Month: January 2015

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

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Daimonic Doubles Revisited

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Much like Thomas being the twin of Jesus, Hermes was the Greek personification of Djehuti or Thoth; here we see an older order of things taking on a new raiment but underneath the same old meanings. Thoth was one of the earlier Egyptian gods, thought to be scribe to the gods, who kept a great library of scrolls, over which one of his wives, Seshat (the goddess of writing) was thought to be mistress. He was associated by the Egyptians with speech, literature, arts, learning. Even the very word “thought” comes from the name Thoth. He, too, was a measurer and recorder of time, as was Seshat, the female counterpart to Thoth.

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Believed to be the author of the spells in the Book of the Dead, he was a helper (and punisher) of the deceased as they try to enter the underworld. In this role, his wife was Ma’at, the personification of order, who was weighed against the heart of the dead to see if they followed Ma’at during their life. It is interesting that the word “Ma’at” is the Egyptian equivalent to wisdom or philosophy. Thus “Philo” is related to feelings of love while “Sophia” is also wisdom thus we have “Philosophy” which actually means the “Study of the love of Ma’at”. The word “matrix” comes from Ma’at (the feminine principle, synonymous with Isis, the progenitor of life) Ra (the Egyptian sun god) X (Roman numeral ten) as well as “mother” and “womb”. To see through the Matrix is to be born again (using Johannine language), to be given a rebirth from darkness to light.

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

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

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

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

Thoth, here, represents the heart and tongue of Ra, reason and the mental powers of the god and the utterer of speech. Thoth also resembles the Gnostic Aeons like Autogenes, in how they are “thought” of as “self-generated”. This is why Paul in Acts 12:14 is called Hermes, “because he was the chief speaker.” It has been suggested that Thoth is thus the equivalent of the Platonic Logos. Many are his epithets: his best known being “thrice greatest”—in later times becoming Hermes Trismegistus as mentioned by the Emerald Tablets of Hermes.

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The title “thrice great” or “three times blessed” recalls the concept of the Trinity, and even the doctrine of the three natures. The three natures doctrine was regularly espoused by Jesus in the Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13 and Paul in his epistles. Simon Magus is called the “Great Power of God” in Acts 8:9 and is said to be the author of the Great Announcement as quoted by Hippolytus in the Philosophumena or Refutation of All Heresies. Later Gnostic literature like The Three Steles of Seth and the Trimorphic Protennoia otherwise known as The Three Forms of Forethought use this title many times. Even in Hindu literature, does the three natures doctrine appears in the form of the “sattvas”, “rajas” and “tamas” as explained in the Bhagavad Gita.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The voice of God as we found out earlier is known as Metatron in the 1 Enoch and Kabbalistic sources. Enoch-Metatron also have strong parallels with Hermes-Thoth as well. Most importantly, Thoth was a clerk of the Halls of Judgment and named a means for it called the Scales of Thoth, where the heart of the initiate is weighed against a feather “of Truth” to find how truly “heavy or light” it is.

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It is Thoth who equips the dead with efficacious means of protection against the dangers of the Beyond. When the dead has to enter into the presence of the Great Tribunal of the gods, Thoth leads him in, makes pleading for him with the Judges, weighs his heart in the scales against the feather of Ma’at, and, in the end, records the verdict. The details of all this ritual and ceremonial are familiar in the literature of the Book of the Dead: What Thoth once did for Osiris, the same must he do for every dead Egyptian since the Osirian ritual was the standard and guide for all funerary ritual in Egypt. The priests who took part in funerary celebrations regarded themselves as incorporation’s of the Osirian gods. The Book of the Dead make several allusions to mortals achieving immortality or divinity through theurgy and funerary magical ritual. Osiris, the divided and resurrected god of the underworld is also portrayed as one of these judges of the afterlife.

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Asclepius Absconded

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

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

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

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

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

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This “Serpent Holder” sounds very close to what John 3:14 says about the “Son of Man”:

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

The speculations concerning the Christian Trinity were dangerously close to the speculations about Asclepius, who was third from Zeus, the second being Apollo. The syncretic god Serapis was also considered synonymous with Asclepius and was even depicted as a snake, with the head recognizable as Serapis. Serapis was also associated with Osiris, Isis and Harpocrates. Could these references of Jesus and Moses being connected to serpents also reflect that they may also be associated with the Serpent in Genesis and the Garden of Eden? Furthermore, could the Gnostic-Ophite and Manichaean speculations of the Serpent being sent by Sophia or even Jesus “the Splendor” be based in scripture and not just in speculative inverted fancy? There are paintings, sculptures and vase etchings that depict the eleventh labor penance for the demigod Hercules, who stands next to a tree with a serpent named Ladon, guarding the golden apples of immortality, in the Garden of Hesperidies, tended by maidens and nymphs. This recalls the stories of Genesis 3 and even Gilgamesh, both of which include the legendary search for immortality associated with a serpent.

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This also has strong applications to the Caduceus, the twin snake staff of Hermes. This also relates to Agathosdaimon, the “good spirit of abundance” and Tyche Agathe, the first of which was associated with the Orphic Deity Phanes Protogenos. Agathosdaimon was also portrayed as a serpent in coins, monuments, figurines, reliefs, lamps, etc.

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Glykon was also depicted as a serpent with a human-like face. In the writings of the satirist Lucian (Alexander the False Prophet 24), we see the con-man Pseudo-Alexander, who claimed that the made up serpent god, Glykon was a reincarnation of Asclepius! This, of course, was a parody of Agathosdaimon, Asclepius as well as Serapis. Glykon could may also be a parody of the lion-headed serpent, Ialdabaoth.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Hermetic Hocus Pocus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Paul, Thrice Great

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Marriage At Cana

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In the Marriage at Cana episode in the Gospel of John, Jesus and his disciples attend a wedding feast:

On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples.When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.”And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons.[a] Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them,“Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it.When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Canna in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

This entire episode is about the Hieròs Gàmos. In other words, it is the “Sacred Wedding” that is being discussed. “Marriage” is gàmos in the Greek original of John 2:1. It actually means literally “drinking party”, “feast”, or “banquet”, but it is the Bible word normally translated gàmos by the LXX (Abbott-Smith’s Lexicon, Bibliography).

The keys of knowledge here means for that final re-union is the Sacred Wedding (Hieròs Gàmos), whereby the syzygy Christòs-Sophia is established:

“Then the Pneumatic beings, having taken their psyches off, while the Mother (Sophia) unites to the Bridegroom (the Christ), take likewise the Angels as their husbands: they enter the Bridal Chamber within the Limit where, being now Aeons of the same nature as the Noûs, proceed towards the Vision of the Father, towards the eternal (aiônios), spiritual union of the Syzygy” (Excerpta ex Theodoto 64).

The above quote indicates that the soul for the Valentinian Christian was considered feminine. Entering the Bridal Chamber within the Limit implied that the soul had to take their Cross upon themselves. This is where the soul or spiritual heart itself is crucified. The Hieròs Gàmos is thus a purely spiritual event. This has to be contrasted with what one has to read in recently published indecent “best sellers”.

This is man’s final redemption, the liberation from this world of suffering and death, the “death” into which the Mother (Sophia) had plunged us and from which the Christ delivers us (ExTh 80:1). Liberation from death means the liberation from the cycle of repeated births and deaths (ensömatôseis – plural – ExTh 28).

In the quotation above it is said that the liberated souls “enter the Bridal Chamber within the Limit”; in other words, they have to cross the Limit, to pass through the Cross, in order to“proceed towards the Vision of the Father”. This has a profound significance: salvation is inseparable from taking upon oneself the Cross of the Savior. The “rest” (anàpausis – ExTh 63) promised to the saved ones is rest from the aimlessly toiling along the deadly path traced by self-centered interests in this world of darkness and suffering. But the reached Communion with the Lord implies the becoming compassionate and self-sacrificing as He is.

All that is narrated in the second chapter of John’s Gospel.

On the third day there was a marriage at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there.” (2:1).

“And the mother of Jesus was there”. It is obvious that she was there, for soon she will tell Jesus “They have no wine”.  So why mention her presence, even before that of the main character, Jesus? And please notice that she does not say: “They have no wine any more”; she says: “They have no wine”. Wine is absolutely lacking.

That is also obvious from the standpoint of the teaching, for Sophia, having generated the two lower Seeds and clothed the three of them with her substance, is the Mother of the Nazarene. The diòrthösis of the Seed, the communion established of the “male” Seed with the “female” Soul, is the obvious prelude to the Sacred Marriage, which will be consummated within the Pleroma.

“They have no wine”. The human soul realizes her “Lack” and addresses the Savior for help.“Woman, what have I to do with thee? My hour is not yet come” (2:4) — the Savior wants to know in which way the soul feels to be related to Him.

“My hour is not yet come”. “Not yet come”: the soul is not ready yet. “His mother said to the servants: Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it”. The soul’s trust in the Savior and in whatever He may want is absolute. Now the soul is ready and the miracle can take place.

But who are the “servants”?  “Servant” is the “messenger” or the “angel” or Logos. which is what Theodotos says: “The followers of Valentinus define the Angel: a Logos who has received a mission (apangelìa) from Him Who Is” (ExTh 25:1).

The servants take “six stone jars (lìthinai hydrìai hex)” each capable of containing  anà metrëtàs dyo ê treîs  — reads the original Greek, that is “two or three measures” (2:6). John is always precise with numbers (think of the 153 fishes of Chapter 21). Therefore the Revised Version’s “twenty or thirty gallons” is just misleading, much like the rest of the RV as well as the NIV for many reasons. The jars have may also represent Achamoth, the corrupted or fallen form of Sophia, the plural meaning of Her fragmentation into individual souls like the Orphic myth of Dionysus and the death of Osiris. The first and the third are the most likely, since the jars were used “for the purification of the Jews”, and the “Jews”, in John’s Gospel, mean the Psychic nature. Which Psychic nature (water), now added to the Hylic one (stone jars), is ready to be transferred to the highest, the Pneumatic, class.

By Jesus’ order, the jars are brought to the architrìklinos, to the “steward of the feast” (RV). Apparently architrìklinos does not appear in the LXX, which forces us to look ourselves for a Hebrew translation. The obvious one is “the head of the banquet”, since moreover, according to the Abbott-Smith’s Lexicon, archi- translates “head”, as for instance archierèus for “the chief priest”, or archisynàgögos for “the head of the assembly or synagogue”. The chief characters of the whole episode include, Christ, the Son of Man, and Sophia. The wine is symbolic of Jesus disseminating the Wisdom seed or the “Seed of the Logos” into the soul of man, which is symbolized as water. The soul becomes the seat for the living presence of the Pneumatic Seed.

Unless that Seed is active no diòrthösis (restoration) is in fact possible. Thus, the water is transmuted into wine, much like how course metals like lead or copper is transformed into gold by the old alchemists to create the Philosopher’s Stone. The wine also has connections with the “blood” of Jesus as being connected with the Eucharist. In Dionysian rites, wine was used for libations dedicated to the gods and a union with Dionysus. Wine is strongly associated with the Mysteries of Dionysus.

Also, Jesus, ready for the miracle, cannot say any more: “My hour is not yet come”. Aside from the soul being not ready, this enigmatic phrase is, however, answered later when about three days before he was crucified, Jesus was in the temple and some Greeks sought him out. Jesus said to them,

“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal…Now my soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour.” (John 12:23-27)

Gnostically viewed, the spiritualization of man is the transformation of the Psychic nature into the Pneumatic one. Its natural symbol is the transformation of water (the symbol of the Psyche) into Wine (Spirit!). That must take place in the sphere of the “fallen” Sophia, the one to be redeemed, and must be the natural consequence of the Baptism, that is the descent of the Pneumatic Seed in the Waters of the Soul. This is also called the “Baptism of Wisdom” which has strong alchemical meanings attached. The Rosicrucian Chymical Wedding by Christian Rosenkreutz might also have some interesting correlations as well but I will save that exegesis for another time!

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The Tower Archetype

trumpsTower According to one explanation of the Tower Tarot card (the Crowley Thoth deck) by Gerd Ziegler, it is a supreme archetype for the death of the ego or false identity and the rebirth of the Spirit, hidden in man:

The power of the consuming, purifying fire destroys the old and sweeps it away. Nothing is spared; the tower of the ego will be shaken to its very foundations. Anything you attempt to cling to will be destroyed by this transforming power. The apparent securities of the past have begun to waver and topple. All that remains is trust; the knowledge that all events in life arise from the endless love of the universe and bring us the possibility for learning and recognition. This understanding of the true nature of events transforms even apparent losses or painful disappointments into the valuable gifts they really are.

Times of desperation and inner tension, when recognized, can become the most fruitful growing phases of our lives. The Tower is also one of the highest cards for healing. Just as the extraction of a rotten tooth provides relief for the entire body, the destruction of stagnant situations and relations which hinder growth begins a healing process for your entire organism. Having a tooth extracted can be painful, but when the tooth is poisoning your system, there is no other choice. The strokes of fate may seem equally tragic and unfathomable, but they come to us only because we need them and have created them for ourselves either consciously or unconsciously. If you can recognize and accept these laws of the universe, you possess all you need for true liberation and total transformation to occur.

The eye of Horus illustrates awakened consciousness, which sees reality as it truly is. The dove with the olive branch symbolizes the compassion toward oneself and others which arises out of self-knowledge. It also symbolizes that which remains pure and whole throughout; the essence of being, from which all is created anew (the snake).

Lately, I’ve noticed this archetype come up quite a bit in my research for an entirely unrelated project, saving it for a later time to discuss. I think now is the time to do so. The Tower is an object that appears many times throughout the Bible, as well as in the western occult tradition. An obvious expression of this archetype can be seen in Genesis 11, when the citadel-like Tower of Babel is built by the “children of men”, in which the “LORD” (an intentional mistranslation because the translators did not want the Bible to show the difference between the Lord of the Old Testament (Jehovah) and the Lord of the New Testament, being the Lord Jesus Christ) or Yahweh/Jehovah and his minions investigates (inferring that Yahweh is not omniscient) and decides to confuse them.

Yahweh said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.” So Yahweh scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel –because there Yahweh confused the language of the whole world. From there Yahweh scattered them over the face of the whole earth.

In Genesis 10:8-10, it tells us that the founder and builder of this Tower was Nimrod, who was the son of “Cush” and would eventually grow up to be a “mighty one on earth” and a “mighty hunter before Jehovah”. He also built the kingdoms of “Babylon, Uruk, Akkad and Kalneh, in Shinar.” In many ways, this effort to build this gigantic Tower mirrors Cain’s efforts to build a city named after his son, Enoch. Yes, that Enoch – the one the Book of Enoch is named after.

Cain had relations with his wife and she conceived, and gave birth to Enoch; and he built a city, and called the name of the city Enoch, after the name of his son. (Genesis 4:17)

Nimrod himself can be seen as an incarnation of Cain, or a “torch-bearer” of Cain’s tradition when he “went out from the LORD’s presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden” (Genesis 4:15). Some Christian websites claim that this City of Enoch, marked the beginning of man’s foolish attempt to create a Utopian society without God. It marked the expansion of the lineage of Cain, down through the ages. Even the word “Babel” is an Akkadian term, meaning “Gate of God”, which is a reference that this Tower was some sort of “Stargate” as Christian conspiracy theorists might speculate, in which those building the Tower actually wanted to storm the “Gates of Heaven” and wage against God himself! tower_of_babel_2_s Apparently the chief motivation for building the Tower was not just to unite the people or centralize the ancient Babylonian government, but to enact revenge on the God who wiped out their ancestors in the flood. This was the same God who threw their worthy ancestors out of the Garden of Eden as well. And now, He’ll do it to them yet again! So the people postulated: if this God ever thought to send down a flood again, they, with this new Tower would be ready! This Tower was now designed to be as tall as a mountain for another reason – extend beyond the reach of any water that his God could bring and eventually even destroy God himself! According to the Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 109a, it tells us:

“One said, “Let us ascend and dwell there’…the second, “Let us ascend and serve idols”…and the third said, “Let us ascend and wage war [with God].”

In Part 4 of my Forbidden Fruit series, we saw how the Gnostics understood the meanings of Deluge story to say that Ialdaboth sent the Flood against human race (particularly the “Unshakable Race” of the bloodline of Seth) because they “improved” and would not worship him like he wanted them to and had spiritual knowledge outside of his domain. However, there is no Gnostic “re-telling” of this story but there is a very interesting parallel in Plato’s Symposium, specifically in Aristophanes’s Speech on Love. Apparently, according to Aristopahanes, the human race was originally a Hermaphroditic species, meaning they contained by sexes in one body. In fact, he tells us there were three sexes!

Now the sexes were three, and such as I have described them; because the sun, moon, and earth are three; and the man was originally the child of the sun, the woman of the earth, and the man-woman of the moon, which is made up of sun and earth, and they were all round and moved round and round because they resembled their parents. Terrible was their might and strength, and the thoughts of their hearts were great, and they made an attack upon the gods; of them is told the tale of Otys and Ephialtes who, as Homer says, attempted to scale heaven, and would have laid hands upon the gods.

The gods, of course, did not take this threat lightly. Zeus concocted a plan to split this powerful hermaphroditic race into two, much like the idea of Jehovah scattering off and confusing the builders of Babel. Nimrod and Cush could even be seen as synonymous with Saturn as I discuss in Part 4 of the Forbidden Fruit series linked above.

Doubt reigned in the celestial councils. Should they kill them and annihilate the race with thunderbolts, as they had done the giants, then there would be an end of the sacrifices and worship which men offered to them; but, on the other hand, the gods could not suffer their insolence to be unrestrained. At last, after a good deal of reflection, Zeus discovered a way. He said: ‘Methinks I have a plan which will enfeeble their strength and so extinguish their turbulence; men shall continue to exist, but I will cut them in two and then they will be diminished in strength and increased in numbers; this will have the advantage of making them more profitable to us. They shall walk upright on two legs, and if they continue insolent and will not be quiet, I will split them again and they shall hop about on a single leg.’

Zeus’ plan doesn’t go very well even when Apollo heals the other cut half. However, Zeus comes up with the idea of splitting off solar and lunar pairs into different bodies, which (mythological speaking) explains the longing of males and females to have breed and procreate with each other.

Thus they were being destroyed, when Zeus in pity invented a new plan: he turned the parts of generation round to the front, for this had not been always their position, and they sowed the seed no longer as hitherto like grasshoppers in the ground, but in one another; and after the transposition the male generated in the female in order that by the mutual embraces of man and woman they might breed, and the race might continue; or if man came to man they might be satisfied, and rest, and go their ways to the business of life. So ancient is the desire of one another which is implanted in us, reuniting our original nature, seeking to make one of two, and to heal the state of man.

In any case, the “Tower” archetype occurs in European aristocratic occultism, like in Enochian magic, which was devised by John Dee and Edward Kelly in the 16th century and eventually adopted and built on by S.L. MacGregor Mathers for the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. We have the “Four Watchtowers” or what A Book of Supplications and Invocations written by John Dee which involves calling the Angels who preside over the Four Quarters of the Terrestial sphere. In other words, we are dealing here, with the Four Elements as developed further by the Golden Dawn. Apparently, these Watchtowers can be opened by invoking the correct Sacred names of God, which opens “gateways” to “heavenly” or “angelic cities” or dimensions. A more thorough and detailed explanation of all this can be found here. simon-magus-7 As I write this, I am astonished to find a really interesting parallel between Enochian Watchtower magic and some crazy vivid descriptions of the heavenly Pleroma in the The Untitled Text in the Bruce Codex as a “mother-city”.

“This is the manner in which they are all within the monad : there are twelve monads making a crown upon its head ; each one makes twelve. And there are ten decads surrounding its shoulders. And there are nine enneads surrounding its belly. And there are seven hebdomads at its feet, and each one makes a hebdomad. And to the veil which surrounds it like a tower, there are twelve gates. There are twelve myriad powers at each gate, and they are called archangels and also angels. This is the mother-city of the only-begotten one.”

This divine tower is also associated with divine Wisdom. In Joseph and Aseneth, Chapter 2, it tells us that the tower of Asenath has its windows facing all directions but west—or to the Roman world. It has ten rooms with seven, perhaps representing the seven dimensions of the universe, populated by seven virgin servants who were all born on the same day as Asenath. The other three rooms are described as being a “storehouse” for her material, earthly pleasures and wealth. That she always looked out the east window would represent a rejection of the Roman world and/or a metaphor for looking toward the sun/Son. Near the house of the tower was an ever-bubbling spring flowing into a cistern which had a river flowing out of it that watered all the fruit trees around the house—an obvious metaphor for the Garden of Eden.

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We find some more curious parallels of the Egyptian princess Aseneth, with Helena, the companion and disciple of Simon Magus in the Clementine Recognition’s (II. Xi) as being held in a Tower:

On one occasion Aquila says he was present when Luna (Helen) was seen looking out of all the windows of a tower on all sides at once.

So here Helen, looks at “all sides at once” instead of just looking in the east. And finally in Epiphanius’ Panarion. Section 2, Pt. 21, 3:2, he writes that Homer described Helen of Troy “standing on a tower”.

3:2 She is the one who is with me now, and for her sake I am come down. But she herself awaited my arrival; for this is Ennoia, she whom Homer calls Helen.24 And this is why Homer is obliged to describe her as standing on a tower, signalling her plot against the Phrygians to the Greeks with a lamp.25 But with its brightness, as I said, he indicated the display of the light from on high.’

We encounter this same archetype many times in children’s fables and fairy tales of the heroic knight coming to rescue the trapped Maiden or princess held hostage in the Tower, usually guarded by a dragon or monster of some type. The Legend of Zelda series is all about this story. What could all of this mean, one might ask? Well, the hero and maiden archetype more than likely can be traced to the Simon and Helena myth that the Church Fathers report on. I can only speculate further in that the Tower represents putting hopes and emphasis on vain “worldy” efforts to reach the Divine through external means and not through the Spirit as John 1:1-5 puts it:

Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers.

The Tarot card explanation also seems to support this idea as well. I’m sure there are other meanings assigned to the Tower symbol that I have unintentionally overlooked. I guess I am sounding like a Christian here by quoting Jesus Christ as I haven’t identified myself as such for a long time…but many stranger things have happened!