The Theosophical Society Lodge of San Francisco has a deep, rich heritage stretching back to 1901.
Among the many mystical treasures that have been swept up into the Lodge's ongoing narrative are two powerful invocations, the First Ray and the Clear Light. Every Friday night meeting opens with one or the other. Each has a story that flows along with it into the future.
Both stories are told in Richard Power's Great Song: Life and Teachings of Joe Miller.
The First Ray came to us from Annie Besant through Joe Miller.
Besant and Miller had a brief but profound encounter early in Miller's life. In the oral history included in Great Song, Joe tells the story of his meeting with Annie and all that came from it.
He also recounts the origins of the First Ray as it is uttered at the SFTS Lodge to this day:
- "Now in the LLC (Liberal Catholic Church), just as in the Roman Catholic Church, women couldn't be inside the sanctuary while a service was underway. So when they called Annie Besant in for the snapper, she just walked up in front of the rail to read this First Ray Invocation: May the Holy Ones show us the Light we seek. And give us the strong aid of their Compassion and their Wisdom. There is a Peace that Passeth All Understanding. It abides in the hearts of those who live in the Eternal. There is a Power that maketh all things new, and it lives and moves in those who know the Self as One. May that Peace brood over us, and that Power uplift us. Until we stand where the One Initiator is invoked. Until we see that star shine forth. I said, 'Wow, I gotta learn this!' And I did. But, in those days, no one was supposed to use it unless they were a priest in the LCC. Well, naturally, when I heard that I knew immediately I was going to learn it and use it. There was another line that I dropped. I didn't like the feel of it. It sounded like you should grovel. It seemed a bit slavish to me, so I just cut it out. It went, 'May the Holy Ones, whose disciples we aspire to be …' I just figure that if the desire is there, the aspiration, then you're IN, and there's no audition." (Great Song, p. 155.)