The crux of spiritual allegory is to use a surface level of meaning to conceal something of much deeper substance, value, and meaning in a way that protects the hidden knowledge from the uninitiated.
This is the idea behind the Language of the Birds, also known as the Green Language, or Lingua Verdi of the alchemists, which was a 'language' Saint Francis of Assisi was purported to understand. In the imagery of Saint Francis, he is usually surrounded by birds and animals, and the popular Catholic notion is that he could speak to them. Though he may have developed the ability to do that, that is not the meaning behind those alchemical ideas.
The Saint Francis story endures precisely because it is allegory, not because of what people thought the allegory meant.
One level of the Language of the Birds was a clever way of using words in one language that sound like words in other languages, the one word concealing the nature of the meaning conveyed by the other. Just reading something written in Green Language would yield the reader little fruit if knowledge of this fact were unknown, especially since one of the main languages employed in this manner, particularly by French adepts, was archaic Greek.
Another level of the Language of the Birds has to do with an adept's ability to find the true and deepest meanings inherent in symbols as living intelligences, by communicating with them directly as aspects of universal mind.
To take the idea of unveiling allegory in religion into a deeper and more complex idea, one has only to turn to the core allegory within Christianity:
"Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."1
The problem is in understanding what 'born again' actually means, from an adept alchemical point of view.
Alchemists understand that in addition to a physical body, humans have a lunar body and a solar body, which is another way of saying humans have a soul and a spirit. In order to be 'born' into the stellar body, the glorified body of light, the sun and the moon have to completely conjoin with the physical body. It is the same exact process reflected in the practical alchemy work where the alchemist must get the philosophical Sulphur (Soul), Mercury (Spirit), and Salt (Body) to become One Thing.
That is being 'born again' because one ends up with a spiritually regenerated body. One cannot get to Heaven until achieving that body, because one does not exist in the right configuration to permanently access that level of existence.
Everyone is meant to evolve to attain that stellar body of light. How long it takes is relative to each individual's spiritual evolution. What Christ said means exactly that. What people do not realize is that the kingdom of Heaven is a state of consciousness.
"The kingdom is inside you and it is outside you."2
Heaven is not a place, it is a state of consciousness that once attained allows one to access multiple levels of reality:
"In my Father's house are many mansions."3
Heaven is the state of eternity, no time, and no physical limitation because one has become the Stone, or in esoteric Christian terms attained the Robe of Glory, which is in perfect alignment with where it says, "Thus will you obtain the Glory of the whole Universe. All obscurity will be clear to you. This is the greatest force of all powers, because it overcomes every Subtle thing and penetrates every Solid thing."
It corresponds in Qabala to the state of Binah, called Understanding, which is a conjunction in Hebrew of Ben Yah, which means 'Sons of God.'
Thus, one cannot enter the kingdom of Heaven unless one becomes a Son of God.
Accurately unraveling that allegory leads to behind the mechanics of how things work on a higher epistemological and ontological basis. Some of the teachings overlap, because bits and pieces are left in the magical tradition, in the alchemical tradition, and pieces are in religious writings. Figuring out how to line up the pieces in a way that reveals how things work unlocks those doors.
Outside of the quickenings that come as a result of alchemical acceleration, most phases of evolution require long spans of time.
Humans come back, evolve, die, get reborn, evolve some more, and keep doing it until they get ripe enough as spiritual fruit that the Higher Genii can harvest them, and say, "Okay. You do not have to do that any longer. You are now going to evolve into the next level of being."
We come back here and we do this over and over and over again, and we struggle. People that want to run around and pretend that they are victims to the process do not really understand that it is not being done to abuse us, and it is not being done for anything other than that is how we evolve to the next level of being. It is absolutely necessary, and somebody cannot come along and do it vicariously for us. That cannot happen.
Looking at nature, there are many examples of what happens when someone messes with it. Just watch a butterfly break out of its cocoon: It struggles, and it struggles, and it struggles, and if one has any empathy at all, the impulse is to help it; but the problem is that if it does not force, if it does not struggle, if it does not push against that cocoon, it does not develop the muscles needed to fly. So, one could help it get out of the cocoon, but it is going to die because it cannot fly.
We are no different in our metamorphoses, as chrysalides, in this process. It requires more incarnations, and it is more complicated, but it is the same process. So, the idea of vicarious atonement only goes so far. It is not that there is not a Christ aspect, because there is: It is an aspect of one's Higher Genius on a personal level that connects to the universal level.
Humans can attain to experience that personal threshold when they reach a level of Solar consciousness; Tiphereth in Qabala is directly related to that Solar consciousness. Humans can learn to communicate with that aspect if they are taught the right technique. I can attest that is absolutely a true statement because I was taught that process. It is a core part of the process one learns if receiving correct instruction within true .
What the Western Mystery Tradition always provided between the Lesser Mysteries, which are lunar, and the Greater Mysteries, which are solar, were all of the key pieces that go together. Those Keys expose one to forces that one has to evolve through in order to create that next state of consciousness: To step across the Abyss (through Da'ath, Knowledge, ) and reach the transfigured state where one has become a Son of God.
Humans have that capacity embryonically on a foundational level but it is not a level they have access to experience directly without training and development.
That level IS the Higher Genius. Technically, the Higher Genius is eternal. One can fool around with this for lifetimes, it does not really care on a certain scale, but it is the one pulling the strings, it is the one creating and orchestrating one's experiences.
The Higher Genius is continually molding reality to shape one into becoming what it wants one to become. That is why it is wrong to hold judgment of what other people do, whether it is felt to be personally egregious or not. Ultimately until humans reach a state of consciousness where they are allowed to have the reins, which is that state of consciousness of being Sons of God, they are not really, fully, totally in control.
Basically, to a certain extent humans are sock puppets. We are not in control of anything. We try, we still have to do our best, but really, the Higher Genii are in control. So, on one hand that is kind of liberating, and on the other hand, it feels a little weird.
The whole point of getting to a certain state of conscious is so that one can fully merge with the Higher Genius and then have reached that level of evolution. All the other stages in between are just simply steps on the ladder that have to be climbed, and each one of them is a little weird and different, and often contrary to intuition because those obstacles are put there by Nature to keep things from going where they are not ready to go.
Everything important has a Guardian. If one is not supposed to go somewhere, the Guardian's job is to keep one out. As soon as one evolves to the point where one is supposed to be there, that Guardian no longer blocks access and can often function as a preliminary guide, but it is the same intelligence. Guardians have a binary function.
Everything has an intelligence, and what initiates are learning to do is create an effective means of being able to integrate intelligences normally experienced as external, in a way that is philosophically sound. Methods taught within the Western Mystery Tradition, when compared to exacerbative 'Eastern' practices, are safer than a lot of other teachings, and lead to the right kind of understanding. It is that understanding that is actually the most important part of the whole process.
The doing of things is a demonstration of understanding: The bottom line really is the understanding that enables the doing.
1. John 3:3 King James Version
2. Meyer, Marvin, and Harold Bloom. "Saying 3." In The Gospel of Thomas: The Hidden Sayings of Jesus, 23. First ed. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 1992.
3. John 14:2 King James Version