Biblical Exegesis

Marcion and Empedocles: The Gnosis of Love and Discord

The Church Father and anti-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 presocratic 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 states 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 that 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”, “gatekeepers”, “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 Epicureans, 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 impassibility 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 a 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 theologians 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 “checkerboard” 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.

Gnostic Exegesis in Revelation 12

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here, the virgin is pursued by the vilified magician, King Solomon and his army of demonic spirits but the virgin barely escapes their clutches and gives birth to her male child who receives power and glory when he “came to the water” which could be a possible reference to Jesus who receives the power of the Holy Spirit when he is baptized and anointed with the Christ spirit, as an “adopted” (hence the doctrine of Adoptionism) Son of God, as mentioned in Mark 1:9-10. In the Gnostic terminology, “male” is the synonym with “pneumatic” or spiritual, as “female” is synonym with “psychic”. The male child in the Apocalypse of Adam is an obvious reference to the Illuminator, the same great spiritual power that the “the god of the powers” or the Demiurge, asks, “What is the power of this man who is higher than we?” In Revelation 12: 7-9, the defeating and casting down of the dragon, Satan, to earth by the archangel Michael, has a possible parallel in the struggle between the armies of angels and the armies of Solomon over the virgin in the fourth kingdom of Apoc. Adam, and in the battle between Jesus and the beasts in Mark 1:13 and Satan/Devil in the temptation stories. So why in the world is Satan and his hosts of principalities and powers cast down to earth at the end of time? Because as St. Paul puts it in Ephesians 6:12:

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

In other words, Satan and his angels were active in the lower heavens when they crucified the “Lord of Glory” (e.g. Jesus Christ) in 1 Corinthians 2:8. But in the End of Days, Michael, the archangel and his angels will cast the Devil down to earth.

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The story of the divine child, who, together with his divine mother, is threatened by an evil power, yet is rescued and finds safety in the wilderness until the evil power is destroyed can very much be interpreted with a Gnostic lens. And naturally, the divine mother and child archetype is one that repeats in almost every ancient culture around the world, beginning with Isis and her son Horus, and possibly before that. The divine Mother, being Sophia, who also gives birth also suggests a connection to Eve, and the divine male child, being Seth, who (with his seed) is caught up to the aeon or put in a holy dwelling place and stays up there for a time, thus overthrowing the powers, i.e. the dragon archon who brought the great flood as mentioned in the Gospel of the Egyptians. And at the end, a voice or Logos, i.e. Seth, announces the arrival of final salvation much like the divine call of Revelation 12: 10-12.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

Gnosis. What is it?

The word “Gnosis” can be the object of a gross misconception, unless properly understood. “Gnosis” is knowledge; but this knowledge is no collection of pieces of information about metaphysical facts. Excerpta ex Theodoto is very clear on this subject:

“Since the Father was unknown…He emitted the Only Begotten Son through His own Enthýmësis — for so He knows Himself — as Spirit of Knowledge (Pneûma Gnôseös). So He who has proceeded from the Father’s Enthýmësis has become Gnosis, and this is the Son, for through the Son has the Father been known (7:1)”.

The Only Begotten Son is the Noûs, here said to have been emanated as “Spirit of Knowledge”. His “feminine” counterpart in the syzygy is Truth, and ExTh 7:2 says that from Truth emanates the “Spirit of Love” (Pneûma Agàpës). Thus, while we find it stressed that “Gnosis” means the Knowledge of the Father, we are taught that Knowledge and Love, Gnôsis and Agàpë, are like the two faces of a coin in the Son. There is no Gnosis without Love. Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:2, he claims about the futility of both faith and knowledge without the right attitude of heart:

“Though I understand all mysteries, and all knowledge (gnosis); and though I have all faith so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity [love], I am nothing”.

Gnosis is also described as a “science” according to Theodotus (35):

So also scientific knowledge (gnosis), shedding its light and brightness on things, shows itself to be in truth the divine wisdom, the pure light, which illumines the men whose eyeball is clear, unto the sure vision and comprehension of truth.

The proper appreciation of what Gnosis is holds the key to the correct understanding of what “the New Covenant” means–to a Gnostic at least.

“And he took the bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them saying: This is my body which is given for you; this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying: This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is shed for you” (Luke 22:19-20).

“Do this in remembrance of me” (toûto poieìte eis tên emên anàmnësin): does “this” refer to the repetition of a meal, or–gnostically understood–to the continuation, in the life of a disciple, of the self-sacrificing attitude–the Pneûma Agàpës— of a Son of God?

The Teachings of Silvanius, a largely Christian Orthodox writing with some Gnostic and Stoic influence, writes about knowledge:

Do not become desirous of gold and silver, which are profitless, but clothe yourself with wisdom like a robe; put knowledge on yourself like a crown, and be seated upon a throne of perception.

In Luke 11:52, Jesus denounces the Pharisees and gives them a bitter warning about hindering access to the “key of knowledge”, the same “keys of the kingdom” supposedly given to Peter:

“Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge; you yourselves did not enter, and you hindered those who were entering.”

In Proverbs 4:13, it makes another stark warning in guarding Wisdom’s keys of the Kingdom.

Take hold of my instructions; don’t let them go. Guard them, for they are the key to life.

Proverbs 3:18 also compares the key of Wisdom to the Tree of Life of Eden:

She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her; those who hold her fast will be blessed.

Man is the keystone of the whole cosmic arch, and really, every sentient being, in which they have been entrusted with possession of the divine light, which is the soul. In essence, man is light. The soul is not made by the demiurge and is not native to this world. It’s a stranger (Allogenes) to the kosmos which is likened to Tartarus, which is any area outside of the Pleroma. Its origin is the sphere of being, which is spiritual and enduring. It is the kingdom of God the Father hid in man. Even the Simonian Great Declaration states about the luminous seed, or the immoral spark in man, which echoes the Gospel of John quite a bit:

For those what are three, and if there were not three standing aeons, there would be no ordering of the creation which hovers over the water and has been created in the likeness unto a perfect celestial being, which becomes in no way inferior to the Unbegotten Power, so that one shall say to the other: You and I are one; you are before me that I may after you.”

Compare this to the Gospel of John 10:37:

Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father. But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.

So where can one find this knowledge or gnosis? How can one be one with the Father? One must realize that they are a prisoner; a slave ruled over by a prince (archon) of this world spoken by Jesus in John 12:31.

31 Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out.

According to scripture, he is also the one possessing world power (cosmocrator). In the New Testament he is described as lord of the universe with the power to dispose of this world’s goods (Luke 4:6). He is the prince of this world, and the god of this world (2 Cor. 4:4). The Christian interpretation of “world” in these contexts is “age”, so that the demiurge or Satan is god of the present epoch. The tactic here is to keep the prisoner occupied with various diversions (a chief tactic in warfare) from realizing that there is a spiritual war and that man is at the center of it. It is this entity that “blinds the minds of men”, and “deceives the whole world”. The Hypostasis of the Archons says many similar things to this effect as well.

In the Gospel of Truth, the Father keeps within Himself the Perfection (i.e. the Fullness or Pleroma) of all the created beings, only to bestow it to them as a boon for their return to Him. Before then all the creatures are in a condition of “Lack” (Void or Kenoma), which means lack of Truth, that is Ignorance. Ignorance generates Error (plànë) that, accompanied by Forgetting, Anguish, Oblivion and Fear, in its turn feeds Ignorance, so that a self-perpetuating chain is formed. This chain is called the Schêma (“form”, “pattern”): “The schêma is the world in which He came as a Servant” (Gospel of the Truth). It is tò schêma toû kòsmou toùtou (“the pattern of this world”) of 1 Corinthians 7:31.

Accordingly, ignorance means ignoring our true nature and identity, identifying ourselves with our ego or animal nature, itself a part of the schêma. It is then obvious that such a self-perpetuating chain cannot break by itself. Having recognized its nature, one has to abandon all self-centered interests and open oneself to the saving Presence of the Christ within. Only this “vertical” intervention can break the schêma. And with his calling and intervention, can the keys of knowledge be gained. And yet this intervention is a two way street because the soul is invited drill down to its core, into the hidden, “inner man” where the “Spirit of Love” awaits on the other side. It is the portal to a dimension, so radically different than the schêma, the cosmos of matter.

According to Proverbs (20-27), Wisdom (Sophia) calls those who are willfully ignorant as “scorners delight in their scorning, And fools hate knowledge.” She also warns that all those who “distained” her counsel, will be laughed at their “calamity” and will “mock” them when “terror comes” as well as the “destruction” that “comes like a whirlwind”. Lot’s of warnings everywhere. So let’s drop off all of our Bovine droppings and get with the program. 

The Simon Sancus Conondrum

The controversy surrounding the trinity of Simon-Paul, Simon-Peter (Dositheos) and Simon-Jesus, is not a new one and has been addressed by other scholars, although not exactly in the same angle, I’ve been looking at for a while now. However, scant attention, outside of a few scholars, are given to another controversy associated with Simon Magus and that is the Semo Sancus statue that Simon was confused for by the Church theologian and semi-heretic Justin Martyr. Furthermore, the magical act of animating statues was a popular feat among ancient magicians and theurgists. One question does come up in my mind: Does this have anything to do with the Semo Sancus statue associated with Simon Magus?

After this, the next series of articles will explore the Hermetic side of things, delving further into the “divine twin” phenomena that is surprisingly common in ancient literature. There will also be some startling details concerning the Apollos and Apollo, Thoth, Hermes’ connections and the Emerald Tablets. This will all be full explored in False Gods, Divine Charlatans and Hermetic Hustlers.

Sancus

In Justin Martyr’s 1 Apology 26, he claims that the Roman ruler, Claudius Caesar built a statue in honor of Simon Magus because he was so impressed by his magical feats:

And, thirdly, because after Christ’s ascension into heaven the devils put forward certain men who said that they themselves were gods; and they were not only not persecuted by you, but even deemed worthy of honours. There was a Samaritan, Simon, a native of the village called Gitto, who in the reign of Claudius Cæsar, and in your royal city of Rome, did mighty acts of magic, by virtue of the art of the devils operating in him. He was considered a god, and as a god was honoured by you with a statue, which statue was erected on the river Tiber, between the two bridges, and bore this inscription, in the language of Rome:— Simoni Deo Sancto, To Simon the holy God. And almost all the Samaritans, and a few even of other nations, worship him, and acknowledge him as the first god; and a woman, Helena, who went about with him at that time, and had formerly been a prostitute, they say is the first idea generated by him.

However, it is said that in this instance, Simon was simply “confused” with another Roman god, Semo Sancus by Justin Martyr. Here is what I wrote in my commentary on the Great Declaration about this issue:

However, some scholars debate this point, claiming that Justin confused a statue dedicated to the Sabine divinity Semo Sancus with that of the historical Simon the Magician. Semo Sancus is an ancient Sabine deity for oaths, contracts, law, matrimony, and legal fidelity. In 1574, an altar dedicated to Semo Sancus was discovered on the island of the Tiber River with the following inscription Semoni Sanco Deo, which translates as “to Semon the Holy God.” This discovery led to the belief that Justin had made an observational mistake concerning what he thought was the idol of “Simon the Holy God” on the Tiber River.

There is a problem with this theory in that it assumes that the deity’s name is Semo. In Latin, semo or the plural semones derives from semi-homines or semi-humans. These are the dii medioxumi who were lower-level deities. The semones are the demigods of the Roman pagan pantheon. According to Marcus Porcius Cato, a Sanco is a spirit (daimon) and not a god (theos).

From the point of view of Roman paganism, it does not make sense to use a generic noun of semo for a demigod and then also the noun deos for a god. It would be like saying, “to the demigod holy god.” What is far more likely is that the Simon Magus, as a magician and adapter of local paganism, co-opted the Roman tradition of a semi-human god of law and covenant and identified himself as the semi-human god. This would conform to the description of Simon Magus in Acts 8:10 as being “this man who is the power of God.” So then, it was probably not Justin Martyr who was confused, but rather Simon Magus (and his followers) who confused his identity with the semi-human god of Rome.

The statue mentioned by Justin was finally discovered in 1574, and found to bear the inscription to Semo Sancus, the Sabine (and possibly, originally Persian) god of contracts. The full name of this god was Semo Sancus Dius Fidius. Another deity who was considered to be a god of contracts was Mithra, the mediator god of ancient Persia and figure-head of the Mithriac mysteries.

Ilion---metopa

Mithra was the preserver of law and order and a god of war described as riding his four-horsed golden chariot against the demons and their worshipers. This image and description brings to mind of that of Apollo, the chariot riding sun god who rescues the fragments of Dionysus after he was torn to shreds by the jealous Titans. Mithra was also considered synonymous with Helios, a solar deity. The Orphic Hymn to Helios, otherwise known as the Mithras Liturgy tells us:

Be gracious to me, 0 Providence and Psyche, as I write these mysteries handed down for gain but for instruction; and for an only child I request immortality, O initiates of this our power (furthermore, it is necessary for you, O daughter, to take (480) the juices of herbs and spices, which will to you at the end of my holy treatise), which the great god Helios Mithras ordered to be revealed to me by his archangel, so that I alone may ascend into heaven as an inquirer (485) and behold the universe.

The Helios-Mithra imagery also happens to match closely with that of Cyril of Jerusalem’s description of Simon Magus riding a chariot, pulled by demonic powers, from his Catechetical Lectures:

Simon promised to rise aloft to heaven, and came riding in a demons’ chariot on the air.

Of course, Magus, is the singular version of “Magi”, which were the Persian Zoroastrians who ruled over the fire temples of ancient Iran. They too, like Simon, revered the divine fire and thought of it as the primitive origin of all things. Franz Cumont reports on the inner workings of the Mithriac mystery cults in the Mysteries of Mithra, which sounds curiously close with Catholicism:

The priest was the intermediary between God and man. His functions evidently included the administration of the sacraments and the celebration of the services. The inscriptions tell us that in addition he presided at the formal dedications, or at least represented the faithful one on such an occasion along with the Fathers; but this was the least portion only of the duties he had to perform; the religious service which fell to his lot appears to have been very exacting. He doubtless was compelled to see that a perpetual fire burned upon the altars. Three times a day, at dawn, at noon, and at dusk, he addressed a prayer to the Sun, turning in the morning toward the East, at noon toward the South, at evening toward the West.

Interestingly enough, Justin Martyr makes some peculiar statements regarding Mithra in Dialogue With Trypho (Chapter 70):

And when those who record the mysteries of Mithras say that he was begotten of a rock, and call the place where those who believe in him are initiated a cave…they have attempted likewise to imitate the whole of Isaiah’s words?…’he shall dwell in the lofty cave of the strong rock. Bread shall be given to him, and his water [shall be] sure…’

But when the Child was born in Bethlehem, since Joseph could not find a lodging in that village, he took up his quarters in a certain cave near the village; and while they were there Mary brought forth the Christ and placed Him in a manger, and here the Magi who came from Arabia found Him. I have repeated to you what Isaiah foretold about the sign which foreshadowed the cave…those who presided over the mysteries of Mithras were stirred up by the devil to say that in a place, called among them a cave, they were initiated by him (Trypho, Chapter 78).

It’s uncertain if Justin is merely confused or is deliberately lying. He claims the devil read Isaiah, and thus had the followers of Mithra claim that Mithra came from a cave. Justin’s reference to Isaiah 33:16 does not in any way point to the birth of Jesus in a cave (the passage in Isaiah never mentions a birth and has end time applications). Justin was apparently trying to claim that the followers of Mithra claimed a cave because of Isaiah but the scriptures prove otherwise. Despite Justin Martyr’s supposed opposition to the Mithriac mysteries, he seems to whole sale borrow their terminology and practices!

For, in the name of God, the Father and Lord of the universe, and of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, they then receive the washing with water…And this washing is called illumination, because they who learn these things are illuminated in their understandings… And this food is called among us Εύχαριστία [the Eucharist], of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined.

For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished…Which the wicked devils have imitated in the mysteries of Mithras, commanding the same thing to be done. For, that bread and a cup of water are placed with certain incantations in the mystic rites of one who is being initiated, you either know or can learn…

Such terminology such as “illumination” was a common stable in the Mithriac mysteries. From the same book, Franz Cumont tells us about this practice:

Mithraism {provided}…the promise of complete illumination, long withheld, fed the ardor of faith with the fascinating allurements of mystery…The gods were everywhere, and…the light that illuminated their paths, were the objects of their adoration.

It seems to me that Justin’s wholesale embrace of Mithriac terminology and praxis foreshadows the Catholic embrace of Mithra through Emperor Constanine (who’s mother also happened to be named Helena), but we will save that for another story.

Getting back to the main subject, it is usually said that Justin is to be blamed for the error of transforming the cult statue as devoted to “Simon the Holy God”. He does not, however, suggest that he has seen the statue himself, as he certainly would have said so if he had seen it. Indeed, he speaks of Rome throughout the First Apology as a distant, though respected, place, as of a city he had never yet visited. His later stay in Rome, where indeed he died; has made it easy for us to assume that the First Apology represents his knowledge at that stage of life. Of course this same text was addressed to Emperor Antoninus Pius and his sons in Rome, in the days when he was still an itinerant teacher in the Levant. This linking of Simon’s name with a statue also recurs in the evidence of lrenaeus, itself also perhaps from Justin. It is suggested that such an enthusiast might be a Samaritan, not arbitrarily, but in the light of what Justin goes on to say (I Apol. xxvi):

“Almost all the Samaritans, and even a few people of other races, confess this man as the First God, and go so far as to worship him.”

The statement that the Samaritans in question “worshiped” Simon is emphatic, though it may mean only that he was invoked in the course of theurgic operations, or that his statue was venerated with garlands or incense. Or in other words, the statue of Simon was used in animating statue rituals. This practice involves the consecration of a statue of a God. Often one would hollow it out and fill the whole with “sunthemata” i.e. herbs and ingredients related to the deity, and then perform a rite to consecrate it. The Chaldean Oracles lays out an animating statue ritual for a statue of Hekate:

But execute my statute, purifying it as I shall instruct you. Make a form from wild rue and decorate it with small animals, such as lizards which live about the house. Rub a mixture of myrrh, gum, and frankincense with these animals, and out in the clear air under the waxing moon, complete this (statue) yourself offering the following prayer.

The Greek Magical Papryi also has some similar rituals for animating statues. The practice of ritualized animation, also known as the “telestic art”, was a process the telestai (the one who is aimed) or initiate would externalize the quickening of the spirit process in a statue of a god. This does not mean that a statue literally moved and walked around. Of course, the Greek word telestike, quite literally means a process of “completion”, maturation or perfection which essentially was bringing purification to the soul into its most perfect or finished state in which it could rise into the celestial heights, and the cosmos, where the angels, gods, and other divine beings dwelt. The concept of “perfection” of course, is replete in Paul’s epistles, the Gospels, as well as the Nag Hammadi Codices. In the Clementine Recognitions II, 9, Simon Magus himself brags about his magical prowess, and specifically names animating statues as one of his abilities:

For I am able to render myself invisible to those who wish to lay hold of me, and again to be visible when I am willing to be seen. If I wish to flee, I can dig through the mountains, and pass through rocks as if they were clay. If I should throw myself headlong from a lofty mountain, I should be born unhurt to the earth, as if I were held up; when bound, I can loose myself, and bind those who had bound me; being shut up in prison, I can make the barriers open of their own accord; I can render statues animated so that those who see suppose that they are men.

Justin’s confusion and that of other Church Fathers could be related to the fact that the Simonians themselves were responsible for this identification, since some of them worshiped Simon Magus as a diving being, often in the form of Zeus, as Kurt Rudolph pointed out in his book, Gnosis: The Nature and History of Gnosticism, pg. 295.

hecate-ss-hec

A statue of Hekate or Hecate.

8646_-_St_Petersburg_-_Hermitage_-_Jupiter2

Zeus, naturally.

Semo Sancus was also conflated with Hercules. Hercules was also said to be the son of Jupiter/Zeus. Here is what I also said about Hercules in the first part of my commentary of the Great Declaration:

Stephen Haar in his work, Simon Magus: The First Gnostic? notes that the Phoenician (notice the that connection again as associated with the city of Tyre where Simon found Helen in a brothel) sun-god Herakles (Hercules), like Simon was also conferred with the title of the “Standing One”. Even the name Simon could be traced to the oriental stem of Sem-Herakles, a deity also worshiped in Samaria.

Jesus was considered synonymous with Aesculapius, the son of Apollo, in the Gospel of John and the The Gospel of Nicodemus, and even specifically named as such by Pilate in the later. A divinity described as overseeing oaths, contracts and loyalties sounds eerily similar to that of the Lawgiver Jehovah throughout the Old Testament. This Jewish deity makes a contract with Moses in Exodus by giving him the Ten Commandments written on his tablets, only moments later for Moses to literally break in half! To make things even more thornier, according to Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, and Hippolytus, statues of Simon and Helena were created in the likeness of Zeus/Jupiter and Athena/Minerva. Hippolytus tells us about the Simonians in Refutation of All Heresies (6,15):

And they have an image of Simon (fashioned) into the figure of Jupiter, and (an image) of Helen in the form of Minerva; and they pay adoration to these.” But they call the one Lord and the other Lady. And if any one amongst them, on seeing the images of either Simon or Helen, would call them by name, he is cast off, as being ignorant of the mysteries.

Compare this to what the Church Historian Eusebius would much later write in Church History 2: 13:

But they nevertheless have embraced again the superstitions of idols, which they seemed to have renounced; and they fall down before pictures and images of Simon himself and of the above-mentioned Helena who was with him; and they venture to worship them with incense and sacrifices and libations.

What could this all mean? As we already know, Simon had a “beloved” disciple and consort, a Phoenician sorceress called Helena, as they were both worshiped in the form of Zeus and Athena, which certainly appealed to the Greeks of their time as well. Helena’s connection with Sophia, the holy harlot, also goes without saying. The manner of Athena’s birth also shares great similarities with the Gnostic Barbelo, who is described as the co-eternal forethought of Godhead (Father) which begets the Nous (Son); it is the out-flowing of Noetic Power which fills/nurtures the Nous’ contemplation of the Father. Athena was also a Virgin and Mother, which all hearkens back to the Egyptian Isis. This is the Sethianized (Dosithean) version of the Simonian myth as seen with Helena being the “First Thought” or “Forethought” of Simon, the Nous or the “Universal Mind” i.e. the incarnation of the Father. This same being describes herself in the Trimorphic Protennoia:

I am the life of my Epinoia that dwells within every Power and every eternal movement, and (in) invisible Lights and within the Archons and Angels and Demons, and every soul dwelling in Tartaros, and (in) every material soul. I dwell in those who came to be. I move in everyone and I delve into them all. I walk uprightly, and those who sleep, I awaken. And I am the sight of those who dwell in sleep.

Notice how Protennoia describes as herself as being “within” the world-creating Archons, Angels, and Demons! This fits into the account as described by Simon Magus in the Great Declaration:

And to this manner did the fire assume both male and female forms, the one from above and the other from below, as each did mature unto perfect conformity with the Heavenly Power whose likeness and image they were. And when they appeared in the midst of the rushing water of the realm of becoming, the female Thought was set upon and defiled by the angels and lower powers who made this world of matter. And they used the fiery power within her to give life to their creations.

Simon Magus, despite his bizarre activities and magical practices, does not come across exactly like a charlatan. Rather, he operated like a Shaman. True, he did practice some necromancy and even said he had created a human being from thin air and a wandering soul in the Clementine literature. But these improbable tales were probably just plain advertising and increased business. And many people benefited from his healing. As I already mentioned, Semo was a Latin term for “semi-human” or “demi-god”, while Sancus meant “spirit” or daimon. A daimon, of course, was also considered to be synonymous with Platonic messenger gods like Eros and Phanes (which are both titles ascribed to basically the same being). Even Socrates equated himself as a daimonic philosopher. My paper, Eros, Orpheus and On the Origin of the World, goes into all of this in-depth. The Greek historian Plutarch in On Isis and Osiris claims that daimons or daemons had an inconsistent and contradictory nature, much like humans, which is why philosophers were considered to have daemonic qualities.

XXV. “Do they, therefore, better, who believe the legends told about Typhon, Osiris, and Isis, not to refer to either gods or men, but to certain great Powers (dæmons), whom Plato, Pythagoras, Xenocrates, and Chrysippus (following the ancient theologians) assert to have been created far stronger than men, and greatly surpassing our nature in power, but yet having the divine part not entirely unmixed nor unalloyed, but combined with the nature of the soul and the senses of the body, susceptible of pleasure and pain, and all other emotions the result of these, that by their vicissitudes disturb, some in a greater, others in a less degree; for, in that case, as amongst men, so amongst dæmons, exist degrees of virtue and of vice. ‘

For the deeds of the Giants and Titans, sung of by the Greeks, certain atrocious actions of Saturn, the pitched battle between Python and Apollo, the flight of Bacchus, the wanderings of Ceres do not fall short in absurdity of the legends about Osiris and Typhon, and the others that one may hear told by mythologists to any amount—all the things that are shrouded in mystic ceremonies, and are presented by rites, being kept secret and out of sight from the vulgar, and have a shape similar to those mentioned of the Egyptians.”

The cult of Simon as First God is an enigma. It has been associated with Samaritan-Jewish concepts of God, especially in the Samaritan connection with Moses and YHWH but the title is hardly consistent with any sort of monotheism. Pagan parallels, such as with Samaritan-pagan syncretic cults are more promising. In the book, The Samaritans, by Alan David Crown, he writes:

Abu’l Fath’s account of Hadrian’s activities in Palestine certainly contains a number of legendary elements, but behind his story of Hadrian’s temple, there undoubtedly lies the fact that Hadrian erected on Mount Gerizim – not on the mountain next to it – a temple of Zeus (Jupiter). The remains of this temple erected on Mount Gerizim were excavated at Tell er-Ras by the Drew-McCormic expedition in the 1960’s, and it is presumable the temple to which reference is made in  a passage which has been preserved in the Bibliotheca of Photius, a Patriarch of Constantinople in the ninth century A.D.

Of course, Mount Gerizim is the same mountain which was considered sacred by the Samaritans. John 4:19-20 has the Samaritan woman at the well telling Jesus this:

The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.”

Jesus responds swiftly to the Samaritan woman (who is likely Helena in disguise):

21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.

A syncretic mixture between gentile heathenism and Samaritan religion seemed to have been becoming more and more of a common feat in the ancient world as demonstrated above. There are also many hints of this in the Old Testament where Levite priests were even hired to perform rituals and rites based on the heathen gods, outside of Judaism and the worship of YHWH when times were tough. King Solomon was also said to have converted to heathen gods in 1 Kings. One last point on Justin Martyr is that at the end of the Second Apology, Justin admits his motives to destroy the Gnostics and Simonians by government sanction. He begs the Emperor Antoninus Pius to admit his apology into law against the Simonians. They wanted to tear down statues of gods merely because they believed the gods were images of Simon. His only purpose for composing the treatise (not actually an apology) was to convince the Emperor to kill Gnostics by law. He failed.

But the evil spirits were not satisfied with saying, before Christ’s appearance, that those who were said to be sons of Jupiter were born of him; but after He had appeared, and been born among men, and when they learned how He had been foretold by the prophets, and knew that He should be believed on and looked for by every nation, they again, as was said above, put forward other men, the Samaritans Simon and Menander, who did many mighty works by magic, and deceived many, and still keep them deceived.

For even among yourselves, as we said before, Simon was in the royal city Rome in the reign of Claudius Caesar, and so greatly astonished the sacred senate and people of the Romans, that he was considered a god, and honoured, like the others whom you honour as gods, with a statue. Wherefore we pray that the sacred senate and your people may, along with yourselves, be arbiters of this our memorial, in order that if any one be entangled by that man’s doctrines, he may learn the truth, and so be able to escape error; and as for the statue, if you please, destroy it. And I despised the wicked and deceitful doctrine of Simon of my own nation. And if you give this book your authority, we will expose him before all, that, if possible, they may be converted. For this end alone did we compose this treatise.

And our doctrines are not shameful, according to a sober judgment, but are indeed more lofty than all human philosophy; and if not so, they are at least unlike the doctrines of the Sotadists and Philaenidians, and Dancers, and Epicureans and such other teachings of the poets, which all are allowed to acquaint themselves with, both as acted and as written. And henceforth we shall be silent, having done as much as we could, and having added the prayer that all men everywhere may be counted worthy of the truth. And would that you also, in a manner becoming piety and philosophy, would for your own sakes judge justly!

Dangerous and Deceitful Docetic Doctrines

Even more interesting is that in Dialogue with Trypho (CXX.6), Justin Martyr claims that the Samaritans thought of Simon as a docetic, daimonic being, similar to how Paul viewed Jesus Christ as a spiritual being taking on the likeness of a man, in terms of Christus Victor atonement, i.e., that Christ defeated the powers by duping them into crucifying him:

For I gave no thought to any of my people, that is, the Samaritans, when I had a communication in writing with Caesar, but stated that they were wrong in trusting to the magician Simon of their own nation, who, they say, is God above all power, and authority, and power.

This description of Simon matches up perfectly with St. Paul’s “Christ Jesus” or spiritual savior who possessed him, like sort of a “walk-in”. Paul’s Christ was also above these powers, authorities and all might. Paul calls us to be, “strong in the Lord and in his mighty power” (Ephesians 6:10). Paul says that the law of sin and death (the Torah) is in the body. Or rather, the flesh IS the law. This is how Simon Magus interpreted the Torah as well in the Great Declaration with each book representing different parts of the body as well as each sensation. Simon even equated the Garden of Eden with the womb and the fetus inside a pregnant woman. The Gnostics themselves believed that the spiritual seed was imprisoned into material bodies by the rulers. So if the flesh is the law, as Paul says, then it must logically follow that by Christ’s body being crucified, the law was crucified, too. This could further lead one to interpret, as Paul does, that the crucifixion wasn’t really a defeat at all, but a victory over the powers. In other words, Christ tricked the powers into crucifying the flesh, which nullified the law by getting them to destroy their own creation.

crucified-christ-1896

That’s why the Second Treatise of Seth said that they crucified “their man,” not Christ. Christ tricked them into destroying their own creation, the prison of the material body. To use Paul’s logic again, no human being could overcome the law because they were constricted by material flesh. Therefore, as he writes in Romans 8, someone had to come in the semblance of flesh (phantasmal flesh) to condemn sin, which no human could do since they were bound to sin by the flesh. And by going to the cross, he crucified the law and sin through the form of the flesh. That’s the logic of Paul’s phantasmal docetism. The flesh is the law, and the flesh impedes righteous because it is predisposed to sin. So anything that has flesh cannot save itself because it is enslaved to sin and the law. So in Paul’s mind, a savior had to come who wasn’t constricted by flesh so that he could save those who were. Yes, doceticism is found expressly in Paul. And this is how Marcion, the Gnostics, and Simonians came up with their ideas on a docetic Christology – straight from Paul!

“But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead. For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. And the commandment, which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. … 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 the body of this death? There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”

Paul’s entire soteriology makes no sense without a docetic Christology. Flesh is what causes sin, and the law is what empowers sin. Since the flesh produces sin, it prevents the fulfillment of the law. Therefore, something without flesh had to come and condemn sin, which annihilated the just requirement of the law. So all who believe in Christ are, in Paul’s mind, redeemed (literally purchased) out from the law by spiritually partaking in his crucifixion and destroying their own flesh. If Earl Doherty’s theory holds, the original Pauline Christ was never incarnate on earth. His crucifixion occurred exclusively in a spiritual dimension. So by that interpretation, the rulers would have crucified him themselves. Obviously, the later Paulinists and Gnostics believed that Christ actually did appear on earth and had a historical ministry, so in that case, the Roman authorities would have crucified him, at the behest of the Jews. But the spiritual rulers would have been operating behind them.

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The Concept of Our Great Power says something very similar, which is no surprise since the text itself is considered to be a late Simonian text:

Who is this? What is this? His word was abolished the law of the aeon. He is from the Logos of’ the power of life. And he was victorious over the command of the archons, and they were not able by their work to rule over him.

The crucifixion, for the author of Power, wasn’t the destruction of Jesus, but of the archons. It’s basically a continuation of the interpretation of the cross in Colossians (Jesus crucifying the law, rather than Jesus himself being crucified, i.e., Jesus is secretly the one in complete control behind the crucifixion). The crucifixion is the defeat of the powers and represents each individual’s triumph over their own fleshly impulses. The Basildean Second Treatise of the Great Seth also repeats these same themes of the descent of the Savior through the heavens, during which he assumes different forms in order not to be recognized by the angels.

And I subjected all their powers. For as I came downward, no one saw me. For I was altering my shapes, changing from form to form. And therefore, when I was at their gates, I assumed their likeness. For I passed them by quietly, and I was viewing the places, and I was not afraid nor ashamed, for I was undefiled. And I was speaking with them, mingling with them through those who are mine, and trampling on those who are harsh to them with zeal, and quenching the flame. And I was doing all these things because of my desire to accomplish what I desired by the will of the Father above.

Later in the same text, Christ mocks and laughs with great zeal at the Orthodox and Judaic (the Pharisee Caiaphas’s idea really) doctrine of vicarious redemption through suffering and blood sacrifice, for the sins of Israel and the world:

For my death, which they think happened, (happened) to them in their error and blindness, since they nailed their man unto their death. … But in doing these things, they condemn themselves. … And I subjected all their powers.

They nailed him to the tree, and they fixed him with four nails of brass. The veil of his temple he tore with his hands … for the souls which were in the sleep below were released. And they arose. They went about boldly, having shed zealous service of ignorance and unlearnedness beside the dead tombs, having put on the new man…” …They struck me with the reed; it was another, Simon, who bore the cross on his shoulder. I was another upon Whom they placed the crown of thorns. But I was rejoicing in the height over all the wealth of the archons and the offspring of their error, of their empty glory. And I was laughing at their ignorance.

This other “Simon” is mentioned by Tertullian in Against All Heresies, and also claims was indeed crucified or sacrificed in Jesus’ stead. This is mirrored in the much later Koran, the Gospel of Barnabas and in Islamic beliefs of Jesus not dying on the cross.

Christ, moreover, he affirms to have been sent, not by this maker of the world, but by the above-named Abraxas; and to have come in a phantasm, and been destitute of the substance of flesh: that it was not He who suffered among the Jews, but that Simon was crucified in His stead: whence, again, there must be no believing on him who was crucified, lest one confess to having believed on Simon.

Clearly, as Simon of Cyrene, Simon Magus appears in the Nag Hammadi documents. Simon of Cyrene never actually existed, however. He, like most of the other Simons, was based upon hearsay about Simon Magus. I suspect that the author of Mark was aware of rumors that a certain Simon had been crucified with Christ, but in actuality, this was a misinterpretation of Paul’s (who, unbeknownst to Mark, was actually Simon Magus himself) crucifixion mysticism. Later Gnostics like Basilides, also being unaware of the origin of this Simonian legend, concocted myths about Simon of Cyrene being crucified in Jesus’s stead. However, the Concept of Our Great Power doesn’t think Simon was crucified instead of Jesus. Rather, the author is a monophysite docetist, like Paul, who believed that Jesus Christ was one person with a phantasmal body who actually underwent the crucifixion. Let’s compare the Second Treatise of the Great Seth with Ephesians 2:14:

For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished the enmity in the flesh, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; and that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby.

While the Second Treatise of Seth has many Pauline elements strewn throughout, it does warn against the idea of “dying with Christ”: “It is enslavement that we should die with Christ, with flawless and imperishable mind (at our bidding). This is a wonder not understood.” Indeed, it is not understood. The Gospel of Philip also tells us the shape-shifting nature of the docetic Jesus Christ:

Jesus took them all by stealth, for he did not appear as he was, but in the manner in which they would be able to see him. He appeared to them all. He appeared to the great as great. He appeared to the small as small. He appeared to the angels as an angel, and to men as a man. Because of this, his word hid itself from everyone. Some indeed saw him, thinking that they were seeing themselves, but when he appeared to his disciples in glory on the mount, he was not small. He became great, but he made the disciples great, that they might be able to see him in his greatness.

Next, The Ascension of Isaiah also shares numerous similarities with the scenarios described above, which according to Simone Petrement in A Separate God (page 319) was authored by a Simonian school, around Menander’s time (a disciple or son of Simon Magus). The Ascension of Isaiah (10: 8-13) tells us:

“Go out and descend through all the heavens. You shall descend through the firmament and through that world as far as the angel who (is) in Sheol, but you shall not go as far as Perdition. And you shall make your likeness like that of all who (are) in the five heavens, and you shall take care to make your form like that of the angels of the firmament and also (like that) of the angels who (are) in Sheol. And none of the angels of that world shall know that you (are) Lord with me of the seven heavens and of their angels.

And they shall not know that you (are) with me when with the voice of the heavens I summon you, and their angels and their lights, and when I lift up (my voice) to the sixth heaven, that you may judge and destroy the princes and the angels and the gods of that world, and the world which is ruled by them, for they have denied me and said, ‘We alone are, and there is no one besides us.’

Notice how the angelic rulers sentiments of being “alone, and there is no one besides us”, match almost verbatim from various statements made by Jehovah about himself being the “only God” in Isaiah of the Old Testament. His boasting, egoistical comments about himself become transferred to the world-ruling, world-creating angels. The “LORD God” becomes separated and decentralized into multiple powers in Ascension, in this case.

“Is there any God besides Me, Or is there any other Rock? I know of none.” Isaiah 44:8

All of this is echoed in Hippolytus who writes in Refutation of All Heresies (Book VI, Chapter XIV) on Simon’s doctrine:

But the angels and the powers below—who, he says, created the worldcaused the transference from one body to another of (Helen’s soul); and subsequently she stood on the roof of a house in Tyre, a city of Phœnicia, and on going down thither (Simon professed to have) found her. For he stated that, principally for the purpose of searching after this (woman), he had arrived (in Tyre), in order that he might rescue her from bondage. And after having thus redeemed her, he was in the habit of conducting her about with himself, alleging that this (girl) was the lost sheep, and affirming himself to be the Power above all things.

The same may be said of the disguise adopted by Simon as he descends to save Helena: he passes down through the powers and authorities and angels “transformed and made like” one of them, to appear among men in the guise of a man as proclaimed in the Great Declaration. This has an obvious kinship with later second-century Christological developments with the Gnostics. The resurrection account according St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:50-58 tells us that the dead in Christ, receive spiritual, docetic bodies, which is transformed or transmuted from the bodies of material flesh.

50This I declare, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does corruption inherit incorruption. 51Behold, I tell you a mystery. We shall not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed, 52 in an instant, in the blink of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For that which is corruptible must clothe itself with incorruptibility, and that which is mortal must clothe itself with immortality. 54 And when this which is corruptible clothes itself with incorruptibility and this which is mortal clothes itself with immortality, then the word that is written shall come about:

“Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be firm, steadfast, always fully devoted to the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

“Death is swallowed up in victory” is an amazingly deep phrase. On the Qabalistic Tree of Life, Victory or “Netzach” is the primary title of the sphere which rules over “strength” and “fortitude”. According to Paul, victory is also one of the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5-22-23:

22 In contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

Death, according to On the Origin of the World, is actually one of demonic Archons, created by Yaldabaoth because of his jealousy at Sabaoth (the archon or “Lord of Hosts” that repents to Sophia), which in turn creates his own demonic offspring! This is the Angel of Death, or the Destroying Angel of Exodus.

And having become wrathful, he engendered Death out of his death: and he (viz., Death) was established over the sixth heaven, <for> Sabaoth had been snatched up from there. And thus the number of the six authorities of chaos was achieved. Then Death, being androgynous, mingled with his (own) nature and begot seven androgynous offspring.

Simon, too, is depicted as a victorious supernatural being, who by stealth, slipped past the Archons, to find and rescue his consort, Helena, who is entrapped into the brothel of prostitution, which is symbolic of the world of flesh.

After these things, when her body was exchanged by the angels and powers, she was exposed in the streets of Tyre in Phoenicia as an infant, taken up by a brothel master, and raised in a brother, where she knew no other life save that of degradation. But as the poet recounts the stratagem of the Achaians whereby they infiltrated the fastness of Troy inside a great toy horse, so did her yoke-mate Mind, the male, gain entry to the realm of her captors by appearing in the likeness of their creatures as a man. The angels who governed the world were corrupt by reason of their lust for power, and so I appeared to set things right, transforming myself and making myself like unto the dominions, principalities, and angels, so that I manifested myself as a man, though I was not really a man. And I seemed to suffer in Judea, although I did not really undergo it.

Later in the same text, Simon promises his followers this, which sounds like something Jesus Christ would say in the Gospels:

Thus I wrought the ransoming of the human race, recalling to myself the sparks of the latent fire which the angels used to order their creation, and this must issue in the dissolution of the world, but equally in the redemption of all who believe in me.

That Simon had a conspicuous female disciple from a converted prostitute might also be possible. However, the same charge is made against Mary Magdalene in the Gospels, as she too is accused of being a “prostitute” and is associated greatly in her lore. In Luke 7:38, Mary Magdalene washes Jesus’ feet in a very erotic manner, mirroring what Jesus would do for his own disciples in John:

As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

However, Mary Magdalene in Gnostic texts is depicted as being equal if not superior over the Apostles and was favored by the Savior through the act of initiation of the Divine Vision of the mysteries, as illustrated in the Gospel of Mary. Mary Magdalene was seen as sort of a female revealer, or initiator of the pagan mysteries. Perhaps this explicit language of Helena being a prostitute is merely symbolic of the state of the spirit that languishes in the human body.

Régnier_Penitent_Mary_Magdalene

Mary Magdalene looking all uppity with a skull.

It was pertinent for the Orthodox to eschew charges of misogyny by deleting Mary Magdalene’s role altogether. It was also interesting to see how the Gnostics were often accused of the same attitude when it came to women and their views on the “destruction of the womb” (i.e. the deficiency of matter itself); however, looking at their gospels and texts, the constant harping on Divine Wisdom in feminine terms (even in her fallen state), the role of female revealers like Mary Magdalene, Norea, Helena, Marcelina, etc. are emphatically emphasized in the positive.

The Gnostics brought additional Gospels to the fore with Mary Magdalene among others. Her true importance is said to have been excluded from the Bible by Peter (and the Roman Catholic Church) who denied Christ three times and detested women, especially educated ones, seeing them as the gateway to the Devil, even denying they had souls. There is also no charge of immorality here in Justin Martyr and Ireneaeus’s accounts, still less of sexual rites.

The Simonians, however, are charged with “free love” and living “profligate” lives. It is only later in the Church Father, Epiphanius do we find accusations of sexual immorality and bizarre tales of drinking semen and menses as Eucharistic substances. Or worse–the eating of a fetus. Eusebius, also mentions something about how the Simonians were engaged in “shameful acts” and “unspeakable conduct”, apparently only relying on the slander of the previous Church Fathers. Is this the Simonian attempt to compete with Mary Magdalene or are both women, actually one and the same figure? Helen’s role as Simon’s first thought also matches up with Greek myth as mentioned earlier.

It also could reflect some kind of male-female syzygy-doctrine associated with Simon’s magical systems as reflected in the Great Declaration and mirrored through the later convoluted and intricately constructed Sethian and Valentinian aeonic systems. These models would eventually come to influence later medieval Kabbalistic diagrams of the Tree of Life. It is these magical systems in which Simon supposedly pursued in the aftermath with the defeat from Peter in Acts, where he mistakenly regarded (and with good reason) Christian healings as magical and the gift of the Spirit as the mark of a higher grade of magic- if one can even make such a distinction.

The pursuit of these magical rites and techniques resulted in Claudius honoring him with a statue. Simon and his first Thought exist on a purely spiritual level, free from the trammels of the flesh until Helen is captured by rebellious angels who imprison her in a physical body in the material world which they have made. The metempsychosis of Helen and the references to Greek literature are among those and are consistent with the syncretistic nature of the Samaritan cultural milieu and the Simonian schools at Antioch and Alexandria that would later rise from it. In essence, Simon was appealing to all peoples, of all nations, especially the gentile ones, in all three forms of his glory. Eusebius makes a very arresting statement in how Simon was worshiped.

Of whom there is one Simon, a Samaritan, whom we read of in the Acts of the Apostles, who said he was some Great Power. And among the rest of the things written in his volumes, he proclaimed as follows: “I am the Word of God; I am the glorious one, I the Paraclete, the Almighty, I the whole of God.” ix. Hieronymus (In Matthaeum, IV. xxiv. 5). Text: S. Eusebii Hieronymi Comment.; Migne Patrol. Grec., VII. col. 176.

Not only does this mirror Simon’s statements of himself being the Trinity in the Great Declaration, but it also mirrors greatly what Jesus commands of his disciples in Matthew 28:19-20:

Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.

Stay tuned for the second part in False Gods, Divine Charlatans, and Hermetic Hustlers, as Hermes will give his two cents on all of this. 

Unconquerable: How the Early Roman Catholic Church Usurped the Cult of Apollo on Vatican Hill

Hey, folks. This is an article written by my friend, James at PandirasBox. He’s been teasing me about this article, written for my site for some time now, and this is chock full of fascinating details and dot-connecting you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else. So without further ado, is his newest illuminating article on various topics such Apollo worship being tied with Orthodox Christianity, Enoch, the myth of the Watchers/fallen angels, Greek mythology, the pagan origins of the Eucharist, and much, much, more! Enjoy the read.

Open your wallets and free your mind.

“For what is now called the Christian religion existed of old and was never absent from the beginning of the human race until Christ came in the flesh. Then true religion which already existed began to be called Christian.”  – Augustine, Retractions 1:13. (15)

Quadriga

Popes as Priests of Apollo

Many readers of the Aeon Eye will be familiar with Gnosticism, Platonism, Kabbalah, and Christianity but I wonder how many of you are aware of sources such as the Liber Pontificalis (or Book of the Popes) and the Chronography of 354/ Liberian catalogue. These sources tie in great to points that Alex and I have spoken on and our theories as well as things he has written about here. Not only is Asclepius prevalent in the Acts of Pilate/Gospel of Nicodemus and the Gospel of John but he is significant to the Apollo cult. Catholics or ex-Catholics may be familiar with the first seventeen Popes from Peter to Callistus. These Popes are given death dates a.k.a birth dates, many of which align with Pagan holidays significant to Apollo or his kindred gods. Many are named after demigods or gods from the Apollo cult as well.

The first significant name is Linus. In Greek mythology, he is the musical son of Apollo and muse Calliope. He is also the inventor of melody and rhythm who taught Orpheus and Heracles music. He supposedly wrote the myth of Dionysus and other Pelasgic legends in the city of Thebes (Greece or Egypt? who knows…). In the end he was Killed by Heracles with his own lyre after accusing him of being in error. The Vatican was known as a Temple of Apollo according to the Liber Pontificalis. (1) A tomb was found in 1615 by Torrigio inscribed with the letters LINVS, being the last five letters of a longer name such as Marcellinus or Paulinus. Possibly Aquilinus.

It is possible Marcellinus was the first Pope, but it is even more probable that this was the tomb of Linus, of the Apollo cult, in a shrine sacred to Apollo. To top it all off, Pope Linus is said to have died either on September 23 or 24. In the Handbook to life in ancient Rome by Lesley and Roy Adkins on page 286 it states the following, “September 23: Festival of Apollo.” This was followed on September 26 by the “Festival of Venus Genetrix.” The name Linus means “flax”. (3) I’m not sure of the significance of this meaning yet but I believe every detail is significant.

Cletus/ Cleitus means “glory” or “one who is chosen/ called”. Anencletus and Anacletus are other names given to him meaning “to be recalled” etc. Gnostics were known for being cast out, repenting and being let back in to the church in Rome only to fall away again. Cleitus is a name popular among the Trojan’s, and a famous mythological son of Aegyptus and Tyria. Keep in mind that the Greeks thought Aegyptos was a king of Egypt and it was in fact, the city of Memphis known to Manetho as Hut-ka-Ptah (“Enclosure of the spirit/soul of Ptah”) which in Greek becomes Ai-gy-ptos. (16) Alexander aka Alaksandu to the Luwian’s and Trojan’s was the mythological Paris of Troy.

Both Cleitus and Alexander were early Popes. Anencletus is said to have died on July 13, the Games of Apollo. The next Pope is Telesphorus meaning “to be perfected”, a popular theme in Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians. A church intimately linked to Polycarp of Smyrna, the imitator of Jesus’s passion as found in the Martyrdom of Polycarp. Marcion reported Polycarp’s martyrdom and was recalled like Cleitus. While in a sense Jesus imitates Moses who imitates Zeus and Cronos. (At the moment I’m watching Blade Runner and had to comment that the maker gets his eyes gouged like the Mountain in Game of Thrones season 4, episode 8). Telesphorus died the day between the Janus and Crossroads festivals significant to shepherds and farming.

Hyginus is another Pope. He beat Valentinus for the bishopric supposedly. His name means “healthy”, and he is yet another Pope who was named for a quality he possessed. That quality was not being “diseased” as in being “heretical”. Most early Popes seem to be renamed upon coronation for something they did. Anicetus means unconquerable and may have been an Apollo worshiper judging by his epithet he shares with Helios and Apollo. Soter means Savior and is significant to Zeus. Pope Victor even died during the festival of Sol and Luna (sun and moon).

The first Antipope, Hippolytus is named after “the unleasher of horses” in Greek myth, hence his martyrdom was caused by horses tearing him limb from limb. Artemis had Asclepius resurrect him after Aphrodite had him murdered. I guess this is Hippolytus’ admirers trying to insinuate that he was resurrected as well. He was a demigod of Latium, an early Roman settlement of the Trojan Aeneas. Virgins were important in his cult as was marriage. On a humorous side-note, Pope Zephyrinus meant “west wind” likely as an insult meaning “Rome’s flatulence”. These are just some insights from the Books of Popes and the Chronography of 354 (dedicated oddly enough to Valentinus.) Another interesting note on Zephyrinus is that he was spoken of by Origen and Tertullian in veiled insults as is obvious if you read the False decretals. A little give away that the writings of Origen and Tertullian are false too. (17)

Enoch Lithograph

The Sons of Lamech, Zeus as a Jew

In a Genesis Apocryphon, Lamech is said to have had a son who did not resemble anyone in his or his wifes family. This is found in 1 Enoch:

“I have begotten a strange son,” said Lamech, “…his nature is different and he is not like us, and his eyes are as the rays of the sun, and his countenance is glorious. And it seems to be that he is not sprung from me but from the Angels…”

Angel means messenger so it seems these Watchers were merely a type of man like say a Homo-sapien rather than a Cro Magnon. They were fallen “messengers”. Their message: man can become a god by technology. The same message the Orthodox hate to this day. As Clement of Alexandria taught, “God became a man so that man might become a God”.

Lamech had three sons like Noah did. Each taught mankind the arts of metal, music, farming, etc. Apollo was one of them. Cain and Seth probably have the same genealogy in reality. These sons were the Grigori/ Watchers/ Nephilim. The result of the rape of the Sabine women by the Latins. These stories were duplicated when retold in different languages with different spins and perspectives on the issue as well as different names in each respective language or dialect.

Jupiter

In Jewish tradition, Lamech dethroned and killed his ancestor Cain just as Zeus did Cronos. Tubalcain is Hephaestus or Saturn. He is also Azazel in the book of 1 Enoch. Here is an excerpt from David Rohl’s book Legend: the Genesis of Civilization, from the section titled “Enoch the Builder King”:

“The biblical name Irad (son of Enoch) is believed to derive from the Hebrew verb yarad which has the meaning ‘to descend’. The Mesopotamian tradition (through the SKL and the Creation Epic) is that the first city to be founded in Sumer was Eridu (modern Tell Abu Shahrain, once by the shores of the Persian Gulf). It was first suggested by Archibald Saycein 1885 that the city of Eridu bears the eponym of Irad- in other words that he was the eponymous founder of the city. This suggestion still finds support in more recent scholarly discussions of Genesis.

I have suggested that Adam’s (Sumerian) successors moved down- ‘descended’ from the Zagros mountains into the plain of Susiana. Is it possible therefore, that it was Irad, ‘the one who descended’, who led his people down into the pre-flood Sumer and that the first city, Eridu, was named after him? There is an important clue regarding the settlement of the lowlands in Genesis 4:17.

‘Cain had intercourse with his wife and she conceived and gave birth to Enoch. He was a city builder and gave the city the name of his son, Enoch.’

At first this statement seems quite straightforward: Cain founded a city and named it Enoch. But we have come to realize that translations of the Bible can be misleading. We need o go back to the original Hebrew to recognize that there is some confusion about who founded what here. As Robert Wilson has pointed out, the subject of the phrase ‘He was a city builder’ is by no means clear.

‘Normally one would expect the subject to be the most recently mentioned noun or pronoun, in this case the name Enoch. If this interpretation is accepted, then Enoch rather than Cain would be the city builder.’

The natural conclusion to draw from this reading of Genesis 4:17 is that the city built by Enoch was named after his son, Irad, and that this city was the first Sumerian city- Eridu- as originally proposed by Sayce. Indeed, the identification of the city builder as Enoch and not Cain had been suggested as long ago as 1883 by the German scholar, Karl Budde. But, of course, this reading of the passage is ‘undermined by the addition of the name Enoch at the end of the verse’. However, Wilson tellingly points out that the standard interpretation of Cain as the builder and his son Enoch as the eponym of the cit raises some serious difficulties.

(a) The clause wayhi boneh ir (‘he was a city builder’), if it follows the normal rules of syntax displayed in the rest of the Genesis 4 genealogy, must refer to Enoch and not Cain because the name Enoch immediately precedes the clause in question. Thus we have ‘…she conceived and gave birth to Enoch. He was a city builder…’- the sense here is obvious.

(b) Moreover, in Genesis 4:2, Cain is described as a tiller of the earth (Heb. obed adamah) – in other words a farmer. It would not follow the pattern of Genesis 4 to then assign him a second occupation as a city builder. This would also deprive Enoch of a proper role in the genealogy.

(c) There is no known ancient city which carries the eponym of Enoch, son of Cain- according to Wilson (but see below).

Wilson concludes that ‘It is therefore possible that the name Enoch at the end of 4:17 is a gloss’- that is to say an editorial addition or even a marginal note which was then, only later, placed into the main body of the text in the wrong place once the true meaning of the statement had been lost. Thus the original text would have been unambiguous.

‘Cain had intercourse with his wife and she conceived and gave birth to Enoch. He (Enoch was a city builder and gave the city the name of his son (Irad).’

This is all good knock-about stuff which makes a lot of sense and is supported by a number of experts including William Hallo and Donald Wiseman. However, Wilson has to admit that we are dealing with linguistic conjecture here. An alternative view might be that the names of the antediluvian patriarhs have been ‘invented’ from ancient Sumerian documents mentioning the first cities on earth. Thus Irad is created from the early city-name Uru-du(g) where Eri and Uru are variant dialect spellings of the word for ‘city’.

… So far I have not given you the name of Uruk as it appears in the Sumerian language. There you will find it written Unuk or Unug- perhaps the original Sumerian name of Enoch! This may explain the biblical scribe’s confusion. He added the name Enoch at the end of the city-building statement in Genesis because he knew that the mightiest city of Sumer was named after this great antediluvian patriarch. On the other hand, perhaps the marginal note ‘Enoch’ (proposed above) was the result of a scribe adding the name of the city which he thought was being referred to (i.e. Unuk) as a clarification. He may not have understood that Enoch had alos built Eridu, naming it after his son Irad.

We could even suggest further biblical links to the eponymous founders of the Sumerian cities. The city of Ur, excavated by Leonard Woolley, is transcribed logographically as uru. Unuki in Sumerian. The name became shortened or hypocorised to Urum in Akkadian and then simply Uru/ Ur in Semitic/ Hebrew. Ur means ‘city’ but the original Uru-Unuki might be understood as ‘City of Unuki’- in other words ‘City of Enoch’.

What is more, another patriarch may be identified with a Sumerian antediluvian city- Badtibira- which was the second political center (after Eridu) to which ‘kingship was handed down from heaven’.

Bad-tibira means ‘Settlement of the Metal Worker’. If we take the Hebrew consonants which make up the name Tubal we get t-b-l. We know that the soft consonant ‘I’ is often representative of ‘r’, thus we might get an original T-b-r which could, in turn, stem from the ancient Tibira. Interestingly enough the Semitic epithet ‘Cain’ in Tubal-Cain also means ‘smith’ which suggests that this epithet has been added as a clarification of a little-known Sumerian word by the Hebrew author of Genesis. So there are clues which suggest that Tubal-Cain and Badtibira are connected in some way. Perhaps we have here an original eponym ‘Settlement of Tubal’ or, in translation, ‘City of the Smith’.” (6) (pgs. 184-188)

Yet, Tubal-Cain the patriarch may actually be one of Noah’s sons, Noah being Lamech. With the story of Noah’s Dionysian drunkery being added later. If Cain is the metal worker and Tubal-Cain is a metal worker by extension then it is possible that Semjaza is Cain and that’s why Jesus is made to be recast by the Orthodox as saying that Jews are offspring of Satan aka Cain rather than the Demiurge.

Tubal

Herman Saini, in his book Satan Vs. God: A Brief History makes the argument that Hephaestus/ Saturn’s story is based on the story of Lamech’s son Tubal-Cain, offspring of Cain. He says:

“Hephaestus is called ‘the god of fire’; ‘god of metalworking’; the son of Zeus and Hera. Thus Hephaestus is the son of Zeus. However, he was not the son of Hera, but Demeter who was identified with Zillah. This is an attempt to corrupt the truth. Many myths compare Hephaestus to his sister Athena who was said to be of ‘sublime character’. Hephaestus in comparison was not of sublime character, thus implying that he was sexually immoral. Athena was considered to be the virgin goddess. Hephaestus and Athena are both mentioned as having taught men many luxurious arts. This means that they were inventors of luxuries such as jewelry, ornaments, textiles, clothing, beautiful metal fixtures for houses and palaces.

Myths also mention that with Athena Hephaestus taught men many crafts throughout the world. As a result men who before used to live in caves now live peacefully in their own homes throughout the year. These people were now employed by him in his works manufacturing household utensils, agricultural implements, weapons and many other useful products. This shows that Hephaestus with his father, brothers and sisters started the industrial revolution in the pre-Flood world, and employed people in their arts, crafts, construction and weapons industries.

The Roman Venus, who is the Greek Aphrodite was Hephaestus’ wife. All the myths mention her as unfaithful to Hephaestus. He was equally sexually immoral. Hephaestus was the god of fire, metalworking, building, and fine arts. He was the god of fire in the sense that he worked with fire to forge weapons, implements, utensils, jewelry and other arts and crafts out of metals. He was later identified with the Italian volcano god Adranus-Volcanus, hence as the god of volcanoes. The description of Hephaestus’ or Vulcan in the myths perfectly matches the Bible description of Tubalcain in Genesis 4:22 ‘…Tubalcain, an instructor of every artificer in brass and iron’. Hence Tubalcain is the Greek Hephaestus, or the Roman Vulcan.” (pg.248)

Attias_The_Untamed

Semjaza is thus Cain the metal worker and Azazel is actually Tubal-Cain. Hephaestus is further discussed by Manetho according to Eusebius:

“The first man (or god) in Egypt is Hephaestus, who is also renowned among the Egyptians as the discoverer of fire. His son, Helios (the Sun), was succeeded by Sôsis; then follow, in turn, Cronos, Osiris, Typhon, brother of Osiris, and lastly Horus, son of Osiris and Isis. These were the first to hold sway in Egypt. Thereafter, the kingship passed from one to another in unbroken succession down to Bydis through 13,900 years. The year I take, however, to be a lunar one, consisting, that is, of 30 days: what we now call a month the Egyptians used formerly to style a year.” (14)

“And Azazel taught men to make swords, and knives, and shields, and breastplates, and made known to them the metals of the earth and the art of working them, and bracelets, and ornaments, and the use of antimony, and the beautifying of the eyelids, and all kinds of costly stones, and all coloring tinctures. And there arose much godlessness, and they committed fornication, and they were led astray, and became corrupt in all their ways.” (pg.35 The Book of Enoch R.H. Charles translation).

Beccafumi_-_Fall_of_the_Rebel_Angels_-_Web_Gallery_of_Art

Apocalyptic Paranoia is Orthodox

The Orthodox fear of technological advancement cries out like Abel’s blood from the soil in this paragraph. This is the age old tension between Catholic Orthodox Apocalypse and technological advancement. The Gnostic revels in sci-fi while the Orthodox dogs shun it and cringe at the very mention of it. This is why they cannot accept the possibility of men becoming like gods. The Gnostic wants to transcend this hell hole by perfecting it and the Orthodox wants to stuff the Gnostic’s head into the water and drown him in the mundane limitations placed on him by a tyrannical dead man who called himself God and hold invisible hands in another dimension after death and sing kumbaya.

Not only are these characters likely created based on ancient city names but possibly are based on the chief deities of their cities, their archons or rulers in other words. The same can be said for early Popes being named after their attributes, it could just be what they were renamed. If Tubal-Cain is the son of Lamech and Hephaestus is Tubal-Cain then Apollo is his brother and Lamech is Zeus. Asclepius is a son of Apollo and taught the healing arts and had a daughter named Hygiea. Pope Hyginus being named after her or with her attributes in mind. Epidaurus was the cult center of Asclepius where the healing arts were taught. Galen and Hippocrates, as well as the Pneumatics and Methodics were doctors and medical schools in the traditions of Asclepius, the first physician. A practice considered by Jews as ‘magic’ just as the silver screen of Hollywood still called movie-magic today was once thought by Evangelicals to be a tool of the devil.

As Will Durant says in The Story of Civilization III: Caesar and Christ:

 “All sects assumed the possibility of magic. The Magi had disseminated their art through the East and had given a new name to old jugglery. The Mediterranean world was rich in magicians, miracle workers, oracles, astrologers, ascetic saints, and scientific interpreters of dreams. Every unusual occurrence was widely hailed as a divine portent of future events. Askesis, which the Greeks had used to denote the athletic training of the body, came now to mean the spiritual taming of the flesh; men scourged themselves, mutilated themselves, starved themselves, or bound themselves to one place with chains; some of them died through self-torture or self-denial.

In the Egyptian desert near Lake Mareotis a group of Jews and non-Jews, male and female, lived in solitary cells, avoided sexual relations, met on the Sabbath for common prayer, and called themselves Therapeutae, healers of the soul. Millions believed that the writings ascribed to Orpheus, Hermes, Pythagoras, the sibyls, etc., had been dictated or inspired by a god. Preachers claiming divine inspiration traveled from city to city, performing apparently miraculous cures. Alexander of Abonoteichus trained a serpent to hide its head under his arm and allow a half-human mask to be affixed to its tail; he announced that the serpent was the god Aesclepius come to earth as an oracle; and he amassed a fortune by interpretting the sounds made by the reeds inserted in the false head.”  (pg. 525-526)

Of course the Therapeutae were not Jews but Asclepius’ followers. Worship means to imitate. Also these people scourging themselves weren’t Pagans but Christians. The Orthodox believes the soul is flesh so any assault on the flesh is an assault on the soul much like damnatio memoriae posits. Chapter 9 in the Gospel of John is directly related to the God Aesculapius/Asclepius, who is directly mentioned by Pilate in the Acts of Pilate. On another interesting side note, there was a famous Calabrian scholar of Greek studies in Western Europe who died in 1366AD named Leontius Pilatus. He translated Euripides, Aristotle, and Homer’s Illiad and Odyssey into Latin and was the first professor of Greek in the west. Interestingly as well, Petrarch hated him for pretending to be Greek rather than an Italian.

St John the Apostle

The name Pilate was not uncommon by the 14th century, and it was a Greek name! The Gospel authors clearly thought it was a Roman name though. Hegesippus was still being read into the 11th century at Corbie Abbey, yet it supposedly went missing before Jerome’s time and was supposedly never seen again. Anyway, in the Gospel of John chapter 9, we’re introduced to the Pool of Bethesda near the Sheep Gate (keep in mind the sheep is sacred to Apollo and Asclepius, while the scapegoat ritual was original to the Osiris cult). Bethesda in Hebrew is said beth hesda meaning “house of mercy/ grace”. Yet it can mean shame or disgrace. Isn’t Hebrew a silly language? Everything can mean it’s opposite. Grace in healing but disgrace due to the presence of invalids. (See: Easton’s Bible dictionary and the Catholic Encyclopedia).

“Prior to archaeological digs, the Pool of Bethesda was identified with the modern so-called Fountain of the Virgin, in the Kidron Valley, not far from the Pool of Siloam, and alternately with the Birket Israel, a pool near the mouth of the valley which runs into the Kidron south of St. Stephen’s Gate. Others identified it with the twin pools then called the Souterrains (French for “Subterranean”), under the Convent of the Sisters of Zion; subsequent archaeological investigation of the area has determined these to actually be the Strouthion Pool. In digs conducted in the 19th century, Schick discovered a large tank situated about 100 feet north-west of St. Anne’s Church, which he contended was the Pool of Bethesda. Further archaeological excavation in the area, in 1964, discovered the remains of the Byzantine and Crusader churches, Hadrian’s Temple of Asclepius and Serapis, the small healing pools of the Asclepieion, the other of the two large pools, and the dam between them. It was discovered that the Byzantine construction was built in the very heart of Hadrian’s construction, and contained the healing pools.”

“The Johannine narrative (chapter 5) describes the porticos as being a place in which large numbers of infirm people were waiting, which corresponds well with the site’s 1st century AD use as an asclepieion. Some ancient biblical manuscripts argue that these people were waiting for the troubling of the water; a few such manuscripts also move the setting away from Roman rituals into something more appropriate to Judaism, by adding that an angel would occasionally stir the waters, which would then cure the first person to enter. Although the Vulgate does not include the troubling of the water or the ‘angel tradition’, these were present in many of the manuscripts used by early English translations of the Bible, who therefore included it in their translations. Modern textual scholarship views these extra details as unreliable and unlikely to have been part of the original text; many modern translations do not include the troubling of the water or the ‘angel tradition’, but leave the earlier numbering system, so that they skip from verse 3a straight to verse 5.

The biblical narrative continues by describing a Shabbat visit to the site by Jesus, during which he heals a man who has been bedridden for many years, and could not make his own way into the pool. Some scholars have suggested that the narrative is actually part of a deliberate polemic against the Asclepius cult, an antagonism possibly partly brought on by the fact that Asclepius was worshipped as Saviour (Greek: Soter), in reference to his healing attributes. The narrative uses the Greek phrase hygies genesthai, which is not used anywhere in the Synoptic Gospels, but appears frequently in ancient testimonies to the healing powers of Asclepius; the later narrative in the Gospel of John about Jesus washing Simon Peter’s feet at the Last Supper, similarly uses the Greek term, which is a special term for washing in an Asclepieion, rather than the Greek word used elsewhere in the Johannine text to describe washing – ”

Hippolytus Statue

(To quote Hippolytus, “there is nothing more frightening than a Gay Gnostic”, or was it, “all those Gay Gnostics make me tired”, I can’t quite recall which one he said. Or was it Clement of Alexandria who said that? Listen to me rambling.)

“Within the palace of Nero is the temple of Apollo, which is called St. Petronilla, in front of which is the basilica which is called Vatican…And there is another temple which was Nero’s wardrobe, which is now called St. Andrew. Next to it is the memorial of Caesar, that is the agulia, where his ashes rest honorably; and just as while he was alive the whole world was subjected to him, so now that he is dead it will lie beneath him til the end of time…The upper part at the apple, where he lies, is decorated with gold and precious stones. There it is written: “Caesar, you were once as great as the world/ But now you are closed inside a little space.” (18) (pg.34 from the Mirabilia urbis Romae of an unknown author of the 12th century).

The Omphalos associated with Apollo may have been akin to the giant acorn in St. Peter’s old basilica as portrayed in the Netflix show Borgia. Corinth and Pergamon (the seat of Satan in Revelation) were major cult sites to Apollo. In the Anatolian/Trojan culture Apollo is a bringer of light but also a punisher who sends plagues and has the power to heal their victims. In the book of 1 Samuel it says:

“The Philistines asked, ‘What guilt offering should we send to him?’ They replied, ‘Five gold tumors and five gold rats, according to the number of the Philistine rulers, because the same plague has struck both you and your rulers.”

So here we see Apollo working his plagues as YHWH. Sinope is said to be a daughter of Apollo. Marcion’s home town is named after her. She pledged to always remain a virgin just to spite Zeus presumably. This is why Marcion actually corrupted a virgin meaning his home town. Before him, the churches already had heretics, he was not the first, nor was he an early one as modern scholars like to claim.

An intriguing source on Greek myth is Palaephatus, a man who was skeptical of tall tales and gave his theory on what really happened and became the basis for the myth. Lucian and the Vatican mythographer, and Homer are key for stories of Apollo while Hesiod is not. Ovid’s Remedia Amoris criticizes suicide as a means to escape love, tells lovers not to procrastinate and be lazy in love, not to avoid their partners, not perform magic, not see their lovers unprepared, not take other lovers, and never be jealous. All of Ovid’s advice is put into the mouth of Apollo. No wonder Christians hated Gnostics, they were big time players and pimp daddies. He even adds that one should burn old letters and avoid their lover’s family.

In Homer’s Illiad book 1 it is said, “Apollo has plagued us because I would not take a ransom”, and also, “At last a seer in the fulness of his knowledge declared to us the oracles of Apollo”. It is the Lycian King Apollo who looks down on Troy from Pergamus. (Book 7).

A Eucharistic Solar Symbol.

Crucifixion - Sun/Moon

I offer these last three quotes simply as food for thought and welcome you back next time for Part 2, where I will go into more details on the Christian assimilation of Pagan thought as well as the Epicurean origin of the Eucharist.

Clement of Alexandria in the Stromata book 1 says,

“Of those, too, who at one time lived as men among the Egyptians, but were constituted gods by human opinion, were Hermes the Theban, and Asclepius of Memphis; Tireseus and Manto, again, at Thebes, as Euripides says. Helenus, too, and Laocoon, and OEnone, and Crenus in Ilium. For Crenus, one of the Heraclidae, is said to have been a noted prophet. Another was Jamus in Elis, from whom came the Jamidae; and Polyidus at Argos and Megara, who is mentioned by the tragedy. Why enumerate Telemus, who, being a prophet of the Cyclops, predicted to Polyphemus the events of Ulysses’ wandering; or Onomacritus at Athens; or Amphiaraus, who campaigned with the seven at Thebes, and is reported to be a generation older than the capture of Troy; or Theoclymenus in Cephalonia, or Telmisus in Caria, or Galeus in Sicily?

There are others, too, besides these: Idmon, who was with the Argonauts, Phemonoe of Delphi, Mopsus the son of Apollo and Manto in Pamphylia, and Amphilochus the son of Amphiaraus in Cilicia, Alcmaeon among the Acarnanians, Anias in Delos, Aristander of Telmessus, who was along with Alexander. Philochorus also relates in the first book of the work, On Divination, that Orpheus was a seer. And Theopompus, and Ephorus, and Timaeus, write of a seer called Orthagoras; as the Samian Pythocles in the fourth book of The Italics writes of Caius Julius Nepos.” (13)

Origen in his Contra Celsus 7.3 says:

“It is said of the Pythian priestess, whose oracle seems to have been the most celebrated, that when she sat down at the mouth of the Castalian cave, the prophetic Spirit of Apollo entered her private parts; and when she was filled with it, she gave utterance to responses which are regarded with awe as divine truths. Judge by this whether that spirit does not show its profane and impure nature, by choosing to enter the soul of the prophetess not through the more becoming medium of the bodily pores which are both open and invisible, but by means of what no modest man would ever see or speak of.”

Hippolytus in his Philosophumena 5.0 says:

“What is the doctrine of the Sethians, and that, purloining their theories from the wise men among the Greeks, they have patched together their own system out of shreds of opinion taken from Musaeus, and Linus, and Orpheus.”

Sources:

  1. Liber Pontificalis. http://archive.org/stream/bookofpopesliber00loom/bookofpopesliber00loom_djvu.txt
  2. Chronography of 354: Liberian catalogue of Popes. http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/chronography_of_354_13_bishops_of_rome.htmHandbook of Life in Ancient Rome. Adkins.
  3. Apostolic Fathers volume 1. Martyrdom of Polycarp. Ehrman.
  4. Genesis Apocryphon.
  5. Legend: the Genesis of Civilization. Rohl.
  6. The Story of Civilization III: Caesar and Christ. Durant.
  7. Satan Vs. God: a brief History. Saini.
  8. Easton’s Bible Dictionary.
  9. Gospel of John, Chapter 9.
  10. Acts of Pilate, Latin edition.
  11. St. Peter’s in the Vatican. Tronzo.
  12. Clement of Alexandria, Stromata book 1.
  13. “Book 1- Fr. 1 (from the Armenian Version of Eusebius, Chronica). Dynasties of Gods, Demigods, and Spirits of the Dead.” http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Manetho/History_of_Egypt/1*.html
  14. Retractions, Augustine of Hippo.
  15. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memphis_egypt
  16. False decretals, http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf08.viii.iii.i.html
  17. Mirabilia urbis Romae

Biblical Exegesis: The Three Phoenixes in Paradise

Phoenix by Fabelwesen

[…], so that in their world it might pass the thousand years in Paradise – a soul-endowed living creature called “phoenix”. It kills itself and brings itself to life as a witness to the judgment against them, for they did wrong to Adam and his generation, unto the consummation of the age. There are […] three men, and also his posterities, unto the consummation of the world: the spirit-endowed of eternity, and the soul-endowed, and the earthly. Likewise, the three phoenixes <in> Paradise – the first is immortal; the second lives 1,000 years; as for the third, it is written in the Sacred Book that it is consumed. So, too, there are three baptisms – the first is the spiritual, the second is by fire, the third is by water. Just as the phoenix appears as a witness concerning the angels, so the case of the water hydri in Egypt, which has been a witness to those going down into the baptism of a true man. The two bulls in Egypt possess a mystery, the sun and the moon, being a witness to Sabaoth: namely, that over them Sophia received the universe; from the day that she made the sun and the moon, she put a seal upon her heaven, unto eternity. — On the Origin of the World.

While I touch on the concept of the Phoenix very briefly in an upcoming, academically-minded essay that explores the nature of the Greek god Eros (as mentioned in the same text of Orig. World), I didn’t get a chance to go in-depth so without further ado, I will do just that in this edition of Biblical Exegesis. On the Origin of the World is one of the more innovative texts found in the Nag Hammadi Library that just does its own thing without any real connection to any other text, except for Eugnostos the Blessed and Hypostasis of the Archons. As noted by other scholars, the On Origin of the World is almost certainly composed in Alexandria, Egypt: this is suggested not only by the mention of some typically Egyptian matters (phoenix, irrigation, bulls) and the remark that only Egypt resembles the paradise of God, but also by various ideas that can only have their background in Alexandria, the ground which sprung up other well-known arch-heretics like Valentinus, Basilides, and many esoteric Hermetic cults.

Illustration of Apis - the Sacred Bull of Egypt

In the above passage, animal metaphors (in a positive context) are abound. Here the phoenix is mentioned as well as the two bulls of Egypt, which are connected with the sun and the moon. Most likely, these bulls are the Mnevis ox, associated with Atem-Ra/sun, and the Apis ox, associated with the Osiris/moon. These creatures are used as baptismal symbols. The Phoenix was indeed an emblematic image for some Gnostic groups and their baptismal concepts as hinted in the above excerpt. The Phoenix is also associated with the three natures or the three types of man, specifically in context of the excerpt.

Likewise, the three phoenixes <in> Paradise – the first is immortal; the second lives 1,000 years; as for the third, it is written in the Sacred Book that it is consumed. So, too, there are three baptisms – the first is the spiritual, the second is by fire, the third is by water.

The immortal Phoenix represents the spiritual man that is destined to return to the Eternal realm of the three-fold anthropology we see repeat in not only in the Nag Hammadi Codices but extrapolated from the Parable of the Sower in Matthew, Thomas, Mark, and in the Apostle Paul’s Romans and 1 Corinthians. The second refers to the “psychic man” (half-way in between the spiritual and material realms) and the third being the “choic” or hylic (material) man, holding no spiritual ground and is “consumed” as if he never existed because matter was conceived as ultimately transitory and non-eternal. Western alchemy makes use of the Hellenic elements, being Water, Fire, Earth and Air, which can ultimately be traced to the Stoics. The author distinctly uses two of these elements in reference to the three baptisms.

The Phoenix itself is a well-known alchemical symbol for transmutation and resurrection from the death of the old self and into the new. In about 300 AD, the Hermetic and Gnostic adept, Zosimos of Panoplis provided one of the first definitions of alchemy as the study of:

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.

It was also a well-known symbol for the sun. According to Achilles Tatius, who wrote Leucippe et Clitophon in the 2nd century, he described the head array of the phoenix in terms of being connection with the sun in the form of a rayed nimbus—much like the solar crown of the Statue of Liberty. According to his report, the phoenix prides itself that the sun is its Lord.

Colossus

In Greece, the sun god Helios was represented with the attribute of the rayed nimbus from end of the fifth century B.C. on. Before, he was depicted with a solar disk above his head.

Other writers such as Hesiod, Hecataeus, Antiphanes, Ezekiel the Dramatist, Manilius and others have written extensively on this mythological bird. According to Manillus, the  phoenix dies on a fragrant nest after having lived 540-years, and from its bones and marrow a worm arises which rapidly becomes a young and then an adult bird.

In other versions, the worm would rise from the ashes of the cremated phoenix but people like Epiphanius (in his work Ancoratus) found this conception to be illogical and had the worm develop to a mature phoenix in three days (to make the myth more suitable as a symbol of Christ) from the partially destroyed remains of the bird. The first act of the new phoenix is to carry the entire nest with its contents to the city of the sun near Panchaia, where it places its burden on the altar.

Further in the patristic tradition, the Phoenix was symbolic of the Resurrection of Jesus as mentioned by Clement of Rome, Tertullian and Lactantius. The Christian Church Father, Clement of Rome specifically repeats this story in Chapter 25 in The First Epistle, connecting it to the Resurrection of Christ and his believers.

Of course, the Phoenix has its origins in ancient Egypt as there are striking Egyptian colors used throughout this incredible treatise as the Egyptian bird Benu. In the vignettes of the Book of the Dead and on many monuments, the benu is shown as a heron-like bird with long legs and a pair of long feathers projecting horizontally from the back of its head. The benu with the solar disk is also found in Egyptian papyri. In fact, the solar disk was a more common solar attribute given to other various animals connected with the sun, like Hathor, the cow goddess, for instance along with the Ram god Chnum, the Apis bull, and the crocodile. The only solar disk giving off rays that occurs in Egyptian art is the one used as a symbol of the sun. It was in this way, the heretical King Ekhnaton had his god Aton represented in Amarna.

Chnoubis

On many magical amulets in the Greco-Roman period used against stomach diseases, the multi-rayed crown or nimbus was found, usually in connection with the lion or leontocephaline figures like Mithra or Chnoubis, who is almost always depicted has being a man, a man covered by a snake, a serpent, or a dragon with a lion’s head. The Jewish god Yahweh is also often depicted as being a lion-faced anthropormorphic being, who was the lord of lightening, thunder and wind. From ancient times, the lion too was associated with the sun: in Heliopolis, it was said that a pair of lions were worshiped as animals of the sun as mentioned in Aelian, XII, 7. In the Book of the Dead, the dead man who identified himself with the sun god could say:

“I am he who crosses the heaven, I am the Lion Re”.

On an amulet featuring the god of silence, Harpocrates, he is depicted as riding on a lion with a large nimbus around its head which six or seven double rays spread out.

Harpocrates

Other bird-like figures such as Horus with a falcon’s head is shown with a  solar disk. One can easily see how the solar disk iconography of Egypt influenced the Catholic imagery of the halo around Jesus’ head.

Horus

In a more spiritualized form these themes acquired great importance to the Chaldean theology of Julian the Apostate, Proclus, and others. The noetic (metaphysical) sun god draws the souls upward and in this function he is called “the one adorned with seven rays”. The number seven was considered to be a sacred number, representing perfection of the life after death awaiting the purified souls in the sphere of the planets and of the sun. Through this context, such ideas were associated with the seven rays of the phoenix, symbolic for life after death or immortality. The seven rays associated with Chnoubis could also represent the seven heavens of chaos along with the “Seven Angels that Made the World” per the Gnostic teacher, Saturnilus of Antioch. Ialdaboath, the first archon and world-creator, has the body of a dragon and the face of a lion—an image identified with not only the sun, but also the planet Saturn-Cronos = Chronos, all-generating Time.

Double-headed Phoenix

According to the famous 33rd Freemasonic author, Manly P. Hall, he writes in the Secret Teachings of All Ages about the two-headed Phoenix:

The symbol of the self-born, who is the androgynous phoenix in the esoteric symbol. The double-headed phoenix is the prototype of an androgynous man, for according to the secret teachings there will.

Plato used the androgynous Primeval Man to explain heterosexual love, just as the undivded male and female primeval people serve to clarify homosexual and lesbian relations. For Plato, the earliest Kabbalists, the Manichaeans (with their First Man) Philo of Alexandria, and the author of Poimandres, the first human being was exclusively androgynous, who also mirrored the Kabbalistic Adam Kadmon who was also conceived as androgynous. While the Primeval Man may have its origins in Plato (Symposium), there is no question that his formulation of the idea that love and sexuality are expressions of the split character of man for which man himself is solely responsible, had a far-reaching influence. This myth implies that the original, undivided, and perfect individual did not know sexuality. But Plato does not go as far as the author of Poimandres, who states that sexual desire is responsible for man’s mortality and death. Similar sentiments are expressed in On the Origin of the World and the Gospel of Philip.

The bisexual phoenix is mainly a symbol of eschatological man arisen from the dead, for whom male and female coincide, and who has had returned to him his original, perfect unity. In Paul’s statement that in Christ there is neither male nor female (Galations 3.28), one could easily interpret this to mean that Paul taught a doctrine akin to the bisexual origins of humanity. These concepts of the Primeval Man does much to clarify the ideas attached to the bisexuality of the phoenix. In the Old Testament, Psalm 102 (LXX) was connected with rejuvenation and resurrection in the myth of the phoenix, and in Exegesis of the Soul the quotation concludes with the words, “Your youth will be renewed like an eagle’s.”

“Praise the lord, O my soul, and, all that is within me, (praise) his holy name. My soul, praise God, who forgave all your sins, who healed all your sicknesses, who ransomed your life from death, who crowned you with mercy, who satisfies your longing with good things. Your youth will be renewed like an eagle’s.”

The Slavic Book of Enoch (15:1) also mentions the Phoenix (and in other places in the same text) in very strong-endearing terms, much like Orig. World:

Then the elements of the sun, called Phoenixes and Chalkydri break into song, therefore every bird flutters with its wings, rejoicing at the giver of light, and they broke into song at the command of the Lord.

Towards the end in the quoted excerpt of On the Origin of the World, it also mentions how the sun and the moon were witnesses to the repentant archon Sabaoth. “Heaven” in context of the excerpt, can also refer to the physical heavenly bodies and astrology. The author of this text seems to have a much more positive (or at least ambiguous) outlook on material life because the text often refers to many physical attributes in creation (the heavenly bodies, the animals, the Garden of Eden, even the material body of Adam) in endearing, even romantic terms because of their association with the feminine Wisdom figure of Sophia. On the Origin of the World seems to be alone in this regard.

Animals and “animality” are still, however, mainly used as negative designations and that comments on real animals are only disgressions from the real issue of the majority Nag Hammadi texts, which is spiritual salvation. In the struggle of salvation, animals are doubly losers, both because they will not be saved and because they are used to describe nature, materiality, desire and sexuality. In other words, the whole inherent fabric of the material world is deeply negative. It is not that animals in themselves are evil, but are merely used as adjectives to describe the most basest of human traits.

Internal passions were described as animalistic while external powers – planetary rulers or demons – were conceived of in the shape of animals or animal hybrids. Many texts like the Apocryphon of John and patristic sources like Origen (Against Celsus) mention and preserve the notion that cosmic powers were animal-headed beings – the obvious example being the lion-headed serpent, Ialdaboath. The Nag Hammadi texts preserve the notion of a desperate struggle to leave the world of the beasts and bestial aspects of physical reality behind in favor of a spiritual one. Some scholars interpret that Celsus’s discussion of the Ophite Gnostics in the True Doctrine, that their initiates would wear animal masks to presuppose their connection to the Mithriac mysteries.

Not only is the use of animals given shapes and bodies to evil powers but to also brand other people and their gods as beasts. In the Second Treatise of the Great Seth, opponents were characterized as “unreasoning beasts” and “dumb animals” which were obvious references to the persecution done by the Orthodox (Catholic) Christians of the time, whom the Gnostic author mocks with disdain much like the author of the Gospel of Judas.

The path of Phoenix isn’t ever an easy one and it is the last stage of becoming divinized, in which the initiate attains immortality as symbolized by the Philosopher’s Stone or the “Pearl of the Great Price”, the spiritual core of his being. It can often be an arduous path full of hardship and struggle but is is also one of healing and transformation. And the author of On the Origin of the World manages to condense different concepts and ideas in a harmonic chain that one could write a several-volume exegesis on this one text alone!

Stay tuned for more installments of Biblical Exegesis.