyrrha becoming women. In this allegory is epitomized the mystery of human evolution; for spirit, by ensouling matter, becomes that indwelling power which gradually but sequentially raises the mineral to the status of the plant; the plant to the plane of the animal; the animal to the dignity of man; and man to the estate of the gods.
There are also legends to the effect that long before the appearance of human beings there existed a race or species of composite creatures which was destroyed by the gods. The temples of antiquity preserved their own historical records and possessed information concerning the prehistoric world that has never been revealed to the uninitiated. According to these records, the human race evolved from a species of creature that partook somewhat of the nature of an amphibian, for at that time primitive man had the gills of a fish and was partly covered with scales. To a limited degree, the human embryo demonstrates the possibility of such a condition. As a result of the theory of man's origin in water, the fish was looked upon as the progenitor of the human family. This gave rise to the ichthyolatry of the Chaldeans, Phœnicians, and Brahmins. The American Indians believe that the waters of lakes, rivers, and oceans are inhabited by a mysterious people, the "Water Indians."
The occultists of the ancient world had a most remarkable understanding of the principle of evolution. They recognized all life as being in various stages of becoming. They believed that grains of sand were in the process of becoming human in consciousness but not necessarily in form; that human creatures were in the process of becoming planets; that planets were in the process of becoming solar systems; and that solar systems were in the process of becoming cosmic chains; and so on ad infinitum. One of the stages between the solar system and the cosmic chain was called the zodiac; therefore they taught that at a certain time a solar system breaks up into a zodiac. The house of the zodiac become the thrones for twelve Celestial Hierarchies, or as certain of the ancients state, ten Divine Orders. Pythagoras taught that 10, or the unit of the decimal system, was the most perfect of all numbers, and he symbolized the number ten by the lesser tetractys, an arrangement of ten dots in the form of an upright triangle.
In the early chapters of this history we saw how the world and humanity were created in the following order: first the mineral part, second the vegetable, third the animal, and last, as the crown of creation, the distinctly human element. Constituent parts were nurtured one after the other, each providing the conditions for the succeeding stage to develop. As the latter stages of history progress, these parts will be transformed in reverse order: human, animal, vegetable and, lastly, mineral. At the end of time even the very atoms of our material natures will be transformed like the physical body of Jesus Christ in the Transfiguration.
As Newton's cabalistic contemporary Lady Conway put it, 'There are transformations from one species to another, as from stone to earth, from earth to grass, from grass to sheep from sheep to human flesh, from human flesh to the lowest species of man, and from these to noblest spirits.' In Newton's view, then, everything in the universe strains towards intelligence. Inanimate matter strains towards vegetable life, which aspires to animal life by means of a rudimentary sensitivity. The higher animals have an instinct that is almost reasonable like the faculty in human beings, who wait to evolve into super-intelligent beings.
[...] with the help of an army of monkeys, which is to say hominids, the descendants of human spirits who had rushed into incarnation too early and were doomed to die out.
Creation grew tired and animals grew vicious, as they had to struggle to survive. As humanity continued to fall, so too did nature. It became red in tooth and claw. Lions and wolves began to attack humans. Plants grew thorns to scratch and make the gathering of fruit difficult, and poisonous plants evolved, like wolfsbane.
When proto-humans were vegetable creatures, they did not experience death. When they began to take on animal characteristics, they began to experience a foretaste of death. This was an experience like dream-filled sleep. [...] Sleep deepened until it became like death, and then it became death.
In the secret history, the last creatures to incarnate before humans were the apes. They came about because some human spirits rushed into incarnations too early before human anatomy had been perfected.
In the secret history, therefore, it is not right to say that humans are descended from apes, rather that apes represent a degeneration of humankind.
The cosmic plan was that all the world's biological forms would gradually be incorporated into humankind, which was intended to be the crown of all creation. As the gods led humanity closer and closer to human anatomy as we know it, they assumed the part-animal, part-human forms remembered by the Sumerians, the Egyptians, the Persians and the Babylonians, until they finally assumed anatomically perfect forms remembered by the last great civilizations of the world, the Greeks and Romans.
According to the secret doctrine the animals we known today evolved into the forms we are familiar with today, influenced by the stars and planets, lions by the constellation of Leo, for instance, bulls by the constellation of Taurus. Centaurs, mermaids, sirens, fauns and satyrs were predecessors of anatomically modern humans, representing the impulse to create anatomically modern humans in various transitional stages.
In the secret history the evolution of the species was not the even progress that science supposes. There were twists and turns that have important implications for the way we understand our own physiology and mental make-up. There were dead ends, false starts and even deliberate attempts at sabotage.
...in the looking-glass history taught by the secret societies this is exactly what God did, his reflections - humans - gradually and in stages, forming and achieving independent life, nurtured by Him, guided and prompted by Him over very long periods.
Natural processes are accomplished by two cosmic motions. One of these is termed involution, or the descent of life into form. In this process, units of radiant energy take upon themselves ever more of the material elements, until they are hopelessly obscured by the forms with which they have surrounded themselves. This state is typified by the seed, the hard shell, and the living germ within. The second cosmic motion is evolution. This is life releasing itself from form by the process of growth. It requires billions of years for the cosmic plant to grow up, but by the evolutionary process all things are ultimately released from form and are restored to their divine state.
...we are not quarreling with natural selection…as it applies to other creatures...But we do state unequivocally that Darwinian Evolution and natural selection do not apply to mankind at all.
Most controversial is the evolutionary question. I have done a great deal of work on Darwin and can say with some assurance that Darwin did not derive his theory from nature but rather superimposed a certain philosophical world-view on nature and then spent 20 years trying to gather the facts to make it stick.
It is frequently alleged that Darwin taught that humans descended from early apes, such as chimpanzees, orang-utans and gorillas, but this is nonsense: Darwin never taught that. If it were true, there would be no chimpanzees, orang-utans or gorillas today.