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The Secrets of Saturn

In recent memory, several conspiracy theories focused on the occult have noticed that the bad guys of the Satanic New World Order conspiracy worship Saturn. There’s of course, the vague assertion between Saturn and Satan. Many have talked about this–including the likes of David Icke, Jordan Maxwell, Tracy Twyman, among others. This makes sense, and yet there is so much more to be said.

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Saturn was usually pictured as an aged man holding a sickle, from which we undoubtedly get our representation of Death–the old man with a sickle. The Planet Saturn revolves around the sun in approximately 29 years, therefore the human lifespan would be two or three revolutions of this planet. This could be the reason Saturn is connected with Death and the Grim Reaper, which is the skeleton dressed in a black hood holding sickle that reaps human beings at their death. This same Roman deity is used to denote the end of year, and a newborn baby symbolizes the New Year, i.e. it denotes time. Another name for Saturn is Kronos, which also means time. Indeed, this is what Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8 might be getting at:

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

In Talismanic Magic: Saturn: The Occult Signification of His Square, Seal, and Sigils by Samuel Liddell MacGrethor Mathers, he sums up what Saturn rules over:

Saturn rules over the color Black; over Saturday in the week; over the period from the middle of December to the middle of February in the year over Capricorn and Aquarius in the Zodiac, which are called his houses, and has power in Libra, wherein he receives his Exaltation; over the dragon, the ass, the lapwing, the cuttlefish, the mole over the metal lead, the precious stone onyx, ; he is the under the power of the number three in arithmetic, and the geometrical figure of the equilateral triangle.

The actions of Saturn are associated with binding, chastening, crystallizing, hardening, hindering, limiting, magnetism, obstruction, retarding and suppression. If the forces of Saturn seek to constrain, break down and later harden, then it would follow that this process relates to the the descend and crystallization of spirit into matter, or consciousness into the organic material of the body. This is perhaps the Holy Grail secret of Saturn, in which we will explore later on. Saturn, so active in the cosmic changes, was regarded by all mankind as the supreme god. Seneca says that Epigenes, who studied astronomy among the Chaldeans:

“…estimates that the planet Saturn exerts the greatest influence upon all the movements of celestial bodies.” – Naturales Quaestiones VII. 4. 2.

An astrological treatise ascribed to Manetho (Manethonis Apotelesmaticorum libri sex) states that:

“In the beginning Kronos the Titan ruled the entire ether; his star the far-seeing gods called ‘the shining one.’”

The ancient Greek poets and historians like Ovid and Tacitus remembered the early tragedies enacted in the sky by the heavenly bodies asserted that Jupiter drove Saturn away from its place in the sky. Before Jupiter (Zeus) became the chief god, Saturn (Kronos) occupied the celestial throne. In all ancient religions the dominion passes from Saturn to Jupiter. In Greek mythology, Kronos is presented as the father and Zeus as his son who dethrones him. Kronos devours some of his children. After this act Zeus overpowers his father, puts him in chains in Tartarus, and drives him from his royal station in the sky.

In Saturn’s association with the Old Testament, we see in Numbers 22:21-39, we see Satan first appears as an angel that stops a guy named Balaam from going forward. Satan is an angel, which his donkey can see, but Balaam cannot. The donkey refuses to move. He beats the donkey in punishment until after the third time the donkey speaks to him. We read in Deuteronomy 23:4 that Balaam the son of Beor of Pathor of Mesopotamia was hired to curse Israel. We read in Numbers 22:4, 5 and 7, that Balak the son of Zippor, king of the Moabites, sent messengers to Balaam the son of Beor to Pethor and “the elders of Moab … departed with the rewards of divination in their hand.”

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Both Islam and Judaism have strong Saturnian elements in them. In Islam, its revealed book of the Quran has all sorts of rules and limitations for its adherents, especially for women. Women must dress up in black, Saturnine robes, cannot show their faces, cannot drive, are subject to “honor killings”, rapes, etc. Men aren’t allowed to drink alcohol, they have to pray to Mecca five times a day, etc. In Judaism, we have the Old Covenant in which Jehovah made with various patriarchs which gave us the Law and strict Kosher laws on what they can and cannot eat. They cannot work on the Shabbat (Saturn’s day) and must get circumcised. Both religions are very restrictive and binding. They are not inherently evil or sinister but excessively obstructive and controlling. Perhaps this is why the Apostle Paul describes the Jewish Law in terms of being a “curse” in his letters. The Hexagram or the six pointed star is the Seal of Solomon, or nowadays known as the Star of David. It’s also known as the talisman of Saturn in Kabbalistic sources. In modern strands of Satanism, including Thelema, black robes are often worn in magical rituals and initiation ceremonies. Indeed, there are various Satanic/Luciferian spells and rituals with strong Saturnian elements in them.

In the Testament of Solomon, King Solomon used the seal or ring of Sabaoth (given by Michael the Archangel) to command demons or djinn to do his bidding and even torture them. If the seal is imbued with Saturnian powers it makes sense it can be used to bind spirits in some manner. In many sources, the chief symbol of Saturn is the cube. This relates to the Kaaba stone of Islam as well as the Foundation Stone in Jewish creation myths, which in turn relates to the myths associated with the Holy Grail and the Philosopher’s Stone. The Nazi Otto Rahn supposedly claimed he had found the Holy Grail that once belonged to the Cathars. According to Tarotica, the cube’s edges also forms the Hexagon, associated with the Hexagram, being a stable symbol in Solomonic ritual magic as well as Israel’s Star of David. It reminds us all to well of Hellraiser’s puzzle-box, where the person who solves it, effectively summons Cenobites from Hell and drags the unfortunate soul down with them to be tortured with chains.

The cube is the “base” of the platonic solids, and when turned and viewed from the right angle, it’s edges form a Hexagon. This is where the idea of someone being “hexed” comes from. We can take hex to basically mean “bind” or “bound.” When one puts a “hex” on someone else, all they are really doing is putting them in a box. You may positively “hex” someone by wishing them health and abundance, but negative hexing is done through things like gossip where one defines another persons space as having only certain negative and obstructive qualities. One essentially builds this box of “reality” around the targeted individual, and celebrities are all too aware of this form of binding magick as certain trivialities of their personal lives become endlessly repeated and turned back in on themselves in cacophonous “chamber of secrets” style reporting that is spread as far and wide as possible. This meaningless white noise has served to obstruct and drown out the utter Holiness of the Saturn’s Cube, itself being the chamber of prayer and sacred immanence.

Mesopotamia was the very home of Babylonian mysteries and the birthplace of astrology. The name Balaam in Semitic language means “Conqueror of the People” and definitely links us with “Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord (Genesis 10:9).” We read in verse 8 that this Nimrod, the son of Cush, began to be a mighty one in the earth. He was the great grandson of Noah and “the beginning of his kingdom was Babel.” He built other cities like Ashur and Nineveh, which later became the capital of the Assyrian Empire. Nimrod is styled “the mighty hunter before the Lord,” or as Strong renders it, “against the Lord.” He shows that the Hebrew word paniym is more correctly translated “against” rather than “before”. Like many in Babylon, Nimrod had a tendency of changing:

“…the glory of the incorruptible God into an image liken to corruptible man, and to birds and fourfooted beasts and creeping things.” (Romans 1:23).

Nimrod was certainly “against” the Lord in all he planned and did. “The mighty hunter against the Lord” led multitudes away from the creator god and laid plans for a world-wide conspiracy against Yahweh, as the story goes. That was the reason behind the Babylonian Mystery cults. Many of the cults were dedicated to the worship of Saturn, as the House of Judah (i.e. the Jews) were dedicated to also worshiping in the Tabernacle of Saturn. Saturday is named after the star god Saturn. As it follows, Saturday is not only the Seventh Day of Creation. It is the day set aside to the glory and honor of Saturn/Nimrod. It was Nimrod who proclaimed himself to have resurrected and ascended to the planet “Saturn” in the Babylonian Mysteries. According to the ancients, planets were called wandering stars. And yet, there are many parallels with Yahweh and Saturn as well.

Matthew Henry’s Commentary states they were worshiping the planet Saturn and the Sacred Hebdomad.

You have had the images of your Moloch-your king (probably representing the sun, that sits king among the heavenly bodies), “and Chiun, or Remphan” (as Stephen calls it, Acts vii.43, after the LXX), which, it is supposed, represented Saturn, the highest of the seven planets. The worship of the sun, moon, and stars, was the most ancient, most general, and most plausible idolatry. They made to themselves the star of their God, some particular star which they took to be their god, or the name of which they gave to their god. This idolatry (Deut. iv. 19); and those that retain an affection for false gods cannot expect the favour of the true God.

The prophet Ezekiel in the Babylonian exile had a vision—the likeness of a man, but made of fire and amber who brought him to some darkened chamber where the ancients of the house of Israel with censers in their hands were worshiping idols portrayed upon the wall round about. Then the angel of the vision told him: “Thou shalt see greater abominations that they do”—and he brought the prophet to the door of the gate of the Lord’s house—”and, behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz.” Next he showed him also Jews in the inner court of the Lord’s house “with their back toward the temple of the Lord and their faces toward the east; and they worshiped the sun toward the east.” It is in this instance we find that despite Yahweh’s deep connections with other heathen gods, he is always seeking to usurp their local authority in favor of his own.

The traditional Orthodox explanation of the Genesis creation account in which God or “the gods” (the Elohim) creates man in “our image” implies the trinity–the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I’ve never bought that explanation, though. I think the earliest strands of Judaism were polytheistic, and the religion became more and more monotheistic as time progressed. The scholastic evidence suggest that the Pentateuch developed out of two separate Israelite groups: Yahwist and Elohist. They base that theory on the vocabulary used in the Pentateuch: certain portions refer to the Israelite deity as Yahweh, others Elohim. The two were eventually merged into one god, but there is evidence to suggest that Elohim represented an entire pantheon of Canaanite deities, and Yahweh was one of those gods. In that case, Judaism developed as a cult that began to worship Yahweh exclusively and gradually usurped competing regional cults. This is much like how Jupiter betrays his father Saturn/Chronos as well as as fellow Olympians.

For example, El, a Semitic word used by Jews for Yahweh, was also used by Canaanites as another name for Baal. It’s a clear case for the Israelite adoption of names found in preexisting religions. Baal was merely one of these Elohim, which also represented Saturn. The bull was also symbolic of  El and his son Baal Hadad and both wore bull horns on their headdress. In other words, the horned god archetype is deeply connected to Saturn and the cosmocrators. El is also the Demiurge and the Freemasonic “Great Architect of the Universe” that is obviously a reference to Ialdabaoth (the “child of chaos”) of the Ophites and the Apocryphon of John. In a way, Ialdabaoth is a mixture of Baal, Kronos, and Saturn. El is simply another name for Saturn.

This is made evident in Eusebius of Caesarea’s Praeparatio Evangelica (Preparation for the Gospel) (X), as he quotes Sanchuniathon’s History of the Jews:

And soon after he says:

‘It was a custom of the ancients in great crises of danger for the rulers of a city or nation, in order to avert the common ruin, to give up the most beloved of their children for sacrifice as a ransom to the avenging daemons; and those who were thus given up were sacrificed with mystic rites. Kronos then, whom the Phoenicians call Elus, who was king of the country and subsequently, after his decease, was deified as the star Saturn…

Incidentally, the ach-heretic Christian, Marcion’s primary goal was to distance Christianity from other religions (especially Judaism), that is, to distinguish the Christian god from all other gods before it, so that Christianity was something entirely new and unique. That was the way Christianity could be entirely independent from competing religions while also coexisting with them, i.e., pluralism. It’s a shame that none of his writings have survived, so we can only glean whatever information is retained by anti-Marcionite apologists like Tertullian.

I have found the use of the term “Elohim” deliberately obscured as Judaism moved from henotheism to monotheism. Despite Michael S. Heiser’s contentions, the Elohim was a council of gods (Elohin in Ugarit). These were the sky gods as opposed to the Shaddim/n, who were the earth gods. In other words, they are demons. The Shaddim is related to El Shaddai. Judaic (indeed all ancient near eastern) beliefs are a jumble of different ideas with some of them being discarded as time goes on and others mutating and merging with other ideas.

If El was a sky god, then how could he be thought of as an earth god? My suspicion is that this is tied into the concept of the “throne of God”. There has always been an uneasy tension between the idea of the celestial gods (stars) living in the sky and guiding human existence and the idea of the gods living on a solid surface (such as a mountain, the Axis Mundi). The central idea of a Mountain of God (also found in the Book of Enoch where the Garden of Eden is found on the same mountain) was mostly discarded in favor for an alternate universe called Heaven. To the Ancient Jews, however, this dichotomy of a celestial heavens and mountain of God constantly played back and forth (we see this very strongly in the Ezekiel Throne / Chariot description). Thus, El was the sky god that ruled the heavens but he also ruled from the world mountain. This made him both a sky god and an earth god.

I favor the notion (as do some other scholars) that the Moloch that the later prophets railed against so vociferously, was, originally, Melech (“King”) which was the nice way of speaking of El when he was in a bad mood. He was the older, deeper god whom one appeased in the background to appeasing the reigning sky god, YHWH (also known to the Greeks and Romans as i.e. Zeus / Jupiter). In the case of El Shaddai, I suspect that the title referred to El on the Throne of God without any particular chthonic implications but that the constant associations with the Shaddim kept the title from being more popular in later days. Christians, today, have no problem with “God, the Rock” as translation has removed any relationship between Shaddai (“rock”) and shaddim (eventually mutated to “Satans”).

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Saturn is also a staple in ritual magic and alchemy. In Zosimos’ Visions, the author indicates that the main purpose of the transformation process featured in his dream vision is the spiritualization of the sacrificing priest to become spirit or pneuma. We are told that he would “change the bodies into blood, make the eyes to see and the dead to rise again.” Later in the visions, he appears in glorified form, shining like the midday sun, much like the risen Christ. Throughout the text, it is clear that the sacrificer and sacrificed are one and the same. It goes back too the old alchemical idea of what redeems and that which is to be redeemed are also one and the same. Let us revisit Zosimos’s Visions, quickly.

The composition of the waters, and the movement, and the growth, and the removal and restitution of bodily nature, and the splitting off of the spirit from the body, and the fixation of the spirit on the body are not operations with natures alien one from the other, but, like the hard bodies of metals and the moist fluids of plants, are One Thing, of One Nature, acting upon itself. And in this system, of one kind but many colours, is preserved a research of all things, multiple and various, subject to lunar influence and measure of time, which regulates the cessation and growth by which the One Nature transforms itself.

And saying these things, I slept, and I saw a certain sacrificing priest standing before me and over and altar which had the form of a bowl. And that altar had fifteen steps going up to it.

Then the priest stood up and I heard from above a voice say to me, “I have completed the descent of the fifteen steps and the ascent of the steps of light. And it is the sacrificing priest who renews me, casting off the body’s coarseness, and, consecrated by necessity, I have become a spirit.”

And when I had heard the voice of him who stood in the altar formed like a bowl, I questioned him, desiring to understand who he was.

He answered me in a weak voice saying, “I am Ion, Priest of the Adytum, and I have borne an intolerable force. For someone came at me headlong in the morning and dismembered me with a sword and tore me apart, according to the rigor of harmony. And, having cut my head off with the sword, he mashed my flesh with my bones and burned them in the fire of the treatment, until, my body transformed, I should learn to become a spirit. And I sustained the same intolerable force.”

And even as he said these things to me and I forced him to speak, it was as if his eyes turned to blood and he vomited up all his flesh. And I saw him as a mutilated image of a little man and he was tearing at his flesh and falling away.

A little later in this vision account, Zosimos, speaks to what appears to be a spirit of metal or a planetary demon:

As he was saying these things to me and the boiling increased and the people wailed, I saw a copper man holding a lead tablet in his hand. He spoke aloud, looking at the tablet, “I counsel all those in mortification to become calm and that each take in his hand a lead tablet and write with his own hand and that each bear his eyes upward and open his mouth until his grapes be grown.”

Saturn is also associated with the alchemical element of lead and in gnosis is a planetary demon. The parallel between the Hebrew god and Saturn is of considerable importance as  in regards to the alchemical idea of the transformation of the God of the Old Testament into the God of the New. The alchemists of old were naturally attracted to the great significance of Saturn, for besides being the outermost planet, the supreme archon and demiurge Ialdabaoth, he was also the spiritus niger who lies captive in the darkness of matter, the deity or that part of the deity that is swallowed up in his own creation. It is this dark god who steals a portion of his mother Sophia’s divine power in which Sophia seeks to recover through Ialdabaoth’s/Jehovah’s creations of Adam and Eve as we see in Irenaeus’ account of the Ophite myth in Against Heresies (1.30.6):

But as he could merely writhe along the ground, they carried him to their father; Sophia so labouring in this matter, that she might empty him (Ialdabaoth) of the light with which he had been sprinkled, so that he might no longer, though still powerful, be able to lift up himself against the powers above. They declare, then, that by breathing into man the spirit of life, he was secretly emptied of his power; that hence man became a possessor of nous (intelligence) and enthymesis (thought); and they affirm that these are the faculties which partake in salvation. He [they further assert] at once gave thanks to the first Anthropos (man), forsaking those who had created him.

It is this god that the initiate seeking to return to the source in the Pleroma must overcome by “giving up” different aspects of himself to each astral gatekeeper. This is explained very well in the Hermetica. The Freemason Albert Pike in Morals & Dogma summarizes the Celsus’ description of the Mithriac Mysteries of ascension.

We learn this from Celsus, in Origen; who says that the symbolical image of this passage among the stars, used in the Mithriac Mysteries, was a ladder, reaching from earth to Heaven, divided into seven steps or stages, to each of which was a gate, and at the summit an eighth, that of the fixed stars. The first gate, says Celsus, was that of Saturn, and of lead, by the heavy nature whereof his dull slow progress was symbolized. The second, of tin, was that of Venus, symbolizing her soft splendor and easy flexibility. The third, of brass, was that of Jupiter, emblem of his solidity and dry nature. The fourth, of iron, was that of Mercury, expressing his indefatigable activity and sagacity. The ,fifth, of copper, was that of Mars, expressive of his inequalities and variable nature. The sixth, of silver, was that of the Moon: and the seventh, of gold, that of the Sun. This order is not the real order ,of these Planet’s but a mysterious one, like that of the days of the Week consecrated to them, commencing with Saturday, and retrograding to Sunday. It was dictated, Celsus says, by certain harmonic relations, those of the fourth.

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Perhaps in the myth of St. George slaying the dragon lies an old alchemical idea of the crucified serpent or the tail-eating dragon, Ouroboros, where the poisonous element of matter or Saturnian dross is destroyed on the alchemical cross to reveal and create the elixir of Mercury (symbolizing spirit). We already saw that the Sethians and Manichaeans viewed the serpent as representing the Logos or Jesus, which relates to Jesus himself identifying with the bronze serpent of Moses (John 3:14). This identification troubles many fundamentalist Christians, but is real, nonetheless. If this line of study is pursued, it leads to a great many “troubling” ideas and correspondences. If pursued, it will lead to many (unpopular) enlightening principles. Just as the alchemical serpent is crucified, Jesus became sin on the Cross for mankind, taking our punishment upon Him and shedding His blood on the cross in our place, as a ransom for many and steals souls from Hell when he descends there. This is similar to the idea of Prometheus stealing fire from Mount Olympus or Hari Krishna stealing souls from Yama or Indra, the god of death and the underworld. And like Jesus, Mercurius (the spirit behind the planet Mercury) or Hermes was a god of revelation, who discloses the secret of the art to the adepts.

The last part of Zosimos’ Visions (quoted above) recalls the saying of St. John Chrysostom’s saying that in the Eucharist, Christ drinks his own blood and perhaps eats his own flesh. It also reminds us of the orgiastic meals of the cult of Dionysus, where animals were sacrificed, torn into pieces and eaten. They represent Dionysus Zagreus who was also torn into pieces by the Titans (including their leader Chronos/Saturn). The composition of the waters in which the spirit splits off from the body is a clear reference to the heavenly baptism of John the Baptist, where the sins of the repentant are washed away in the spiritual waters of grace and truth (the Holy Spirit/comforter) flowing from Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.

Speaking of John the Baptist, on January 6, the date is famous for the instance when Jesus was baptized by John celebrated on Epiphany. This date falls under Capricorn, the goat fish or Aegipan. According to Zlatko Pletze in Fate, Providence and Astrology in Gnosticism (1): The Apocryphon of John, he connects Capricorn with Saturn and Adoni as well as Sabaoth. He’s referencing the archons and authorities from the Apocryphon of John and the Zodiac (obviously). According to John 19:34, the stabbing or piercing of holy lance or “spear of destiny” into Jesus’ side by the Roman Centurion named in extra-Biblical tradition (the Gospel of Nicodemus) as Caius Cassius Longinus, resulted in the pouring of blood and water. This reminds us of Jesus’ saying in Matthew 10:34:

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”

Killing with the sword is a recurring theme in alchemy. The “philosophical egg” is divided with the sword, and with it the “King is transfixed” and the dragon or “corpus” is mutilated. The alchemical sword, like the cross brings about the separation of the elements (flesh and spirit), so that a new more perfect body can be processed. It is this sword that “kills and vivifies,” and dipped and anointed with the waters of life. Mercurius is the giver of life as well as the destroyer of the old form. It is the sword that comes of the mouth of the Son of Man in Revelation of St. John, and according to Hebrews 4:12, the Logos, the Word of God, and hence Christ himself is that sword.

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

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Christ is the mediator and savior, the solver and separator, who is a sword, for he is the “penetrating spirit” “more piercing than a two-edged sword”. And so, the spirit of Christ pierces the veil that covers over the blinded soul, in which the believer is said to cross over from the Saturnian/Satanic hyper-cube of time, space and flesh (symbolized as the old man in Pauline literature) and into the realm of spirit, being the Kingdom of God (the new man in which the fleshy deeds of the old man are mortified). The divisive and separate function of the sword in alchemy is prefigured in the flaming sword of the angel or cherub that separated Adam and Eve from paradise. Separation by a sword is a theme that can be found in the Ophite diagram: the earthly cosmos is surrounded by a ring of fire which at the same time encloses paradise. But paradise and the ring of fire are separated by the “flaming sword.” An important interpretation of the cherub’s flaming sword is given by Simon Magus as reported by Hippolytus in Refutation of All Heresies (VI.12):

This, he says, is the flaming sword, which turned to guard the way of the tree of life. For the blood is converted into seed and milk, and this power becomes mother and father— father of those things that are in process of generation, and the augmentation of those things that are being nourished; (and this power is) without further want, (and) self-sufficient. And, he says, the tree of life is guarded, as we have stated, by the brandished flaming sword.

For Simon, the sword represents the fiery force of generation which turns and spurns the spirit from escaping out of the realm of matter and into the Simonian fiery tree of life, which represents the aeons and the Godhead. This teaching prefigures the Kabbalah by several hundred years, at least. And yet the flaming sword represents the very fiery force that “turns” something small and into something great. It is the means of transformation of the vital spirit in man into the Divine or the true arcane substance of alchemy symbolized as seed and milk in Simon Magus’s doctrine.

If, however, these be converted into seed and milk, the principle that resides in these potentially, and is in possession of a proper position, in which is evolved a principle of souls, (such a principle,) beginning, as it were, from a very small spark, will be altogether magnified, and will increase and become a power indefinite (and) unalterable, (equal and similar) to an unalterable age, which no longer passes into the indefinite age.

How does any of this relate to Saturn? In the quest for the Holy Grail, the answer is revealed. Tracy Twyman in Regnum in Potentia, Part 1: Saturn’s Kingdom Transformed Into the Golden Age, writes about a particular Holy Grail romance:

In Wolfram von Eschenbach’s Parzival, the knight Gawain is sent on a mission by a hermit who looks young, although he is 75 years old. The mission is to find the sword that John the Baptist was beheaded with, which he will need to enter the lands of the Fisher King. The sword belongs to a pagan king named Gurguran, who promises Gawain that he can have it if he will rescue the king’s son from a giant who has kidnapped him. Gawain kills the giant, but the boy is strangled to death in the process. Then, in a strange rite, Gurguran chops his sons body into pieces and distributes them to his subjects to eat. Gawain then receives the sword and is led to the Grail banquet at the Fisher King’s court, where 12 knights who are hundreds of years old (reminiscent of the 12 Olympian gods) sit around a banquet hall, all looking youthful except for their grey hair.

Indeed, we see Wolfram revel in providing us a number of deep mystical truths in his poem. At one point of the story, in Parzival, Wolfram tells us that the cycles of Saturn governs the intensity of Grail King Amfortas’s perpetual wound.

Then answered the host, * Far sorer than before was the monarch’s pain, In this wise did he learn the tidings that Saturn drew near again, And the star with a sharp frost cometh, and it helpeth no whit to lay.  The spear on the sore as aforetime, tn the wound must it lunge alway. When that star standeth high in heaven the wound shall its coming know Afore, tho’ the earth shall heed not, nor token of frost shall show. But the cold it came, and the snow-flakes fell thick in the following night…

To be “saturnine” means to be slow, gloomy, and depressed. The Gospel of Truth calls the universe of matter in terms of being a nightmare filled with violence:

Since it was terror and disturbance and instability and doubt and division, there were many illusions at work by means of these, and (many) empty fictions, as if they were sunk in sleep, and found themselves in disturbing dreams. Either (there is) a place to which they are fleeing, or without strength they come (from) having chased after others, or they are involved in striking blows, or they are receiving blows themselves, or they have fallen from high places, or they take off into the air, though they do not even have wings. Again, sometimes (it is as) if people were murdering them, though there is no one even pursuing them, or they themselves are killing their neighbors, for they have been stained with their blood.

This is not so dissimilar to how Plutarch describes the perpetual dreams of Saturn. Parzival at one point in his story sits next to his host, the Grail King Anfortas (possibly symbolizing the crucified Christ), amidst the Grail, the holiest of holies, surrounded by the celestial hierarchies. He has witnessed the bleeding spear and the suffering it has caused the King and is court. He has seen the mysterious destroying power of Saturn and the sickness, old age and death in its wake. Yet he has not connected them with the glorious regenerative power of the Grail that overcame the Saturnine decay. Later, Parzival is forced to demonstrate his fitness for Grail membership. A squire steps forward and hands Anfortas a sword made of ruby. The King presents Parzival with the sword saying:

“This sword often came to my aid in the greatest need, that is before God’s will I receive so sore a wound. Now I give it to you. May it bring to you what you can never acquire by simple gazing at what is taking place here.”

The sword is unique, yet Parzival could not recognize this fact. If he had but known, he would have seen the full harmony of wisdom, love and strength from this weapon (representing the Logos). Parzival should have seen how the pitiful suffering of the king and realize that the power the King once had in his sword now belongs to him. As Parzival reveals, the path of initiation is long and weary, full of doubt, sorrow, pain and condemnation. It is the “narrow gate” that Jesus in Matthew and Luke once advocated and commanded his followers to walk through, out of Saturn’s/Satan’s Kingdom, to be saved. It is the second journey towards the Grail Castle that will teach him the necessary wisdom that he must not only ask but also provide the answer himself. He will be armed with the wisdom that he will translate thus:

” I myself am guilty for the suffering of humanity; only if I reach the highest goal, and then not for myself, but in service of the word, can I bring forth healing.”

It is the Grail King who understands how the great cosmic forces operating in the macrocosm rule in the microcosm of the human body. This is the secret of the Hermetical axiom: “As above, so below.” As we’ve seen, Saturn’s power primarily works in obstructing and inhibiting, just as how the control system mankind is currently in bondage to, behaves. The controllers (in their various guises) prevent their slaves from seeing certain truths, from forcing us to live their way of reality. Perhaps this is why the term “royalty” is tied with the word “reality.” The excess Saturnian energy may be why so many people are unwilling to change their minds even when confronted by evidence.

The conspiracy author David Icke has often said that consciousness is like a ball under water. It rises to the surface by itself unless there is someone pushing it down. Perhaps this is why Saturn is so important to the controllers and “secret societies”. However, they too, like everyone else, are prisoners in this continuum of Saturn and with various machinations are seeking to break out from. Here are a few more videos worthy of your consideration.

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The Faustian Grail

Since the early 16th century, a tragic and sinister story has weaved its way through western culture and even today in pop culture and science—the legend of a man who makes a pact with the devil and then has to come to terms with the contract he signed. It’s the legend of Johannes Faustus. Faustus makes a deal with the devil to gain more intellectual enlightenment even though he is at the top of his intellectual studies in society’s standards but for some reason, it did not satisfy him. The main logistics of the deal was that the devil would serve Faust while he is alive to help him find this enlightenment and in return Faust would have to give up his soul and be the devil’s servant in hell.

And yet, both versions of Faustus present us with a highly unconventional representation of both the sinner/sorcerer (Faust) and the devil in the figure of Mephistopheles. He is a malevolent force, yet brings about good despite himself. Aware of this, he still performs his duty in Faust’s corruption, and in his eventual salvation (or damnation in later accounts). This devil-as-savior motif is perplexing from the standpoint of traditional Christian doctrine, though it did correspond with contemporary but radical ideas expressed in the writings of William Blake (1757-1827) and Lord Byron (1788-1824). Unsurprisingly, Faustus has a lot of crypto-gnostic underpinnings.

Yet to truly understand the role that Mephistopheles plays in Faust we must look deeper still, into the shadowy light of the alchemical and Gnostic sources that were so influential in the crafting of these legends. Mephistopheles is inextricably connected to the Ouroboros serpent, the alchemical motif of a snake devouring its own tail. We find this in Cleopatra the Alchemist’s Chrysopoeia as well as the Ophite cabalistic-like diagram described by Celsus and Origen. This interpretation not only helps us to understand Mephistopheles’ individual role in the drama of Faust but can shed new light on the entire structure of the Faustian narrative.

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But before we explore Mephistopheles, we must examine Faustus himself. Since Faustus has already exhausted the known sciences, he wishes to obtain, with the assistance of Mephistopheles, a complete knowledge of the universe. It is in the black arts that he finds what he believes will satisfy his search for the ultimate gnosis, as well as the power that he believes will accompany it:

These metaphysics of magicians And necromantic books are heavenly; Lines, circles, letters, characters- Ay, these are those that Faustus most desires. O, what a world of profit and delight, Of power, of honor, and omnipotence Is promised to the studious artisan!

Faustus was apparently a historical character who lived in Germany during the early 16th century. A student of divinity, Faustus claimed to have extraordinary powers. In his imagination, he was a necromancer (someone who communicates with the dead) and a practitioner of black magic and sorcery. Although this version of Faustus was nothing more than a braggart and a charlatan, his legend flourished.

The earliest collection of the tales of Faust came in 1587 in an anonymous work titled the Historie of the Damnable Life and Deserved Death of Dr. John Faustus. The legend was soon picked up by English playwright Christopher Marlowe, a contemporary of Shakespeare and Queen Elizabeth. According to rumor, Marlowe was an agent of Her Majesty’s Secret Service—much like John Dee, the pious and famous Renassiance man who would engage in various occult operations in channeling “angels”. Marlowe’s version of Faust’s story, the play The Tragicall History of D. Faustus (1604), soon became the model for the many versions of Faust’s story that followed. It is the story of a man who trades his soul to the devil in exchange for a period of ultimate knowledge and power.

The original story of Johannes Faust, was first translated into English by an unknown author in 1592. As it is known that the author of Faustus, Christopher Marlowe studied with English Catholics at Rheims (possibly spying on them), as references are to the Latin Vulgate (also called St. Jerome, after its original translator in the fifth century) and the Catholic Douay-Rheims version. It is also possible that he used the Protestant Geneva Bible, but all the references he makes are to Jerome.

Marlowe’s Faust is not simply a charlatan. He is a tragic hero, a superman, the archetype of the Renaissance man. Where did Marlowe get the idea to depict Faust as a powerful sorcerer whose willingness to do anything for knowledge and power leads him to the dark side? Perhaps from the apocryphal legends of Simon Magus, the first-century magician who challenged God (like Lucifer) and clashed with Peter in magical feats of sorcery. This connection may derive from Simon’s use of the Latin sir-name Faustus, meaning the “favored one,” meaning that he was the “chosen one” to continue John the Baptist’s tradition, according to the Clementine’s.

There were many sources available to Marlowe concerning the life of Simon Magus. Probably the most important was The Golden Legend (Legende Aurea), a popular collection of tales of the saints by the 13th-century archbishop of Genoa, Jacobus de Voragine.

Simon, of course, is portrayed as a sorcerer who fooled Samaria into believing his divine powers and at one point even claimed he was the holy trinity, being the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We already saw in a previous post that, according to Justin Martyr’s Apologia, he went to Rome in the time of Claudius (who was the fourth Emperor of the Roman Empire and ruled between 41 and 54 BCE) and was so convincing at being a God, the nebulous “they” erected a statue to him, under the god “Semo Sancus” being the equivalent to Mithra, Apollo or Helios. He follows Phillip around for a bit before running into Peter and John for trying to bribe them for Holy Spirit power and apostleship (Simony) but those two chastise Simon rather severely before heading back to Jerusalem. But as we’ve already saw in Johnny Mercury, this story seems suspect and reads more like a parody of a Simonian anointing ritual than a genuine account. But, if what Irenaeus says is true about Simon feigning to be the Holy Trinity then this is probably tantamount to blasphemy.

As literary critic Beatrice Daw Brown in Marlow, Faustus, and Simon Magus writes, the careers of the two magicians, Simon Magus and Marlowe’s Faust, follow the same pattern, and their lives have many parallels. Both are extremely powerful sorcerers able to withstand fire, to move objects without touching them and, most importantly, to evoke the spirits of the dead. Both defy God in their own way, Faust with his pact with the Devil and Simon with his arch-heresy of proclaiming himself the Christ and the Standing One. Both travel to Rome, both perform their miracles before the emperor and both have demons at their beck and call. Simon Magus has demons who aid and carry him (shown licking and tormenting him in a relief from the St. Sernin Cathedral in Toulouse, France).

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Faust has Mephistopheles, a servant of Lucifer, who gives him the power to do his magical acts. Simon Magus and Faust both attempt to fly, Faust in Venice and Simon at Rome, and both fail.

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(Mephistopheles peers menacingly over Faust’s shoulder in the statue from the Villa Borghese in Rome, celebrating Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who penned his own version of the Faust legend.)

Faust like Simon, has a semidivine female companion, who is also named Helen. According to many church fathers, Helena is a reincarnation of Helen of Troy. In the Faust legends, she is also Helen of Troy. In Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus and in the famed poetic drama of Goethe, Mephistopheles employs the most beautiful woman in antiquity to seduce Dr. Faust into the occult realms in Faust’s search for wisdom. Thus Marlowe writes:

“Was this the face that launched a thousand ships / And burnt the topless towers of Ilium?”

And finally Simon Magus and Faust both meet an inglorious and violent death. Simon Magus tries to fly but crashes to the ground with broken limbs. Faust’s body is found the morning after his pact ends, mangled and torn to pieces.

In Marlowe’s play, Faust’s final soliloquy, the most moving of the entire work, evokes the fall of Simon Magus. In the last hour before his payment comes due, Faust laments:

“The starres move still, time runs, the clocke wil strike, / The deuil wil come, and Faustus must be damned / O Ile leape up to my God: who pulles me downe?”

Faust is also reminiscent of the fall of Adam and Eve in Paradise Lost by John Milton. In a way, Eve’s mistake of eating the fruit of the Tree of knowledge of good and evil to gain more knowledge is somewhat similar to the Faustian Bargain. First, in both cases, the serpent initialized the interactions with the humans. In later traditions, as in Revelation of St. John the Divine and the Books of Adam and Eve, Satan manifests a form of a snake with Eve and in a dog and a nobleman for Faust. In Paradise Lost, it was more to tempt God’s precious recreations to sin for vengeance. By offering the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge, Eve did gain knowledge (cabbalists would say sexual knowledge which led to birth and death in the world), but in return, she and Adam were also banished from Garden of Eden for her disobedience to God, in which they were no longer under the rulership of Jehovah and his gods.

In Baphomet: The Temple Mystery Unveiled, we wrote:

In Genesis 3:22, Jehovah declares, clearly to other gods (or Elohim divine council found in Psalms 82:1), that “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil.” Jehovah expresses fear, “lest he reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” The creator seems concerned that, with the wisdom they gained from the Tree of Knowledge, Adam and Eve will realize that he’s not the only god, and also that, if they gain immortality by eating from the Tree of Life, they will become gods as well, no longer under his control.

In another chapter, we also note:

In mythology, there is an archetypal scenario in which a person travels from one realm to another, and becomes stuck there upon eating the food of the other realm. This happened to the Greek figure of Persephone when she ate the food of the underworld. Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge and it changed the universe, or perhaps it created a new universe, and she became trapped in it. Jesus told us to eat his flesh and drink his blood to live forever in the New Jerusalem (the “Kingdom of God”) after death. In the New Jerusalem everyone drinks of the waters of life from the rivers of Paradise and becomes immortal. So perhaps there are other recipes involving similar ingredients that likewise could affect the universe around you upon consumption.

Satan, according to some interpretations, is God’s firstborn son, who came before Adam. But Adam was his favorite, and when his firstborn son refused to honor his younger brother, God sacrificed or expelled him. Satan embodied the forbidden wisdom that Adam was not allowed to have, and God told him not to eat of that “tree.” Was this “fruit” the product of sexual union? The carnal knowledge that Eve was endowed with, according to the cabalistic legends, came from her having carnal knowledge of the Serpent, which bred Cain (and perhaps others, according to some stories). What happens when a human and a spirit of the chaos realm mate? Better yet, what happens when you eat the child that was born of such a union?

And so, Adam and Eve were sent away and their children would be born with, according to Catholic tradition, the “original sin”. In this sense, the serpent gave Eve what he promised her: knowledge, but Eve did not know that in the end she would become a person under the authority of the Serpent or Satan and entered in a new universe of sex, birth and death (which is symbolized as the Ouroboros) because of her disobedience to God or the Elohim, the angels of order and creation. In Genesis (1:28), it is Adam who originaly has managerial authority over the world and perhaps even the universe:

And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

John Milton would write in Paradise Lost:

“Of Man’s first disobedience and the fruit / of that forbidden tree whose mortal taste / Brought death into the world, and all our woe” (1.1-5).

As Sherman Hawkins in The Education of Faust points out, “Faustus’s sin is that of Adam – he seeks by knowledge to be as God.” In fact, the Bad Angel that tempts Faustus to pursue the dark arts says:

“Go forward Faustus, in that famous art Wherein all nature’s treasure is contained. Be thou on earth as Jove is in the sky, Lord and commander of these elements!” (Marlowe).

This statement is a parallel for the serpent who tempts Eve by telling her, “God knows that your eyes will be opened when you eat it. You will become just like God, knowing everything both evil and good” (Genesis 3:4-5). Eve and Adam became the followers of the Serpent and yet their relationship is wholly antagonistic as history flows from their deed. This is personified as the “Seed of the Serpent.”

In Gnostic parody accounts, the Serpent was sent by Sophia to awaken Adam and Eve, and in Manichaean accounts, the Serpent was actually an incarnation of Jesus, the Splendor (this is probably connected to John 3:14). According to Hippolytus in Refutation of All Heresies (V. 14), the Sethians equated the Serpent with the Logos in which it entered the virgin womb and produced the perfect man of Jesus Christ:

The perfect Word of supernal light being therefore assimilated (inform) to the beast, (that is,) the serpent, entered into the defiled womb, having deceived (the womb) through the similitude of the beast itself, in order that (the Word) may loose the chains that encircle the perfect mind which has been begotten amidst impurity of womb by the primal offspring of water, (namely,) serpent, wind, (and) beast. This, he says, is the form of the servant, and this the necessity of the Word of God coming down into the womb of a virgin. But he says it is not sufficient that the Perfect Man, the Word, has entered into the womb of a virgin, and loosed the pangs which were in that darkness.

In Paradise Lost, Adam and Eve was the representation of humanity as they were the first to be created by God. They committed a sin and that is why every infant, according to Orthodox tradition is said have that original stain of sin and have to be baptized because under the laws of God, we are their descendants.

The Faustus story much like Paradise Lost, is about the “temptation” and desire, which is not different from any other human cravings of being more than human. His sinful wish is not different from that of Adam and Eve, only his channels are dissimilar. Faustus conjures up the Devil himself, that is why it is quite doubtful to speak about a real temptation in his situation. We can risk saying that Faustus is already a “fallen angel” or rather a “fallen man” at the beginning of the drama.

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“A Fairy under Starry Skies” by Luis Ricardo Falero

The main difference between a sinful human being and a “fallen angel” is in the later one’s incapacity to regret. Both Dr. Faustus (and even Shakespeare’s Macbeth) are in a situation where repentance is almost impossible. Faustus for example is unable to step further to the next station of penitence, namely humiliation. Consequently, he commits the sin of hardening of heart, which is gradually followed by the futile agony of despair. Faustus’ lack of belief in his salvation, his incapacity to regret, which makes him similar to “fallen angels.” Faustus’ free will plays an important role in the tragedy, since if he was predestined to be damned, we would not have any right to speak about tragedy at all.

Mephistopheles makes a vow with the Lord that he himself as the Devil can win the soul of Faust. Many have dealt with the Faust legend dating from Marlowe to Berliez. Faustus was a man who like Shakespeare and Emanuel Swedenborg was well versed in almost every art and science. This story more than likely originates in Job of the Old Testament where Satan challenges Jehovah he can steal the soul of Job.

The Old Testament also condemns the pagan gods of competing religions in the surrounding areas of the Mediterranean. It condemns sacrifice to them, divination and prophecy through those gods, worshiping them, etc. But if you closely scrutinize Yahweh/Jehovah, he operates virtually identically to the pagan gods. He makes pacts with Abraham, Issac, Jacob, and Moses: they worship Yahweh in exchange for material blessings on themselves and their descendants. He demands animal sacrifices and burnt sacrifices. He demands submission. He wants temples and altars erected in his honor. And if the descendants of those who originally made the pacts, i.e., the Jews, renege on those pacts, he takes away everything that he has blessed them with and curses them. Sounds an awful lot the Faustian Devil, doesn’t it? Jehovah really isn’t that much different than Faust’s Mephistopheles.

In a sense, Christ’s death on the cross can be considered a “contract” between the Father (according to Marcion is above Jehovah) and Satan for the souls of mankind, signed with Christ’s own blood. This is very much like how Faustus signs his own contract with blood, a contract in which Dr. Faustus is in fact promising his soul to Satan. Mephistopheles tells Faustus that he “must bequeath it solemnly And write a deed of gift with thine own blood, For that security craves Lucifer.”

Marlowe makes the connection between Faustus and Christ again when Faustus says, “Consummatum est!” Here Faustus quotes Christ’s dying words, “It is finished!” (John 19:30) when he has signed his own contract with Satan, and in doing so, his contact is compared to Christ’s shed blood on the cross. Images of the alchemical crucified serpent also come to mind. Edmund Siderius in Faust and Alchemy, specifically connects Mephistopheles with the alchemical serpent of the Ophite Gnostics:

In the first part of Faust, Mephistopheles is twice directly connected with the serpent, in the Prolog im Himmel and then in Wald und Höhle. In the Prolog im Himmel he brags that he will quickly return to heaven and declare his victory. No doubt; it’s a short journey anyway.

“/ I’ll win my wager without much delay. / And when I do, then, if I may, / I’ll come back here and boast of my success. / I’ll make him greedy fort he dust, the way / The serpent was, my famous ancestress!”

For Alice Raphael, author of “Goethe and the Philosophers’ Stone”, this is the first indication that we should see Mephistopheles’ role as something other than that of the traditional devil, but rather as that of the Ouroboros in both its destructive as well as constructive qualities. According to her, Goethe knew of the Gnostic Naassenes, or Ophites, probably through Geschichte der Schlangenbrüder by J.L. von Mosheim. As she says, they worshiped the Naas, which in Hebrew was Nachash (serpent) and was the numerological equivalent of Messiah. The serpent as savior motif comes from texts like On the Origin of the World and assorted Manichaean texts. In this regard the Naas was:

“…in primitive times a cult object, later a matriarchal power, and finally a symbol of wisdom. [There is a hidden reference to the Serpent in Faust, Part I] not as the traditional temptress of Genesis, but as ‘Frau Muhme,’ Goethe’s allusion to the female divinity of the Ophites.”

In this scene Mephistopheles describes his motion as circular (from heaven to earth to heaven), and his serpent ancestor’s hunger for dust. On the one hand this could be seen as referring to the bible, yet given his later confession that he seeks to specifically destroy all matter it could instead be interpreted in terms of the Ouroboros’ symbolic role of breaking down matter in the alchemical vessel into prime matter, so that it may be purified.

The next time Mephistopheles makes an appearance alongside a serpent he does so in his role as instigator and agitator of yet more circular action in the play. Faust, after a moment of calm reflection, is yet again driven by the “fire” of desire to pursue the maiden Gretchen for his pleasure. Before he does so, however, he curses Mephistopheles for disturbing his quietude with the insult: “Snake! Snake!”

This in and of itself will come as no surprise, for even in orthodox Christianity the serpent is seen as being a sign of the devil. What is perhaps more telling in this scene is its thematic circularity, a circularity which, when seen in light of the whole work, is a fundamental component of Faust’s redemption. It occurs almost immediately after Faust, in a high point of spiritual reflection, muses to the Erdgeist, the earth spirit:

“You added a companion, who already / Is indispensable to me, although / With one cold mocking breath he can degrade me / In my own eyes, and turn your gifts to nothing.”

The image of the serpent as savior, in the most blatant of alchemical formulations, had already appeared in Goethe’s Das Märchen, published in 1795, thirteen years before the publication of Faust: One. According to Ronald Gray in his text Goethe the Alchemist, Goethe encountered the destructive-creative principle of the Ouroboros in numerous forms. As he says:

“The self-destruction implicit in the rotating serpent was identical with the ‘putrefaction’, or death to self, spoken of elsewhere. Only when man’s lust had completely consumed itself ‘by revolution’ […] could he appear again in his former angelic splendor […]. It was necessary to yield all personal desires and become one with the universe.”

Seen in this light, the excesses that Mephistopheles leads Faust to on Walpurgisnacht can be made sense of in terms of the logic of the Ouroboros, for only when Faust’s lust has consumed itself will he able to become “one with the universe” or “Mr. Microcosm”, his soul purified like alchemical matter through a successive series of decompositions and reconstitution.

We must stop here to comment. In the Hymn of the Pearl, it presents things like the serpent, the sea and Egypt as symbols of worldly bondage. The serpent for the Ophites was a pneumatic symbol, but to the authors of Hymn of the Pearl and the Pistis Sophia, the serpent is presented as an earth-encircling dragon from the original chaos, the ruler or evil principle of this world. This is the same as the Babylonian Tiamat, the chaos-monster slain by Marduk in the history of creation. Hans Jonas in The Gnostic Religion, quotes a little known text called The Acts of Kyriakos and Julita and comments on this situation:

The closest gnostic parallel to our tale is to be found in the Jewish apocryphal Acts of Kyriakos and Julitta (see Reitzenstein, Das iranische Erlosungsmysterium, p. 77), where the prayer of Kyriakos relates, also in the first person, how the hero, sent out by his Mother into the foreign land, the “city of darkness,” after long wandering and passing through the waters of the abyss meets the dragon, the “king of the worms of the earth, whose tail lies in his mouth. This is the serpent that led astray through passions the angels from on high; this is the serpent that led astray the first Adam and expelled him from Paradise. . . .” There too a mystical letter saves him from the serpent and causes him to fulfill his mission.

Egypt as a symbol for the material world is very common in Gnosticism (and beyond it). The biblical story of Israel’s bondage and liberation lent itself admirably to spiritual interpretation of the type the Gnostics liked. But the biblical story is not the only association which qualified Egypt for its allegorical role. From ancient times Egypt had been regarded as the home of the cult of the dead, and therefore the kingdom of Death; this and other features of Egyptian religion, such as its beast-headed gods and the great role of sorcery, inspired the Hebrews and later the Persians with a particular abhorrence and made them see in “Egypt” the embodiment of a demonic principle. The Gnostics then turned this evaluation into their use of Egypt as a symbol for “this world,’* that is, the world of matter, of ignorance, and of perverse religion: “A11 ignorant ones [i.e, those lacking gnosis] are ‘Egyptians,'” states a Peratic dictum quoted by Hippolytus (V. 16. 5).

And so Egypt, being the well-spring and source for Alexandrian mysticism that greatly inspired many Gnostic sects is also (ironically) symbolic of the dark world that all lost souls inhabit. It is this serpent’s circle that we find ourselves entrapped in, as a sort of Eternal Reoccurrence, as the atheist philosopher Nietzsche often wrote about. Again, Edmund Siderius successfully connects the Encircling Serpent with Mephistopheles:

…it is possible to gain a better grasp of Mephistopheles’ role, and where it may have come from. If we see Mephistopheles as the Ouroboros of the Alchemists and Gnostics (and not merely as the Christian Satan) he maintains the traditional associations of the devil, such as destruction, the obsession with the material, fire and the serpent, but gains all the other roles he plays in Faust. The destruction he brings is inextricably bound with creation, which is purified through cycles of fire, be they physical or metaphorical. These cycles tend to be brought about either directly though his catalyzing acts or through pharmakon which share in his inherent ambiguity. It is in this way that Mephistopheles as the Oroborus can serve Faust as Vergil did Dante, allowing him to explore the whole circle of creation: “And with swift steps, yet wise and slow. [Go] [f]rom heaven, through the world, right down to hell”!

So, if Faustus is simply modeled after the Simon Magus myth, then it is Simon, who makes a deal with the Ouroboros for knowledge and occult powers (like Eve and Adam), much like how Paul makes a deal with Satan in 1 Corinthians 5. And as Amanda Myers writes in Biblical Parallels in Marlow’s Faustus, there are parallels between St. Paul and Faustus and even Mephistopheles:

Mephistophilis is first summoned by Dr. Faustus, he quotes St. Paul’s query upon converting to Christianity: “What wouldst thou have me do?” (Holy Acts 4:9). By putting the words of a venerated saint into the mouth of a devil, Marlowe contrasts Paul’s decision to accept Salvation with Faustus’ decision to reject it (O’Brien 4). Later, when Marlowe has Faustus ask, “When Mephistophilis shall stand by me What power can hurt me?” (Marlowe 19), which is an adaptation of Romans 8:31’s “…If God is for us, who can ever be against us?”, he points out the grave error in Faustus’ thinking. By replacing “God” with “Mephistophilis,” Faustus deludes himself into thinking that through a minor devil he could access the omnipotence of God.

The Clementine Homilies (XXXII) also presents many of Simon Magus’ magical abilities which includes shape-shifting into a serpent as well as a goat, reminding us the imagery associated with Baphomet. (Please see our book for more surprising connections between Simon Magus and Baphomet). Simon also has the ability to cast illusory banquets. According to Celsus, Christ could summon banquets and in the medieval grimoires, one can do exactly this by the aid of demons.

Aquila having thus spoken, I Clement inquired: “What, then, are the prodigies that he works?” And they told me that he makes statues walk, and that he rolls himself on the fire, and is not burnt; and sometimes he flies; and he makes loaves of stones; he becomes a serpent; he transforms himself into a goat; he becomes two-faced; he changes himself into gold; he opens lockfast gates; he melts iron; at banquets he produces images of all manner of forms.

The name “Faustus” also belongs to the two twin brothers (Faustus and Faustinianus) as well as the father, of Pope Clement, the supposed author of the Clementines. The name Faustus also is given to a Manichaean Bishop who debates St. Augustine in Confessions  and Reply to Faustus the Manichaean over various theological issues, much like how Simon debates Peter in the Clementines.

Throughout the play, Dr. Faustus sins deliberately over and over again. And yet he also doubts his commitment to the devil, but always deliberately and systematically rejects God and reaffirms his contract with Satan:

“What boots it then to think on God or heaven? Away with such vain fancies, and despair Despair in God and trust in Belzebub!”

Faustus’ heart is so hardened that he rejects outright the guidance of the Good Angel, the wise and sympathetic Old Man, and even the warnings of Mephistopheles himself, who describes his own eternal damnation to Faustus:

“Why this is hell, nor am I out of it. Think’st thou that I who saw the face of God And tasted the eternal joys of heaven Am not tormented with ten thousand hells In being deprived of everlasting bliss?”

There is a part in Marlowe’s Faust where Faust asks Mephistopheles how it is possible that a demon can manifest itself on earth, since demons have been condemned to hell, and Mephistopheles explains that earth is merely an extension of hell. This is not so dissimilar to how the Gnostics viewed the world.

“We can say that Faustus makes a choice, and that he is responsible for his choice, but there is in the play a suggestion—sometimes explicit, sometimes only dimly implicit—that Faustus comes to destruction not merely through his own actions but through the actions of a hostile cosmos that entraps him. In this sense, too, there is something of Everyman in Faustus. The story of Adam, for instance, insists on Adam’s culpability; Adam, like Faustus, made himself, rather than God, the center of his existence. And yet, despite the traditional expositions, one cannot entirely suppress the commonsense response that if the Creator knew Adam would fall, the Creator rather than Adam is responsible for the fall; Adam ought to have been created of better stuff.”

But as Amanda Myers reveals, Faustus, in the end, is actually saved—at least in Marlowe’s version:

And just as Jesus forgave the thief on the cross, telling him, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise,” Marlowe provides subtle evidence that Dr. Faustus, too, is saved. Many would find it hard to believe that Faustus could obtain salvation after consciously selling his own soul to the devil, but despite his previous transgressions, “what Faustus has dared or done, seems now irrelevant, because, according to doctrine, he need only repent and have faith to be saved” (Ornstein 1380). And that is exactly what he does. Upon a hasty reading of the play, it would appear that this is not so. The final scene is most commonly interpreted as describing the fulfillment of Faustus’ contract with Satan: as the clock strikes twelve, the devils enter and drag a screaming Faustus away. But a careful reading reveals several instances where Mephistophilis threatens “I’ll in piecemeal tear thy flesh” (Marlowe 73), and Dr. Faustus expresses his fears that the devil will in fact “tear me into pieces if I named God” (Marlowe 77).

What Amanda Myers does not acknowledge is that although Faustus’ final act of repentance nullified his contract with Satan, the Devil is forced to act on his threat to tear Faustus apart:

“His faith is great. I cannot touch his soul. But what I may afflict his body with I will attempt, which is but little worth.”

And so because Faustus finally repented at the 11th hour, such an act will guarantee entrance into paradise. This is very much like how St. Paul inflicts a magical death curse upon a member of his own congregation in 1 Corinthians 5, as we saw in the previous post. And so we come to the end to this sordid tale and realize that it doesn’t take a seminary student to realize Marlow’s Dr. Faustus is still a very powerful work and morality cum tragedy play that reminds its readers to consider their own convictions about the soul, eternity, and God.

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The occult legends of Faustus and similar tales associated with Cornelius Agrippa and the Knights Templars with Baphomet may also be compared to the sin of Sophia in the Gnostic Gospels, since occultism, in many ways (as demonstrated in the Faustus story), separates the occultist from God because they are dedicated to gratifying the self or self-worship instead of unifying with God by rendering yourself in obedience to his will. This also seems to the prevalent attitude in Western culture as of 2016, especially in the United States (in various forms)—which indicates to me it is on the verge of cultural collapse. We also see a wide variety of rumors associated with Hollywood celebrities, musicians and gangsta rappers who sell their souls for success to the “Illuminati” and sacrifice the non-compliant as well.

In the Gnostic myth, Sophia wanted to separate from the Monad and be her own goddess, and as a result, she was expunged from the pleroma and birthed the demiurge. Even most of the great Christian occultists throughout history, like Cornelius Agrippa, Eliphas Levi and John Dee, eventually realized this and disowned it. Agrippa makes a chilling renunciation of it all in the vanity of arts and sciencesBut fear not, there is still time to reflect on your spiritual life and see the Light. This is what the Holy Grail cycle is ultimately about. Here are some parting words taken from the Apocryphon of John:

And I said to the savior, “Lord, will all the souls then be brought safely into the pure light?”

He answered and said to me,”Great things have arisen in your mind, for it is difficult to explain them to others except to those who are from the immovable race. Those on whom the Spirit of life will descend and (with whom) he will be with the power, they will be saved and become perfect and be worthy of the greatness and be purified in that place from all wickedness and the involvements in evil. Then they have no other care than the incorruption alone, to which they direct their attention from here on, without anger or envy or jealousy or desire and greed of anything. They are not affected by anything except the state of being in the flesh alone, which they bear while looking expectantly for the time when they will be met by the receivers (of the body). Such then are worthy of the imperishable, eternal life and the calling. For they endure everything and bear up under everything, that they may finish the good fight and inherit eternal life.”

Gabriel (2)

Christian Magicians: The Gospel and the Magical Papyri

(The above image is taken from Asterion Mage’s Occult Art Website)

In Johnny Mercury, we explored many different connections between John the Baptist with Mercury/Hermes as well as other wisdom gods and Zodiacal signs. Simon Magus’ and Jesus’ connection with Egypt were also explored. In this post, we will explore more aspects of ritual magic and its relationship with Christianity, the rumors of Templar faustian pacts with the devil Baphomet, and how it all relates to Faustus, the man who would trade his soul to the Devil for universal knowledge and ritual black magic. As many other scholars have pointed out, the legend of Faustus comes down to us directly from the myths and legends associated with Simon Magus. And it is Simon Magus who also gives us the lore associated with the Holy Grail and alchemy.

As we point out in the book, Baphomet: The Temple Mystery Unveiled, Jesus was accused of possessing the spirit of dead John the Baptist as a “familiar” servitor spirit. Ancient Christians were also accused of being sorcerers who utilized the spirit of Christ, as well as daimons to perform their miracles (see Celsus’ “The True Doctrine”). On this issue, Morton Smith in Jesus the Magician writes:

If a magician could call up and get control of, or identify himself with such a spirit, he could then control inferior spirits or powers. (In third-century Smyrna, Christians were believed to do their miracles by just such necromantic control of the spirit of Jesus, because he had been crucified.) More frequent are spells by which spirits of the dead are themselves given assignments. Particularly interesting in relation to Mark 6:14 is a prayer to Helios-Iao-Horus to assign to the magician, as perpetual “assistance and defender,’ the soul of a man wrongfully killed. This would establish approximately the sort of relation Jesus was believed to have the soul of John. In the light of these beliefs it seems that Mark 6:14 should be understood as follows: “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead <by Jesus’ necromancy; Jesus now has him>. And there <since Jesus-John can control them> the <inferior> powers work <their wonders> by him (that is, by his orders).” A little later, after Jesus had been executed, the Samaritan magician, Simon, was similarly thought to “be” Jesus. The Christians, of course, maintained that the spirit of which Simon did his miracles was not Jesus, but merely a murdered boy.

Later Morton Smith continues discussing the ancient Christian tradition of magic:

One of the greatest figures of antiquity, a man of incalculable influence of the thought and history of the western world, himself claimed to be possessed by, and identified with, the spirit of an executed criminal, and to do whatever he did by the power this indwelling spirit. By its power he could even hand over his opponents to Satan. This man and his claims are known from his own correspondence—he is Saint Paul, who asserted, “I live no longer I, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20), and “I dare speak of nothing save those things which Christ has done through me, by word and deed, by the power of signs and miracles, by the power of <his> spirit, to make the gentiles obedient” (Rom. 15.19). He wrote the Corinthians about a member of their church that, “Being absent in body, but present in spirit, I have already judged <the offender> … uniting you and my spirit with the power of our Lord Jesus, to give this fellow over to Satan for the destruction of his flesh” (1 Cor. 5.3ff). If Paul thus proves the possibility of ancient belief in such a relationship as that supposed to have existed between Jesus and the spirit of the Baptist, he also provides the strongest evidence that this was not, in fact, the source of Jesus’ power.

Christian and Johannite sorcery, as Morton Smith writes, was quite a staple, even around the time of Paul. Mark 6:14 tells us that Herod claims that John the Baptist has risen from the dead and that Jesus has his powers. This sort of thing could be done by necromancy and would be dangerous, since according to sources like the Greek Magical Papyri the demon of a man killed violently is powerful and easy to control. As stated above, Morton Smith says the end of Mark 6:14 could be translated, “the inferior powers work by his orders”, implying that Jesus now possessed John as his daimonic slave, just like how King Solomon controlled 72 demons under the authority of a magical ring engraved with the divine name of Sabaoth. In the Acts of the Martyr Ponius (13.3) it said that Jesus was a mere man who died as a convicted criminal under Roman and Jewish decree.

For you have heard that the Jews say: Christ was a man and he died as a “biothanes” (convicted criminal).

Unsurprisingly, as Smith mentions, there are reports of magicians vying for control of Jesus’ spirit following his crucifixion now that he died as a “convicted criminal” as a type of familiar spirit, and was readily accessible through invocations. This brings us to yet again, Simon Magus. If the recorded accounts by the church fathers (including the Clementines) of Simon are accurate, he was quite the evil dude. If he’s a cipher for Paul, we could get conspiratorial and say that the archons inspired the orthodox to create him to hide the real Paul and snuff out Gnosticism. It could very well have been either. There are undeniable parallels between the two, like Simon offering Peter money for the Holy Spirit, just like Paul offered Peter, James, and John money for the poor when he went to Jerusalem to announce his apostleship to the church in Jerusalem. However, it’s not implausible, either, to say that Simon may have been a first-century Aleister Crowley who imitated Jesus and feigned to be God with Satanic occult powers, just as Satan imitates the Holy Spirit. The Clementine Homilies (XXI) tells us this exactly:

He having disciplined himself greatly in Alexandria, and being very powerful in magic, and being ambitious, wishes to be accounted a certain supreme power, greater even than the God who created the world. And sometimes intimating that he is Christ, he styles himself the Standing One.

One thing I have a hard time believing is that Paul was involved in sorcery. He’s so condemning of anything that operates outside faith. The only hint of possible diabolism in Paul is when he hands the Corinthian man over to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, as quoted by Morton Smith. This would make sense, considering Satan is considered one and the same with Samael, the angel of death or the destroying angel, according to 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles. That always read weird to me, and I’ve always been curious if he simply meant that he was to be ostracized from the church, or if he performed some sort of magical curse that the Devil might torment the man until he repented. In the church fathers, Simon is described as working with different types of spirits, as well. But one can hardly imagine Paul conjuring Satan to curse somebody. It just seems quite out of character. It’s an odd little verse, that one is (1 Corinthians 5).

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that even pagans do not tolerate: A man is sleeping with his father’s wife. … As one who is present with you in this way, I have already passed judgment in the name of our Lord Jesus on the one who has been doing this. So when you are assembled and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.

This is reminiscent of the sacrificing of two goats—one for the Jewish god Yahweh, and one for the fallen angel, Azazel (Leviticus 16:10). Similarly, St. Cyprian was a pagan magician who converted to Christianity. Legend has it, according to some of the grimoires attributed to him, that he was tormented by Satan for the rest of his life. We are also reminded of Doctor Faustus and his pact with Mephistopheles, who is a constant reminder of the torments that await him on the other side in later versions of the story, Faustus. (More on this in a following post). And yet, in Galatians 5:19, sorcery is listed as being a part of the “works of the flesh” and those who practice such things “will not inherent the kingdom of God.”

Morton Smith reports in Salvation in the Gospels, Paul, and the Magical Papyri, that Paul’s crucifixion mysticism can be seen quite close to that of the Greek Magical Papyri:

First, how do we get the spirit? If immediately when we hear the gospel and believe (Gal 3:2), then, since the spirit is Christ, we should at once become participants in Christ’s death and resurrections and new life. How, then, can we account for Paul’s description of baptism as a magic rite by which one who has already believed is at least made to share the death and resurrection of the god (Romans 6:3)?

Another question raised by Paul’s account concerns the consequence of receiving the spirit. If the baptized believer adheres to the Lord so that the two become one and he thenceforth lives no longer as himself, but Christ lives in his body (1 Cor 6:17; Gal 2:20), then to whom is Paul talking when he urges his converts to side with the spirit against the flesh (Gal 5:16; Rom 7:14-25)?

Getting spirits is one of the major functions of the magic of the magical papyri. Without counting, I should guess that about 70% of the longer texts in PGM deal with ways of getting spirits and things one can hope to do with their help. In many of these rites the magician, to control an inferior spirit, declares, especially at the climax of a spell, [69] that he “is” a greater one: Iao, or the headless daimon, or Moses, or some other supernatural entity (PGM 5.110, 145, 147; et passim). These identifications are even more transient than Paul’s No consequences are drawn from them save for that which they are asserted—to compel the obedience for the inferior power.

As we said, most of the magical papyri are concerned with salvation in the synoptic sense—attaining, improving, or perpetuating our good life in this world. Consequence, when they call up spirits it is usually for one or another particular task, most often prophecy. These are strictly “ministering spirits” which must be kept in their place and made to obey (PG 1.80; 3.288; etc.), as Paul insists that “the spirits of (sc. Called up by) the (Christian) prophets are to be subject to the prophets (1 Cor 14:3). It was for dealing with such spirits that the gift of discerning (i.e. Distinguishing, knowing the nature of spirits” was important in Paul’s churches (1 Cor 12:10; 14:29). Here, too, the spirits spoke through those who called them up—that is why they are called the “spirits of the prophets,” i.e. of those who through whom they speak. The practice was evidently like that of modern “mediums” and represents another form of combatively brief, auto-hypnotic “possession”.

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The spirit of Jesus Christ is specifically invoked in the Greek Magical Papyri as well under the name of the Marcionite “Chrestos” or the good one, while also calling upon Helios (although some think the mention of “Chrestos” is a Christian interpolation). Here is Eleni Pachoumi’s translation of the text from An invocation of Chrestos in Magic. The question of the orthographical spelling of Chrestos and interpretation issues in PGM XIII.288-95:

Releasing from bonds. Say; ‘Hear me, Chrestos, in tortures, help in necessities, pitiful in times (throughout the years), who died violently, very powerful in the world, who created compulsion and punishment and torture. Twelve days hissing thrice eight times, say the whole name of Helios from Achebycrom. ‘Let every bond, every force be released, let every iron be broken, every rope, or every strap, every knot, every chain be opened, and let no one subdue me by force, for I am’ (say the name).

Jesus is described in the PGM as “the god of the Hebrews” as well. In Ancient Christian Magic: Coptic Texts of Ritual Power by Marvin Meyer & Richard Smith, they list two spells taken from the PGM which also specifically calls on the Markian exorcist power of Christ in explicit terms, in the Spell for Protection Against Evil Spirits:

[Christ! I adjure] you, 0 lord, almighty, first-begotten, self-begotten, begotten without semen, [ • • • ) as well as all-seeing are you, and Yao, Sabao, Brinthao: Keep me as a son, protect me from every evil spirit, and subject to me every spirit of impure, destroying demons-on the earth, under the earth, of the water and of the land-and every phantom. Christ!

In another spell, called the Spell for protection against headless powers, it reads:

0 angels, archangels, who hold back the floodgates of heaven, who bring forth the light from the four comers of the world: Because I am having a clash with some headless beings, seize them and release me through the power of the father and the son and the holy spirit. 0 blood of my Christ, which was poured out in the place of a skull, spare me and have mercy.

Amen,

Amen,’

Amen!’

In Mark 3:7-12, it presents unclean spirits or demons as being subservient and under the authority of Jesus, who have no choice but to acknowledge him as the Son of God. Perhaps this is where Christian magic, found in the PGM, is based on:

7 Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the sea, and a great multitude from Galilee followed; also from Judea 8 and Jerusalem and Idume’a and from beyond the Jordan and from about Tyre and Sidon a great multitude, hearing all that he did, came to him. 9 And he told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, lest they should crush him; 10 for he had healed many, so that all who had diseases pressed upon him to touch him. 11 And whenever the unclean spirits beheld him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” 12 And he strictly ordered them not to make him known.

Please note that in the above quotations, Iao or Yao is invoked. This term is often used interchangeably with that of Abraxas. We’ve already seen how the Ophites, among many other Gnostic and Christians sects were accused of being a secret society involved in diabolical rites by their Roman enemies. Another sect, who revered the figure of Abrasax or Abraxas, were also considered to be perhaps, the first secret society within the framework of early Christianity, anticipating the much later Templars, Rosicrucian’s, Freemasons and Illuminati. We discuss this in Baphomet: The Temple Mystery Unveiled but here is some more juicy gossip. The early Church Father Irenaeus, who flourished late second century CE, wrote as quoted by Charles William King in The Gnostics and Their Remains:

“The disciple[s] of Basilides remain unknown to the rest of mankind… and nevertheless must live amongst strangers, therefore must they conduct themselves towards the rest of the world as beings invisible and unknown. Hence their motto, ‘Learn to know all, but keep thyself unknown’ and for this cause they are accustomed to deny the fact of their being Basilidans [Basilidians or Basilideans]. Neither can they be detected as Christian heretics because they assimilate themselves to all sects. Their secret constitution, however, is known to but a few, perhaps one in a thousand or two in ten thousand…  Their doctrine is contained in a sacred book, and likewise in Symbolic Figures. The Supreme Lord, the head of all things, they call Abrasax, which name contains the number 365.” (Quoted in King, pp. 262-263.)

There are also many engraved gems bearing the symbolic figure of Abraxas, which worked as sacred amulets and talismans, and also served as secret tokens, the possession of which allowed the bearer into clandestine gatherings of followers of the Abraxas cult.

It is said that the Great Work of the magician is to recognize that they are in fact, an immortal daimon, awakening from the lower, mundane world, and arising to become as Heraclitus would say, “One and the same thing, present [in us] living and dead and the waking and the sleeping and young and old….” Philosophers such as Empedocles and Parmenides, would declare themselves immortal daimons, because of their connection with certain Orphic deities, in that they become the “children” of that deity. According to many scholars, the Stele of Jeu or the Rite of the Headless One from the Greek Magical Papyri (PGM) is an exorcism or sanctification rite. Such imagery of a “headless one” reminds us of the decapitated John the Baptist, as well. And yet, we see another spell that calls upon Jesus to protect the user from the evils of the “headless powers.” Acharya S in Christ in Egypt, also equates John the Baptist with the “headless god” that is also equated with Set/Seth, who apparently has a demiurgical role in creation. This is delineated very neatly in the Rite of the Headless One. First, you call on that god:

I summon you, Headless One, who created earth and heaven, who created night and day, you who created the Light and the Darkness; you are Osonnophris whom none has ever seen; you are Iabas; you are Iapos; you have distinguished the just from the unjust; you have made female and male; you have revealed seed and fruits; you have made men love each other and hate each other.

Then you identify yourself:

I am Moses your prophet to whom you have transmitted your mysteries celebrated by Israel; you have revealed the moist and the dry and all nourishment; hear me.

“I am the messenger of Pharoah Osoronnophris; this is your true name which has been transmitted to the prophets of Israel. Hear me, ARBATHIAŌ REIBET ATHELEBERSĒTH ARA BLATHA ALBEU EBENPHCHI CHITASGOĒ IBAŌTH IAŌ; listen to me and turn away this daimon.”

Then you lay down the request:

I call upon you, awesome and invisible god with an empty spirit, AROGOGOROBRAŌ SOCHOU MODORIŌ PHALARCHAŌ OOO. Holy Headless One, deliver him, NN, from the daimon that restrains him, ROUBRIAŌ MARI ŌDAM BAABNABAŌTH ASS ADŌNAI APHNIAŌ ITHŌLETH ABRASAX AĒŌŌY; mighty Headless One, deliver him, NN, from the daimon which restrains him. MABARRAIŌ IOĒL KOTHA ATHORĒBALŌ ABRAŌTH, deliver him, NN, AŌTH ABRAŌTH BASYM ISAK SABAŌTH IAŌ.
“He is the Lord of the Gods; he is the Lord of the Inhabited World; he is the one whom the winds fear; he is the one who made all things by command of his voice.”
“Lord, King, Master, Helper, save the soul, IEOU PYR IOU IAŌT IAĒŌ IOOU ABRASAX SABRIAM OO YY EY OO YY ADŌNAIE, immediately, immediately, good messenger of GodANLALA LAI GAIA APA DIACHANNA CHORYN.”

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It is the Lord of the Gods, the one whom the winds fear, which is full of aerial daimons. And yet here is this Headless One, who not only can control gods and daimons around as he chooses but he is the one who made all things by command of his voice. Even the Gnostic-slandering and hating Neoplatonists like Plotinus would admit that the sublunary realm of the world, bound up by fate and providence, is a mixture between God and daimonic, and the passions are the daimonic part, “And so [the All] is a God when that [the highest divine soul] is counted in with it, but the rest, he [i.e. Plato] says, is a great Daimon, and the passions in it are daimonic.”

Then:

“I am the Headless Daimon with sight in my feet; I am the mighty one who possesses the immortal fire; I am the truth who hates the fact that unjust deeds are done in the world; I am the one who makes the lightning flash and the thunder roll; I am the one whose sweat falls upon the earth as rain so that it can inseminate it; I am the one whose mouth burns completely; I am the one who begets and destroys; I am the Favor of the Aion; my name is a Heart Encircled by a Serpent; Come Forth and Follow.”

Preparation for the foregoing ritual: Write the formula (AOTH ABRAOTH BASYM ISAK SABAOTH IAO) on a new sheet of papyrus, and after extending it from one of your temples to the other, read the six names, while you face north saying, Subject to me all daimons, so that every daimon, whether heavenly or aerial or earthly or subterranean or terrestrial or aquatic, might be obedient to me and every enchantment and scourge which is from God. And all daimons will be obedient to you.

The magician as the Headless-One embodies his divine qualities while commanding those daimons that afflict the soul (either his own or another’s) to come out, and rather than dismissing them, he commands them to follow him. This is all reminiscent of Zosimos and in his advice to a lady, Theosebeia in Final Quittance, Fest. p. 367, ll. 24-27.

“But be not thou, O lady, [thus] distracted, as, too, I bade thee in the actualizing [rites], and do not turn thyself about this way and that in seeking after God; but in thy house be still, and God shall come to thee, He who is everywhere and not in some wee spot as are daimonian things. And having stilled thyself in body, still thou thyself in passions too—desire, [and] pleasure, rage [and] grief, and the twelve fates of Death. And thus set straight and upright, call thou unto thyself Divinity; and truly shall He come, He who is everywhere and [yet] nowhere. And [then], without invoking them, perform the sacred rites unto the daimones,—not such as offer things to them and soothe and nourish them, but such as turn them from thee and destroy their power, which Mambres taught to Solomon, King of Jerusalem, and all that Solomon himself wrote down from his own wisdom. And if thou shalt effectively perform these rites, thou shalt obtain the physical conditions of pure birth. And so continue till thou perfect thy soul completely. And when thou knowest surely that thou art perfected in thyself, then spurn . . . from thee the natural things of matter, and make for harbour in Pœmandres’ arms, and having dowsed thyself within His Cup, return again unto thy own [true] race.”

So, what is going on here? Zosimos is clearly appealing to the Hermetica in his advice on being baptized or “dowsed” with Poemandre’s cup. It relates directly to rebirth as described in Corpus Hermeticum XIII (with the 12 tormentors of the zodiac which must be transcended), as well as the symbolic cup or krater of knowledge of the Demiurge in Corpus Hermeticum IV (where the enlightened ones immersed themselves). Here is what the scholar Kyle Fraser has to say about this in Zosimos of Panopolis and the Book of Enoch: Alchemy as Forbidden Knowledge:

Zosimos here shows his familiarity with the folk legends of Solomon as a magus and exorcist, who holds divine dominion over daimons. One wonders whether he has read the Testament of Solomon, in which Solomon describes how he harnessed the powers of the daimons, with the aid of their angelic superiors, in order to complete the construction of the Temple. Solomon, through the divine power of his ring, commands each demon, in turn, to reveal its name, its distinctive activity, its planetary or zodiacal designation, and the angelic or divine power that thwarts it. So long as he maintains a pious relation to God, he is able to control the demons, through their divine superiors, and harness their powers for sacred ends. But when his piety is compromised, and he sacrifices to pagan gods, his control over the demons is lost, and he becomes enslaved to them: ‘. . . my spirit was darkened and I became a laughingstock to the idols and demons.’ (Testament 26.7-8).

As K. von Stuckrad argues, one sees in the Testament a monotheistic response to the problem of the malevolent astral powers. Of special interest is the manner in which the Egyptian decan gods are demoted to daimons, now held under the dominion of the Jewish angels and, ultimately, the Jewish God (Testament, 18). If Zosimos does have this Solomonic tradition in mind, then he may be suggesting to Theosebeia that the daimons which are attempting to control and seduce her can, in turn, be controlled and made subject to the spiritual work of the alchemist—just as Solomon was able to harness the daimons toward the spiritual ends of the Temple.

As we noted in previous posts, being a “Son of God” was not a Jewish title but a magical one, insinuating that those who bore the title were magicians or theurgists who sought apotheosis. It also implies the one who bares this title was a supernatural being cloaked in human form, performing miracles by his own divine power. This is how Zosimos sees the Son of God as well as “becoming all things for holy souls, that he may draw her forth from out the region of the Fate into the Incorporeal [Man].” It also denotes doceticism. And without the salvific role of the Son of God in man, much like the role of Hermes in the Hermetica, Hans Jonas puts it succinctly in The Gnostic Religion:

In a rather late source, we even encounter, as the contrast-term to spiritual man, the expression “demonic man” instead of the usual “psychic” or “sarkic” (fleshly). Each man, so the text explains, is from birth possessed by his demon, which only the mystical power of prayer can expel after the extinction of all passions. In this voided state the soul unites with the spirit as bride with bridegroom. The soul which does not thus receive Christ remains “demonic” and becomes the habitation of “the serpents.”

If Paul is to be believed, he placed something not terribly Jewish called “the spirit” before the Law (Romans 7: 6; 2 Corinthians 3: 6). Even the rituals of baptism, exorcism and prayer have their roots in ritual magic—specifically in Egyptian magic, as Morton Smith reveals, again in Salvation in the Gospels, Paul, and the Magical Papyri:

In Egypt sanctification was effected by drowning; even an animal or an insect could be “made an Osiris” by being properly drowned, mummified, and worshipped (PGM 1.5 [hawk]; 3.1 [cat]; etc.). This may be the background for the equation of baptism with Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection—a problem generally neglected, but not negligible. Immersion in water does not resemble crucifixion at all, nor burial closely, so the probably pre-Pauline interpretation of baptism as a means of acquiring Jesus’ spirit/nature through participation in Jesus’ death by crucifixion and burial, is odd. The deification points to Egypt, and the earliest connection between Christianity and Egypt may be Rabbi Eliezer’s report, about A.D. 80 (?), that Jesus had gone to Egypt and learned magic there. I argued in Jesus the Magician (1978), p. 48, that this was supported by Matthew’s legend of the light into Egypt (made up to “explain” Jesus’ having been there; it is also supported by the many Egyptian elements in Jesus’ magic, particularly the Eucharist, to which the closest parallel is in the Demotic Magical Papyrus (DMP).

Indeed, deification of the magician was a stable in Egyptian religion, as testified in the Pyramid Texts, to the Coffin Texts, to the Book of the Dead. In 2 Corinthians 12:2-4, Paul goes on to boast about the visions and revelations from the Lord:

I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of it I do not know, but God knows. And I know that this man — whether in the body or out of it I do not know, but God knows — was caught up into Paradise. The things he heard were too sacred for words, things that man is not permitted to tell.…

In the Mithras Liturgy, we see an immortalization or deification rite, where the magician in a postmortem journey translates into the heavens:

Draw in breath from the rays, drawing up three times as much as you can, and you will see yourself being lifted up and (540) ascending to the height, so that you seem to be in mid-air. You will hear nothing either of man or of any other living thing, nor in that hour will you see anything of mortal affairs on earth, but rather you will see all immortal things. For in that day (545) and hour you will see the divine order of the skies: the presiding gods rising into heaven, and others setting.

In Paul, we see that the gifts of the spirit of 1 Corinthians 12 (miracles, discernment of spirits, spirits of knowledge and wisdom, prophecy, tongues, interpreting tongues, healing, demon exorcism, baptized in a spiritual body under the headship of Christ, etc.) are quite similar to that of those described in the PGM. But as Morton Smith notes, the most important element of Pauline Christology lacking in the PGM is the reference to life after death, which brings us to Faustus, who, like Paul (under the authority of Jesus, strangely enough) in 1 Corinthians 5, makes a deal with the Devil.

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Bringing Down the Heavens

The following excerpts are taken from G.R.S. Mead’s classic 1900 Fragments of a Forgotten Faith. In the book, G.R.S. Mead takes the reader on a guided tour through the history of heresy, by discussing key fertile crescent backgrounds and baptismal waters that gave birth to Gnosticism and Christianity in all their shades of glory. The following is taken from the section, “Gnosis According to Its Friends.” The Book of the Great Logos According to the Mystery, is a Gnostic text in fragmented form, from the Bruce Codex found by James Bruce, a travelling Scottish man who happened on it in upper Egypt, in 1769.

The Bruce Codex also features other Gnostic mystery texts like The Pistis Sophia and the Books of Jeu (IAO). The text itself presents Jesus Christ as an Illuminator and a universal Gnostic Savior, which isn’t all that different than the version of Jesus present in the Gospel of John. In fact, this version of Jesus has more to do with the Jesus presented in the Apocryphon of John (hence the emphasis on being attributed to John the Baptist), than other versions of Jesus as more of a Jewish Messiah, like we see in say the Gospel of Matthew.

Regarding the edited text: I reorganized the text to make it easier to read, so that is has a more logical and structured flow of ideas and quotes in accordance with the assigned title. The following version will feature underlines of the text that I want to highlight as well as some of the commentary that Mead offers on Jesus and his secret, mystery teachings that he passes on to his disciples. More underlines will be provided in the rest of the post. In many parts of this mystery text, there are also strong parallels with Hermetic literature as well, in particular with the Emerald Tablet of Hermes and the Corpus Hermeticum. After this, we will go into other connections as per the Knights Templar and Mete (Baphomet) and other related observations. 

Those with ears let them hear!

And Jesus saith: “I have loved you and longed to give you Life.”

“This is the Book of the Gnoses (pl.) of the Invisible God”; it is the Book of the Gnosis of Jesus the Living One, by means of which all the hidden mysteries are revealed to the elect. Jesus is the Saviour of Souls, the Logos of Life, sent by the Father from the Light-world to mankind, who taught His disciples the one and only doctrine, saying: “This is the doctrine in which all Gnosis dwelleth.”

Jesus saith: “Blessed is the man who crucifieth the world and doth not let the world crucify him.”

Jesus saith: “Blessed is the man who knoweth this [Word] and hath brought down the Heaven, and borne the earth and raised it heavenwards; and it [the Earth] becometh the midst, for it is a nothing.’

The Heaven is explained as being the invisible Word of the Father. They who know this–(who become children of the true Mind)–bring down Heaven to Earth. The raising of Earth to Heaven is the ceasing from being an earthly intelligence, by receiving the Word of these Gnoses (pl.) and becoming a Dweller in Heaven. Thus will they be saved from the Ruler of this World, and he will become the midst (that is to say, perhaps, that they will be above the Ruler and no longer subject to him as heretofore; he will be a “nothing” to them, that is to say, have no effect on them). Nay, the evil powers will envy them because they know Him, that He is not of this world and that no evil cometh from Him. But as for those who are born in the flesh of unrighteousness (and are not children of the Righteous Race, those of the second birth), they have no part in the Kingdom of the Father.

Thereupon the disciples are in despair, for they have been born “according to the flesh” and have known Him only “according to the flesh.” But the Master explains that not the flesh of their bodies is meant, but the flesh of unrighteousness and ignorance.”

The apostles answered and said, “Lord, Jesus, Thou Living One, teach us the Fullness and it sufficeth us.”

Now, let us compare this with the Emerald Tablet of Hermes:

“Thou shalt separate the Earth from the Fire, the subtle from the coarse, gently and with much ingenuity. It ascends from Earth to heaven and descends again to Earth, and receives the power of the superiors and the inferiors. Thus thou hast the glory of the whole world; therefore let all obscurity flee before thee. This is the strong fortitude of all fortitude, overcoming every subtle and penetrating every solid thing. Thus the world was created. Hence are all wonderful adaptations, of which this is the manner.”

I give the following commentary on all of this (minus the first excerpt) in my essay “The Gods of Imagination: Alchemy, Magic, and the Quintessence” which can be found in The Gnostic 6: A Journey of Gnosticism, Western Esotericism and Spirituality by Andrew Philip Smith. Here is one pertinent excerpt from my paper (if you want to read the entire paper, I suggest purchasing the book):

The famous axiom of “What is Below is like that which is Above sounds very close to what is described in the Gospel of Philip (Codex II), which records Jesus Christ performing initiation rites that sound much like that one of the Hermetic mystery schools of Alexandria, Egypt: “The Lord did everything in a mystery, a baptism and a chrism and a eucharist and a redemption and a bridal chamber. […] he said, “I came to make the things below like the things above, and the things outside like those inside. I came to unite them in the place.” The correspondence between the microcosm and the macrocosm, the inside and the outside of the totality of creation, is made explicit. This is reflective yet somehow different than Platonic thought: that the manifest world is merely a shadow of a greater truth, an ideal that can never be found in our daily reality.

Everything in creation, accordingly has its root in the transcendent, or the “One Thing.” The Emerald Tablet itself teaches in veiled language how to produce the alchemical Elixir of Life or “Quintessence,” the “Fifth Element,” that which is born from the “One Thing.” The father of this final product is the sun and the mother being the moon, which “defeats all subtle things and permeates all solids.” The sun symbolizes the fire; the moon, water; wind, air; and the earth, obviously, the Earth. The first three elements also correspond to sulphur, salt and mercury.

The Sun gives its life-giving rays throughout the solar system in a cyclical manner while providing its solar seeds into the Earth so that they may be “perfected.” All of these come from the One as adaptations, splitting off into specialized roles. The first three principal aspects of the One gather together to form the Earth. The three principal elements are separated out from the fourth element and purified and then recombined to form a new type of Earth, being the Fifth Element or the “Cosmic Quintessence.” That is the key to understanding all alchemy. The “Hermetic art” of alchemy itself as a mirror for psychological or spiritual transformation has a long tradition, going back at least to the time of Zosimos and way before that.

“Separate the Earth from the Fire, the Subtle from the Gross, repeatedly with great skillfulness.” This corresponds to the alchemical axiom of the Latin “Solve et Coagula,” meaning dissolve and coagulate or reconstitute. Any alchemical operation will involve these two fundamental steps. This process involves purging the influence of the lower and solidifying the influence of the higher and crystallizing it as a permanent substance on Earth. This process dissolves all of the impurities of matter and darkness until all that is left is the “true image” or the true expression of the “One Thing.” In this instance, we can see how Plato was using ancient, Hermetic-like ideas when he wrote in Timaeus 28a6, about how the divine Craftsman (the “Demiurge”), imitated the unchanging, eternal model above and imposes a mathematical order on the pre-existent primal chaos to generate the cosmos we know. The Demiurge, in this instance, can be seen as a cosmic alchemist or initiator who dissolves and perfects the chaotic realm into multiple structures and shapes based on the Eternal Forms above.

The alchemist raises the subtle into Heaven, from the below to the above, and allows it to descend again by dissolving one’s “wish” then coagulating it again after it has been above. The alchemist allows that creative imagination to descend into the Earth and bring with it the perfected substance. By the power of the “One Thing,” it becomes so. In the Corpus Hermeticum, Poimandres the Man-Shepard (1), we find this idea of ascending into the higher spheres, where the material body is dissolved into light and ascends.

“…To this Poimandres said: “First, in releasing the material body you give the body itself over to alteration, and the form that you used to have vanishes. To the demon you give over your temperament, now inactive. The body’s senses rise up and flow back to their particular sources, becoming separate parts and mingling again with the energies. And feeling and longing go on toward irrational nature. Thence the human being rushes up through the cosmic framework…”

To repeat what the Emerald Tablets of Hermes tells us, “The unique is of all the strengths the strongest strength. It defeats all subtle things and permeates all solids. In this way, the cosmic was created.” An alchemist might argue that this “strength” or force is that of the Philosopher’s Stone, the Pearl of the Great Price, the Divine Hermaphrodite, the Astral Fire, the Elixir of Life, being the “perfected” (Greek: teleios). These objects and symbols represent something that has completed the work of the alchemical process, called the Great Work (Magnum Opus). The final product can be called materialized spirit and spiritualized matter or what Carl Jung called the “coniunctio oppositorum.” It is the solid, unchanging realization of the above, which stands firm and “unshakable.” The spiritual is ironically represented as a physical object; the alchemical offspring or manifestation of the divine itself. The Philosopher’s Stone has completed the journey, which encases both worlds of “perfected” matter and spirit in its alloy.

One can emulate this process and apply it by becoming “co-creators” of manifestation through the imagination since man is created in the “image of God” and is able to define reality as Adam named the animals in the Garden of Eden. 

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The idea of “bringing down the heavens” also reminds us of Mete (an incarnation or aspect of Baphomet and Dionysus). Mete is supposedly a wisdom/mother-goddess figure with connections with Sophia-Achamoth, which appears on Templar artifacts. However, Mete appears to be much more demonic and chthonic than holy–which in some ways, reminds us of Hekate because she too was depicted with three faces as was Baphomet was rumored to be depicted as a Templar idol and touch-point for divination with spirits. This is where things turn dark. In our book, Baphomet: The Temple Mystery Unveiled, in the chapter “Baptism of Wisdom,” we examine Joseph Von Hammer Purgstall’s work, especially in his comparison of the Knights Templar with the Gnostic Ophites and their orgy magic and veneration of the serpent from Eden, the later of which is almost universally condemned by both the church fathers, Jewish philosophers like Philo, and pagan critics alike.

The way Hammer‐Purgstall thought that the Templars saw it, these impious deeds of debauchery would not have counted against them in the afterlife. Rather they would earn them brownie points. He believed that this was illustrated by one of the images he found:

“On the left side is exhibited the end of a Templar’s life, already dead and lying on the ground, with the Archangel Michael holding a judgment scale and weighing his deeds. The scale, on which were placed apples, desserts and other blandishments of the senses, and by which the Ophitic Templar’s life is represented, descending to the earth, shows that the judgment of Michael favors him, because in order to hinder Jaldabaoth, he tries to depress the other, ascending, part of the scale. . . . The . . .serpent, called by the gnostics, Michael, carries out the details of judgment in this way: thinking, in the day of judgment, about the life of the Templar, or Gnostic, he accepts all of his disgraceful deeds as good works. In this way [goes] the cycle of a Gnostic’s life.”

The goal of all these impieties may have been, as we have suggested, nothing less than the toppling of the heavenly order. This may explain, then, several of the images presented by Hammer‐Purgstall which involve a bearded and breasted figure (Mete, or Baphomet, according to him) holding a set of chains—one in each hand, seemingly attached to and hanging down from the sky. Hammer‐Purgstall had said these represent “a chain of aeons . . . of the Gnostics,” “the hermetic chain of the Neoplatonists, and “the gods’ chain in Homer.”

This Gnostic, Hermetic, and Neoplatonic “chain” appears to be the chain of causality, and of the interconnected hierarchies of creation. Since in Gnostcism, each aeon corresponds to an archonic entity, and each Archon corresponds to one of the seven “classical planets” (the Sun, the Moon, Mercury, Mars, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn), and each planet was, in antiquity, believed to rule over one of the seven heavens (viewed as being spherical and concentrically stacked inside each other like a Russian doll, with the Earth in the middle), one can imagine this as a chain running from the center of the Earth, through the sky, then up through each of the seven heavens and all the way up to the Pleroma on the outside, where the real “Father” resides.

As bat-shit crazy as it sounds, all of the infamous raunchy rumors and accusations of infanticide against the various Gnostic groups issued from the church fathers, had a specific end goal: to bring about the apocalypse or the annihilation of the cosmos, and end the natural order of things. This was because the world or cosmos was seen as entirely hostile and evil to the Gnostic (just as the Christian is said to be), as it was, naturally, the other way around.

Another way of look at this issue is that the so-called “Gnostic apocalypse” was that the Kingdom of God would eventually manifest in the world (while bringing an end to the current world system), even though it remains invisible to earth-born people, as it states in the Gospel of Thomas. Most of these groups were actually ascetics and were pious (but for different reasons than the Orthodox church). Some existed in between the two extremes (asceticism and libertinism). The cult of Carpocrates were more than likely libertine. And yet, even their libertinism certainly wasn’t abnormal for greater pagan civilization. For Christianity, yes, but there were plenty of pagan philosophers who advocated that sort of lifestyle. Zeno of Citium, the father of Stoicism, supposedly thought likewise (that man should run around like dogs and randomly have sex in the streets as they pleased).

Morton Smith in his controversial and much disputed discovery of the Secret Gospel of Mark, the early church leader, Clement, attempts to discredit claims by the Carpocratians that Christ and Lazarus, a young man whom he had just revived from the dead, had been seen naked together at night with Lazarus being initiated into the mysteries of the Kingdom of God. This is what some scholars might refer to as the “Gay Magical Jesus Hypothesis.” Please see Craig A. Evan’s Morton Smith and the Secret Gospel of Mark: Exploring the Grounds for Doubt, for the low down. (Long story short: he too, like many other Christian apologist scholars, think its a hoax perpetrated by Morton Smith.)

Morton Smith is also responsible for writing Jesus the Magician: Charlatan or Son of God?, in which I plan to write an in-depth review at a future time. But for now, let’s enjoy some made up juicy gossip about the Jewish source for Jesus’s divine magical powers, taken from the Toldot Yeshu. The resemblance between this text and the anti-Jesus legends of the Talmud, the Cabala, and the Mandaean Book of John (Sidra d’Yahya) and Book of Adam (Codex Nasarous), are all at once apparent.

After King Jannaeus, his wife Helene ruled over all Israel. In the Temple was to be found the Foundation Stone on which were engraved the letters of God’s Ineffable Name. Whoever learned the secret of the Name and its use would be able to do whatever he wished. Therefore, the Sages took measures so that no one should gain this knowledge. Lions of brass were bound to two iron pillars at the gate of the place of burnt offerings. Should anyone enter and learn the Name, when he left the lions would roar at him and immediately the valuable secret would be forgotten.

Yeshu came and learned the letters of the Name; he wrote them upon the parchment which he placed in an open cut on his thigh and then drew the flesh over the parchment. As he left, the lions roared and he forgot the secret. But when he came to his house he reopened the cut in his flesh with a knife an lifted out the writing. Then he remembered and obtained the use of the letters.

Epiphanius in the Panarion tells us wild tales of the Carpocratian swinging, bisexual orgies and escapades in efforts to escape the realm of astral fate and reincarnation.

4:3 By recklessly giving their minds to frenzy they have surrendered themselves to the sensations of countless pleasures. For they say that such things as men consider evil are not evil but good by nature17—nothing is evil by nature—but are regarded as evil by men.

4:4 And if one does all these things in this one incarnation the soul will not be embodied again to be cast down once more. By performing every action in one round it will escape, freed and with no more debt of activity in the world.

4:5 Again, I am afraid to say what sort of actions, or I might uncover a trench like a hidden sewer, and some might think that I am causing the blast of foul odour. Still, since I am constrained by the truth to disclose what goes on among the deluded, I am going to make myself speak—with some delicacy and yet without overstepping the bounds of the truth.

4:6 The plain fact is that these people perform every unspeakable, unlawful thing, which is not right even to say, and every kind of homosexual union and carnal intercourse with women, with every member of the body18

4:7 and that they perform magic, sorcery and idolatry and say that this is the discharge of their obligations in the body, so that they will not be charged any more or required to do anything else, and for this reason the soul will not be turned back after its departure and go on to another incarnation and transmigration.

But, it isn’t entirely implausible that there were libertine Gnostics who did those sorts of things. There are Christians who do similar things today, so why not back then? In the book, we also discuss one specific part of The Pistis Sophia, which contains a condemnation of ingesting semen, and since that’s a Gnostic text, it would appear that even the ascetic Gnostics themselves were aware of this practice.

Thomas said: “We have heard that there are some on the earth who take the male seed and the female monthly blood, and make it into a lentil porridge and eat it, saying: ‘We have faith in Esau and Jacob.’ Is this then seemly or not?”

Jesus was wroth with the world in that hour and said unto Thomas: “Amen, I say: This sin is more heinous than all sins and iniquities. Such men will straightway be taken into the outer darkness and not be cast back anew into the sphere, but they shall perish, be destroyed in the outer darkness in a region where there is neither pity nor light, but howling and grinding of teeth. And all the souls which shall be brought into the outer darkness, will not be cast back anew, but will be destroyed and dissolved.”

pp. 322-323 (G.R.S. Mead Translation 1921)

The accusations of secret rituals/black mass has its origins (ironically) in Roman attempts to discredit early Christians/Gnostics and Dionysian cults (especially in Celsus in the True Doctrine). The trope evolved and absorbed by the Orthodox and used it against the heretics later on that continued to evolve from Irenaeus to Epiphanius to Constantine and finally by the papacy between the 10th and 12th centuries in the infamously bat-shit crazy papal bull Vox in Rama of Pope Gregory IX, which was directed against German heretical Bogomils who were accused of a “Luciferian” devil-worshiping heresy while made edicts to torture and kill all black cats because of their association with Satanic Bogomil rituals and even as an incarnation of Satan himself. (This may also be connected with the leontocephalus [lion-headed] gods, like Mithras and Ialdabaoth, in the ancient world.)

Yes, slander against the Gnostics and later Cathars and Bogomils were on the same level of accusations of devil worship, unnatural vices and heresy, against the Templars. In most cases, however, they are more than likely evidence-free fabrications, which were only “proven” by confessions extracted under torture (which were later recanted). There is little evidence of them doing so, however, despite much later accusations from 18th and 19th century scholars, from the French Revolution onward. So, like their earlier Gnostic brethren, the Templars, too, were deemed a threat to the Catholic Church, scapegoated, sacrificed as the “other” (Azazel) and were wiped out, through stake-fire and blood. In other words, while the Templars, perhaps held to secret doctrines and rites–perhaps they too, fell as victims of the Orthodox rumor mill that led to the Grand Inquisition of torture and sacrifice of all heretics.

While the connection between the Ophites and the Templars remains tenuous at best (as per Joseph Von Hammer-Purgstall’s writings), there is evidence the Templars did practice some sort of composite secret Johannite (John the Baptist as the “true Christ”) heresy that may go back all the way to the Mandaeans, the cult of Abrasax and Basilides, as we discuss in the book at length. Jules Loiseleur in his 1872 book, La doctrine secrète des Templiers, rejected Hammer-Purgstall’s pet theory that they were secretly Ophites and instead replaces it with his own construct of them being secretly Luciferian Bogomils…

Nesta Webster goes into all this more in depth in chapter 3 of Secret Societies and Subversive Movements, where she also writes about the frenetic connections between the Bogomils, John the Baptist, the Templars, Freemasonry, and Jewish Babylonian witchcraft (I placed ellipses in between the various excerpts taken from the third chapter of the book). However, I cannot, in the right mind, agree with her overall assessment of Gnosticism as a whole, among other subjects. I would cover more about the Bogomils but her lurid summary of their supposed blasphemies really takes the cake–more than I care to expose here. (You can read it for yourself in the book).

If the Templar heresy was that of the Johannites, the head in question might possibly represent that of John the Baptist, which would accord with the theory that the word Baphomet was derived from Greek words signifying baptism of wisdom. This would, moreover, not be incompatible with Loiseleur’s theory of an affinity between the Templars and the Bogomils, for the Bogomils also possessed their own version of the Gospel of St. John, which they placed on the heads of their neophytes during the ceremony of initiation, giving as the reason for the peculiar veneration they professed for its author that they regarded St. John as the servant of the Jewish God Satanael.(75) Eliphas Lévi even goes so far as to accuse the Templars of following the occult practices of the Luciferians, who carried the doctrines of the Bogomils to the point of paying homage to the powers of darkness:

“Let us declare for the edification of the vulgar . . . and for the greater glory of the Church which has persecuted the Templars, burned the magicians and excommunicated the Free-Masons, etc., let us say boldly and loudly, that all the initiates of the occult sciences . . . have adored, do and will always adore that which is signified by this frightful symbol [the Sabbatic goat]. Yes, in our profound conviction, the Grand Masters of the Order of the Templars adored Baphomet and caused him to be adored by their initiates.”

The Sabbatic goat is clearly of Jewish origin. Thus the Zohar relates that ” Tradition teaches us that when the Israelites evoked evil spirits, these appeared to them under the form of he-goats and made known to them all that they wished to learn.“–Section Ahre Moth, folio 70a (de Pauly, V. 191).

What is the explanation of this choice of St. John for the propagation of anti-Christian doctrines which we shall find continuing up to the present day ? What else than the method of perversion which in its extreme form becomes Satanism, and consists in always selecting the most sacred things for the purpose of desecration? Precisely then because the Gospel of St. John is the one of all the four which most insists on the divinity of Christ, the occult anti-Christian sects have habitually made it the basis of their rites.

So Mote It Be

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And finally, there are also more compelling parallels between Jesus of the Gospel of John and Hermes himself, that I have not seen anyone else bring up. The Corpus Hermeticum XI (22), presents Hermes as an initiator and revealer of the divine mysteries to his student/son Tat.

[22] “And do you say, ‘God is unseen’? Hold your tongue! Who is more visible than God? This is why he made all things: so that through them all you might look on him. This is the goodness of God, this is his excellence: that he is visible through all things. For nothing is unseen, not even among the incorporeals. Mind is seen in the act of understanding, God in the act of making.”

“Up to this point, O Trismegistus, these matters have been revealed to you. Consider all the rest in the same way – on your own – and you will not be deceived.”

In the Gospel of John, we read Jesus Christ’s words:

“He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.” John 14:21 KJV

The Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC) reads:

20 At that time [when that day comes] you will know [for yourselves] that I am in My Father, and you [are] in Me, and I [am] in you.

21 The person who has My commands and keeps them is the one who [really] loves Me; and whoever [really] loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I [too] will love him and will show (reveal, manifest) Myself to him. [I will let Myself be clearly seen by him and make Myself real to him.]

The Names of God Edition (NOG) gives us the third translation:

20 On that day you will know that I am in my Father and that you are in me and that I am in you. 21 Whoever knows and obeys my commandments is the person who loves me. Those who love me will have my Father’s love, and I, too, will love them and show myself to them.”

One can go to many translations and you will find the word “manifest” as meaning to reveal, to disclose, show, take off the cover, pierce the veil, to show plainly, etc. This is just one verse of many that the Christian must have a full revelation of Jesus Christ. In essence, Christ is the divine spirit that manifests in the believer and reveals the gnosis. Jesus Christ himself is this Gnostic knowledge. It this knowledge that makes the unregenerate, regenerate, that heals the spiritually sick sinner, opens the eyes of the blind, and drives out the strongman and his legion (Matthew 12:29). This is the rebirth process that both Jesus Christ in the Gospel of John and Hermes in the Corpus Hermeticum discuss at great length as well.

Phanes, the Orphic mystical god of creation and regeneration, also comes from the Greek phainein to shine, (in passive) appear or reveal. Phanes is also equated with Eros and sometimes Mithras, who either emerges from Aion’s silver egg or the dark abyss to “bring forth” and “to bring light” to the universe, just like we see in Genesis and 2 Enoch creation accounts as well as the prologue from the Gospel of JohnThe Derveni Papyrus refers to Phanes as:

Πρωτογόνου βασιλέως αἰδοίου∙ τῶι δ’ ἄρα πάντες ἀθάνατοι προσέφυν μάκαρες θεοὶ ἠδ̣ὲ θέαιναι καὶ ποταμοὶ καὶ κρῆναι ἐπήρατιο ἄλλα τε πάντα , ἅ̣σσα τότ’ ἦγγεγαῶτ ’ , αὐτὸς δ’ ἄρα μοῦνος ἔγεντο.

“Of the First-born king, the reverend one; and upon him all the immortals grew, blessed gods and goddesses and rivers and lovely springs and everything else that had then been born; and he himself became the sole one”

In the Corpus Hermeticum XIII, we read:

A secret dialogue of Hermes Trismegistus on the mountain to his son Tat: On being born again, and on the promise to be silent [1]

“My father, you spoke indistinctly and in riddles when talking about divinity in the General Discourses; claiming that no one can be saved before being born again, you offered no revelation. But after you talked with me coming down from the mountain, I became your suppliant and asked to learn the discourse on being born again since, of all the discourses, this one alone I do not know. And you said you would deliver it to me when ‘you were about to become a stranger to the cosmos.’ I have prepared myself, and I have steeled my purpose against the deceit of the cosmos. Grant me what I need and give me – whether aloud or in secret – the being born again that you said you would deliver. I do not know what sort of womb mankind was born from, O Trismegistus, nor from what kind of seed.” [2]

“My child, is the wisdom of understanding in silence, and the seed is the true good.”

“Who sows the seed, father? I am entirely at a loss.”

“The will of God, my child.”

“And whence comes the begotten, father? He does not share in my essence [ ].”

The begotten will be of a different kind, a God and a child of God, the all in all, composed entirely of the powers.

Tat in the rest of the discourse becomes increasingly frustrated with his dad Hermes because of his mystical “riddles” and gobbledygook, in effort to know how to be reborn. Finally, Hermes yields a solid answer to Tat, telling him to renounce his flesh, the world and the “tormentors” inside it (i.e. evil spirits that induce ignorance, various lusts of the flesh and oblivion). This is very similar to how Jesus in many instances in the Gospels conducts exorcisms and cast out demons while in the Pauline literature, Christians are rebuked and required to “crucify” their flesh and “deceitful lusts”.

“Leave the senses of the body idle, and the birth of divinity will begin. Cleanse yourself of the irrational torments of matter.”

“Do I have tormenters in me, father?”

“More than a few, my child; they are many and frightful.”

“I am ignorant of them, father.”

1 John 3:1 tells us something similar to Hermes’ words:

Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.

To “behold” means to look upon, to see what is revealed. The beholder is granted the Divine Vision and the inner man is transformed from the inside out through divine love. The “beholders” are also referred to as initiates of theurgy in Neoplatonism via Iamblihcus, as well. And yet, as we’ve already seen in Porphyry, he actually revered the figure of Jesus Christ, as much as he argued against the Christians of his time. However, much of his work has been destroyed thanks to Emperor Constantine’s edicts and only survives in fragments preserved as quotations by the Church historian and forger, Eusebius.

The great Romanian historian and religious scholar, Mircea Eliade, in The Quest for the “Origins” of Religion, tells us some fascinating lore regarding the connection between ancient Christianity and Hermetic religion.

In 1463, a year before Cosimo’s death, these translations were complete. Thus Corpus hermeticum was the first Greek text to be translated and published by Marsilio Ficino. Only afterward did he start working on Plato. This detail is important. It sheds light on an aspect of the Italian Renaissance ignored or at least neglected by the historians of a generation ago.

Both Cosimo and Ficino were thrilled by the discovery of a primordial revelation, that is, the one disclosed in the Hermetical writings. And, of course, they had no reason to doubt that the Corpus hermeticum represented the very words of Hermes the Egyptian, that is, the oldest revelation accessible-one which preceded that of Moses and which inspired Pythagoras and Plato as well as the Persian Magi. Though he exalted the holiness and the veracity of the hermetic texts, Ficino did not-and could not-suspect himself of not being a good Christian. Already in the second century the Christian apologist Lactantius considered Hermes Trismegistos a divinely inspired sage, and interpreted some Hermetic prophecies as fulfilled in the birth of Jesus Christ.

Marsilio Ficino reasserted this harmony between Hermetism and Hermetic magic on the one hand and Christianity on the other. No less sincere was Pico della Mirandola, who considered that Magia and Cabbala confirmed the divinity of Christ. Pope Alexander VI had a fresco teeming with Egyptian-that is, Hermetic-images and symbols painted in the Vatican! This was done not for aesthetic or ornamental reasons; rather, Alexander VI wanted to mark his protection of the exalted and occult Egyptian tradition. Such an extravagant interest in Hermetism is highly significant. It discloses the Renaissance man’s longing for a “primordial revelation” which could include not only Moses and Cabbala but also Plato and, first and foremost, the mysterious religions of Egypt and Persia. It reveals also a profound dissatisfaction with the medieval theology and medieval conceptions of man and the universe; a reaction against what we may call “provincial,” that is, purely Western Christianity; a longing for a universalistic, transhistorical, “mythical” religion.

For almost two centuries Egypt and Hermetism, that is, the Egyptian magic, obsessed innumerable theologians and philosophers-believers as well as unbelievers or crypto-atheists. If Giordano Bruno acclaimed Copernicus’ discoveries enthusiastically, it was because he thought that the heliocentrism had a profound religious and magical meaning. While he was in England, Giordano Bruno prophesied the imminent return of the magical religion of the ancient Egyptians as it was described in Asclepius. Bruno felt superior to Copernicus, for whereas Copernicus understood his own theory only as a mathematician, Bruno could interpret the Copernican diagram as a hieroglyph of divine mysteries.

 

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More as it develops…

 

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Book Review: Icons of Power: Ritual Practices in Late Antiquity

Icons of Power: Ritual Practices in Late Antiquity. By Naomi Janowitz. Magic in History Series. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2002. xxviii + 161 pp. 

In Icons of Power: Ritual Practices In Late Antiquity, the author Naomi Janowitz explores the rich and dazzling power of ritual magic and theurgy throughout the ancient world in Jewish, Christian and Greek practices. She isn’t concerned with magic in general terms, but with specific practices of ancient cults, secret societies, Jewish and Christian mystics and Hermetic alchemists throughout the book such as chanting of heavenly liturgies to the utterance of barbarous, holy names, to the manipulation of magical amulets and the transformation of metals. I will quote specific passages in the book that jump out for my attention. In the first chapter, she makes it clear why magical practices were used in the first place, in the Introduction:

Some of these rituals presumed a vast cosmos with dizzying layers of heavens full of entourges of angels–the higher and farther away from earth and matter, the better. In this multiheavened cosmology, a trip upward was a means for traversing the cosmos and gaining access to the upper regions where the deity dwelt. Escape was the goal, escape from the bonds of earthly existence and life in the body, including fate, decay, and death.

In the first chapter, “Late Antique Theories of Efficacy”, Naomi goes on to describe these rituals (p. 1):

Paradoxically, rituals that claim to reveal divinity on earth can look to outsiders as if their purpose is to manipulate that same divine power. The difference is in the eye of the beholder. Similarly, distinguishing between the work of an angel and a daimon, between the work of good forces and evil forces is a subtle, if not impossible, task. (I am using the word “daimon” and not “demon” to emphasize that in Late Antiquity these beings were not always evil.)

Throughout the first chapter, Naomi makes some succinct observations in that Christians, Jews and Pagans all criticized one another as being secret practitioners of magic, in one form or another — whether it be the Jewish practice of fasting, Sabbath observance or animal sacrifice, or in that Christians practiced sorcery and Gnostic doctrines in a quasi-Masonic fashion, as Celsus writes in the True Doctrine:

Of associations some are public, and these are in accordance with the laws; others, again, secret, and maintained in violation of the laws; of this latter sort is Christianity. The Christians teach and practice their favorite doctrines in secret. They do this to some purpose, seeing they escape the penalty of death which is imminent; similar dangers were encountered by such men as Socrates for the sake of philosophy. Their “love-feasts” had their origin in the common danger, and are more binding than any oaths.

Such “love-feasts” are also heavily influenced by the cults of Dionysus and surrounding rumors of rapacious wine-fueled orgies of sex, murder and mayhem as Livy in Roman History exposes like a tabloid journalist.

Moving on, her discussion of theurgy brings up points that I’ve made in my previous post that touches on Iamblichus and Pophyry, when she writes (p. 5):

Rituals, Iamblichus explains, do not always make sense to humans, even to insiders, but they do make sense to the gods. The gods send down instructions to complete certain actions that look strange to humans but that “perfect” humans. These acts provide what the dialecticians lack in their investigation of divinity.

In her discussion of Iamblichus’s and Pophyry’s different stances on theurgy, she reveals that Iamblichus has much more negative view on such practices such as animating statues, earthly sympathies, idolatry and divination, which reveals his as Janowitz puts it “philosophical snobbery.” These are all merely human sciences while theurgy is not, but a “divine science.” This, I might add, is the same as Gnostic knowledge.

Janowitz also discusses Saint Augustine’s views on theurgy, which is the typical orthodox reaction against all forms of pagan “magic.” The orthodox believe that all magic, Right Hand Path or Left Hand Path, thaumaturgic or theurgic, is evil, because it relies on knowledge and the individual will rather than faith and God’s will. Theurgy for Augustine, is nothing but a clever con game of lying demons and attacks the heart of pagan ritual practice. Janowitz reveals that other Christian theologians like John Chrysostom advocated Christian rituals with words and prayers only.

Some magicians like Apollonius of Tyana did not even need prayers, sacrifices or even words to perform miracles, much like Jesus Christ, who relied entirely on his own innate divine powers while bringing down heaven to earth and driving out evil powers. Other philosophers and dialecticians like Plotinus dismissed external magical ritual and prayers altogether and ridiculed others, like the Gnostics for the sins of hissing, melodies, shrieks and barbarous magical chanting as well as telling myths of the fall of Sophia and the creation of the world and such. But Janowtiz also reveals that Plotinus himself only appears “rational” because he admits ignorance rather than engage in the telling of myths like the Gnostics do and his holy grail quest to be “god-like” and the realization of his “divine soul” is in actuality, irrational, by today’s materialist/secular standards. This is one of the better chapters in the book, IMHO. 

In Chapter 2, “The Divine name as Effective Language,” Jewish mysticism, the efficacy of words in the creation account of Genesis and the magical nation of the tetragrammaton YHWH is explored in great detail, with the “I am” proclamations and the like. She focuses more on Targums, rabbinic midrash and such to make her case. Janowitz rightly connects the creation of the world with the divine name itself, when she writes (p. 24):

The act of speaking created the world, and thereby the very possibility of speaking to the world. The “creativity” of all the other words and usages pales in comparison. All other creative speech is only secondary, reflected power that is dependent on the primal creative speech that established creation itself. Divine language sets the standard for creative power of language, and the most important word in the divine language is the name of the deity.

Janowitz also uses many instances in apocryphal works in how various Biblical patriarchs wielded the Divine Name like a sword in how King Solomon uses the Divine Name (Sabaoth specifically) to subdue and interrogate the demon Asmodeus with a magical ring as well as punishing the devil with the “fear of God” (The Testament of Solomon 24) or Moses, in killing an Egyptian with the Divine Name as described in Exodus Rabba 1.29. And yet the Divine Name could also reanimate life, such as the cases of medieval Kabbalists using it to raise the dead, or create a golem out of dead flesh or mud much like YHWH did with Adam in Genesis.

Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. – Job 1:21 (KJV)

Up next in Chapter 3, “Thinking With the Divine Name,” Janowitz explores the Christian interpretation of the Divine Name through the Catholic theologian Origen and Dionysus the Areopagite. In Origen, we find him defending the Christian usage of divine names against Celsus, especially when invoking Jesus Christ’s name to heal the sick and lame, cast out devils and perform other miracles as advocated in the New Testament. As Janowitz points out, Origen also refutes Celsus’s perennial sounding argument in that all the diverse names for God are universal and hence, refer to the same deity.

According to Origen, this argument was planted by daimons, who “attribute their own names to the Supreme God so that they may be worshiped as the Supreme God” (Exhortation to Martyrdom 46).

Janowitz goes on to discuss how the nature of the divine names in themselves are automatic and not restricted on the intention of the speaker, whether it be for good or ill such as prayer and studying and hearing holy scripture of both the NT and the OT vs. speaking a pagan god’s name like Zeus that would inadvertently summon a powerful daimon. The various names and prayers attributed to YHWH must be recited in Hebrew if they are to have any magical effect on the person, so says Origen. Origen also compares God’s proclamation of “Let there be light” of Genesis with the Prologue of the Gospel of John‘s “In the beginning was the word.” The “word” or Logos also has a creative faculty and is further expanded upon by later Gnostic and Valentinian texts and teachers like Theodotus, Ptolemy, and Heracleon’s rich and mystical commentaries. In fact, it is these Gnostic teachers that were the first to make extensive exegesis on Christian scripture, anticipating later Orthodox Catholic exegetes like Origen and Clement of Alexandria, who are simply reacting to much earlier tradition and smears it all as “heresy” and “heretics” (in reality they are the real heretics here). That’s the name of the Orthodox game, however. She does not mention any of these Gnostic figures but she does discuss Marcus the Magician in the next chapter.

Dionysus the Areopagite or Psuedo-Dionysus is a mysterious theological figure without a concrete identity who uses Neoplatonic cosmology and dresses it all up with Christian language. His take on the Divine Name is Apophatic (Negative Theology) in that God is so good and wonderful that He does not even have a name and is content in calling Him the “Nameless One.” This idea is very similar to how Gnostic texts like the Apocryphon of John describe God and the Pleroma in terms of what God isn’t. Hesitation in labeling Dionysus as a Gnostic, however, is quite strong in this case. Philo, Justin Martyr and the authors of the Corpus Hermeticum also make similar mystical statements. Dionysus also makes some fascinating comparisons between the Christian Eucharist and theurgy by insisting that those who partake of this Christian ritual are deified as a miracle from God.

In Chapter 4, “The Meaning of Letters: From Divine Name to Cosmic Sounds,” begins on building on the previous chapter. This is probably my favorite chapter. Here Janowitz discusses Marcus the Magician’s practices and secret knowledge that apparently he received from a female heavenly figure akin to Sophia as described by Irenaeus in Against the Heresies (1.14.1). Much of Marcus’s teachings expand upon on the Johannite Prologue of the Gospel of John and are also quite similar to Hebrew Kabbalist texts like the Book of Creation (Sefer Yetsira) which discuss the creation of the world through letters and numbersa comparison in which Janowitz explores in great detail. Although she does not mention this author, Andrei Orlav in Divine Scapegoats: Demonic Mimesis in Early Jewish Mysticism, makes similar but more in-depth arguments about Adoil from 2 Enoch being similar to the Word, in that they both jump-start the visible process of creation.

Marcus was also big on the practices of sacred geometry, gematria, and isospephia, all of which involve words and corresponding numbers, such as how Jesus Christ’s name equaling to 888, revealing the divine nature of his name and how it corresponds to the Ogdoad, the eighth realm of Sophia. Vowels for Marcus were also equated with the planets. The highest-level name is actually beyond mortal comprehension and cannot be uttered by mere humans. The next name that can be uttered, though is Jesus Christ. As mentioned by Irenaeus, a Gnostic Ophite practice also involves numbers in adding up the letters of names that equal less than 100 means that it is “material” and is thus lesser value. Anything more would obviously be more valuable. There’s a lot more to be said here, but reading the book would be the next best thing.

Chapter 5, “Using Names, Letters, and Praise: The Language of Ascent,” is mostly about ascension mysticism, in yet again, a Jewish context. In particular, Janowitz focuses on Hebrew hekhalot (palace) texts or merkabah (chariot) texts, which describe the heavenly realms, liturgies of the heavenly chorus, prays to call down angels such as the Prince of the Torah (i.e. Metatron), etc. The ancient accusation by Celsus that the Jews were “addicted to sorcery” and were “angel worshipers” is made clear in this chapter. The Books of Enoch depicts similar accounts where Enoch is taken a celestial tour of Heaven and Hell, respectively. She also compares these texts to the Mithras Liturgy, which also involves bodily transformation of a mortal into the immortal high heavens. Comparisons are also made to Celsus’ Ophites who show magical “symbols,” “seals,” or “icons” to the gatekeepers or archons as they pass through the levels of heaven as well as the Ascension of Isaiah, which tells a similar story. These symbols might be related to the various Gnostic amulets that feature mystical terms and images of “IAO” “Abrasax” and the like. Although she does not mention this text (she could have easily done so), the First Apocalypse of James is all about the ascent of the soul and the astral journey through the cosmic spheres and the confrontational dialogue with the archons.

Janowitz makes it clear that the heavenly ascent is done through the repetition of vowel sounds, divine names and heavenly liturgy (angelic cults envisioning being involved with the cherubim and seraphim singing praises to God) as discussed in the Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice, of the Qumran Dead Sea Scrolls. To engage in such activities meant that the participant would become immortal by being granted the Divine Vision. Most convincing is her comparison with the Gnostic text Marsanes, with these Jewish texts. There are many hymns, silences, the invocation of names, and the vocalization of stringed vowels that only make sense in the context of theurgy.

Chapter Six, “Combining Words and Deeds Angelic Imprecations in the Book of Secrets,” continues on with Jewish mystical tradition; only this time, the focus is placed on a Jewish witchcraft text the Book of Secrets or the Book of Raziel. Janowitz rightfully compares it with the Greek Magical Papyri (PGM), as it has many practical spells — ranging everything from healing the sick, divining the future, influencing kings in your favor, binding yourself to a “great woman”, and speaking with the spirits, planets and stars. She has a very helpful table that lists all the spells in the book, too. Very nice. Instead of relying on demons or familiar spirits, the magician instead relies on angelic powers in legal oaths and pacts so that they may carry our your wishes and goals, which are often fueled by a personal and a financial drive for success.

Later in the chapter, Janowitz discusses how animal sacrifices in Judaism and other pagan religions are directed more towards lower spirits like the elementals, daimons and angels and not God, necessarily. This is why philosophers like Porphyry rejected animal sacrifice/the eating of meat and advocated vegetarianism because daimons or demons feed off of animal sacrifice. Origen and Celsus said the same thing where the daimons will even go as far as to steal a sacrifice made for a god or angel. It is interesting that both angels and demons are allured by the shed blood of the sacrifice — especially in context of both pagan Gentile sacrifice and Jewish-Israelite sacrifice as discussed by Origen in On the First Principles (1.8.1).

In fact, Jewish sacrifice is also very much intertwined with the “Divine Scapegoat” i.e. Azazel, who himself is a desert angelic demon or “serim”. Janowitz points out how many Rabbinic wizards throughout history have equated the sacrifice of a “scapegoat” for Azazel as a sacrifice to Satan, while we see Aaron in Leviticus 16:8 sacrifice “one” (a goat) for the Lord, and one for the “scapegoat” which is Azazel. Just as Jehovah makes a covenant or pact with Abraham and the children of Israel with shed blood, so does Azazel who also needs a contract, signed with blood with Israel as well. Although Janowitz does not mention this — stranger still, many church fathers throughout history have made several allusions and comparisons between Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and the fallen angel and prototype Baphomet, Azazel — a subject in which will be examined in a future post.

The last chapter, “Transformation by Deed Alone: The Case of Alchemy” takes a quite different turn than the rest of the book, which seems to be mostly concerned with Jewish magic. The transformation of metals and substances are focused on as she is mostly concerned with the Gnostic-Hermetist Zosimos’s writings. These writings are both allegorical as well literal in the sense that these ancient theories linked the ritual transformation of metals with the spiritual transformation of the adept himself: “By means of fire, the metal makes a dramatic progression upward to another type of existence, exactly as human bodies can” (p. 119). Sacrifices are also involved, but the sacrifice isn’t concerned with animals, but with the initiate himself. In Zosimos’s Visions, Zosimos falls asleep and dreams that he walks seven steps of fleshy mortification that leads to the krater or altar shaped bowl with boiling water of wisdom.

The priest being Zosimos, is both the sacrifice and the sacrificer, as he learns that “casting off the body’s coarseness, and, consecrated by necessity” means that the priest has become “spirit.” Various metals like copper and silver are applied to men as one copper man has “his eyes turned to blood and he vomited up all his flesh. And I saw him as a mutilated image of a little man and he was tearing at his flesh and falling away.” Such ghastly and hellish visions that come straight out of Clive Barker’s Hellraiser or Dante’s Inferno relate to the state of Nigredo, the judgement and descent of the soul into Hell or Hades. This stage of the Second Death is necessary if the metallic souls are to reach their most purified state — the state of spirit and Gold, which is the rebirth.

It all relates directly to rebirth as described in Corpus Hermeticum XIII (with the 12 tormentors of the zodiac which must be transcended), as well as the symbolic cup or krater of Knowledge in Corpus Hermeticum IV (where the enlightened ones immersed themselves in). 
He filled a great mixing bowl with it and sent it below, appointing a herald whom he commanded to make the following proclamation to human hearts: “Immerse yourself in the mixing bowl if your heart has the strength, if it believes you will rise up again to the one who sent the mixing bowl below, if it recognizes the purpose of your coming to be.” All those who heeded the proclamation and immersed themselves in mind participated in knowledge and became perfect people because they received mind.

Zosimos’s recipes of cooking and transforming metals illustrate as Janowitz writes, that there is no big enough gulf to separate the grossness of the flesh with the highest spirit of heaven. In our book Baphomet: The Temple Secret Unveiled, Tracy and I go into Zosimos’ literature and how it all relates to the Holy Grail and the bizarre and disturbing rituals of the Knights Templar as well.

Her “Concluding Note” chapter attempts to synthesize all of the materials addressed in the book. Her primary focus on Jewish temple ritual and domestic and consultant magic spells is apparent while the extraneous addition of Zosimos’s work is somewhat jarring and doesn’t exactly fit with the rest of the book. At the same time, it doesn’t necessarily detract from her work either. It would have served her case better if she had made more comparisons with Gnostic texts in comparison with all of the Jewish mystical traditions that she certainly succeeds in analyzing. In fact, Zosimos’s alchemical work may be successfully compared to many sections of the Apocryphon of John, a Sethian Gnostic text. It illustrates how much Hermetism and Gnosticism were more than likely part of the same milieu or tradition. In any case, Janowitz is successful in bringing all these diverse magical traditions of the ancient world together with a careful and analytical eye. I would have to concur with David Frankfurter’s concluding words in his review of Icons of Power:

While it may leave the reader craving more explanation, more thoroughness in the ideas, Icons of Power captures a fascinating element of late antique ritual speculation, in which certain words, written or spoken, were imagined as connected intrinsically to the Divine and therefore subject to efficacious manipulation or utterance.

In a future post, we will explore an even more controversial book, Jesus the Magician by Morton Smith.

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Theurgy and Knowledge in the Chaldean Oracles, IAO and Hekate

First and foremost, what is theurgy? It is essentially a sacramental mystery rite that overlaps into the realm of magic and the occult. It is a ritual process in which the initiate’s mind and vision is purified so that they might behold and “see” the majesty of the gods, through consecrations, prayers, unintelligible incantations (like the Christian charisma of speaking in tongues), and various meditative practices. The aim of theurgy is fundamentally different than the other Greek differentiation of magic of “goetia”. Stephen Skinner in Techniques of Graeco-Egyptian Magic writes (p. 10):

The Greeks made a clear distinction between goetia (γοητεία) the magic of the goes (γόης), and that of theurgia (θεουργία). It is difficult to be sure of what was exactly meant by the ancient Greeks when they used the term γοητεία, as it was associated with rites for the dead. Goetia (γοητεία) and goes (γόης) were later used in the sense they acquired in the Latin grimoires of ‘dealing with spirits,’ rather than in the sense outlined in Johnston of ‘dealing with the dead.’

Theurgia is a quite separate category, and is a descendant, via Porphyry and Iamblichus of Chalcis, of the ancient Mysteries. This usage has persisted through to 13th century (and later) grimoires. It has been suggested that theurgia, meaning “divine work,” was a term that might even have been invented by the group of Neoplatonically inclined magicians, including luminaries like Iamblichus, probably based in Alexandria around the 2nd century CE. The theurgists were concerned with purifying and raising the consciousness of individual practitioners to the point where they could have direct communion with the gods. The theurgists were in a sense the inheritors of the ancient Greek Mysteries which aimed to introduce the candidate directly to the gods.

Iamblichus was one such Theurgist. He was a Syrian-born descendant (roughly around 250-330 in Chalcis, Coele-Syria) of a long of royal priest-kings and was known throughout his life as an incredibly wise and saintly man. However, the guy did not live a life of poverty and was actually quite wealthy, just as was many of his Gnostic predecessors (although there is no evidence that Iamblichus was a “Gnostic” in the purest sense). His wealth allowed him to be a full-time student of magic and philosophy, unrestrained by the worries of common folk and peasants. He had slaves that tended to his material needs (which were eventually set free after short intervals of service), while he dedicated his life to Neo-Platonic and Pythagorean mysteries at the best academies and schools that Syria had to offer.

Iamblichus’ teachers included Anatolius and the Neo-Platonic scholar, Porphyry of Tyre (a pun on the Phoenician royal colors of purple and gold). Iamblichus was an ardent supporter for theurgy, essentially teaching that it was the only way for the salvation of the soul, from its descent into the embodiment in matter. Porphyry was born in the same capital city of Phoenicia that Simon Magus was said to have found his prostitute wife, Helena and redeemed her. Porphyry once wrote a scathing treatise called Against the Christians, which was a rather aggravated text that explained certain logical flaws in the philosophies and behaviors of the contemporary Christians, much like his predecessor Celsus did in the True Doctrine. It is said that Porphyry was not criticizing Christ but criticizing the Christians, the same sect of believers that Celsus describes as a diabolical secret society working against the Roman Empire as well as Julian the Apostate, who declares them as simply “Galileans.” In his work on the Philosophy of Oracles, Porphyry says of Christ, as quoted by St. Augustine (“De Civitate Dei,” l. xix. cap. 23; comp. also Eusebius’ “Demonst. Evang.,” iii. 6):—

The oracle declared Christ to be a most pious man, and his soul, like the soul of other pious men after death, favored with immortality; and that the mistaken Christians worship him. And when we asked, Why, then, was he condemned? the goddess (Hecate) answered in the oracle: The body indeed is ever liable to debilitating torments; but the soul of the pious dwells in the heavenly mansion. But that soul has fatally been the occasion to many other souls to be involved in error, to whom it has not been given to acknowledge the immortal Jove. But himself is pious, and gone to heaven as other pious men do. Him, therefore, thou shalt not blaspheme; but pity the folly of men, because of the danger they are in.

Porphyry also decries Jesus’ doctrine of the Eucharist found in the Gospel of John, as this quote is found in Macarius, Apocriticus III: 15:

That saying of the Teacher is a far-famed one, which says, “Except ye eat my flesh and drink my blood, ye have no life in yourselves.” Truly this saying is not merely beast-like and absurd, but is more absurd than any absurdity, and more beast-like than any fashion of a beast, that a man should taste human flesh, and drink the blood of members of the same tribe and race, and that by doing this he should have eternal life. For, tell, me, if you do this, what excess of savagery do you introduce into life?

Porphyry of Tyre (ca. 232/300-305 AD) believed that a God beyond being and comprehension was accessible through the intellect and that philosophers could gain access to divinity through one’s own intellectual effort in order for the soul’s embodied awareness could be completely transformed by this exercise of philosophical contemplation or “theoria”. To Porphyry, this was indeed the most effective path that one can sojourn to the gods by beholding this purely intellectual vision. This tradition of the Divine Vision can be found in other sources, especially in Plato’s Phaedrus. “Theoria” or contemplation was an important part of philosophy espoused by Plato in order for the soul to ascend and gain knowledge of the “Form of the Good”. Porphyry’s teacher, Plotinus (they both studied in Rome, 263-269 A.D.) also believed contemplation to be a critical component into gaining “henosis” or a visionary union with the One or Monad. (See Sententiae 32 and Ennead I. 2, Ennead 6.9.xx, as examples of how both Porphyry and Plotinus used “theoria” to experience the non-being of the “One.”)

Zeke Mazur’s “Mystical Experience, Metaphysics and Ritual in Plotinus” also does a marvelous job in explaining Plotinus’ ascent experiences in which the “center-point of the self” is recognizable as transcendent, but still has yet to be “paradoxically be dissolved or annihilated to attain the ultimate union” with the One. While this approach to gaining the Divine Vision was well established in the Platonic tradition and of course by Plotinus as well, it nevertheless is especially denied in Gnostic texts such as the Apocryphon of John and Allogenes, since they both characterize God as completely inaccessible by the human intellect since it is completely transcendent and alien to the material world. Allogenes even goes so far as to say that the knowledge of God is “not-knowing knowledge” as well as being “ignorance that sees him”. And yet, the Gnostic theurgy contained in texts like Allogenes, has many striking parallels with their contemporaries and philosophical competitors of the time, namely Plotinus and other Neo-Platonic philosophers who were familiar with dualist groups such as the Sethians, Ophites or Archontics and argued much against them like the Church Fathers and the Orthodox Babylonian Rabbis.

Iamblichus, was actually a former student of Porphyry who likewise criticizes and attempts to refute this approach to transcendent experience by claiming it as being misguided and even delusional. To Iamblichus, the Greek philosophers of his time had lost touch with their roots of divining wisdom and disclosure from the gods—a tradition (featured in the text of the Chaldean Oracles) that has its roots even before the rise of the Greeks and prevalent in classical life. Iamblichus himself makes drives to a similar point that Allogenes in that enlightenment or divine self-realization through contemplation must be triggered by revelation:

For that element in us which is divine (theion), and intellectual (noeron) — is aroused, then, clearly in prayer, and when aroused, strives primarily towards what is like itself and joints itself to absolute perfection.

Plato, several hundred years earlier wrote in Phaedrus 250c something very similar in that the spiritual rapture of the initiate was emphasized while the human body was seen as a huge hindrance to the life of true philosophy:

[We] were ushered into the Mystery that we may rightly call the most blessed of all. And we who celebrated it were wholly perfect…and we gazed in rapture at sacred revealed objects… That was the ultimate Vision, and we saw it in pure light because we were pure ourselves, not buried in this thing we are carrying around now which we call a body…

Porphyry’s philosophy and metaphysics involved Plato’s “One” Being as having a counter negative existence “before the realm of Being or Intellect.” This is the same as Apophatic theology, which focuses on the knowledge of the Ineffable God, the Kether or “the One” attained through negation, or a negative existence beyond all comprehension, parallel to the Qabalistic negative veils and in various Gnostic texts. Porphyry likely derived this from the Pythagorean concept of Aion. The ultimate goal of any theurgist and mystic was the soul’s ascent and return to its stellar origin on the path of austerity. Iamblichus of Chalcis describes the theory and practice in his defense of theurgy in On the Mysteries of the Egyptians, Chaldaeans, and Assyrians:

…it is the complete fulfilling of the arcane performances, the carrying of them through in a manner worthy of the gods and surpassing all conception, and likewise the power of the voiceless symbols which are perceived by the gods alone, that establish the Theurgic Union.

Although Iamblichus’ sentiments of theurgy don’t necessarily reflect the attitudes of all Gnostic groups, but it can be a helpful tool in assessing their cosmologies in which are reflective of their theurgical practices and rituals. However, it is safe to assume that not every Gnostic group participated in theurgical ritual. Iamblichus also developed an interest in Plotinus’ philosophies through his Enneads. It was through this, along with the teachings of Pythagoras, along with the pagan spiritual practices of the Egyptians, Chaldeans/Babylonians, Assyrians, and even the Hebrews, all of which drew him into the realm of theurgy. This is where the Chaldaean Oracles come in, as the text was most instrumental to the development and advancing of his own philosophies. The text itself was said to be written down by Julianus the Chaldean and his son Julian the Theurgist.

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Most instrumental to the development and advancement of his own philosophies and practices was his understanding of The Chaldean Oracles. The Chaldaean Oracles is a very, mystery long poem, is usually attributed to Julian the Theurgist, who is also credited by causing rain to pour as a miraculous event that saves Marcus Aurelius’ troops in their campaign against the Quadi in 173 CE. Julian was the personal magician of emperor Marcus of Rome and traveled with him on his conquests, apparently offering his services in the form of advanced weather manipulation for the strategic favor of the Roman armies. It is also attributed to Zoroaster or influenced by him as his name is often found in Gnostic and Hermetic literature, especially in the Zosimos and the Apocryphon of John. The term “Chaldean” is hardly used to refer to these writings during this time and always was referred to as the “Sacred Oracles.” Some believe that the term “Chaldean” is generally understood as a metaphorical spiritual affinity of Julian to the East, and even ancient Syria. The Oracles display a spiritual hierarchical system that has more in common with Neopythagorean, Neoplatonic and Kabbalistic traditions than they do Zoroastrian religion. In fact, the text bears striking resemblance to earlier sources within the Gnostics, specifically the Ophite Gnostics.

According to the Divine Science website, the legends behind the two Julians also mirror other great, divine magicians such as Apollonius, Simon Magus and Jesus Christ:

Most instrumental to the development and advancement of his own philosophies and practices was his understanding of The Chaldean Oracles, a divinely inspired text written down by Julianus the Chaldean and his son Julian the Theurgist sometime in the early 2nd century(during the reign of Marcus Aurellius) in the time of Apollonius of Tyana, who could be revered as one of the greatest magicians of that millennium.  So close did the feats of Apollonius come to those of Jesus Christ that he was hunted by early Christians who sought to discredit him, sometimes going as far as to proclaim him a false Messiah, much as they did with Simon.  Of note however is that legend holds that Julian the Theurgist once challenged Apollonius and two other famed mages of the time to a challenge, in which the winner would be the one who first lifted the plague of a particular town.  According to all accounts of this event, Julian came out the victor.

It also goes on to say that the Chaldean Oracles were written by both Julian’s as a means to initiate those compelled into the theurgical mysteries and even claims that they, along with Iamblichus, much like Marcion and Simon Magus according to the church father Hippolytus (they are not mentioned below), were all influenced by Empedocles, apparently an initiate of Hekate.

The Chaldean Oracles were a set of instructions laid down by both Julianus and Julian for the process of initiation into the Theurgic sciences. From this text we find many of the Theurgic principles blending with hermetic principles in a day and age where no one could rightly say which was older than the other. In essence, The Chaldean Oracles likely served as a merging point for the Egyptian and early Greek hermetic sciences with the Babylonian, Assyrian and Chaldean theurgic sciences. This may have something to do with the initiation of Julian the Theurgist into the hermetic mystery schools, particularly the School of Orpheus, wherein we see an analysis of the four elements in the form of prose. This was likely coupled by the influence of an early student of Pythagoras himself, a philosopher and magus by the name of Empedocles, who would be the first to put the Pythagorean understanding of the four elements into writing as governed by the Powers of Love and Strife, that is to say, duality. Empedocles was a well know mage of his time, and an initiate of the Mysteries of Heckate, a school which was outlived and eventually pushed into the shadows by the Pythagorean, Hermetic and Orphic Mystery Schools.

True to form, both Porphyry and Iamblichus were actually well acquainted with solar-worship. In Eusebius’ Praeparatio Evangelica (Preparation for the Gospel), Chapter XIV, he writes that Porphyry’s work from Philosophy from Oracles provide astrological ritual instructions, based on the correct time to undertake based on the idea that the gods issue these instructions for worship to mortals. These ritual instructions, as common as they were in the ancient world, was intended to enable humans to align themselves and the world of man with the divine realm through the astrological bodies.

‘IN many cases the gods, by giving signs of their statements beforehand, show by their knowledge of the arrangement of each man’s nativity that they are, if we may so say, excellent Magians and perfect astrologers. Again he said that in oracular responses Apollo spake thus:

“Invoke together Hermes and the Sun On the Sun’s day, the Moon when her day comes, Kronos and Aphrodite in due turn, With silent prayers, by chiefest Magian taught, Whom all men know lord of the seven-string’d lyre.”

In other words, Neoplatonic theurgists would align themselves with the cosmocrators or the planetary spheres. These beings were considered the same as the archons via Gnosticism, as we have already discussed at length in previous posts. In the second chapter of De Mysteriies (Theurgia or On the Mysteries of the Egyptians), Iamblichus quotes Porphyry and launches into an exhaustive discourse about various divine beings and even admits there being the conflated nature of the gods and the daemons:

In what does a dæmon differ from a hero or half-god or from a soul? It is it in essence, in power, or in energy?

What is the token (at the Sacred Rites) of the presence of a god or an angel, or an archangel, or a dæmon, or of some archon, or a soul?

For it is a common thing with the gods and dæmons alike, and with all the superior races, to speak boastfully and to project an unreal image into view. Hence the race of the gods is thus made to seem to be in no respect superior to that of the dæmons.

In a footnote, the translator writes about this interesting exchange:

Here Porphyry has given an ancient classification of spiritual beings into four orders, the gods, dæmons or guardians, the heroes or half-gods, and souls. There were other distinctions in the Eastern countries, and we find Abammon, the Teacher, adding to these the archangels, angels, and archons of both the higher and lower nature. These were named in several of the Gnostic categories that were extant at that period. “We have no conflict with blood and flesh,” says the Christian apostle, “but with archonates, authorities, the world-rulers of this dark region, and spiritual forces of evil in the upper heavens.”

Iamblichus’s archonology is quite interesting here. His cosmic archons, in contrast with the Gnostic cosmocrators, are not evil. Rather, it is they who govern the Personal Daimon of the initiate, and it is only through their intermediary nature that this being is to be evocated. Iamblichus’ hylic archons are described in less pleasant terms, but are still not malevolent. He also draws a careful distinction between archangels and archons as well. 

I will, therefore, in a single statement lay down the proposition that the apparitions are in accord with their essences, powers and energies. For such as they are as such do they manifest themselves to those who are making the invocations; and they not only exhibit energies and forms which are characteristic of themselves, but they likewise display their own particular tokens. In order, however, to draw the distinctions minutely, this is the explanation: The spectral forms of the gods are uniform; those of the dæmons are diversified; those of the angels are more simple in appearance than those belonging to the dæmons, but inferior to those of the gods; those of the archangels approach nearer to the divine Causes; those of the archons — if those that have charge of the sublunary elements seem to thee to be the lords of the world — will be diversified but arranged in proper order; but if they are princes of the region of Matter, they will not only be more diversified but much more imperfect than the others; and those of the souls will appear in every kind of style.

In the (Epoptic) Vision the figures of the gods shine brilliantly; those of the archangels are awe-inspiring and yet gentle; those of the angels are milder; those of the dæmons are alarming. Those of the half-gods, although these are left out in your question, yet there should be an answer for the sake of the truth because they are more gentle than those of the dæmons. Those of the archons are terrifying to the Beholders, if they are the archons of the universe; and hurtful and distressing, if they are of the realm of Matter. The figures of the souls are similar to those of the half-gods except that they are inferior to them.

The “Beholders” here are actually the initiates of theurgy. What exactly is Iamblichus trying to say? Since it is clear that he is a sun worshiper, like Porphyry, it becomes rather clear that he also exalts the Demiurge, although in an in-direct manner, when he discusses the “Egyptian Theosophers” in Chapter 8 of De Mysteriies:

For these men perceived that the things which were said respecting the Sun-God as the Demiurgos, or Creator of the Universe, and concerning Osiris and Isis, and all the Sacred Legends, may be interpreted as relating to the stars, their phases, occultations, and revolutions in their orbits, or else to the increase and decrease of the Moon, the course of the Sun, the vault of the sky as seen by night or by day, or the river Nile, and, in short, they explain everything as relating to natural objects, and nothing as having reference to incorporeal and living essences.

In the Chaldean Oracles, it also reveals a universe that seems to mirror a Gnostic and Hermetic one. Chrisopher Plaisance writes in Of Cosmocrators and Cosmic Gods: The Place of the Archons in De Mysteriis:

In typical Middle Platonic fashion, Hermetic theology presents an emanative hierarchy of God, a demiurge, and seven planetary powers—who, similar to the Gnostics, were generally described as ruling powers, διοικηταί (“governors, or administrators”) and ἄρχοντες, rather than gods. The Sun was identified with the demiurge, and the surrounding cosmic bodies were instruments with which he crafted the world. The planetary governors were 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. Other texts in the Hermetica describe the planetary beings as gods, but the identity between the seven rulers of the early chapters and the planets is clear.

The world of the Oracles was a series of concentric circles, composed of the intelligible empyrean, the ethereal realm of the fixed stars and planets, and the material sphere which contained the sublunar region and the Earth. This triadic structure was organised by three gods: the Monad, Demiurge, and Hekate. It was further administrated by three tiers of intermediary beings: the iynges (ἴυγξ), synoches (συνοχεῖς), and teletarchs (τελετάρχαι), the latter of whose origins are identical with the planetary archons and cosmocrators described previously. However, the teletarchs were not exclusively relegated to planetary roles; the material teletarchs, for instance, were associated with the moon and were thought to govern the sublunary realm. The Oracles further describe the world as populated by various species of terrestrial, atmospheric, and aquatic daimons. Regarding the teletarchs, Majercik notes that an important distinction must be made between the “Chaldean” and Gnostic systems in that the teletarchs are “benign, even helpful figures, who aid the ascent of the soul”, and that “the Chaldean system maintains a more positive, monistic view of creation”.

Indeed, it seems like Hekate seems to be a placeholder for Sophia from Ophite/Gnostic myth. (We will return to Hekate later.)

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As fate would have it, a Syrian-Roman sun god, called Elegabalus (or Heliogabalus, which is often given the meaning of “Lord of the Mountain” from the Aramaic Llaha Gabal) was also worshiped in Syria as well as Phoenicia in the form of Baal and in El from the Canaanites. These gods were also generally considered to be “lords” of the earth and rulers of the universe who were bringers of fertility as well as death and warfare and often demanded child sacrifice at the fire altars of Molech. It is essentially the same god as the invincible sun, the patron god of the Sol Invictus cult. This is also essentially the same god of the cult of Mithra. Eventually, all of the sun-worshiping cults like Mithraism were absorbed into the Catholic Church. Elegabalus is the true god of Rome and his worship continues on to this day. That’s why Jesus is often depicted with the sun, and why the host in the center of a cross with a sun. Over at Jesus888, the author writes:

The early Christian Church eagerly promoted Jesus-Helios-Sol sun symbolism to appease the Roman emperor Constantine who was the high priest of Sol Invictus all through his reign. The sun symbolism continues to the present day on robes, banners, icons, behind the cross in a ray of light, flames coming from the heart of Jesus, etc. Priests even bow and kiss a monstrance which is a gold statue of the sun on a pedestal during processions.

What is interesting about the meaning behind the name of Elegabalus is that it is the very same attribute given to the God of the Old Testament, Yahweh. In Genesis 22:14, we read:

Then Abraham raised his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram and offered him up for a burnt offering in the place of his son. And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen.

We also see Moses receive the Law from Yahweh in the form of a covenant between him and the nation of Israel on a mountain in Exodus 34. Earlier we see Yahweh descend his holy mountain Sinai in Exodus 19:18-22 in a very dramatic and manifest fashion:

Now Mount Sinai was all in smoke because the LORD descended upon it in fire; and its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked violently. When the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and God answered him with thunder. The LORD came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain; and the LORD called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up. Then the LORD spoke to Moses, “Go down, warn the people, so that they do not break through to the LORD to gaze, and many of them perish. “Also let the priests who come near to the LORD consecrate themselves, or else the LORD will break out against them.”

It is interesting to see how Yahweh tells Moses to warn the ancient Hebrews about not gazing directly onto him, lest that they perish. This sounds very similar to sun-gazers who look at the sun too long, who fall into danger of being blinded. In other words, Yahweh can be compared to the Roman Sol Invictus, or Heliogabalus. Amazingly, this is exactly what the Pauline author is saying 2 Corinthians 3! The angelic inspired laws of Yahweh is called the “ministry of death” as opposed to the glorious, righteous, spiritual gospel of Jesus Christ that condemns it to death.

 But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory. 10 For even what was made glorious had no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excels. 11 For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious.

12 Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech—13 unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away. 14 But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. 15 But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. 16 Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

In Mark S. Smith’s article on the worship of Yahweh, he writes how the ancient Israelites were likely polytheists, and that monotheistic devotion to Yahweh likely developed in later Judaism, Yahweh originally having been only one of many gods in the original Israelite pantheon. Could Yahweh not really have been the true creator God, as the Gnostics thought, but he wanted all the power and glory for himself, so he defied the original council of gods and whitewashed Judaism of all traces of other gods so that he alone would be worshiped? “I, the Lord, am a jealous god.” This would explain why all the other deities hate him and the Jews. It’s obvious from the first creation story that the Elohim was originally a pantheon of deities, not a singular entity, since Elohim is plural. Yahweh, then, would be some sort of rogue deity who wanted to usurp the divine hierarchy and steal the throne for himself, which would, ironically, equate him with Lucifer/Satan. This is exactly how the Gnostics saw it. Anyway…

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In The Gnostics and Their Remains, by Charles William King, he writes how the name and utterance IAO, is the Hellenized form of the Hebrew Tetragrammaton.

Diodorus Siculus, when enumerating the different legislators of antiquity, says, “Amongst the Jews Moses pretended that the god surnamed Iao gave him his laws” (i. 94). And this is elucidated by the remark of Clemens Alexandrinus, that the Hebrew Tetragrammaton, or Mystic Name, is pronounced ΙΑΟϒ, and signifies “He that is and shall be.” Theodoret states that the same four letters were pronounced by the Samaritans as ΙΑΒΕ (Jave); by the Jews as ΙΑΩ. Jerome (upon Psalm viii. says, “The Name of the Lord” amongst the Hebrews is of four letters, Iod, He, Vau, He, which is properly the Name of God, and may be read as ΙΑΗΟ (Iaho) (that is in Latin characters), which is held by the Jews for unutterable.

IAO was also used by various Gnostic groups, including the Valentinians and the Ophites. Irenaeus reports that in Against Heresies (1:21) that the Gnostics invoked IAO in their rituals:

The name of restitution stands thus: Messia, Uphareg, Namempsœman, Chaldœaur, Mosomedœa, Acphranœ, Psaua, Jesus Nazaria. The interpretation of these words is as follows: I do not divide the Spirit of Christ, neither the heart nor the supercelestial power which is merciful; may I enjoy Your name, O Saviour of truth! Such are words of the initiators; but he who is initiated, replies, I am established, and I am redeemed; I redeem my soul from this age (world), and from all things connected with it in the name of Iao, who redeemed his own soul into redemption in Christ who lives. Then the bystanders add these words, Peace be to all on whom this name rests. After this they anoint the initiated person with balsam; for they assert that this ointment is a type of that sweet odour which is above all things.

Irenaeus also claimed that the Valentinians taught that the word IAO originated as an exclamation in the mouth of a power called “Horos” against the fallen Sophia in Against Heresies (1.4.1):

Having then obtained a form, along with intelligence, and being immediately deserted by that Logos who had been invisibly present with her— that is, by Christ — she strained herself to discover that light which had forsaken her, but could not effect her purpose, inasmuch as she was prevented by Horos. And as Horos thus obstructed her further progress, he exclaimed, Iao, whence, they say, this name Iao derived its origin. And when she could not pass by Horos on account of that passion in which she had been involved, and because she alone had been left without, she then resigned herself to every sort of that manifold and varied state of passion to which she was subject…

IAO is also one of the seven head-demons or archons in Ophite and Sethian cosmology. In the Apocryphon of John, it lists Iao as the fourth power of the seven cosmocrators: “…the fourth is Yao, he has a serpent’s face with seven heads…” And it is also a password and a name to command demons like how people may invoke Jesus Christ’s sacred name, in prayer or an exorcism rite, both of which were considered to be magical acts. Dr. M D Magee writes in Hellenistic Magic and Jesus—Jesus as Magician:

“In the name of Jesus” is a magical formula based on the magical power of names. Its use in Christian baptism is not merely symbolic of the power of God but is meant to confer magical power to the baptized person. It pervades the person with the power of the name that would drive out all rival powers, an example of the very name beliefs found in all parts of the ancient world when Christianity was being formed.

The seven vowels were considered magical and magical texts often have names consisting of strings of combinations of vowels. Yehouah is a string of vowels.

We also see Jesus Christ himself invoke IAO in the Pistis Sophia (V. 142) and the Second Book of Jeu (45, 46, and 47) in a prayer ritual asking his heavenly father to forgive and blot out the sins of his disciples so that they may be worthy of the Kingdom of God and the “Treasury of Light.” Celsus in the True Doctrine as quoted and refuted by Origen in Contra Celsus states that this Iao is also an archon:

They next imagine that he who has passed through Ialdabaoth and arrived at Iao ought thus to speak: “Thou, O second Iao, who shinest by night, who art the ruler of the secret mysteries of son and father, first prince of death, and portion of the innocent, bearing now mine own beard as symbol, I am ready to pass through thy realm, having strengthened him who is born of thee by the living word. Grace be with me; father, let it be with me.”

Although Celsus does take plenty of pot-shots against the Christians (whom he equates with the Ophites without a second thought) as well as the Jews who “worship angels, and are addicted to sorcery, in which Moses was their instructor,” he surprisingly has great admiration for YHWH and condemns the Ophites for their blasphemy and cursing against him.

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! When you feel the force of such considerations, indeed, you acknowledge that you worship the same God; but when your teacher Jesus and the Jewish Moses give contradictory decisions, you seek another God, instead of him, and the Father!

Returning to Charles William King’s research on IAO, he writes how the Neoplatonists and various pagan mystery religions go to great lengths to lie about their sacred mysteries:

Macrobius (Sat. i. 18), whilst labouring to prove that the Sun-worship was in truth the sole religion of Paganism, under whatever name it was disguised, gives a notice very much to our purpose. The Apollo of Claros, when consulted as to the true nature of the god called Ἰαὸς, gave the following response:–

“The sacred things ye learn, to none disclose,
A little falsehood much discretion shows;
Regard Iaos as supreme above,
In winter Pluto, in spring’s opening Jove,
Phœbus through blazing summer rules the day,
Whilst autumn owns the mild Iaos sway.” Here we find Iao expressly recognised as the title of the Supreme God whose physical representative is the Sun. Again we have Dionysos or Bacchus added to the list by Orpheus, who sings

“Jove, Pluto, Phœbus, Bacchus, all are One.”

In other words, those who worship the sun, also worship Iao, and also worship the Demiurge, the true object of adoration in their mysteries. Many of the pagan mystery cults directed worship and sacrifice to this god. No Gnostic would ever be caught dead worshiping the sun because solar worship is ultimately worshiping the representation of the Demiurge. As we’ve seen many claimed that the sun is the son of god and that the sun to us is God in physical form. But isn’t this type of star/planet-worship the very thing that Paul and the Gnostics said was the great deception?

“How is it that you worship the elements of the world? You observe days, months, seasons, and years! I am afraid that I have labored for you in vain.” (Galatians 4).

Indeed, this is what the the ancients did by conflating Dionysus as merely one face of the solar Demiurge.

That Iaos was recognised by the Greeks as an epithet for the Sun in the autumnal quarter has been shown from Macrobius. The philosophical interpreters of the ancient mythology discovered in Dionysos also a mere type of the same luminary. “One is Zeus, Hades, Helios, and Dionysos.”

The Hymns to Orpheus also include one specific hymn to Helios as well. The Mithras Liturgy sings many praises to Helios and specifically asks the initiate to alter their consciousness so that they may rise with Helios in solar rapture resembling the mysticism of meditative practices designed to create a vehicle/body of “light,” we see in Tantra and the Kabbalah, a tradition that made its way into 19th Century Western occultism in a diluted form, specifically in the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.

I, _______ whose mother is _______ according to the immutable decree of god, EYE YIA EEI AO EIAY IYA IEO! Since it is impossible for me, born (530) mortal, to rise with the golden brightnesses of the immortal brilliance, OEY AEO EYA EOE YAE 5IAE, stand, O perishable nature of mortals, and at once me safe and sound after the inexorable and pressing (535) need. For I am the son PSYCHO[N] DEMOY PROCHO PROA, I am MACHARPH[.]N MOY PROPSYCHON PROE!”

Draw in breath from the rays, drawing up three times as much as you can, and you will see yourself being lifted up and (540) ascending to the height, so that you seem to be in mid-air. You will hear nothing either of man or of any other living thing, nor in that hour will you see anything of mortal affairs on earth, but rather you will see all immortal things. For in that day (545) and hour you will see the divine order of the skies: the presiding gods8 rising into heaven, and others setting.

“Hail, O Lord, Great Power, Great Might, (640) King, Greatest of gods, Helios, the Lord of heaven and earth, God of gods: mighty is your breath; mighty is your strength, O Lord. If it be your will, announce me to the supreme god, the one who has begotten and made you…

The late Acharya S/D.M. Murdock confirms all this in her book Did Moses Exist? when she points out that the god of the Hebrews may be the same as Bacchus and Iao:

As noted, “Sabaoth” may be related to “Sabeus,” which in turn is an epithet of Dionysus, who is also equated with Iao by Marcobius. Thus, Yahweh is Iao is Bacchus, and all are the sun.

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When it comes to Hecate/Hekate, she too exhibits solar characteristics, in the form of the cthonic, black sun as the Queen of the underworld and hell. She also corresponds with the symbols of the moon, the World Soul and the waters of the abyss. Here is what Eusebius has to say about her in Praeparatio Evangelica:

‘The symbols of Hecate are wax of three colours, white and black and red combined, having a figure of Hecate bearing a scourge, and torch, and sword, with a serpent to be coiled round her; and the symbols of Uranus are the mariners’ stars nailed up before the doors. For these symbols the gods themselves have indicated in the following verses. The speaker is Pan:

“Evil spirits drive afar:
Then upon the fire set wax
Gleaming fair with colours three,
White and black must mingle there
With the glowing embers’ red,
Terror to the dogs of hell.
Then let Hecate’s dread form
Hold in her hand a blazing torch,
And the avenging sword of fate;
While closely round the goddess wrapp’d
A snake fast holds her in his coils,
And wreathes about her awful brow.
Let the shining key be there,
And the far-resounding scourge,
Symbol of the daemons’ power.”‘

In the Chaldean Oracles, it sets out a long, drawn out cosmology that begins with the Paternal Monad called the “Mind of the Eternal Father, that splits off into a duad, and eventually into a triad, similar to the idea of the Trinity. The triad projects the “first Course” as being sacred and even calls it “the Matrix containing all things. Thence abundantly springs forth the Generation of multivarious Matter. Thence extracted a prester the flower of glowing fire.” Hecate is also considered a projection of the Father and is called the “the Operatrix, because she is the Dispensatrix of Life-giving fire. Because also it fills the Life producing bosome of Hecate.” John Turner in The Setting of the Platonizing Treatises writes about Hecate’s role in the Chaldean Oracles and how it is very similar to that of Barbelo, the Sethian version of Sophia.

The Oracles feature a feminine principle of life named Hecate, said to be a sort of diaphragm or membrane, the “center between the two Fathers” (frg. 50 Majercik), which separates the “first and second fires” (frg. 6), i.e., the Father and the immediately subjacent paternal Intellect.39 Hecate has a dual position: On the one hand, she is the source of variegated matter, generated by the Father as the womb that receives his lightening (the ideas), “the girdling bloom of fire and the powerful breath beyond the fiery poles” (frg. 35). On the other hand, she is the lifeproducing fount (frgs. 30 and 32; cf. frgs. 96, 136 [zwvsh/ dunavmei]) from whose right side flows the World Soul (frg. 51), while her left side retains the source of virtue. Upon her back, the emblem of the moon (her traditional symbol) represents boundless Nature, and her serpentine hair represents the Father’s winding noetic fire (frgs. 50–55). In her alternate designation as Rhea, she is said to be the source of the intellectuals (novera), whose generation she has received in her ineffable womb and upon whom she pours forth the vivifying fire (frgs. 32, 56); as zw/ogovno” qeav, she is the source of life, a veritable mother of the all. Hecate is also conceived as the Womb within which all things are sown and contained, much like Plato’s Receptacle,40 and therefore seems to play a role similar to that of Plotinus’s intelligible matter or trace of unbounded Life emitted from One to become bounded Intellect, not to mention the Sethian Mother Barbelo, the “Womb of the All” (Ap. John II 5,5; Trim. Prot. XIII 38,15; 45,6) who pours forth “Living Water.”

So could it be that Hecate is merely a stand-in for Sophia or Barbelo? It sure seems that way. It also seems as though the authors of the Chaldean Oracles was deliberately rewriting the Gnostic cosmological myth for another audience in competition against the earlier Gnostic sects. Hecate is also a patron goddess that practitioners of the Greek Magical Papryi pay homage to as well. Chaldean theurgy greatly inspired Iamblichus in many ways, so in a way, he himself indirectly draws inspiration from the much earlier Gnostics, despite his not so apparent solar worship of the pagan mystery cults, including that of Jews. Ezekiel 8, however, seems to condemn secret sun worship but that is another story altogether. When one falls deep enough into the thuergical rabbit hole, who knows what interesting bread-trail of gnosis one may find and follow.

Hidden Knowledge in the Grail Temple

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The Holy Grail story is familiar to many in the western world; to some it is an icon of literature and to others a source of comical amusement thanks to Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It is absolutely true that the Holy Grail represents the divine knowledge gained at the end of an inward spiritual journey—knowledge that is gradually lost through the cyclical ages that Hesiod, Vedic and even Hermetic traditions speak of.

Traditionally, it is a legend commencing in late 12th century, created by French and German poets like Wolfram von Eschenbach in Parzival. The Holy Grail takes various forms: a plate or bowl containing the bread of Holy Communion for the Fisher King. It is also portrayed as a stone cast down from heaven on which the abstaining angels stood for sanctuary when Lucifer rebelled against God as mentioned in texts like Isaiah and Ezekiel. The gem was given to Adam when he lived in the Garden of Eden after the rebellion of the angels. When he and Eve were cast out, the Grail was lost to him as well. Seth, Adam’s progeny, was said to have gained re-entry into Eden and to have recovered the sacred vessel. Significantly, Seth remained in paradise for 40 years. The number 40 is itself a mystical motif; Moses wandered for 40 years in the desert, with Noah on the ark 40 days and nights, for Jesus was tempted for 40 days.

It is also a cup in which Joseph of Arimathea collected Christ’s blood on the cross. More modern interpretations include Mary Magdalene as the receptacle of Jesus’ seed as the foundation for the “Merovingian bloodline,” as the authors of Holy Blood Holy Grail have theorized. The chalice is most popular today, doubling as the same cup used by Jesus in the Last Supper. Joseph of Arimathea is said to have brought the Grail to England, which then became an important part of the Arthurian myths.

The Holy Grail myth also links to ideas of gnosis in its relationship to humanity and the world, especially the world of nature and its elements. In our upcoming book Baphomet: The Mystery of the Temple Unveiled by Tracy Twyman and Alex Rivera, we go into great explanation that the Holy Grail cup wasn’t just the vessel for the holy blood of Christ but was actually connected to the Krater of Hermes and the Ophite/Orphic Bowl of the coiled dragon-like serpent (please see our book for more details on this). It is also connected to the idol head that the Templars supposedly worshiped, being Baphomet. Author authors like Julius Evola, have argued for a non-Christian and even Hyperborean origin for the Grail legend, in his book The Mystery of the Grail, a possibility in which we will explore later in the second part of this post at a future point in time.

Julius Evola writes in the same book that there are certainly repeating patterns and archetypes that any student of Carl Jung would identify with clarity. It also ties into the mono-myth cycles of Joseph Campbell as we will see later:

When we isolate the texts that make up the Grail cycle, we find that they repeat a few essential themes, which are expressed through the symbolism of knightly figures and deeds. What we are dealing with, then, are essentially the themes of a mysterious center; of a quest and a spiritual test; of a regal succession or restoration, which sometimes assumes the character of a healing or avenging action. Percival, Gawain, Galahad, Ogier, Lancelot, and Peredur are essentially various names portraying the same human type; likewise, King Arthur, Joseph of Arimathea, Prester John, and the Fisher King are equivalent figures and variations on another theme. Also equivalent are images of various mysterious castles, islands, kingdoms, and inaccessible and adventurous lands, which in the narratives are described in a series that, on the one hand, creates a strange, surrealistic atmosphere but, on the other, often ends up becoming monotonous.

Like the authors of Holy Blood Holy Grail have identified, the “divine blood” is an important concept and is one that repeats in the Bible, in both the Old and the New Testament as we will see. Evola further writes about all the objects associated the Grail, especially that of the blood:

In the various texts, the Grail is essentially portrayed under three forms:

“1. As an immaterial, self-moving object, of an indefinite and enigmatic nature (“it was not made of wood, nor of some metal, nor of stone, horn, or bone”).

  1. As a stone-a “heavenly stone” and a “stone of light.”
  2. As a cup, bowl or tray, often of gold and sometimes adorned with precious stones.

Both in this form and in the previous one, we almost always find women carrying the Grail (another element totally extraneous to any Christian ritual, since no priests appear in it). A mixed form is that of a cup carved out of a stone (sometimes of an emerald). The Grail is sometimes qualified as “holy;’ sometimes as “rich”; “this is the richest thing that any man hath living.”l This text, like many others of the same period, uses the expression “Sangreal;’ which is susceptible to three interpretations: Holy Grail, Royal Blood, and Regal Blood.”

Jack Curtis writes in The Quest for the Holy Grail, is essentially:

“… a system of self transformation that can be reconciled with other similar systems in the Western esoteric tradition. It is a cosmological scheme that is comparable with Tarot, Kabala and Astrology. There are also hints of a connection with Alchemy. All of these systems or schemes follow a unifying principle that points to one underlying reality. The Holy Grail in its 5 Transformations, is one approach to that reality. To achieve the Grail, is to understand reality. To understand reality, is to be transformed and to be saved.”

How does any of this tie into the blood of Jesus Christ? For that answer, we must look beyond the natural and the flesh. The blood is obviously symbolic in its spiritual meaning. It is the spiritual power behind the blood of Jesus in which the believer partakes in, and is eternally saved to be allowed to enter a place that is so radically different than the manifest world—being the “Kingdom of God.”

The Holy Blood

In Jesus’ death on the cross, we read that in John 19:32-38, especially verse 34:

32 So the soldiers came, and broke the legs of the first man and of the other who was crucified with Him; 33 but coming to Jesus, when they saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. 34 But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. 35 And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you also may believe. 36 For these things came to pass to fulfill the Scripture, “Not a bone of Him shall be [a]broken.” 37 And again another Scripture says, “They shall look on Him whom they pierced.” 38 After these things Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but a secret one for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate granted permission. So he came and took away His body.

Note the extraordinary hiatus John introduces into the narrative at this point. Clearly he wants us to note something of supreme importance: the legend is that Joseph caught some of this blood and water in the chalice used for the last supper.

Eric Wargo in The Passion of Einstein: Light, Spacetime, and the Holy Grail, rightly points out:

I think we can really see the Grail as both objects simultaneously, and that its atemporal “absurdity” is essential to the salvific nature of Christ’s blood: How could the blood shed on the Cross have gotten into the cup of the Last Supper other than by having traveled back in time? Christ’s blood is either made of tachyons (hypothetical faster-than-light particles that most physicists currently reject) or is, in effect,outside of linear Time altogether. Only if Christ’s blood is outside of Time and Cause does it make sense that the cup that once ever held it must have always held it and will keep holding it eternally—and there is just one thing known to physics that has those properties: The blood of Christ is, in effect, light.

Blood symbolism is extremely important in the Grail mythos: In the Old Testament, it is the substance of life. Jewish temple worship revolved around outpouring of blood, and sprinkling of blood via animal sacrifice. It is taken into the Holy of Holies and sprinkled on the mercy seat on Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16). Blood atones for sin and makes everything holy again. It is the seat of the spirit within the body, but it is also the animated life-force, of the body. It that which contains, as it were, the soul of the body.

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Jesus, as the Heavenly Priest of Melchizedek, also wearing the breastplate of Aaron. Also known as the “Urim and Thummim.” It is clear that Jesus is the “initiator” for the “Mysteries” of God in the Heavenly Temple.

Over at Temple Secrets, Tony Badillo explains that the animal sacrifice and its sacrificial blood represented a separation between the sins and a person’s spirit/soul:

On Ezekiel 44:6, 7 the Lord rebukes “rebellious” Israel for profaning his temple by offering him food in an unacceptable manner. What is his food? According to v. 7, “the fat and the blood;” similarly in  v. 15 where only the Zadok priests may ”offer me the fat and the blood, says the Lord God”. There you have it! His “food” is blood and fat! Should we accept this literally? Yes, in the sense that blood and fat were literally offered to him. But No because he did not consume either. Why does he say this, then? Because the blood, actually poured outside into a Temple drain, symbolizes the spirit’s separation/expiation from sin; while the fat, when turned into smoke, symbolizes the spirit’s ascension to him for acceptance. God’s “food,” then, is simply the language of symbol, and it means that separation/expiation from sin (by the blood) and ascension of purified souls (the rising smoke) are the things he desires from people.

In John 6:53-56, Jesus says to his disciples:

Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.

Jesus implores his followers to consume his divine flesh and blood made up of of spiritual light to regenerate their own fallen meat sacks degenerated as a result of Adam and Eve’s exile from Eden and from the consumption of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. Hence, the Holy Grail cup is said to contain the Christ’s saving blood of the Lamb—the remnant or leftover spiritual substance dripping from a primal trauma of a divine being, who is crucified by the rulers and authorities of the lower heavens, dies and resurrects so that his followers can follow his example, so that they might be salvaged from the sinfulness of the lower world/cosmos of the devil, which is destined to be overthrown, cast out and destroyed at the end of the apocalypse. The saved and elect are transferred into a new kingdom or reality of God while the rest who rejected the Gospel are destroyed. 

Many of the Cathars believed what the mythicist scholar Earl Doherty theorizes was the earliest form of docetic Christology: that Christ was never incarnate on earth. Most of the radical dualist Cathars believed that the whole Jesus narrative, from the beginning of his ministry to his crucifixion, occurred in heavenly world of the good god and in the astral realm of the demonic rulers.

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In the Parzival romance, the impotency of the Fisher King being his maimed, never-healing state (all thanks to Klingsor’s Spear) reflects the sterility of his land. It also reflects the nature of matter itself. In the studies of pagan practices by such scholars as Sir James G. Frazer in The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion, the recurring themes of the killing of the previous high priest or king to be replaced by a new avatar (much like John the Baptist and Jesus) and the marriage of fruitfulness of this new avatar with a female deity/queen is essential to the vegetative and natural fertility and prosperity of the land. The mirroring effect between the human enactment of natural prosperity and vice versa is apparent enough in the Priest-king of the Grail, Anfortas or the Fisher King’s “Waste Land” is to appropriate this mythic pagan belief into a solid representation that the barrenness of the soul/mind and body reflects upon the surroundings/ environment and nature. This, one might say is the objective co-relative function where the emotions, experiences of the subject becomes objective reality, hence the idea that the imaginal/spirit/ideal realm controls the realm of matter and the manifest world.

It is said that the blood of Christ at Holy Communion in Catholic ritual gives new life and deifies. But that blood is wine transfigured by the descending Holy Spirit in the form of a dove. However, this ritual does seem to have strong vampiric, witchcraft cannibalistic undertones, if placed in a literal context as the Catholic Church has done for hundreds, if not thousands of years. The Cathars were infamous for being hard, uncompromising opponents of the Catholic Sacrament as well as its icons and its worship of the Virgin Mary as devilish trickery to commit idolatry. Various Gnostic groups like the Phibionites, Barbelites, Bororites, Simonians, etc. as well as the Jews (and their rituals as magic in the form of “blood libel”) were accused of human and infant sacrifice in the form of ritually consuming fetuses, in the case that women became pregnant in their infamous orgies. In these ritual orgies, semen and menses were said to be also ritually consumed as a Eucharistic sacrament to Christ as Epiphanius claims in the Panarion. All of this seems to originate in Pliney the Elder in Natural History 30.11, when he writes as a matter-of-fact, that certain magical rites of the Magi (and the Emperor Nero) involve ritually killing and eating men (e.g. cannibalism):

The Magi have certain means of evasion; for example that the gods neither obey those with freckles nor are seen by them. Was this perhaps their objection to Nero? But his body was without blemish; he was free to choose the fixed days, could easily obtain perfectly black sheep, and as for human sacrifice, he took the greatest delight in it. 

So, in other words, could the Catholic Eucharist be just a Christianized magical ritual? We certainly see Romans who viewed the Christians as simply a diabolical secret society addicted to sorcery and the conjuring of daimons, as seen in Celsus in the True Doctrine and Suetonius in Nero 16.2. All of this seems to be a precursor for the Medieval and modern gossip and rumors of witch covens and Satanic elite secret societies, like the “Illuminati” who engage in human sacrifice and Faustian pacts with demons. The drinking of wine in Dionysian rituals involved ritually imbibing the spirit of Dionysus, which is like drinking the Elixir of Life, or “being baptized in wisdom.” The wine is the blood of the earth, “fruit of the vine and work of human hands.” This wine is used as a commemoration of ritually consuming the blood of Jesus. The Gospel of John chapter 2, where Jesus transmutes water into wine certainly plays on this distinctly Dionysian idea. So the outpouring of Christ’s blood on the cross is the outpouring of his very life—the spirit of the Son of God.

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The Book of Hebrews (9:22-24) tells us that the blood of Jesus (and all the Old Testament sacrifices) were necessary in order to cleanse things in the heavens–the same place in which the angelic rebellion was said to have occurred as recorded in Revelation.

“And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be cleansed with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.”

Colossians 1:20 says something very similar:

“And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.

Notice how in Hebrews, it says that the tabernacle, and all its services, were “patterns of things in the heavens.” The physical objects associated with the earthly sanctuary were “figures of the true” — the “shadow of heavenly things” (Hebrews 8:5). As it follows, each physical item had its spiritual counterpart in heaven. So, as long as there was a tabernacle or temple on earth, there was a material reflection of God’s heavenly palace for mankind to see and take part in. This all sounds strangely reminiscent of certain Hermetic writings pertaining to “as above, so below.”

the-crucified-serpent-on-the-material-universe

Also, in a way, when Jesus Christ was nailed to the Cross, he was essentially nailed to a circular “Leviathan” which is the same as the Ouroboros of the Gnostic alchemists like Mary the Jewess, Zosimos and the Ophites. The atheistic German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche uses this symbolism to build his own theory of “eternal recurrence.” This is what the Gnostics called the “fall of spirit into matter.” Hence, we have various alchemical images of the crucified serpent, and perhaps even the same tempting serpent from Eden. According to the Apocryphon of John, there are a few archons which seem to have strong serpentine and dragon-like features, including Iao and Ialdabaoth, the chief archon and Gnostic parody of Jehovah. All of this seems to have a Pauline basis, in Colossians 2:13-15

…When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.…

In the Gospel of Matthew (20:20-23), we read that a mother of Zebedee was asking Jesus to have her sons sit at his right and the other at his left hand in the Kingdom of God. Jesus asks her sons if they can drink what he is going to drink and they answer in the affirmative. Here is what Jesus says as a reply:

20 Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him. 21 “What is it you want?” he asked. She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.” 22 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?” “We can,” they answered. 23 Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.”

The Baptism of Blood and Water

In Genesis 1, the Spirit hovers over the face of the deep at the onset of creation. Water signifies the chaotic, untamed and unformed material of creation. It is the proto-element out of which all creation, the whole cosmos, including humanity, is ultimately made (Gen 1:2, 6; Ps 29:3) So crossing the waters of the great Flood, the waters of the Red Sea, the waters of the Jordan, and the waters of baptism are the recreating and renewing waters of creation. This water baptism acts like a conduit that transports the believer from one world (the old man of sin)  to another (the newness in Christ). Likewise priests must bathe in water before entering Holy of Holies of the Temple of Solomon on day of Atonement. 

Brazen_Sea_of_soloman_From_Jewish_Encyclopedia

Similarly with the Sea of Glass in Revelation 15:2, beside which those who have defeated the beast are standing, singing the song of Moses. This is a reflection of the “Molten Sea” which was a large basin in the Temple in Jerusalem made by Solomon for ablution of the priests. It is described in 1 Kings 7 and 2 Chronicles 4. It stood in the south-eastern corner of the inner court.

Water in essence is a unifying and yet all dissolving element of the earth and the cosmos. Blood and water together therefore signify the fullness of saved humanity: material body and animating soul and spirit as well as the sacrificed body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the Gospel of John 3:5, we have Jesus saying to Nicodemus “you must be born of water and the Spirit.” In 1 John 5:6, it says, “This is he who came by water and blood – Jesus Christ…there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood.”

We need to pause for a moment to reflect on this: the incarnated Son of God took on the likeness of humanity upon himself, meaning that this was not his original nature: this humanity, united to the Second Person of the Trinity, is literally poured out from his side upon the cross. This body and blood is NOT the same as the body and blood of communion, although they are clearly related. The bread and wine of Holy Communion are the substance and blood of the earth, transfigured by the Spirit of God to become our spiritual food and drink as the Eucharist.

The chalice in itself is not the real Holy Grail—that is simply romantic myth. The real Holy Grail is the very ground onto which this blood and water is sprinkled upon. The earth itself received the body and soul of Christ in his death. This is the blood and water of his sacrifice, rather than the blood and body of communion, although again, clearly the two are related. The bread and wine of communion—Christ’s body and blood—rather than being consumed by us to become part of our body, performs a spiritual function, transforming us into the body of Christ. “Though we are many, we are one body because we all share in the one bread.” Thus consuming Christ’s body and blood transforms us into itself. Likewise with Christ’s blood and body out poured on the cross—it transforms the whole of creation into Christ’s body. Christ’s physical presence, although hidden, still abides throughout the very fabric of the universe. His humanity, which is our humanity, abides in creation, even today, transforming it and making it holy. In a sense, this relates to the infamous Baptism of Wisdom ritual of the Knights Templar in which we discuss in the book, at length. 

Christ’s crucifixion and the Harrowing of Hell, in effect, unseated and usurped the power and possession of the authorities, archons and their demonic possession of the world and perhaps even the “Wasteland” of the Fisher King, a reflection of the inner state of the sinner. The quest for the holy grail to heal the wounded king and to restore the land to its original, pristine, Edenic state. Many see this as related to Matthew 4:19 in which Christ said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” This reference would later become crucial to the Christian version of the Fisher King of the Arthurian Grail romances. 

As one can see, the Parzival/Arthurian Grail stories, like the story of the Temple of Solomon is simply a retelling of Genesis (as well as a intricate visual depiction of the “Divine Man” or “Son of Man”), which in itself is a reflection of the war in heaven, and the fall of the angels. The Titanomachy of the Greeks as well as Hesiod’s Works (126) also speaks of similar tales of Olympian gods struggling against the titans and their terrible giant children, which no doubt mirror the infamous Nephilim of Genesis 6 and Enochian literature. Hesiod in the same text describes these Nephilim as being Heroes of the “Silver Race,” as a gigantic, brutal and ferocious giants:

Then, a second race, far inferior Was created, of Silver, by the gods…

Being reared by their mothers.

And when they reached adolescence,

They died a painful death,

On account of their stupidity,

For they could not contain their foolish pride and refused to worship the gods above and to sacrifice to them upon the altars.

Hesiod calls them “big children” (mega nepios) and tells how, disgusted with their impiety and arrogance, Zeus decided to wipe them off with a cataclysm, burying them in Tartarus, much like how Jehovah sends a flood to wipe the giant children of the Watchers and condemns the fallen angels in the abyss-like underworld in chains. Essentially all mythologies speak of similar wars between Blacks and Whites or between Angels and Devils, Devas and Asuras, Daevas and Ahuras, the Sons of Light and the Sons of Darkness, Gods and Titans, etc., etc. This all seems to influence the story of Klingsor who injures the Fisher King with a spear. Klingsor also happens to be directly related with Faustus as we will see in Part 2.

Once again, we cannot ignore Tony Badillo’s thoughtful explanation of Eden with those who are baptized in the Holy Spirit being the Spirit of God, which have strong Gnostic undertones:

…in Isaiah 58:11 and Jeremiah 31:12 the people themselves are a “well watered garden,”  implying that Paradise on earth consists of an ideal relationship between God and humans. This is a key reason why the Divine spirit is not given solely or primarily for uttering profound prophecies, performing marvelous miracles, or making doomsday declarations, but for subduing the Sinful Inclination and renewing God’s “image and likeness” within each of us, and in so doing we become like a well watered garden, Genesis 2:10,  bearing good fruit for the one who did the planting. This is the true Paradise, the true Garden of Eden while we are here on earth. And that which waters one’s personal garden is the Divine spirit.

The sprinkling of his blood on the earth, prefigured in the Old Testament by the sprinkling of the blood of the sacrificial bull and goat in the Holy of Holies, has made the world the Holy of Holies, the dwelling place of God, signified by the rending of the veil in the Temple. Yet it remains hidden, invisible and unknown, until the day that the new heaven and new earth are revealed when Christ return again in glory as discussed in Matthew and Revelation. Just like the hiddenness of the glory of God, momentarily revealed in the burning bush, or on the Mount of Transfiguration. In that day we will see that “in him we live and move and have our being.” The sacrificial bull concept, however is an ancient Rome and eventually later from Mithraic sacrificial rites. The Gospel of John tells us that after the death and resurrection of Jesus, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is made manifest to the believer, and the Body of Christ.

According to the Excerpts of Theodotus, the Valentinian teacher Theodotus said that the baptism releases the believer from the clutches of passions, Fate, destiny and demonic powers that infest the lower world in which mankind finds himself exiled in.

76 As, therefore, the birth of the Saviour released us from “becoming” and from Fate, so also his baptism rescued us from fire, and his Passion rescued us from passion in order that we might in all things follow him. For he who was baptised unto God advanced toward God and has received “power to walk upon scorpions and snakes,” the evil powers. And he commands the disciples “When ye go about, preach and them that believe baptise in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” in whom we are born again, becoming higher than all the other powers.

77 Therefore baptism is called death and an end of the old life when we take leave of the evil principalities, but it is also called life according to Christ, of which he is sole Lord. But the power of the transformation of him who is baptised does not concern the body but the soul, for he who comes up [out of the water] is unchanged. From the moment when he comes up from baptism he is called a servant of God even by the unclean spirits and they now “tremble” at him whom shortly before they obsessed.

78 Until baptism, they say, Fate is real, but after it the astrologists are no longer right. But it is not only the washing that is liberating, but the knowledge of/who we were, and what we have become, where we were or where we were placed, whither we hasten, from what we are redeemed, what birth is and what rebirth.

The Foundation Stone of Fallen Angels

The holy grail also has a strong Hermetic ring to it as Tracy and I have explored in depth in our book. We point out that the word “grail” itself has been derived from crater, the Greco-Latin term for a vessel, meaning a shallow vessel or plate where sacrifices were offered to the gods in ancient Greece. We also explore in depth how the Holy Grail concept is directly tied with the Corpus Hermeticum, as well as Wolfram’s Parzival, which is in itself almost a paraphrase of the Hermetica- a collection of ancient Egyptian texts that also reflect the Gnosticizing tendencies of Alexandria, Egypt. Wolfram rewrote it to match it with thirteenth century German sensibility. The Holy Grail themes seem to greatly match with the Krater of the Hermetica which directly mirror with Parzival’s spiritual journey. In fact, as the above link quotes a book called The Krater and the Grail: Hermetic Sources of the Parzival by Henry and Renee Kahane as towards the end of Parzival, they compare a precision of knights in the Grail Castle to the universe and the Holy Grail itself to the Monad as I.M. Oderberg writes:

A procession comprising the knights and the twenty-four maidens attending the Grail entered the hall, only Repanse de Schoie being permitted by the sacred object to be its bearer. These attendants were grouped in numbers, first four, then eight, then twelve divided into two sixes. Each group carried corresponding numbers of lights. Last came the “princess” of the Grail carrying one. This sequence has baffled many commentators, but Kahane and Kahane point out the marked similarity with the Hermetica, where the groups in the same order “represent the twenty-four stations of the journey of the soul: 4 elements + 8 spheres + 12 signs of the zodiac + 1, the Monad. . . . The Grail procession, in other words, is a representation of the mystic journey of the soul towards the Monad, itself symbolized by the Grail” (op. cit., pp. 105-6).

The end of the Grail quest is the return to the source of life and rebirth into it as divinely self-conscious entities purified by involvement in earthly experiences and having also contributed to the ongoing process of cosmic evolution by refining the substance they have used. The great lesson for Parzival — for all of us because he is our prototype — was the interconnected relationship of all earth entities. The bonds of a universal brotherhood make us all kin. The suffering of one hurts all, and compassion in our heart obliges us to ask forever: What ails our brother?

What could be the most interesting aspect of this story, involves looking at the second clue of what the Holy Grail represents, provided by Wolfram in the form of “a precious stone, lapsit exillis (i.e. lapis or lapsi ex caelis) of special purity, possessing miraculous powers conferred upon it and sustained by a consecrated Host”, which is indeed the blood of Christ, with holy powers to act as the Elixir of Life. This precious stone fallen from heaven is both the emerald fallen from Lucifer’s crown.

Wolfram von Eschenbach identified the Holy Grail as a Stone of Heaven, he knew he was alluding to a Holy Grail tradition that had extended far back into the mists of time. Many traditions tell so primitive man, who experienced a physical and or emotional change just by being in the proximity to certain stones. Even the term “magic,” associated with the title of “Magus” or “magician” has its etymological roots in the force of magnets or magnetism, which plays into the idea of “greatness,” or “magnifying” one’s spirit or essential self under the light of God. Perhaps this is why Simon was called “Megas” Greek for “Great” which sounds virtually the same as “Magus.” The Persians thought of the their priests as “magos” as well.

Alchemists told of transforming a base metal into gold and a human into a god or goddess. Many texts were cataloged of the Muslim Empire by the Sufis, who added their own alchemical data before transmitting it to their students, the Knights Templar, who took the wisdom into Europe and supposedly carried in tradition through Freemasonry. Those indoctrinated were of the Holy grail Mysteries and eventually given the wisdom of the Alchemical or Philosophers Stone. Some tell of it being a platter or bowl full of precious stones. The Stone of Heaven is a Latin translation of the term Lapsit Exillus, closely related to Lapis Elixir, an appellation used by the Sufis that denoted, “Philosopher’s Stone.” Lapsit derived from “stone” and related to the Latin lapsus, meaning fallen, thus denoting “fallen stone.” Since the term Exillus is related to exillis stellis, meaning : “from the stars,” the entire moniker Lapsit Exillus literally translates as “The Stone of the Heavens” or “The Stone which came down from the Stars.”

The name Stone of Heaven can also be derived from the word Grail. The term Grail derived from the French gres or Persian gohr, both denoting a stone. Grail of Greal could also be related to the French grele, meaning hailstone, which is a “stone” from heaven. According to Arthur Edward Waite, the term Lapsit Exillus is “Exiles Stone.” This surprisingly affiliates the Stone of heaven with Heaven’s most notorious exile, Lucifer. A poem of a German heritage called, Wartburgkrieg, the “Wartburg War,” summarizes the heavenly battle between Lucifer and St. Michael, and identifies the Stone of Heaven as a large emerald that became dislodged from Lucifer’s crown and descended to Earth:

“Shall I then bring the crown

That was made by 60,000 angels?ill

Who wished to force GOD out of the Kingdom of Heaven.

See! Lucifer, there he is!

If there are master-priests,

Then you know well that I am singing the truth.

Saint Michael saw GOD’s anger, plagued by His insolence.

He took (Lucifer’s) crown from his head,

In such a way that a stone jumped out of it.

Which on Earth became Parsifal’s stone.

The stone which sprang out of it,

He found it, he who struggled for honor at such a high cost.”

Lucifer’s fall that is incorporated into this poem first popularized by the Prophet Isaiah during his harangue against the King of Babylon. When describing the decline and all of the King of Babylon, Isaiah used the metaphor of the Morning star’s “fall” or descent below the horizon at sunrise, an image subsequently became linked to Lucifer when translated into Latin was Luz-I-fer or Lucifer, the Light Bringer. Morning Star then became known as Shahar or Helel, which were the names of Venus’ dawn appearance. Thus, Lucifer is associated with both Venus and Helel, a name that evolved into Hell, Lucifer’s underworld home.

In the Book of Ezekiel, he expanded upon the meaning of Lucifer’s infamous fall. While comparing the King of Tyre with Lucifer, Ezekiel identifies Lucifer as the anointed cherub and forever-young boy who once walked in the Garden of Eden while covered in precious stones, including the emerald, and was perfect in his ways and from that day he was created until iniquity was found in him. Thus Ezekiel perpetuated the tradition of Isaiah by making  Lucifer’s fall the product of pride.

Ezekiel 28:13 tells us:

You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you: carnelian, chrysolite and emerald, topaz, onyx and jasper, lapis lazuli, turquoise and beryl. Your settings and mountings were made of gold; on the day you were created they were prepared.

Lucifer then resolves to rule in Heaven and this culminated in his expulsion from Paradise. When St. Michael and his angels fought with Lucifer/Samael over his right to rule, states John the Revelator, “that old serpent, called the devil, and Satan which deceiveth the whole world…was cast out (of heaven) into the earth, and his angels were cast with him.”

The remainder of Lucifer’s legend in the poem states that during the battle with Michael an emerald became dislodged from Lucifer’s crown and fell to Earth. This is based on Ezekiel’s description of the gems-especially the emerald-that adorned Lucifer’s regalia in the Garden of Eden. It is also influenced by the Knights Templar. But of course this predates the Templar’s by many thousand of years. Before their time the emerald had been recognized as the esteemed Stone of Venus, the “fallen star” of Lucifer.

Strangely enough, however, Lucifer does seem to embody the twin archetype we see over and over in world mythologies. In a way, Michael the archangel could also very well be his angelic twin, just as Metatron is said to have an angelic twin soul in the form of Sandalphon. Both of these angels’ lower selves exist in the forms of both Enoch and Elijah, both of which are intimately connect with Hermes Trismegistus. In Roman myths, we have Romulus and Remus, in Genesis, Cain and Abel, Ariman and Angra Manyu in Persia, the Ashvin Twins, or Mitra and Varuna in India; Zeus and Poseidon, Castor and Pollux, Apollo and Dionysus and Hercules and Atlas in Greece; Set-Typhon and Horus in Egypt, etc. In a way, Lucifer is simply a reflection of the Supreme Heavenly Father, who is the spiritual sun of Heaven.

As the story goes, a number of angels having remained neutral and inactive during the battle of Lucifer and the rebel angels against God and the faithful heavenly hosts, after Lucifer’s fall they were condemned by God to support this stone, which had dropped from Lucifer’s crown, hovering between Heaven and Earth until the hour of redemption of sinful mankind and the “Day of Judgement” at the end of the apocalypse. Then they brought it to Earth, and, formed into a holy vessel, it served for the dish out of which the Jews ate the Paschal lamb in Exodus 12 on Passover, and in which Joseph of Arimathea received the Saviour’s blood, and perhaps even the receptacle for the severed head of John the Baptist.

By uniting the two objects, being the kraters and with meteoritic stones fallen from heaven, it becomes obvious. We see ancient worship of meteorites in the Kaaba Stone of Mecca in Saudia Arabia, which is associated with the worship of Venus/Lucifer and Saturn/Chronos, the pyramids of Mexico, the vajra thunderbolt of Hinduism, etc. So the Grail is indeed the meteorite crater opened up by a falling object from the heavens. It may also refer to volcanic activity and magma, associated with the conflagration spoken by the ancients that is said to have destroyed Atlantis-Eden.

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Rudolf Steiner, the Austrian philosopher and esotericist famously reimagined the grail, foundation stone as a, “dodecahedron fashioned in copper in 1913 to consecrate the building called the first Goetheanum, with twelve, pentagonal (five-sided) facets and called the “dodecahedron of man.” (Bill Trusiewicz, The Foundation Stone as The Golden Triangle, The Mystic Hammer, and The Lost Word)

Bill Trusiewiscz further asks:

Firstly, we should ask: What is a foundation stone? Also called a “cornerstone,” a foundation stone is a stone ceremoniously set in place at the start of the construction of a building. This is done to initiate certain defining principles or ideas in connection with the proposed building with the intention of consecrating it for a specific purpose. It is, if you will, a “mental” building to use modern terminology, to correspond to a physical building proposed. Students of spiritual science would likely be comfortable with the idea that the “soul and spirit” foundations of the building were being laid alongside of the sense perceptible building itself.

Indeed, the Foundation Stone concept can be found all throughout the Old Testament and in the Jewish apocrypha, especially in 2 Enoch (see my paper “The Gods of Imagination: Alchemy, Magic, and the Quintessence” found in The Gnostic 6 by Andrew Phillip Smith). It is the starting point or even the “heart” in which the world and even the whole breadth of the cosmos is founded upon. It is also the Holy of Holies, in which it becomes the “cornerstone” of the Temple of Solomon, which is just another form of the Grail Temple of Parzival. Perhaps this is where the Theosophists would claim that Shamballah of Tibet would be the “heart of the earth” and the “King of the Earth” being “Sanat Kumara,” the so-called “Lord of the Flame” came from Venus! This is undoubtedly connected to Lucifer, the equivalent of Rex Mundi of the Cathars, Melek Taus of the Yezidis, Satan “the god of this world/cosmos” to St. Paul and Ialdabaoth and his legions of archons to the Gnostics. As it follows, the foundation stone is currently owned by Lucifer on his crown, since he is essentially the “prince of the world,” as the Fourth Gospel puts it, when he fell into the depths of the sub-lunar realm after the War in Heaven.

Sacred-Topography-of-Eden-and-the-Temple

In The Creation and the Garden of Eden as Models for Temple Architecture by Jeffrey M. Bradshaw, he quotes from a not-so-easily identifiable source but it is worth quoting nonetheless:

The brightness of the Holy of Holies was the light of Day One, before the visible world had been created… Those who entered the Holy of Holies entered this place of light, beyond time and matter, which was the presence of “the King of kings and Lord of lords who alone has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light.” This was the place of glory to which Jesus knew he would return after the crucifixion, “the glory which I had with thee before the world was made.” In the Gospel of Thomas, Christians are described as the new high priesthood who enter the light, and Jesus instructed his disciples to say to the guardians (the cherub guardians of Eden?) “We came from the light, the place where the light came into being on its own accord and established [itself]…

Bradshaw rightly points out that the tabernacle of Moses is an earthly attempt to recapture the Edenic state that that man once held before the fall:

Carrying this idea forward to a later epoch, Exodus 40:33 describes how Moses completed the tabernacle. The Hebrew text exactly parallels the account of how God finished creation. Genesis Rabbah comments: “It is as if, on that day [i.e., the day the tabernacle was raised in the wilderness], I actually created the world.” With this idea in mind, Hugh Nibley has famously called the temple “a scale-model of the universe.” As a complement to the view of the Creation as a model for the temple, BYU Professor Donald W. Parry has argued that the Garden of Eden can be seen as a natural “temple,” where Adam and Eve lived in God’s presence for a time, and mirroring the configuration of the heavenly temple intended as their ultimate destination.

Bradshaw concludes that the temple symbolism of Revelation also carries on this Edenic/Solomonic tradition:

Fittingly, just as the first book of the Bible, Genesis, recounts the story of Adam and Eve being cast out from the Garden, its last book, Revelation, prophesies a permanent return to Eden for the sanctified.36 In that day, the veil that separates man and the rest of fallen creation from God will be swept away, and all shall be “done in earth, as it is in heaven.”37 In the original Garden of Eden, “there was no need for a temple—because Adam and Eve enjoyed the continual presence of God”—likewise, in John’s vision “there was no temple in the Holy City, ‘for its temple is the Lord God.’”38 To reenter the Garden at that happy day is to return to the original spiritual state of immortality and innocence through forgiveness of sin, and to know the oneness that existed at the dawn of Creation, before the creative processes of division and separation began. The premortal glory of the righteous shall then be “added upon” 39 as they receive a fullness of the blessings of sanctification, “coupled with eternal glory, which glory we do not now enjoy.”

What does any of this have to do with the lore and legends of Baphomet and the Knights Templar exactly? This is a very good question that is answered thoroughly in Baphomet: The Mystery of the Temple Unveiled. The Even ha’Shettiya, also known as the “Stone of Foundation,” which currently resides within the eight-sided Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, the Holy City and center and heart of the earth as European mapmakers charted.

This is the same rock that supposedly was the same rocky site upon which Abraham was coerced into sacrificing his own son Isaac in the sight of Jehovah, to test his faith, as well as the place where Mohammed was lifted into Heaven by the archangel Gabriel. This is also the same site that the Knights Templar resided nearby when they founded modern day Jerusalem. So the Stone of Foundation for the Jews, Muslims, and the Catholic Crusaders was in fact, the Stone of Lucifer as part of the Axis Mundi or column that unites Heaven and Earth, and even the Underworld. King David, who purchased the rock of the Even ha’Shetityya from the Jebusites as the location of the Ark of the Covenant, was not overlooked by him. This sacred object primarily served as a vehicle for communication with Jehovah/Yahweh.

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King Solomon holding the Grail Temple and Royal Scepter.

David’s son, King Solomon, a famous alchemist, similarly thought that the stone’s alchemical properties as a mediator between Heaven and Earth, used the rock as a cornerstone or foundation for his famous Temple, which would draw upon the power and spirit of YHWH. We see the Testament of Solomon depicting Sabaoth as the god of Solomon, who gives him a magical ring through the archangel Michael to build the temple through the forced help of 72 goetic demon helpers. This is Sabaoth is probably the same deity as Abraxas. (This connection is fully explored further in depth in the book.)

Perhaps the pyramids of Egypt and Mexico were constructed by similar means though the use of demonic, supernatural power. Furthermore, perhaps this is what the Knights Templar were so drawn towards—the supernatural power behind the Temple of Solomon—the same power that would one day make them so rich that they would become a threat to French and Catholic nobility. It is this power that manifest itself in the form of a head of a man or even of a cat, and eventually from the Dionysian and Azazel-like goat head.

What is most fascinating as that the Freemasonic pontif Albert Pike in Morals & Dogma seems to spur and condemn the idea that the Templars also worshiped Baphomet when he writes:

“[It is absurd to suppose that men of intellect adored a monstrous idol called Baphomet, or recognized Mahomet as an inspired prophet. Their symbolism, invented ages before, to conceal what it was dangerous to avow, was of course misunderstood by those who were not adepts, and to their enemies seemed to be pantheistic. The calf of gold, made by Aaron for the Israelites, was but one of the oxen under the laver of bronze, and the Karobim on the Propitiatory, misunderstood. The symbols of the wise always become the idols of the ignorant multitude. What the Chiefs of the Order really believed and taught, is indicated to the Adepts by the hints contained in the high Degrees of Free-Masonry, and by the symbols which only the Adepts understand.

Pike is claiming that the symbolism associated with the Templars and Freemasonry is veiled and misunderstood by the masses also reflects the idea that the alchemical Philosopher’s Stone was simply a ruse created by alchemists to confuse the masses and mask their true and secret methods and sciences to create gold or something else completely. However, this doesn’t answer the general claim that a certain Templar possessed a severed idol head and turned to it to form their own Faustian pact with the spirit of Baphomet. We can gain more clarity on this subject from Sean Martin in The Knights Templar (p. 139):

Misunderstanding is almost certainly at the root of the allegation that the Templars worshipped an idol called Baphomet. Descriptions of it varied, but it was usually described as being a life-sized head, which was said to make the land fertile (as is said of the Grail). That the Templars did possess heads is without doubt. They possessed the head of St Euphemia of Chalcedon at their preceptory in Nicosia on Cyprus, and, more curiously, a silver head shaped reliquary was found after the arrests at the Paris Temple. This bore the inscription CAPUT LVIII, and inside it were parts of a woman’s skull (who was believed to have been one of the 11,000 virgins martyred at Cologne with St Ursula). The heads may have indeed been worshiped, in the way that the Celts revered the head.

The Assassins, during their initiation ceremonies, buried the initiate up to his neck in sand, leaving only the head visible, before disinterring him. Given their simulation of Saracen torture, the Templars may also have carried out this practice. A further possibility is that Baphomet, long thought to be a mistranslation of ‘Mahomet’ (the Prophet Muhammad), could well be a corruption of the Arabic word abufihamat, which means ‘Father of Understanding’, a reference to a spiritual seeker after realization or enlightenment has taken place: ‘The Baphomet is none other than the symbol of the completed man.’44 It is therefore possible that the supposed head the Templars worshipped was actually a metaphorical head. That Hugues de Payen’s shield carried three black heads suggests that certain elements within the Order – the upper echelons perhaps – were involved with esoteric disciplines learned from the Sufis from the very beginning of the Temple’s existence.

Could these “alchemical heads” be code words for a secret knowledge held by the minds of the initiated as well as literal severed heads who supposedly “prophesied”? The Templars were also said to have in their possession, ritual skulls made out of precious metals and human bone covered in gold and silver. These skulls may have been their own deceased brethren. There are testimonies taken from the Catholic inquisitions that purport of the Templars alluding to possess metallic skulls used in Templar ceremonies, especially in the legend of The Necromantic Skull Of Sidon.

Skulls tend to be used in ancestor worship and also happen to be the premiere emblem of Mexican commemoration of the Dia de los Muertos (“Day of the Dead” being a pre-Colombian tradition of ancestor worship and colonial Catholicism) and demonic deity of the drug cartels, Santa Muerte, a mixture of the Virgin Mary (who, herself is the Catholic version of Astarte and Ishtar/Lilith) and the Aztec god of death Mictlantecuhtli. The Yale Masonic secret society of the “Skull & Bones,” a Satanic club of which a string of U.S. Presidents belong to (John Kerry, the Bush family, etc.) via secret oaths and initiation rites into diabolism similar to the ones found in Templar Baphometic rites. These “Bonesmen” have their origins in the so-called “Bavarian Illuminati” who themselves come from the Jesuits, whose saints are often depicted next to skulls or holding skulls. There are paintings depicting Mary Magdalene holding a skull as well.

Georges_de_La_Tour_-_Magdalen_of_Night_Light_-_WGA12337masontemplar19_01

The famous skull and crossbones motif normally associated with pirates is often said to have originated with this skull from Sidon, but it was probably much older. This haunting motif, which we today associate with poison, was most likely a symbol related to the earlier alchemical rites of the Templar Knights. During these early rites, skulls were used representing “Caput Mortumm” or “Dead Head,” which refers to a stage in alchemy preceding creation of the “Philosophers Stone,” which is the Great Work of the alchemists, equated with spiritualized gold. This is the stage of “Nigredo” or the “blackening” in Hades/Hell. The Gnostic-Hermetist Zosimos depicts this stage in the most extreme and gruesome imagery in his alchemical work Visions.

The most important skull or head used in the rites of the Knights Templar was known within the Order as Baphomet. This most sacred of heads, which many of the Knights alluded to during their depositions preceding their French trial, may have been that of John the Baptist, whose head was acquired by the Templar’s as part of treasure they looted from Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade in the 11th century. Even stranger is the fact that this Baphomet skull could also be related to the head of Simon Magus! Be sure to check out our book for more details on all of this.

However, the idea that the Templars revered Baphomet in its Gnosticized form, seems to be a later additional detail that emerges during the French Revolution and later emphasized with the likes of Purgstall, Eliphas Levi, Aleister Crowley, etc. Whatever the case may be, it seems as though the Templar treasure is somehow tied with the symbolism of the head, the mind, as well as the Holy Grail cup which is associated with drinking the wisdom of various Hermetic and Gnostic deities and alchemists like Zosimos, as we explain in the book. Indeed, even the Holy Grail/Fisher King legends themselves have strong associations with Gnosticism, and it is this heresy that the Orthodoxy greatly desired to have stamped out of existence and absorbed into their own “universal” collective religion.

(In Part 2, we will re-examine the infamous Medieval legends of Faustus and Simon the Magician and his consort, Helena/Sophia and how it all relates to the Holy Grail legends.)

New Book: Baphomet: The Mystery of the Temple Unveiled

I realize it’s been a long while since I’ve posted an article on this blog. But be of good cheer! A new book I co-wrote with Tracy Twyman is set to come out either late October or early November as the date is currently tentative at the moment. The book is called Baphomet: The Temple Mystery Unveiled. I’ve been working on this book very intently for the last 6-7 months and all my hard work (along with Tracy’s) will finally be revealed for the public to read and carefully consider. Here is the press release for the book over on Tracy’s site. Be on the look out for a Kickstarter with some pertinent details for you beloved truth seekers, to consider supporting us while giving you lot’s of cool goodies, e-books and hardcover books in return. And finally, here is the cover that will be used for the book. I will be posting more details about the book as the weeks pass on. Spread the news far and wide!

Here is the blurb from the inside cover of the book jacket:

Can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? And be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?

For seven centuries, the enigma of Baphomet has mystified both scholars and the general public. Did the Knights Templar really worship a demonic idol of that name? If so, what does the word mean? What is the origin of this figure? What was the nature of the rituals that the Templars performed in secret? What were their covert beliefs? And why, if the Templars initially described their idol as a mummified severed head, is this figure now represented as a hermaphrodite human with the head of a goat?

Authors Tracy R. Twyman and Alexander Rivera have dived head-first into the bottomless abyss of mystery and returned with some astounding wisdom to share. Learn the genesis of these symbols and how they relate to the Witches’ Sabbath, traditions of Sufi Islam, alchemy, Gnosticism, cabalism, the teachings of Hermes Trismegistus, and so much more.

Learn why the Templars and their beloved severed head are frequently associated with John the Baptist, and how this connects to his student, Simon Magus. Discover the known facts about things like the Chinon Parchment, the Book of the Baptism of Fire, the Templar Abraxas seals, and newly-found documents which claim that the Templars discovered the real Temple of Solomon during a secret trip to Mecca.

Join Twyman and Rivera on this exciting adventure into the unknown. Immerse yourself in this knowledge, if your heart has the strength. It is certain that your mind will never be the same.

LVX and God Bless,

Alex.

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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. According to some mythicists, 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 from 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 can easily be dispelled 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 wine skin 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.

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 also 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 denial for the corruptible flesh (that it could be saved) 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? In a way, Jesus could very well be seen as the incarnation of the Sun God. However, 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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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 sworn 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 Megethius (the Marcionite voice against the Catholic Adamantius i.e. Origen) 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. 

Addendum – As it turns out, Hippolytus in Refutation (Book VI. 6), also claims that Simon Magus is heavily inspired by Empedocles. Marcion is simply continuing in Simon’s tradition through the guise of Paul:

Simon denominates in the Great Announcement a perfect intelligible (entity), after such a mode, that each of those things which, existing indefinitely, may be infinitely comprehended, both speaks, and understands, and acts in such a manner as Empedocles speaks of:—

For earth, indeed, by earth we see, and water by water,
And air divine by air, and fire fierce by fire,
And love by love, and also strife by gloomy strife.

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.”