Seven Sacred Degrees of Initiation and Ascension

Everything in the universe (all matter, animate and inanimate in appearance) is a manifestation of Light in seven degrees. Life exists, bound in matter, from the basalt of the Canadian Shield, the oldest rock on earth (4.5 billion to 540 million years old), to the roiling furnace that is an O-type star, at 40,000 degrees kelvin, the hottest known.

Where Light as life exists, consciousness does also, in an apparent infinitude of degrees, which we divide into seven: Neophyte, Disciple, Adept, Mystic, Master, Priest and Christos.

Jesus of Nazareth came to earth to fulfill the Seven Degrees within a single earth life, to show us how to become Christed, the embodiment of the Christos Degree. He arrived on earth with his own perfect Design for Ascension, the pattern of which emerges clearly from the Gospel record of his life's events.

When you read the Gospels carefully, with devotion and open to the Light, you find the evidence of what you must be and do to complete the Seven Degrees. You live the Seven Degrees; you do not just live by them. The great open secret is that the whole world lives the Seven Degrees also — without knowing it.

These degrees form the basis of your challenges and initiation in daily life (even when you are unaware), under the guise of personal choice, commitment, action, acceptance, responsibility, service and sublimation. The 33 Via Christa Degrees amplify some of the many facets of the Seven Degrees.

To "initiate" means to begin something new. Each degree is a step upward in the soul's ascending progression, in the rise of consciousness, which is forever attracted to its Source.

Life repeatedly tests you on these degrees. Cyclically, annually, you repeat the Seven Degrees of Initiation as you ascend the spiral path.

The Seven Degrees

The Seven Degrees each have a function and a vow.

As a Neophyte, your great function is acceptance. The Neophyte’s initiation is Rebirth, and the vow is: “I vow to make my body a fitting dwelling place for my soul.”
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As a Disciple, your great function is surrender. The Disciple's initiation is Baptism by Water, and the vow is: "I vow to surrender completely to be the servant of all Power."
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As an Adept, your great function is obedience to law. The Adept's initiation is Baptism by Fire, and the vow is: "I vow to be selfless in my release of Power."
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As a Mystic, your great function is praise — praise to God the Creator, to commune with Him. The Mystic's initiation is Transfiguration, and the vow is: "I vow to keep my silence shining and golden.
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As a Master, your great function is speaking the Word. The Master's initiation is Crucifixion, and the vow is: "I vow to be a master in all responsibility."
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As a Priest (or Priestess), your great function is to become the law you have learned. The Priest's great initiation is Resurrection, and the vow is: "I vow to remain pure in heart, mind and purpose."
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As a Christos candidate, your great function is absolute responsibility. The Christos initiation is Ascension, and the vow is: "I make my supreme vow to surrender self completely."
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Edna Lister on the Seven Sacred Degrees

Every Seven Degrees has lesser degrees varying from four to twenty-four. ~ Edna Lister, May 16, 1947.

The Seven Degrees, on which you are climbing, include the Neophyte, Disciple, Adept, Mystic, Master, Priest and Christos. You can enter the major Seven Degrees only through one of the seven lesser degrees under each. For example, an illiterate Neophyte could be living a Christos life of selfless service.

Just as earning a doctorate requires having passed all the lesser course work, you take initiations in 49 degrees from Neophyte to reach Christos — seven times seven equals forty-nine. Simultaneously, you must pass 144 steps and cover other sets of degrees, which include the ten Commandments in thirty degrees, on the emotional, mental and spiritual levels.

You take the final three Christos Degrees at night, out-of-body on the Sun. Events happen to you for no apparent reason when you are taking the final three degrees. The minute it comes hard, remember "As above, so below." Desire for perfection takes you through the final degrees when nothing else seems to work.

You cannot return home until you have learned your lessons. Initiation is right where you are now, and you receive credit for the good you have done. You could take 144 steps in twenty-four hours under surrender. You could pass the Gates, take the first initiation and know the score.

God does not pay you to be a doormat. Sometimes you must accept being rejected by your family or a loved one. When you pray for emancipation, the wall breaks down at the right time. ~ Edna Lister, June 14, 1951.

Each Zodiacal Division has thirty-three degrees. You take thirty on the outer and three on the inner. The 30th degree includes eighteen stiff initiations for conquering self. The Thirty-three Via Christa Degrees cover life from birth to ascension of soul through conquering. You take these initiations on earth in daily life, and each of the seven includes a set of thirty-three.

In descending order, the seven degrees are Christos, full Ascension. Priest, full Resurrection, Master, full Crucifixion where self's will crucifies you until you conquer. The Mystic is the initiation of Transfiguration and prayer. The Adept undergoes Baptism by Fire. The Disciple undergoes Baptism by Water, symbolizing emotions; he begins controlling self. Here you begin to conquer self. The Neophyte experiences Rebirth.

In the three lower degrees you always face the danger of living by the three creature urges of eating, sleeping and mating. The fourth degree provides the respiratory rate of balance among the three lower and three higher centers.

In the first three degrees ascending, one is concerned with control of self and control of power. By the time you reach the fifth degree, you begin to understand the need to crucify will, to give up selfish will and become the servant of all Power. Everyone crucifies self an inch at a time until he learns to conquer by soul ascension.

Complete resurrection of self to soul comes when you mate self-will and self-desire to become one in ascension. First, desire flirts with will. Then they become engaged and travel where will directs. Then desire reawakens and gives the ring back to will because it travels too hard a road.

Still, it is inevitable that you ascend. Desire and will become engaged repeatedly until an illumination strikes like lightning, and you complete the first marriage of the Lamb. ~ Edna Lister, The Wheels of Ezekiel, December 17, 1957.

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Seven Laws of Expression

This Edna Lister lecture transcript excerpt from The Pioneering Mystic is dated May 5, 1959, Cleveland, Ohio. Scribes: Margaret Doan, Ruth Johnson, Irene White, Virginia Whitehead.

The Neophyte lifts [sublimates] desire and emotions to achieve physical balance.

The Disciple lifts the clamoring self-will to a state of calm under trial.

The Adept ascends self-desire, which balances the emotions at the solar plexus center.

The Mystic balances Love and Wisdom perfectly, to stand poised under the pure white Light of the Christ.

The Master accepts responsibility.

The Priest practices full surrender of all self.

The Christos lives by pure illumination, the final, complete conquering of soul.

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States of Consciousness in the Seven Degrees

This Edna Lister lecture transcript excerpt from The Pioneering Mystic is dated May 5, 1959, Cleveland, Ohio. Scribes: Margaret Doan, Ruth Johnson, Irene White, Virginia Whitehead.

You experience many new states of consciousness as we ascend and conquer on the Seven Degrees. In each state you learn something and begin to understand and comprehend at a higher level (degree).

As a Neophyte, you learn what you think you know, and that you do not know it all.

As a Disciple, you learn mental balance by crucifying self-will.

As an Adept, you learn spiritual balance in the first Marriage of the Lamb — you mate self-will to God's will and selfish desires to God's Love to become I AM, Christed consciousness.

As a Mystic, you learn high prayer and praise. You cannot pray effectively without praise in your heart.

As a Master, you learn honor and polish your ethics and morals. You begin a thousand burnt offerings, a thousand days of perfection and surrender to Light of emotional-mental leftovers.

As a Priest, you learn to live by service and soul conquering.

As a Christos candidate, you learn that "I die daily" is the death of self. You learn to lift all fear of old age and death.

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The Qualities of Seven Laws to Become

This Edna Lister lecture transcript excerpt from The Pioneering Mystic is dated May 5, 1959, Cleveland, Ohio. Scribes: Margaret Doan, Ruth Johnson, Irene White, Virginia Whitehead.

Under the Seven Degrees and initiations, you must develop certain qualities, which are, in fact, laws that you must become.

As Neophytes, we experience Rebirth, in which we “die” to self-expressions. We are reborn to the Christ-life to be made anew in either a long process or an instantaneous act. We mate desire to will, in the first marriage of the Lamb.

As a Disciple, you experience Baptism by Water. You "walk on water" to conquer the emotional life under Spirit, outpouring as the waters of the River of Life.

As an Adept, you experience Baptism by Fire, in which you burn away self. Flames of the Holy Spirit dance upon your shoulders, appearing as white Wings of the Christ to awaken the gland-like parathalamus structures in the brain for spiritual seeing and hearing.

As a Mystic, you undergo Transfiguration. You stand in the golden silence of the Oversoul to maintain constant contact with the Source, and name all things good. The materiality of self falls from your soul and your face shines as pure joy.

As a Master, you experience Crucifixion. You lay self-will upon the crossbar of the Master’s cross and assume full responsibility for lifting everything.

As a Priest, you face Resurrection. You arise into the Light to transform your cross into a ladder of Ascension. Desire and will become love and wisdom, in the second marriage of the Lamb.

As a Christos candidate, you practice Ascension. You attain the high tower fortress of Ascension in the Garden of Eden, where you live by the precepts of soul in the higher creative centers, the glands and structures within the brain.

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Illumination and Realization

This Edna Lister lecture outline is dated September 25, 1937, Cleveland, Ohio.

You pass through seven different degrees while on earth, or to return to God. Under spiritual illumination, your souls experience realization of previous states of awareness that you enjoyed before you descended to earth.

The Neophyte becomes aware of his need for "The Search" while symbolically standing in the outer court of the Temple, among the masses of earth.

The Disciple becomes aware of his need for "The Illumination" while symbolically standing before the radiance shining through the curtains that veil the inner court.

The Adept becomes aware of his need to become the servant of all "The Power" while symbolically standing in the inner court.

The Mystic becomes aware of his need for "The Glory" while symbolically standing before the veils that hide the altar in the Holy of Holies.

The Master becomes aware of his need for "The Attainment" of the Cities of God, which requires developing the oracular soul powers of the seer and prophet.

The Priest becomes aware of his need for "The Awareness" of the Kingdom of God, while symbolically kneeling before the altar in the Holy of Holies.

The Christos becomes aware of his need to attain "The Crown" of Ascension to the Throne Circle, as he communes with God before the Mercy Seat.

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Steps in Ascension from Time and Space into Eternal Infinity

This Edna Lister lecture outline, Seven Degrees of Initiation, is dated March 12, 1970, Tacoma, Washington. Scribe Ruth Collord.

The first three of the Seven Degrees, the Neophyte, Disciple and Adept, must fall into the four higher Degrees, the Mystic, Master, Priest and Christos. To accomplish the Seven Degrees takes 144 steps of conquering in one course around the twelve Zodiacal signs to master the twelve virtues in each sign.

The 33 Degrees of the Via Christa are the same as those in Masonry, and the Phrygian and Mithraic Mysteries. They are all the same.

The Neophyte vows include breathing, diet, water, rest and exercise, and you need them all daily to make the Neophyte Degree. They include your responsibilities to your family and social life. You must rest your body before you go to bed to resurrect your body before you lie down.

The Disciple decides to follow the Lord Jesus Christ, or something big. Read the Sermon on the Mount for insight on this. You must follow a Father-Mother God.

The Adept Degree includes forty-nine lesser degrees of the Adept, all of which deal in phenomena. At the forty-ninth degree, the Adept realizes that he must climb through prayer and the giving up of self.

The three lower degrees pertain to everything of earth, while the four higher degrees pertain to Light. Here, everything reverses, and Mind, Substance and Power, the three, must fall into the four elements of earth, water, air and fire, which is another pathway.

You can go through the Mystic Degree only on prayer. The Mystic Degree separates the three lower degrees from the three higher degrees of the Master, Priest and Christos.

Mediatorship includes the conquering of the Master Degree, accepting all personal responsibility, which opens intuition. The Priest further becomes responsible for details in life, to open illumination. The eight steps of the Christos confer full mediatorship.

The Adept uses self-control to open clairvoyance and clairaudience, which any fakir can do. The Disciple makes the decision to follow law. The Neophyte hears about what may be true or untrue, talks about it and thinks about it.

The lower three degrees all deal with mediumship, and you take them below the Gates in the realm of phenomena, the truth of appearances. The medium may practice clairvoyance, but can read only below the Gates. The medium or fakir lives under self-interest and self-control, which always breaks down, eventually.

To conquer self, you must live according to the principles contained within the Sermon on the Mount until you have no desire to live any other way. When you can declare that the evil you see is beautiful, and leave it there, you are on our way to conquering the world of illusion.

To one who is deriding you, you can say, "All I need is a little more time and I'll please you." Age is caused by one thing only, inner conflicts. The forty-nine degrees of the Adept and the eightfold path of Buddha fit in here.

The Mystic is practicing the scientific approach to prayer by maintaining his respiratory rate of balance between the outer and the inner, which means that the stomach, heart and lungs, or the respiration, heartbeat and assimilation are on one common vibration, which causes the marriage of heaven and earth.

The Christos practices Ascension upward always. The Priest's initiation is Resurrection. The Master's initiation is Crucifixion of personal will. The Mystic initiation is Transfiguration (prayer transfigures you). The Adept undergoes forty-nine degrees of Baptism by Fire. The Disciple conquers emotion during the Baptism by Water. The Neophyte initiation is Rebirth.

You are always working on all these degrees because you are always under the testing of the three temptations, to misuse Mind, Substance and Power

As a Neophyte, you never go to the dinner table with a dead body. Lie down and stretch out like a five-pointed star until you feel as if you are flying like an eagle above everything on earth. Breathe! Take seven deep breaths, and rest your body from the day's fatigue.

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Initiations Associated with the Seven Degrees

This Linda Mihalic lecture transcript excerpt is dated February 6, 2009, Cleveland, Ohio.

To "initiate" means to begin something new. Each Degree is a step upward in the soul's ascending progression, in the rise of consciousness, which is forever attracted to its Source. You ascend by degrees.



How to Recognize This Initiation



Laying aside opinion and prejudice


Baptism by Water

Controlling emotions and idle words


Baptism by Fire

Calumny and scorn trim ego and pride



Seeking God first, with an open heart



Sacrifice of self will and desires



Soul redeems all good from the dead self



Soul conquers by total surrender of self

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Edna Miriam Lister
1884 –1971
The original Pioneering Mystic
minister, teacher, and author

Edna Lister


The Compact Edition of The Oxford English Dictionary: 2 volumes. E.S.C. Weiner, editor. Oxford University Press, 1971.

The Holy Bible. King James Version (KJV), Public Domain.

The Nag Hammadi Library. James M. Robinson, editor. San Francisco, Harper & Row, 1981.

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