Kabbalah

New Project Alert: The Megas Aeon Podcast

So, here is the very first episode of the Megas Aeon Podcast on my spruced up Youtube channel. It is a new podcast and talk show that I decided to finally embark upon–featuring special guest, Michael Eleleth/Janus. In this episode, we discuss my newest article, High Priests of the Heavenly Temple: Jesus, Melchizedek and Metatron of 3 Enoch.

We also discuss other pertinent topics such as the ambiguous, gloomy nature of the Demiurge, Sabaoth–the redeemed daemon, ancient Abrasax gems, Jesus Christ as the heavenly revealer and high priest in the New Testament and Gnostic literature, Melchizedek of Genesis and Hebrews, Metatron of 3 Enoch and Kabbalistic lore, Adam & Eve, Hermetism, Carl Jung, the Nephilim, the Greek Titans and the fallen angels/archons, euhemerism vs. astrotheology, the meat of gnosis and, much, much more. Hope you enjoy!

Blade Runner & Deus Ex: The Kingdoms of Technocratic Fallen Angels

The replicants in the film “Blade Runner” based off of Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? are seen as pawns in a chess game of the human. Their entire existence is made to be used to serve us. Some might agree that this is unjust, and raises moral questions about what is considered a living being and what is considered a synthetic creation destined for slave labor. In the hit video game, Deus Ex: Human Revolution and its upcoming sequel Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, we see the same moral questions brought up with futuristic technology being developed in form of nano-tech “augmentations” which are synthetic additions or replacements of various parts of the human anatomy–effectively making the person a lesser version of the Borg from Star Trek. We will get to Deus Ex later.

While the novel itself is pessimistic and post-apocalyptic, the movie is far much darker, in which its visuals follow a cyberpunk, machinic society that is disconnected from nature, much like the Borg from Star Trek, H.R. Giger’s nightmarish artwork, who is most famous for designing the alien for the movie Alien, present a similar world. The future in the Terminator-movies and the Matrix isn’t that different either. While I do find this dark, cybernetic world aesthetically pleasing, but certainly it is not world that any sane person would want to become reality, as it is basically a depiction of hell.

The movie is transhumanistic in its depiction of the replicants, the artificial humans. The plot is that four (six, really but two of them died in the backstory) replicants escaped from the off-world colonies (i.e. colonies in outer space to earth.) Replicants have only a four year life-span, and they’re seeking to prolong it. Their presence on earth is illegal and Deckard, played by Harrison Ford, has to hunt them down. The suffering of the replicants is much more highlighted than the experiences of Deckard. When both of the female replicants are killed sad music is played in the background, and there’s slow motion. And the end battle against the boss, Roy, played by Rutger Hauer, is somewhat anti-climactic, since the replicant saves Deckard and simply dies of old age instead of being shot by the hero.

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Throughout the film of Blade Runner, the replicants strive to hide behind their apparent humanity as well as become more powerful than their human creators. Replicants are essentially synthetic humans with superhuman capabilities. There are also animal replicants shown throughout the film as synthetics such as the owl or the snake that played pivotal roles (symbolizing Minerva, Lilith, Molech, Lucifer, Satan, etc). These were developed first for use as pets and beasts of burden after most real animals became extinct due to some type of nuclear holocaust or chemtrail-geoengineering experiment gone global. Blade Runner begins with a shot of a huge, futuristic ziggurat-like building with a vehicle flying towards it. Such buildings reminds us of the ziggurats of ancient Mesopotamia. Erich von Däniken, the Ancient Alien theorist, theorized that ziggurats were airports for the flying vessels of the aliens.

In the film, it is revealed that humanoid replicants were created for military purposes and for the exploration and colonization of space. The Tyrell Corporation recently introduced the Nexus 6, the supreme replicant which are much stronger and faster than, and virtually indistinguishable from, real human beings. Earth law forbids replicants on the planet, except in the huge industrial complex where they are created.

The law does not consider replicants human and therefore accords them no rights nor protection. A key aspect of replicant psychology is that they are lacking in empathy, in effect making them textbook sociopaths. Because of that, measuring the degree of empathic response via a Voight-Kompff machine is the most used method of detecting replicants. NEXUS 6 replicants also have an in-built fail-safe mechanism, namely a four year lifespan, to prevent them from developing empathic cognition and therefore immunity to a Voight Kompff Machine. This is especially necessary for the Nexus 6 models whose intellectual capacity at least matches their designers.

Replicants are illegal on Earth after a bloody mutiny against an off-world colony staged by a Nexus-6 combat model. Special police units or bounty hunters such as Blade Runners are sent to investigate, test and ultimately “retire” replicants found on Earth. Since the dawn of their existence, these replicants were meant for labor. This was not considered slavery because they were synthetic beings. They have no ability to think or feel exactly as humans are meant to. But, this presents some moral dilemmas.

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Tyrell himself said to Deckard in the beginning of the film that his corporation’s modo was “more human than human.” With this vision, his corporation blurred the line that was living and non-living. These replicants began to feel that they should be entitled to more than slave labor. To live as the humans live in the decaying Earth of 2019. So they rebelled and switched the tables on which is the user and whom is being used in the chess game of mortality. Throughout the film each of the replicants use humans as pawns in this chess game as the replicants scramble from lower beginnings to the kings of the game. The first instance of the replicants switching the roles of user and used includes the meeting of Roy, Leon, and Chew in the sub-zero lab which neither interests nor affects the Nexus 6.

As Roy and Leon torment and drive him towards hypothermia, they use him for information as to get inside the Tyrell Corporation’s main headquarters to discover a possible way to increase their very short lifespan. The group of Nexus replicants were a new breed of replicants and were designed to be as human possible. With these advancements however, they started to consider themselves as actual humans. In the short scene before the meeting of Roy and Tyrell, Pris and Roy are in J.F. Sebastian’s apartment trying to convince him of letting Roy into Tyrell’s complex. This of course is another example of the replicants bending the role of the pawn in the chess game by manipulating J.F. Sebastian into what they want. This is also however, an example of the replicant’s transcendence into another class of being. Sebastian asks Roy and Pris to give him an example of their superhuman powers after he discovers they’re the Nexus 6 model.

Roy replies by saying “We’re not computers Sebastian, we’re physical.” Roy is referring to the sensitivity that he and Pris have developed in which they consider themselves not a robot or computer but a real and living being that deserves respect. Pris goes onto say in the same scene “I think Sebastian, therefore I am.” Both of these acts from the replicants intimidate Sebastian into letting them into Tyrell’s complex.

These points raise some interesting questions, not only about the film, but about life in itself. Do we define ourselves solely on the biological characteristics, or is there something more that makes a person human? If it is solely on the biological aspects of a being, then replicants are clearly not human, for they have genetic differences.

Yet, as the movie progresses, we come to see that some of the replicants, particularly Roy and Pris, are capable of being more “human” than Deckard. Deckard is cold and uncaring, whereas Roy and Pris are two replicants who seem to convey genuine love for each other. And beyond that Roy conveys strong feelings of empathy and respect for Deckard. So, the suggestion becomes that we cannot so easily distinguish what it is and what it isn’t human.

Nearing the end of the film, Roy uses Sebastian’s literal chess game to complete his own chess game of mortality. Roy tells Sebastian to make a move that would result in Tyrell’s king in checkmate. Roy enters into the room of Tyrell and finds it difficult to confront his creator just as Tyrell finds it difficult to have Roy confront him. Roy asks a series of biological questions in order to figure some kind of way to expand Roy’s and the other’s lifespan from 4 years.

After Tyrell tells him that it’s impossible to change Roy’s structure to incorporate a longer lifespan because of viral and toxic difficulties, Roy crushes his skull and makes him bleed out his eyes in a gruesome death. Truly, this was a checkmate of Tyrell’s king on Roy’s behalf. After Roy was done using Tyrell, he would travel back to Sebastian’s apartment. Roy’s chess game with the human race continues even after discovering that he will soon die with no help from Tyrell.

Roy discovers a dead Pris lying on the ground riddled with bullet holes. He cries out in anguish and searches for whoever stole the last remaining time he had with Pris away from him. Deckard fires a couple shots past Roy, but Roy is too fast while he dodges them. Repeatedly throughout this scene, Roy says how Deckard is being unsportsmanlike for a man to shoot another man while unarmed. Roy is toying with Deckard at the end of this film, using Deckard even at the last moments of his life as part of a game. At the end of this scene, Roy saves the life after letting him hang off the edge of a skyscraper by his only good hand. Showing that he despises the waste of a life, Roy grabs Deckard by the arm and pulls him over the ledge.

He then proceeds to say one of my favorite lines in the film. Roy speaks in a soft monotone voice “I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe…Attack ships on fire off the shores of Orion…I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tanhauser Gate. All those moments will be lost…like tears in rain.” In the end of the film, Roy and the rest of the escaped replicants are retired and Deckard’s job is complete. However, many of the questions that were raised are left unanswered. Is it unjust to enslave a creation if it is a living being just as humans are? Also, what is the distinguishing factor of a living and thinking being? At least at the end of the film one point is absolutely clear. The replicants were driven to become as human as they possibly could. Using humans as a chess piece to complete the tasks as they wanted. Truly switching the roles of the user and the used.

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Personally, I think Blade Runner is a beautiful film, but I can’t get over Ridley Scott’s butchering of Dick’s masterpiece. Philip K Dick portrayed replicants as amoral sociopaths for a reason. Scott totally misunderstood everything Dick was saying in the book. Replicants were never supposed to be misunderstood good guys. They’re evil sociopaths who are totally devoid of empathy. They aren’t even called “replicants” in the book, but andies (short for android). Roy and his android pals are unambiguously amoral and inclined to evil in Dick’s story, and in the book, Deckard kills Roy almost immediately after locating the androids. Roy isn’t a big character in the book at all. Blade Runner is really a completely different story that just uses the same setting and characters that appear in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Why is the film so different than the book? It’s because Ridley Scott is another one of those bigwig Hollywood directors who thinks that he understands the story better than the original author.

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No doubt, Blade Runner is a beautiful film. The casting, score, and cinematography were all perfect. It’s just the modifications to the story that sucked. Ridley Scott should’ve left it alone. It would’ve been the perfect adaptation from literature to film. The androids are sociopaths in the novel. You’re supposed to sympathize with them in Blade Runner, however. That’s what I dislike so much about that movie. It’s a complete 180 from the premise of the book. In effect the movie wants you to sympathize with the inhuman antagonists. I don’t think it worked, though, particularly when it came out in the eighties, when people saw the movie, since people back them were more rooted in reality than we are now. Nowadays though, I can imagine a Social Justice Warrior watching the movie and hating humans for being so intolerant against these poor artificial machines.

“Androids?” blew my mind when I first read it. Dick really explores the themes of good and evil more in-depth than any of his other work, in my opinion. He also goes into the possibility of good and evil people, like the pneumatics and hylics of Gnosticism. I highly recommend people to read it. Not surprisingly, Blade Runner has many allusions to Gnosticism as wellJay’s Analysis also has a great review of the film as well.

The underlying message in Blade Runner is, as the Rolling Stones put it, to have sympathy for the devil. Transhumanism and Satanism have many strong similarities and some may go so far as to say they are one and the same philosophy. This might sound counter-intuitive to someone not versed in these topics. Transhumanism is something that is associated with science fiction and futurism, while Satanism is something archaic and superstitious. And yet, we see places and sites like CERN with their employees performing mock human sacrifices in context of a Satanic ritual performed before the Hindu god Shiva, the principle of destruction. In a way, demons, or devils, or fallen angels are some may be considered artificial intelligence’s.

In Hinduism, these same demons are called “rakashas” which are often referred to as “man-eaters.” Either they were devised as concepts in the mind of God, but he chose not to create them, or he created them but banished them to hell. Christopher Knowles over at the Secret Sun blog, has also equated the rise of scientific materialism and globalism with the Faustian bargain. Quite clever. Indeed, the globalist agenda is kind of like the counterfeit creation of the Gnostic Demiurge. They’ve created a counterfeit reality that does not actually exist, and they’ve successfully indoctrinated the majority of the public with their lies.

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Hieronymous Bosch, “The Garden of Earthly Delights.”

Hell is often (but not always) depicted as a terrible place of fire and brimstone, a lake of fire filled with horned demons, but hell can also be an artificial, dark world that is often presented in science fiction works. This does not mean the artists who make these depictions are necessarily “in the know” or work for the Illuminati, but rather they have inadvertently picked up the inspiration from the ether or in dreams and depicted what they saw. This is where Deus Ex comes in. I am actually a big fan of the series. While the Deus Ex series started in 2000, the video game I will be referring to often is the sequel, Deus Ex: Human Revolution. This game begins by immediately focusing in on a statue of a fallen angel facing a mysterious smoking figure/conspirator.

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The game primarily follows the exploits and adventures of the security agent Adam Jensen for a bio-technology corporation called Sarif Industries. Adam Jensen quickly uncovers a plan that ties technological “augmentations” with the Illuminati controllers to take over the world in their Satanic quest to create a totalitarian socialist/fascist New World Order, which reminds us of the idea of the “Beast” in Revelation 17, which makes war “with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them.” Oh and by the way, in Revelation 19:20, the same Beast is condemned to hell:

And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.

There are other mysterious groups alluded and discussed throughout the game, such as Majestic 12, the Knights Templar, the Bilderberg Group, and the Trilateral Commission, also play a central part in the plot. They also show up in Human Revolution and Mankind Divided. This dark setting is enhanced by the fact that the entire game takes place at night (the first Deus Ex that is), a backdrop that adds to the atmosphere of conspiracies and stealth. The name “Sarif” evokes similarities with the angelic class of the Seraphim. In Romans 1:21-23, we read:

…when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.

One central tenet of early heresy in Gnosticism, is that the Lawgiver Jehovah was really just an angel in rebellion against the Good Father above (e.g. Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 1.24.2, 1.25.4). Paul seems to evoke the same language which reflects this doctrine in letters such as Galatians 3:19 and 4:1-8:

“Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.”

Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; but is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father. 3 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world: but when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

There are other instances in Paul’s letters where he basically says that the Old Testament and Moses’ Law quite literally blinded and deceived the Israelites such as 2 Corinthians 3. In these passages observing the Law is equated with worshiping angels as seen in Hebrews 2:1-3

We must pay closer attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every transgression and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? This salvation was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard Him,…

In context of the sermon, in the Bible the Seraphim and Cherubim, are described as having both human and animal traits, having the forms of men, eagles, lions, ox, and even serpents as different texts of the Old Testament depict (Isaiah 6:2-6, Ezekiel 1 & 10). This is where the many Gnostic teachers like Basilides and the Sethian Ophites pounced upon this idea by using Romans 1:23, to reduce Jehovah, the Lawgiver to an inferior power or a mere angel, which has the corruptible form of a man and various animals, much like how Ialdaboath is portrayed as having a face of a lion and a body of a serpent or dragon in Gnostic literature. Paul also seems to be attacking pagans and perhaps even Jews for reducing the Supreme deity to angel and demon worship. And so Sarif industries also made the human race further corruptible by using different augmentations which only sever the spirit of man from God, even further. Some point to Daniel 2:43 as prophetic reference to cybernetic influence on the biology of mankind:

And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay.

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In the sequel Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, the fallen angelic/Luciferian symbolism continues on. Oh and there is even an official novella called Deus Ex: Fallen Angel. Matthew 24:37, tells us:

As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.

This is a phrase that some Christian UFOlogists and conspiracy theorists like Michael Tsarion have interpreted this to mean that in the days of Noah, earth inhabitants held a wide variety of technology which gave rise to various pyramids and structures that we, today, have no way of reconstructing on an exact scale, as well as all of the genetic manipulation that we are seeing now arise in food production and hybrid experiments with human and animal DNA. Matthew seems to echo Genesis 6 and the Book of Enoch, among other Jewish apocalyptic literature, with the Sons of God interbreeding with the daughters of men to produce a race of giants or the Nephilim. And then God sent a flood to get rid of it all because it was perverting his creation. This relates to the ziggurat in Blade Runner, the building of the Tyrell corporation, that creates the replicants. Back in the days of Noah, these high priests used their perverse technologies and occult ritual magic to try to summon these demonic, artificial entities into our world. The ziggurat probably symbolizes this. The movie Blade Runner states that they are attempting to do it again. The Gnostic text On the Origin of the World tells us this exactly:

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

Many have also compared the Kabbalistic Jewish Golem, which is an artificially emerging human nourished from inanimate matter to modern A.I., a being with the unholy capacity of stealing the uniqueness of human soul, through spells using the Tetagrammaton or the Name of YHWH, indicating the Demiurge has occult mysticism under his sway.

Now, forgive me for heading into further conspiracy territory but it must be pointed out. Chemtrails are often poo-pooed on by many but it relates to the idea of geoengineering. Geoengineering for what exactly? I would say it’s the dark, artificial world we’ve been seeing in various science fiction movies. Perhaps the strange phenomenon Global Dimming is caused by chemtrails. I’ve seen many airplanes spray chemtrails over the years in many different countries, even over my house! This isn’t such an easily dismissable issue since they are very visible and perceived unlike other nebulous concepts you will see in esoterica. If you don’t believe me, start paying attention when you go outside. You might not see them everyday, but you will see them eventually. I do not know exactly for what purpose they are being sprayed–perhaps its for depopulation purposes.

I heard one Christian Youtuber guy say that they are used so that demons can manifest in the natural world more seamlessly. This ties into the technocratic kingdom of the fallen angels, or the rising and fall of the Beast of Revelation. I’ve heard other authors like John Lash discuss the “archons” of Gnosticism in terms of being inorganic cyborgs. But he’s a bit of a psuedo-Gnostic pagan David Duke and has fallen far from what he was doing 8-10 years earlier with his fascinating book Not In His Image. What I am saying might be hard to believe but there you have it.

All of this also ties in with what has been occurring on the world stage as of late, with numerous terror-attacks, threats of World War 3, reproductive-disease spreading Mosquitoes, poisoned drinking waters for the underprivileged, citizen assassinations, proxy wars and uprising in the Middle East, civil, domestic uprisings, the rise of Satanism in the public arena, the crushing of dissidents and free-speech, one must realize that there are insane, lunatic nihilists out there, especially in positions of power, who really do want to realize their own destruction. Just look at all the progressive feminists who want Muslim immigrants to invade their countries and rape and kill them. Just look at the Bug Chasers in San Francisco who purposefully want to get HIV/AIDS. Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria!

In Luke 21:10-28, Jesus tells his disciples a dire prophecy about the future:

10 Then He said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven. 12 But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons. You will be brought before kings and rulers for My name’s sake. 13 But it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony.14 Therefore settle it in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on what you will answer; 15 for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist. 16 You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. 17 And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. 18 But not a hair of your head shall be lost. 19 By your patience possess your souls.

The Destruction of Jerusalem

20 “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near. 21 Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those who are in the midst of her depart, and let not those who are in the country enter her. 22 For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. 23 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! For there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people. 24 And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

The Coming of the Son of Man

25 “And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; 26 men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”

It sure sounds like the future is now. But, threats of the apocalypse have been here with us since the beginning of time and space. It’s always been the same story in the realm of the Demiurge! In my upcoming novels, Delta Heavy and Crimson Dusk, all of these themes will also be thoroughly referenced as well. Stay tuned for news on that on this site. Here are a few more videos of interest. (Please note, I won’t be posting links to videos in all future posts.) One more thing, please consider supporting my site by donating so I can keep this site afloat, independent and advertisement-free.

Forbidden Fruit in the Midst of the Garden (Part 4)

In Part 3we discovered that the two trees being the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge were seen as living symbols for the Gnostics’ cosmology being the Aeons in the Pleroma and the veil or Platonic (X) or limit that separates it from the deficiency or hysterema of the material world, marked of illusion and imperfection, time and flux. It is therefore useless to identify with the physical symbol of a cross as it is more of an archetype.

The Stauros (Cross), which means to “stand” or “straighten up” (e.g. the “Standing One” per Simon Magus?) in its true self is a living idea, a reality or root-principle of separation and limit, dividing entity from non-entity, being from non-being, perfection from imperfection, fullness and emptiness, Light from Darkness. The Stauros or Horos was also seen as synonymous with the Logos and was also seen as the sign of victory as per the doctrine of Christus Victor atonement i.e, that Christ defeated the powers by duping them into crucifying him.

Guarding this Horos was the Limit-Setter, the Across-Taker, the Emancipator, the Guide or Leader that guides the initiated soul from its astral journey from the underworld, to the zodiacal cosmos, to the eighth heaven or “ogdoad” where Sophia is said to dwell, near the gates and finally to the Heavenly Cross, functioning like a portal or gateway into the realm of the Father or the Pleroma. The Logos himself is designated as a “door” or a “gate” into eternal life symbolized as pasture, for the saved sheep (or souls) (John 10:9).

This region was also called the “suburbs”, a frontier or the barrier, demarcating the boundary between the worlds. The term “suburbs” is also used in a Peratic text that the Church Father Hippolytus quotes at length called The Suburbs up to the Aither in the Philosophumena or the Refutation of All Heresies, which I will briefly touch on later on. In Plato’s Timaeus, he refers to the soul-stuff of the universe in terms of two circular strips joined together like the Greek letter chi (X). Similarly, tau, the last letter of the Phoenician and Old Hebrew alphabets, is shaped like a cross, and was popularly held to be a protective emblem of supernatural power. Crosses were also said to be used by Roman General Marcius Turbo’s forces in the first century to carry their food and clothing.

In Plato’s radical dualism, he thought that matter and the Demiurge were uncreated and co-existed eternally with the world of forms or the eternal archetypes. And he believed that matter and the forms were eternally separated by what he called the “divided line.” In Ephesians 2:19, the invisible cross is represented as bestriding the cosmos in terms of “the breadth, and length, and depth, and height” of the love of Christ, which surpasses knowledge.

Only through the stauros can souls enter into life eternal.  Without it, humanity are held in thrall by time, subject to Satan, to fate and to reincarnation. The stauros is the axis of the mighty spiral that reverses the order of the cosmos, and takes man from the emptiness (kenoma) of the illusory lower world, to the fullness of the upper world of Reality. It is this reality which Luke 13:19 describes as:

It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds perched in its branches.

The fruit of this aeonic Tree were manifested as the Cosmic Christ or Logos and his otherworldly redemptive mission when evil came into existence. His work on earth and even the universe at large was to touch every region on our side of the Stauros, to fulfill a specific mission for every form of creation: from the fallen angels, archons, fallen aeons, for man and so forth and so on down to the Chain of Being. It is his presence on earth that was hotly debated and gave birth to a religious movement that ultimately become the very thing it once strove to liberate itself from. Christ would be reduced to a rotting corpse on a cross, in which the Orthodox “cleave to the name of a dead man, thinking that they will become pure” as the Apocalypse of Peter would say.

Yet, the very reason for the existence of the Logos is explained in a “fall of man” scenario which occurs in not just in Jewish and Christian literature but also in Hermetic and Indian literature. We will examine the events that unfold right after the fall of man that eventually precipitates into events surrounding the Flood and how they relate to all these concepts associated with the Garden. Is there a possible deeper message to the Flood myth?

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The Flood of Darkness

In Josephus, Antiquitates I 69-71 and Vita Adae et Evae XLIX 3-L2, he discusses the coming destruction by fire and water. The Apocalypse of Adam and the Gospel of the Egyptians also mentions destruction by water which was identified with the biblical flood, and by fire. Plato’s Timaeus 21E-22E also relates a similar idea for periodical destruction of the earth by water and fire. Its influence on the idea of a periodical disaster was widely known in Jewish and Christian literature. In the Latin Life of Adam and Eve, after the funerals of Adam and Abel, Eve tells her children of a coming divine judgement, “first by water and then by fire,” and gives them the recommendation to preserve the account of their parents’ lives by writing it down in two sets of tablets, one made of stone and the other of clay (49–50).

By the fourth century BC, Greek philosophers and geographers eventually opined that the earth was not a flat disk consisting of a single land mass and swirling waters, like Homeric geography posited, but rather a sphere with multiple continents and seas. Plato, for example, would often use myth and story to service his philosophical endeavors. In the Phaedo 110b, Plato’s Socrates describes the earth as viewed from above as “one of these balls made of twelve pieces of skin, variegated and marked out in different colors”. Plato would engage the Ocean even more directly in his myth or story of Atlantis in Timaeus 25a, which tells us:

The island (Atlantis) was larger than Libya and Asia put together, and was the way to other islands, and from these you might pass to the whole of the opposite continent which surrounded the true ocean, for this sea which is within the Straights of Heracles is only a harbor, having a narrow entrance, but that other is a real sea, and the land surrounding it on every side may be truly called a boundless continent.

Plato would go on about the greatness, hubris, and demise of Atlantis in the Critias, although the account was not completed because Critias was never finished. He made another reference to its destruction in Timaeus. Plato’s myth-making or speculation was a self-admitted speculation in the service of philosophy. He signaled this by having Socrates say in Phaedo 114d, “Of course, no reasonable man ought to insist that the facts are exactly as I have described them.” Plato’s “invention” of Atlantis was explicit, and he was, in the end, uninterested in the truth value of his own world created out of a pastiche of myth, philosophy and geography. What mattered for Plato was that the myth was served his real purpose, to support his ideas about the immortality of the soul and the proper governance of humankind through the administration of the Philosopher Kings.

From a careful consideration of Plato’s description of Atlantis it is evident that the story should not be regarded as wholly literal or historical but rather as both symbolic of Plato’s Utopian ideal with possible roots in actual history. Theologians and philosophers in late antiquity such as Origen, Porphyry, Proclus, Iamblichus, and Syrianus realized that the story concealed a profound philosophical mystery, but they disagreed as to the actual interpretation. Classical Alexandria was a hotbed of allegorization as the Alexandrine Jewish philosopher Philo and the early Church Fathers also rejoiced in ascribing symbolic meanings to their sacred writings as well.

There are, of course, many parallels with Plato’s mysterious Atlantis with Noah’s Deluge and even the Garden of Eden. For one, the Hebrew word used for the Garden of Eden was called gannah, which also means a covered or hidden place. Gardens in ancient times were usually protected by walled enclosures, which lends to the concept of Adam and Eve being “expelled” and unable to return. Ancient Atlantis was also considered to be “walled off” from outsiders. The famous passage of Genesis 6:4 presents the idea that the flood was sent by God to punish the crimes committed by the giant children of the Angels or Watchers who committed intercourse with human women, being the Nephilim. Of course, in Gnostic literature, intercourse between supernatural powers and human women are continuous since the beginning of creation itself, starting with Cain and Abel as the spawn between Eve and the lion-faced demonic ruler, Ialdabaoth as featured in Apocryphon of John.

This Jewish story of the Watcher Angels being imprisoned in the valleys of the earth after sleeping with the daughters of men is clearly drawn from Greek myths- this was the fate of the Titans after Zeus defeated them, and it recalls the imprisonment of the children of Ouranos in valleys as punishment. Both Enochic and Gnostic literature go out of their way to claim that these same Angels taught humankind various occult secrets and teachings, being astronomy, magic and the usage of natural elements. This was not the only view concerning the origins of astrology as the earliest Hellenistic Jewish Historian Eupolemus claimed that astrology was actually discovered by Enoch (identified with Atlas) and then handed on by him to the Babylonians. Zosimos of Panopolis, the Hermetic-Gnostic alchemist also placed much emphasis on the Book of Enoch and the Angels being the source of the majority of occult and alchemical teachings.

Flavius Josepheus in Antiquities 1.154-168, also referred to Abraham (although not mentioning his name explicitly) as a great and righteous man, “versed in the heavens” as did many other writers throughout history. Eupolemus also claimed that Abraham was a Chaldean. Seth, being Adam’s son, is also singled out as the originator of astrology by Flavius Josephus as well as being the founder of the Gnostic religion in the Three Steles of Seth.

Josephus in Antiquities 1 68-71 also claimed that the progeny or “seed” of Seth were just, peace-loving men, who understood the secrets of the stars, and had knowledge of the Flood and other disasters, inscribing her doctrine on two steles. Other texts such as On the Origin of the World, claimed that the Angels or Archons taught women idolatry, which would naturally fit with the idea of the “god of this world” being a blinding idol or icon as per 2 Corinthians 4:4. Justin Martyr in the Second Apology, Chapter V, would say something very similar to Orig. World:

But the angels transgressed this appointment, and were captivated by love of women, and begat children who are those that are called demons; and besides, they afterwards subdued the human race to themselves, partly by magical writings, and partly by fears and the punishments they occasioned, and partly by teaching them to offer sacrifices, and incense, and libations, of which things they stood in need after they were enslaved by lustful passions; and among men they sowed murders, wars, adulteries, intemperate deeds, and all wickedness.

That is not to say that the science of astrology and magical workings were rejected by the Gnostics—quite the opposite, as they had a deep respect for the knowledge revealed by the angels. In fact, one can go as far as to say the Watchers or fallen angels themselves were literary representations of the Gnostics because of their deep knowledge of the stars, planets, plants, medicine, writing, etc. The Valentinian Theodutus claimed that Christ came into the world to free all people who believe in him from astral fate. Astrology is not a wholly fictional science or an error as it can tell the truth concerning the destiny of those who are not in Christ. But once one is baptized, the astrologists “no longer tell the truth” concerning the person’s destiny. Jewish texts such as Sepher ha Razim, glorify the science of the stars and the cosmos revealed by the Watchers:

And seven thrones are prepared there, and upon them are seated overseers, and around them on all sides encampments of angels are stationed and are obedient to men at the time when they practice magic; to everyone who has learned to stand and pour libations to their names and cite them by their signs at the period when prayer is heard so as to make a magical rite succeed. Over all these encampments of angels, these seven overseers rule, to dispatch them for every sort of business, so that they will hasten and bring success.

1 Enoch, the books of Daniel and the book of Jubilees either condemn Babylonian astrology as a diabolical science, or stress its inferiority to wisdom directly revealed by God. The Jewish form of astrology tends to distinguish itself from the astrology of the Babylonian Chaldeans. The Gnostics continued on the same path of Jewish astrology, who posits Seth, Jesus and Mary to reveal the truth about the planetary fate, the stars and the deities who rule them. It is of course, the Savior that “disturbs” the other stars as he descends into the world of matter.

Still, the problem of the Giants were no laughing matter. The offspring of the Watchers (including the angels Shemyaza, Azazel and all the rest of the angels listed in 1 Enoch) and human women resulted in gigantic beings being the Nephilim, also referred to as “GiBoR” which is Hebrew for “hero” or a great man, strangely enough. They are also known as the “giants born of, or descendants of the Aion”. There are certain magical gems of the famous Chnoubis (lion-headed snake) that contain the inscription of being a conqueror of giants! This seems to indicate that the lion-headed serpent wasn’t always held in a negative light by Gnostics. The myth of the giants and their destruction by God through the flood is preserved in many different writings that flourished in the late Hellenistic-Judiac apocryphal literature as well as Gnostic mythology featured in different texts such as the Apocryphon of John, On the Origin of the World, the Valentinian Exposition and of course, in many Manichaean writings, including the Book of Giants.

Ialdaboath

Even these Giants of the Jewish apocrypha and Gnostic literature can be seen as synonymous with the immortal giant Titans per Greek myth, with Kronos, Zeus’ “Forgotten Father” or “Hidden One” being the Atlantean king of these Titans. Kronos would eventually become imprisoned within the underworld, as a “Dark Lord”. This is much like how Ialdabaoth in On the Origin of the World is imprisoned in Tartarus by Pistis Sophia, the deep abyss or the “Foundations of the Great Deep” per Genesis 7:11, underneath hell, where the Titans are thrown and placed there by the Olympian gods. The Middle Platonist and Greek Historian, Plutarch in On the Cessation of Oracles, would claim that Kronos or Saturn’s imprison was imposed by a death-like sleep, where his dreams and illusions acted like shackles, symbolic of the nature of material reality:

In that region also, they said, Saturn was confined in one of the islands by Briareus, and lay asleep; for that his slumber had been artfully produced in order to chain him, and round about him were many dæmons for his guards and servants.

Hippolytus in Refutatio, Book V, chapter 11 in The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V, wrote of the beliefs of a member of the Gnostic Peratae (meaning “traversers”) sect:

But water, he says, is destruction; nor did the world, he says, perish by any other thing quicker than by water. Water, however . . . they assert (it to be) Cronus.

Statues of Bacchus and the Seven Planets

Even more relevant, the ancient Chaldaeans warned that a universal flood would come down from above: “Kronos announced to Sisithros that a flood would pour from above.” Tacitus in Histories V.4 alleged that the Jews were worshipers of Saturn, indirectly claiming Jehovah was Kronos. It is safe to assume that Kronos was considered a synonymous figure with the Demiurge as maintained by the Peratics. According to the Orthodox Syrian Bishop, Theodoretus of Cyrrhus, the heretics, especially the Marcionites, detested water because it was produced by the creator. The Bible frequently mentions Yahweh’s rule over the waters, particularly the Red Sea and the Nile. The notion that water was an element of the Demiurge, who was equated with Kronos as the “lord of generation” and positioned in the center of the universe by the Peratic-Ophites per Hippolytus in Refutation 5.15.4, was characteristic of the Gnostic contempt for the creator’s work and the creator himself.

Accordingly, many Gnostics would deliberately disobey the Creator’s precepts and praise vilified Biblical characters like the serpent in Eden or other times, Cain and even the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah! Theodoretus of Cyrrhus has this to say about the Marcionites:

They dare to say that the serpent is better than the Creator. in fact the Creator forbade men to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge, while the serpent exhorted them to eat it. But these sinners do not know that the serpent’s advice generated death. And so some of them worship the serpent. And I myself found that they had a bronze serpent, kept in a box together with their nefarious mysteries.

Theodoretus also claimed that the Marcionites not only insulted the Creator god, but also the biblical patriarchs and prophets because they were the Creator’s agents, while they believed that the Old Testament villains such as Cain and the Sodomites had followed Jesus out of Tartarus when he descended into Hell. The doctrine of the Ophites were also attributed to the Marcionites by Theodoretus. Whenever Jehovah would unconditionally condemn magic and divination as worship of foreign gods in Deuteronomy 18.9-11, 27, 35, Exodus 22, 17 and Leviticus 20,27, the Gnostics would value the knowledge of astrology because it was expressly forbidden by the creator god much like the knowledge fruit forbidden in Eden. This is explicitly mentioned by the Latin Church Father, Tertullian who would say, “the Marcionites very frequently are astrologers, and are not ashamed to live by the Creator’s stars” (Contra Marcion, I 18 1). Naturally, astrology was associated with heresy (or false teachings) according to the Orthodox Heresiologists. For example, Irenaeus in Against Heresies 1.15.6, says of a certain Marcus the Valentinian:

Marcus, you former of idol, inspector of portents, skill’d in consulting the stars, and deep in the black arts of magic, ever by tricks such as these confirming the doctrines of error, furnishing signs unto those involved by you in deception, wonders of power that is utterly severed from God and apostate, which Satan, your true father, enables you still to accomplish, by means of Azazel, that fallen and yet mighty angel—thus making you the precursor of his own impious actions.

Irenaeus’ pupil Hippolytus also asserted that:

…the teachings of the heretics have their source in the wisdom of the Greeks, the opinions of those who engage in philosophy, those who undertake mysteries and roaming astrologers.

Hippolytus devoted the whole of Book IV of his Refutatio to the Chaldeans, magi and astrologers, as one of the sources of inspiration to the Gnostics. Chapter V was mostly concerned with the Peratics, who may have considered themselves the “true Hebrews” considering that Hebrew means “passerbyer”. The confidence of the Peratae or the Peratics, that they were able to find salvation from the oppression of the astral powers of fate through gnosis:

For if any one, he says, of those (beings) which are here will have strength to perceive that he is a paternal mark transferred hither from above, (and that he is) incarnate— just as by the conception resulting from the rod a something white is produced—he is of the same substance altogether with the Father in heaven, and returns there. If, however, he may not happen upon this doctrine, neither will he understand the necessity of generation, just as an abortion born at night will perish at night.

This attitude towards magic wasn’t shared by all Gnostic groups as sects such as the Manichaeans considered witchcraft as inspired by the primeval Darkness and Satan, despite the fact that their practices such as exorcisms and prayers to the four guardian angels (Michael, Uriel, Gabriel, Raphael) were also considered “magical”.

Returning to the Flood story, the Gnostics would interpret this episode in Genesis as proof that the creator god was indeed fallible because the Lord repented of his own creation (Genesis 6:6) and was willing to save only a few chosen ones (being Noah, his family and various animals) and start creation anew. The Apocryphon of John makes full use of this idea by stating:

And he (the chief archon) repented for everything which had come into being through him. This time he planned to bring a flood upon the work of man.

Ialdaboath initiates this destructive plan because the chief ruler fails to enslave the human race through the creation of “fate” and “destiny”. This destiny, while successful in fostering “sins” and “forgetfulness” of the ultimate deity and constraining choices, was insufficient to “arrest” human “pondering” entirely. As it follows, a new plan of wiping out life on earth completely is started and not just as an attack on Gnostic humanity.

In any event, for the Gnostics, the cause of the flood was by the maliciousness of Ialdabaoth and his angels but ultimately fails to completely destroy mankind, including the Gnostic race, revealing the ultimate ineptitude of the authorities. To remedy this situation, the Archons decide to produce a “counterfeit spirit” in the image of the divine “spirit of life”, which enables them to change their shapes and further seduce humanity with wealth, and many other vices which goes a long way to their achieving their desired union with human women, according to the Apoc. John. The result is ignorance of spiritual reality plaguing humanity even “down through the present time” and also attempts to explain the origins of evil in the human species.

The reason for Ialdaboath causing the flood should be obvious. Humanity’s growing insight and superiority over spiritual matters concerns the creator god and his angels, rather than moral depravity or humanity’s sins as stated in Genesis 6: 3, 13, 17. In Enochian apocalyptic literature, the deluge is sent by God’s judgement to wipe out the giants from the face of the earth. Hypostasis of the Archons would say that humankind “began to multiply and improve”. Irenaeus would say that humankind would “not honor” Ialdabaoth as “parent and god” in Haer. 1.30.10. This is, of course, a wholesale rejection of the God of Israel’s divine status, in part of the Gnostics. However, in some cases the God of Israel is identified with the repentant archon, Sabaoth which is depicted in Gnostic writings in an often positive light, with his intimate association with Sophia. They also point to his amorous fallen angels, who were originally “ministers of flaming fire” (Psalms 104:4) being a part of a archontic conspiracy to further confuse the human race in vice and blood-shed.

Much later, the Church Father Epiphanius would tell us a different account of the Sethian version of the flood. In the Panarion 39.3.1, Wisdom caused the flood because “the frequent intercourse and confused impulse on the part of the angels and the human beings, so the two tended toward mixture…” It is clear that Sophia is depicted in struggling against the Archangels, Archons and Watchers which is typical in Gnostic and Simonian literature. So, for the Gnostics, it is also clear that the Flood and the intercourse between Angels and human women were attempts to disrupt human progress because of their strengthening link to the spiritual world outside of material creation.

When it comes to the issue of Noah, the Gnostic evaluation of the character shows no unanimity in any of Gnostic writings, and one can find examples of both positive and negative attitudes toward him. The Apocryphon of John tells us that Noah was a chosen patron of the spiritual race:

And he repented for all that had happened through him. He plotted to produce a flood [κατακλυσμός] over all the offspring of man. But the greatness of Providence [πρόνοια], which is the reflection [ἐπίνοια] of the light, instructed Noah and he preached to men. But they did not believe him. It is not as Moses said, “He hid himself in an ark [κιβωτός],” but she sheltered him in a place, not Noah alone but men from the immovable race. They went into a place and sheltered themselves with a luminous cloud. And he (Noah) recognized his lordship and those who were with him in the light which shone upon them, because darkness was falling over everything upon earth.

The reference to the waters seems to be a metaphor for the “darkness”, as the understanding of the biblical flood was understood as more a of a spiritual event, much like the first fall, which was the descent of spirit into the abyss and inferno of matter. The “Abyss” or the “void”, which also relates to the Kabbalistic Qliphoth (Tree of Death), was also symbolic of the vacant place that was left when God retracted his presence from that area. The process of emptying left a vacant place for what was to become the natural universe we know. In Gnostic writings, the cognate word, Kenoma, signifying “emptiness”, describes the illusive, phenomenal world of space and time in which all sentient life lives in. In essence, God obscured himself by creating the place of the Deficiency, but he is not that place.

The Apocryphon of John also goes on in a lengthy dialogue concerned with the ultimate destiny of the two kinds of spirits: “the spirit of life” from the Pleroma and the “counterfeit spirit” generated by the rulers and authorities of fate. The flood story and biblical imagery are used to convey this dialogue in the text. The late 3rd century Simonian text The Concept of Our Great Power tells us something very similar, by saying that the water, which represents the Demiurge, coexists with spirit eternally, i.e., radical dualism.

Discern what size the water is, that it is immeasurable (and) incomprehensible, both its beginning and its end. It supports the earth; it blows in the air where the gods and the angels are. But in him who is exalted above all these there is the fear and the light, and in him are my writings revealed.

The same text also goes into similar details regarding the fall of the angels, the flood myth, Noah, etc. Another text in the Nag Hammadi Library, the Hermetic tractate, Asclepius also discusses the Flood myth. In this treatise, the Demiurge is presented as a benevolent figure and his actions in a very Stoic context, with themes of recurring cosmic catastrophes and restoration:

And when these things had happened, O Asclepius, then the Lord, the Father and god from the only first (God), god the creator [δημιουργόϛ], when he looked upon the things that happened, established his design, which is good, against the disorder. He took away error and cut off evil. Sometimes he submerged it in a great flood, at other times he burned it in a searing fire.

Fire Woman

Speaking of fire, the Gnostic prophetess, Norea is also featured in a few writings including Hypostasis of the Archons, Thought of Norea, and by the Church Father Epiphanius. Her role is that of a Gnostic heroine, and that is somewhat of a rare (if not non-existent) feat in any religious writing but is boldly featured in a Gnostic holy writ. The scholar Birger Pearson connects Norea with Noah’s wife Namaah. In Enoch, Namaah was said to have overwhelmed the Angel Azazel with her beauty, as she is also identified as the sister of Tubal-Can. In later Jewish legends, Namaah is also identified as the sister or daughter of Lilith. The Hypostasis of the Archons tells us that Norea is essentially the revealer and spiritual mother of the Gnostic race, through Eve:

Again Eve became pregnant, and she bore Norea. And she said, “He has begotten on me a virgin as an assistance for many generations of mankind.” She is the virgin whom the forces did not defile.

It is through Norea’s intervention on human kind that they progress and improve, which spurs the authorities to come together and wipe out all life on earth:

The rulers took counsel with one another and said, “Come, let us cause a deluge with our hands and obliterate all flesh, from man to beast.”

Norea reveals herself to be one of a spit-fire type when she blows Noah’s Ark down! Perhaps this is symbolic of emphasizing true salvation being “spiritual” rather than trusting the works of the flesh.

Then Orea came to him wanting to board the ark. And when he would not let her, she blew upon the ark and caused it to be consumed by fire. Again he made the ark, for a second time.

Later, Ialdaboath and his angels confront Norea with the intend to bully her, saying: “You must render service to us, as did also your mother Eve…” Norea tells them off by saying:

“It is you who are the rulers of the darkness; you are accursed. And you did not know my mother; instead it was your female counterpart that you knew. For I am not your descendant; rather it is from the world above that I am come.”

She later appeals to the ultimate God for help and a holy angel, Eleleth, thus saves her from the authorities’ clutches and reveals the divine mysteries of Pistis Sophia. Norea is ultimately revealed to be the female parent of all Gnostics, as Seth is the male parent:

“You, together with your offspring, are from the primeval father; from above, out of the imperishable light, their souls are come. Thus the authorities cannot approach them, because of the spirit of truth present within them; and all who have become acquainted with this way exist deathless in the midst of dying mankind. Still, that sown element will not become known now. Instead, after three generations it will come to be known, and it has freed them from the bondage of the authorities’ error.”

As it is usually the case, the Gnostic interpretation of scripture was far from literal in favor for unearthing spiritual and allegorical meanings and this approach is highlighted in Apelle’s (a disciple of Marcion) critical take on Noah’s Flood story:

In no way could it have been accomplished that in so short a time so many kinds of animals and their foods, which were to last for a whole year, should be taken abroad. For when two by two the unclean animals, that is, two male and two female of each—this is what the repeated word means—led into the ark, how could the space described be made big enough to take even four elephants alone? It is clear that the story is false; but if this is so, it is clear that this writing is not from God.

Through the Flood story, the Gnostic writers were able reflect on the types of human beings that exist in the world and on the question of how ignorance is able to persist throughout history. Noah’s Ark would become a symbol for the gracious divine care to rescue the “immovable race” of the Gnostics. The Manichaeans would also interpret Noah’s Ark to be a symbol for their church as a “Ship of Light” in their Coptic Manichaean Psalms:

Lo, the ship has put in for you, Noah is aboard, he steers.
The ship is the commandment [ἐντολή], Noah is the Mind [νοῦς] of Light.
Embark your merchandise, sail with the dew of the wind.
The] Commandment [ἐντολή] was knowledge, the Commandment was a Church. …
It was a tree, it was a ship, it [was] …
It was a tree in the desert, it was an ark [? κιβωτός] in the flood [κατακλυσμός].

Hippolytus, Callistus of Rome and Cyprian of Carthage used the survivors of the flood as ciphers for the purity and discipline of the church as did the Gnostics who saw these primeval characters as symbolic of themselves and their situation among the growing influence of Orthodoxy.

Tree of Death

The Two Trees Revisited (A Small Note)

According to the Babylonian Prophet Mani, there exists two irreconcilable roots (Do Bun in Persian): Light and Darkness. The Tree of Life and the Tree of Death. The Pre-Socratic philosopher Empedocles also taught that the universe is composed of the forces of Neikos: Strife/Discord and Philia: Love/Friendship. Besides Zoroastrian dualism, Empedocles could very well be another source for the Manichean Two Roots.

The Monophysite patriarch Severus of Antioch informs us that he is quoting from an unknown Manichaean scripture within a sixth-century Cathedral Homilies. In these citations, the expression “Tree of Life” functions as an alternate designation for the summum bonum of Manichaean cosmology: the Realm of Light. A symmetrical parallel to this usage is the expression “Tree of Death,” which Mani or one of his disciples employed to designate the evil Realm of Darkness. Therein we read:

They say: That which is Good, also named Light and the Tree of Life, possesses those regions which lie to the east, west, and north; for those (regions) which lie to the south and to the meridian belong to the Tree of Death …’,”Likewise does the Tree of Life exist, which is there adorned with every sort of pleasing and lovely, beautiful thing. It is filled and covered with all sorts of good things… its fruits cover it, and majesty belongs to it.”‘

In the Realm of Light there is no burning fire which could be discharged against that which is evil. There is neither an iron (weapon) for cutting, nor overwhelming waters, nor any other evil substance like those. Instead, all is Light and (every) place is noble.’, The Tree of Death is divided into many (parts); war and bitterness characterize them … good fruits are never upon them … all of them form rottenness for the corruption of their place.’, [The members of the Realm of Darkness provoked and stirred each other up until they came unto the boundaries marvelous and surpassingly beautiful sight, they gathered together … and plotted against the Light regarding how they could mix themselves with it. Due to (their) frenzy, they were unaware that the powerful and mighty God dwelt in it …

The description of the realm of Darkness does not sound too far from that of the Kabbalistic Qliphoth. The Tree of Death is also said to contain the inverted or reversed “serifots” of the Tree of Life. What this means is basically that the ten “serifots” on the Tree of Life, that represents different aspects of the Godhead are reversed. For example, Kether (Crown) is said to be highest point on the Tree, which represents the purest emanation, the first movement towards manifestation from the Infinite. It’s opposite is called Thaumiel, which to some might refer to “contending forces” (e.g. division or radical dualism), which stands opposed to the idea that everything is unified in Kether as divided and cleaved at Thaumiel’s essence. The rest of the serifots also have reversed, mirrored opposites in the Tree of Death.

The physical world, say the Gnostics, lies on the edge of nether regions, and since we live in the environs of hell, we are in a state of perilously bordering on eternal perdition. Hell or Hyle (matter), for the Manichaeans was separate, uncreated, active principle or nature, complete with its own realm of division, warfare and pure chaos and not as simply an absence or deficiency of the Good or Light as the Neoplatonists like Plotinus maintained. Evil was conceived as Non-Being for the Neoplatonists and the Orthodox. This specific argument was used by the ex-Manichaean turned Roman Catholic theologian, St. Augustine in his anti-heretical works against his former associates.

Stranger still, the Darkness or hell was not only considered a macrocosmic reality but also reflected in the microcosm, i.e. the human body (the lower part) as all the secrets of the universe, as the Manichaeans, the Ophites, the Peratics and the Simonians, all maintained were hidden in every cell of human flesh, skin, hair blood, tissue and bone, despite it being a tomb for the spiritual man. In Theodore bar Konai’s Liber Scholiorum, he goes on to speak ill against Mani and say all kinds of slanderous accusations and explain the various cosmological Manichaean doctrines. He ends it with the idea that Adam was roused from his sleep by Jesus, the Splendor in serpent form and make him aware of his sticky predicament:

Then Adam examined himself and recognized who he was, and (Jesus) showed him the Fathers on high, and (revealed to him) regarding his own self (i.e., Jesus’s) all that into which he (i.e., Jesus) had been cast—into the teeth of leopard(s) and the teeth of elephant(s), swallowed by voracious ones and absorbed by gulping ones, consumed by dogs, mixed and imprisoned in all that exists, and bound in the stench of Darkness.  He (Mani) says that he (Jesus) raised him (Adam) up and made him taste of the Tree of Life.  Then Adam saw and wept, and raised his voice loudly like a lion that roars and tears (prey).  He cast (himself down), beat (his breast), and said: ‘Woe, woe to the one who formed my body, and to the one who bound my soul, and to the rebels who have enslaved me.’

In Part 5, we’ll continue in the dark, dangerous territory of Tree of Life and its opposite being the Qliphothic Tree of Death, the origins of the doctrines of Original Sin and Total Depravity, and some concluding thoughts on the series.

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.

Interview: With Asterion Mage

Asterion Mage is a very talented artist and Renaissance magician, who currently resides in Romania. He is also by his words: “a student and teacher of the occult, specialized in traditional ceremonial magic. Very interested in talismans, amulets, evocation, demonology, angelology, Qabbalah, seals and sigils, alchemy and the like.” What attracted me to his work was this dazzling seal called the Seven Heavens published in the most recent issue of Platonism at the JWMT, which in my own estimation, naturally corresponds to the “Seven Heavens of Chaos” along with the Seven Angels or Archons in Gnostic cosmology. And naturally, I extended an invitation to Asterion to be interviewed. Be sure to visit both of his blogs: Practical Solomonic Magic and Asterion’s Occult Art for more information about his work. His artwork alone is worth every penny and second of your attention. On with the interview!

Asterion Mage

When did you first start your journey into Renaissance and Solomonic magic?

I have been interested in magic since I was a child, at about 9 or 10, but my reading into this subject and other familiar ones began at about age 13. My maternal aunt was deeply interested in the occult and practiced certain rituals taken from a multitude of books, and later on those books fell into my hands. For a very young man interested in magic they were priceless, but looking back on them now they were merely occult-themed almanacs of superstition and astrology and traditions, when they were not bombastic booklets promising wealth, love and power through the practice of simple rituals with salt, honey or candles. Bit by bit, I started reading everything I could find, collecting newspaper clippings and books and pieces of information from TV shows.

Later on, the internet made its way into my life, but I didn’t have my own PC or an internet connection. I would spend what little money I had on hours in the internet cafe, reading and downloading information from all kinds of websites. Another source of fascination was my maternal grandmother, who lived with us and who basically raised me. A very kind old woman, with a heart of gold and very humble manners, she would recite on rare occasions a chant against the evil eye when I was sick.  She refused to tell it to me, as it was customary, but I could remember it because she mumbled it a lot and it rhymed.

Far before I would read about evocation and the summoning of spirits, she told me something that I would only later realize what was. She had a hard life, with many brothers and sisters, her mother died and her father remarried. The woman he remarried was a witch. And I don t mean small, petty spells or superstitions. She told me a story that her stepmother was known for “pulling out the devil from the water”. She always referred to the devil as the “Unclean One” and to demons as “Killers”, as was her country dialect. She told me her stepmother would go at night to watery places like rivers or lake or ponds, and take a branch or rod and strike the water while chanting. Then a killer (demon) would show up and ask her what she wanted. Then she would strike him and the water and say: “Not you, the one above you!” and he would submerge and soon a bigger one would come.

And she would do the same until the biggest demon would come and then ask for what she wanted. She never practiced this as she thought her stepmother had sold her soul to the Devil or something similar. She was quite a pious woman that made me love prayer and God since I was a child, but by example, not by inducing it to me or forcing it down my throat.

Magical Circle

You say you were baptized as an Eastern Orthodox Christian. How do you reconcile your Christianity with your practices since modern Christianity has a tendency to shun magic and the occult as simply vices of the Devil?

Well, that’s an easy one. I call myself a mage, since it’s the most accurate description of what I consider myself to be and profess. I’m not a sorcerer or a warlock because these terms often have negative components to them, and I’m not a magician either in that sense that people expect me to do magic in front of them and dazzle when they hear that term. When I’m asked this question by people, I always remember to tell them that among the first people to worship Christ in Bethlehem were, according to the story in Matthew, the three Magi from the East. They certainly were not evil necromancers that were meant to be stoned in the Old Law, and even if they were, they were pretty decent for necromancers. The magic I practice is deeply rooted in faith, as many traditions are. Without one’s faith in the central being or concept of one’s cosmology, little is accomplished in magic in any tradition.

Yes, from a priest’s point of view, magic is wrong. But then again, a lot of what priests do is wrong from a moral point of view, so I cannot listen to the fixed ideology of somebody that practices against his teaching. I prefer to practice magic like my faith: quietly and devoutly. People often huff and puff at the mere mentioning of Christian teachings, but we have to keep in mind that the vast majority of what we have today in grimoiric magic was penned down not only by Christian magicians, but also priests. We are not talking about wizards in strange hats sacrificing goats, but priests dressed in white garments that as soon as were free of their priestly duties would immerse themselves in ancient wisdom, forbidden books and illicit experiments, blessing and aspiring in the name of God all the way.

How would you differentiate your work from other magical avenues located in Thelema, Wicca, chaos magic and even the highly influential Golden Dawn system?

At one point in my magical career, I was quite eclectic and believe solidly in my eclectic rites. That was what convinced me that some methods work and some are just BS and fluff.  Although I believed with all my might in the seals I was constructing and in the visualization trances I went into, the results were either null or inferior. And all exercises done after the Old Fashion, described in grimoires, or experiments composed by myself using those analogies, work perfectly. I know that each current has its own ideals and adherents and it is not for me to judge them, as it is not for them to judge mine. I have seen way to many Wiccans and Thelemites bashing Christianity without reading a single verse of the Gospels. I really would not like to bash their faiths, although I have read theirs. At the same time, I have also seen Christians preaching the superiority of our faith without having read the Gospels as well, so there are bad apples in every batch.

Wicca is a new religion claiming to be old and I dislike that about it, but I like the fact it teaches respect for one another and living things. Thelema is an equally new religion that advocates the use of one’s true will and the importance of love, a thing I most definitely enjoy, but it has become an excuse for doing whatever the hell you want, in contrast with what Crowley actually meant.

Each of these faiths is good for its adherents as Orthodox Christianity is for me, and I would not dare to say otherwise or try to bring people to my truth.  Chaos magic is for me a very interesting experiment in which 99% of the young occult community practices and even teaches and less than 1% actually obtain results. Golden Dawn is in my view a great tool of learning and a great initiatory system, but I believe in using its rituals only if one commits to that path. Doing LBPR’s and SIRP’s along other rituals and not studying through the grades materials or going through the actual initiations seems very idiotic to me—however strongly others might disagree.  I am not an adept of this particular order and I prefer the Old School magical tradition of the grimoires: you do not need to mix Wicca, Thelema and Golden Dawn in to obtain great results, just go back to their origins. If you study these honestly you will find that their source is good-old medieval European Solomonic Magic.

anotherseal

How would you describe your work in theurgy and Solomonic magic in relationship to Gnosticism and Gnostic cosmology? Do they bear any similarities to the magical systems of the ancient Gnostics and Hermeticists?

This is the question that would require me to go in an academic dispute and ramble on for a few hundred pages. For the sake of our readers, I believe I should not be encouraged. Gnosticism is a very broad term that defines a whole class of heterodox views upon religion and spirituality in the first half of the first millennium primarily, with echoes well beyond that.  I know full well that magic manuals of the Middle Ages are heavily indebted to such works as Sefer ha-Razim, Shiur Qomah and the Heikhaloth literature, they in turn having Gnostic roots, but that would not be adopting Gnostic ideals directly, only incorporating the operating system of the rituals employed and acknowledging their roots. I am aware of the many Gnostic faiths and beliefs but I honestly cannot say I was particularly influenced by one.  In my youth, I could say I was taught in the Neo-Gnostic spirit of Rosicrucianism, Theosophy and Anthroposophy, but that was accomplished with so much bias by one of my teachers that I later became stupefied of how much I was being indoctrinated with pseudo-Gnosticism and New Age and how little I actually learned.

I am, after my own assertion, an orthodox Christian, but an orthodox priest would find me a heretic or a Gnostic. I love the Orthodox Ritual, the humbleness and the light of the monks and saints of our church, the smell of frankincense rising from the brazier in an old church filled up to the ceiling in century-old paintings and I love the uplifting chants and psalms echoing in a chorus. However, I almost always pray to God in private, with honesty and humility, not at Church. I also do believe in reincarnation and the evolution of the soul, which is not only a Buddhist/Eastern ideas, but also found in Gnostic and Kabbalistic thought. I also do not wish to be married and start a family like most people in our faith do and last but not least, I practice magic.

If the claims of the Goetia and other medieval grimoires are true, then the spirits should manifest to physical appearance. Has your personal experience in invocation allowed this to happen?

First of all, I have never worked with the spirits of the Goetia, and I hope there will never be a need to. There are some grimoires that use the same equipment as Goetia, like its sister book, Theurgia-Goetia, grimoires that have many things in common and being used as complementary, like the Fourth book and the Heptameron and some isolated spirits that can be compelled with the same rituals, without using the spirits listed in the Goetia itself. I have worked with other spirits, and the matter has been debated quite a few times. The spirits do not always become visible, unless they are conjured to do so.

When the conjuration clearly states that the spirit is to come visibly, and it does not, I consider it a failed evocation. I have had failed evocations as well as successful ones, and yes, when it is meant that they are to be visible, we are not talking about opening your astral senses or training your third eye. Those are crutches on which I relied myself and now I am sorry there was no one to correct me but only people that encouraged me in my self-delusions. In my eclectic magic years, I was encouraged to believe that every little sign and omen was true and significant and that I only had to believe that my magic worked in order for it to work. This is highly hazardous for any beginning magician and even if I’m often contradicted, blamed and fired upon in public forums for bringing people down to Earth, I feel it’s necessary. If everything happens as the conjuration of the spirit states, the evocation is a success. No amount of explaining and philosophizing about small signs in the room and furniture cracking can make a failed attempt a successful one.

One essential component that the medieval grimoires are unanimous on is sexual purity. And I know for a fact that the majority of modern would-be magicians do not make any attempts to remain celibate. Because celibacy, according to the grimoires, is a prerequisite to command the spirits. You can’t render them obedient unless you’re free from sexual contact. Modern magicians say that’s just medieval Catholic superstition, but considering that none of them seem to get any visible effects from their magic, how would they know? Any comments on this?

Sexual abstinence is a prerequisite in sacred rites throughout the world; it is not a Catholic superstition. I find this to be quite true. Since the grimoires actually state that you shall abstain from sexual relations for three or nine days prior to some operations, we can obviously conclude that the magician was not asked to be celibate his whole life. Some were priests, other were married noblemen, others were ladies men like the famous Casanova, which possessed a number of magical manuscripts and even attempted a ritual, and a great number were small scholars, artists, magistrates and other professions that were quite active sexually, married or not.

Abstinence and fasting does indeed make the conjurer more in tune with the celestial worlds and renders him more powerful in a magical sense. Since sexuality is perceived as part of man’s animalistic nature and the sublimation of our instincts is perceived as a triumph over that very nature—this is quite natural to be asked of the magician. Also bear in mind that from the Sirian sorcerers to the Renaissance magus, children were often employed as seers because they were sexually inactive and thus pure, making it easier for them to interact with the spirits.  I myself am a very sexual individual and have a healthy, diverse and fulfilling sex-life, but when dealing with magic the situation changes: I avoid all sex acts prior to the operations, including divination, I bathe ritually and after having sex I do not touch my ritual implements for at least 24 hours, if not more.

Faustus

What are your thoughts on the Faustus legends? Do you think stories like Faustus are propaganda to deter the poor and the downtrodden from attempting to usurp the status quo?

Last time I checked, Faust was not that poor, but then again, magic has been successfully employed by kings and poor people and has many times failed both poor people and kings. The root of the Faust legend would most likely be Georgius Sabellicus or Georg Sabel, of which the good Abbe Trithemius writes in disapproving words. But he was not the only case. If you read stories from the Church Fathers and other Christian traditions, you would find an abundance of unknown Faust’s. Saint Basil, one of the most revered saints of the Orthodox Church, is known to have saved and rescued from the demon’s grasp a young slave who sold his soul to the Devil in exchange for the love of a young Christian girl. Saint Cyprian was a famous sorcerer until his conversion, and according to legend he sat in the demon’s council and was revered by them as a friend, and so is the case with Pope Sylvester II, to mention but a few. These were maybe propaganda, but the truth is that many books of magic are strictly demonic and prescribe rituals where birds are sacrificed to demons and where people make binding contract with the heads of the netherworld, so the story I believe is very likely to be inspired by real events.

Magician

This leads into my next question—do you think Simon Magus is an influential figure in the murky world of magic and the occult? I ask this, because the Faustus legends are modeled after Simon Magus.

Unlikely so, in my opinion. There have been so many magicians in history with similar traits that it s impossible to put our finger only on Simon. Upon reading The Lives of Saints it became quite clear to me that this was just part of a traditional debate: the cliché is the story of conversion. Saint A deals with the magician B, he upstages his illusions and trickery and upon that the magician either dies (like Simon) or converts to Christianity (like the wizard Theonas). The story of the magical battle between pagan sorcerers and the men of God, such as the case with Simon the Magus and Simon the Christian (Peter) in the Book of Acts, also appears in Exodus, when Moses amazes Pharaoh, the people and even himself facing the two Egyptian sorcerers, whom the apocryphal tradition calls Yannes and Mamres. This is out of the need to prove Christianity superior to the forces of magic, in most cases based upon the works of demons.

Jesus himself was thought to be a magician using the help of the demon Beelzebub, according the Jewish priests of his time. We can ascertain that his miracles were not that miraculous for the crowds at the time, only the fact that he did not employ demonic enchantments and charge money.  The most influential figure in the occult tradition would be King Solomon, as he has over one hundred manuscripts of pseudo-epigrahic works of magic attributed to him, while our dear Samaritan heresiarch has none. Even his magnum opus and corner stone of the Simonians, the Apophasis Megale, remains unknown save for a few fragments quoted by the Church Fathers.

There is a part in Marlowe’s Faust where Faust asks Mephistopheles how it is possible that a demon can manifest itself on earth, since demons have been condemned to hell, and Mephistopheles explains that earth is merely an extension of hell. This somewhat ties into how some (not all) ancient Gnostics and early Christian heretics (the Encratites, especially—which aren’t exactly “Gnostic” anyway) viewed material life as at best—corruptible and flawed—at worst: a hellish prison for the divine spark. What’s your opinion on this?

Well, I’m not that gloomy when it comes to viewing the world. The Christian story holds that the demons were let loose to test man until Judgment Day, so nothing wrong with that here. In the Book of Job, Satan acts as a divine agent of testing the faithful, much like he does in the temptation of Christ in the Gospel. Earth is an extension of Hell as much as Heaven is an extension of the same. I do not believe in strict delineations between metaphysical topoi. I do not trust strict boundaries between the Fifth Heaven and Sixth Heaven, between Hell and the Abyss and between Earth and the Kingdom of God. It would be like arguing what we breathe: oxygen, nitrogen or carbon dioxide? The air we breathe is composed of all three gases, but we choose to concentrate on the oxygen. Our body cannot filter out the other two, and cannot breathe just one of them, it s the inseparable nature of the mixed air we breathe.

There are actually two versions of Marlow’s Faust. The earlier version was modified because it was considered too fatalistic and had a lot of crypto-gnostic underpinnings. In the earlier draft, it’s ambiguous whether Faust really has a choice in salvation or damnation, thus portraying Faust and the devil in a somewhat sympathetic light. In the modified version, it’s made clear that Faust chooses damnation for himself and is therefore justified in being condemned to hell. My question from this is, is there such thing as pre-determinism and fate or does humanity have the free will to forge their own destinies?

About the first draft of Marlowe’s Faust—I must admit I am ignorant and cannot comment upon it. Many people choose to comment things they read nothing about and just end up confusing the discussion partner or making fools of themselves, I prefer admitting my ignorance in these matters. Predetermined destinies are a thing to be thought of, but we cannot pass judgment on a thing like this while being under the spell of the physical realm. I find that we have a destiny and free will at the same time, but each has a different amount of them. There are people who by their own actions strive and purify themselves to the level of choosing their own destiny and people that slave away in this life content with their bliss and destiny. I recently became stupefied by the power of one’s predestination: five or six years ago I predicted a very harmful disease to a woman in a birth chart at the age of 62, and should she survive it she would live up to her mid 70’s. Her daughter phoned me a few months ago and told me her sickness kicked in, specifically cancer. The suffering was very acute and within a month or two she passed away, at age 62. I believe that this was not a coincidence or an active suggestion of mine. If I could do that I’d be hired by every government to kill people with my natal charts.

I have to ask—what’s your opinion of Aleister Crowley and his mystic system of Thelema and even modern Thelemites in general? Is he in your estimation, truly a Satanist? And does he bear any influence on you and your work?

To call Crowley a Satanist is to call the Pope a pedophile: if you are an ignorant superficial individual that relies on gossip and conspiracy theories to base his statements upon, then of course, that’s fine and dandy, but no self-respecting student of the occult would consider him a Satanist. I’m personally neutral when it comes to Crowley. Not a big fan but not an opponent either. I find some works of his to be quite useful and insightful, but if I were to take up study of all his books and decipher all his metaphors, I’d have to quit my job and do just that for about two years. He’s a colorful individual, and his grasp on the Kabbala was superior to Eliphas Levi and Gerard Encausse dit Papus. He was admirable in many ways (his knowledge of the Bible, chess playing  abilities and yogic inclinations) and a bad example in many ways (drugs, manipulation, financial dependability, et alia).

I do not want to get into endless arguments with Thelemites as to how great and original and daring Crowley was nor do I wish to engage in his apology with Christian fundamentalists that consider him a Satanist or the Antichrist. I have done that so many times that I am honestly sick of it, like trying to explain gravity to a child that constantly asks the same question. He had good and bad things and I am not that fascinated with him. Franz Bardon, Wilhelm Quintscher, Omraam Aivanhov and Cagliostro were equally important and insightful, but I do not push them down anybody’s throat.

What are you favorite occult-themed films/movies and why?

Oh, yes. I enjoy movies and series just like your average Joe, but when you throw in the occult in the mix, it gets that much better. My favorite is Roman Polanski’s The Ninth Gate. It has old books and demonology, two of my favorite things in the whole world, wrapped into one detective story. What s not to like? Some other titles include: The Exorcist, The Rite, Eyes Wide Shut, Devil’s Advocate, Angel Heart, and even awkward or goofy things like The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and Season of the Witch. I love to see how much research was put into each one and how much BS is left. A good occult series would be Supernatural, but it has one major drawback: a lot of people think it’s all real and argue with me about devil traps and fictitious demons. It’s well researched and introduces a few accurate things, like a few demons and angels, seals and especially the use of the Enochian chants, but it is very creative in its fictional account, nonetheless.

Seal

What is your advice to those who are new to your system of magic and are interested in practicing with it? What are the ultimate benefits to practicing magic?

I would not encourage anyone to take up study of magic. Saying anyone can do magic is as correct as saying anyone can do nuclear fusion. I say anyone, not everyone. There’s a difference. Anyone can do magic means that the few people who can actually obtain great results can come from any part of the world, from  any social, cultural and religious background and with any motivation, not every single Joe and Jane can pick up a spell book and work wonders with no prior effort. I took up magic because I had an innate need of it and a fascination that was awakened in me from my early childhood, much like my love of God.

It was not taught to me; I was not guided and indoctrinated. Without a born fascination for this, one merely relies on the fact that it’s fascinating or useful. The first category often gives up when they see just how much study and actual work goes into it, and the other category gives up when they put as little effort as possible and expect as much power and great results, and do not obtain them. Magic would be like driving a car: people see Fast and Furious and want that, and they jump behind the wheel, not knowing anything about driving, about roads, rules or mechanics, and when they find out that you have to learn all that and after that, you can t exactly fly around in mafia chases all over town, they get discouraged.

Magic is not for people that think it’s cool. I would urge people like that to take up any other hobby that is much more rewording when it comes to impressing people, like break-dancing, Kung-fu or bodybuilding. Or who knows a combination of all three! Also, if you know you have a low attention span and get bored with things quickly, this is the least fit thing to learn. It took me over 14 years of avid daily study to get to where I am today, and when I think of how much I still have to learn and do, I’m half afraid and half exhilarated! However, if some are truly inclined to study Solomonic magic, I only have two words of advice.

One: Study more than you are studying now, ignorance and laziness has no place in serious magic. And two: Ask first, and then do. Do not jump into practice before having the whole operation under the belt. Its way easier to learn how to do something good then ask someone to fix what you broke. I’m so often faced with people who ask for my advice and when granted, they ignore it, and ask me to fix their problems after making them worst, that if they only follow this advice, I’ll consider myself a happy man.

Yes, you must try things, yes, you must experiment, but do not jump into practice with enthusiasm and ignorance all at once. Think of magic as a garden or a forest full of fruits berries: before putting everything brightly-colored and fancy-looking in your mouth, try asking someone who knows his stuff. Poisoned berries and mushrooms can be the most fascinating fruits there, while nutritious roots, leaves and fruits can hide under more humble guises.

Forbidden Fruit in the Midst of the Garden (Part 3)

Serpent of Wisdom

In Part 2, I discussed how the Serpent was used as a symbol for not only initiation into the mysteries and immortality but also a symbol for sexuality, generation, death and rebirth due to the creature’s ability to shed its skin of the old to reveal a shiny new skin underneath. The mythologized Serpent, of course, does appear in almost every culture around the world over. Genesis 3 relays how the Serpent offers knowledge in the form of a fruit grown from the Tree of Knowledge (the “Good ” and “Evil” part may have have been added later as a gloss.) Like the Serpent, the Tree of Knowledge is sometimes considered to be a phallic symbol. This Fruit along with the Tree also were used to signify the result or effect of some cause, having both a positive and a negative effect and origin.

The Two Trees.

The Tree of Knowledge and digesting the forbidden fruit in Genesis according to Jewish tradition represented the primeval mixture or intermingling of good and evil, light and darkness in an almost Manichean fashion. Eating the fruit forbidden set off a chain reaction where humanity developed a “yeitzer hara” or “evil inclination.” Unlike the earlier Hebrews, who blamed themselves for their woes, the Jewish Rabbis believed God had implanted in the ‘heart’, the Hebrew place of the unconscious of each individual, at his birth or conception. The yezer was not hereditary. It was intrinsically good and the source of creative energy, but had a strong potential for evil through appetite or greed. Only strict observance of the Law could keep the strong, irrational passions it engendered under control. To the commentators in the five centuries before Christ, Adam’s death was due to his own “sinful actions”, and not to the Augustine-authored “original sin nature” or “ancestral sin” inherent in the DNA in the race of man because of the disobedience of the primal parents. The Zohar claims that Adam and Eve lost their immortality by ingesting the fruit which is ironically enough compared to the occult:

Hear what saith scripture when Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the tree by which death entered into their souls or lower nature, ‘And when they heard the voice of the Lord of the Alhim walking in the garden’ (Gen. iii-8), or, as it ought to be rendered, had walked (mithhalech). Note further that whilst Adam had not fallen, he was a recipient of divine wisdom (hochma) and heavenly light and derived his continuous existence from the Tree of Life to which he had free access, but as soon as he allowed himself to be seduced and deluded with the desire of occult knowledge, he lost everything, heavenly light and life through the disjunction of his higher and lower self, and, the loss of that harmony that should always exist between them, in short, he then first knew what evil was and what it entailed, and, therefore, it is written, ‘Thou art not a God that approveth wickedness, neither shall evil dwell with thee’ (Is. v-5); or, in other words, he who implicitly and blindly follows the dictates of his lower nature or self shall not come near the Tree of Life.

According to the Babylonian Talmud, Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden for just twelve hours before being unceremoniously thrown out. This is half a day in Paradise. That snake sure was a fast worker! Yahweh gave Adam and Eve the tour round Eden, told them what they could or couldn’t do and had no sooner turned his back than they were disobeying him and he had to expel them and sentence them, and the whole human race to come, to hell-fire for all eternity. Is that not the biggest (pardon this author’s french) fuck up of all time? It takes a spectacular degree of incompetence to screw things up that badly, so quickly. And yet the source who engineered this monumental disaster is supposed to be the Creator of the Universe, all-knowing and all-powerful, incapable of error! It is any wonder why the Gnostics called the creator god of Genesis as a dark and brutal god who was also given names such as: Samael (Blind One) and Saklas (idiot-retard)?

The Catholic Church Father Irenaeus mentions in Adv. Hear. 1, 29, 3, that the Barbelognostics revered the classic Qabalistic symbol of the “Tree, which itself they call Knowledge (gnosis).” This Tree is generated by two more primordial entities or “Aeons” called “Man” and “Knowledge.” It is hard to know just what his source for this passage may have been, for the kabbalistic symbol of the Tree does not figure in any of the surviving versions of the Apocryphon of John. There is, however, a passage in the Church Father Origen’s description in Contra Celsum of the diagrams of the cosmos envisaged by the Ophites:

And everywhere there, the Tree of Life, and the resurrection of flesh from the Tree …

This passage suggests that the form of the Tree had been imposed on the whole diagram. The Church Father Origen also gives a number of  “ten circles”, the traditional number of the emanations or “sefiroth” associated with the cosmic spheres in the Kabbalistic Tree of Life – though roughly only seven of them can have planetary names. This image of the spiritual powers circling in the heavenly spheres, which the Jewish scholar, Gershom Scholem has suggested entered Jewish esoteric teaching from Hellenistic-Egyptian traditions in the centuries before Christianity (or at least Christian gnosticism) arose bears also upon the enigma of the seven-headed form of Iao in the fourth sphere (as discussed in the Apocryphon of John), that of the Sun.

This idea of the Archons situated upon the astral “aerial toll houses” of Eastern Orthodoxy (and of course Gnosticism, especially in the First Apocalypse of James) does indeed seem to originate in ancient Egypt where the the Book of the Dead lists protective spells learned by initiates to guard against the dangerous “judges” during the post-mortem journey of the soul. Speculation in Christian and in Gnostic circles concerning the order of the celestial hierarchy hinged upon a few passages in the Pauline literature, which seem to imply, however, different sequences as Colassians 1:16 states:

For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.

The names of the authorities are as follows, featured and listed in the Ophite doctrine, refuted by Celsus in Contra Celsum:

Michael – lion, Souriel – bull, Raphael – serpent, Gabriel – eagle, Thauthabaoth – bear, Erathaoth – dog, Taphabaoth/Onoel – ass.

The sequence was composed using the figures of four biblical Cherubim, to whom three new personages were added. The animal forms are derived from the biblical story of the famous vision of Ezekiel as is the iconography of the four evangelists. Ezekiel had seen four monstrous beings in the shape of winged men with four faces: of a man, a lion, a bull and an eagle, on each of the four sides. Jerome connects this tetramorph with the Four Evangelists, being Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

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In the Trimorphic Protennoia, the Archons claim that they also were derived from a tree:

For as for our tree from which we grew, a fruit of ignorance is what it has; and also its leaves, it is death that dwells in them, and darkness dwells under the shadow of its boughs. And it was in deceit and lust that we harvested it, this (tree) through which ignorant Chaos became for us a dwelling place.

As mentioned in Part 1, the Gospel of John 15, 1-2 equates Christ with the vines and fruit of the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden, which also sounds vaguely Dionysian. Dionysus was also called the surname Dendritês, the god of the tree, which has the same import as Dasyllius, the giver of foliage.

The Gospel of Truth also equates the cross to the tree of knowledge in the Garden of Eden:

He was nailed to a tree (and) he became fruit of the knowledge of the Father. It did not, however, cause destruction because it was eaten, but to those who ate it, it (cause) to become glad in the discovery, and he discovered them in himself, and they discovered him in themselves.

The Gospel of Philip also makes the connection between the Tree of Life, the resurrection via the chrism (anointing) and Jesus Christ, explicit:

Philip the apostle said, “Joseph the carpenter planted a garden because he needed wood for his trade. It was he who made the cross from the trees which he planted. His own offspring hung on that which he planted. His offspring was Jesus, and the planting was the cross.” But the Tree of Life is in the middle of the Garden. However, it is from the olive tree that we got the chrism, and from the chrism, the resurrection.

Elsewhere in the Gospel of Philip, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil is identified with the flesh and the Law (the lower natures as opposed to the pnuematic one). Using a riff from the Epistle to the Romans 7:7-11, the author says:

“It has the power to give knowledge of good and evil. It neither removed him from evil, nor did it set him in the good. Instead it created death for those who ate of it. For when it said, ‘Eat this. Do not eat that.’ it became the beginning of death.”

The pseudepigraphic Jewish-apocalypse Book of Enoch 31:4, describes this tree of knowledge in the midst of the “Garden of Righteousness”:

It was like a species of the Tamarind tree, bearing fruit which resembled grapes extremely fine; and its fragrance extended to a considerable distance. I exclaimed, How beautiful is this tree, and how delightful is its appearance!

Irenaeus’ pupil, Hippolytus would write in Against All Heresies (VI, 27) on how the Valentinians compared the Logos to the fruit of the Tree of Life:

This (one) is styled among them Joint Fruit of the Pleroma. These (matters), then, took place within the Pleroma in this way. And the Joint Fruit of the Pleroma was projected, (that is,) Jesus,— for this is his name—the great High Priest. Sophia, however, who was outside the Pleroma in search of Christ, who had given her form, and of the Holy Spirit, became involved in great terror that she would perish, if he should separate from her, who had given her form and consistency.

He also writes that the Father projected a warrior Aeon as a defense mechanism to protect the Aeonic realm of the Pleroma from the shapeless void created by the fallen Sophia, who is often shaped in a Cross:

Now this (Aeon) is styled Horos, because he separates from the Pleroma the Hysterema that is outside. And (he is called) Metocheus, because he shares also in the Hysterema. And (he is denominated) Staurus, because he is fixed inflexibly and inexorably, so that nothing of the Hysterema can come near the Aeons who are within the Pleroma.

This description also matches with Irenaeus’ account (Against Heresies 1.3.5) on how the Valentinian Christians viewed the hidden, metaphysical meaning and nature of the Cross:

“They show, further, that that Horos of theirs, whom they call by a variety  of names, has two faculties,-the one of supporting, and the other of separating;  and in so far as he supports and sustains, he is Stauros, while in so far as he  divides and separates, he is Horos. They then represent the Saviour as having  indicated this twofold faculty: first, the sustaining power, when He said,  “Whosoever doth not bear his cross (Stauros), and follow after me, cannot be my  disciple; ” and again, “Taking up the cross follow me; ” but the separating power when He said, “I came not to send peace, but a  word.” They also maintain that John indicated the same thing when he said, “The fan is  in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge the floor, and will gather the wheat  into His garner; but the chaff He will burn with fire unquenchable.” By this declaration He set forth the faculty of Horos. For that fan they explain  to be the cross (Stauros), which consumes, no doubt, all material objects, as fire does chaff, but it purifies all them that are saved, as a fan does wheat. Moreover, they affirm that the Apostle Paul himself made mention of this cross in the following words: “The doctrine of the cross is to them that  perish foolishness, but to us who are saved it is the power of God.” And again: “God forbid that I should glory in anything save in the cross of Christ, by whom the world is crucified to me, and I unto the world.”

In the above paragraph, Horos or Stauros (the cross of John) is the limit (X) of Plato’s Timaeus. Simon Magus taught this same exact thing as we will see below. The cross symbolizes the separation of powers and realms. It represents the apokatastasis, the Stoic conflagration, the baptism by fire. Paul the Apostle speaks of this fire that purifies and tries men’s works in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15. To be crucified to the world is to bear the symbol of the cross which is a flat-out denial of YHWH and the Elohim archons’ creation. It is to spit in the face of the Greek gods of fate like Socrates. It is hemlock to the flesh and to the spirit it is immortality.

It is the Cross of Christ, which in the Gnostic interpretation separates God from the manifest world, the uncreated, transcendent World of Forms from the Creator and the created realm, constituting a Separate and Hidden God. This limit in essence separates the “wheat from the tares”. At the same time, it also serves as a bridge between the saved sparks of light into the realm above. The extremely esoteric Sethian text, Allogenes, mentions a power or aeon by the name of “Kalyptos”, which can mean either “hidden” or “that which covers,” which may derive from the conception of the veil parting the higher from the lower realm. This power derives from the Aeon of Barbelo, which is also a state of being in which a spiritual power descends into matter. The position of Kalyptos comes very close to that of the Valentinian Horos, Stauros or Limit that separates the highest deity Bythos (Depth or Abyss) from the other Aeons that derive from him. This limit also functions though a second barrier between the “hysterema” of the material cosmos and the realm of the Aeons. Sophia also functions as a veil in On the Origin of the World.

lightning-flash-on-tree

All of these concepts are also reflected in Origen’s Contra Celsum (6, 33) in which he states that that on the diameter of one of the circles a sword of fire was depicted, the same one that had driven Adam and Eve from the earthly Paradise. This flaming sword guarded the Tree of knowledge (gnosis) and of life (zoe). If the sword was above the black line of Tartarus, then the tree of knowledge and of life has to be the series of circles starting from Gnosis and Sophia and leading through the circle of Life to the Father. This could be similar to the Kabbalistic number of 777 being the sum the paths that the Lightening Path of Creation travels down through the Tree of Life. It is through this channel that the Luciferian motif of bringing the light of heaven to the World of Action becomes apparent.

In Contra Celsum, Origen reports Celsus’ comments on the Christians (the Ophite-Sethian Gnostics in reality), who called their baptismal rite “seal” (recalling the Five Seals of the Sethians); the person who placed the seal was called “father”; the one who received it was called “son” and “young man”, answering: “I am anointed with the white chrism of the tree of life”. Celsus further down describes the Christian belief of “tree of life” being both synonymous with Christ and the resurrection in 6:34:

And in all their writings (is mention made) of the ‘tree of life’ (τό της ζωης ξύλον), and a resurrection of the flesh by means of the ‘tree’ (από ξύλου), because, I imagine, their teacher was nailed to a cross (σταυρω ένηλώθη), and was a carpenter by craft (τέκτων τήν τεχνην)…

Celsus connects a so-called “tree of life,” and a resurrection by means of the “tree,” to Jesus’ execution: that he was nailed to an execution pole and his trade being carpenter, joiner. The relevant point Celsus is making here is that Jesus was suspended on some kind of pole, and secured to it with nails. Clearly, the parallels between the Ophite diagram and the Kabbalistic Tree of Life, with the circles shown to have numerical values, are there.

The Trimorphic Protennoia and the hermetic Discourse on Eighth and Ninth in the Nag Hammadi library pre-suppose numerical values for the manifestations of God, as does the system of Valentinus as described by his enemy, Irenaeus, which envisioned the theoretical attainment of 10 divine Aeons. He also develops a system consisting of about thirty Aeons, which would suggest that he had taken the simpler Ophite system and expanded it until it was almost uncontrollable. Even more interesting is in the Sethian text, Melchizedek,  it portrays Adam and Eve defeating the guardians of the Tree of Life with their own weapon!

For when they ate of the tree of knowledge, they trampled the Cherubim and the Seraphim with the flaming sword.

Fludd Sephirothic Tree web

The Sephirothic Tree by Robert Fludd

The Qabalah or Kabbalah itself has many similarities with Gnosticism in their closely related teachings of the hidden God and hypostatization of God’s attributes. The Sephirot (or Enumerations, which also means “book” in Hebrew) are the ten emanations of God (or infinite light: Ein Sof Aur) into the universe. These emanations manifest not only in the physical part of the universe, but also in the metaphysical one. Kabbalah distinguish four different worlds or planes: Atziluth, or World of Emanations, where the Divine Archetypes live; Beri’ah or World of Creations, where Highest Ranking Angels are; Yetzirah or World of Formations is the astral world; and Asiyah or World of Actions, is the physical plane and “low astral” plane. Each of these worlds are progressively grosser and denser (one can see the strong Kabbalistic influence on Neo-Platonic thought here as well), but the ten Sephiroth manifest in all of them.

The Kabbalah is rooted in the Merkavah and Assyrian traditions, and the Kabbalah defines Sefirot is also based on the great visions described by Ezekiel. The Sephiroth constitutes the “Tree of Life”, and is aligned in three columns, each headed by a Supernal. The names of the Sephirot are: Kether (Crown), Chochman (Wisdom), Binah (Understanding), Chesed (Mercy), Gevurah (Severity), Tiphareth (Redeemer), Netzach (Victory), Hod (Majesty), Yesod (Foundation), Malkhuth (Kingdom). Some clear Christian and Gnostic associations on the Tree of Life is down the middle path, with Keter relating to the Father, which emanates into Tipharet relating to the Holy Ghost, and Christ as the Solar Logos and Savior, which emanates to Yesod, relating to the Son. This being the path by which God emanates into Malkut, the physical world

The Manichean Psalm CCXX illustrates the theme of matter receiving the spiritual Light rather well by using Tree imagery:

They rose, that they belong to Matter, the children of Error, desiring to uproot thy unshakable tree and plant it in their land. Matter and her sons divided me up amongst them, they burnt me in their fire, they gave me a bitter likeness.” … “I am the sweet water that is beneath the sons of Matter.

SophiaInTree

Alchemical image of the Divine Sophia as a Tree of Learning and source of the Elixir of Life.

In Jewish Wisdom literature, it was Khokhmah who personified the female Divine. She is understood as an emanation of God, yet she resonates with the Hebrew Goddess who is otherwise assailed in the Old Testament, by Jehovah especially Asherah, the Queen of Heaven. Proverbs 3:18 calls up an image of Khokhmah that originates in the oldest core of Jewish culture: “She is a Tree of Life to all who lay hold of her.” In the same book, Khokhmah sings, “The one who finds me, finds life.” A similar aretalogy can be found in the Sethian text, Thunder-Perfect Mind. The creation story of the 2nd, Century Gnostic, Valentinus of Alexandria, the greatest of Sophia’s devotees, describes the origin and essence of the matter composing this world as emotionally and psychically consubstantial with Sophia as indicated by Irenaeus in Against Heresies, 5, 4:

This mother they also call OgdoadSophiaTerra (Gaia), Jerusalem (cf. Gal. 4:26), Holy Spirit, and, with a masculine reference, Lord. Their mother dwells in that place which is above the heavens, that is, in the intermediate abode; the Demiurge in the heavenly place, that is, in the hebdomad; but the Cosmocrator in this our world. The corporeal elements of the world, again, sprang, as we before remarked, from bewilderment and perplexity, as from a more ignoble source. Thus the earth arose from her state of stupor; water from the agitation caused by her fear; air from the consolidation of her grief; while fire, producing death and corruption, was inherent in all these elements, even as they teach that ignorance also lay concealed in these three passions.

Furthermore, she knows:

the beginning and end and middle of times, the alternations of the solstices and the changes of the seasons, the cycles of the year and the constellations of the stars, the nature of animals and the tempers of wild animals, the powers of spirits and the thoughts of human beings, the varieties of plants and the virtues of roots… (Wisdom 7:15-22)

The imagery of the tree is also included in Simon Magus’s cosmology, as reported by Hippolytus of Rome, is a powerful model that describing some rare concepts that Simononians in the early third century work described in the Philosophumena, as the “Great Declaration” or “Great Announcement”. Simon very much describes a tree of fire that consumes itself. This is a third century Simonian document, positing that the root of all existence is infinite, and abides in man, who serves as its dwelling-house. The Logos or the Word is projected down by the luciferian Lightening Flash through the Aeons and into the manifest world and man. From the original root, the hidden principle, spring three pairs of manifestations of: Mind and Thought, Voice and Name, Reasoning and Reflection.

The Father is, moreover, “He that hath stood” in relation to premundane existence; “He that standeth” in relation to present being; and “He that shall stand” in relation to the final consummation. Man is simply the realization of “boundless power,” the ultimate end of the cosmic process in which the godhead attains self-consciousness. This infinite power works in all of the aeons as a compound name: He who stands, has stood, and will stand; a term alluded to in the Clementine Homilies and Recognition’s which say, that Simon Magus considered himself as the “Standing One” along with the “that power of God which is called Great”.

The Simonian author employs very Stoic language in describing what is hidden and revealed in the divine Fire, the original Boundless Power that is the stuff that the original Ineffable God is made of—the equivalent of the Qabalistic Ein Sof or Kether—the Crown. In this above entry (linked above) by Hippolytus, he refers to Simon’s theology of the “fruit from the Tree” as being the quintessential product of the human incarnation.  The tripartite division of spirit, psyche and matter are simply manifest expressions of the original Stoic-like Divine Fire. This concealed fruit or “Hidden Power” which is another term that he used, requires a key in the conscious process of imagining or beholding a power to form mental images.

The Simonian author interestingly uses the term “imagining” as a reference of becoming divinized or be initiated into the mysteries. But this can only be manifested “if its imagining has been perfected and it takes the shape of itself.” Later, the text mentions a “storehouse” which is a room, located adjacent to a royal chamber within a palace where the gold, jewels and other wealth are stored.  Here, the Simonian author is referring to the treasure-house and the storehouse, both concepts that are found within the Pistis Sophia that refer to a location within the “House of Many Mansions” of John 14:2.

Simon Magus also appealed to Matthew 12:33, as Hippolytus writes in Refutations of All Heresies VI, 11:

If, however, a tree continues alone, not producing fruit fully formed, it is utterly destroyed. For somewhere near, he says, is the axe (which is laid) at the roots of the tree. Every tree, he says, which does not produce good fruit, is hewn down and cast into fire.

This, of course, was also Marcion’s (and much later in Mani’s theological two principle system) main scriptural justification for his radical dualism in Christ’s maxim that a good tree does not bear evil fruit, nor does an evil tree bear bad fruit. So if we also interpret that in terms of origins, then the evil god could not possibly have originated from the good god, because good things do not produce evil things, and vice versa. The Gospel of Thomas says something very similar:

(45) Jesus said, “Grapes are not harvested from thorns, nor are figs gathered from thistles, for they do not produce fruit. A good man brings forth good from his storehouse; an evil man brings forth evil things from his evil storehouse, which is in his heart, and says evil things. For out of the abundance of the heart he brings forth evil things.”

The fact is Simon had a similar doctrine that condemned false religion and predicted a final dissolution of the cosmos, presumably dissolved in fire, so that Simon’s elect can be redeemed, viz. the Great Announcement; Hippolytus, Refutation of All Heresies, 6:14; Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 1.23.3.

These words from Simon and John resonate with a key saying of Jesus in Matthew 7:17-20,

Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

This was a key saying used by the Gnostics and Marcionites. Could it be that this metaphor originated from John the Baptist, from whom Simon also learned this same metaphor?

Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, “O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: And think not to say within yourselves, that you have Abraham for your father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.” (Cf. John 8:39, 44; 1:17-18)

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In the text On the Origin of the World, it states that the tree of life and the tree of gnosis are situated “to the north of Paradise” and is identified as Epinoia. The Greek name Epinoia carries the meaning of “understanding” or “thought” or “purpose”. She is sent to dwell within Adam, her role being to give him consciousness of his divine origins and the way to return to the Pleroma. The author of On the Origin of the World makes a positive evaluation of the Garden of Eden:

And the tree of eternal life is as it appeared by God’s will, to the north of Paradise, so that it might make eternal the souls of the pure, who shall come forth from the modelled forms of poverty at the consummation of the age. Now the color of the tree of life is like the sun. And its branches are beautiful. Its leaves are like those of the cypress. Its fruit is like a bunch of grapes when it is white. Its height goes as far as heaven. And next to it (is) the tree of knowledge (gnosis), having the strength of God. Its glory is like the moon when fully radiant. And its branches are beautiful. Its leaves are like fig leaves. Its fruit is like a good appetizing date. And this tree is to the north of Paradise, so that it might arouse the souls from the torpor of the demons, in order that they might approach the tree of life and eat of its fruit, and so condemn the authorities and their angels.

This depiction is in stark contrast with how the the Apocryphon of John depicts Eden as more of a zoo-like prison of the authorities:

And the archons took him and placed him in paradise. And they said to him, ‘Eat, that is at leisure,’ for their luxury is bitter and their beauty is depraved. And their luxury is deception and their trees are godlessness and their fruit is deadly poison and their promise is death. And the tree of their life they had placed in the midst of paradise.

The Apocalypse of Moses is primarily an account about Adam’s death, its cause and cure. Seth is procured along with Adam’s many other children which leads Adam to recount briefly the story of the temptation, the fall, and the the first parents’ punishment in chapters 7-8. Adam’s narrative explains the reason for his present plight. Adam then subsequently sends his wife Eve and son Seth to paradise in search of the oil of mercy that will bring him relief. (9:3) On the way to the garden, Seth is attacked by a beast (in chapters 10-12) which seems to be evidence that God’s curse in Genesis 3:15 is in effect. Adam’s request to be saved is subsequently denied.

(The oil of Mercy) will not be yours now, but at the ends of the times. Then will arise all flesh from Adam to the great day …. , and then all the joy of paradise will be given to them. … (13:2-4)

Adam knows he is going to die and later on in Chapters 22-29, God appears in paradise on his chariot while accompanied by his angels. His throne is fixed, and he indicts and sentences his creatures from the consequences of the fall being spelled out in detail in chapters 24-26. Adam seeks the oil of mercy but God commands the angels to get on with the expulsion (27:4-28:1). Again Adam pleads, this time for access to the Tree of Life (28:2). God’s response to Adam’s plea is met with a reproof:

You shall not take from it now … if you keep yourself from all evil, as one about to die, when again the resurrection comes to pass, I shall raise you up. And then there shall be given to you from the tree of life. (28:3-4)

Another time, Adam pleads with God for herbs from Eden to offer incense and seeds to grow food. God is kind enough to grant this request before Adam and Eve are kicked out from the garden in Chapter 29. The text concludes on a solemn yet promising note which expands on Genesis 3:19:

I told you that you are dust, and to dust you will return. Again I promise you the resurrection. I shall raise you up to the last day, in the resurrection, with every man who is of your seed. (41:2-3)

In the concluding portion of the book, it describes Eve’s death and her burial by Seth, who is commanded to bury in this fashion everyone who dies until the day of the resurrection. These ideas are also reflected in the apocryphal the Book of the Cave of Treasures, where the dying Adam assembles his sons, including Seth for a request to embalm him with myrrh, cassia and balsam and to leave his body in the Cave of Treasures, situated at a side of a high mountain but below paradise.

Seth himself was also considered to be the archetypal father and savior of the Gnostics, resulting from the Jewish exegesis and combination of various biblical themes: (1) that of “the sons of God” in Gen 6:4 (LXX), (2) that of Seth as “another seed” appointed by God in place of the slain Abel in Gen 4:25, who (3) was fathered by Adam as a son in his own likeness and image according to Gen 5:3.

These themes, in combination with Gen 1:26, concerning the god “Man” created in the image and likeness of God, implied the divine nature of Seth, the “planter” of the heavenly seed (Gen 4:25). Seth would recover from “the great aeons” the glory that had left Adam and Eve at their Fall, caused by the Ialdabaoth. Seth would preserve his seed against the repeated attempts of Ialdabaoth to steal it by keeping it separate from the lustful seed of Cain which came from the Archons. At the end of time, Seth (or Sophia in On the Origin of the World) would destroy Ialdabaoth and his followers in a Revelations-styled apocalypse and reinstate his seed, the part of mankind untainted by lust, into its original glory. The strongest instant that we see Seth as a Gnostic Savior is in the Apocalypse of Adam, where Adam tells his son Seth:

And the glory in our hearts left us, me and your mother Eve, along with the first knowledge that breathed within us.

Later, Adam called his son “by the name of that man who is the seed of the great generation  as a planter of the righteous seed”, recalling 1 Corinthians 15: 35-49 by Paul the Apostle, who compared the resurrection to a seed. Paul states that when a plant sprouts forth from the seed, and the remnants of the seed whither away. The plant came from the seed, but the plant isn’t the seed, and the seed isn’t the plant. They’re two distinct things, and the plant doesn’t come to life until the seed dies. So what Paul is saying is that spirit is deposited as a seed in the body, and it remains a seed until the body dies and decomposes. Then the spirit sprouts forth from the body, and the body is transmuted into a spiritual body, which also recalls the Parable of the Sower in Matthew, Mark and Thomas. It isn’t reanimation of a corpse at all as Catholic Church Fathers such as Irenaeus and especially Tertullian, have maintained (Against Heresies, 5.12.1, De Resurrectione Carnis). Paul’s theology concerning the spiritual resurrection isn’t so far removed from the ideas expressed in the Great Announcement:

…the manifested side corresponds to the trunk, limbs, leaves, and encasing bark. All these members of the tree are set ablaze from the all-consuming flame of the fire and destroyed. But as for the fruit of the tree, if it’s for is perfect and it assumes the true shape, it is gathered into the storehouse, not thrown into the fire.

Here, the vegetation and tree motifs are evident. Returning to the Gnostics—is it from Seth’s descendants who would possess the Gnosis. The Apocryphon of John suggests that Sophia prepared a place for the souls in heaven, where Jesus, the incarnation of the aeon Christ would disclose the true knowledge of how to return to their true home in with the Spirit (in Pleroma), where they would ascend past the rulers (archons) and their astral spheres and be healed of all deficiency and become holy and faultless. To gain these higher realms, one must ascend above the Seven Heavens of Chaos into the Aeons as stated in the Gospel of the Egyptians:

Then there came forth from the great aeons four hundred ethereal angels, accompanied by the great Aerosiel and the great Selmechel, to guard the great, incorruptible race, its fruit, and the great men of the great Seth, from the time and the moment of Truth and Justice, until the consummation of the aeon and its archons, those whom the great judges have condemned to death.

The Apocryphon of John spells it out in a more concise manner:

And he placed seven kings – each corresponding to the firmaments of heaven – over the seven heavens, and five over the depth of the abyss, that they may reign. And he shared his fire with them, but he did not send forth from the power of the light which he had taken from his mother, for he is ignorant darkness.

Origen, despite being one of the Church Fathers (and theological enemies of the Gnostics), he actually had a doctrine very much influenced by Platonism (but stood firmly against groups like the Valentinians and Marcionites). Origen also did not accept the historicity of the Bible nor did he interpret it literally. One example of this can be taken from De Prinicipiis, 4.1.16, where he discusses the Genesis creation myth more as an allegory:

No one, I think, can doubt that the statement that God walked in the afternoon in paradise, and that Adam lay hid under a tree is related figuratively in Scripture, that some mystical meaning may be indicated by it.” And “those who are not altogether blind can collect countless instances of a similar kind recorded as having occurred, but which did not literally take place? Nay, the Gospels themselves are filled with the same kind of narratives; for example, the devil leading Jesus up into a high mountain, in order to show him from thence the kingdoms of the whole world, and the glory of them.

Likewise, the Valentinians viewed scripture as allegorical on three different levels that corresponded to the three natures. The earlier Gnostics viewed the Old Testament as a symbolic record of the struggle between Yaldabaoth-Jehovah and Sophia as testified in Irenaeus’ account in Against Heresies, VII, 3:

They maintain, moreover, that those souls which possess the seed of Achamoth are superior to the rest, and are more dearly loved by the Demiurge than others, while he knows not the true cause thereof, but imagines that they are what they are through his favour towards them. Wherefore, also, they say he distributed them to prophets, priests, and kings; and they declare that many things were spoken (7) by this seed through the prophets, inasmuch as it was endowed with a transcendently lofty nature. Themother also, they say, spake much about things above, and that both through him and through the souls which were formed by him. Then, again, they divide the prophecies [into different classes], maintaining that one portion was uttered by the mother, a second by her seed, and a third by the Demiurge. In like manner, they hold that Jesus uttered some things under the influence of the Saviour, others under that of the mother, and others still under that of the Demiurge, as we shall show further on in our work.

As we can see, the Tree was an important universal symbol for not only the Gnostics, Simonians, Valentinians, etc, but to groups like the Jewish-Kabbalists, alchemists and many occult groups throughout the ages. The Tree is highly associative with the idea of the descent and crucifixion (and eventual ascent and resurrection) of spirit into and from matter as seen in Sophia-Achamoth’s fall from the celestial world and into the prima materia which parallels the Genesis account of the fall of Eve, the “mother of the living”. In Plato’s Timaeus, do we find the account of the Fall of Atlantis, (as strange as it might sound) which could be read as symbolic of the Divine tragedy and catastrophe so predominant in Gnostic cosmology and theology.

In Part 4, we will investigate a possible Gnostic exegesis of the Atlantis myth and other Greek tales, the Gnostic science of human physiology and the mind relating to Genesis, where and how exactly Orthodox theology developed from and ultimately became victorious as a common religious Christian doctrine, along with some concluding final thoughts on this series.