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Marcion and Empedocles: The Gnosis of Love and Discord

The Church Father and Pope Hippolytus in Refutations of All Heresies (1.3) writes about the pre-Socratic and Orphic philosopher Empedocles:

But Empedocles, born after these, advanced likewise many statements respecting the nature of demons, to the effect that, being very numerous, they pass their time in managing earthly concerns. This person affirmed the originating principle of the universe to be discord and friendship, and that the intelligible fire of the monad is the Deity, and that all things consist of fire, and will be resolved into fire; with which opinion the Stoics likewise almost agree, expecting a conflagration. But most of all does he concur with the tenet of transition of souls from body to body, expressing himself thus:–“For surely both youth and maid I was, And shrub, and bird, and fish, from ocean stray’d.”

This (philosopher) maintained the transmutation of all souls into any description of animal. For Pythagoras, the instructor of these (sages), asserted that himself had been Euphorbus, who sewed in the expedition against Ilium, alleging that he recognised his shield. The foregoing are the tenets of Empedocles.

Hippolytus makes it clear that it is his mission to expose many Gnostic heresies is fueled by also explaining the doctrines and ideas of the philosophers and the pagan mysteries, including Empedocles and his master Pythagoras, which he connects to Marcion. In a nutshell, Hippolytus was trying very hard to say that all the Gnostic mystery schools were nothing more than clever rip-offs of the pagan myths, legends and philosophy. The same can be said for Christianity in general. Hippolytus also makes it clear that his main argument in Refutation (V11. 29-31) is that Marcion is a parasite of Empedocles’s mysteries, who is also treated as a follower of Pythagoras. While much has written about Marcion and his heresy and doctrines, there isn’t much written in regards to how and why Hippolytus compares him to the pre socratic philosopher.

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Bust of Empedocles

Hippolytus writes about Marcion’s heresy and apparent plagiarism from Empedocles:

This (heretic) having thought that the multitude would forget that he did not happen to be a disciple of Christ, but of Empedocles, who was far anterior to himself, framed and formed the same opinions, — namely, that there are two causes of the universe, discord and friendship. For what does Empedocles say respecting the plan of the world? Even though we have previously spoken (on this subject), yet even now also, for the purpose, at all events, of comparing the heresy of this plagiarist (with its source), we shall not be silent.

According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, it writes how Empedocles went astray in sticking to his Pythagorean roots when he was suddenly exiled from a “blessed life” since he spilled animal blood and ate animal flesh as part of a ritual sacrifice:

In the opening lines, the narrator of the poem, who is presumably Empedocles, describes himself as a god, received as such by the cities to which he travels. To them he dispenses advice, prophecies, and cures (B 112). This god is actually a spirit—a daimôn—who has been exiled from the blessed life of the other spirits by breaking an oath and shedding blood (by killing and eating animals: see below). He wanders throughout the natural world, rejected by the very elements, because he put his trust in raving Strife (B 115). Exiled daemons are reincarnated into all sorts of living forms, finally coming to be as prophets, poets, physicians, and leaders among men.

So the ultimate aim of a daimonic philosopher is to journey back to a state of purity by siding with Love instead of Strife. This applies to the shedding of blood and to live a conscious life. Marcion was also known to tell his fellowship to abstain from meat and wine as well and forbade his followers from sexual intercourse and marriage. Love or Friendship leads the punished souls inside the realm of Strife and Discord (compared with the Demiurge) out from the world and into a realm of unity as Hippolytus says.

The souls, then, thus detested, and tormented, and punished in this world, are, according to Empedocles, collected by Friendship as being a certain good (power), and (one) that pities the groaning of these, and the disorderly and wicked device of furious Discord. And (likewise Friendship is) eager, and toils to lead forth little by little the souls from the world, and to domesticate them with unity, in order that all things, being conducted by herself, may attain unto unification. Therefore on account of such an arrangement on the part of destructive Discord of this divided world, Empedocles admonishes his disciples to abstain from all sorts of animal food. For he asserts that the bodies of animals are such as feed on the habitations of punished souls.

Not only is there similarities between Marcion and Empedocles, but also the later and the Prophet Manes. For Manes or Mani, the Two Roots or universal principles (Do Bun in Persian) are Light and Dark. The Tree of Life and the Tree of Death. It is said that the teachings of the Greek scholars, Empedocles and Pythagoras were passed down to Mani by the teacher Scythianus, whom it is said, lived at the time of the Apostles (although there is no evidence that Scythianus even existed). Empedocles is a source for the doctrine of the four elements (fire, water, air, earth), even as it manifests itself in Hippocrates and Galen’s teaching of the four humours. This is a very practical doctrine which is used widely even today. Empedocles also taught that the universe is composed of the forces of Neikos: Strife/Discord and Philia: Love/Friendship. Here is another source for the Manichean Two Roots in the Roman Emperor Septimius Severus who is quoting probably from the Kephalaia:

The difference between these two Principles is like that between a King and a pig: Light dwells in a royal abode in places suitable to its nature, while Dark like a pig wallows in mud and is nourished by filth and delights in it.

To be sure, preoccupation with the problem of evil did not originate with Manichaean dualism or its predecessor in Gnosticism. The Greek philosophers had long devoted considerable attention to the nature and source, of evil. In the Platonic Academy, in particular, the close links between evil and matter were emphasized as the Hellenistic world emphasized the transient and hostile nature of the natural world despite what some consider to be simply “marginal” beliefs of the world’s first “chaos magicians” (being the Gnostics) who hate and reject matter (as if any person can reject matter in the first place!). This simplistic view however, when one researches the subject in depth is verifiablely false since many Gnostic groups were actually involved in the great medical schools of the first and second century and had much more nuanced views on matter when one reads Gnostic texts from the Nag Hammadi Library.

Returning back to Marcion, he was a well known Gnostic in whom the Church Fathers dedicated the most vehement hatred and disgust, out of all the heretics of the ancient world. The Apostle Paul was the figurehead for his church, who during the second century was a fierce Hellenistic competitor with the Apostolic Orthodox church. Marcion once had a principle text called Antitheses.  

In Adolf Harnack’s sympathetic study on Marcion in Marcion: The Gospel of the Alien God (more than Bart Ehrman’s Lost Christianities), he writes that Antitheses, was intended to be a bedrock for the Marcionite faith, indeed as a “creedal book.” A reconstruction of Antitheses is not possible, Harnack informs us, in part because “not even the arrangement of the work is clear,” but a number of things can nonetheless be determined or gleaned based upon quotes from it found in the works of the church fathers. The purpose for this book was to“demonstrate the irreconcilability of the Old Testament with the gospel,” along with the latter’s origin from a different God (p. 17).

We also know its opening lines: “O wonder upon wonder! Rapture, power, amazement! We can say nothing about the gospel message, not even compare it with anything else.” Here, Christ was saying that Christ came from another realm altogether with a wondrous message of deliverance in ecstatic terms. Moreover there seems to have been a special emphasis on one word in particular—“new.” We can find references to “new God,” “new deity,” “the new kingdom,” “new and unheard of kingdom,” “new master and proprietor of the elements,” “novel doctrines of the new Christ,” “new works of Christ,” “new miracle,” etc, etc, as opposed to the old wineskin of the Old Testament.

It looks like Marcion was struck with astonishment, bowed down in awe before a revelation so utterly prodigious of the Gospel. Clement of Alexandria felt equally exalted:

Christ shines. He shines more brightly than the sun. Night flees before him, fire is afraid, death departs. He presents the believing soul to the Father to keep in heaven for all eternity. O true sacred mystery! O clear, pure light!”

Marcion referred to this “new,” supreme God as “the Stranger.” The Marcionites also could call themselves “strangers,” much like other Gnostics did as not a pejorative term but an endearing one, as they proclaimed a strange or foreign gnosis or knowledge, a term that reveals some of their philosophy of existence.

The Latin Church Father Tertullian accused Marcion of deism (then called Epicureanism, since Epicurus the philosopher was technically a deist) in Against Marcion 1.24.

If (Marcion) chose to take any one of the school of Epicurus, and entitle him God in the name of Christ, on the ground that what is happy and incorruptible can bring no trouble either on itself or anything else (for Marcion, while poring over this opinion of the divine indifference, has removed from him all the severity and energy of the judicial character), it was his duty to have developed his conceptions into some imperturbable and listless god…

But (once for all) let Marcion know that the principle term of his creed comes from the school of Epicurus, implying that the Lord is stupid and indifferent; wherefore he refuses to say that He is an object to be feared.

Tertullian also makes fun of the idea of there being a “new God,” exposing his hopeless rhetoric and red-hot Catholic love for the Old Testament (1.8).

In the first place, how arrogantly do the Marcionites build up their stupid system, bringing forward a new god, as if we were ashamed of the old one! So schoolboys are proud of their new shoes, but their old master beats their strutting vanity out of them.

Tertullian was comparing Marcion’s conception of god to Epicurus. Tertullian says Marcion’s metaphysical beliefs are closer to Stoicism and Platonism. The reason he accuses him of Epicureanism is because Epicurus was a deist who denied that the gods had any involvement or concern with the affairs of man. Marcion’s supreme god was similar in that he had no involvement with creation and was entirely complacent, although he did eventually intervene as Jesus Christ. Irenaeus writes in Against Heresies (V.26):

Let those persons, therefore, who blaspheme the Creator, either by openly expressed words, such as the disciples of Marcion, or by a perversion of the sense [of Scripture], as those of Valentinus and all the Gnostics falsely so called, be recognised as agents of Satan by all those who worship God; through whose agency Satan now, and not before, has been seen to speak against God, even Him who has prepared eternal fire for every kind of apostasy.

Tertullian also says something very interesting in Against Marcion (3.12):

You will find that among the Hebrews there are Christians, even Marcionites, who use the name Emmanuel when they wish to say God-with-us…

Tertullian is saying that there were Jewish Marcionites. Isn’t that kind of important, since Marcion is constantly being accused of anti-Semitism? So, let us sort this mess out. Marcion, as far as we know, had nothing against Jews. His Romans retained most of the verses sympathetic to Jews. He even felt pity for the ancient Israelites, always going so far as to blame their god, and not them, for the atrocities of the Old Testament. And he even inspired Jews themselves to convert to his religion. Yet he is accused of being an anti-Semite.

Irenaeus also posed this question to Marcion (Against Heresies 4.33.2):

…how can he be good who draws away men that do not belong to him from him who made them, and calls them into his own kingdom?

Plotinus likewise objected to the Gnostic propensity to find fault with the universe and its cause (the creator). Porphyry’s title for Plotinus’ tractate against the Gnostics is: Against those who say that the demiurge of the universe and the universe are evil. Simon Magus in the Clementine literature accuses the God of the Old Testament of creating evils, being unmerciful, not being good, and being subject to harsh passions.

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Earth at the center of the Spheres. in Gossuin de Metz, L’Image du monde. 13th-century Copy.

The Gnostics and other similar groups believed and based their cosmological systems on the idea that various powers identified with numerous figures from Greco-Roman, Egyptian and Biblical traditions do feature in some astrological content—especially with the notion of astrological fate which early Christians and Gnostics regarded as demonic. They taught that the antithesis of belief in astrological fate was freedom of the will. Therefore, since astrological fate as a demonic power, non-Gnostic humanity was seen as being completely subservient to fate, having lost their freedom under the bondage of the law, flesh and the counterfeit spirit all orchestrated by the wicked goddess Heimarmane.

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These beings were often tied with the “the authorities of the universe and the spirits of wickedness” of St. Paul’s Ephesians 6:12, which directly corresponded with the Archons of Gnosticism. These beings were said to be the astral lords of fate and were assigned many other terms in both the Nag Hammadi Corpus and the New Testament, such as the “governors”, “guardians”, “gate keepers”, “robbers” , “toll collectors”, “judges”, “pitiless ones”, “adulterers”, “man-eaters”, etc.

These beings will that every “star” or soul would “go astray on the way” as the Gospel of Philip puts it. Each Archon could have also been associated with a planet (no Gnostic text makes this association explicit). And each Archon, according to the Apocryphon of John, has an adjunct or ‘power’ with the head of a beast or predatory animal. Thus, the seven rulers also corresponded to the planetary spheres, the same powers that helped the Demiurge create the world and humanity. As mentioned earlier, zealous church fathers like Hippolytus confirm these accounts in the discussion of Empedocles, in which Hippolytus claimed that the much reviled arch-heretic Marcion had derived his system of dualism from in Book VII, Chapter 17 of Refutation of All Heresies. Hippolytus quotes Empedocles of saying:

Of these I also am from God a wandering exile.

Hippolytus also wrote that Empedocles taught that the first principle, being God or the ineffable Monad existed in a sublime unity before the eventual and furious “Discord” that is a chief characteristic of the Demiurge, the creator of the world and it is this “Discord” that “forcibly severs from unity, and (which it) fashions and operates upon”. Plotinus (or really Porphyry, since he is more likely the author the Enneads), the father of Neo-Platonism grumbled that the Gnostics took a pessimistic view on the world, with continual complaints against providence and the design of the world (Enneads 2.9.8). They cite how there is a constant inequality in wealth and that passions dominate humanity rather than reason (2.9.9). Above all, the material world and all its faults are considered a consequence of the World-Soul’s fall (2.9.4).

Much like the Cynics and the Epicurians, the Gnostics disparaged the glorious celestial lights of the Planets and taught they produced “tragic dramas” and tyranny over the lives of humanity because of the cosmic spheres’ influence. This is much like the “tormentors” of the Zodiac in the Corpus Hermeticum. Their radical critique of the cosmos conflicts with the Stoic idea of the “all-pervading Logos” pan-present throughout the cosmos, the optimism of Plato’s Timaeus with the Demiurge doing his best to emulate the ideal forms, and expression of God’s glory within creation on the account in Genesis. According to Eugnostos the Blessed, the world is conceived as a cavern of chaos and oblivion because of the general lack of knowledge:

Let us, then, consider (it) this way: Everything that came from the perishable will perish, since it came from the perishable. Whatever came from imperishableness will not perish but will become imperishable, since it came from imperishableness. So, many men went astray because they had not known this difference; that is, they died.

The Gnostic perspective on the gods was very similar to Epicurus who refused to accept that the gods had anything to do with the universe, even its creation, because since the world is so evil, anything that produced it would have to be evil, too, according to him. He devised a famous argument on theodicy which goes like this: If god is wants to prevent evil, but can’t, then god is impotent. If god can prevent evil, but doesn’t, then he, too, is evil. If god doesn’t want to prevent evil and can’t prevent evil, then he is evil and impotent. But if god can prevent evil and wants to prevent evil, why does evil exist?

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Plotinus, while accepted the three-fold nature (nous, psyche, matter) like any good Platonist would have; he went to great lengths to refute the Gnostic idea that the soul’s fall into matter was seen as a punishment for its audacity and sin, expiated by metempsychosis and demonic chastisement. Plotinus instead believed, much like Irenaeus, that it was good for the soul to descend into matter, to experience good and evil while the unfolding and goodness of the hierarchy of being included the physical realm. Despite Plotinus’ complaints directed against the Gnostics for their infiltration in their lecture-room, he also shared their contempt for the corruptible flesh which can be traced back to Plato’s body-soul dualism: the body entombs the soul, and upon death our souls rise to the higher spirit realm of truth and perfection which also mirrors the spirit-matter dichotomy of the physical universe, by contrast, as an inferior realm that poorly copies the Forms. The Pistis Sophia explicitly compares the cosmic rulers with the planets, where the Demiurge:

…set five other great Rulers in every Aeon as lords over the 360 (Rulers), and over all the bound Rulers who are called in the whole world of mankind these names: Saturn, Mars, Mercury, Venus, Jupiter.

From these examples list above, it is easy to see that Gnosticism was a critical response to planet worship and the Fates that the planets charge. Now, what about the claim that the Gnostics beheld Jesus to be the sun? The Apostle Paul, to which the Gnostics revered, also condemned planet worship in Galatians 4:

So also, when we were underage, we were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces of the world. … Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God—or rather are known by God —how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.

Colossians 2:16-17 also says:

Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you.

Paul repeatedly condemns other religions, specifically Judaism and pagan religions, for worshiping lesser beings and planets. Christianity, like Gnosticism was a critical reaction to planetary worship, rather than a continuation thereof. By examining his letters, Marcion’s Paul was a mystic who has visions of a disincarnate, spiritual being, who he identified with Jesus Christ. Paul was actually awaiting a docetic savior to transform his mortal body into a spiritual body and whisk him away to an immaterial heaven as indicated in 1 Corinthians 15. Paul’s Christ was a being he encountered in visions.

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While there are certain varieties of doceticism and have many meanings and ideas attached to them, it is essentially the view that Jesus was in nature supremely divine, eliminating his humanity and substituting it for a seemingly one. The term Docetism (Greek, dokein = “to seem” or “to appear” and sometimes “to think” or “imagine”) indicated the distinctive thesis of it that Christ’s incarnation, hence his sufferings, were unreal, phantasmal, appearing only to be human. The Gnostics offered a vision of a non-material Christ who did not suffer and die on the cross. In fact, he was laughing at the trick he had played on all of those who thought he was dying as the Apocalypse of Peter suggests:

I saw him seemingly being seized by them. And I said “What do I see, O Lord? That it is you yourself whom they take, and that you are grasping me? Or who is this one, glad and laughing on the tree? And is it another one whose feet and hands they are striking?”

In other words: Jesus was different from what he seemed to be. Doceticism claimed that Christ only appeared or seemed to be a man. This view clearly shows the Hellenistic assumption the divine impassability and the inherent corruptible nature of matter, although there are other variations of this doctrine. The first to mention expressly “Docetists” or “Illusionists” is Serapion of Antioch (c. 200 A.D.) in his letter to the Church at Rhossos. It was not a simple heresy on its own, but was an attitude that many of its proponents held in their own nuanced and varied ways, including Marcion, Simon Magus, Saturninus, Basilides, Cerinthus, Valentinus, Bardesanes, the authors of many Sethian texts such as the Second Treatise of the Great Seth, the Gospel of Judas, etc. This was firmly countered and opposed by the church fathers, including Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, Ignatius, Clement, Origen and especially Tertullian.

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Doubting-Thomas.-1500 Dionysii School (Russian)

This heresy is combated by the pastorals in the New Testament, such as some parts in 2 John, some parts of the Gospel of John (which some suspect as Orthodox interpolations since its fundamental theology resembles something that is much more Hellenistic and even Gnostic), and 2 Timothy. Anti-Gnostic authorities and heresiologists such as Irenaeus would write against this docetic heresy:

“Vain indeed are those who allege that He appeared in mere seeming. For these things were not done in appearance only, but in actual reality. But if He did appear as a man, when He was not a man,” there was no “degree of truth in Him, for He was not that which He seemed to be” (AH 5.1.2; 1:527)

According to Irenaeus’ logic, when he charged the Gnostics with teaching this heresy, he claimed it was damnable error because it left man with no hope of union with God through Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross, or so as the Orthodox narrative goes. Irenaeus is as vigorously anti-docetic as he is anti-Gnostic. Mankind’s true salvation in the flesh was at stake through the doctrine that resurrected carnal fleshly bodies would literally fly into the sky in the clouds. Polycarp, Irenaeus’ alleged teacher and sword enemy of Marcion, made the strongest possible charge against the Docetists by saying that “everyone who does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is an anti-Christ,” echoing 1 John 4:2-3. However, this apparently “demonic” docetic heresy can actually be traced to the Apostle Paul, as he writes in Romans 8:3:

Christ came in the likeness [i.e. appearance] of sinful flesh and condemned sin in the flesh so that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us.

The logic in that passage follows a consistent theme: Flesh forces man to sin. Man cannot save himself because he has flesh. Therefore, Christ comes in the LIKENESS (Gk: homoioma, literally “appearance”) of flesh and condemns sin so that man might be relieved from the guilt of the law that he was unable to fulfill himself. If the author of that passage (Paul) had said that Christ came in actual flesh, it would destroy the entire context of the passage. Homoioma literally means “likeness” or “appearance” as a statue of a man would resemble an actual man. In other words, something that appears similar to, but not actually is, the thing that it appears to be.

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:5-8.

Further on, in the hymn of Philippians 2:6-11, Christ descends, “bearing human likeness and the fashion of a man.” Why this oblique phraseology? The author of that passage clearly did not believe that Christ had an actual body. “Being found IN APPEARANCE AS a man.” If Paul believed that Christ was indeed a man, wouldn’t he just say so? Why would he say that Christ APPEARED to be a man? The passage presents Christ which is the Savior and Logos as being flesh. He took on flesh, he put flesh on. He wore flesh. He never BECAME or transformed into flesh. We also wear flesh. You cannot possibly be your flesh in Gnostic thought. Furthermore, in Colossians 2:9, Paul posited that Christ Jesus was the Godhead bodily who appeared in the “body” (Somatikos). A body does not automatically imply human flesh. The docetic heresy unanimously condemned by the church fathers is right in the New Testament as Paul preached the docetic Jesus, who never came to earth, and the Jewish apostles preached the human Jesus depicted in the gospels, who was a different Jesus altogether, since Paul’s Jesus is so radically different from the Jesus of the gospels. Paul himself acknowledges different Jesuses in 2 Corinthians:

For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.

In the Dialogues of Adamantius, Chapter XXVII, the author hints at the “alien” or spiritual nature of Christ, sent by the Stranger God to rescue humanity from the clutches of the creator god or Demiurge, the author of the Law and the Flesh:

To such a degree was Christ an alien, to those whom he appeared, and again, Christ to the creator god, that Paul said (Gal .3:13): “Christ purchased us”. It is obvious that he was an alien, for nobody at any time purchases what is their own. But it says that those who were purchased by the alien, he desired to have as his own.

Of course, Empedocle’s doctrine of Strife and Discord can also be found in Genesis, in the fruit of knowledge of good and evil, where the primal parents Adam and Eve partook of a certain dualistic knowledge from their previous pristine, higher existence when they communed with God. From this, the fall occurred which severed the link between man and God. We can also see this dualism in Genesis, where God formed man from earth and then breathed into him the spirit of life. In other variations of this story, the Ophites claimed that Sophia was the one that really blew the spirit of life into Adam, through YHWH/Elohim. So, man is a combination of profane matter and Divine Spirit. Moreover man is the arena of an internal strife between the evil instinct (in Hebrew: Yetzer-hara) and the good instinct (Yetzer-hatov) which reflects this knowledge of good and evil. It also reflects the Platonic idea that the body is the tomb for the soul was adopted by many groups, and not just the Gnostics. In the Kabbalah, the Tikkunei Hazohar states: “A king’s [God’s] spirit is imprisoned in the tresses of the mind.”

Paul in Romans, also claimed a kind of patent dualism that the later Gnostic figure-heads and schools would subscribe too and build upon in that the spirit of Truth was the prisoner of history, space and time belonging to the reality of the rulers:

I find that a law, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man;  But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin, which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from this body of death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

This dualism is reflected in both man and the cosmos like the radical stripe of Marcion, Manes and Empedocles. Man is mortal in his body, but immortal in his divine spirit. Man is the battleground in which angels and demons duke it out. Man is the microcosm reflecting the macro-cosmos of creation. In Gnosticism, dualism was only used to emphasize the transcendental nature of God rather than the traditional Zoroastrian view that there two equal, separate forces in a constant state of struggle and warfare. And so, the Gnostics attempted to explain that evil was a consequence of this spiritual descent into matter and the mundane.

As Ray Embry writes in Marcion: Possible Progenitor of Three Famous Christian Communities: Baptists, Catholics, Gnostics, this Gnostic conception of the spiritual fall from the One still reflects a sort of Mosaic monotheism as opposed to the simple dualism of Marcion, in which he thought that there was an Unknown God superior to the inferior creator god.

All Gnostic theologies seemingly spring forth as ideological children born from the ancient Mosaic idea about an inviolable monotheism. This form of theism sees everything (no matter what) as ultimately deriving from a single Creator. Working within this rigid model of monism, the Judaistic or Mosaic theoreticians could only think in a linear or vertical fashion, where our world lies on one end, while an independent Father of Light stands on the other.

Much like how the Old Testament records this primeval struggle between the upper-light and the lower-darkness, theological tenants were also hotly debated and meted out between many Christian sects—both being of an Orthodox persuasion and a heretical one. Further evidence indicates that the original Christians were Gnostics, not literalists or fundamentalists. The Gnostics preached the Good News of Gnosis which advocated the liberation of every soul. The Orthodox Church Fathers, however, taught that the scriptures were historical and literal. “True knowledge” for Irenaeus (an attack on the Gnostic idea of salvation through knowledge) comes in the Apostolic Tradition, which comes through the succession of Bishops, which is Catholic and not sectarian:

True knowledge is [that which consists in] the doctrine of the apostles, and the ancient constitution of the Church throughout all the world, and the distinctive manifestation of the body of Christ according to the successions of the bishops, by which they have handed down that Church which exists in every place, and has come even unto us, being guarded and preserved without any forging of Scriptures, by a very complete system of doctrine...(4.33.1-9)

To Irenaeus, salvation was a more or less an ecclesiastical matter rather than an individual’s sovereign right to achieve the Great Work outside of demiurgical iron manacles of organized religion. To theologans like Irenaeus, the Gnostics were simply false prophets and schismatics. The Church Fathers along with the newly created Roman Church eventually took religious intolerance to undreamed of levels, eventually destroying all forms of religion (other than their very narrow version) that they could get there hands on as recorded in Eusebius’ Life of Constantine, 3:64, 65.

The Gnostics rivaled the emerging Catholic groups among other groups like the Jewish Christians and the Marcionites and were just as determined as their Catholic opponents to legitimize their views in any way possible. It became of utmost importance for Catholic apologists to demonstrate that Gnosticism was an erroneous doctrine of Christian heresy, and is founded or inspired by those who opposed the apostles themselves. Irenaeus taught that Simon Magus was the father of all Gnostic heresy and the Simonians of his own day claimed him as founder, just as St. Paul was the “apostle of the heretics”, as per Tertullian.

The aim of Gnosis is simple: the extraction or resurrection of the spiritual man–the spark of the “alien” Divinity imprisoned in the jail cell of spiritual death and ignorance. Any means to reach liberation and freedom from the temporal fetters of matter, from the vicissitudes of history, the turpitude of daily routines, the pain and suffering that is experienced by the less fortunate (which has always been the vast majority of the human race) to the pure transcendental good father was acceptable. Asceticism or libertinism, and every variation in between was practiced. For a savior figure like Simon Magus to redeem his consort Helen, fallen into whoredom, he must roll with her in the mires of depravity. He, like Jesus had to put on the appearance of a man, although humanity wasn’t his original nature. The Savior or Gnostic must also practice sacred deceit: He must disguise himself as an adherent to the Demiurge and the powers that rule the world, to be admitted to his domain, in order to save the souls, the sparks of Divinity, exiled and stranded as ship-wrecked sailors of ascension.

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The 33° Freemasonic author Albert Pike has many fascinating things to say in his massive tome, On Morals and Dogma, especially in the following excerpt from Morals and Dogma, XXX. Knight Kodash. Pike basically admits that the Masonic lozenges or “checker board” symbolism so prominent in Masonic temples actually symbolizes the radical dualism proposed by Zoroaster and Mani (or Manes).

For the Johannism of the Adepts was the Kabalah of the earlier Gnostics, degenerating afterward into those heretical forms which Gnosticism developed, so that even Manes had his followers among them. Many adopted his doctrines of the two Principles, the recollection of which is perpetuated by the handle of the dagger and the tesserated pavement or floor of the Lodge, stupidly called “the Indented Tessel,” and represented by great hanging tassels, when it really means a tesserated floor (from the Latin tessera) of white and black lozenges, with a necessarily denticulated or indented border or edging. And wherever, in the higher Degrees, the two colors white and black, are in juxtaposition, the two Principles of Zoroaster and Manes are alluded to. With others the doctrine became a mystic Pantheism, descended from that of the Brahmins, and even pushed to an idolatry of Nature and hatred of every revealed dogma.

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Now I am going to speaking on a personal level from here on out. I was inspired by a conversation with a friend of mine and this is what I think. Basically, what the old Hermetic alchemists were saying is that God is the only thing that’s truly real, and He’s present everywhere, or at least fragments or evidence of his existence. Under the rock and in the wood, like the Gospel of Thomas says. What we see with our senses is basically a shadow. It’s not real, in an ontological sense. This is what Benjamin Walker is getting at when he writes in Gnosticism: It’s Influence and History (p. 37):

The exercise of free will requires an area for its operation, and this resulted in certain catastrophic consequences. Where the will of the Father was withdrawn, the will of the opposing archons prevailed. Where the writ of his goodness did not run, evil emerged. Where his spirit was removed, matter came forth. Where his light was withdrawn, darkness supervened. Instead of love and providence, there was now law and fatality. And where there had been life, there was now death.

Yet it must be remembered that nothing can have existence without God, and even when God is apparently absent, his erstwhile presence has left its permanent impress. The Gospel of Truth speaks of this residual presence of God even after his withdrawal, as the footprint-trace ([ichnos) of the Father’s will. Basilides too emphasized the essential presence of God in all circumstances and situations, when he said that the empty place resulting from God’s withdrawal did not ever cease to show traces of the divine brightness. The vacated place retained the ‘flavour’ of the Father, just as a bowl containing sweet smelling unguent retains the fragrance even after the bowl has been completely emptied.

Giordarno Bruno once said that the since God is infinite, the universe must also be infinite, as God’s manifest form. I also read a recent article that some scientists now question the big bang, and think that the universe may have always been here, which if the case, Bruno was right all along. But from a theurgical perspective, which is more holistic in the view that everything is compromised of some sort of spiritual nature, and that everything in existence exists for some grand purpose. Even evil has some sort of necessary function or reason for being. I guess I’ve been influenced by Hermetic monism.

I’m choosing to look at it this way because radical dualism has become highly disturbing to me as of late. The thought that evil exists as some counter deity and functions independently with no intended purpose from the good is a very grim prospect. I have to believe there is a reason for everything now. The science fiction author Philip K. Dick had the same issue. At times, he would be a radical dualist, but then it would become so disturbing to him that he would adopt a more monistic worldview. The Hypostasis of the Archons sort of reflects this more monistic (in its own contradictory pluralistic sense) way of looking at things.

The rulers laid plans and said, “Come, let us create a man that will be soil from the earth.” They modeled their creature as one wholly of the earth. Now the rulers […] body […] they have […] female […] is […] with the face of a beast. They had taken some soil from the earth and modeled their man after their body and after the image of God that had appeared to them in the waters. They said, “Come, let us lay hold of it by means of the form that we have modeled, so that it may see its male counterpart […], and we may seize it with the form that we have modeled” – not understanding the force of God, because of their powerlessness. And he breathed into his face; and the man came to have a soul (and remained) upon the ground many days. But they could not make him arise because of their powerlessness. Like storm winds they persisted (in blowing), that they might try to capture that image, which had appeared to them in the waters. And they did not know the identity of its power. Now all these things came to pass by the will of the father of the entirety.

And again it says:

Now when Yaldabaoth saw him (Sabaoth) in this great splendor and at this height, he envied him; and the envy became an androgynous product, and this was the origin of envy. And envy engendered death; and death engendered his offspring and gave each of them charge of its heaven; and all the heavens of chaos became full of their multitudes. But it was by the will of the father of the entirety that they all came into being – after the pattern of all the things above – so that the sum of chaos might be attained.

So from the Sethian perspective, even the demiurge and the archons were created for a reason which accounts for a more nuanced Hermetic view that isn’t as dualistic as many consider Gnosticism to be. Both radical dualism and radical monism can be taken to extreme conclusions. The more moderate approach of the Sethians and the Hermetists is the most rational, out of these perspectives. And yet, radical and moderate dualism are just two different ways of looking at the same thing. Both are true and compatible with one another. It just depends on whether you’re going to focus on the light or the dark. New Agers represent the radical monism worldview. They’re so hyper-focused on the positive that they totally reject the influence of evil in the world and are thus totally exposed to demonic influence and deception. It’s like these New Agers who channel random spirits and believe all the wacky BS that comes along with their messages about our beloved space brothers, aliens, ascension into the fourth dimension and such.

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There is a good part in the novel, A Scanner Darkly where Philip K Dick muses on radical and moderate dualism. He writes as Bob Arctor about how he suspects that radical dualism may be true, but he hopes that it isn’t.

“What does a scanner see? Into the head? Down into the heart? Does it see into me? Into us? Clearly or darkly? I hope it sees clearly because I can’t any longer see into myself. I see only murk. I hope for everyone’s sake the scanners do better, because if the scanner sees only darkly the way I do, then I’m cursed and cursed again.”

I see the devil as a sort of tool of God. He’s evil and in rebellion, but God secretly uses him to do his will. Kind of how the Valentinians saw the demiurge as well as the Ophites with Sophia and Ialdabaoth. Holism is inherent to natural and sympathetic magic. Tantra also encompasses holism as well. Everything in nature exists for some specific purpose and is imbued with a spiritual nature that can be tapped into through occult knowledge. The Gospel of Philip tells us this exactly:

“The saints are served by evil powers, for they are blinded by the Holy Spirit into thinking that they are serving an (ordinary) man whenever they do so for the saints. Because of this, a disciple asked the Lord one day for something of this world. He said to him, ‘Ask your mother, and she will give you of the things which are another’s.'”

So what we call the Devil and his legions of demons from hell would be the anarchists of the cosmic hierarchy. They’re chaotic and in rebellion to God’s will, but God’s providential scheme already accounted for the faults of free will before it was even enacted. Or maybe Empedocles and Marcion were right along to say that there were two opposing principles from the beginning of creation or that this dualism is somehow an aberration or deviation from an original unity of existence. At this point, I am open to any of these possibilities. 

Saint Catherine, Norea and the Mother of Dragons

The Youtube clip posted above is taken from Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin and HBO. It is probably one of my personal favorite shows and book series. It features one of the principal characters, Daenerys Targaryen speaking with another popular character, Tyrion Lannister. The conversation between the two takes dips into a Gnostic flavor when Daenerys starts talking about “breaking the wheel,” a metaphor for all of the “Houses” in Westeros all vying for the throne forged of the swords of defeated enemies. Game of Thrones is packed with with a rich lore found in the history and many religions of Westeros and they all carry their own smidgen of gnosis as well, including that of Melisandre, who spreads the faith of the “Lord of Light,” or the “Red God,” being R’hllor, who uses various deceptive and violent methods to spread “the one true faith” across the continent of Westeros, including blood magic, sex rituals, and human sacrifice. It seems as though this religious worldview is a strange mix of Zoroastrian and Manichaean/Cathar beliefs. And yet there is reason to believe this “Lord of Light” is in reality a fiery demon who is in opposition with an even worse demon…

The idea that there can be multiple sources of evil is an interesting one. Some exorcists, such as Malachi Martin and Gabriele Amorth, have said that Lucifer and Satan are separate entities. In this view, Lucifer is the original fallen angel, the light-bringer, whose nature fell through pride and envy, and Satan is considered among the third of the angels in heaven who followed Lucifer and embodies death and destruction, the dragon of Revelation who fought Michael and his angels. Perhaps this is why the Bible makes a distinction between the “spirits of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12) and the “beast, that ascendeth out of the abyss” (Revelation 11:17). Following this categorization, R’hllor could be considered a Luciferian being, giving the false appearance of light and divinity, while the Great Other embodies a satanic nature of chaos and annihilation. In Westeros, this false dualism attracts followers to one demon, out of fear for the other.

But, this won’t be an in-depth analysis of the larger metaphysical scheme we see in Game of Thrones, but rather an analysis of some of the archetypes that a very popular character, Daenerys Targaryen, touches on. Her character starts off as a timid and submissive to her brother Viserys, who is a bit of a violent sociopath, prone to mood swings and jealousy. Ever since she got shacked up with Khal Drogo, something changed, and become a strong, independent and courageous chick who would adopt 3 baby dragons as she stands naked and triumphant in the morning light, when she emerges out of the ashes of a funeral pyre. And all of this would serve as a precedent for where she is now in the books and in the show. Also notice that the dragons in the show and the books aren’t depicted as any force for evil but as a force of nature and intelligent “fire made flesh.” They just are.

Her character has a strong resemblance to three different figures in Christian and Gnostic lore. These include Saint Catherine of Alexandria, Hypatia, and Norea from Sethian Gnostic literature. Now let’s get started shall we?

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Saint Catherine of Alexandria, virgin and martyr of the third and fourth century is said to be a patroness (or goddess) of philosophers and evangelists. The Orthodox Church celebrates her feast day on November 25th. It is said that Catherine was born to a noble family of Alexandria but was converted to the faith. The oldest reference to this fourth century martyr comes from a seventh century Syrian liturgical text from the Byzantine Emperor Basil II who died in 886. In this she is called Aikaterine, and the report runs as follows:

“The martyr Aikaterine was the daughter of a rich and noble prince of Alexandria. She was very beautiful, and being at the same time highly talented, she devoted herself to Greek literature as well as to the study of the languages of all nations, and so she became wise and learned. And it happened that the Greeks held a festival in honor of their idols; and seeing the slaughter of animals, she was so greatly moved that she went to the King Maximinus and expostulated with him in these words: ‘Why hast thou left the living God to worship lifeless idols?’ But the Emperor caused her to be thrown into prison, and to be punished severely. He then ordered fifty orators to be brought, and bade them to reason with Aikaterine, and confute her, threatening to burn them all if they should fail to overpower her. The orators, however, when they saw themselves vanquished, received baptism, and were burnt forthwith, while she was beheaded.”

Because of the long gap between the time of her martyrdom and the first written testimony, many scholars and authorities have concluded that St. Catherine never existed, such as the Vatican did in 1969 (though she was restored in 2002). Some have even postulated that her story is an allegory, like many scenes from the lives of various saints, such as the story of St. Christopher (Christ-bearer) who is said to have carried the infant Jesus on his shoulder, or the story of St. George who is said to have slain a dragon to save a princess. And it all stands with good reason.

Interestingly, the original Greek form of the name Αικατερινη (Aikaterine) or Εκατερινη (Ekaterine) is etymologically very obscure and much argued over. The name does not seem to be rooted in any Greek word, although it has been said to derive from the words αει (aei) which means “ever” and καθαρος (katharos) which means “pure”. What we do know is that this name never appears before it is associated with Saint Catherine of Alexandria.

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One of the more interesting theories is that the story of St. Catherine is based on the life of Hypatia, a Neoplatonist philosopher from Alexandria who was admired by both pagans and Christians for her virtue and learning. She also was a woman who dedicated her life to virginity in Alexandria for the sake of her learning, and was brutally murdered in 415 by a group of Christian monks primarily for political reasons. It is not difficult to see the parallels between the lives of St. Catherine and Hypatia, for the little we know of both, they may be the same figure. However, a case can be made that they are indeed two different persons.

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We can also see that also St. Catherine represents an aspect of the Divine Mother, who both in the Western and in the Eastern Gnosis has two modes, called by the Indians Avidyâ Mâyâ (Mâyâ of ignorance) and Vidyâ Mâyâ (Mâyâ of Knowledge, that is Gnosis or Jnâna) respectively. The first one (Mary) carries the divine Spark down to the natural world; the second one (St. Catherine) takes the Spark, made free from the schêma (samsâra), upwards to God. This schema is symbolized as the wheel that Saint Catherine and Daenerys Targaryen seek to break. That is why “Mary” finds herself on the left side, on the descending arc, while “St. Catherine” (Greek katharà, “pure”, wherefore the white garment next to her) is on the ascending arc. Her sword is the one that cuts the bonds keeping the Soul chained to the wheel of the samsâra. In fact, according to the legend, St. Catherine freed herself from the wheel to which she had been bound. And we know that, Gnostically viewed, the Resurrection is the liberation from that wheel. It is therefore clear that the circular movement in the picture represents the whole cycle of the Soul’s history, from the “fall” into the deadly (coffin) samsâra to the final liberation therefrom.

The sacrificial blood of the Savior descends from the Ecce Homo (Anthropos) in parallel with the Pneumatic Seed plunging into the Psychic Waters. This means that the divine compassion accompanies the soul in her descent. Projecting Himself into the temporal order the Savior (the Antaryâmin, the “Inner Ruler” of the Hindu Gnosis) remains united with the Soul in all her vicissitudes, suffering with her, saving her, again with her ascending to God. It is this Presence of the Inner Savior in the Soul that promises, makes possible, and ensures the actuation in the Soul of the eternal Plan of Salvation.

The “blood” of the divine Sacrifice descends to impart eternal Life (Aiônios Zöê), while the burden of all kind of suffering is taken up by the Crucified One, and here is the spunge full of a bitter liquid carried upward by the reed which not by chance leaves the wheel of the samsâra to reach the Cross. But the reed, situated on the right side, parallel to St. Catherine, means also that the redeemed ones, the liberated Souls, are at one with the Christ also in the work of salvation: they too take upon themselves the suffering of all those that still wander in the world of Death.

This brings us to the letter H, as the number of H in the Jewish and Simple Gematria equals 8. According to John 20:26, Jesus showed His wounds to Thomas after eight days. The number 8 means the Ogdoad (the eight Aeons from the Father-Mother to the Anthröpos-Ekklësìa), and here two quotations from the Excerpta ex Theodoto are highly relevant:

Whoever is generated by the Mother (the Child in Mary’s arms) is lead to Death (the coffin)and the world; but whoever is regenerated by the Christ is transferred to Life, within the Ogdoad (80,1);

The Rest (“repose”) of the Pneumatics takes place in the Lord’s Day, in the Ogdoad (63,1).

This is the “Place of Rest” (888). The days of the week are seven, and the seventh is popularly the Lord’s Day or the Sabbath. The eighth day does not belong to the temporal series of the common days: it is beyond time, and being the sum of  7+1  has a meaning well discerned in the passage see in The Gospel of Truth, which describes salvation of the hundredth (99+1) sheep, the lost one. This unity is identified with the Sabbath, which signifies the new life both of the Christian revelation and the pnuematic rebirth:

He is the shepherd who left behind the ninety-nine sheep which had not strayed and went in search of that one which was lost. He rejoiced when he had found it. For ninety-nine is a number of the left hand, which holds it. The moment he finds the one, however, the whole number is transferred to the right hand. Thus it is with him who lacks the one, that is, the entire right hand which attracts that in which it is deficient, seizes it from the left side and transfers it to the right. In this way, then, the number becomes one hundred. This number signifies the Father.

He labored even on the Sabbath for the sheep which he found fallen into the pit. He saved the life of that sheep, bringing it up from the pit in order that you may understand fully what that Sabbath is, you who possess full understanding. It is a day in which it is not fitting that salvation be idle, so that you may speak of that heavenly day which has no night and of the sun which does not set because it is perfect. Say then in your heart that you are this perfect day and that in you the light which does not fail dwells.

We also find some numbers tied with 8 in the Epistle of Barnabas, (XV, 7-8), when it states thusly:

… the beginning of the eighth day, that is the beginning of a new world. Therefore we celebrate with joy the eighth day, when also Jesus rose from the dead…”.

When one looks at the banner for the House Targaryen, one finds three red dragon heads.

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This likely invokes imagery of the dragon one finds in Revelation. But, there is deeper symbolism embedded in the banner as some think that the three heads represent the “Prince that was Promised,” or the “Lightbringer” that many characters in Game of Thrones of mentioned here and there. Fire and Blood is also symbolic for the baptism of fire mentioned in Luke by Jesus 12:489. This is certainly not arbitrary, for the three heads represent the three souls enveloping the divine Spark or Spirit in the Valentinian Gnosis: the Hylic or earthy (the dark color), the Psychic (red), and the Pneumatic soul (white). In the Excerpta we read in fact that the Pneumatics wear their Souls as garments until the Completion” (63,1) and that “after laying them down … enter the Bridal Chamber within the Limit” (64).

The three colours of the garments have an interesting Vedic parallel. The Divine Mother, who provides the Spirit with its various psychical bodies or souls, is thus described in the Shvetâshvatara Upanishad, IV, 5:

“There is one Woman with three colors–red, white and black–from Whom a numerous progeny issues, having Her same nature.”

The three colors represent here the three modes of the “Woman” in Her manifestations: inertia-reaction-materiality (tamas, black), action-energy-passion (rajas, red), and harmony-equilibrium-spirituality (sattva, white). No wonder therefore that the Indian Gnosis is perfectly parallel with the Western one in the Bible and in the arch-heretics, in grouping the human beings in three classes: the Tamasic (Hylic), the Rajasic (Psychic) and the Sattvic (Pneumatic) ones.

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Please notice that in the picture the three colors follow the right order: materiality (raja) on the left, after the descent, and spirituality at the top, as the premise to the ascension. On a smaller scale, this is also the cycle of each individual life: the taking a body (black) at birth on the left, then the lifespan as the raja (red) and finally the death (white) on the top.

Fire Woman

Finally, there is also Norea. Norea appears in a few texts found in the Nag Hammadi Codices. Norea in Aramaic means “fiery.” Some think that Norea is related to Naamah as the wife of Noah and sometimes the sister of Tubal-Cain. In Jewish Kabbalistic legends, we see that Naamah is a bit of a naughty girl since she walks about stark naked all over the place and this inflames the lusts of the angels. Because of her striking beauty, Naamah was able to seduce the angels Shemyaza and Azazel. She also produced a demon Asmodeus from her sexual liaisons with the angel Shamdan. Namaah was simply living up to her lineage being descended from Cain, which after all was the son of the Devil, Samael, according to the Palestinian Targam, the Talmud and the Midrash. The Gospel of Philip and the Apocryphon of John make similar claims as well.

First, she appears in the Hypostasis of the Archons, in which she is depicted as the virgin daughter of Eve and also plays a large role in Noah’s Flood. When Noah builds the ark, she attempts to board it, and when she is refused by Noah, she blows against the ark and destroys it with fire! When the wicked creator god, Ialdabaoth and his archons attempt to seduce her, as they attempted to seduce Eve, Norea cries out for help. Eleleth, one of the heavenly Illuminators, appears to her. Norea represent incorruptibility in this world, a being not created by the archons and a woman of heavenly origin. She defies the archons and calls to the God of the entirety to protect her from their advances. An angel comes down–Eleleth, sagacity–and begins to explain the allegory.

A veil exists between the world above and the realms that are below; and shadow came into being beneath the veil; and that shadow became matter; and that shadow was projected apart.

The Thought of Norea acts more like a liturgical prayer with Norea crying out to heaven and receiving aid from the “four heavenly helpers,” who are the Gnostic Illuminators sent from the Pleroma, which matches the Hypostasis of the Archons account. Both Irenaeus and Epiphanius mention Norea in the Ophite and Sethian accounts of creation in their long treatises against the heretics. Irenaeus calls Norea Seth’s sister and in Epiphanius, Norea is Seth’s wife.

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We are introduced to another character, by the name of Zoe, who appears to be a stern female power of judgement and sends an angel of fire against Ialdabaoth:

And Zoe (Life), the daughter of Pistis Sophia, cried out and said to him, “You are mistaken, Sakla!” – for which the alternative name is Yaltabaoth. She breathed into his face, and her breath became a fiery angel for her; and that angel bound Yaldabaoth and cast him down into Tartaros below the abyss.

So, what am I exactly saying? Did George R.R. Martin purposefully place in these Gnostic characters and concepts in his books to help shape his own? I doubt it. But one can’t escape the parallels between these modern fantasy fiction and ancient religious texts of the Sethians, not to mention what I’ve explained with St. Catherine and Hypatia. I am certain that Martin gleaned a lot of inspiration from the Cathars for the foreign religion of the “Lord of Light,” however. I guess it’s true what they say; one can’t escape the pervasive influence of the collective unconscious and this is the place where one may forge their own destiny and reality through a refined and calm mind but yet it ready to take what is his with “fire and blood.”

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Forbidden Gnosis In Prometheus, Lucifer and Icarus

Myth has always presented a problem of meaning and interpretation, and a history of controversy exits over its value that can be approached from a number of viewpoints. In general, it is a narrative that describes and portrays in symbolic language the origin of the basic elements and assumptions of a culture. However, because of its all-encompassing nature, myth can illuminate many aspects of individual and cultural life. While many have written on the subjects I am about to explore, I have yet to find anyone that has crossed referenced this points, in the way I will construct here.

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The same can be said for the Greek myth concerning the famous Athenian Icarus and his father Daedalus, the famous architect, inventor, and craftsman. This story is found in Ovid’s Metamorphoses VIII:183-235. Because he murdered his sister’s son Perdix in fear that the boy’s talent might surpass his own, he had to flee to Crete. He began to work at the court of King Minos and Queen Pasiphae, in the magnificent palace of Knosos. There he constructed a wooden cow for the queen to satisfy her amorous longings for a beautiful white bull and by which she became pregnant with the Minotaur. When the Minotaur was born, Daedalus built the Labyrinth to contain the blood-thirsty, monstrous half-man, half-bull. Later, Minos shut Daedalus and his son Icarus into the Labyrinth. To escape, Daedalus built wings for himself and Icarus.

Icarus and his father Daedalus escape from the tower of their island prison in Crete with wings fashioned of wax. Despite his father’s warning, Icarus becomes enamored of his new found power and of the beauty of the Sun, he flies up to the light (and heat), his wing melt, and he falls to his death and drowns in the sea. The wiser and more restrained Daedalus keeps his flight balanced between heaven and earth, thus succeeding in escape from bondage. The Greeks were very aware of the temptation of Lucifer–in most of their tales of tragedy, “hubris” or overweening pride was the source of a hero’s downfall.

Like Icarus, the archangel Lucifer is said to have fallen because of his pride and vanity over his own beauty and power, much like the myth of Narcissus. This supreme spirit of evil who was once radiant, but who because of his sin of pride fell from heaven into darkness and became Satan, saying: “Non serviam: I will not serve,” and thus brought upon himself the everlasting wrath of God. There is also a Gnostic sensibility in this story. To fall from spirit to matter, to bring radiance to dull earth, is a creative act.

The name Lucifer is Latin for “bearer of the Light”. The typical depiction of Lucifer as a slithering manifestation of evil is hard to reconcile with the meaning of the name. Lucifer represents a force that can combine beauty and its logical conclusion if gone too far to extreme decadence, hence to evil. Like in the Apocalypse of Moses, Lucifer, in the form of a serpent, offered the gift of knowledge to Adam and Eve. By their eating of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, Lucifer promised that they would “be like God, knowing good and evil”. Like Icarus, they were not yet prepared for such a gift and ignoring warnings to the contrary by God, they accepted it and fell from Paradise. In this example it should be noted that the gift of knowledge, in and of itself is not evil, as many Orthodox theologians have claimed in their authoritarian interpretation.

Satan in his Original Glory: 'Thou wast Perfect till Iniquity was Found in Thee' circa 1805 William Blake 1757-1827 Presented by the executors of W. Graham Robertson through the Art Fund 1949 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/N05892

Satan in his Original Glory: ‘Thou wast Perfect till Iniquity was Found in Thee’ circa 1805 William Blake 1757-1827 Presented by the executors of W. Graham Robertson through the Art Fund 1949 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/N05892

In Isaiah 14:12-17 (NJKV), we find the story of Lucifer’s fall from grace. Many theologians however stresses Lucifer isn’t a name of a rebellious angel, but rather a rebellious king of Babylon. However, it is a wonder how a mere mortal king can exalt himself “above the stars of God”.

12 “How you are fallen from heaven,
O Lucifer, son of the morning!
How you are cut down to the ground,
You who weakened the nations!
13 For you have said in your heart:
‘I will ascend into heaven,
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God;
I will also sit on the mount of the congregation
On the farthest sides of the north;
14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds,
I will be like the Most High.’
15 Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol,
To the lowest depths of the Pit.

16 “Those who see you will gaze at you,
And consider you, saying:
Is this the man who made the earth tremble,
Who shook kingdoms,
17 Who made the world as a wilderness
And destroyed its cities,
Who did not open the house of his prisoners?’

The King of Babylon called himself the “Day-Star,” a name for the planet Venus, the first planet or star seen in the morning just before the sun rises, hence the King was also called “son of the morning.” Venus is the Roman name for the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite. She has also has many similarities with the Gnostic Sophia, Eve, and Helena of the Illiad as well but we will have to address this further in a future post.

King Louis XIV of France was called the “Sun King,” carrying on this tradition of kings associating themselves with solar and stellar titles. So the fall of the King of Babylon was Isaiah’s way of putting him in his place by sarcastically observing in effect: “OK, so you think you are the Day Star of Heaven and can go beyond the stars of God, you think you’re so high and mighty, well you got another thing coming bitch!”

The Church Father Origen in De Principiis (Book 1, Chapter 5, verse 5), makes an interesting commentary on this passage.

Most evidently by these words is he shown to have fallen from heaven, who formerly was Lucifer, and who used to arise in the morning. For if, as some think, he was a nature of darkness, how is Lucifer said to have existed before? Or how could he arise in the morning, who had in himself nothing of the light? Nay, even the Saviour Himself teaches us, saying of the devil, Behold, I see Satan fallen from heaven like lightning. For at one time he was light. Moreover our Lord, who is the truth, compared the power of His own glorious advent to lightning, in the words, For as the lightning shines from the height of heaven even to its height again, so will the coming of the Son of man be. And notwithstanding He compares him to lightning, and says that he fell from heaven, that He might show by this that he had been at one time in heaven, and had had a place among the saints, and had enjoyed a share in that light in which all the saints participate, by which they are made angels of light, and by which the apostles are termed by the Lord the light of the world.

Many of pointed out that in the Book of Revelation of St. John, Christ refers to himself as “the bright and morning star,” that is, Lucifer. And in the Gospel of John (8:12) it reads:

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

The infamous Theosophist Helena Blavatsky often identified Christ with Prometheus and Lucifer, who brought fire, light and knowledge to humanity and were all considered savior figures. In The Pillars of Tubal-Cain by Nigel Jackson and Michael Howard, they too also compare Lucifer with that of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross with a Gnostic sensibility and Grail mythos thrown in for good measure.

Esoteric tradition teaches us that until we find the Grail, and it should be clearly understood that it is not a physical object in this time-space continuum, Lucifer must play out his role as the sacrificial king. He is doomed to incarnate in a ‘cloak of flesh’ as an avatar for the human race and pay the ultimate price as a scapegoat on their behalf. This is the ultimate sacrifice for being the light-bearer who brought down from Heaven the illumination of Gnostic wisdom and the primal fire of creativity. Lucifer eternally dies and is reborn to save humanity of itself. As the human race progresses spiritually so he can slowly ascend the Ladder of Lights back to the realm of the Gods beyond the Pole Star. He is the Lord of the Morning Star and the Lux Mundi (Light of the World) whose rebirth from darkness we celebrate every year at the winter solstice. (pg. 68-69)

In Greek mythology, Prometheus, one of the Titans, is known as the friend and benefactor of humanity. He and his brother Epimetheus were given the task of creating humanity and providing humans and all the animals on earth with the endowments they would need to survive. When it came time to create a being who was to be superior to all living creatures, Prometheus (whose name means “afterthought”) took over the task of creation. To make humans superior to animals, he fashioned them in nobler form and enabled them to walk upright. He went up to heaven and lit a torch with fire from the sun.

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The gift of fire (symbolic of wisdom or knowledge) that he gave to humanity was more valuable than the gods intended and because of his actions Prometheus incurred the wrath of Zeus. For this transgression, Zeus had him chained to a rock in the Caucasus mountains, where he was constantly preyed upon by an eagle. Finally he was freed by the hero Hercules, who slew the eagle. John Milton’s depiction of Satan in Paradise Lost seems to combine both Lucifer and Prometheus into one figure as a tragic hero.

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We can also see similar ideas expressed in the Book of Enoch, which explains what was no doubt the popular understanding of the fall of the angels and its disastrous results, being the Deluge. Two hundred angels took wives of the daughters of men, and their offspring were giants three thousand yards in height. These giants having consumed the food of mankind, began to devour men and each other, whose cries were brought to the attention of YHWH by his angels, including Michael, Gabriel, Raphael and Uriel. The Rape of the Sabine Women accounts found in Livy, Plutarch and Dionysius of Halicarnassus, also seem to echo the Enochian tales of angels and their sexual escapades with their human female concubines.

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In Roman legend, Romulus forcibly carries off the Sabine or Latin women to be provided as wives to his men at the new settlement of Rome. The city had just been founded by Romulus (Cain), and the Romans wish to ensure the future prosperity of their young nation. Because of the lack of women to provide the necessary offspring, they plan a mass abduction, which is actually synonymous with the term “rape”. With this in mind, they invite the neighboring Sabines to a feast during which they seize the women for themselves and drive off the men. These same men return to attack Rome for revenge, but the conflict is resolved thanks to their Sabine women, who stand between their brothers and their husbands in reconciliation to create peace.

And on another level, it is basically the symbolic reenactment of Zeus and the pantheon of Olympian gods descending to the earth to have licentious sex and copulation with a variety of women as well as goddesses like Aphrodite, Demeter, Gaia, etc. The story of the Sabine women describes the capture of women from neighboring cities in order to secure Rome’s future. In any case, these Enochian texts fill in the bare bone details of Genesis 6, with fantastic detail, and in particular giving long lists of the fallen angels and their ministrations and gifts of knowledge to men. Chapter 8 tells us that:

1 And Azazel taught men to make swords, and knives, and shields, and breastplates, and made known to them the metals of the earth and the art of working them, and bracelets, and ornaments, and the use of antimony, and the beautifying of the eyelids, and all kinds of costly stones, and all 2 colouring tinctures. And there arose much godlessness, and they committed fornication, and they 3 were led astray, and became corrupt in all their ways. Semjaza taught enchantments, and root-cuttings, ‘Armaros the resolving of enchantments, Baraqijal (taught) astrology, Kokabel the constellations, Ezeqeel the knowledge of the clouds, Araqiel the signs of the earth, Shamsiel the signs of the sun, and Sariel the course of the moon. And as men perished, they cried, and their cry went up to heaven . . .

The same thing happens in Chapter 69, when it says:

4 The name of the first Jeqon: that is, the one who led astray [all] the sons of God, and brought them 5 down to the earth, and led them astray through the daughters of men. And the second was named Asbeel: he imparted to the holy sons of God evil counsel, and led them astray so that they defiled 6 their bodies with the daughters of men. And the third was named Gadreel: he it is who showed the children of men all the blows of death, and he led astray Eve, and showed [the weapons of death to the sons of men] the shield and the coat of mail, and the sword for battle, and all the weapons 7 of death to the children of men.

And from his hand they have proceeded against those who dwell 8 on the earth from that day and for evermore. And the fourth was named Penemue: he taught the9 children of men the bitter and the sweet, and he taught them all the secrets of their wisdom. And he instructed mankind in writing with ink and paper, and thereby many sinned from eternity to10 eternity and until this day. For men were not created for such a purpose, to give confirmation 11 to their good faith with pen and ink. For men were created exactly like the angels, to the intent that they should continue pure and righteous, and death, which destroys everything, could not have taken hold of them, but through this their knowledge they are perishing, and through this power12 it is consuming me.

This list is practically identical with that which Prometheus gives his services to humanity, as explained in Aeschylus’ ancient play, Prometheus Bound:

They lived deep within dark caves, and swarmed the earth like throngs of ants. They could not recognize the signs of winter, nor spring with its flowers, nor fruit-laden summer, so they did everything without any rational plan, until I taught them to read the risings of stars and their settings, which up to now they ignored. I gave them numbers, that knowledge most to be prized, and the art of writing words to help memory, the mother of all the muses. I first yoked beasts and made them work so they could relieve Man’s back of his heaviest burdens. I harnessed horses to the chariot and made them respond to reins, a delight for the wealthy. It was me who invented the ship with sails that wanders the sea, a chariot for sailors. All this, to my own misery, I dared to invent and pass on to Man, but for all my cleverness I could devise no escape from my present suffering.

Hear the rest and you will be even more amazed at the arts and inventions I devised. The greatest was this: before, 44 if a man fell sick, there was no remedy— nothing, no pill, ointment, nor drink—and without 480 drugs they wasted away. I showed them how to mix healing medicines that could ward off all diseases. I also gave them skills so that they could predict the future: I showed them which dreams were true; how to interpret strange voices and sayings, and how to understand chance meetings during travel. I taught Man to understand the flight of the taloned bird, what was beneficial, and what meant harm, their daily lives, loves and hates, 490 and how they mate.

Then I taught about the smoothness of entrails, the right color of gall so that it please the gods, and how to read the liver’s lovely mottled lobe. I showed Man thighbones wrapped in fat, and how to burn the long backbone, and thus I taught Man the obscure art of prophecy, sacrifice, and the language of fire, which had not yet been understood. But so much for that. Who could claim before me that he discovered the hidden 500 treasures that lay buried under earth: bronze, iron, silver and gold? No one. That’s clear, unless some fool babbles nonsense. I’ll make a long story short: all the arts and crafts that Man possesses came from me, Prometheus, the god you see suffering before you now.

The Watcher Shemyaza of Enoch (another mask of the fallen angel Azazel and Tubal-Cain and Cain himself), also seems to embody a Luciferian and Promethean power in the way he falls in love with Esterah or Ishtar and reveals to her the forbidden knowledge of the secret name of God being the TetragrammatonMidrash Shemhazai and Azael 3-5, tells us:

They said before Him: “Give us Thy sanction and let us descend (and dwell) among the creatures and then Thou shalt see how we shall sanctify Thy name.” He said to them: “Descend and dwell ye among them.” … Forthwith Semhazai beheld a girl whose name was Esterah; fixing his eyes at her he said: “Listen to my (request).” But she said to him: “I will not listen to thee until thou teachest me the Name by which thou art enabled to ascend to the firmament, as soon as thou dost mention it.” He taught her the Ineffable Name….”

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When Shemyaza told her, Esterah used this forbidden knowledge to ascend to the stars much like how Lucifer desperately desired to do so. While the other fallen angels or Watchers were rounded up by the loyal angels like Michael, and punished by God, Shemyaza voluntarily repented his error and sentenced himself to hang upside down, much like the Hanged Man archetype of the Major Arcana of the Tarot and even the apostle Peter who was said to have been crucified upside down in Rome under Emperor Nero Augustus Caesar. Some have equated the Yezidi angelic patron, Melek Taus with Shemyaza.

They have said about him; i.e., Shemhazai, that he repented and suspended himself upside-down between heaven and earth because he had no excuse for his behavior before the Holy One, blessed be He, and to this very day he remains suspended between heaven and earth in repentance.

The Church Father Justin Martyr had many things to say about Enochian literature, fallen angels and the pagan gods. For example, Justin claims that the children of the Watchers, being the demons, masquerade as the pagan deities and trick the pagans into persecuting Christians. All throughout his Apologies, he claims that the forbidden teachings and occult sciences of the fallen angels given to women serve to explain the origins and continued practice of the Greco-Roman religions and witchcraft since they were polytheistic and idolatrous in nature, to him.

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Instead of placing blame on Adam and Eve for human sin, he instead places the blame on the sins of the angels. Justin Martyr is the first one to equate the Enochian angels with the pagan gods and pagan culture and he certainly wasn’t the last as many other Christian thinkers after him used the angelic descent myth to denounce the Greco-Roman world as demonic. This is the type of thing that probably pissed off Julian the Apostate to no end! This includes, Tatian, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Cyprian, Commodian, etc. In 2 Apology 5.5, Justin identifies the pagan gods with both “the angels and those demons who had been begotten by them,” and the same chapter claims that the angels gave the names of pagan gods to both themselves and their children.

Whence also the poets and mythologists, not knowing that it was the angels and those demons who had been begotten by them that did these things to men, and women, and cities, and nations, which they related, ascribed them to god himself, and to those who were accounted to be his very offspring, and to the offspring of those who were called his brothers, Neptune and Pluto, and to the children again of these their offspring. For whatever name each of the angels had given to himself and his children, by that name they called them.

The Gnostic-Hermetic alchemist, Zosimos, also had a very unusual take on Prometheus and also had much to say about the fallen angels and the Nephilim. On the later, Zosimos mentions a mythical figure named Chêmes (a pun on the Egyptian art of Alchemy), who is evidently one of the gigantic spawn of the fallen angels and their human wives. This giant, he tells us, he recorded the revelations of the angels in the Book of Chêmes, in which form they were transmitted to the earliest alchemical initiates. And so Zosimos takes the Enochian tale and uses it to explain the sacred art of Chemeia or ancient alchemy.

However, Zosimos in the Book of Chêmes condemns those involved in ritual sacrifices to the powers who run the world and Fate, as well as their own passions. “Al Chemia,” as a name for the Egyptian “the black land,” which refers to the darkness of the unconsciousness or the “Prima Materia,” being the building blocks of creation. Zosimus’ “Chemes” may also refer to the “Black One,” being Osiris’ original title of Khenti-Amenti being the “Lord of Western Darkness.”

In On the Letter Omega, the short text appeals to a number of Hermetic and Gnostic writings which are now lost to us, while having a very unusual and even irreverent and even blasphemous take on the gods that Plato would have balked at. Zosimos draws on the existing Gnostic myth of describing the imprisonment of the divine man in matter in order to show he held Gnostic views on Fate and the cosmos. Zosimos writes:

But Hermes and Zoroaster say that philosophers as a class are superior to Fate because they neither rejoice in her good fortune, for they are master over pleasures, nor are they thrown by the evils she sends, as they always lead an inner life, nor do they accept the fair gifts she offers, since they look to an end of ills.

This is also why Hesiod introduces Prometheus offering h this advice to Epimetheus “What do men consider a god fortune greater than all others?” “A shapely wife,” he replies, “along with great wealth.” And he says “not to accept a gift from Olympian Zeus, but to send it back again,” teaching his bother through philosophy to reject the gifts of Zeus, that is, of Fate.

In essence, Zosimos is saying that one should reject all the gifts of Fate, including good fortune. Later on in the same text, Zosimos depreciates Zeus as a lowly Demiurge and Prometheus as symbolic of the spirit fallen in the tomb of the flesh. No longer is Zeus the lofty and fiery Logos of the Stoics and is relegated to the same fate he meted out against the Titans for their dismemberment and murder of Dionysus-Zagreus as explained in Orphic texts as well as Hesiod.

Hesiod called the outer man “fetter,” with which Zeus bound Prometheus. Then, after this fetter, Zeus set yet another fetter upon him – Pandora, whom the Hebrews call Eve. For Prometheus and Epimetheus are, by the allegorical method a single man, that is, soul and body; and so Prometheus sometimes takes the form of soul, sometimes that of mind, and sometimes that of flesh because of Epimetheus’ disregard when he disregarded the advice of Prometheus, his own foresight. For our Mind says: “The Son of God, being capable of everything and becoming everything, when he wills, as he wills, appears to each.”

According to Hesiod, Pandora all the Olympian gods helped created her by giving her unique gifts. She was the first human woman created by the gods, specifically by Hephaestus and Athena on the instructions of Zeus. Moreover, Pandora was modeled out of the earth as part of the punishment of humanity for Prometheus’ theft of the secret of fire. Elsewhere in the same text, Zosimos surprisingly advocates one to reject even magical rites or how he calls it, the “Magian science” as advocated by Hermes, in a now lost book called On the Inner Life, condemns magical rituals,

“….saying that the spiritual man, one who has come to know himself, need not rectifying anything through the use of magic, not even if it is considered a good thing, nor must he use force upon Necessity, but rather allow Necessity to work in accordance with her own nature and decree. He must proceed through that one search to understand himself, and, when he has come to know God, he must hold fast to the ineffable Triad, and leave Fate to work what she will upon the clay that belongs to her, that is, the body. And with this way of thinking and of regulating one’s life, he says, you will the see the Son of God becoming everything for the sake of holy souls, to draw her up out of the realm of Fate into the realm of the incorporeal.

In essence, Zosimos is saying that the true alchemical work of the adept was spiritual purification in nature and can only be achieved internally rather than through external means. One can compare this to  Irenaeus in Against Heresies 1.21.4, rendered in Hans Jonas’ The Gnostic Religion, where Irenaeus claims certain Gnostics rejected the idea of magical rituals to attain spiritual salvation.

“One must not perform the mystery of the ineffable and invisible power through visible and corruptible things of creation, nor that of the unthinkable and immaterial beings through sensible and corporeal things. Perfect salvation is the cognition itself of the ineffable greatness: for since through “Ignorance” came about “Defect” and “Passion,” the whole system springing from the Ignorance is dissolved by knowledge. Therefore knowledge is salvation of the inner man; and it is not corporeal, for the body is corruptible; nor is it psychical, for even the soul is a product of the defect and is as a lodging to the spirit; spiritual therefore must also be [the form of] salvation. Through knowledge, then, is saved the inner, spiritual man; so that to us suffices the knowledge of universal being: this is the true salvation.”

We can also see this in the Pistis Sophia (1.15), which is a highly developed anti-astrological Gnostic polemic, also attacks magic on similar grounds. The same fallen angels we find in Enoch, are said to have given man, Mageia, or magical techniques that call upon the evil archons in the twelve aeons or the Zodiac. When Jesus Christ confuses the archons by interfering with the regular revolution of Fate and the sphere over which the archons rule over, and magic ceases to work.

In the Derveni Papryi, associated with Orpheus, it takes on the opposite stance, advocating magical rites to be performed by “magoi,” being the Orphic magicians. These magi offer many things such as:

… prayers and sacrifices to appease the souls, and the enchanting song of the magi is able to remove the daimones when they impede. Impeding daimones are avenging souls. This is why the magi perform the sacrifice, as if they were paying a penalty. On the offerings they pour water and milk, from which they make the libations, too. They sacrifice innumerable and many-knobbed cakes, because the souls, too, are innumerable. Initiates make the preliminary sacrifice to the Eumenides, in the same way as the magi. For the Eumenides are souls.

These daimones function much like the Archons, except for the fact that they are subservient to them, as well as to the gods, in which Zosimos seems to equate with the Archons (Zeus as the Demiurge, much like how YHWH is depicted as Ialdaboath in Gnostic-Ophite writings). The Neoplatonist Proclus in his commentary, On the Timaeus of Plato (1, 77) he mentions different views about how the fall of Atlantis was interpreted as an allegory of the daemons dragging the souls of human beings into matter. Different gods like Osiris, Baccus, the Titans and Typhon were interpreted as evil daemons, much like the Archons of Gnosticism.

Others interpret [Atlantis] as a conflict of daemons, with some being better and  others worse, the one side superior in numbers, the other in power, with the one being victorious and the other vanquished, as Origenes supposed. Others interpret it as a dispute between the finer souls – the foster-children of Athena – and others who work at generation and who belong to the god presiding over generation. Others combine (or so they believe) the views of Origenes and of Numenius and say that is is a a conflict between souls and daemons, with the daemons being a down-dragging force and the souls tying to come upwards. Their view is that there are three kinds of daemons, a divine type of daemon, a type now in that that condition which is made up of individual souls who have received a daemonic lot, and the other corrupt kind – the soul polluters.

So daemons of the final type strike up this war with souls on their descent into generation. And they claim that, just as the ancient theologians refer this to Osiris and Typhon or to Dionysus and the Titans, Plato attributes it to Athenians and Atlantines out of reverence. For he hands down the tradition, that before they came into three-dimensional bodies, there is rivalry between the souls and the enmattered daemons that he assigned to the west, for the west is the Egyptians say, is the region of harmful sous. The philosopher Porphyry is of this view, and one would be surprised if he is saying anything different from the view authorized by Numenius.

Proclus often refers to the gods as theo ephoroi, as they preside over different aspects of the world and human existence. These theoi ephoroi include gods such as Neptune and Athena, who are guardians of generation and philosophical life. He uses the term the most frequently to planetary gods, who are understood in astrological terms to preside over lower being, such as divine and demonic souls, animals, plants, stones, etc. He states that demons are actually the assistants of the planetary guardians, much like how Gnostic writings claim that demons are the lackeys of the Archons, who are portrayed as governors or administrators. On the Origin of the World tells us exactly this.

Now, when the seven rulers were cast down from their heavens onto the earth, they made for themselves angels, numerous, demonic, to serve them. And the latter instructed mankind in many kinds of error and magic and potions and worship of idols and spilling of blood and altars and temples and sacrifices and libations to all the spirits of the earth, having their coworker fate, who came into existence by the concord between the gods of injustice and justice.

The Neoplatonist Iamblichus also claimed the same thing in De Mysteriis. Plotinus also claimed that the stars and planets were visible gods, beneath them being in the sublunary sphere were hosts of aerial daimons who served as a bridge between man and the gods. Plotinus, like the Middle Platonists, the Chaldaean Oracles and his enemies within the Gnostics, thought that the physical universe belonged to the domain under Hades. Zosimos also considers these daimones as hungry, elemental spirits that are “not only hungry for sacrifices but for your soul.”

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In the Corpus Hermeticum 16. 5-6the Sun is identified with the Demiurge, and the surrounding cosmic bodies were instruments with which he crafted the world. The planetary governors are depicted as administering mankind’s fate, and shaping man in their nature—as a microcosm—an act which is explicitly described as being done out of love.

 5. Even so the Creator, that is to say the Sun, ever links heaven to earth, sending his substance down from above, and raising up matter from below. He draws everything around himself and into himself, and from himself gives all to all, bestowing his light in abundance. For it is he whose beneficent powers not only pervade the heavens and the air, but reach down to the lowest depth in the earth and abyss of the sea.

6. If there is a spiritual substance, then it is the body of the Sun, which his light contains. The Sun alone being near to himself in place and nature knows of what his substance is made and whence it flows. We cannot see him, but by systematic efforts we can understand him.

In the same chapter, the CH claims that these daimons control the cycles of reincarnation and fate: “When each of us has been born and ensouled the daimons that are responsible for the administration of birth at that moment take charge of us—the daimons which are ordered under each of the planets….” Although Proclus does not mention Prometheus, Lucifer or Icarus in any of his writings, it should be worth nothing that these daemons are the very forces that causes the fall of souls into the world of matter, and this seems to be a common theme in many religions and myths as we’ve seen here. 2 Peter 1:19 makes a startling statement about Lucifer: “And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.”

2 Peter compares heading a message of prophecy as Lucifer ascending in the heart of man, as the fallen spirit or genius enmeshed in flesh. Helena Blavatsky in the Secret Doctrine 2.XX, seems to agree with this sentiment.

It is not denied that the moral idea in the myth, as presented in the Theogony of Hesiod, plays a certain part in the primitive Greek conception. The Titan is more than a thief of the celestial fire. He is the representation of humanity — active, industrious, intelligent, but at the same time ambitious, which aims at equaling divine powers. Therefore it is humanity punished in the person of Prometheus, but it is only so with the Greeks. With the latter, Prometheus is not a criminal, save in the eyes of the gods. In is relation with the Earth, he is, on the contrary, a god himself, a friend of mankind ([[philanthropos]]), which he has raised to civilization and initiated into the knowledge of all the arts; a conception which found its most poetical expounder in AEschylus (pg. 519).

So if Venus is a name of a planet, than by extension and logical conclusion, Lucifer was one of these Archontic administrators in the highest of the seven heavens. And yet, even Jesus Christ in Revelation bares this title as the Morning-Star. I would like to end this article with a telling quote from the Latin Church Father, Tertullian. In his polemical Against Marcion (1.1), he equates God and the Christian gospel with that of Prometheus! He also claims that the arch-heretic Marcion corrupted the Christian message and Church, and is equated to a beast, like the one found in Revelation.

Nay more, the true Prometheus, Almighty God, is mangled by Marcion’s blasphemies. Marcion is more savage than even the beasts of that barbarous region. For what beaver was ever a greater emasculator than he who has abolished the nuptial bond?

Clement of Alexandria does the same thing in the Stromata (1.17), where he equates the light of philosophy with Prometheus. However, he claims that the Greek philosophers were “thieves and robbers” for ripping off the Hebrew prophets. In reality, both the Hebrew prophets and the Greeks ripped off the Egyptians and the historical record is very clear about this. Judaism is largely a bastardization of Egyptian religion and philosophy, if one digs deep enough.

There is then in philosophy, though stolen as the fire by Prometheus, a slender spark, capable of being fanned into flame, a trace of wisdom and an impulse from God. Well, be it so that the thieves and robbers are the philosophers among the Greeks, who from the Hebrew prophets before the coming of the Lord received fragments of the truth, not with full knowledge, and claimed these as their own teachings, disguising some points, treating others sophistically by their ingenuity, and discovering other things, for perchance they had the spirit of perception. Exodus 28:3

Hell, if you compare Livy’s History of Rome with the Old Testament, it seems like the OT is basically a rip-off from Livy! But that, my beloved truth seekers, is for another story. So much for Christian Orthodoxy, right? 

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Gnostic Exegesis in Revelation 12

For anyone who is familiar with the multicolored panorama of ancient Gnostic doctrines from different schools and mystery cults, Revelation 12 seems to stand out the most from the Revelation (or Apocalypse) of St. John the Divine. It has the tell-tail signs of being inserted into the main text, since chapter 13 appears to follow chapter 11 without any need for the 12th. Revelation itself follows from a vast tradition of apocalyptic literature. One website goes on to summarize this form of literature, succinctly:

“The Book of Revelation is really an interpretation of earlier apocalyptic prophesies, specifically the Book of Daniel. It was most likely written within a few years after the death of Nero in 68 C.E. The author therefore is not believed to be the author of the Book of John, written three decades later. John speaks of a loving God which is in stark contrast to the vengeful God of Revelation. The author of Revelation was not fluent in Greek and is believed to have been an Aramaic speaking resident of Palestine, possibly a wandering prophet.”

Whoever wrote the rest of Revelation had a very favorable interpretation of the Old Testament and Jewish Christianity and had a lot of ax-grinding against the heretics and the Roman political state. And the author appears to have rejected Paul entirely. The letter to the seven churches that prefaces the actual apocalypse chastises those “who claim to be apostles but are not” and those “who claim to be Jews and are not.” Those were two contested issues about Paul during that era, that is, whether or not he should be considered an apostle and where or not he was actually Jewish. This is some what ironic because the letters of Paul and an apocalypse written by someone who despised him wound up in the same canon of scripture. Even the saying of “the deep things of Satan” of Revelation 2:24 seem to be a direct parody of Paul’s “the deep things of God” per 1 Corinthians 2:10.

The first part of Revelation also condemns eating meat sacrificed to idols and fornication, both practices which the author attributes to a sect call the Nicolaitans, which had a very Gnostic-influenced theology, although the details on their theology differ greatly when comparing the different accounts of the Church Fathers and more shady sources like Psuedo-Tertullian. According to the Church Father, Irenaeus (Against Heresies 1.26.3; 3.10.6), the first “successor” of Simon Magus, was indeed Nicolas of Antioch. The antinomian doctrines taught by the Nicolaitians are in Revelation’s (2:12,15) letter to the church in Pergamos in which Jesus apparently hates with a passion:

“And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write, ‘These things says He who has the sharp two-edged sword . . . Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.’

Of course, Paul was originally the one who taught it was acceptable for Christians to eat meat that had been sacrificed to idols so long as it didn’t offend another Christian. Paul obviously never condoned fornication, but what the author of Revelation may imply by fornication is Gentile influence upon Jewish Christianity, which would again point to Paul, who also may also be referenced as the “false prophet” per Revelation 13. This corruption or “fornication” can also be paralleled with how the Church Father Epiphanius claimed Marcion seduced a young orthodox virgin, which could be read as a metaphor of Marcion’s corruption of the young Christian Church as claimed by Bart Erhman in Lost Christianities.

The author of Revelation understood Jesus in light of Jewish Messianism. That is, he believed that Jesus, upon his second coming, would fulfill all of the messianic prophecies that he failed to fulfill during his ministry, which included declaring war against the entire world, establish a messianic kingdom and fortify Jewish Christian preeminence over the whole world. Revelation, however, echoes many Gnostic sentiments as well as Egyptian, Babylonian and Zoroastrian concepts and mythology as we will see. While this is in no way a comprehensive review of Revelation, it is a result of drawing some certain parallels I’ve noticed to other Biblical and non-Biblical mythologies, when going through certain parts of the text. the-great-red-dragon-and-the-woman-clothed-with-the-sun-1810

A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head.was about to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads. Its tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour her child the moment he was born. The gave birth to a son, a male child, who “will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.” And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. The woman fled into the wilderness to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days.

Revelation 12 begins with the Mother archetype characteristic of Wisdom or Sophia so prominent in Gnostic theology who is also pregnant. She is the celestial prototype or counterpart of the Virgin Mary, mother of the son of God. Naturally, the divine Mother can be traced back to the Egyptian Isis and appears many times in Jewish Wisdom literature such as Proverbs and in the the apocrypha such as the Book of Wisdom and the 1 Enoch. In the context of this text, the Woman may very well represent the moon which reflects the light of the sun while ruling the tides that guide the woman’s menstrual cycles. There is also a reference to the Virgo constellation of the Zodiac because of the obvious astrological language used in the divine Mother’s description. guadalupe2 In Greek mythology, the pregnant goddess Leto is pursed by the dragon Python. She escapes to an island where she gives birth to Apollo, who later kills the dragon. Nearly every Mediterranean culture had some variant of this type of combat myth, pitting monster against champion. However, from a Gnostic perspective, there is an even deeper significance to this chapter. In the following passage, the element connects with the apocalyptic passage with Gnosticism, specifically the Sethian and Ophite branches is the enthronement of the son, who escapes the monstrous dragon. Another great beast also appears in the next chapter in 13:1 stating:

“And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.”

What is striking about this passage is the similarity of the beast’s description with the snake-faced seven-headed dragon archon and anguipede mentioned in the Apocryphon of John, Iao. The term Iao is also on many magical amulets, especially with the Basilidean astral god, Abrasax from the the Greco-Roman and the Renaissance periods. slide163 James M. Robinson in On the Genre of Mark and John, compares Revelation 12 with the various Kingdoms featured in the Sethian Apocalypse of Adam of the Nag Hammadi Library. In particular, he compared the fourth Kingdom passage with the great dragon pursuing the child of the Mother.

The fourth kingdom says of him that he came from a virgin. […] Solomon sought her, he and Phersalo and Sauel and his armies, which had been sent out. Solomon himself sent his army of demons to seek out the virgin. And they did not find the one whom they sought, but the virgin who was given them. It was she whom they fetched. Solomon took her. The virgin became pregnant and gave birth to the child there. She nourished him on a border of the desert. When he had been nourished, he received glory and power from the seed from which he was begotten. And thus he came to the water.

Here, the virgin is pursued by the vilified magician, King Solomon and his army of demonic spirits but the virgin barely escapes their clutches and gives birth to her male child who receives power and glory when he “came to the water” which could be a possible reference to Jesus who receives the power of the Holy Spirit when he is baptized and anointed with the Christ spirit, as an “adopted” (hence the doctrine of Adoptionism) Son of God, as mentioned in Mark 1:9-10. In the Gnostic terminology, “male” is the synonym with “pneumatic” or spiritual, as “female” is synonym with “psychic”. The male child in the Apocalypse of Adam is an obvious reference to the Illuminator, the same great spiritual power that the “the god of the powers” or the Demiurge, asks, “What is the power of this man who is higher than we?” In Revelation 12: 7-9, the defeating and casting down of the dragon, Satan, to earth by the archangel Michael, has a possible parallel in the struggle between the armies of angels and the armies of Solomon over the virgin in the fourth kingdom of Apoc. Adam, and in the battle between Jesus and the beasts in Mark 1:13 and Satan/Devil in the temptation stories. Isis_suckling_Horus The story of the divine child, who, together with his divine mother, is threatened by an evil power, yet is rescued and finds safety in the wilderness until the evil power is destroyed can very much be interpreted with a Gnostic lens. And naturally, the divine mother and child archetype is one that repeats in almost every ancient culture around the world, beginning with Isis and her son Horus, and possibly before that. The divine Mother, being Sophia, who also gives birth also suggests a connection to Eve, and the divine male child, being Seth, who (with his seed) is caught up to the aeon or put in a holy dwelling place and stays up there for a time, thus overthrowing the powers, i.e. the dragon archon who brought the great flood as mentioned in the Gospel of the Egyptians. And at the end, a voice or Logos, i.e. Seth, announces the arrival of final salvation much like the divine call of Revelation 12: 10-12.

Revelation 12 could also reflect the activity of Sophia who becomes pregnant with her passions, from which appears the Archon, i.e. the dragon/lion-headed hybrid mutant Ialdabaoth. As seen in On the Origin of the World, the dragon, Ialdaboath and his fellow archons pursue Epinoia or Eve-Zoe, but she becomes an eagle on the tree of Gnosis (like the Savior Jesus in the Apocryphon of John) and in another account, Eve-Zoe transforms into a tree, thus eluding the pursing lustful Archons. The primeval couple is kicked out of paradise, but produces Seth and his seed where they are taken to the ethereal wilderness, after which the Archons bring the flood, a belligerent act of war against the Gnostic offspring of Eve, which parallels Revelation 12:15-16, where it states:

Then from his mouth the serpent spewed water like a river, to overtake the woman and sweep her away with the torrent. But the earth helped the woman by opening its mouth and swallowing the river that the dragon had spewed out of his mouth.

The woman who is pursued by the dragon, sprouts eagle’s wings, which has parallels in the bird of Kingdom 2:

And a bird came, took the child who was born, and brought him onto a high mountain. And he was nourished by the bird of heaven. An angel came forth there. He said to him “Arise! God has given glory to you.” He received glory and strength. And thus he came to the water.

Another parallel is with the descending dove featured in Mark 1:10 and the apocryphal Gospel of the Hebrews where the child is lifted to Mount Tabor. This entire basic mythological structure between Revelation 12 and the Apocalypse of Adam, can also be applied to the Gospel account in Matthew of Jesus’ birth to Mary and their flight to Egypt from Herod. This pattern can also be seen in certain aspects of the Isis-Osiris-Horus cycle as well as stories of Zeus and his mother Rhea Silvia hiding him from his blood-thirsty father Titan Kronos, Perseus and Danae, and Jason and Diomede. Ancient Greek harpies were also said to be the winged female agents (sometimes depicted with talons) of Zeus that snatched away people who would dare reveal the secrets of the Olympian gods.

The idea of a woman with eagle wings also appears in Native American and Aztec legends as the Bird Goddesses, Ix Chel and Itzpapalotl. The symbol of the Eagle was also associated with the soaring spirit over the mundane and base material concerns. It also represented a state of grace achieved through a series of initiations to receive personal, spiritual power through the essence of Shamanic Eagle medicine. There are also strong parallels with Revelation 12 and even the rest of Revelation with the final segment of the Gnostic On the Origin of the World. The woman clothed with the sun is no longer the victimized divine Mother in distress, trying to elude the wrath of the evil powers but is now the one engaged in the pursing against them!

The stars of the sky will cancel their circuits. And a great clap of thunder will come out of a great force that is above all the forces of chaos, where the firmament of the woman is situated. Having created the first product, she will put away the wise fire of intelligence and clothe herself with witless wrath. Then she will pursue the gods of chaos, whom she created along with the prime parent. She will cast them down into the abyss. They will be obliterated because of their wickedness. For they will come to be like volcanoes and consume one another until they perish at the hand of the prime parent. When he has destroyed them, he will turn against himself and destroy himself until he ceases to exist.

The Simonian text, Concept of Our Great Power also has many strong apocalyptic undertones spread throughout. It even has an Anti-Christ/Beast figure.

Then when the times were completed, then wickedness arose mightily even until the final end of the Logos. Then the archon of the western regions arose, and from the East he will perform a work, and he will instruct men in his wickedness. And he wants to nullify all teaching, the words of true wisdom, while loving the lying wisdom. For he attacked the old, wishing to introduce wickedness and to put on dignity. He was incapable, because the defilement of his garments is great. Then he became angry. He appeared and desired to go up and to pass up to that place. Then the appointed time came and drew near. And he changed the commands.

Then the time came until the child had grown up. When he had come to his maturity, then the archons sent the imitator to that man in order that they might know our great Power. And they were expecting from him that he would perform for them a sign. And he bore great signs. And he reigned over the whole earth and all those who are under heaven. He placed his throne upon the end of the earth, for “I shall make you god of the world”. He will perform signs and wonders. Then they will turn from me, and they will go astray.

So, the archons finally go to war at the end of the “Logos” – “… when the times were completed, then wickedness arose mightily even until the final end of the Logos.” Compare this to Revelation 12:7, when again, Michael wages a war against Satan, who is depicted as a chaos dragon, much like Tiamat of the Mesopotamian religions.

And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war, 8 and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven. 9 And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.

It is also interesting to note the same dragon beast that pursues the divine mother is also rode upon the Whore of Babylon of Revelation 17 and 18 or the “Babylon the Great, the Mother of Prostitutes and Abominations of the Earth”, which could be interpreted as the the barbarous “Achamoth”, the name of the “fallen” form of Sophia. Sophia who fled to the “wilderness” (which could also be interpreted as the primeval fall from the Pleroma into the material chaos and the subsequent abortion of her monstrous “child of chaos”) is also called “Echamoth” according to the Gospel of Philip:

Echamoth is one thing and Echmoth, another. Echamoth is Wisdom simply, but Echmoth is the Wisdom of death, which is the one who knows death, which is called “the little Wisdom”.

Another curious passage from Revelation 17: 9 tells us that Whore of Babylon sat on seven heads, which could be a reference to the seven rulers who rule over the seven heavens that is listed in the Apocryphon of John.

And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sat.

It also shares ideas of Proverbs 9:1, where it states Wisdom was said to have built a house for herself, and to have set up “seven pillars” a possible reference to the Hebdomad, or the Hellenistic seven heavens or the seven celestial planets or powers of the Apoc. John. This might be a stretch but one can easily see how the “seven heads” and “mountains” could connect to Gnostic cosmology. The fate of the wanton prostitute isn’t a pretty one as she falls prey to her own wiles and is ultimately destroyed by divine fire by the God of judgement and wrath per Revelation. 18:4-8:

‘Come out of her, my people,’ so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues; for her sins are piled up to heaven, and God has remembered her crimes. Give back to her as she has given; pay her back double for what she has done. Pour her a double portion from her own cup. Give her as much torment and grief as the glory and luxury she gave herself. In her heart she boasts, ‘I sit enthroned as queen. I am not a widow; I will never mourn.’ Therefore in one day her plagues will overtake her: death, mourning and famine. She will be consumed by fire, for mighty is the Lord God who judges her.

William_Blake_whore_babylon The Freemasonic scholar Manly P. Hall in the Secret Teachings of All Ages, claims the whore of Babylon is basically a degenerated and vilified version of the “divine mother” archetype when he writes (p. 188):

Here also is introduced a symbolic figure, termed “the harlot of Babylon, “which is described as a woman seated upon a scarlet-colored beast having seven heads and ten horns. The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet and bedecked with gold, precious st Here also is introduced a symbolic figure, termed “the harlot of Babylon, “which is described as a woman seated upon a scarlet-colored beast having seven heads and ten horns. The woman was arrayed in purple and scones, and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations. This figure may be an effort (probably interpolated) to vilify Cybele, or Artemis, the Great Mother goddess of antiquity. Because the pagans venerated the Mater Deorum through symbols appropriate to the feminine generative principle they were accused by the early Christians of worshiping a courtesan. As nearly all the ancient Mysteries included a test of the neophyte’s moral character, the temptress (the animal soul) is here portrayed as a pagan goddess.

The Whore of Babylon also fits very well with the dark crone mother figure of Lilith of Kabbalistic lore as well. The Greek Titan Saturn-Kronos (in the guise of the “Son of Man,”) also makes an appearance in the Revelation 14: 14-16, when it states:

14 Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and on the cloud sat One like the Son of Man, having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle.15 And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud, “Thrust in Your sickle and reap, for the time has come for You to reap, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.” 16 So He who sat on the cloud thrust in His sickle on the earth, and the earth was reaped.

reaping_the_harvest-p9875698 Behind the Roman Saturn is the Greek Kronos, naturally. And behind those two is the Phoenician El, a name familiar with and associated with YHWH, the god of Israel. The “Son of Man” or Jesus Christ takes on this role of the reaper of souls at the apocalypse. This Son of Man figure also appears much earlier in the Book of 1 Enoch as well. The rest of Revelation also owes a lot of its inspiration from Enochian literature as well. An entire dissertation could be done on this subject alone!

“And they shall be terrified, and they shall be downcast of countenance, and pain shall seize them, when they see that Son of Man Sitting on the throne of his glory. And the kings and the mighty and all who possess the earth shall bless and glorify and extol him who rules over all, who was hidden…”  – 1 Enoch 62:5-6 “And all the kings and the mighty and the exalted and those who rule the earth shall fall down before him on their faces, and worship and set their hope upon that Son of Man, and petition him and supplicate for mercy at his hands… And He will deliver them to the angels for punishment, To execute vengeance on them because they have oppressed His children and His elect. And they shall be a spectacle for the righteous and for His elect: They shall rejoice over them, Because the wrath of the Lord of Spirits resteth upon them, And His sword is drunk with their blood.” – 1 Enoch 62:9-12

So here, we have Enoch refer to the sword of wrath that the Son of Man will wield on His Father’s behalf. Among the many times that Jesus spoke of the Son of Man, He was likely using this term to identify Himself or with another celestial figure in the Son of Man spoken of in 1 Enoch and Daniel. This is especially evident in the following Scriptures:

“For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.” – Matthew 16:27 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory.” – Matthew 25:31

Kronos isn’t the only Greek deity to appear in Revelation. We also see the solar deity Apollo appear as an inverted archetype of the Angel of Destruction, Apollyon who is the chief ruler of an army of locust demons in Revelation 9:8-11:

The appearance of the locusts was like horses prepared for battle; and on their heads appeared to be crowns like gold, and their faces were like the faces of men. They had hair like the hair of women, and their teeth were like the teeth of lions. They had breastplates like breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was like the sound of chariots, of many horses rushing to battle. They have tails like scorpions, and stings; and in their tails is their power to hurt men for five months. They have as king over them, the angel of the abyss; his name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in the Greek he has the name Apollyon.

It’s rather interesting that the Revelation author would choose to make Kronos be the good guy (through the Son of Man) while invert the beauty, order and goodness of Apollo into an angel of the bottomless pit. Though Apollo was known as a god of prophecy, law and purification, in his earliest accounts, he could place plagues on mankind as well as cure them. This occurs in Homer’s IIliad, when Apollo creates a nine-day deadly plague on the Achaean army and their cattle.

The description given to Apolloyon’s army of locust demons sounds eerily similar to that of the legendary creature of Persia, the Manticore (the “maneater”). This predatory monster is said to be mutated mixture of a man’s face with a lion’s face and body, along with a scorpion’s tail and bat wings. 127285_-Elder_Manticore-final2 James Davila in Melchizedek, Michael, and the War in Heaven, writes about the YHWH’s connection with the Archangel Michael from Revelation:

The origins of this reflex of the myth are extremely ancient. An Ugaritic text (CTA 5.1.1-5) alludes to a battle in which the god Baal defeated LTN, clearly the same creature as the monster Leviathan in the Hebrew Bible and later literature. In the restoration period or later, the apocalyptic section of the book of Isaiah (chs. 24-27) refers to the same myth–in almost the same words, but the battle is projected into the eschatological Endzeit and has Yahweh as the protagonist (Isa 27:1). This eschatological form of the tradition is developed further in Revelation, first by the replacement of Yahweh by Michael, and second by the use of the more generic term “dragon” (DRA/KWN) instead of the name Leviathan. As Richard Bauckham has noted, the picture of the dragon is significantly developed by its identification (perhaps by way of Isa 27:1) with the serpent of Genesis 3 and then, by extension, with the devil or Satan.

This Satan dragon serpent archetype can actually be traced back to the Egyptian “Lord of Chaos” Apep, who is depicted as a serpent, the embodiment of chaos and the enemy of the light and order of Ra, Ma’at and Thoth. Thoth or Tautus was nothing more then the title of an educated linguist and secret society member, who claimed himself to be the embodiment of the Egyptian Logos. Ra, as well as Horus, are also portrayed as often struggling against the darkness and chaos of this serpent, much like how Michael struggles against the Serpent and Dragon, Satan. One can see how this chaos myth repeats itself over and over again, traced back to the Egyptian religion which precedes Christianity and Judaism by thousands of years! apep-papyrus-of-hunefer

The war in heaven motif can also be traced to the Titanomacy which can be found in Homer’s Illiad where Hephaestus was cast down from the heavenly threshold by Zeus. Hesiod’s Theogony also recounts that the gods, after defeating the Titans, hurled them down to Tartarus, beneath Hades for their rebellion. Finally, according to Patristic literature, the arch-heretic Cerinthus is often associated with Revelation. The Latin Church Father Tertullian in Against Marcion 3.13, understands Babylon as the city of Rome:

…Egypt is sometimes understood, in His sense, the whole world as being marked out by superstition and a curse. By a similar usage Babylon also in our (St.) John is a figure of the city of Rome, as being like (Babylon) great and proud in royal power, and warring down the saints of God. Now it was in accordance with this style that He called the magi by the name of Samaritans, because (as we have said) they had practised idolatry as did the Samaritans. Moreover, by the phrase before or against the king of Assyria, understand against Herod against whom the magi then opposed themselves, when they refrained from carrying him back word concerning Christ, whom he was seeking to destroy.

Eusebius quotes from a work by Dionysus of Alexandria, bishop of Alexandria, saying that there were many who rejected the Johannine (John) authorship and authority of Revelation, and actually hated the book in Church History (7.25.1-2).

Some indeed of those before our time rejected and altogether impugned the book, examining it chapter by chapter and declaring it to be unintelligible and illogical, and its title false. For they say that it is not John’s, no, nor yet an apocalypse (i.e., an unveiling), since it is veiled by its heavy, thick curtain of its unintelligibility, and that the author of the book was not only not one of the apostles, nor even one of the saints or those belonging to the Church, but Cerinthus, the same who created the sect called ‘Cerinthian’ after him, since he desired to affix to his own forgery a name worthy of credit.

It is worth noting that, according to the good bishop, Dionysius (yes, there were many bishops named after the Greek god of wine), a certain heretic Cerinthus believed in an earthly kingdom of Christ was filled with material pleasures including fornication and great marriage feasts. Here we have only scratched the surface with all the inner workings of Revelation and I suspect there is much more hidden and coded Gnostic parallels and Gemetria (the Assyrian art of assigning numerical values to words) contained in this seemingly “illogical, unintelligible and false” text, like in the city of New Jerusalem that shows up at the end of the apocalypse, which has strong alchemical and Hermetic traits. Gemetria is something I’ve been toying with for a while now and I may pursue it further in my research.

453px-Expulsion_of_Adam_and_Eve_(Alexandre_Cabanel)

Forbidden Fruit in the Midst of the Garden (Part 5)

{So, I decided to return to this series after a very long hiatus and conclude my thoughts and research into the Eden creation story. Excuse the lateness.}

In Part 4, we explored the Gnostic understandings of the flood myths and how it correlates to the Fall of Sophia and the Descent into Chaotic Matter. Eden and Atlantis were also compared to each other and it seems both places might have been one and the same. We also looked at the Persian prophet Mani’s insights into the Tree of Life, the creation of Adam and how it related to his soteriology. There are other matters that I’ve addressed but will re-examine them under a different lens. When you research this kind of stuff, you are often confronted with new information that adds to what you’ve written or forces you to reconsider.

As I have recounted in this series, the serpent to the Gnostics was a symbol of duality. Since the expulsion from paradise was ordained by the Old Testament God, the Gnostics demanded that the snake be re-installed in paradise. This wise messenger of the good “Alien” God who was sent to “open the eyes” of the first couple through gnosis was naturally cursed and punished by the Demiurge. At the same time, texts like the Apocryphon of John seem to condemn the serpent as being a part of the same order as the chief archon, Ialdabaoth. Why is there such a differences of opinions on this point of the Genesis myth that reappears later in Gnostic texts? We will see exactly why soon enough.

Cursing the Gods.

Returning to the idea of the “fall of man”, there seems to be a cognitive dissonance in how many people read the Genesis account as well as how many throughout Church History has come to interpret the story as a source of shame for the human race. For example, we read that Jehovah, or the “LORD God” told Adam, “The day you eat of the tree you will surely die” (Genesis.3:4). And yet Adam ate of the tree and he did not die or even “fall”. It can hardly be called a “fall” when his intelligence was elevated to that of the gods! (Genesis 3:22) And so, we see Jehovah say to His council of gods, “Behold man has become as one of Us, knowing good and evil.” The serpent (the most crafty creature on earth) told the truth when he told Eve Jehovah would not carry out his threat. Let’s allow the Bible speak for itself when we see Adam, live to be 930 years old and begat many sons and daughters. No mention of the fall in Genesis. And we see Jehovah who lies to Adam but the God of the New Testament cannot lie (Hebrews 6:18). It’s not until Augustine does Adam truly “fall” and produced the “Original Sin” of disobeying Jehovah.

This doctrine of “Original Sin” or the “Sin Nature,” indeed, was the invention of St. Augustine, who believed that the great multitudes of the human race belong to eternal damnation along with a very hostile attitude towards sexuality–even extending this misanthropy to unbaptized children. This seems to be a strange mixture of Manichaean doctrine along with the Orthodox influence of Ambrose who converted him from the Manichaean faith to Catholic Neo-Platonism along with Tertullian sanctioned doctrine. The Latin Church father (and later heretical Montanist convert, in a twist of irony) Tertullian would also express similar sentiments in stating that man was not merely weakened, but depraved as a consequence of Adam’s disobedience to the Creator God in the form of his “consupiscence” (to covet) for the forbidden fruit of Knowledge. This idea repeats itself in what John Calvin espoused heartily in the sixteenth century as the heinous doctrine of “Total Depravity.” Tertullian in On the Apparel of Women, Book 1, also makes clear the scorn and prejudice of early Church fathers towards Eve, sexuality and her descendants:

And do you not know that you are [each] an Eve? The sentence of God on this sex of yours lives in this age: the guilt must of necessity live too. You are the devil’s gateway: you are the unsealer of that [forbidden] tree: you are the first deserter of the divine law: you are she who persuaded him whom the devil was not valiant enough to attack. You destroyed so easily God’s image, man. On account of your desert – that is, death – even the Son of God had to die.

And so here we have a clear example of the Orthodox loathing of the female and the feminine in the form of Eve. While spending the rest of this post to researching doctrinal matters concerning Original Sin, etc. is tempting, looking back at the Genesis account and other works that fill in the blanks, will prove to be far more fruitful, pun intended… In the Clementine Homilies (3.9.1), the heresiarch and place holder for Paul the Apostle and Marcionite/Gnostic Christianity, Simon Magus, claimed that Adam was born blind. Many Jewish Rabbis also asked if Adam and Eve were blind as well. Even Saint Augustine said that most people thought Adam was blind as well (City of God 14.17). All throughout the Clementine literature, Simon and Peter goes head to head in a debate of whits of how they interpreted the Genesis tale. This idea of Adam being born blind comes from Simon when he tells Peter (CH. Homily 3. XXXIX):

Therefore also Adam, being made at first after his likeness, is created blind, and is said not to have knowledge of good or evil, and is found a transgressor, and is driven out of paradise, and is punished with death. In like manner also, he who made him, because he sees not in all places, says with reference to the overthrow of Sodom, ‘Come, and let us go down, and see whether they do according to their cry which comes to me; or if not, that I may know.’ Thus he shows himself ignorant. And in his saying respecting Adam, ‘Let us drive him out, lest he put forth his hand and touch the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever;’ in saying Lest he is ignorant; and in driving him out lest he should eat and live for ever, he is also envious. And whereas it is written that ‘God repented that he had made man,’ this implies both repentance and ignorance.

Later on in the same text, Simon and Peter go back and forth in their debates over whether Adam was indeed born blind and ignorant:

Whatever sayings of the Scriptures are in harmony with the creation that was made by Him are true, but whatever are contrary to it are false. Then Simon said: How can you show that the Scriptures contradict themselves? And Peter said: You say that Adam was created blind, which was not so; for He would not have pointed out the tree of the knowledge of good and evil to a blind man, and commanded him not to taste of it. Then said Simon: He meant that his mind was blind. Then Peter: How could he be blind in respect of his mind, who, before tasting of the tree, in harmony with Him who made him, imposed appropriate names on all the animals? Then Simon: If Adam had foreknowledge, how did he not foreknow that the serpent would deceive his wife? Then Peter: If Adam had not foreknowledge, how did he give names to the sons of men as they were born with reference to their future doings, calling the first Cain (which is interpreted ‘envy’), who through envy killed his brother Abel (which is interpreted ‘grief’), for his parents grieved over him, the first slain?

Scholarship generally posits that Gnosticism is a late, post-Christian development. In other words, it is simply a dualistic Christian heresy that posited a mythological system of emanations of aeons, a redeemer figure, the disparagement of matter, and a “Stranger” God. These elements are indeed post-Christian, and exist in the NT as well. Yet, the core element of Gnosticism is seeking salvation through gnosis or hidden wisdom, rather than through simple belief or justification through faith, sacrifices to God, a vicarious redeemer, etc. This type of gnosis precedes Christianity and can be found in Orphic, Egyptian, Indian and Buddhist mystery religions as well. Also, many of the Christian gospels contain various Gnostic elements in which I detail here. They are all about seeking and finding hidden gnosis, hinted in the parables of hidden treasure in Matthew, as well as other parables like the found pearl, the captured fish of the great price, the parable of the sower, etc. The Gospel of Thomas is the epitome of this type of gnosis. This is the core teaching of Gnosticism and an even more “authentic” Christianity. Unfortunately, few researchers look at Gnosticism in this broader way. Merkabah There are scholars like Gershom Scholem, who have linked pre-Christian Gnosticism with Jewish mysticism – particularly that with the Merkabah type, and other ascent texts that belong to heterodox Jews of the Second Temple Period. Texts like these are those that belong to the Enochian tradition, some of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and perhaps texts like the Ascension of Isaiah (although the last seems more likely a Simonian text). All of these texts deal with the Gnostic ascent to God and the writers of these texts, perhaps saw themselves as possessors of this secret knowledge to ascend the stars like angels and would eventually become divine themselves, which was an anathema to Orthodox Judaism. This is probably where the later Gnostic writers took their inspirations from, along with Pauline crucifixion mysticism. Scholars like C. Fletcher-Lewis also noticed some of these Gnostic elements in the Dead Sea Scrolls, like the Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice, in which he writes in Heavenly Ascent and Incarnational Presence: A Revisionist Reading of the Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice:

“….much of the language within the Songs, though not all, refers to the Qumran community members who now have a heavenly, angelic and divine identity.”

Looking at the Nag Hammadi writings, there seems to be some Christianization or “sanitation” of older non-Christian writings, which shows that the Gnostic vision preceded Christianity. So, Gnosticism wasn’t a late aberration of Christianity as it is commonly maintained. R. van den Broek writes in The Present State of Gnostic Studies:

[T]he Nag Hammadi Library contains several gnostic tractates which are certainly non-Christian. These writings show that Gnosticism did not arise as a Christian heresy.

In a way, heterodox Judaism and even Samaritan mysticism gave rise to heterodox Christianity (Gnosticism). We see a competition of theologies begin in Genesis, or a dual tradition of normative and heterodox theologies develop at the same time, together. It can be argued that the Yahweh tradition developed was a reaction to this type of hidden knowledge already in existence back then, in a religion of those who would “ascend to heaven” (Isaiah 14:13).

In Isaiah, the fall of Lucifer is mirrored in Greek tales of Icarus and even that of Simon Magus who falls from his flights to impress Nero thanks to Peter’s meddling and prayer that God ruin the whole show even though apparently Peter didn’t have these same crazy cool powers himself. Adam’s fall is blamed on him because he dared to reach out and consume the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The Tower of Babel story also has misguided Babylonians attempting to build a very tall tower that reaches the heavens but is foiled by Yahweh and his angels. And so, the Gnostic initiative is always “out of bounds.” And this is exactly the focal point of contention between Simon Magus and Peter in their debates in that there is a higher power above the creator.

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We also see Jesus of the Gospels constantly oppose the Pharisees and their rites and customs and even denies them that they are the chosen people and claim they “belong to your father, the devil…” (John 8:44)! Jesus also commanded his followers to seek sincerely without outside aide or approval from any external “authority” or divine agent (the denial of blood atonement and a vicarious redeemer). Jesus’ original teachings are clearly rebellious and esoteric, in the sense that they are private, hidden and not seen by outsiders. This all conforms to a secret knowledge that comes from within where the hidden Christ manifests. Perhaps this is the real reason why Gnostic writers were critical of the biblical God and even critical of the serpent as well as being part of the same team with Yahweh like the Ophites did. And this is also the reason why some scholars view Gnosticism as a gentile betrayal and corruption of Judaism.

And yet, they weren’t exactly the only ones to take offense to aspects of the Paradise story, along with other Jewish texts. First, many philosophers like Philo, Plutarch, Celsus, Julian the Apostate had all thought that the anthropomorphous appearance of the biblical Creator didn’t really jive well with the more refined, philosophical idea of God that we see in Middle Platonic thought. This God was purely transcendental and above human reasoning and matter. He was an Ineffable God of the Gnostics and above the demiurgical God, the creator and rule of the physical and perishable world.

The Church Father Origen charges Celsus in Contra Celsus with spreading nasty rumors about how Christians are nothing more than feeble minded impious magicians and makes no distinction between the Christians and the Ophites because there was no such distinction to be made in the second century apparently. They also held Yahweh “accursed” just like how he cursed Adam, Eve and the serpent. According to Origen, these Ophites wouldn’t let anyone into their meetings unless they first curse Jesus, or at least the Judean version of Jesus that we can see in Ebionite/Jewish Christianity. This also reflects the kind of misotheism that was prevalent around that time period in which the Epicurean philosophers also were engaged in in their constant questioning of the gods and their subjects’ piousness and religiosity of their subjects.

The ruler of those named ‘archontics’ is termed the ‘accursed’ god. Who would venture to use such language—as if there could be an “accursed” divinity! Yet the God of the Mosaic cosmogony is termed an accursed divinity, because such is his character, and worthy of execration in the opinion of those who so regard him, inasmuch as he pronounced a curse upon the serpent, who introduced the first human beings to the knowledge of good and evil.

What could be more foolish or insane than such senseless wisdom? For what blunder has the Jewish lawgiver committed? and why do you accept, by means, as you say, of a certain allegorical and typical method of interpretation, the cosmogony which he gives, and the law of the Jews, while it is with unwillingness, O most impious man, that you give praise to the Creator of the world, who promised to give them all things; who promised to multiply their race to the ends of the earth, and to raise them up from the dead with the same flesh and blood, and who gave inspiration to their prophets; and, again, you slander him!

The Apostle Paul himself claimed that those who followed the Mosaic Law was cursed in Galatians 3:10, “For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” Paul also said that Christ redeemed his Church from the “curse of the law” and also said, “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.”

Heretics like Marcion and Simon Magus do not hesitate to highlight the supposed ignorant, and vicious character of the wrongdoings of the demiurgical God by referencing Genesis, along with other biblical texts. The sacrifices to God in the Old Testament also match with other pagan deities in which their followers worshiped and offered libations and sacrifices to appease them and in exchange to material favors. The old tribal gods of pagan and Mesopotamian cultures always operated by making pacts and covenants. Jehovah made a covenant/pact with Abraham, Issac, Jacob, and Moses. They worshiped him and burned offerings to him, and in turn, they received his protection and material blessings. But everything with the Hebrew god was centered around law, not mercy. Kircher-Diagram_of_the_names_of_God The Israelites had to observe specific days and provide specific offerings as payment for the things that they gave him, and they were never in permanent security with him. If they slipped up, they were punished, and had pay back what was owed in more severe ways. And this is exactly how many Faustian pacts with demons also operate under as seen in Goetic texts that belong to the Solomonic tradition. In fact, names ascribed to the Hebrew god are used invoke both angels and demons!

They are names that are ascribed to various archons that are listed in Gnostic texts and in refutations of them by the Church Fathers. These various archons also have serpentine and dragon-like like shapes, much like Ialdabaoth and perhaps this is why the serpent is condemned in the Apocryphon of John. We also see this in the conceptions of the Seraphim as indicated by various biblical, apocalyptic Enochian literature as well. We also see serpentine and even dragon like features in Yahweh himself! Here are some supporting verses.

Zechariah 10:8: I (Yahweh) will hiss for them (Jews), and gather them; for I have redeemed them: and they shall increase as they have increased.

Isaiah 5:26: And he (Yahweh) will lift up an ensign to the nations from far, and will hiss unto them from the end of the earth: and, behold, they shall come with speed swiftly.

Smoke coming out of Yahweh’s nostrils (sounds very dragon like):

Psalm 18:8, 2 Samuel 22:9: There went up a smoke out of his [Yahweh] nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it.

Yahweh spews fire from his mouth!

2 Samuel 22:9 (ESV): Smoke went up from his nostrils, and devouring fire from his mouth; glowing coals flamed forth from him.

And look, Yahweh has wings:

Psalm 17:8 (ESV) Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings.

So, Yahweh has wings, spews fire from his mouth and can breath fire and hisses. Doesn’t that sound exactly like a dragon and the Gnostic’s description of Ialdaboath as a lion-faced dragon? And according to Revelation 12:9, Satan is also depicted as a dragon. John 8:44, also hints at this reality, that the Devil is fathered by the Jewish god. The idea of the Devil indeed had a father was pretty hard to overcome by the part of the Church Fathers and in large part, they failed to address the pressures and difficulties made by the heretics. For example, we see Jerome who claimed that the father of the devil was the dragon Leviathan, also named as an archon by Celsus in his description of the Ophite diagram. Revelation-Chapter-12-The-Woman-and-Dragon The devil could not be a creation of God, or is a son because that would be supremely blasphemous and also contradictory because he is the son of a father who is a liar, and God is truth. Celsus also thought that the Christian concept of Satan was blasphemous. The Clementine Homilies (19:9) also explores the idea of the Devil being a creation of God:

But, as you said, if the evil one is created either he has been begotten as an animal, or he has been sent forth substantially by Him, or he has been compounded externally, or his will has arisen through composition; or it happened that he came into existence from things non-existent, without composition and the will of God; or he has been made by God from that which in no manner and nowhere exists; or the matter, being lifeless or living, from which he has arisen was outside of God; or he fashioned himself, or he was made by God, or he is a relative thing, or he ever existed: for we cannot say that he does not exist, since we have agreed in thinking that he does exist.

And Simon said: Well have you distinguished all the methods of accounting for his existence in a summary manner. Now it is my part to examine these various ideas, and to show that the Creator is blameable. But it is your business to prove, as you promised, that he is free from all blame. But I wonder if you will be able. For, first, if the devil has been begotten from God as an animal, the vice which is his is accordingly the same as that of him who sends him forth.

We see Simon asking all kinds of tough questions to Peter. This series of dilemmas embarrasses the chief of the Apostles in no small degree. He struggles to find any meaningful answers and gives what is probably the most half-assed, asinine answer in the history of all apologetics and it all starts with Peter.

I agree with you in believing that there is a prince of evil, of whose origin the Scripture has ventured to say nothing either true or false. But let us follow out the inquiry in many ways, as to how he has come into existence, if it is the fact that he has come into existence; and of the opinions which present themselves, let us select that which is most reverential, since in the case of probable opinions, that one is assumed with confidence which is based on the principle that we ought to attribute to God that which is more reverential…

In other words, Peter struggles to show that the true God cannot be the cause of evil, and that the scriptures has not chosen to explain the origin of the Devil. Simon isn’t satisfied with this evasive answer and ends by informing Peter that “If matter is equal to God both in duration and in power, and is also hostile to God, it produces of itself powers which are hostile to the will of God.” The Testimony of Truth also noticed this supreme contention between Simon and Peter as per the origins of the devil.

And in one place, Moses writes, “He made the devil a serpent those whom he has in his generation.” Also, in the book which is called “Exodus,” it is written thus: “He contended against the magicians, when the place was full of serpents according to their wickedness; and the rod which was in the hand of Moses became a serpent, (and) it swallowed the serpents of the magicians.”

Job 1 is all about measuring piety of Job in efforts to see if Job will indeed curse Yahweh. In this text, Yahweh and Satan seem to be virtually indistinguishable. They are openly in league with each other and Yahweh takes on Satan’s advice to test Job to see if he really is pious when all of his blessings are taken away and replaced with curses. Yes, Yahweh listens to the advice of Satan! Carl Jung in his book, Answer to Job, suggests that God is completely devoid in understanding of the human condition and therefore needs to incarnate in order to complete himself. In a sense this is a perfect metaphor for the process of gnosis. At times this God acts loving and merciful, so long as his edicts are obeyed. If they’re not, well, hell is to pay. 

The troubling thing for the writer of Job and for us is that Job is extremely pious and is blessed because of this. He is the quintessential icon of righteousness. He is man of justice. Job is the defender of the widow and the orphan. Job feeds the hungry and lends of his resources to those in need. When Job wrongs another man he pays restitution willingly and then some. Job is kind, generous and compassionate. And then God takes a big shit all over him. Job demands an accounting from God and rightly so. Except that God never does that. We can paraphrase the voice from the whirlwind quite simply. “I am God…shut the fuck up.” This is the voice of the Demiurge, the god of the whirlwind. Yahweh is on par with other pagan gods, like Zeus as well. So Yahweh punishes both the rebellious and the innocent without mercy. With stories like this, it really is amazing that a text like Job even made it into the cannon at all!

Returning to Simon and Peter’s discussion on the origins of the Devil and matter, both points of contention are equally fascinating and well worth the read, much like all of the Clementine literature. The discussion seems to mirror the points of contention between the Orthodox and the heretical, one insisting that God is blameless and perfect, while the other insisting that the Creator is completely at fault for producing evil and the Devil. Isaiah 45:7, indeed does support this view when it states, “I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things.” At one point, Peter goes so far as to say that Simon is even worse then the Devil (CH 19.6)!

Peter said: But you, as being wicked, and hating God whom you have not known, utter blasphemous words. And Simon said: Remember that you have likened me to the author of evil. And Peter said: I confess it, I was wrong in comparing you to the evil one; for I was compelled to do so, because I have not found one who is your equal, or worse than you. For this reason I likened you to the evil one; for you happen to be much more wicked than the author of evil. For no one can prove that the evil one spoke against God; but all of us who are present see you speaking daringly against Him. And Simon said: He who seeks the truth ought not to gratify any one in any respect contrary to what is really true. For why does he make the inquiry at all? Why, I ask? For I am not also able, laying aside the accurate investigation of things, to spend all my time in the praise of that God whom I do not know.

This is also the view in which the Ophites held in how Ialdabaoth created calamity through his serpent, according to Irenaeus (Against Heresies 1.30.5).

This son is Nous himself, twisted into the form of a serpent; and hence were derived the spirit, the soul, and all mundane things: from this too were generated all oblivion, wickedness, emulation, envy, and death.

Later on, Sophia decides to take things into her own hands to counter Ialdaboath’s “crooked” serpent with a serpent of her own!

But their mother (Sophia) cunningly devised a scheme to seduce Eve and Adam, by means of the serpent, to transgress the command of Ialdabaoth. Eve listened to this as if it had proceeded from a son of God and yielded an easy belief. She also persuaded Adam to eat of the tree regarding which God had said that they should not eat of it. They then declare that, on their thus eating, they attained to the knowledge of that power which is above all, and departed from those who had created them.

As I said earlier in the series, this seems to match up with the Hypostasis of the Archons‘ account.

Then the female spiritual principle came in the snake, the instructor; and it taught them, saying, “What did he say to you? Was it, ‘From every tree in the garden shall you eat; yet – from the tree of recognizing good and evil do not eat’?” The carnal woman said, “Not only did he say ‘Do not eat’, but even ‘Do not touch it; for the day you eat from it, with death you are going to die.'”

And the snake, the instructor, said, “With death you shall not die; for it was out of jealousy that he said this to you. Rather your eyes shall open and you shall come to be like gods, recognizing evil and good.” And the female instructing principle was taken away from the snake, and she left it behind, merely a thing of the earth.

More interesting is that Eve seems not to be all that surprised that a snake is chatting it up with her about eating forbidden fruit that would eventually open her eyes, and be “like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:4). Another author makes a good case that the serpent was in actuality, an angelic being, forced to help Adam and Eve tend to the garden.

Actually, there is a great deal of other ancient evidence which suggests this serpent was a serpentine, or serpent-like, angel who previously fell from grace.(1) As mentioned in Giants of Scripture, there were angels fashioned around the same time as the creation of Adam, in order to help him out. We get a hint to this in the Bible: And again, when He (God) bringeth in the first begotten into the world, He saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. Hebrews 1:6 (KJV)

When they discovered how much preferential treatment God had given the man, these angels complained to God.(2) We also get a hint to the conversation of these angels to the Almighty, in regards to their dissatisfaction of Adam: Psalms (KJV) 8:4 What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? 8:5 For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and has crowned him with glory and honor. 8:6 Thou madest him to have dominion of the works of thy hands…

God would not put up with their dissension, and caused them to fall – they lost their positions as heavenly angels and were condemned to serve Adam.

This would also support the Ophite view in how there were angels in the garden and they had sexual intercourse with Eve, and she begat half-angelic/half-human offspring much like what we see with the angels descending to earth to have intercourse with the daughters of men around Noah’s time.

…the others coming and admiring her beauty, named her Eve, and falling in love with her, begot sons by her, whom they also declare to be the angels.

Not all extra-biblical texts seem to have a positive view on the serpent either. The Apocalypse of Moses, for example, describes in some detail in how Satan persuaded the serpent to serve as a vessel though which he could speak to Eve and tempt her. This meant that Satan possessed the serpent! In the Hypostasis of the Archons, the spiritual woman, or Sophia enters to speak with Eve instead. For the Gnostics it was a good thing for Eve to eat the fruit of Gnosis. On the Origin of the World states that Eve, being the “female instructor of life” was found to be the wisest out of all the beings in Eden and was subsequently called “Beast” by the authorities, being the archons.

The Apocalypse of Moses is more orthodox in its view that eating the fruit was a death sentence for man. The world became defiled with this knowledge, in which many authors in the ancient world seem to think was also a sexual knowledge and fornication as a means to tempt and “beguile” Eve, which meant seduce. The fall of man was a result of this unholy sexual union with satanic children born as a result. It is interesting to note that most of Eve’s punishments and judgments revolve around sex and childbirth. Could all of this be related to this angelic/human seduction and fornication?CollierLilith8x6 This meant that Satan or what in Medieval Kabbalistic texts call “Samael,” had sexual intercourse with Eve and begat children like Cain and Abel. There is also a strong Kabbalistic tradition of Samael and Lilith always longing to have sexual intercourse. Tracy Twyman writes about this:

Because Samael and Lilith (a.k.a Leviathan and Behemoth) are constantly longing for each other, they found a way to mate via an “intermediary” called “Tanin’iver” (“Blind Dragon”) or “the Groomsman.”

She goes onto quote the Treatise of the Left Emanation and also writes:

This “Tanin’iver” is a “slithering serpent” without eyes who somehow enables the castrated Samael to have sex with Lilith. But if he were to “manifest fully,” then the destruction of the universe, which happens whenever these two “truly” mate, would come about anyway. So whatever Tanin’iver does for them, it has the capability of being just as good as the real thing. But mercifully, right now, it is not, or else we would all be dead.

In other words, the serpent is both a symbol of liberation from ignorance and at the same time, a symbol of sexual union, seduction and even destruction as I have demonstrated earlier in the series. The serpent is also strongly associated with being symbolic of Christ himself and the Gospel of John (3:14-15) certainly thinks so.

As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.

Christ is also depicted in terms of being a vegatative image, like the Holy Rood, the Tree of Life and the fruit of the tree of knowledge. Jesus is the fruit of eternal life, which was on the second forbidden tree in the Garden of Eden. Many other pagan gods of the ancient world were depicted as nature deities as well. When man ate of the fruit of the first tree, the tree of knowledge of good and evil, he was expelled from the Garden. The Garden is the place of unity, and non-duality like how the Pleroma is depicted in texts such as the Gospel of Truth. You eat of the fruit of duality, and you are on the way out into the wastelands of material reality.

The tree of returning to the Garden is the tree of immoral life, where the I and the Father are one. When Yawheh threw man out of the Garden, he put two cherubim at the gate, with a flaming sword between. At many Buddhist shrines, the Buddha is often depicted sitting under the Boddhi tree of immortal life, there are also at the gate, two guardians–similar to the guardian Cherubim that guard the Tree of Life. In these vegetation traditions there is the notion of identity behind the surface display of duality. Behind all these manifestations it the one radiance, which shines through all things.

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Part 6 coming soon which wraps up all my thoughts on this series, including revisiting and exploring this idea of consuming the knowledge of good and evil and what it all really means…

Alex Rivera on the Gnostic Warrior Podcast

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So, I was recently on the Gnostic Warrior podcast with Moe Bedard. Here I discuss material related to Gnosticism, Church History, Simon Magus, Marcion, and all kinds of heretical blasphemy. It looks like this blog writing thing of mine is taking off, right?

I’ll be back with some more posts in the near future but in the meantime I will be busy with school, work, and putting the final edits and touches of my post-apocalyptic/supernatural vampire fiction book, Crimson Dusk, which will (hopefully) come out in May. And no, it’s not YA or NA. It’s definitely geared towards a mature audience and if it were a movie, it would carry a very hard R rating but nothing too gratuitous. An article I wrote exclusively for a certain Gnostic journal will be out soon, as well. I am also working on a project as a co-writer with another occult researcher and I am also in the early stages on a book based on some of my theories you will find in this site. More information to come…

St. Apollonius Magus: The Case of Apollonius’ Identity Crisis

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Apollonius of Tyana (a city south of Turkey) was considered among the most remarkable of a slew of magician messiahs and daemonic philosophers in the area of Asia Minor. His life, unfortunately, has been written by believers in his pretensions as we have no secular record of him, much like how there is no reliable secular record of Jesus Christ existing. Outside the gospels, there are only four early historical references to Jesus. They are found in the works of the Jewish historian, Josephus, the Roman historians, Tacitus and Suetonius, and in the letters of Pliny the Younger, a Roman governor of Bithynia. But together, they cover little more than half of a page of a modern book! And even in these records, their mentions of Jesus are questionable at best for many reasons. (We will get to this in another post).

In any case, the Apollonius of the biographer Philostratus is a heathen savior, who claimed a commission from heaven to teach a pure and reformed religion, and in attesting his authority, he went about healing the sick, raising dead men back to life, casting out devils, and prophesying future events which came afterwards to pass. Sounds familiar?

However, the accounts of Apollonius were written well after he is supposed to have lived by a man named Flavius Philostratus (170 – 245 A.D.). This is long after the first New Testament was written (being Marcion’s Apostolikon). It is said that Philostratus is the only source for the accounts of Apollonius where the Bible is multi-sourced. In other words, we have different writers writing about Jesus. The authors of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul the Apostle, etc., are different writers who’s epistles were gathered by the Church and assembled into the Bible. One possible mention of Apollonius outside Philostratus is in Pseudo-Justin Martyr (meaning there’s no evidence that Justin wrote it and was written by someone else) specifically mentions Apollonius, when he tells us that Apollonius talismans were potent magical tools, indicating his belief in them in Answers to the Orthodox:

How is it that the talismans of Apollonius have power over certain members of creation, for they prevent, as we see, the fury of the waves, the violence of the winds, and the attacks of wild beasts. And whilst Our Lord’s miracles are preserved by tradition alone, those of Apollonius are most numerous, and actually manifested in present facts, so as to lead astray all beholders?

Pseudo-Justin illustrates the problem in a work containing a dialogue between a theologian and a Christian: the Christian is concerned about the popularity and spread of Apollonius’s talismans. He wonders how to explain their magical powers and wonders why God allows them. The theologian dispels his doubts saying that there is nothing evil about those objects because they were produced by Apollonius who was an expert in the powers governing nature and in the cosmic sympathies and antipathies…and that is why they did not contradict God’s wisdom ruling the world. But, this is hardly a convincing evidence for Apollonius. The Epicurean philosopher, Celsus never mentions or cites anything related to Apollonius either even in his long-winded refutation of Christianity, when he mentions various miracle workers and preachers who visit cities and army camps proclaiming themselves as “sons of God”.

These are accustomed to say, each for himself, ‘I am God; I am the Son of God; or, I am the Divine Spirit; I have come because the world is perishing, and you, O men, are perishing for your iniquities. But I wish to save you, and you shall see me returning again with heavenly power. Blessed is he who now does me homage. On all the rest I will send down eternal fire, both on cities and on countries. And those who know not the punishments which await them shall repent and grieve in vain; while those who are faithful to me I will preserve eternally.’

Philostratus was commissioned by an empress to write a biography of Apollonius in order to dedicate a temple to him. It is not likely that the gospels borrowed from Apollonius. It is most probably the other way around, especially since Philostratus had a motive to satisfy the empress who had commissioned him to write a biography of the man for whom a temple had been constructed. And this is coming from a guy who thinks Paul and the Johannite Jesus are merely extensions or masks of Simon Magus!

It must be said that the Philostratus seems to have no knowledge of the Gospels, in his account of Apollonius. Philostratus recounts Apollonius’ adventures in India and Rome, and encounters with several Roman emperors. According to Eusebius in Against Hierocles. II, “Apollonius was a priest in Aegae of Cilicia of Asclepius, the lover of mankind, worked any number of miracles…” However, Philostratus himself was “a man of letters and a sophist full of passion for Greek Romance and for studies in rhetoric…hardly interested in the historical Apollonius” (Maria Dzielska, Apollonius of Tyana, 14). So we are left to distrust the historical accuracy of Philostratus’ account.

Yet still, Philostratus’ work may be reflective of the everyday culture concerning Greek and Syriac religious life. Philostratus tells us in the Life of Apollonius, that Apollonius was a pious man, vigorously devoted to God and to the spiritual life, and one who accepted all creeds as diverse expressions of one universal religion. Some pagans were compelled to respond to the miracles attributed to Jesus Christ by using Apollonius as Christianity gained power, like Hierocles. In a letter to his brother (44), Apollonius writes:

“All men, so I believe, belong to the family of God and are of one nature; everyone experiences the same emotions, regardless of the place or condition of a person’s birth, whether he is a barbarian or a Greek, so long as he is a human being.”

Apollonius also repudiated the idea of animal sacrifice and was a strict vegetarian. The only fitting sacrifice for God according to Apollonius, was “man’s best reason” (G.R.S. Mead, Apollonius of Tyana, p. 153). Unlike other magicians, Apollonius simply relied on his own innate divinity to perform miracles and not on incantations, prayers, sacrifices or spells. The interesting fact about Apollonius is the extensive recognition which he obtained, and the case with which his pretensions found acceptance in the existing condition of the popular mind. Out of the legends of him little can be gathered except for a sketch of his history. He was born four years before the Christian era in Tyana, a city of Cappadocia. His parents sent him to be educated at Tarsus in Cilicia, a place of considerable wealth and repute, and he must have been about beginning his studies there when St. Paul as a little boy was first running about the streets. The life in Tarsus was too luxurious for Apollonius’ ascetic and philosophical aspirations.

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So he became a recluse at the temple of Aesculapius at Aegae. Aesculapius, of course, was the snake god of healing and therefore the most practical and useful of the heathen gods. Apollonius’s devotion to Aesculapius meant that he studied medicine and even sympathetic magic. The philosophers who studied at Aegae were also said to be Neo-Pythagoreans. In the Gospel of John, chapter 5, Jesus heals a blind man, at the pools of Bethesda, which is basically like an Aesclepion, a healing center.

Raymond W. Bernard writes in Apollonius the Nazarene: Mystery Man of the Bible:

Finding the morals of Tarsus distasteful, Apollonius resolved to take up quarters at Aegae, which possessed a temple of Aesculpius, the priests of which were philosophers of the Pythagorean school. So famous were they for their power as healers that people came to their temple from all over Greece, from Syria and even from Alexandria to consult them. The priests of this healing temple of Aegae cured disease by vegetarian diet, hydrotherapy, fasting and magnetic healing (“laying on of the hands,” which art, Apollonius acquired from them). They were heirs of an ancient oral therapeutic tradition which came from the Orphic mysteries, the secret of which was jealously guarded by the disciple who received it. By these priests, Apollonius was initiated; and it was not long before he excelled his masters.

It is said on the death of his father, he divided his property among the poor, and after five years of retirement he traveled as far as India in search of knowledge. He spoke with the Brahmins there, and came home with some enlightened ideas, and with some skill in the arts of juggling. With this knowledge, he began a career as a teacher in the Roman Empire. He preached his new religion, and he worked miracles to induce people to believe in him. He was at Rome in Nero’s time, when Simon Magus and St. Peter were said to be there debating and performing magical feats of strength in their contests. Perhaps there was a confusion between Apollonius with Simon Magus, or Simon Magus with Apollonius.

Not only is there a confusion with Apollonius and Simon Magus, there is also many parallels with St. Paul as well. For starters, many consider Paul (Pol) to be an abbreviation for Apollonius. Both Paul and Apollonius were at said to be at Tarsus at the same time as boys, although Apollonius was at Ephesus and Rome at exactly the same time that Paul was (yet, strangely, Apollonius’s biographer makes no mention of him, though Paul in his epistles, speaks of Apollos having been at Ephesus [Acts 18:24] with him). Also it is significant that “Paul” is a fictitious name, or at least a title. There is more reason to identify the character of Apollonius with Paul than Saul, who led a dissipated life, while Apollonius, even in youth, lived as a pious ascetic. But, before we get ahead of ourselves, it is likely that Apollonius influenced the picture that Acts of the Apostles gives us of Paul and even Apollo, rather than his epistles and letters as they both are engaged in various miracles and magical happenings. Apollos from Paul’s epistles could also very well be an abbreviated form of Apollonius:

“…It has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there are quarrels among you, my brothers and sisters. What I mean is that each of you says, ‘I belong to Paul,’ or ‘I belong to Apollos,‘ or ‘I belong to Cephas,’ or ‘I belong to Christ.’ Has Christ been divided?” I Corinthians 1:11-12.

“For when one says, ‘I belong to Paul,’ and another, ‘I belong to Apollos,’ are you not merely human? What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you came to believe, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.” I Corinthians 3:4-6.

Some scholars like Simone Petrement theorizes that Hebrews was written by Apollos (Apollonius) and not Paul. Martin Luther was said to suggest the same thing because the author does not identify himself as Paul like Paul would do often in his epistles and it is steeped in Hellenistic thought. In Hebrews 6:1-2, the author writes:

“Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.”

Passages like this indicates that the believer must graduate past such elementary teachings and move to the mysteries of God, only revealed to those who are mature in their faith in Christ. According to Damis of Ninevah, he claimed that to be a disciple of Apollonius and claimed he was also a neo-Pythagorean philosopher who flourished in the last half of the first century who also wrote extensively on astrology. However, it is rather odd that nothing is said on the matter of Apollonius being learned in mathematics since any good Pythagorean philosopher would be very learned on the subject. There are letters that were claimed to by Apollonius (like the one quoted above), but many of them were very likely forgeries by unknown sources. However, they paint a consistent picture that portrays him as a miracle man of magic and mystery.

Similarly, Dutch radical New Testament critics viewed Paul’s letters as reworked forgeries taken from earlier Marcionite and even Simonian variant writings. While this is likely the case, there is still some evidence that Paul himself existed, according to secular sources like Josephus who considers the magician “Atomus” (meaning small, like the Latin “parvalus”) and Simon as the same person. Josephus mentions Atomus as being involved with the procurator Felix, King Agrippa II and his sister Drusilla, where Felix has Simon convince Drusilla to marry him instead of the man she was engaged to. In other words, Paul is simply a nickname or title that Simon used or was given to him by his enemies.

The mythicist scholar, Acharya S/D.M. Murdock also notes many of these parallels between Paul and Apollonius:

…there are striking correlations between the lives of Apollonius and the apostle Paul, who, like Jesus, strangely finds no place in contemporary history, despite claims to his having made quite a ruckus in a populated and well documented part of the world. It appears that the stories of both Jesus and Paul were in part fabricated from that of Apollonius. The opposite is also possible, although, in this author’s studied opinion, unlikely. It also may be that both Apollonius and Jesus were historical figures who did and said everything they are reported to have done and said, in which case we would be dishonest in accepting one without the other, both representing “God on Earth.”

She even has a neat table graph comparing the lives of Apollonius, Paul and Jesus Christ. Philostratus in his romantic biography of Apollonius, he tells us that Apollonius visited the Indians, whom he calls Brahmans, from whom he learnt much of their divine wisdom. He also visited the wise men of Ethiopia, whom he calls Gymni, because they pass all their life naked and never wear clothes even in the most trying weather. But he thought that the wise men of India were far superior to the Ethiopians in their intelligence and practices. Indeed, Apollonius was portrayed as a maintaining a strict vegetarian and was also a pacifist. He taught harmlessness to all living beings and repudiated the idea of animal sacrifice so common in Vedic as well as Jewish and Babylonian practices, much like the Buddha and Mani as well.

This is different than the war-lord Jesus of Matthew who says, “Think not that I come to send peace on earth.” “I come not to send peace but a sword”, etc. This version of Jesus also reiterates that he came to send fire on earth, and strife, to make divided households, fathers against sons, mothers against daughters, and under the new regime of Jesus, “a man’s foes shall be those of his own household.” Desiderius Erasmus claimed that the church was born in blood, grew in blood, and succeeded in blood, and will end in blood. This was of course, the way of the militant Church, who forced its way through mass executions at the point of the sword.

This is what enabled the brutal murder of the Neoplatonist Hypatia by Christian monks soon after the Council of Nicaea, by order of Cyril, Bishop of Alexandria, who was sainted after this, and the ensuing massacred of the Manichaeans, as well as the Cathars and purported witches burnt at the stake in the Inquisition. Not to mention the torture and execution of the Knights Templars by the hands of King Philip of France, while enabled by Pope Clement in 1307. One must also wipe the blood of infidels and heretics from the pages of the Quran just to find the apparently peaceful ones or ones that condone the murder of the innocent as well. I better stop now before my blood boils over…

Another author makes some very salient observations regarding the eastern influence on the lore associated with Jesus through the Acts of Thomas, when Thomas travels to India to evangelize and even in Paul’s epistles:

Apollonius is responsible for bringing the stories of Krishna to the West, he brought back to Rome the teachings of Krishna who Greeks called “Christos“. Many believe that a certain Bishop Marcion discovered the writings of Apollonius in Asia Minor (Turkey) a century later and translated them into Greek and Latin, producing  the first compiled “Christian” Bible. Sossianus Hierocles claimed, it was library of Apollonius’  that was plagiarized in producing the New Testament. Hierocles, a governor in Bithynia and later Lower-Egypt, {reign of Diocletian 245-315 AD} and an enemy of the Christians verbally attacked Christianity.

As per Eusebius of Caesarea. “Hierocles tried to weaken the importance of Christ’s miracles without however denying them, and wanted to show that Apollonius had performed some of equal importance and even more important ones.” Eusebius replied with a treatise that he wrote Against The Thesis Of Hierocles on Apollonius of Tyana. Eusebius recognized that Apollonius was a very wise man worthy of admiration; admitted everything that was told about his holiness and his teachings, but rejected many of the miracles that were assigned to him, dismissing them outright or assigning them as either  magic or to the work of demons.

Hierocles also states in his writings that  “Jesus was the leader of a band of highway robbers numbering more than 900 men” 

Luke 22:36 : “But now he that hath a purse, let him take it and likewise his scrip; and he that hath no sword let him sell his garments and buy one.”

and“You proclaim Jesus a god on account of a few prodigies recorded by their evangelists, yet we have writers of more education than yours and with more care for truth, who relate solid judgment, do not make him a god on account of them, only regard him as a man found pleasing to the gods.”

I am less convinced that Marcion knowingly rewrote the account of Apollonius, since Philastrus’ account comes much later after Marcion and his writings (like the Gospel of the Lord, Antithesis, etc), and even the later Christian Gospels, which are themselves are late second century writings. Some theorize that Marcion’s gospel was actually split later into Luke and Acts of the Apostles with various Orthodox interpolations. Marcion is also said to have much earlier versions of Paul’s writings as well. It seems to me that Apollonius is actually following in the footsteps of Jesus and Simon-Paul, and not the other way around. Yet still, Apollonius himself seems to share with a long line of miracle workers and magicians. In the Myth of the Magus (page 72), E.M. Butler writes:

The temptation of Zoroaster; the contests between Moses and Pharaoh and ‘Dionysos’ and Pentheus; the splendor of Solomon, the purity of Pythagoras, the defense of Apollonius, the crucifixion and the katabasis of Christ; these outstanding features of ancient legend justify the title given to his part of the book: “The Golden Age of Magic’; and may reconcile those who feel offended at finding Christ among the magians of old. For magic in those days partook of the nature of the divine. All the great gods were magicians; and all the great magicians were believed to be divinely inspired. The Christ of the Apocrypha and of the Gospels was no exception to this rule.

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According to Philistratus, Apollonius is said by legend to be the son of Proteus, a shape shifting God found in the writings of Homer. This connection to Proteus hints him as “how versatile he was, and for ever changing his form” …or identity. This may relate to the doctrine of Docetism but that is more of speculation on my part. Philastrus tells us in the Life of Apollonius about Proteus, who is referenced as a “god of Egypt”, which is, in itself, a reference to the Egyptian King found in Helen of Euripides (another variation of the sea god):

Apollonius’ home, then, was Tyana, a Greek city amidst a population of Cappadocians. His father was of the same name [i.e. Apollonius], and the family descended from the first settlers. It excelled in wealth the surrounding families, though the district is a rich one.

To his mother, just before he was born, there came an apparition of Proteus, who changes his form so much in Homer,[4] in the guise of an Egyptian demon. She was in no way frightened, but asked him what sort of child she would bear. And he answered: “Myself.”

“And who are you?” she asked.

“Proteus,” answered he, “the god of Egypt.”

Well, I need hardly explain to readers of the poets the quality of Proteus and his reputation as regards wisdom; how versatile he was, and for ever changing his form, and defying capture, and how he had a reputation of knowing both past and future. And we must bear Proteus in mind all the more, when my advancing story shows its hero to have been more of a prophet than Proteus, and to have triumphed over many difficulties and dangers in the moment when they beset him most closely.

There much more going on with Proteus. I will allow C.G Jung to explain further who exactly this god was in The Gnostic Jung (page 87):

Hippolytus quotes Homer as follows: “This place is frequented by the Old Man of the Sea, immortal Proteus the Egyptian…who always tells the truth…” Homer then continues: “…who owes allegiance to Poseidon and knows the sea in all its depths.” Proteus is evidently a personification of the unconscious: it is difficult to “catch this mysterious old being…he might see me first, or know I am there and keep away.” One must seize him quickly and hold him fast, in order to force him to speak. Through he lives in the sea, he comes to the lonely shore at the sacred noon-tide hour, like an amphibian, and lies down to sleep among his seals. …

From Proteus the wandering hero learns how he may make his way homewards “over the fish-giving sea,” and thus the Old Man proves to be a psychopomp. “But,” the text goes on, “he spins round himself and changes his shape.” He have behaves, therefore, like a revolving image that cannot be grasped. What he says is sooth,”; he is a “soothsayer.” So it is not for nothing that the Naasenes say that “knowledge of the compete man is deep indeed and hard to comprehend.”

Another figure associated with Apollonius was Hermes. Accordingly, Proteus was also said to have been the messenger or servant of Poseidon, the patron deity of Plato’s Atlantis. Although Greek and Latin sources do not connect Apollonius with Hermes, Arabic Hermetic literature does. Apollonius is called “Balínús” in Arabic, and is depicted as the discoverer and representative of Hermes’ teachings. In the Arabic teacher Bahá’u’lláh’s Lawh-i-Hikmat (Tablet of Wisdom), he states:

“It was this man of wisdom [Balínús] who became informed of the mysteries of creation and discerned the subtleties which lie enshrined in the Hermetic writings.”

The earliest surviving translation of the Emerald Tablet of Hermes is in an Arabic book known as the Book of Balinas the Wise on Causes, written around 650 C.E. According to legend, Apollonius was also said to have found and even written the text, The Emerald Tablets of Hermes from the mummified corpse of old Hermes himself. I wrote my interpretation here on the text, as well as a more in-depth one in an upcoming paper on the divine imagination and alchemy that will be published in a journal soon, hopefully.

Anyway, these are just some of my notes and observations pertaining to the life of Apollonius, and hope to have shed some light on him and cleared up any confusion about this figure. Did Apollonius even exist? Probably, yes. Was Apollonius the chief inspiration behind Paul of the early epistles and Jesus of the Gospels? Not likely. Did Apollonius inspire the Paul of Acts of the Apostles? More than likely, yes. Is Apollos inspired by Apollonius then? Sure, why not? Apollonius conforms to a general pattern of ancient magicians and miracle workers in which writers like Morton Smith took great notice of, especially in his seminal Jesus, the Magician. In a following post, we will explore Neoplatonism, and look at the theurgy, magic and miracles attributed to Iamblichus, Proclus and Porphyry, among others. Until next time!

My Gnostic Libertine Valentine

Tracy R Twyman posted an interesting article about Valentines Day (a holiday based on the pagan festival of Lupercalia), 50 Shades of Grey, sadomasochism and their natural links with Satanism, the Witches’ Sabbath and the Black Mass. She also posted something rather interesting that I haven’t really contemplated until very recently. She writes:

Wright traces the origin of the Witch’s Sabbath and Black Mass to the ancient rites of Priapus, the Greek fertility God honored by phallic idols and rites of debauchery, whose cult appears to have been spread all over Pre-Christian Europe. Wright believed that the Christian image of “Satan” was in fact largely based on images of Priapus, and demonstrated that the traditions of underground “Satanist” and “witchcraft” cults were actually sublimated forms of Priapism.

He shows that these traditions were passed on through heretical “Christian” groups like the Gnostic Ophites, the Cathars, and numerous others, all of which practiced obscene group sex rituals and all of which came to be suppressed by the Church. Gnostics and Cathars believed that they were “pure,” and that therefore these rites did not defile them. In fact, indulging in them in the sanctified form of a ritual turned into something sacred a sin that they viewed as an otherwise unavoidable fact of carnal existence. One Gnostic group is said to have used as a motto: “Nemo potest peccare ab umbilico et inferius” (“No one can not sin, from the navel and below.”) Or, as the New Wave band Depeche Mode expressed it in their Sado-Masochistic paean “Strangelove”: “I give in to sin, because you have to make this life livable.”

If the Gnostics were listening to Depeche Mode, they would most likely get behind “Personal Jesus” as their favorite song from them. Or maybe “Black Celebration”. In any case, the most likely thing you will ever hear about the Gnostics is all the bad boy behavior they perpetrated. The Gnostics were accused of a plethora of raunchy deeds and foul words. From the acts of Simony and encouraging divorce to flagellating themselves and working toward the destruction Jesus Christ’s one true church on earth. Tales are told of ex-Gnostic’s (the Church Fathers) blowing the whistle on these demon worshiping, zombie raising, blood drinking, brainwashing charlatan’s and Don Juan’s. They did it all. They were the Sultan’s of Tantra, the Johnny Depp’s of the holy altar, the Chris Angel’s of mock crucifixion’s, the William Blake’s of poetry and pun. Theirs was a world drowning in magic, immersed in myth and mystery. Like the cliché’ goes, “now you see it, now you don’t,” in the same time it takes to say it, they vanished from history. Or did they? Lestat-the-vampire-chronicles-7846022-500-333

Gnostics As Vampires or the Other. 

“Say what??”, you might ask but it’s true. The Gnostics were known as the first Lestats, the Eric Northmans, or God-forbid, the first Twilight Edwards. I shutter the thought. There are reports from Irenaeus, Hippolytus, Celsus, Aquila, Nicetas, Origen, Justin, Tertullian, Jerome, Eusebius, Epiphanius, and Augustine–all of which have a very superstitious, paranoid view on these pesky, naughty Gnostics. In the Clementine Homilies II.7, Aquila and Nicetas claim that Simon said he would never die and in another place in the same writing, the Apostle Peter claims certain people desired to eat his flesh because Simon Magus said so! Pope Clement tells us:

“Simon was desirous of glory, and boasted above all the human race, that he wished himself to be believed to be an exalted power (Acts 8:9), which is above God the Creator, and to be thought to be the Christ, and to be called “The Standing One”. And he used this name as implying that he can never be dissolved, asserting that his flesh is so compacted by the power of his divinity, that it can endure to eternity. Hence, therefore, he is called “The Standing One”, as though he cannot fall by any corruption”.

And later, Peter claims that Simon encouraged the masses to eat his flesh and (presumably) like vampires, drink his blood:

Peter answered, “You yourself heard with your own ears how those who went before me came back from Antioch, and said that Simon had been there, and had strongly excited the multitudes against me by calling me a magician and a murderer, a deceiver and a juggler, to such an extent that all the people there were eager to taste my flesh.

This is much like the vampire known to the ancient eastern Europeans as Strigoi in Romania, or Vrykolakas of Greece which drank blood and were slain werewolves. This disease was caused by either a sacrilegious life, excommunication, eating sheep killed by a wolf, or burial in an unconsecrated ground. People with red hair and grey eyes were often thought to be vampires just as people with uni-brows were thought to be werewolves. There was a superstition about knocking much related to the Angel of Death of Exodus who kills all of the first-born of Egypt on the express command of Yahweh. It was said it was best to burn their corpses while they slept on Saturday or something to that effect. hanged4 Simon himself was something of a self-styled expert on all things occult and magical. Many believe he is the black magician prototype in which the Medieval legend of Doctor Faustus is based after, and it stands with good reasonClementine Homilies 2:26 tells us that Simon Magus produced a homunculus or an artificial human, out of air! This is likely Simon’s brazen contempt of the creator god from Genesis and his creating of Adam from mere dust of the earth since Simon manifested a boy out of thin air. However, this claim is mixed with a horrid accusation that Simon Magus sacrificed a boy in a magical ritual, much like how the infamous Thelemite-Satanist Aleister Crowley would advocate in Magick in Theory and Practice:

 [a] male child of perfect innocence and high intelligence is the most satisfactory and suitable victim.

It is often said that Crowley’s references to “child sacrifice” were ghastly euphemisms to masturbation in a magical ritual. In a footnote to this text, Crowley appears to confess to having murdered 2400 children: “FRATER PERDURABO…made this particular sacrifice on an average about 150 times every year between 1912 e.v. and 1928 e.v.” Now, I can see this as a reference to jerking off. However, we also find this same euphemism in the Book of the Law or Liber AL. Thelema is associated with child sacrifice in a fundamental way mainly because child sacrifice is commanded in the Thelemic holy book, Liber AL III, 12:

“Sacrifice cattle, little and big: after a child.”

As with many Liber AL verses, the language here is somewhat vague. It implies that before sacrificing cattle, both little and big (calves and full grown cows), a child should be sacrificed. Of course, in any occult literature, one could argue that none of the words should be read literally. Now Thelemites might argue that Crowley wasn’t really explicitly talking about killing children or using their blood with magick or something. Except of course, it actually does as Liber AL III, 24 tells us:

“The best blood is of the moon, monthly: then the fresh blood of a child, or dropping from the host of heaven: then of enemies; then of the priest or of the worshippers: last of some beast, no matter what.”

So the blood of children comes first and the blood of cattle should be sought only after the Thelemite magician has sought the blood of the innocent. Crowley really wasn’t all that different from a worshiper of Molech or even YHWH for that matter since they were all about burnt offerings of sacrificed animals and yes children. All of this seems to anticipate or corroborate with the ghastly Medieval legends of Satanism and the Black Mass, too. The Catholic Inquisition of witches and heretics could also be seen as a mass sacrifice for their god if you think about it. Let’s compare this to Simon’s alleged black magic and child sacrifice:

For he even began to commit murder as himself disclosed to us, as a friend to friends, that, having separated the soul of a child from its own body by horrid incantations, as his assistant for the exhibition of anything that he pleased, and having drawn the likeness of the boy, he has it set up in the inner room where he sleeps, saying that he once formed the boy of air, by divine arts, and having painted his likeness, he gave him back again to the air.

“And he explains that he did the deed thus. He says that the first soul of man, being turned into the nature of heat, drew to itself, and sucked in the surrounding air, after the fashion of a gourd; and then that he changed it into water, when it was within the form of the spirit; and he said that he changed into the nature of blood the air that was in it, which could not be poured out on account of the consistency of the spirit, and that he made the blood solidified into flesh; then, the flesh being thus consolidated, that he exhibited a man not made from earth, but from air. “And thus, having persuaded himself that he was able to make a new sort of man, he said that he reversed the changes, and again restored him to the air. And when he told this to others, he was believed; but by us who were present at his ceremonies he was religiously disbelieved. Wherefore we denounced his impieties, and withdrew from him.”

Perhaps Simon drew a different conclusion from the saying, “Whosoever shall receive this child in my name receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me receiveth him that sent me: for he that is least among you all, the same shall be great” (Luke 9:48). So here, in the Homilies, Simon manifests a boy of air and claims that the boy had no immortal soul but that a demon pretends to be the soul. Irenaeus even complains that the Gnostics used exorcisms and incantations. Exorcisms were common among the Egyptians, Magi, Zoroastrians, and other shamanic groups in antiquity. Prayer itself is a form of incantation, so is the act of consecrating the Eucharist. The practice of pharmaceuticals was originally spells written on papyri and swallowed (or at least that is the story archaeologists have come up with). Really, they were likely nothing more than prescriptions followed with a dose of a drug which is why the paperwork still survives. libertine-dean-bertoncelj

“All Is Permitted”: The Gnostic Revolt.

The Apostle Paul once wrote in 1 Corinthians 6:12:

All things are lawful for me; but not all things are expedient. All things are lawful for me; but I will not be brought under the power of any.

If they weren’t murdering a baby and eating semen and menses they were talking smack about the Pope or some other Saint. Orgies and Symposiums were the norm. I guess Gnostic nuns were whores and Bishops fucked their way to the top right? Probably not. There is a tale of a miracle contest in the sky found in the Acts of Peter in which Simon Magus attempts to fly and falls from the air to his death much as in the Medieval Toledot Yeshu when Jesus and Judas Iscariot battle in the air. Jesus here, like Simon Magus, is a magician who can raise the dead and claims to be born of a virgin, but is a bastard son and a defiant student. The great late German-born Jewish Gnostic scholar, Hans Jonas placed libertinism at the center of the Gnostic revolution in religious thought. Libertinism was, as he wrote:

…the purest and most radical expression of the metaphysical revolt against the creator god and his schemes to arrest the absolute freedom of the spirit not only though the iron laws of nature but through the moral code as well.” (Gnostic Religion, 270).

Jonas points to Simon Magus, the Gnostic forefather of Faust, as the earliest source of the teaching that evil angels who created the world established “just actions” to lead humankind into servitude. According to the hostile account of Irenaeus, Simon charged his followers to ignore the moral laws of Moses and do freely what they liked. Anticipating Martin Luther, Simon claimed that men were saved by grace, not by righteous deeds. Simon and his followers were also accused of engaging in sexual licence, occult practices, and violating other biblical norms of piety. According to the Church Father Hippolytus (Ref. VI. XIV), Simon Magus and his followers were also very libertine in their ways:

But, again, those who become followers of this impostor—I mean Simon the sorcerer—indulge in similar practices, and irrationally allege the necessity of promiscuous intercourse. They express themselves in the manner following: “All earth is earth, and there is no difference where any one sows, provided he does sow.” But even they congratulate themselves on account of this indiscriminate intercourse, asserting that this is perfect love, and employing the expressions, “holy of holies,” and “sanctify one another.”

Marcion, though no advocate of libertinism, and was a strict ascetic, still reserved scathing contempt for the compulsory righteousness of those who are enslaved by the prohibitions and punishments of the law-giving god. According to the late, great scholar Adolf von Harnack, Marcion considered righteousness itself to be far worse than any sin because it makes people self-satisfied in their worldly constraint. They become too hardened to respond to the call of the alien God, above the inferior judicial creator god of the Jews, who is love and nothing but love, and therefore the righteous are utterly beyond redemption. Like Simon in the Clementine literature, Marcion taught there were two gods as testified in his Antithesis. Marcion like Paul would probably condemn all of this behavior in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, as he tells us about those Corinthian believers who exaggerate the freedom in Christ.

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.

For the libertines, the defying of the creator god and asserting the freedom of the divine inner spark in the world extended to violating the moral norms as a way of exhausting nature’s power by satisfying the body’s sexual desires. Basically, a unsatisfied desire keeps the soul attached to the world by longing to fulfill that desire. For the Carpocratians, they maintained that souls continued to suffer reincarnation until they have engaged in every possible deed. Only then will the evil angels or the Archons who created the world release the soul from captivity (Irenaeus Against Heresies 1.25.4). This also happens to be the same logic that Shiva devotees, the Aghori’s follow in the Left-Hand Path of Hinduism.

aghori-human-skull

Likewise, the worshipers of Cain, being the Cainites claimed that “They cannot be saved in any other way, except [if[ they pass through all things” (1.31.1). Irenaeus is pretty vague in his accusations, but Epiphanius is pretty explicit in his account. For example, he tells us that many Gnostic groups held a spermatic mass rituals where they consumed their sexual body fluids in sacred orgies (26.3.8-26.19.6). I discuss more about all this in depth here. The hostile, polemical tone of Epiphanius’s account leaves much doubt to its credibility though. Hans Jonas identifies the Gnostic libertine program of salvation through sin as a forerunner of medieval Satanism and Marque De Sade-like depravity associated with the European aristocracy that we see in movies like Salo: 120 Days of Sodom.

hieronymous-bosch-the-garden-of-earthly-delights

Another Gnostic heretic Cerinthus, according to the Church Historian, Eusebius, Church History, III, 28, claimed that after the resurrection, the kingdom of Christ will be set up on earth, and that the flesh dwelling in Jerusalem will again be subject to desires and pleasures. It would be something like was is depicted in the Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch. He taught that there is to be a period of a thousand years a for marriage festivals, delights of the belly (food) and good old fornication with a better grace. Cerinthus was an heir to the teaching of Basilides or Saturninus, both of which were students of Menander, the direct successor of Simon Magus. He also taught the creation of the cosmos by angels. The God of the Jews was also an angel while the Mosaic law given by angels. However, Cerinthus actually kept the Mosaic law. He seems to be a fake-Jew opponent of Ignatius who is taking some ideas of Basilides and merging them with a Hellenic Judaism.

Like Simon, Marcus the Magician (or Valentinian), was said to be a regular ladies man and a Gnostic pimp daddy; a regular ecclesiastical James Bond if you will. Marcus was also the first person to practice an early version of the Catholic Eucharist with a female divinity at the center of it being Sophia, much like the Virgin Mary in Catholicism.

“Pretending to consecrate cups mixed with wine, and protracting to great length the word of  invocation, he contrives to give them a purple and reddish color, so that Charis, who is one of those that are superior to all things, should be thought to drop her own blood into that cup through means of his invocation, and that thus those  who are present should be led to rejoice to taste of that cup, in order that, by so doing, the Charis, who is set forth by this magician, may also flow into them. Again, handing mixed cups to the women, he bids them consecrate these in his presence.

When this has been done, he himself produces another cup of much  larger size than that which the deluded woman has consecrated, and pouting from the smaller one consecrated by the woman into that which has been brought  forward by himself, he at the same time pronounces these words: “May that Chaffs who is before all things, and who transcends all knowledge and speech, fill thine inner man, and multiply in thee her own knowledge, by sowing the grain of mustard seed in thee as in good soil.” Repeating certain other like words, and thus goading on the wretched woman [to madness], he then appears a worker of  wonders when the large cup is seen to have been filled out of the small one, so as even to overflow by what has been obtained from it. By accomplishing several other similar things, he has completely deceived many, and drawn them away after  him.” (Irenaeus, Against Heresies 1.13.2)

“It appears probable enough that this man possesses a demon as his familiar spirit, by means of whom he seems able to prophesy, and also enables as many as he counts worthy to be partakers of his Charis  themselves to prophesy. He devotes himself especially to women, and those such  as are well-bred, and elegantly attired, and of great wealth, whom he frequently  seeks to draw after him, by addressing them in such seductive words as these: “I am eager to make thee a partaker of my Charis”. (Irenaeus, Against Heresies 1.13.3)

Marcus liked to share his Charisma with the ladies and get them drunk on pleasure and charm. He had a familiar spirit like Simon Magus. There is yet more dirt on Marcus:

“Marcus,  thou former of idols, inspector of portents, Skilled in consulting the stars,  and deep in the black arts of magic, Ever by tricks such as these confirming the  doctrines of error, Furnishing signs unto those involved by thee in deception, Wonders of power that is utterly severed from God and apostate, Which Satan, thy true father, enables thee still to accomplish, By means of Azazel, that fallen and yet mighty angel,-Thus making thee the precursor of his own impious actions.” Irenaeus, AH 1.15.6

Irenaeus here makes a startling accusation by saying that Marcus invokes the power of the fallen angel Azazel in his charms and black magic, who is often associated with the “scapegoat” being a Jewish sin offering for Israel. The goat is also associated with the Goat of Mendes, Pan, and the Mercurial devilish idol or a severed head of John the Baptist supposedly worshiped by the Knights Templar, Baphomet. According to Islamic legend, Azazel was also associated with goat-like demons, jinn haunting the desert, the same type of desert the Israelites sent out a goat into the wilderness as sacrifice as seen in Leviticus. scapegoatazazel The Apostle Peter in the Clementine Homilies VIII. XIIIspeaks about these fallen angels, in which Azazel belonged too, in which they all exchanged their divine fire for fleshy intercourse with women as seen in apocryphal and apocalyptic Enochian literature:

But when, having assumed these forms, they convicted as covetous those who stole them, and changed themselves into the nature of men, in order that, living holily, and showing the possibility of so living, they might subject the ungrateful to punishment, yet having become in all respects men, they also partook of human lust, and being brought under its subjection they fell into cohabitation with women; and being involved with them, and sunk in defilement and altogether emptied of their first power, were unable to turn back to the first purity of their proper nature, their members turned away from their fiery substance: for the fire itself, being  extinguished by the weight of lust, and changed into flesh, they trode the impious path downward.

Digital Capture

Dionysian Love-Feasts.

I wrote in my essay Eros, Orpheus and On the Origin of the World about how the Gnostics supposedly engaged in excess, libertine behavior:

Orthodox opponents of Simon Magus, alleged that he and his Simonian followers practiced magic and free love, a coupling of vices which would recur in attacks against similar groups such as the Valentinians, the Carpocratians, the Barbelo-Gnostics, the Borborites, the Phibionites, the Manichaeans, etc. The Bacchic cults were also accused of engaging in their orgiastic love feasts as sensual and sexual exuberance saturated the cult of Dionysus.

The god of hard-ons, Priapus was said to be the progeny of Dionysus and Aphrodite and had extremely large genitals. He was a god associated with the promotion of agriculture, fertility and all animals associated with agricultural life. There are many statues and illustrations depicting this god with a huge boner as well. Sometimes, Priapus was conflated with Dionysus as well. And so many heretics were associated with Dionysian rapture and excess, which provided sacred transports to the ecstatic divine. In Medieval witch cults, Priapus was also associated with the goat demon Baphomet who is said to give female participants in sex orgies, great delight. Dionysus was also known as a bull-horned god, much like Baphomet. Mercurius-Priapus_MAN_Napoli_SN Tracy R. Twyman writes about the connection of Priapus and the Goat God of the Witches:

Despite the pain and humiliation, the witches loved being raped by the Goat God, and he always left them wanting more.

To quote form Wright again: Some of the witches examined spoke of the delight with which they attended the Sabbath. Jeanne Dibasson, a woman twenty-nine years old, said that the Sabbath was the true Paradise, where there was far more pleasure than can be expressed; that those who went there found the time so short by reason of the pleasure and enjoyment, that they never left it without marvelous regret, so that they looked forward with infinite impatience to the next meeting.

Clement of Alexandria, who, in his Stromateis 4.25.162.3 quoted some lines from Euripides’ Bacchae, putting them into Christ’s mouth (Euripides’ text in bold):

The Saviour Himself, then, plainly initiates us into the mysteries, according to the words of the tragedy: Seeing those who see, he also gives the orgies (ὄργια) And if you ask, These orgies (ὄργια), what is their nature? You will hear again: It is forbidden to mortals uninitiated in the Bacchic rites (ἀβακχεύτοισιν) to know.

The quotations in Clement’s passage come from the dialogue of Dionysus and Pentheus in the Bacchaewhere the captured god refuses to reveal the secrets of his rites. Thus, the passage invokes Dionysiac vocabulary: Bacchic ὄργια “orgies”, become an allusion to Christ’s teachings and ἀβάκχευτοι stand for those not yet acquainted with them. Clement of Alexandria, clearly has balls by using Christ to discuss Bacchic mystery rites! There is evidence that ancient Christianity itself functioned very much like a mystery school. Clement of Alexandria and his teacher, Pantaenus flourished in the second half of the second century and were quite Christocentric and affiliated with the world-wide Roman Church even though they were large reservoirs of secret pagan mystery school information and revelation (as testified above) not given out to the public but intimated in the writings of Clement.
Dionysus_Sarcophagus

In Neoplatonism, the Bacchic frenzy was a state of perfection of the human soul. A particularly good example of this can be seen in a passage from Julian the Apostate’s oration to the cynic Herakleios:

However let Dionysus himself decide about these things, though I do indeed implore him to inspire my mind and yours with his own sacred frenzy (ἐκβακχεῦσαι) for the true knowledge of the gods, so that we may not by remaining too long uninspired (ἀβάκχευ- τοι) by him have to suffer the fate of Pentheus … For he in whom the abundance of life has not been perfected by the essential nature of Dionysus … he I say who has not been perfected by means of the Bacchic and divine frenzy (βακχείας) for the god, runs the risk that his life may … come to naught. (Orations 7.222a–b).

In the Gospel of John, Chapter 2, the Marriage at Cana episode features lots of Dionysian symbolism where Jesus changes water to wine like a true Bacchic alchemist. The episode also features strong Hieros Gamos symbolism as well. The Jesus in Luke, also express similar sentiments.

And Jesus said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage; but those who are accounted worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage, for they cannot die anymore, because they are equal to angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.” Luke 20: 34-35.

Luke is speaking on two levels instead of just on a carnal level. Jesus in Luke is saying once you become “one” in the Kingdom you will not marry because you are already one in the “bridal chamber”. There is no need for marriage in the spiritual kingdom because the pnuematic element is married to all things God just as the knower and the known become indistinguishable, the two become one in the New Aeon. Many mistakenly often read the verse in the sense that if ones marries in this life or attain the carnal marriage, one will not become “one” in the Kingdom. Teachers like Marcion and Valentinus were distinguishing between two worlds or two Aeons. Thus, one is invisible and one visible, a cosmos and a Pleroma. It is they, the Gnostics who read the passage and the vast majority of scripture as spiritual allegory. A prominent Latin lawyer from Carthage, Tertullian in Chapter 29 of Against Marcion claimed that Marcionites forbade marriage in a carnal and physical way because of this final clause in Luke. Then he proclaims that is the work of the Anti-Christ.

…the state of matrimony does not require the hook and scythe of sanctity, as if it were evil; but as being ripe for its discharge, and in readiness for that sanctity which will in the long run bring it a plenteous crop by its reaping. For this leads me to remark of Marcion’s god, that in reproaching marriage as an evil and unchaste thing, he is really prejudicing the cause of that very sanctity which he seems to serve. For he destroys the material on which it subsists; if there is to be no marriage, there is no sanctity.

Despite all the rumors the Church Fathers were spreading, most early Christians and Gnostic (Sethian) groups actually rejected the idea of a carnal marriage and sexual intercourse, since they attributed the implantation of sexual desire to the chief ruler Yaldaboath in the Apocryphon of John.

“Now up to the present day, sexual intercourse continued due to the chief archon. And he planted sexual desire in her who belongs to Adam. And he produced through intercourse the copies of the bodies, and he inspired them with his counterfeit spirit.”

The sexual urge as such was something evil as being a sensual lust, but procreation was accounted far worse since by means of it the reassembly of the light particles was retarded. The condition of death was equated with procreation. Like I mentioned earlier, many Gnostic groups believed in metempsychosis, the Platonic form of reincarnation in which they sought to escape from and into the immortal realm. The Christians who followed Valentinus however viewed the carnal marriage for the sake of procreation as exalted and a sacred duty. One website remarks about the Valentinian view on sexuality:

On the basis of this metaphysical view, Valentinus and his followers valued both sex and marriage, at least for the pneumatics. A preserved fragment from the school of Valentinus gives the following interpretation of Jesus’ statement in the Gospel of John that the Christian’s life is in the world but is not from it (John. 17:116): “Whosoever is in the world and has not loved a woman so as to become one with her, is not out of the Truth, and will attain the Truth; but he who is from the world and unites with a woman, will not attain the Truth, because he made sex out of concupiscence alone.”

The Valentinians permitted intercourse only between men and women who were able to experience it as a mystery and a sacrament, namely, those who were pneumatics. They forbade it between those whom they called psychics (Jews and Catholics) or hylics (materialists), because these two lower classes knew nothing but libido. As the only early Christian on record who spoke lovingly about sexual intercourse and womanhood, Valentinus must have been a great lover.

The disregard for sexual impulse and libido while in support for celibacy and asceticism can be seen in the Untitled Mandaean Tractate we have a polemic against the “Pharisees”:

It is impossible to serve two masters, for the defilement of the Law is manifest, whilst purity pertains to the Light. The Law indeed commands one to take a spouse, to take a spouse, to take a wife, to increase and multiply like the waves of the sea. But passion, which is agreeable to souls, binds here below the souls of those who are begotten…For them it is impossible to pass by the Archon of Darkness until they have paid back the last farthing. The river of Jordan, this, to him, is the strength of the body—that is, the essence of pleasures; and the water of Jordan is the desire for carnal co-habitation.

This train of thought also appears even in Clement of Alexandria’s Stromata (Book 3), where he quotes Plato:

Again in the Phaedo he writes disparagingly of birth: “The secret teaching on this matter is that human beings are in a kind of prison.” And again, “Those who have a reputation for holy living that sets them apart from others are the people who are set free and liberated from these areas on earth as from a prison, and reach the pure home above.”

What does any of this have to do with Valentines you might ask? Well, all you have to do is look at the arch-heretic’s name of Valentinus and the connection there should be obvious. Valentinus’ Gospel of Truth tells us in strong romantic terms:

For this reason, God came and destroyed the division and he brought the hot Pleroma of love, so that the cold may not return, but the unity of the Perfect Thought prevail.

According to Irenaeus, the Gnostics supposedly concocted love-potions and forged charms. Love potions are also known today as Aphrodisiacs, named after Aphrodite the Greek goddess of love making. These practices were seen as survivals of Paganism. Yet, many of these practices were done by Jesus in the New Testament as well as the Jews themselves! Dionysiac terms already appear in the Greek poet, Nonnus of Panopolis’ (4th century possibly) description of the First Passover in the Paraphrase of the Gospel of St. John, which portray Judaic orgies:

Next he was near the God-built temple, and he marched through the temple precincts of Jerusalem, evoeing still more the Pasch. And the Bacchic feast solemnized the rattling secret rites of the lamb-eating priests. Many turned their faithless madness over to the tempests and had faith in the name of Christ. […] When the carousing Hours, mothers of piety, brought the revel of the holy feast.

Sex, love, orgies, asceticism, ecstatic divine knowledge, yes, the Gnostics had it all.

False Gods, Divine Charlatans and Hermetic Hustlers (Part 2)

Gemini-Twins

Daimonic Doubles Revisited

The concept of the “twin” or even “divine twin” is a common one that also appears in antiquity. This is a notion that a person has within a transcendent dimension, or a “heavenly counterpart”, or what in various modern magical “secret” orders call the “Holy Guardian Angel”. This being is analogous to the “daimonic”, “Eidolon” double of Greek and Platonic literature. The twin concept can also be seen in the dichotomy between Simon Magus and Paul, Simon Magus with Peter in the Clementine literature, as well as the struggle between Paul and Peter in the epistles. Even in the Old Testament, we have Cain who slays Abel which echo the Roman-Sabine legends of Romulus and Remus, Egyptian ones like Osiris and Set, the astrological sign of Gemini, as well as the Greek Castor and Pollux.

In a way, we can see this in Paul’s letters when he speaks of “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” in Galatians 2:20. This indicates that a spirit being called “Christ” had possessed Paul, after his conversion. The old ego of Paul was removed as a new, higher ego emerged, whose vital principle is Christ Himself. In the Acts of John 55, an unnamed elder approaches John and, after a brief discussion, states,

“Now I know that God dwells in you, O blessed John! For he who tempts you tempts the one who cannot be tempted.”

This is more pronounced in the Gospel of Thomas, where the apostle Judas Thomas, is said to have been the “twin” (Didymus) of Christ. Is it to be assumed that if any of Christ’s disciples were to truly grasp his teachings, who would be a more likely candidate than his own twin? Much of the Gospel of Thomas that would have invoked great displeasure from the Church Fathers, with lines like:

“I am the light that is over all things. I am all: from me all came forth, and to me all attained. Split a piece of wood; I am there. Lift up the stone, and you will find me there.”

Such statements indicate a sort of panspermatic type of panetheism, similiar to what is found in Manichaean texts of the countless, innumerable light sparks of the First Man who would battle against the primeval forces of Darkness. These light sparks were said to be interspersed throughout the wicked cosmos, much like how it is described in ancient Orphic texts with Zeus exacting revenge against the murderous Titans who tore and consumed the body and limbs of Dionysus. Both of these cosmological stories echo the ancient Egyptian myths of Osiris depicted as a divided god, murdered and torn apart by his brother Set, the god of storms and foreigners, only to be restored again by his consort Isis. In this instance, we find the primordial, violent origins of mankind and his conflicted nature: one being the divine Dionysus, and the infernal Titanic elements being his flesh.

“(The Lord), talking to me, said: I am thee, and thou art Me; wherever thou art, there I am. I am sown everywhere” (Gospel of Eve, Erbetta, p. 537 – Bibliogaphy).

The words “sown everywhere” of the latter quotation is very important, for it corresponds to a fundamental Valentinian teaching. Each soul’s substance comes from Sophia, but its living Center, the Spirit, is a fragment, as it were, of the very Life of the Son as Christ. This fragment is called either “Spark” or “Seed”.

“After the psychical body had been formed, a male Seed was placed by the Logos in the chosen sleeping soul. That Seed is an outflow of the Angelic Being, so that there would be no Lack (Hystérëma).” (ExTh 2: 1).

In any case, the rest of the Gospel of Thomas is just as enigmatic if not down right bizarre, even for Biblical standards (and there is certainly weirdness abound in the traditional canon).

Jesus said to them, “When you make the two into one, and when you make the inner like the outer and the outer like the inner, and the upper like the lower, and when you make male and female into a single one, so that the male will not be male nor the female be female, when you make eyes in place of an eye, a hand in place of a hand, a foot in place of a foot, an image in place of an image, then you will enter [the kingdom].”

Clearly, Jesus is invoking alchemical and Hermetic language in the context of an initiatory process of Gnosis. We also saw this language used in the Gospel of Philip as I quoted in my previous article. This process is clearly internal, without the need or aid of outside churches, priests, or prayers for forgiveness (not that the concept of repentance is non-existent in Gnostic literature as it most certainly is). Let us cross compare with the Emerald Tablet of Hermes, as legend has it was found or even written by the great magician and healer Apollonius of Tyana (we will get to him in another post):

It is true without lie, certain and most true. What is Below is like that which is Above. And that which is Above, like that which is Below, serve to bring the wonder of the Universe into existence. And as all things originate from One thing, from the Idea of One Mind: so do all created things originate from this One thing through adaptation. Its father is the Sun, its mother the Moon.

The Wind carried it in its belly, its nurse is the Earth. It is the father of all existing things in the entire Universe. Its inherent virtue is perfected when it is changed into Earth. Separate the Earth from the Fire, the Subtle from the Gross, repeatedly with great skillfulness. It rises from Earth to Heaven, and falls back down again to Earth, thereby containing within itself the powers of both the Above and the Below. Thus will you obtain the glory of the entire Universe. Every darkness will leave you. This is the greatest strength of all, because it conquers every subtle thing and penetrates every solid thing. In this way, was the universe created. From this proceeds wonders, of which herewith is an example. Therefore, I am called the three-times glorified Hermes, because I possess all three parts of true understanding of the whole Universe. What I have had to say about the operation of the Sun is completed.

What is amusing to see is how not only does Jesus and Hermes seem to be espousing the exact same doctrine but in that Christ is being somewhat more explicit in his use of Hermetic language than even old Hermes himself, the spiritual father of the alchemical and occult arts and sciences. What is quoted above reads very similar elsewhere in Thomas, such as “Perhaps people think that I have come to cast peace upon the world. They do not know that I have come to cast conflicts upon the earth: fire, sword, war,” and this one, “I have cast fire upon the world, and look, I’m guarding it until it blazes.” All of this sounds a lot like what Hermes describes as “Separate the Earth from the Fire, the Subtle from the Gross, repeatedly with great skillfulness”. Judas Thomas even goes as far to say that, “Whoever discovers the interpretation of these sayings will not taste death.” Strong words! The death that is being emphasized here is spiritual death i.e. ignorance or what the Gospel of Truth calls “oblivion”.

Another source for the divine twin is in Manichaean literature, wherein it is said that the prophet Mani was twice visited by his divine twin, heavenly companion or counterpart called Jesus the Light, echoing the divine double sentiments expressed on the Gospel of Thomas. In the Cologne Mani-Codex, Mani tells us this life-changing experience when he meets his divine double:

“…guarded by the might of the Light-angels and the exceedingly strong powers, who had a command from Jesus the Splendour for my safekeeping…They nourished me with visions and signs which they made known to me, slight and quite brief, as far as I was able. For somethings like a flash of lightening he came…”

This being who came to Mani like a “flash of lightening”, he regarded as a manifestation of his own higher identity and often referred to as his “Light-Self” and his al-Taum, “the Twin”. When Mani was 12 years old the Twin appeared to him in a vision and informed him that he was to be responsible for transmitting a great teaching to mankind. In order to do this, he would have to leave the Elchasaitans, a Jewish-Christian sect he was once a part of. All of these sources seem to carry down a tradition, or at least echo the secret doctrine of Christ taught to his inner circle of disciples. Henry Corbin, in The Man of Light in Iranian Sufism, writes about the “divine twin” in the context of Manichaean, Islamic and even Medieval Cathar concepts:

“…the heavenly Partner (qarin) or Twin (taw’am) is the dominant figure in the prophetology and soteriology of Manicheism. It is the angel who appears to Mani when he is twenty-four years old and announces that it is time for him to manifest himself and bid men hear his doctrine. “Greetings to you, Mani, from myself and from the lord who sent me to you.” The last words of the dying Mani alluded to this: “I contemplated my Double with my eyes of light.” Later, in their psalms, his community sing: “We bless your partner-Companion of light, Christ, the source of our good.”

Mani, like Thomas in those same Acts which include the Song of the Pearl, has Christos Angelos as his heavenly Twin, who informs him of his vocation, just as the prophet Mohammed was to receive the revelation from the Angel Gabriel (and the identification Christos-Gabriel is by no means unknown in gnosis.) Now, Christos Angelos is the same in relation to Mani (in eastern Manicheism the Virgin of light is substituted for Christos Angelos), as is the taw’am, the “Heavenly Twin,” in relation to each of the Elect respectively and individually.

It is the Form of light which the Elect receive when they enter the Manichean community through the act of solemn renunciation of the powers of this world. At the passing away of one of the Elect, a psalm is sung in praise of “thy heavenly Partner who faileth not.” In Catharism it is he who is called the Spiritus sanctus or angelicus of the particular soul, as carefully distinguished from the Spiritus principalis, the Holy Spirit referred to in invoking the three persons named in the Trinity.”

Much like Thomas being the twin of Jesus, Hermes was the Greek personification of Djehuti or Thoth; here we see an older order of things taking on a new raiment but underneath the same old meanings. Thoth was one of the earlier Egyptian gods, thought to be scribe to the gods, who kept a great library of scrolls, over which one of his wives, Seshat (the goddess of writing) was thought to be mistress. He was associated by the Egyptians with speech, literature, arts, learning. Even the very word “thought” comes from the name Thoth. He, too, was a measurer and recorder of time, as was Seshat, the female counterpart to Thoth. thoth_hermes_mercury1 Believed to be the author of the spells in the Book of the Dead, he was a helper (and punisher) of the deceased as they try to enter the underworld. In this role, his wife was Ma’at, the personification of order, who was weighed against the heart of the dead to see if they followed Ma’at during their life. It is interesting that the word “Ma’at” is the Egyptian equivalent to wisdom or philosophy. Thus “Philo” is related to feelings of love while “Sophia” is also wisdom thus we have “Philosophy” which actually means the “Study of the love of Ma’at”. The word “matrix” comes from Ma’at (the feminine principle, synonymous with Isis, the progenitor of life) Ra (the Egyptian sun god) X (Roman numeral ten) as well as “mother” and “womb”. To see through the Matrix is to be born again (using Johannine language), to be given a rebirth from darkness to light.

Also, Ma’at derives from Mu’at, which means “to direct, to steer, to give direction; to offer, or sacrifice.” Ma’at is basically the personification of self-initiation although, she herself has little personality and is ore of an abstract ideal. Thoth was also the one who made calculations concerning the heavens, the stars and the earth; the “reckoner of times and seasons”, the one who “measured out the heavens and planned the earth.” He was also the scribe to the company of the gods and was considered the voice of Ra, much like how Enoch-Metatron was considered to be the voice of “God”, or the second or “little” YHWH in the apocryphal Enochic literature. Metatron is also called “co-occupant of the Throne” and in 2 Enoch 44:5:

I have arranged the whole year. And from the year I calculated the months, and from the months I have ticked off the days, and from the day I have ticked off the hours. I, I have measured and noted the hours. And I have distinguished every seed on the earth, and every measure and every righteous scale. I have measured and recorded them.

Thoth was not just a scribe and friend to the gods, but central to order—Ma’at—both in Egypt and in the Duat. He is described in the texts as:

“Self-created, he to whom none hath given birth; the One; he who reckons in heaven, the counter of the stars; the enumerator and measurer of the earth [cosmic space] and all that is contained therein: the heart of Ra cometh forth in the form of the god Tehuti.”

Thoth, here, represents the heart and tongue of Ra, reason and the mental powers of the god and the utterer of speech. Thoth also resembles the Gnostic Aeons like Autogenes, in how they are “thought” of as “self-generated”. This is why Paul in Acts 12:14 is called Hermes, “because he was the chief speaker.” It has been suggested that Thoth is thus the equivalent of the Platonic Logos. Many are his epithets: his best known being “thrice greatest”—in later times becoming Hermes Trismegistus as mentioned by the Emerald Tablets of Hermes. 03_11_hermes_from_thasos_web The title “thrice great” or “three times blessed” recalls the concept of the Trinity, and even the doctrine of the three natures. The three natures doctrine was regularly espoused by Jesus in the Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13 and Paul in his epistles. Simon Magus is called the “Great Power of God” in Acts 8:9 and is said to be the author of the Great Announcement as quoted by Hippolytus in the Philosophumena or Refutation of All Heresies. Later Gnostic literature like The Three Steles of Seth and the Trimorphic Protennoia otherwise known as The Three Forms of Forethought use this title many times. Even in Hindu literature, does the three natures doctrine appears in the form of the “sattvas”, “rajas” and “tamas” as explained in the Bhagavad Gita.

Thoth is the inner spiritual recorder of the human constitution, who registers and records the karmic experiences and foretells the future destiny of the deceased, showing that each person is judged by himself– for Thoth here is the person’s own higher ego; as regards cosmic space, Thoth is not only the cosmic Logos, but its aspect as the intelligent creative urge inherent in that Intelligence. Since Thoth was the god of wisdom, and espoused knowledge along with wisdom, this moon deity was balanced. When one dispenses knowledge without the wisdom of speaking at appropriate times, they are considered a blabber mouth. Patience is born out from wisdom. With the application of wisdom and self control, we learn to not to be bedazzled or blinded by this new found light of knowledge and learn to discern what his helpful to our growth and what is merely entertaining. This is when consciousness begins to expand. With wisdom, one can seek to counsel with both the ignorant and the learned just as Jesus did with those considered as the “dregs” of society, such as prostitutes, the blind, the lame and even lepers in the Gospels.

Sitting at the base of the spine is the reptilian brain or what scientists today identify as the R-Complex. It is the part of us that deals fight or flight, fear, aggression and survival of the fittest. Thoth was associated with the bird Ibis; thus the wisdom of the Ibis swallows up the reptile and wisdom over powers aggression and knows when to strike. Thoth is considered the hand and voice of “God” and a counselor of the divinities. The word “Yod” from the Kabbalah (which means to receive) is the Hebrew word for “hand”. The Yod is also the letter for the number ten associated with the Jewish deity Yahweh or in the Chaldean and Gnostic variant IAO.

IAO, accordingly, is not prayed to as a personal god, but more often wielded as a quasi-supernatural force—through the pronunciation of the name itself in magical operations. These operations are described in great detail by the PGM or the Greek Magical Papyri. Hermetic magicians invoked IAO simply because he was supposed to be “god of this world”—the creative Demiurge (also according to the Gnostics!)—who was therefore highly potent in workings designed to cause changes in material  reality, in this world—the Kingdom of Matter. The meaning of IAO is incompatible, however, with the orthodox understanding of Yahweh, who were more interested in appeasing this god’s demands than becoming one. By invoking IAO, one could help ensure that things being willed become manifest in the objective universe as a matter of “natural course”because it is being channeled through the universal creative framework presented as IAO. IAO was also used as sort of a “password” to ascend through the planetary spheres of the cosmic rulers. IAO was also associated with benevolent Archons like Abraxas and Sabaoth. On example can be see in the PGM III. 75-80, where it states:

“I conjure you, the powerful and mighty angel of this animal in this place; rouse yourself for me, and perform the NN [deed] both on this very day and in every hour and day; rouse yourself I for me against my enemies, NN, and perform deed” (add the usual), “for I conjure you S~TH by IAO SABAOTH, and by the great god, IAEO” (formula), “AEBIOY~ ~YOIEEA CHABRAX PHNESKER PHIKO PHNYRO PHCHO BbCH / ABLANATHANALBA

The ancient Phoenicians depicted the number ten as the head of the Ibis. This is where we get the “Ten Commandments”, the laws of the Torah, supposedly written by Moses. The Law of Moses also has many strong parallels to that of Chapter 125 of the Book of the Dead, where it states the dead must face 42 judges and must answer 42 questions:

Hail to thee, great God, Lord of the Two Truths. I have come unto thee, my Lord, that thou mayest bring me to see thy beauty. I know thee, I know thy name, I know the names of the 42 Gods who are with thee in this broad hall of the Two Truths . . . Behold, I am come unto thee. I have brought thee truth; I have done away with sin for thee. I have not sinned against anyone. I have not mistreated people. I have not done evil instead of righteousness . . . I have not reviled the God. I have not laid violent hands on an orphan. I have not done what the God abominates . . . I have not killed; I have not turned anyone over to a killer. I have not caused anyone’s suffering . . . I have not copulated (illicitly); I have not been unchaste. I have not increased nor diminished the measure, I have not diminished the palm; I have not encroached upon the fields. I have not added to the balance weights; I have not tempered with the plumb bob of the balance. I have not taken milk from a child’s mouth; I have not driven small cattle from their herbage… I have not stopped (the flow of) water in its seasons; I have not built a dam against flowing water. I have not quenched a fire in its time . . . I have not kept cattle away from the God’s property. I have not blocked the God at his processions.

The voice of God as we found out earlier is known as Metatron in the 1 Enoch and Kabbalistic sources. Enoch-Metatron also have strong parallels with Hermes-Thoth as well. Most importantly, Thoth was a clerk of the Halls of Judgment and named a means for it called the Scales of Thoth, where the heart of the initiate is weighed against a feather “of Truth” to find how truly “heavy or light” it is. 10430375_658262840950256_3245340359425927887_n It is Thoth who equips the dead with efficacious means of protection against the dangers of the Beyond. When the dead has to enter into the presence of the Great Tribunal of the gods, Thoth leads him in, makes pleading for him with the Judges, weighs his heart in the scales against the feather of Ma’at, and, in the end, records the verdict. The details of all this ritual and ceremonial are familiar in the literature of the Book of the Dead: What Thoth once did for Osiris, the same must he do for every dead Egyptian since the Osirian ritual was the standard and guide for all funerary ritual in Egypt. The priests who took part in funerary celebrations regarded themselves as incorporation’s of the Osirian gods. The Book of the Dead make several allusions to mortals achieving immortality or divinity through theurgy and funerary magical ritual. Osiris, the divided and resurrected god of the underworld is also portrayed as one of these judges of the afterlife. esculap2

Asclepius Absconded

As we’ve seen in Part 1, Hermes was just as legendary as the Simon Magus of the Clementine writings and the apocryphal Acts. One very Hermetic text, Asclepius seems to anticipate this comparison:

And so, Asclepius, what a great miracle is man, a being worthy of reverence and honor. For he passes into the nature of a god as though he were himself divine; he is intimate with the order of daemons, knowing that he is sprung from the same origin; he despises that part of his nature which is human, for his hope is in the divinity of the other part.

Asclepius, as we know from previous articles was also often considered synonymous with Jesus in the Gospel of John and the Gospel of Nicodemus. Like Asclepius, Christ was the Son of God and of a mortal woman. The details surrounding Christ’s birth also resemble the birth saga of the divine Asclepius. Both figures walked the earth as mortals. And both gained a reputation of being healers. Furthermore, both healers were killed and resurrected to divine status. In the case of Asclepius, he was so successful in his healings and resurrections on people like Hippolytus that this caught the attention of gods like Zeus, who expressly forbidden the act of healing. Zeus struck Asclepius with a thunderbolt, killing him instantly. The Latin Church Father Tertulllian cites the lyric poet Pindar in Apology, Chapter 14, and comments that Asclepius,

“deservedly stricken with lightning for his greed in practicing wrongfully his art. A wicked deed it was of Jupiter–if he hurled the bolt–unnatural to his grandson, and exhibiting envious feeling to the Physician.”

Another version of his death holds that Hades became angry at Asclepius because he kept bringing back people from the dead. The lord of the Underworld believed that no more dead spirits would venture to his realm, and thus asked his brother Zeus to dispose of him. Because of this Apollo became so furious at Zeus’ actions that he killed Cyclops, the one eyed monster who made lightening for Zeus. Because of this Zeus banished Apollo out from Mount Olympus but later allowed Asclepius to enter back into the divine realm. And Asclepius was also resurrected and allowed back into the realm of the gods and all was well on Mount Olympus. In another variation of the story, Zeus was also alleged to have placed the body of Asclepius among the stars following his death, as the constellation called Ophiuchus, which translates to “The Serpent Holder.” Engraving by Sir James Thornhill This “Serpent Holder” sounds very close to what John 3:14 says about the “Son of Man”:

And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.

The speculations concerning the Christian Trinity were dangerously close to the speculations about Asclepius, who was third from Zeus, the second being Apollo. The syncretic god Serapis was also considered synonymous with Asclepius and was even depicted as a snake, with the head recognizable as Serapis. Serapis was also associated with Osiris, Isis and Harpocrates. Could these references of Jesus and Moses being connected to serpents also reflect that they may also be associated with the Serpent in Genesis and the Garden of Eden? Furthermore, could the Gnostic-Ophite and Manichaean speculations of the Serpent being sent by Sophia or even Jesus “the Splendor” be based in scripture and not just in speculative inverted fancy? There are paintings, sculptures and vase etchings that depict the eleventh labor penance for the demigod Hercules, who stands next to a tree with a serpent named Ladon, guarding the golden apples of immortality, in the Garden of Hesperidies, tended by maidens and nymphs. This recalls the stories of Genesis 3 and even Gilgamesh, both of which include the legendary search for immortality associated with a serpent. IMG_1546 This also has strong applications to the Caduceus, the twin snake staff of Hermes. This also relates to Agathosdaimon, the “good spirit of abundance” and Tyche Agathe, the first of which was associated with the Orphic Deity Phanes Protogenos. Agathosdaimon was also portrayed as a serpent in coins, monuments, figurines, reliefs, lamps, etc. hesperides-golden-apple-tree-of-life-greek Glykon was also depicted as a serpent with a human-like face. In the writings of the satirist Lucian (Alexander the False Prophet 24), we see the con-man Pseudo-Alexander, who claimed that the made up serpent god, Glykon was a reincarnation of Asclepius! This, of course, was a parody of Agathosdaimon, Asclepius as well as Serapis. Glykon could may also be a parody of the lion-headed serpent, Ialdabaoth.

By now he was even sending men abroad to create rumours in the different nations in regard to the oracle and to say that he made predictions, discovered fugitive slaves, detected thieves and robbers, caused treasures to be dug up, healed the sick, and in some cases had actually raised the dead.

glycon The emperor Julian the “Apostate” or Philosopher (Roman Emperor 361-363 and half-brother of Emperor Constantine the Great!), although raised a Christian, eventually saw Christianity as a betrayal of the Greco-Roman tradition and desired a return to traditional forms of worship, upon his ascent to power. Moreover, his attempts to compete with Jesus Christ, was somewhat frustrated. Julian attempted to use Helios, or Sol Invictus against Jesus of the Christians but it didn’t really pan out. Julian in the Heroic Deeds of Constantius, 59B, writes about the role of the Emperor:

For law is the child of justice, the sacred and truly divine adjunct of the most might god, and never will the man who is wise make light of it or set it at naught. But since all that he does will have justice in view, he will be eager to honor the good, and the vicious he will, like a good physician, make every effort to cure.

In this likening himself to a physician, he may not have intentionally recalled Asclepius, Julian was relatively unpopular, especially with the Christians. By employing a figure like Asclepius, a benevolent and universally loved healing figure of the pagans, Julian found a suitable rival to that of Jesus Christ. Celsus in Contra Celsus by Origen, provided a similar polemic against the Christians, like Julian, who believed the Christian religion destroyed the foundation of Greco-Roman tradition and culture. Julian like Celsus argued against the Christians and that of Christ’s miracles in which he regarded as inferior and the work of a low-class magician, no better than the phony charlatan religion ascribed to Glykon and his prophet, Alexander.

So Julian mocked the Christians for being duped into a false faith by a charlatan healer. His criticisms against the Christians are, interestingly enough, very similiar how the Church Fathers campaigned against the heretics being the Gnostics and other groups. And yet, Julian also had some very “Gnostic” views himself in his criticisms of Biblical theology. By calling Christians “Galileans”, he refused to acknowledge their name, and belittled Christianity as a mere localized, regional cult as stated in Against the Galileans, eventually recovered by the Christian Bishop, Cyril of Alexandria in the fifth-century in his refutation, Against Julian. Even after hundreds of years had passed from the time of Julian’s death, Cyril felt that it was necessary to refute the claims of Julian. In Against the Galileans, 375, 61, Julian writes about Asclepius as being superior over Christ and the doctrines of the Christians:

Asclepius, having made his visitation to earth from the sky, appeared at Epidaurus singly, in the shape of a man; but afterwards he multiplied himself, and by his visitations stretched out over the whole earth his saving right hand. He came to Pergamon, to Ionia, to Tarentum afterwards; and later he came to Rome. And he travelled to Cos and thence to Aegae. Next he is present everywhere on land and sea. He visits no one of us separately, and yet he raises up souls that are sinful and bodies that are sick.

Celsus makes a biting critique of the Christian doctrine of Jesus or the “Word being made flesh” and also strangely mirrors of Julian’s remarks of Asclepius “multiplying himself” to “raise up souls that are sinful and bodies that are sick”.

Again, if God, like Jupiter in the comedy, should, on awaking from a lengthened slumber, desire to rescue the human race from evil, why did he send this Spirit of which you speak into one corner of the earth? He ought to have breathed it alike into many bodies, and have sent them out into all the world. Now the comic poet, to cause laughter in the theatre, wrote that Jupiter, after awakening, despatched Mercury to the Athenians and Lacedaemonians; but do not you think that you have made the son of God more ridiculous in sending him to the Jews?

Celsus also describes the ancient Christian cult as a diabolic secret society made up of sorcerers!

It is by the names of certain demons, and by the use of incantations, that the Christians appear to be possessed of miraculous power. And it was by means of sorcery that Jesus was able to accomplish the wonders which he performed; and foreseeing that others would attain the same knowledge, and do the same things, making a boast of doing them by help of the power of God, he excludes such from his kingdom.

This is, of course, very similiar in how the Church Fathers like Ireneaus in Against Heresies, describe Gnostic heretics like Simon Magus, Marcus the Magician, and Carpocrates, who were all said to use love charms, familiar spirits, demons, and dream-senders. All were different classes of daemon. Hippolytus repeats the claims about Simon Magus in his 6th book in Refutation of All Heresies. Origen even accused the Persian Magi of using familiars as well. By the Middle Ages, witches were accused of summoning demons to aid them in their practice of and skillful progression in magic ritual. Cunning folk were said to summon fairies to work for them. Some witches’ familiar spirits were animals as in ancient Greek tales. For the most part, the magicians would try to convince the power of a god to work for them, while the daimon would be something the magician would absorb and own at will. A daemon was seen as a demigod–an independent and immortal being, but not as powerful as the great gods of the official national cults. In Roman terminology an entity similar to the daimon was the genius–a familiar spirit inherited along genetic lines in the family or gens.

The genius in Roman culture was the soul of a person that guided their actions and dictated what they were good at or destined to do. There were good demons and bad demons. The good was the “noble spirit” or agathosdaimon as mentioned earlier, and the bad was a “malevolent spirit” or kakodaimon. As far back as we can trace in Greek mythology, the daimon was a good force while the keres is the early form of the kakodaimon, which flew out of Pandora’s box. For Plato and Socrates, the daemons were the spirits of Atlantis.

In Hesiod’s Five Ages as found in Works and Days, he lists the ages of Gold, Silver, Bronze, Hero and Iron (our present age). In the Golden Age ruled over by Cronos or Saturn, good and beautiful humans and gods mingled together freely without a care in the world. When men died (although they did not age and maintained youthful appearances), their spirits became “guardians”. Plato in Cratylus 398a, says that these wise daimons are:

“…called holy spirits under the earth, noble, averters of evil, guardians of mortal men.”

In the Symposium, the wise priestess, Diotima tells Socrates that the daemon acts as an intermediary between gods and men, existing in an intermediate state or nature. This is like Hermes, the messenger of the gods, or Thoth. In Dionysian rituals, wine was drunk in propitiation ceremonies much like the Eucharist, to the genius of the dead. In the fictional best selling trilogy His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman, daemons are undoubtedly an element which make his story leap off the page and stick with its readers. In the story, everyone has a daemon. They are the person’s soul in animal form, a shape-shifting companion who eventually settles into one form to symbolically represent their personality.

In Germany, the doppelganger was said to be the harbinger of death and the double of a person. In ancient Egypt, the Ka or “Twin Soul” was much like the genius or double. The Jews saw this as idol worship and when the LXX was translated from Hebrew in to Greek, the word for idol was changed to demon. The Jews thought that men were being worshiped when in fact, men were revering the inner divinity that was in them but outside and separate from them. This same concept appears in the Gospels of Luke and Thomas when Jesus speaks of the kingdom of God being inside of us and in the Gospel of John and the Psalms of David when it says, “ye are gods”.

The Gospel stories and the accusations against Simon Magus bear many of the stamps of the Apology of Socrates in which Socrates is accused by Meletus of being a corrupter of the youth and teaching men to follow spirits and demigods rather than the Olympians. Jesus is made into a bastard son of God and Simon a corrupter of Justa’s adopted sons Aquila and Nicetas in the Clementine Homilies. Jesus like Simon is accused of being a Samaritan possessed by a daemon! Socrates tells Cratylus:

“And I say too, that every wise man who happens to be a good man is more than human (daimonion) both in life and death, and is rightly called a demon.” (Plato, Cratylus)

As time wore on, the demon took on negative connotations in 4th century Christianity as well as early Islam. The Satan or Jinn figure was a fiery demon that one made a bargain with in order to receive a certain desire or wish and gave up their soul (genius?) in the process. Plato speaks of the daemon of Socrates in the Symposium, Phaedrus, Cratylus, and the Apology of Socrates as a mostly positive figure that helped Socrates with mundane things. Hesiod and Homer spoke of the daimon as well. Even the books of Judges and Kings in the Bible have a familiar spirit of Samuel which is not a ghost either.

The agathosdaimon by the mid third century in the time of Origen and Tertullian, was now seen as the guardian angel and Simonians were accused of worshiping angels, which is the very thing they were actually against! These angels were associated with the stoicheia, or the elemental powers i.e. “four elements” that Paul warns against worshiping in Galations 4:3,9 and Colossians 2:8,20. In fact, Paul equated the Greek and Roman gods with these daimons, which he considered to be lesser and potentially malevolent beings of the lower realms of the cosmos (1 Corinthians 10:20). The first thing the converted Gentiles needed to do, according to Paul, was to stop worshiping these beings and stop participating in Greco-Roman sacrifice, which in itself was a hugely radical statement since sacrifice to the gods was such so intimately connected with everyday life!

Irenaeus associates these practices such as raising familiars with the art of exorcism, something Jesus is known to have done a lot of. The most famous of which was the raising of Lazarus of Bethany in the Gospel of John. In the Gospels there are about nine major exorcism incidents involving Jesus, and his disciples go on to perform the same miracles in Acts and in the Apocryphal Acts. The very act of exorcism was against Jewish custom and law. It was a Canaanite practice of the witch of Endor which Saul and the Israelites of the North also practiced.

Six of the nine exorcisms occur in both Mark and Luke, one only occurs in Matthew, one only in Luke, and one exclusively in Matthew and Mark. There are three resurrection events. One is found in the synoptics (Jairus’ daughter), one in Luke (man of Nain), and one in John 11:1-4 (Lazarus). Note that there are no exorcisms in John’s gospel oddly enough. The Jesus of the synoptics is much more of a miracle working magician as noted many times by the enemies of the Christians in Celsus and Julian. It seems to me that as time wore on magic (both theurgy and goetia) became more hated as women became more looked down upon in the church as testified by Tertullian’s views on women being the “gateway of the Devil”. After all, the greatest magic back then was that of child birth not that of walking on hot coals!

In any case, Asclepius’ life very much mirrors the story of Jesus. Asclepius was originally seen as a mortal. According to Homer, Asclepius was a man as well as a great physician. He dies, and appears again in dreams, and, according to some of his devotees, he is alive again! This is very similar in how the use of a “dream sender” working magic is in the Acts of the Apostles 18:9-11, when Jesus (“the Lord”) appears to Paul in his dream to instruct him. The same thing happens in the Gospel of Nicodemus when Jesus sends a dream to Pilate’s wife. And of course, Simon Magus and his followers were skilled in sending dreams to “whomever they wished”, as well. Asclepius becomes a god equal to Zeus, much like how Jesus ascends to heaven to be a god equal to that of his Heavenly Father. Justin Martyr takes notes of these parallels in 1 Apology 22:

“And in that we say that He made whole the lame, the paralytic, and those born blind, we seem to say what is very similar to the deeds said to have been done by Æsculapius.”

The similarities between the story of Ascelpius and the gospel about Jesus are thus undeniable. The promises of health and everlasting life to the Asclepian devotee is similar to the promise made by Jesus Christ in the Gospel of John. This rivalry between the Church Fathers like Justin Martyr and Origen and the pagan philosophers like Julian, Celsus and even Philostratus who wrote about the adventures of Apollonius, explains this tense relationship between the two sides, being Christianity and the ever fading paganism of Greco-Roman civilization.

Origen, in his very long winded criticism of Celsus’ refutation of Judaism and Christianity writes about all of these multiple, competing messiahs and saviors, in which Lucian was mocking in his own satirical writings with the figure of Alexander, the false prophet. Take your energy pills and vitamins because this is a dozy of a quote:

But, according to the Jew of Celsus, countless individuals will convict Jesus of falsehoods, alleging that those predictions which were spoken of him were intended of them. We are not aware, indeed, whether Celsus knew of any who, after coming into this world, and having desired to act as Jesus did, declared themselves to be also the sons of God, or the power of God. But since it is in the spirit of truth that we examine each passage, we shall mention that there was a certain Theudas among the Jews before the birth of Christ, who gave himself out as some great one, after whose death his deluded followers were completely dispersed. And after him, in the days of the census, when Jesus appears to have been born, one Judas, a Galilean, gathered around him many of the Jewish people, saying he was a wise man, and a teacher of certain new doctrines.

And when he also had paid the penalty of his rebellion, his doctrine was overturned, having taken hold of very few persons indeed, and these of the very humblest condition. And after the times of Jesus, Dositheus the Samaritan also wished to persuade the Samaritans that he was the Christ predicted by Moses; and he appears to have gained over some to his views. But it is not absurd, in quoting the extremely wise observation of that Gamaliel named in the book of Acts, to show how those persons above mentioned were strangers to the promise, being neither sons of God nor powers of God, whereas Christ Jesus was truly the Son of God. Now Gamaliel, in the passage referred to, said: If this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought (as also did the designs of those men already mentioned after their death); but if it be of God, you cannot overthrow this doctrine, lest haply you be found even to fight against God. There was also Simon the Samaritan magician, who wished to draw away certain by his magical arts. And on that occasion he was successful…

In the next post, we will explore some interesting parallels between the life of Apollonius and that of Paul and Simon Magus. Stay tuned!

False Gods, Divine Charlatans and Hermetic Hustlers (Part 1)

Hermetism and Gnosis have always been kissing cousins throughout the centuries. The same can be said with Hermetism’s parallels with the Christian Gospels, particularly the Fourth Gospel, which has many Gnostic themes running throughout. Furthermore, a cursory reading of patristic literature shows that the doctrine of rebirth expounded by Hermes is very similar to the teachings ascribed to Simon Magus, the first-century Gnostic heresiarch, magician, and antichrist-from whose legend, one must add, the later sixteenth century legend of Faustus borrowed some of its distinctive features, as well. Those teachings also neatly add up with Jesus’ sayings from the Gospel of John and the Gospel of Thomas.

Peter also seems to teach a very similar doctrine as described by 1 Peter 1:23, which leads “You have been born anew, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God.” If St. Peter and Simon Magus believed in the same things, is it not curious that they found so much to argue about in the apocryphal Acts of the apostles and in the Clementine writings, where they are represented as antagonists in a series of theological debates and magical contests? Paul in his epistles also taught a doctrine of rebirth as well and also mirrors greatly the life and acts of Apollonius, the great miracle worker and philosopher of the 1st century C.E. We will explore Paul’s relationship (as well as Jesus’s) with Apollonius at another time.

Simon, who was worshiped as a god, has many parallels with other figures like his supposed enemies Peter and Paul in patristic and Catholic writings. This greatly mirrors how other Gods, Messiahs and magicians were said to have one or even multiple alter-egos, like Enoch-Metatron with Hermes-Thoth, Jesus with Didymus Thomas and Asclepius, Mani and the Paraclete, as well as the Platonic philosophers and their ever-present, guiding Daimons. These are all references to the fact that in each person, accordingly, has a higher, divine self, corresponding to the famous axiom: “that which is Above, like that which is Below.”

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Hermetic Hocus Pocus

There seems to be many similarities between the Fourth Gospel (The Gospel of John), Hermes, Simon Magus, Paul and Peter as their doctrines on rebirth all seem to compliment each other, in one way or another. The Hermetic doctrine of rebirth is also evident in texts in the Corpus Hermeticum, as translated by Marsilio Ficino from Greek to Latin, which would eventually in many ways give birth the Renaissance. Hermetic texts synthesized ancient Egyptian wisdom along with esoteric Platonic concepts and melded them into one. The great German alchemist and occult thinker Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa tells us in De occulta philosophia III.iii in Opera 1:314, that rebirth is the, “the principle and complement and key of all magical operations.”

As it turns out, Agrippa was torn on how the doctrines of rebirth expounded by Hermes was very similar to how Simon Magus explained his teaching of rebirth, which we will see later on. Agrippa writes in a letter, Oratio in praelectione Hermetis Trismegisti (I515):

“[Hermes] instructs us moreover in the knowledge of oneself, the ascent of the intellect … the divine union [connubium]and sacrament of regeneration. The Pimander of Mercurius teaches us how we can obtain a firm and steady mind, through which, without deceit, we can both know and work marvels.”

Thus it was almost impossible for Agrippa to reject Simon’s demonic doctrines since they sound very close to that of his own Christian-Hermetic faith. Indeed, Agrippa was interested in the initiation rebirth or regeneration mysticism featured in the Corpus Hermeticum and Asclepius. A lot has been said on the subject of Agrippa’s intense interest in Hermetic philosophy in his works.

A cursory glance at the text Asclepius 21-29, found with the Nag Hammadi gives us some interesting insights into this doctrine of rebirth as a dialogue between Asclepius and Hermes:

“The restoration of the nature of the pious ones who are good will take place in a period of time that never had a beginning. For the will of God has no beginning, even as his nature, which is his will (has no beginning). For the nature of God is will. And his will is the good.”

“Trismegistus, is purpose, then, (the same as) will?”

“Yes, Asclepius, since will is (included) in counsel. For <he> (God) does not will what he has from deficiency. Since he is complete in every part, he wills what he (already) fully has. And he has every good. And what he wills, he wills. And he has the good that he wills. Therefore, he has everything. And God wills what he wills. And the good world is an image of the Good One.

In the Gospel of John 7:17, it says:

“If any man willeth to do his will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it is of God, or whether I speak from myself.”

A more obvious parallel can be seen in the Corpus Hermeticum, Tractate XIII, which speaks of a mystical experience dependent on a new birth, of a new creature when Tat says to Hermes:

“I know not, Thrice-greatest one, from what womb a man can be born again.”

This is strikingly similiar to how Nicodemus, the ruler of the Jews says to Jesus in John 3:4:

“How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”

And as the question is similar, so is the answer. Jesus replies that one must be born of water and the spirit, and Hermes replies to Tat in XIII.2:

“My son, the womb is spiritual wisdom, conceiving in silence,” and “The Will of God is the begetter.”

Both the CH and John utilizes a strong dualistic philosophy, characteristic of the ancient Hellenistic philosophical world. The Fourth Gospel speaks of two worlds, one being light and the other darkness–although much more ethical than it is ontological, like in the case of the Manichaeans.

In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. (John 1:4-5). 

In the Hermetic writings, it speaks of the fullness or “pleroma” of good and the “pleroma” of evil in XI. 4.

“And I, for my part, give thanks to God, that He hath cast it in my mind about the Gnosis of the Good, that it can never be It should be in the world. For that the world is “fullness” of the bad, but God of Good, and Good of God. … There is no Good that can be got from objects in the world. For all the things that fall beneath the eye are image-things and pictures as it were; while those that do not meet [the eye are the realities], especially the [essence] of the Beautiful and Good.”

The common philosophical background indicates that these two texts were dependent on each other, as well as inheriting their ideas from the popular ancient mystery schools of the Hellenistic era. Even the Logos doctrine is shared between the two writings, where Poimandres is called the “Man-Shepard” while Jesus in John 10:1-5, speaks of the “Shepard of the sheep”. Jesus’ last prayer is not for the world but for his own who are not of the world (John 17 9). In the same fashion the Hermetic writers believed that the hard path of true religion was for the few. In the Asclepius III. 22a, we read:

“There are not many religious men in the world, so few that they could be counted.”

These are just some of the few examples of their multiple similarities. The rebirth doctrine can also been, interestingly enough in Simon Magus, one of the great villains of history and legends of the early church. Simon was a contemporary of Jesus, who also claimed to be divine and also had magical powers and worked miracles- even regarded in Samaria as a messianic savior, being the “Taheb”. In the Clementine Recognitions II.7we are told of Simon that:

“By nation he is a Samaritan . . ; by profession a magician, yet exceedingly well trained in the Greek literature; desirous of glory, and boasting above all the human race, so that he wishes himself to be believed to be an exalted power, which is above God the Creator, and to be thought to be the Christ, and to be called the Standing One. And he uses this name as implying that he can never be dissolved, asserting that his flesh is so compacted by the power of his divinity, that it can endure to eternity.”

In Agrippa’s De occulta philosophica 44, he writes in an ambivalent yet repentant way about embracing Hermes’ magic and connects it with Simon’s!

“There is no work in the whole succession of the world so admirable, so excellent, so marvellous, that the human soul, embracing its image of divinity (which the magicians call the soul standing and not falling) cannot accomplish by its own virtue without any external assistance. The form, therefore, of all magical virtue is from man’s soul standing, and not falling.

Clearly, Agrippa is employing Simonian or Samaritan language here when he says that the soul is “standing, not falling”. The references of the “the magicians” are allusions to Hermes and Simon Magus. The Corpus Hermeticum insists on separating the essential self from the fleshy body as this is the precondition of illumination and the gaining and possession of the divine mind and the powers of God that induces the rebirth into the knowledge of God. Similarly, in the Recognitions II:58, Simon is made to say:

“It is truly very difficult for man to know [the supreme God], as long as he is in the flesh; for blacker than all darkness, and heavier than all clay, is this body with which the soul is surrounded.”

However, it is nonetheless possible for the mind to receive the knowledge and revelation. Simon also happens to deny bodily resurrection of the flesh (as posited by Daniel 12:2 and Isaiah 26:19), in the Clementine Homilies (2:XXII) along with some other heretical ideas, which seem to be representative of most Gnostic beliefs.

And he neither says that the God who created the world is the Supreme, nor does he believe that the dead will be raised. He rejects Jerusalem, and substitutes Mount Gerizzim for it. Instead of our Christ, he proclaims himself.

Instead, only the pneumatic self will rise free from the earthly bonds of the flesh. Hermes, the reborn one, also has an incorruptible body and his disciple, Tat is called “steadfast” in the CH. Simon is called the “Standing One” and is even said to have both an adamantine and smoke bodies in the Clementine literature, strangely enough. Could these be simply code words for Simon having a docetic body?

In Matthew 16:17-18 tells us that Jesus renamed Simon Barjona to Peter, “and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.” “Barjona” is actually Aramaic for “Son of John” with bar meaning “son of” and jona being another variation of John. In the Clementine literature, it is well known that Simon Magus was an ardent disciple of John the Baptist as was Jesus in Matthew. In ancient times, “son” often carried the same meaning of the term “disciple” of a religious cult! Could the fact that the Church that Simon Barjona was given to establish on a “Cephas” or “rock” by Jesus be a strangely veiled allusion to that Simon Magus was the actual persona that was renamed Peter? The title “Cephas” or Peter relates to the sturdy, steadfast state of grace of that being the Standing One of Eternity. Could this Simon be the one who was given the “keys of the kingdom of Heaven”? It could also account for the similarity in Peter’s doctrine, when he says:

“You have been born anew, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God.”

Paul in Romans 12:2, Galatians 4:19,29 and Ephesians 22-24, Colossians 3:9-10, also all lend themselves as being construed as speaking of spiritual rebirth:

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

“My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you…”

“But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.”

“22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.”

9 “Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds,10 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him.”

Agrippa does not make these connections at all in his writings but one can easily see Peter’s connection with Simon as indicated by Matthew. While this is admittedly speculative, it goes without saying that the Clementine literature makes such great lengths to separate the two figures by putting Simon Magus against Peter in a three day marathon of debate on scripture and religious doctrine representing the Hellenistic Christology of Paul and Marcion versus the Jewish Christianity of the early Apostolic Church. Interesting dilemma indeed!

Peter doesn’t just mean “rock”. “Peter” can effectively be seen as a borrowing of the title “Pater” from the Mithraic mysteries as a “chief” or “father” from all seven degrees of initiation as described by St. Jerome from Letters 107 ch. 2, (To Laeta):

“… did not your own kinsman Gracchus whose name betokens his patrician origin, when a few years back he held the prefecture of the City, overthrow, break in pieces, and shake to pieces the grotto of Mithras and all the dreadful images therein? Those I mean by which the worshippers were initiated as Raven, Bridegroom, Soldier, Lion, Perseus, Sun, Crab, and Father?”

In essence, Peter may have been confused as a “father god” of Mithras much like how Simon Magus was confused with the Roman-Sabine deity Semo Sancus by Justin Martyr, which has intimate connections with Mithras as well.

Agrippa’s conflation with the pious Hermes, the holy Scriptures, and that mighty heretic Simon Magus all pointed him in the same direction. How then could he tell whether he was moving towards transfiguration and a godlike knowledge and power, or whether he was destined, with Iannes and Mambres (Egyptian magicians, like Hermes), and with Simon Magus, to the torments of eternal fire? He indicates these doubts in the very last paragraph of the very last book in De occulta philosophia (Book III, Part 5) and quite naturally condemns other heretical magicians like the Gnostics, Valentinians and Ophites as facing the same fate of damnation as Simon Magus. However, if Agrippa had read Acts of the Apostles, he would see that Hermes was very much a part of the Apostles’ lore, as is the case with none other than Paul.

Berchem,_Nicolaes_Pietersz._-_Paul_and_Barnabas_at_Lystra_-_1650

Paul, Thrice Great

According to the Church Fathers like Justin Martyr, Irenaeus and Hippolytus, Simon was worshiped, associated in the image of both Zeus and Semo Sancus, who were both gods of contracts and legalities. Paul was also “worshiped” or confused as a god and a Greek one at that. In Acts 14:8-10, Paul heals a man who was crippled in the feet. When he heals the man he creates a sensation, and a crowd forms claiming that the gods have come in human form. Paul is called Hermes (or Mercurias in the Latin).

At Lystra there was a crippled man, lame from birth, who had never walked. He listened to Paul speaking, who looked intently at him, saw that he had the faith to be healed, 10 and called out in a loud voice, “Stand up straight on your feet.” He jumped up and began to walk about. 11 When the crowds saw what Paul had done, they cried out in Lycaonian, “The gods have come down to us in human form.”12 They called Barnabas “Zeus”and Paul “Hermes,” because he was the chief speaker.13 And the priest of Zeus, whose temple was at the entrance to the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, for he together with the people intended to offer sacrifice.

The healing of the crippled man’s feet, indicates a connection with the Greek Hermes’ winged feet. Hermes was the messenger of the Olympian gods, Paul is given this name because he was the chief spokesperson. Barnabas is called Zeus (or Jupiter), Zeus was the “father” of the gods. Why does the crowd make the connection between Paul and Hermes? There is a legend which may shed some light on this incident.

In Ovid’s Metamorphoses 8.626ff, there is a legend that Zeus and Hermes had visited the towns and villages of the region in human form, but did not receive any hospitality. When they came to the home of the poor and elderly Baucis and Philemon they were invited in, the couple gave them the last of their food and the best comfort they could. As Baucis prepared the meal, there was plenty of food and the wine kept “welling up of itself.”

The couple became greatly afraid because of the miracle, so the gods revealed themselves and told them that they were the only people to welcome them; they would be blessed while the whole region was destroyed. The couple asked only to be priests in the temple of Zeus and that they die at the same time, so that neither had to see the tomb of the other. This story also seems to foreshadow the Sodom and Gomorrah tale in Genesis 19 as well.

So what is the point of this story? According to Acts, this was the first time Paul has preached the gospel to an entirely pagan audience. The miracle generates a crowd which thinks Paul is Hermes. There are priests there as well as people about to honor Paul and Barnabas as pagan gods and must contextualize the gospel for a pagan world. But, those pagans weren’t going to let go of Paul and Barnabas without a proper sacrifice in their names!

Paul’s confusion with Hermes also mirrors later when Acts 18:24-25 mentions a Jew named Apollos, which is an obvious reference to Apollo, the sun god and son of Zeus!

[24] And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. [25] This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John.

So, here we have Paul being mistaken for a god, Simon mistaken for Semo Sancus, while the docetic Jesus of Paul is mistaken for a flesh and blood man. This is merely proof they are all the same individual. In Greek myth, mortals are mistaken for Gods because of their beautiful appearances. The Jesus of apocalyptic lore and messianic expectations can hardly be a man mistaken to be a God. As found in the Acts of John 228, John says to draw a likeness of what is dead is childish and imperfect. The Orthodox and Simon agreed that worshiping images was ignorant but yet the Orthodox allowed it to occur whereas Simon excommunicated followers for the offense of worshiping his consort Helena and himself as Minerva and Jupiter. John is more Arian than Gnostic or Orthodox as he is an iconoclast foreshadow those who denies the use of images altogether as entirely foolish.

Maybe Jesus’s warning in Matthew 6:17 of putting oil on your head and washing your face when fasting was not just to avoid being a hypocrite like the Pharisees but in actuality, to appear to be illumined as John in the Acts of John, so the commoners of Rome would see you as a God!

Stay tuned for Part 2, where things get really heavy, as the concept of the “divine twin” alive and well in ancient apocryphal and esoteric literature as well as the New Testament!