Occultism

Interview: Jeffrey Kupperman and Living Theurgy

Hey, folks. It’s been a while since my last interview so I decided to go with a friend of mine who operates the seminal academic-oriented, the Journal for the Western Mystery Tradition, Jeffrey Kupperman! His book Living Theurgy has been published very recently and since he’s been very generous in allowing me to have a couple of my articles to be published on his site, such as Eros, Orpheus and On the Origin of the World and The Gnostic Stranger in Upanishadic Thought, I thought I’d return the favor. So without further ado, I will let Jeffrey to express himself through his own Logos.

Living Theury

1. What is your book Living Theurgy about?

Well, it’s about theurgy, but that’s probably obvious. My goal with Living Theurgy was to systematize the Neoplatonic thought off Iamblichus of Chalcis, an important 4th century Neoplatonist, including his often ignored philosophy, his theology, and his theurgy.

2. Why is Iamblichus important in the history of western philosophy and thought?

Largely, Iamblichus has been ignored, at least until recently. This was largely due to the erroneous view that he wasn’t really a philosopher, but just an irrational occultist, an aberration in the history of Platonism, rather than a defining practitioner, which he actually was. And that’s why he’s important. His contributions have been enormous. He wrote nine or ten volumes on Pythagoreanism, commentaries on Plato and Aristotle, treatises on the gods and the soul, De Mysteriis, possibly the most important primary source on theurgy, and at least 23 volumes of Chaldeanized Platonism. That the vast majority of these texts are now lost doesn’t detract from their importance. These works have influenced Proclus (who influenced Thomas Aquinas amongst others), pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, and Marsilio Ficino. They, in turn, have influenced countless others, as well as entire movements, including many elements of esoteric Christianity, a great deal of kabbalah, Rosicrucianism, and more.

Iamblichus Chalcidensis

3. How does Iamblichus and his brand of Neoplatonism coincide with Gnosticism or Gnostic theology?

There are some similarities, of course, but those seem to be largely due to the influence of Platonism on both. Unlike Plotinus and Porphyry, there doesn’t seem to be evidence suggesting Iamblichus was in direct, or even indirect, contact with the Gnostics. So, we’ll see similarities in cosmology, but fairly different views on things like the Demiurge, the nature of the realm of generation, and the like.

4. Are there any daily, practical applications that can be gleaned from Iamblichus?

Not directly, not enough of his material was left behind for that. Indirectly, though, yes. In De Mysteriis, for example, he talks about cultus or worship, in a theurgic context. There are ideas there that can be directly applied to our own practices. More than that, though, Neoplatonism is a way of viewing the world. It includes classical Platonism, and so dialectic and all it entails, so it always applicable in some way to the generative world. But Neoplatonism, and Platonism in general, isn’t just about getting along in the realm of generation. It allows us to see this world differently, yes, but it does so in light of higher realms, the places, for lack of a better term, to which our souls truly belong.

5. How are the Demiurge, the Archons and/or the Daimones depicted in Iamblichean and Neoplatonic thought?

If you’re familiar with Gnosticism, quite differently from that. In later Neoplatonism, starting with Iamblichus, the Demiurge follows the model of the Timaeus, it is an all good, perfect, deity who wants nothing but good, and the Good, for everything. Its ordering of the gods, and the universe, is to for the purpose of bringing this about. Iamblichus’ use of the term archon seems to indicate different kinds, or genre, of gods, who are in charge of different levels of reality, functioning above the visible realm and within it. Once again, these gods are considered, as are all gods for that matter, all good and incapable of producing something that isn’t good.

Daimones take on a number of different roles, even though they are all of the same genre. Iamblichus talks about three kinds of daimon, the personal daimon, upon which the Holy Guardian Angel is modeled in Abramelin, “evil” or punishing daimones and guardian daimones, the latter of which are often associated with a particular place, and simple daimones who appear very much like the more modern ideas of elementals.

Plotinus

6. We know that Plotinus, for example, attempted to model a society from Plato’s Utopian ideal of the Philosopher King ruled Republic. Yet, one wonders how Neoplatonic philosophy and theurgy differ from the original Platonic school of thought. Any comments?

It is hard to say. I very much doubt they are identical. That said, there is enough suggesting Plato’s connection to Pythagoreanism, and some level of esotericism, that they may not be completely different. That’s not to say Plato or Socrates were theurgists. It doesn’t seem like theurgy was really brought into Neoplatonism until Iamblichus. But some, such as the late Neoplatonic scholar Algis Uždavinys, have strongly suggested an initiatory and esoteric element to classical Platonic thought that is not at all out of line with Neoplatonic thought. I’ve no idea if these ideas were carried out in similar ways. That said, I’m not sure it matters. Things change. After some 700ish years of Platonism, between Plato and Plotinus, and the generation in between Plotinus and Iamblichus, I’d expect things to change. I don’t see what Iamblichus has done being necessarily, or even greatly, out of line with the Platonic thought, generally speaking, that came before him, even if what he did and thought was different, which it invariably was.

7. Does alchemy figure in with Iamblichus and Neoplatonism?

Not directly, at least depending on how you’re defining alchemy. If we’re talking laboratory alchemy, there seems to be no direct connection at all, at least not with Iamblichus. If we’re talking about spiritual alchemy, sensu Paracelsus, then possibly. Somewhere I’ve a paper floating around, hoping to see the light of day, connecting Marsilio Ficino, and especially his masterpiece De vita libri tres, which is on theurgic astrological medicine and talismancy, and alchemy. Ficino himself was linked to alchemy by later alchemists, though I don’t know of any direct evidence showing he actually practiced it. There are ideologies, especially in the Neoplatonic idea of sunthemata or divine tokens found in material things, which are certainly applicable to alchemical thought.

Tau

Interview: Tracy R Twyman On Baphomet (Part 2)

Tracy R TwymanBaphomet

Tracy R Twyman and I decided to do a Part 2 of an audio interview on the magical and occult mysteries of Baphomet and its connection with John the Baptist, the Teraphim, the Judas goat archetype and much, much more. Tracy also relays one specific fascinating account on her personal communication with the goat demon Baphomet!

Also be sure to check out her illuminating and mind-bending E-Book, The Judas Goat: The Substitution Theory of the Crucifixion.

Click here to listen to the: Aeon Eye Tracy R Twyman Baphomet (Part 2) Interview. 

Teraphim

The Teraphim

The Great Declaration: A Commentary (Part 3)

In Part 2, we examined further parallels between Simon Magus and Jesus along with Paul. We also examined a few key aspects about Daniel and Ezekiel and their relationship with Simonianism (the role of the Prophets in Gnostic thought will be further examined). However, one important detail that I have not yet examined is the eponymous figure of John the Baptist. While there are many versions of John the Baptist as there are many versions of Jesus and Paul (generic Catholic/Orthodox, Muslim, Mandaean, modern occult/mythicist), what I suggest may not sit well with any of these groups. Here, I propose that John was the forerunner of Simon Magus. 

Like Simon, John was an astrologer and Magician. He never met any man named Jesus and he was dead before Simon Magus returned from Alexandria, Egypt to compete with Dositheus for the primacy of the Samaritan sect as mentioned in the Clementine Homilies. As I have been demonstrating in Part 1 and Part 2, all three of these characters were destined to be remodeled into people like Jesus, Paul, and even Peter. Jesus also exhibits characteristics from John, in other ways Simon and at times, Dositheus, hence: the Trinity. Peter also took on the name of Simon and also exhibits characteristics of Dositheus who is also named Nathaniel. Paul also exhibits many parallels with Simon. The authentic John, Simon, and Dositheus are hidden within these masks. The very root of the Christianity is essentially proto-Gnostic.

First, were going to examine the next part of the Great Declaration:

As it is written in Scripture: “For the vineyard of the Lord Sabaoth is the house of Israel, and a man of Judah is well-love shoot.” And if a man of Judah is a well-loved shoot, it is evident that the tree is nothing but a man. As to its being divided and distributed, scripture has spoken plainly enough and suffices for the instruction of those who have ripened unto perfection, to wit: “All flesh is mere grass, and everything which mortal’s glory is like the wildflower. The grass is dried up, and the wild flower droops, but the word of the Lord endures through the aeon.” So the world of the Lord is the speech which comes to flower in the mouth and in the world, for where else may it be produced?

And when Moses says, “In six days God made the heaven and the earth, and on the seventh rest from all his labors,” he tells a great mystery. This may be seen from the contradictions wherein Moses says light into being on the first day. When, therefore, Moses says that there are three days before the generation of the sun and the moon, he means esoterically mind and thought, or heaven and earth, and the seventh power, the Boundless. For these three powers were begotten before all others. And when he says, “He has begotten me before all the aeons, the words are used with reference to the seventh power. So this seventh power, which was the first power subsisting in the Boundless Power, which was begotten before all aeons, this is the seventh power of which Moses says, “And the Spirit of God hovered over the water,” which means the Spirit which holds all thing in itself, the image of the Boundless Power, the image reflecting the eternal form which by itself order everything. For the power hovering above the water is begotten by an immortal form and by itself orders everything.

The above passage is obviously an exegetic exercise of Genesis’ creation account and how the Simonian author interpreted the text, esoterically with references of Sabaoth and the seven days of the week being linked with the Seven Aeons of Simon’s Tree of Life aenology and the “seven angels of who made the world”. Here, again, we also see the idea of the Two Trees, one being mortal, a copy and vulnerable to being dissolved in a truly apocalyptic scenario and the other being the ideal model, eternal and unshakable in its root. The reference of the Spirit hovering over the water, is also reflective of the idea that the Monad, or the Unknowable Father reflected upon itself upon the living waters of the upper aeons as stated by many Gnostic codices. This mirror idea can also been seen when Sophia (in other times the Anthropos or Divine Man) looks down upon the prima materia or chaotic waters and is attracted by her own image, thus producing her lion-faced abortion from this erotic reaction.

This passage specifically includes the speculations of many Jewish heretics, which resulted in two figures: Ialdaboath and Sabaoth, both destined to play different roles in Gnostic theology. One was the “young god” or “Son of God” (Saboath), and the other was the “god of hosts” (Ialdaboath) as either figure was thought to exchange roles as the sovereign power of the cosmos. The two powers in heaven was the Unkowable God and the Demiurgical creator god. One is remote from matter, the other destined to shape matter as the Pantokrator or the lord of generation, Protogenetor.

The heresy of the “two powers of heaven”, however, doesn’t exactly originate in Gnostic dualism or early Christianity but rather in the Jewish speculation about the Name or the Bearer of the Name, being Jaoel or little YHWH (later being called Metatron). Philo of Alexandria calls the Angel of the Lord or Logos, a second God as a positive power rather than an antagonistic one like chief ruler of the Apocryphon of John.

This distinction that the Hypostasis of the Archons and the Origin of the World make between Ialdabaoth and Sabaoth might also be remembered. They were two figures of the God of the Bible, but only the first is rejected. If Sabaoth remains distinct from the true God, at least he is depicted as submitting himself to Wisdom. Sabaoth, in the Apocryphon of John, is depicted as having a dragon’s face. This corresponds to many instances of Yahweh having many dragon-like characteristics as mentioned in the Old Testament, such as Zechariah 10:8, Psalm 18:8, 2 Samuel 22:9, etc. Maybe God is a draconian reptilian from Orion! Watch out, David Icke!

Seven Angels Pouring Vials of the Wrath of God upon the Earth by a British School Painter Influenced by William Blake

The names of the Archons such as Ialdaboath, Iao, Sabaoth, Adonai, Eloeus/Aiolaiso, Horais/Oreus, Astophaios as featured in Contra Celsus (VI 21 and 32), Irenaeus’ Against Heresies (30,5), all indicate that the creator god was depersonalized into multiple angelic powers. And it these powers that the above verse indicates as representing the seven days of the week. These are of course the same angelic powers that detained fallen Wisdom or in Simon’s case, Helen. According to Hippolytus in Refutation of All Heresies (VIII, 14, 1) the heretical teacher, Monoimos spoke of the first six days of creation as six “powers”. For the first six days, they were represented as angels, but the seventh, being more sacred, could be representative of being God himself.

Like Yahweh, the seven angels or Archons are also the originators of not only the “coat of skins” of Adam and Eve, and the formation of the world, but also the Law of Moses. The Mandaeans (a Middle eastern baptist sect and the only Gnostic group barely in existence today from antiquity), for example, also knew that the Seven participated in the redaction of the Torah. Moreover, the Gnostic belief that the Creator had a lion’s face (the Zodiacal sign being Leo) seems to underscore the fiery/solar nature of the YHWH as indicated a few instances in the Old Testament.

IAO Sabaoth

“Yahweh of Hosts who dwells (among) the cherubim” (1 Samuel 4:4; 2 Samuel 6:2; 1 Kings 8:6–7) is an expression for the God of Israel that is virtually synonymous with the theology of the Jerusalem Temple. This seemingly enigmatic expression “Yahweh of Hosts” (Yahweh Tsva’ot) implies that Yahweh was head of the stars and was to be identified with the most important star of all, the sun. Support for this suggestion is found in several Biblical passages: “You who are enthroned on the cherubim, shine forth. … Restore us, O God; let your face shine” (Psalm 80:2–3); “The Lord came from Sinai, and dawned from Seir upon us; he shone forth from Mount Paran” (Deuteronomy 33:2).

Moreover, in Jewish incantations and prayers of the Graeco-Roman period we find such prayers as “Hail Helios, thou God in the heavens, your name is mighty … ” and an incantation that invokes “Helios on the cherubim.”

YHWH Helios

Moreover, Yahweh happened to be worshiped and praised by many ancient Roman pagans, such as Celsus in his The True Doctrine as attested by Origen in Contra Celsus. Yahweh was also worshiped and sacrificed to in a similar manner of that of a pagan solar deity! At the same time, Yahweh was seen as nothing special, in comparison with the vast number of deities, gods and heroes of the ancient world despite his jealous vanity. Even Plato in the Republic, Book 2.7 recognized Yahweh as belonging to the vast pantheon of multiple gods in existence, belonging to different tribes:

“The gods, too, may be turned from their purpose; and men pray to them and avert their wrath by sacrifices and soothing entreaties, and by libations and the odor of fat, when they have sinned and transgressed.” And they produce a host of books written by Mousaios and Orpheus, … according to which they perform their ritual, and persuade not only individuals, but whole cities, that expiations and atonements for sin may be made by sacrifices and amusements which fill a vacant hour, and are equally at the service of the living and the dead; the latter sort they call mysteries, and they redeem us from the pains of hell, but if we neglect them no one knows what awaits us.

As mentioned in Part 2, Simon saw the prophets or “heralds” as belonging to different archons or the false gods of the Jews (see Irenaeus AH book 1, ch. 30, paragraph 11). Similar to Plato’s contention, each tribe of Israel was assigned a different god or angelic ruler. It appears that the Israelites themselves were polytheists!

“Moreover, they distribute the prophets in the following manner: Moses, and Joshua the son of Nun, and Amos, and Habakkuk, belonged to Ialdabaoth;  Samuel, and Nathan, and Jonah, and Micah, to Iao; Elijah, Joel, and Zechariah to Sabaoth; Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and Daniel, to Adohai; Tobias and Haggai to Eloi; Michaiah and Nahum to Oreus; Esdras and Zephaniah to Astanphaeus. Each one  of these, then, glorifies his own father and God, and they maintain that Sophia, herself has also spoken many things through them regarding the first Anthropos  (man), and concerning that Christ who is above, thus admonishing and reminding men of  the incorruptible light, the first Anthropos, and of the descent of Christ. The  [other] powers being terrified by these things, and marvelling at the novelty of  those things which were announced by the prophets, Prunicus brought it about by  means of Ialdabaoth (who knew not what he did), that emissions of two men took place, the one from the barren Elizabeth, and the other from the Virgin Mary.”

Reading from Irenaeus’ testimony, it appears that the birth of John and Jesus was thought to be a trick on Ialdabaoth/Yahweh/Jove by Prunicus (Sophia) to prepare a vessel for Christ’s descent into the world, for the liberation of the children of light from those who, “wise of their own interests beyond the children of light”, as mentioned by the Gospel of Luke. These dual redeemers- one who made the way, and the other the Paraclete who explained it- would free mankind from the flood of ignorance that the angry and jealous false notions of God had brought by way of the prophets. Thus, the Gnostics, like their forerunner, Simon, held a lower view of the prophets in the sense that only some of which each said was inspired by Sophia or Wisdom, while the rest were inspired by the Lawgiver and his angels.

One of Simon’s successors, Saturnilus would claim that the prophets themselves were strangers to the revelation of the true God (Irenaeus, AH, 1, 24, 2). However, the lack of an explicit reference of a Demiurge figure in the Great Declaration is notable as there are only angelic powers that govern the world in this Simonian myth, but the fact that it quotes the New Testament suggests that it is a later writing (2nd to 3rd century) and the author more than likely was aware of the myth of the Demiurge. John the Baptist was of course, also considered a “herald” of the coming Logos, and other times, was considered the Logos or Christ himself. In this instance, Jesus and John would be conflated as the same person! And even in other instances, John the Baptist is also condemned with the rest of the Old Testament prophets as seen in the Second Treatise of the Great Seth.

St John the Baptist, the Angel

Simon as Successor to John the Baptist

In the two works ascribed to St. Clement of Rome, the Clementine Homilies and Recognition’s, we learn that Simon Magus is intimately connected with John the Baptist. In it, it lists Jesus as representing the sun (just as Yahweh is sometimes depicted as the sun) and had twelve apostles corresponding with the twelve signs of the Zodiac. John the Baptist represents the moon, and had thirty disciples, corresponding with the thirty days during which the moon completes its heavenly circuit. These disciples also corresponded with various aeons as listed by the Valentinians. Owing to the fact that the moon does not occupy thirty full days, one of these disciples is a young woman. In one of these works she is called Helen, in another Luna. The reason being that Helena’s name is changed to Luna to reflect what was stated in the Homilies above about her being half a man (Aristotle would agree) and making up the imperfect cycle of the moon in it’s final half day. Luna, of course, means Moon in Latin.

But that he came to deal with the doctrines of religion happened on this wise. There was one John, a day-baptist, who was also, according to the method of combination, the forerunner of our Lord Jesus; and as the Lord had twelve apostles, bearing the number of the twelve months of the sun, so also he, John, had thirty chief men, fulfilling the monthly reckoning of the moon, in which number was a certain woman called Helena, that not even this might be without a dispensational significance.

Sun & Moon

Hippolytus and Eusebius as well as by the author(s) of the Clementine writings, describes this Simon as a baptist and as a disciple of John the Baptist. On both counts, this makes the Clementine picture of Simon a valuable one as representing a still surviving tradition about one who has been called “the first Gnostic”. Accordingly, Simon was also the immediate successor to John, in his untimely death, the Baptist was another Samaritan, Dositheus, as Simon was in Egypt at the time of the Baptist’s martyrdom. The Clementine Homilies. 11. xxiv recounts that when Simon returned, the two men quarreled. Simon’s superiority was proved miraculously after a magical duel (like how Simon and Peter battle it out in front of Nero, although in this battle Simon loses whereas in the battle between Dositheus, Simon wins) and Dositheus ceded his position as head of the sect to Simon and forms his own group. According to the Clementines, it is Dositheus who get’s John’s instructions incorrect and Simon proves his gumption by defeating him. Legend may contain grains of truth and we know from patristic sources that baptizing sects of the Simonian school survived for some time.

The Orthodox polemicist and historian Eusebius in his Ecclesiastical History, IV. xi, names offshoots of the Simonian type: Simon’s immediate successor, the Samaritan Menander (op. cit. III. xv), Saturninus in Antioch, and in Rome Cerdo, all came under this heading. The last-named, according to Eusebius, settled in Rome in the time of, “Hyginus who held the ninth place in the Apostolic succession.” Contemporary with Cerdo and Valentinus was Marcus the Magician, whose sacramental mysteries are described in a slanderous manner by Irenaeus in Against Heresies, where Marcus taught that the wine of the Eucharist symbolized Wisdom’s blood instead of Jesus’. In what appears to have been a hieros gamos rite, ‘cups were mixed with wine’. As the cup of wine is offered, he prays that “Grace may flow” (AH 1.13.2) into all who drink of it. Eusebius gives a slightly more moderate account:

Some of them [i.e. the Murcosim] construct a bride-chamber and celebrate a mystery with certain invocations on their initiate and say that what they do is a spiritual marriage according to the likeness of the unions above; others bring them to water and baptize them with this invocation; ‘To the name of the Unknown Father of the Universe, to Truth, the mother of all things, to Him who descended into Jesus’, and others invoke Hebrew words in order more fully to amaze the initiate. (Op. cit. IV. xi.)’

The words “who descended into Jesus” recall the Jewish-Christian belief that Jesus, as Messiah and Son of God, had appeared in or been foreshadowed by other “true prophets” or “prophets of the truth”; a belief which appears plainly in Luke ix. 18-20. Matt. xvii. 10-13, and John i. 21. Simon the Magian, too, looked upon himself as an embodiment of, or as possessed by, the divine “Father”, the androgynous Father-and-Mother in One, when he calls himself “the Standing (i.e. ‘living’, ‘persisting’) One”.

John the Baptist

For some people like the Renaissance master, Leonardo da Vinci, John was the Christ. This belief goes back at least as far back in literature as the Clementine Recognitions.

Yea, some even of the disciples of John, who seemed to be great ones, have separated themselves from the people, and proclaimed their own master as the Christ. But all these schisms have been prepared, that by means of them the faith of Christ and baptism might be hindered.” Clementine Recognitions 1.54

“And, behold, one of the disciples of John asserted that John was the Christ, and not Jesus, inasmuch as Jesus Himself declared that John was greater than all men and all prophets.” Clementine Recognitions 1.60

This is the same John who taught Dositheus and Simon Magus, the notorious heresiarchs of the early days of a blooming “Christianity”. One might be familiar with the rebellious yet righteous John who chastises kings and loses his head after a lap dance of death from Salome. Which head he lost is best left to the imagination. This same John appears in the Gospel of John as his follower Nathaniel is an Israelite and his buddy Jesus is accused of being a Samaritan Magician with a daemon and Nathaniel actually means “gift of God” as does Dositheus. Even stranger still, the conflation between in Jesus and John seems to be alluded in Mark 11:28-30 when Jesus counters the chief priests’ question as to his authority by asking their estimate of John’s authorization:

And say unto him, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority to do these things? And Jesus answered and said unto them, I will also ask of you one question, and answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men? answer me.

Another curious parallel between Jesus and John can be found in Mark 6:14 and Romans 1:4. The emphasized words are in bold:

…and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.

King Herod heard about this, for Jesus’ name had become well known. Some were saying, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him.”

Could it be that John, instead was the one who achieved resurrection and took on the title “Jesus” as Philippians 2:6-11 claims? Maybe Leonardo da Vinci wasn’t that off after all. John also happens proclaims himself the Standing One like Simon in the Mandaean Book of John when he says:

“Stand not I here alone? I go to and fro. Where is a prophet equal to me? Who makes proclamation equal to my proclamations, and who doth discourse with my wondrous voice?”

The narcissism of John in the Mandaean Book of John is unrivaled by any other Biblical figure. John losing his head is a strange occurrence. The Apocryphon of James, has the “Lord” telling James:

“Do you not know that the head of prophecy was cut off with John?”

It is not altogether clear what this passage is intended to mean. It could be a derogatory passage against prophets but who really knows for sure?

“Head anyone?”

To be decapitated is usually a sign that one was a Roman citizen. Paul was said to have been decapitated as well while Peter, at the same time, was supposedly crucified. In ancient Egypt as attested in the Pyramid TextsCoffin Texts, the Book Going Forth by Day/Book of the Dead, as well as an array of the royal Nether-world Books, to have one’s head cut off was an intensely negative thing, which basically meant that the spirit was cut off from the afterlife or the night lands (e.g. the Second Death or oblivion). This is a common motif in ancient literature and cultural beliefs. The nagging question remains to be answered: Was John a Roman citizen?

Gustave Moreau

It is said that John was killed while Simon was in Egypt. In the Gospel of Matthew, we find that Jesus was in Egypt before the baptism scene (see Matthew 2:13-18), but instead of returning upon the death of John, Jesus returns upon the death of Herod (see Matthew 2:19-23). To make matters even more intriguing, Herod the Great never slaughtered the infants as told in this writing. In Josephus’ writings the information is relayed that Herod planned to fill up the Hippodrome with infants and then slaughter them but died before he carried it out.

This leads me to the John of Josephus. In Josephus’ records, Jesus is killed before John the Baptist as found in the golden passage that is so controversial. John is then killed in 26/27 AD or 33 AD depending on what, “About this time”, means following, “in the twentieth year of the reign of Tiberius”.

“Now, some of the Jews thought that the destruction of Herod’s army came from God, and that very justly, as a punishment of what he did against John, that was called the Baptist; for Herod slew him, who was a good man, and commanded the Jews to exercise virtue, both as to righteousness towards one another, and piety towards God, and so to come to baptism; for that the washing would be acceptable to him, if they made use of it, not in order to the putting away of some sins only, but for the purification of the body; supposing still that the soul was thoroughly purified beforehand by righteousness. Now, when others came in crowds about him, for they were greatly moved by hearing his words, Herod, who feared lest the great influence John had over the people might put it into his power and inclination to raise a rebellion, thought it best, by putting him to death, to prevent any mischief he might cause, and not bring himself into difficulties, by sparing a man who might make him repent of it when it should be too late. Accordingly he was sent a prisoner, out of Herod’s suspicious temper, to Macherus, the castle I before mentioned, and was there put to death. Now the Jews had an opinion that the destruction of this army was sent as a punishment upon Herod, and a mark of God’s displeasure against him.” – Antiquities of the Jews 18.5.2 and 18.3.3

This account complements the one concerning the prophet abused by Pontius Pilate at Mt. Gerizim while trying to separate the mythical, messianic aspects from John. In both cases a crowd assembles in Samaria and it appears clear that the assembly is without provocative or insidious intent. In the cases of both Pilate and Herod, only simple political precaution motivated their brutal aggression against the Baptist and his unfortunate disciples who were left rudderless and splintering into other diverging groups and factions along with their leaders (e.g., Ebionites, Sabeans, Mandaeans, Nasoreans, Barbelo-Gnostics, with Simon, Dositheos, Jesus, Marcion, Valentinus, Menander, etc, etc.) after his murder.

The Gospel of Thomas is very much in opposition to the above texts:

“Jesus said, “From Adam to John the Baptist, among those born of women, no one is so much greater than John the Baptist that his eyes should not be averted.

But I have said that whoever among you becomes a child will recognize the (Father’s) kingdom and will become greater than John.”

It seems Thomas is trying to say that John was so great one could not look upon him as a sign of respect, as if he were the Lord himself. This is the very opposite of how the Mandaean Book of John portray Jesus and John’s relationship as being entirely hostile and antagonistic. Mandaean literature dates more than likely, much later than what they claim (probably around the 6th century) than Simonian and Gnostic literature, so they could be inaccurate about the true nature of John and Jesus’/Simon’s relationship. One John complains about Jesus, the carpenter God, and Paul even:

“YAHYĀ proclaims in the nights.—Glory rises over the worlds.

Who told Yeshu (Eshu)? Who told Yeshu Messiah, son of Miryam, who told Yeshu, so that he went to the shore of the Jordan and said [unto Yahyā]: “Yahyā, baptize me with thy baptizing and utter o’er me also the Name thy wont is to utter. If I show myself as thy pupil, I will remember thee then in my writing; p. 49 I attest not myself as thy pupil, then wipe out my name from thy page,”

Thereon Yahyā answered Yeshu Messiah in Jerusalem: “Thou hast lied to the Jews and deceived the priests. Thou hast cut off their seed from the men and from the women bearing and being pregnant. The sabbath, which Moses made binding, hast thou relaxed in Jerusalem. Thou hast lied unto them with horns and spread abroad disgrace with the shofar.”

Notice here that we have a Jesus who discourages procreation and relaxes the Sabbath. This Jesus is like the Jesus of the Gospel of John, who’s Father is always at work. This God of his is the Great Invisible Spirit of Simon who is above the creator. He never took a day off, he never had a Sabbath but rather he allowed the Sabbath for man as a consolation for his hardships in life (Egypt).

Yet, whoever becomes a child of light will recognize the kingdom of the Father and become greater than John. This John is merely a servant of the Demiurge. It would not be shocking for him to represent the Demiurge, as many scholars such as Elaine Pagels in the Gnostic Paul, have noticed similar instances in which figures such as David and Abraham are symbolic of the Demiurge in Valentinian exegesis of the Apostolikon (a collection of Paul the Apostle’s letters) as attested to the arch-heretic Marcion of Pontus. Perhaps this is why John the Baptist was condemned in Treat. of Seth. 

John, the Womb?

Da Vinci's Fetus Sketch

Finally, we’ve arrived to the next part of the Great Declaration which also happens to parallel one excerpt from the Testimony of Truth:

“But the Son of Man came forth from Imperishability, being alien to defilement. He came to the world by the Jordan river, and immediately the Jordan turned back. And John bore witness to the descent of Jesus. For it is he who saw the power which came down upon the Jordan river; for he knew that the dominion of carnal procreation had come to an end. The Jordan river is the power of the body, that is, the senses of pleasures. The water of the Jordan is the desire for sexual intercourse. John is the archon of the womb.”

John is clearly symbolic of the womb and that womb’s waters are the Jordan or the seas of the world, which is life-giving water; no planet can flourish with life, none of the plants, animals and mankind could thrive or even exist without its life-giving water. This water at the same time enslaves us. John is basically depicted as the ruler or “archon” of procreation. As in the Mandaean Book of John it is said that Yahya did not marry much like how the Jesus of the Gospels remained abstinent. John knew that procreation and the cosmos would eventually come to an end so he was trying to just cut mankind’s losses and throw in the towel prematurely it seems.

The mystery of child birth was a great one for the ancients and even for Simon Magus. It is mentioned in patristics and Simon’s Great Declaration. The river Jordan became a symbol of this. This is likely why children are emphasized along with water and birth pangs, in many Christian/Gnostic documents. In John 19: 31-34, water and blood flows from Jesus’ side when he was pierced by the spear of one of the Roman soldiers. This seems to be symbolic of birth trauma and perhaps even the breaking of the hymen during intercourse. The Great Declaration provides us a very similar account to the Testimony of Truth, in which I will quote in full:

Having made the world in some such fashion, God, as Moses says, formed man by taking dirt from the ground. And he made him not single but double according to both the image of the likeness. And the image is that Spirit hovering over the water which, if it does not mature into its true form, perishes along with the world since it has lingered in potentiality and never attain unto actuality. And this what scripture means when it says, ”So we may not be condemned along with the world.” But if it matures perfectly into its intended image and it is begotten from an indivisible point, the small shall become great. And this great thing shall persist through the endless and eternal aeon since it no longer belongs to the process of becoming.

How and in what manner does God fashion man? In the Garden. We must view the womb as a garden or a cave, as in the scripture when it says, “It was you who formed my inner parts, you who knitted me together in my mother’s womb. My frame was not unknown to you when I was being made in secret, intricately crafted in the caverns of the earth.” This is why he chose this metaphor. So when he speaks of the Garden, Moses referred allegorically to the womb. Or so he must if we are to believe the world and not dismiss it as nonsense.

And if God fashion man in his mother’s womb, that is, the Garden, as I have said, not only must the womb be understood for the Garden, but Eden is to be understood as the area around the womb, and then “river going out of Eden to water to Garden” as the umbilical cord. This cord is divided into four channels. On either side of the cord are a pair of air ducts so the fetus my breathe and a pair of veins through which the blood flows carry it from the Edenic region through the so-called gates of the liver, they nourish the fetus. And the air-ducts, channels for the breath which surround the bladder on either side in the pelvic region are united at the great duct called the dorsal aorta. In this way the breath passing through the lateral doors into the heart provokes the motion of the embryo. For as long as the babe is being fashioned in the Garden, it neither receives nourishment by the mouth nor breathes through the nostrils. As it is completely surrounded in water, death would strike as soon as it were to take a breath. It would inhale the fluid and die. Father, the whole is contained in an envelope called the amnion and nourished through the umbilical cord and receives the same thing breath conveys through the dorsal duct, as I said.

Thus, the river which goes out of Eden and divides into the streams, four ducts, speaks in reality of the four senses of the fetus: vision, smelling, taste, and touch, these being the only senses possessed by the child while still in the womb.

If Carl Jung read this, he would have given a standing ovation to Simon Magus’ insight of the Garden of Eden being an allegory for the womb. To Jung paradise was the positive aspect of the archetypal mother, and he related it to the Kingdom of God and the Heavenly Jerusalem, symbols of salvation. Carl Jung of course had a lot more to say about these issues than Freud, who on clinical grounds would be more reluctant to stress universal symbols in the dreams of his mental patients. In this formula, Exit from the Garden meant a life of hardship in the Wastelands of Matter, then the Quest for the Holy Grail being the Source, and finally Knowledge and Apotheosis. Hippolytus in Ref. 5.19, claimed the Sethian-Gnostics (being Dosithean disciples) held very similar ideas to Simon:

Heaven and earth have a shape similar to the womb …and if…anyone  wants to investigate this, let him carefully examine the pregnant womb of any living creature, and he will discover an image of the heavens and the earth.

Marcus the Valentinian Magician, would declare that such views comes directly from “the cry of the newborn,” a spontaneous cry of praise for “the glory of the primal being, in which the powers above are in harmonious embrace” (AH 1.14.7-8). A prophet and visionary, Marcus calls himself the “womb and recipient of Silence” (AH 1.14.1). The visions Marcus received of the divine being appeared, he reports, in female form. This all would of course, mirror Valentinus’ Vision of the Logos being a newborn infant: “I saw a newborn child, and questioned it to find out who it was. And the child answered me saying, “I am the Word.” The idea of the Virgin Birth is also interpreted symbolically to mean the Spirit was virginal (as well as the Mother Earth from which Adam is formed from) and was seen as synonymous with Mother Wisdom as attested in Marcus the Magician’s doctrines as well as the Gospel of Philip.

In Mathew and Luke the Mary who gives birth to Jesus is a virgin. Jesus was born by the holy spirit descending into Mary and not through conception by a man. This is the point the gospel writers are trying to make. Believing that the birth of Jesus was physical they do so through the absurd idea of a virgin giving physical birth.

According to the Clementine Recognitions (2.7), Simon also claimed to be born of a virgin:

“For before my mother Rachel and he came together, she, still a virgin, conceived me, while it was in my power to be either small or great, and to appear as a man among men.”

Symbolic interpretations of the Garden of Eden have been many and varied. Ancient Hermetic writings as well as the Naasenes of Hippolytus saw it as the head rather than the womb. The Fall of Man from Eden is also associated with Adam’s discovery of his sexuality, following from the temptation to eat the “fruit of knowledge” thanks to the eager intercession of the Serpent, who also has very overt sexual, occult and alchemical connotations as discussed in Part 2 of my Forbidden Fruit series. The garden where Venus and Adonis cavorted from Ovid’s Metamorphoses was sometimes also equated with the Garden of Eden.

Getting back to the Orthodox John the Baptist, it is stated in the Gospel of Luke that Jesus came to be baptized by John the fifteenth year of Tiberius. This is roughly 28 AD, after September 18th. That means it occurred around the winter of 28/29 AD. That is about one to two years after John died in 26/27 AD! This lends credence to my conjecture that Jesus was just a title for Simon who returned from Egypt after the death of John. Probably about year after his death. In that year, Dositheus who is Peter/ Nathanael, ran the sect. Anyway, I hope I have showed you a side of John you hoped you’d never see and I hope I busted your Orthodox cranium wide open.

In Part 4 and eventually 5, we’ll go more in depth about Samaritian concept of the Messiah, Simon’s possible connection with Philo of Alexandria and Moses, as well as the Orphic and Hermetic mystery cults and its mystagogue Saviors. Until next time truth seekers.

Interview: Tracy R. Twyman

Baphomet

While this isn’t my first interview by any means, this however, is my very first audio podcast. This audio podcast features a very special guest, the author Tracy R Twyman. For those of you who aren’t familiar with her work, she has authored many books such as Money Grows on the Tree of Knowledge, Solomon’s Treasure: The Magic and Mystery of America’s Money, The Merovingian Mythos and many other great articles on the web going back 10 years. She has also been on Jesse Ventura’s television program Conspiracy Theory, Ground Zero Media and Coast 2 Coast. I personally think she’s done some great research regarding not only esoteric and occult subjects, but also work regarding America’s financial system, the CIA and mind-control, and many political subjects that is in the currently in the news. The subject of the Aeon Eye Podcast #1 is the ever so mysterious and occult figure of Baphomet. which is also the subject of her forth-coming book and a cruise! Also be sure to read my own deconstruction of Baphomet and Abraxas.

Please listen and enjoy! Aeon Eye Podcast #1

Tracy In the Library

Interview: Stuart Littlejohn

Stuart Littlejohn is a British painter and esotericist that I came across on Facebook not too long ago. His magical paintings are mostly portraits but they’re incredibly rich with fantastical detail and esoteric mystique—all supported by his amazingly unique artistic talent. This is what prompted me to interview this amazingly talented artist and writer. You can find his work along with his wife, Josephine McCarthy, at The Inner Library. On to the interview!

When did your interest in painting and sculpting esoteric, magical and occult concepts begin?

For as long as I can remember I have  been fascinated by art, magic and mythology, I wanted to paint from a very early age and my father used to regularly take me around the art galleries and museums in London, the British Museum almost became a second home! It was a wonderful education for me to see these treasures! My family was also non-religious, so I was free to explore my spirituality without an imposed dogma… as my interest and awareness grew it seemed very natural to bring these strands together.

On your website, you claim to be the Co-founder of the Order of Minverva Occidentalis in the United Kingdom. Could you describe more about your organization?

O.M.O (Ordo Minervae Occidentalis) was formed in 2001, by myself and two other close friends, to explore the continuing manifestation of the Classical Mysteries.  All three of us had long experience of magical and ritual practice of one form or another and we had all been members of an Egyptian magical group that had become moribund.  The impulse to trace the thread of the Perennial Wisdom Tradition seemed to arise between us spontaneously. We drew our inspiration from the Ancient world through the Renaissance and onward to the present day, exploring Neo-Platonism, Hermeticism and Gnosticism. OMO is still functioning, although I have withdrawn from active participation.

Lion-Headed Serpent

Are there any specific practices (ceremonial or otherwise) you engage in? How would you describe your own personal religion (if you have one)?

 At present there are no specific ceremonial practices that I follow at all. One reason that I withdrew from OMO was that I felt that I needed to get back to basics with my practice, for close on two decades I had followed what was effectively an exoteric reconstructualist path  and it became  obvious that I needed to revisit and relearn a more esoteric and visionary way of doing things. Meeting and marrying Josephine has given me that insight that I was missing previously. My inner vision expressed itself through my artwork but there was an element missing, a sense of direction if you will, Josephine’s long and distinguished experience in  visionary magic was the key that I needed to turn to unlock even deeper levels of insight.. As for my personal religion, I would classify myself as something of a Neo-Platonic Neo-Pagan, but that that is a very loose label!

Are there any specific occult texts that have influenced your work as an artist? Do you have any particular favorite texts from the Bible and the Nag Hammadi Codices?

It’s very difficult trying to think what has influenced me over the years! They all seem to merge into one after a time!! But in no particular order: Nag Hammadi is well up there, the Greek Myths, the musings of Plotinus, Sallustus, Proclus,  Symmachus and the Emperor Julian, the Egyptian Pyramid texts, the writings of Rumi, Shakespeare, John Dee, the School of Night, William Blake, Byron, Shelley, Bram Stoker, Dion Fortune, Aleister Crowley, Gore Vidal and The Wind in the Willows to name a few off the top of my head…

Not only are you a professional painter but you’re also a novelist. Could you tell us more about your fiction life and even your creative process involved in fiction writing?

Not sure of what you are thinking about here, Josephine is the writer of both fiction and non-fiction, the only things I’ve written that have been published, are a couple of ‘How-to’ books on art techniques!

Minerva

You and your wife are something of a power couple when it comes to bringing gnosis to the public at large. Do you think there are differences between how you process creativity, mysticism, psychology, etc with your wife (Josephine McCarthy) who is also involved in esotericism?

I think we are two sides of the same coin, to begin with I was very much into the exoteric and outward forms of ritual and magic, I spent many years as a hardened reconstructualist, recreating the forms and practices of Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, as I mentioned in response to your earlier question, the inner visionary side of this work manifested through my art. Josephine’s experience is the inverse of mine, she is highly experienced and adept in the visionary arts and has opened my eyes to the underlying patterns of all exoteric religious and mystical systems. We compliment each other very well! She is also a kick-ass magician generally, who can eat several grimoire-toting wannabes at a single sitting!

What is your opinion on the idea or concept of the Platonic daimon? Do you think it’s somehow involved in your artwork and fiction writing?

This is a very interesting question. Looking back, it has seemed as if there was a certain pattern that I have always been ‘fated’ to follow, situations that have arisen which have pushed me in a particular direction, people I’ve met who have been incredibly influential on my art or my esoteric understanding. These patterns were often indiscernible at the time but with hindsight the way these experiences mesh together becomes more apparent. It would certainly seem that there has been some kind of guiding influence, and lessons given, which, if not taken on board, come around again and again! On the purely artistic side of things, particular works have had an incredible inner push to be done, something needed to manifest and be out in the world. I find in these cases that there is a very dynamic conversation between the inner and the outer as to how a work should appear, what details to include etc, often when complete, a painting will sit around, sometimes for years, but eventually will find its true home.

Lucifer

Do you have any specific painters, artists, and writers (etc.) that have influenced your work?

This could be a very long list! Again, in no particular order… van Eyck, van der Veyden, the Limbourg Brothers, Hans Holbein, Albrect Durer, Giotto, Ghirlandao, Caravaggio, Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Gainsborough, Reynolds, Boucher, David, Ingres, Rossetti, Waterhouse, Burne-Jones, Sargent, Klimt, von Stuck, de Lempika, Kahlo… this is a mere smattering!

Are there any future projects and events to keep on the lookout?

We have several things in the pipeline, at the moment Josephine and I are concentrating on getting the Goblyn Market up and running, a place for the magical, beautiful and downright strange, so for the moment we are finding that there are not enough hours in the day!

Stuart John Little

Interview: Robert Sullivan and the Royal Arch of Enoch

Robert Sullivan IV is a historian, antiquarian, theologian, researcher and attorney who also dedicates himself to researching all the intricacies of the occult and the esoteric in Freemasonic influence on modern society, politics and popular culture. What spurred my interest in his work was his interview with Miguel Conner on Aeon Byte Gnostic Radio, especially with his take on The Ninth Gate, a film I plan on analyzing in a future post. You can find his work here. On to the interview!

The Royal Arch Of Enoch

1. For those, who aren’t aware of your work, what is the premise of your current book, “The Royal Arch of Enoch?”

A: “The Royal Arch of Enoch” presents a historical anomaly never before analyzed by any historians or Masonic researchers.  My book documents that a high degree Masonic Ritual as developed in France in the mid-1700’s was incorporating elements of the Book of Enoch (I Enoch) which was unknown to the West until 1821 when it was finally translated into English.  It is this high degree ritual – known as “The Royal Arch of Enoch” – and its related philosophies and symbology that has helped define the United States of America.

 2. How does the Book of Enoch and other Jewish apocrypha influence Freemasonry philosophy and ritual?

A: With regard to I Enoch, it has to do with both the correct pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton and the restoration of wisdom inscribed on the Pillars of Enoch.  Within Masonic Lore, only through the correct pronunciation of the name of God is the seven liberal arts and mathematics restored.  This knowledge is gleaned by Enoch via his interactions with Arch-Angels and Demons as described in I Enoch.  In the Testament of Solomon the wise King interacts with “Enochian” demons as described in Ars Goetia; naturally it is the construction of Solomon’s Temple that is the focal point of the third degree Masonic ritual.

3. You claim that the Bible itself is more of a coded compendium of books that detail astrological or astro-theological ideas and symbolism for the initiate to recognize and I would agree with this. There are other authors, like Neville Goddard or purpose a more holistic/psychological approach to reading the biblical cannon. What are your thoughts on this?

A: Yes, in “The Royal Arch of Enoch” I present evidence that the Bible – both Old and New Testament – is an astrological metaphor; it is clear to this Masonic author that the Bible is an astrological manual. The Bible documents four ages based on the Precession of the Equinoxes: the Age of Taurus, the Age of Aries which in the Old Testament is Judaism – Moses is often depicted with ram horns symbolizing Aries.  The New Testament is Christianity which is the worship of Pisces the Fishes – Christ as the “Sun of God” the fisherman – and the new age of Aquarius.  Although I have heard of him, I am not familiar enough with the works of Neville Goddard enough to offer comment.

4. Is it possible to trace any specific Gnostic influence on Freemasonry and Freemasonic ideas? And can the Architect of Freemasonry be compared to the Platonic/Gnostic idea of the Demiurge or the World-Craftsman?

The concept of the “Great Architect” parallels the demiurge EXCEPT that within Masonry the Supreme Being would be a positive, not negative influence.  Like Gnosticism, Masonry has its own dying yet resurrected sun man which is Hiram Abif.  In Gnostic-Christianity (and Christianity in general) it is of course Jesus (cf. Horus, Mithras, Attis, etc) the dying yet resurrected solar messiah.

5. What are your personal favorite texts from the Bible and the Nag Hammadi Library?

A: My favorite line from the Bible is when God admonishes Job for not understanding astrology nor being aware of its influence. Job 38:31 God says:  “Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion?”

6. There are a few other researchers out there that propose modern money to be akin to alchemy and magic. What are some peculiar elements of symbolism tied with our money/cash system? And does this have anything to do with the popular notion or idea of the Law of Attraction?

A: The United States monetary system was designed – in part – by the Federalists Party namely Alexander Hamilton based on occult notions regarding credit and debt.  There are elements of alchemy in the Federalist philosophy because, in sum,  one is creating wealth out of seemingly nothingness. To the alchemist this would be the transmutation of base metal into gold or ignorance into wisdom.  To the conspiracist this is best emblematized by the placing of the Great Seal of United States on the back of the one dollar bill as a Masonic control mechanism.  However, the backing of paper green money with gold – our current system – is more occult than alchemical as the United States gold supply is “hidden” in Ft. Knox. Whether it is really there I leave to the reader to decide.

7. I would love to hear your thoughts on the subliminal symbolism going on in the film The Ninth Gate with Johnny Depp. There is also the theory that Johnny Depp’s character, Dean Corso, represents a Gnostic aspirant or initiate or possibly Lucifer himself, who is simply has forgotten his identity as the Light-Bringer in the course of the film but achieves self-knowledge when he enters into the portal of the Cathar Church. What are your thoughts on all of this?

A: There is a lot going on in that film and I present an analysis of it in “The Royal Arch of Enoch”.  I discuss more of its symbolism in my forthcoming book titled “Cinema Symbolism”. Clearly one will see elements of the Gnosticism with the character of Liana St. Martin-Telfer; her first name reflects the goddess Lilith as “Liana”  Hermes Trismegistus incarnates as the Ceneza twin: Hermes is of course Mercury which rules the sign of Gemini the Twins as such the “Twins” are the restorers of lost wisdom.  Boris Balken loosely reflects English magician Aleister Crowley while the composer of “The Ninth Gate” Aristide Torchia parallels Giordano Bruno who was likewise burned at the stake.

8. Do you think Freemasonry along with the Illuminati have been unfairly maligned by Christian Fundamentalists, the populace in general and the media?

A: Yes and No.  Christian Fundamentalist, while trying to damage Freemasonry, have actually helped.  More and more men joining the Masonic Temple are doing so out of a desire to understand the occult and esoterica.  These are themes that Freemasonry – for so  many years – tried to distance itself from.  I am glad to report that Freemasonry is once again embracing the esoterica and the occult.

9. This also ties into the previous question. Why do you think many heretical and occult groups throughout the ages, starting with the Gnostics, Manicheans, Mandeans, Hypatia of Alexandria through the Cathars, the Albigensians, the witch burnings in Europe etc to people like Giordano Bruno, Joan of Arc, etc, have all suffered persecution from the bloodied hands of the Roman Catholic Church and to a lesser extent, Eastern Orthodoxy?

A: Because they possessed occult wisdom and knowledge that was a threat to the orthodoxy. I suggest in my book that this is the entire purpose of secret societies and modern day Freemasonry is the preservation of the Ancient Mysteries handed down through the Gnostics, the Cathers, the Rosicrucians, the Illuminati, the Jesuits, to what one would call Freemasonry.

10. What influence does Maximilien de Robespierre (the French lawyer and politician during the French Revolution) command on your work and the mythicist movement in general?

A: Robespierre (not a Mason) is important to me because  he was willing to lay his beliefs on the line irregardless of the consequences.  He was a true martyr of the French Revolution who died rather than wavering from his principles and belief system.  Robespierre fostered the “Cult of the Supreme Being” and the “Worship of Reason” which can clearly be seen in both Blue Lodge and High Degree Masonry.

11. How does King David and his son, the great wise and wealthy King Solomon figure into your research? Are they actual historical figures or symbolic ones?

A: Yes – it is from the construction of Solomon’s Temple that Masonic Ritual is based. As I present in “The Royal Arch of Enoch” there are astro-theological ties to the name Solomon”. To bifurcate the name is “Sol” and “omon” or “Sol” and “moon” – the sun and moon as the lesser lights of the craft.  Alternatively “Sol” and “omon” can be “Sol” and “mono” or the “One Sun” as the sun is the most important symbol within Freemasonry.

12. How does being an attorney influence your work on Freemasonry, occult symbolism and spirituality in general? Or maybe it’s the other way around?

A: It’s both and it’s a great question. When writing about Masonry I like to present a hypothesis and then lay out the arguments supporting it while dispelling the arguments against it.  This comes straight out of my legal training.  Alternatively, the legal profession in the United States is overloaded with Freemasonry and occultism.  If one has been to law school in the United States one eventually took a course called “Evidence” which lays out the evidentiary system in America.  The rules of “evidence” are based upon the works and analysis of Simon Greenleaf (1783-1853) who was a Freemason and occultist.  Greenleaf was the founder of Harvard Law School who compared the American lawyer or attorney to a “New World” Druidic Arch-Priest in numerous treatises.  The American legal system reflects occult and Masonic sorcery:  12 jurors in the box are the 12 houses of the Zodiac, the judge wears the black robes of Saturn (as a Father-God presiding figure), the “court” is an astrological “Star Chamber”, etc.

Back CoverBOSS!

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.

05200

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.

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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.

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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.

Interviewing and Gazing into the Abyss

Recently, I stumbled onto a fairly fascinating and insightful blog dealing with Gnosticism and related subjects that delve right in to the mind-shattering philosophy that is Abyssophy. So naturally, I wanted to pick the author’s brain for even further insights and revelations that I and any others out there could glean from. If you can appreciate the Gothic ascetic, mind-expanding insights into the Stygian depths of the unknown, then please lend Abyssophy your ears or your gaze, long enough for the Abyss to stare right back at you like gazing into a mirrored reflection, paraphrasing what Nietzsche’s famous axiom.

Gustave Dore Paradise Lost Chaos watches as the Rebel Angels are thrown into Hell

How would you define your philosophy and subject of your blog—Abyssophy?

Abyssophy is about the desire to understand and apprehend the Abyss. The Abyss is a common element in many religious and initiatory systems, representing, in most of them, the divide between the utmost Divine and its lower emanations. By ‘the utmost Divine’ I mean that ineffable Source of all existence, ‘the One’ or ‘Monad’ of the neo-Platonists, rather than the everyday, mundane understanding of ‘God’, which has become a culturally weighted term.  And by ‘lower emanations’ I refer to those things that we generally call gods, archons, aeons, angels and demons as well as human beings and of course the material Cosmos and all that is terrible and beautiful within it. All of these emanated from the One.

Being ineffable, the One is unknowable and unperceivable. It is only through an apprehension of its ‘lower emanations’ that we can perceive its existence at all. The gulf between that ineffable aspect of its fullness or Pleroma and us is the Abyss, which represents the furthest reaches that the human psyche can perceive. It is the liminal area between the manifest universe that is subject to causal laws and the immaterial or ‘acausal’ universe that, like Chaos, is subject to no such laws.

Being a liminal phenomenon, it is like twilight, Bïfrost or the mythical crossroads associated with deities such as Hermes and Exu; it is the realm of interaction and exchange between two very different forces – us and the Gods. It is akin to the Underworld in its lower, chthonic regions such as Hel, Annwn and Hades, yet is also equitable to more sublime understandings of the realms of the sub-divine, such as Olympus or Asgarð, which represent the higher regions of the Abyss. It is also the realm from which Forms or archetypes seep into our individual and collective unconsciousness, which are then expressed outwardly into the causal realm via the ‘portal’ of the psyche.

How does Abyssophy relate to Gnosticism?

Largely in the way that it focuses on spirituality being the result of a deeper, personal, intuitive intimation from the base of the soul, rather than something derived from a mechanical belief system that one has invested little deep thought into. As far as the beliefs of specific Gnostic sects go, I wouldn’t say that it has much in common with them (except maybe the Valentinians at a push), other than it being a tool of refutation and rebellion against dogmatism and literalism.

Would you consider yourself a Gnostic or something else, such as a Jungian, Luciferian, Satanist or none of the above?

None of those things specifically, but all of them in general! There are aspects of each of those forms in my beliefs and expressions, but I don’t overly identify with any of them. Perhaps ‘Abyssophist’ would be a good term. But in lieu of unleashing yet another neologism upon the world I would say that I was an Alchemist in pursuit of the Philosopher’s Stone who is willing to walk any relevant path to attain it. My own psychological and psychic make-up means that I prefer to walk that path in the shadows of Night, because I perceive that the truths found in the darkness of the unknown, the unconscious and the Abyss are greater and deeper.

Would you consider yourself a dualist, a pantheist, panentheist, etc. or none of the above?

I would say I was a panentheist.  I believe that everything derives from the Monad, including that which is perceived to be evil. That which represents darkness, destruction and death in the Cosmos is not derived from an opponent of the Divine, as per Dualist religions, but from the Shadow of the Divine. Belief systems that push the fallacious idea of a purely good, ‘personal’ God have to separate their benevolent concept of God by assigning that aspect of its being to an adversary. Of course, that then means that God cannot be both all good and all powerful, which is why there is no truly satisfactory answer to the problem of evil in Judeo-Christian theology. Ultimately, in my eyes, there is no problem of evil at all, just the problem of bad theology.

Panentheism resonates best with me because in that system of thought everything is of God rather than actually being God like in pantheism, which is actually fairly close to a kind of spiritual materialism. I prefer panentheism because I believe everything has varying portions of Divinity in it, but that the Divine itself is still above and separate from those emanations. In contrast, pantheism takes an almost atheistic approach, with nature and the universe being seen as God rather than emanations of God. To me, this is almost like praising paintings in an art gallery while denying that there were artists expressing the processes of genius behind them.

Are there certain Gnostic texts of the Nag Hammadi or even any of the biblical texts (both in the Old and New Testaments) that resonate with you?

I like ‘On the Origin of the World’ from the Nag Hammadi as I enjoy Cosmogonist myths of all persuasions whether I actually agree with their specifics or not. For that reason, I’d say I enjoy the Book of Genesis as well, though my sympathies are ultimately with Eve and the Serpent.

The Thunder, Perfect Mind is an inspirational piece from Nag Hammadi too. For one interested in the alchemical processes of merging opposites and the Gnostic concept of the Bridal Chamber, it is an interesting piece to meditate on. In the bible, I enjoy the Book of Job as I believe it provides a good allegory of the Dark Gods being subjects of rather than opponents of the Monad. The Gospel of John is an inspirational and beautiful piece of mystery, far deeper than most Christians probably realize, and the Book of Revelations is aesthetically pleasing too with its coded messages and cryptic symbolism.

What do you think of the Yezidi’s since they worship a Luciferian figure by the name of Melek Taus, the Peacock Angel?

I find a certain amount of resonance with the ideas of the Yezidis. Firstly, I think their tribal culture is worthy of respect, and that their maintenance of ancient tradition is exemplary and something that we in the West should strive to emulate. Additionally, I think that their belief in a distant Divinity above the seven ruling angels shows some similarity to the ideas of Emanationism and ruling archons found in the principles of Gnosticism and Neo-Platonism espoused on Abyssophy. Because of things like this, I naturally find some points of resonance in their religious traditions.

Melek Taus, like Satan in the Book of Job, can be seen as a servant of the Divine rather than some simplistic evil being who acts as a thorn in the side of creation. Both concepts – for our understandings of the gods are amorphous, shape-changing concepts at heart – provide a similar explanation to my own as to how lower emanations of the Monad exercise an acausal ‘Divine’ will by the very nature of their beings. This will then influences man in ways that can be good or bad, numinous or sinister, depending on the context of their contact and how you respond to them. Such acausal beings, therefore, are not good or evil, as monotheists would contend, but, like Melek Taus in Yezidi belief, bestow blessings or curses as per their whim. This can take the form of positive, numinous inspiration or ‘blessings’, or, as seen in the example of Job’s interactions with a similar being in a parallel tradition, they can administer a sinister and negative ‘curse’ that ultimately leads to greater spiritual evolution to the initiate. It’s for reasons like this that darkness, though difficult to bear, should be embraced.

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What’s your opinion on Aleister Crowley and his mystical religion of Thelema and how do you think he relates to Gnosticicsm, Luciferianism and Abyssophy?

I’m not a detractor of Crowley but I’m not an enormous fan either. Like many of the Magi who carried a message of some form from the acausal, his psyche was unable to bear its burden. Hence, because he misinterpreted his own message of ‘Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law,’ he ultimately became a pervert and a drug addict unable to control even his most base and self-destructive instincts. Saying that, his mind, skill, talents and vision were extraordinary and inspiring, and this is where his Luciferian tendency shines. But without the consistency of actual being to back that up, he remains a marginally useful character to me.

His relationship to Gnosticism in the modern age might be distorted due to his creation of the ‘Gnostic Mass’, which was based more on the ideas that the primitive Christian detractors of Gnosticism had about the Gnostics rather than the actual practices of the Gnostics themselves. However, as far as ‘Gnosis’ as a process goes, I’m sure Crowley was following his own ‘vision and voice’ even if his appetites often got in the way of them.

Despite those negative thoughts, as far as an apprehension of the Abyss (as per the aims of Abyssophy) goes, I believe that Crowley was a vital figure in shaping our understanding of such things. His own Abyssal experiences in the desert led to an acausal apprehension that he vocalized as Aiwass, and then conceptualized as the Book of the Law which proved to be both the pinnacle of his Initiatory career and the foundation of a huge body of subsequent Initiatory understanding. In this respect there would probably be no Abyssophy without Crowley.

What is the difference between Luciferianism and Satanism?

Generally, it is that Luciferianism is a promethean, intellectual path of Gnosis and enlightenment while Satanism is a physis-based path of actualization and life-affirmation. What they both have in common is an aspect of rebellion and self-empowerment. Really, the differences are fairly academic, as they are similar in essence but represent the particular differences found between specific personality types.

This goes along with the previous question—do you think Lucifer and Satan are the same entity?

That’s a huge question. Our ideas of the Dark Gods are conceptualizations rather than facts, so I don’t think there can be a definitive answer. Throughout history, cultures have perceived the presence of the Gods and then named them and fleshed them out according to what they understood of them with their limited faculties. Largely, this anthropomorphosis was a gross, if noble, simplification of those forces.

I see the ‘Dark Gods’ as a collective of those Gods who represent the Emanated Shadow of the Monad – a spectrum, if you will, of that darkness. ‘Satan’ is a collective name that represents a part of that spectrum of Gods – its fiery aspect, according to tradition – while ‘Lucifer’ represents another part of that spectrum – its ‘airy’ aspect. Their respective spectra overlap to a large extent, just as air feeds fire while its flames in turn lick back at it, which can lead to a perception that they are in fact the same beings. But they are not; they are overlapping collectives that have various emanations in common. In essence, both of their names are arbitrary and do not equate to individual beings -they are ultimately conglomerates of emanations united in common character. This is probably why I don’t identify with the title ‘Satanist’ or ‘Luciferian’, but rather see myself as a seeker of Gnosis of the pantheon of Dark Gods in their wholeness.

Would you consider the “Dark Gods” to be similar to the Gnostic/Pauline concept of the “archons” or the “authorities of darkness” of Ephesians 6:12?

I can certainly equate the Dark Gods to those ‘principalities and powers’, yes. The Gnostic archons represent quite a close approximation of how I see Gods in general, but moreso those with mechanical, nature-based, demiurgic qualities. My perception of what I call the ‘Dark Gods’ is that they are generally closer to processes of numinosity and Spirit, though there might of course be conceptual and functional overlaps between them and others. The bipartite qualities represented in the character of Odhinn, who was both Priest and King, might be a good example of that kind of ‘divine overlap’.

St. Paul obviously grasps the concept, but his point of view about such things is naturally entirely different to my own. Prior to his warning about these ‘authorities of darkness’, he had just urged slaves to obey their masters with ‘respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart’. To those who seek to emulate and apprehend the Dark Gods, the encouragement of such weakness and subservience is seen as despicable. The correct thing for them to do would be to rise up and smite their masters, as their true will would inevitably lead them to desire freedom and vengeance.

What are your thoughts on metaphysical determinism, or fate? Do you believe events are predestined? Not necessarily in a theological sense, but predetermined through causality or eternalism. Is free will real or imagined?

I don’t believe in predestination in any form, but I don’t entirely believe in free-will either. We have a degree of free-will available to us in the situations that genes, ancestry, culture, history and circumstances put us in, but our solidified egos are highly likely to make mechanical, subconscious decisions under the pretense of free will. That said, if we can expand our egos a little – through the process of Initiation, for instance – we might find that the options of free-will available to us suddenly begin to expand.

Although I don’t believe in the concept of destiny I do believe strongly in the concepts of wyrd and synchronicity. Wyrd is a Germanic concept that is akin to a personal destiny, but not in any predetermined, unavoidable sense. It exists more in the sense of a person fulfilling the potential purpose and desires of their spirit rather than an external, ‘event based’ destiny. What is interesting about the concept of wyrd is the idea that our fate is something that is alterable through will, which makes us masters of our own destinies through our actions in life. Closely linked to this idea is synchronicity, which Jung called ‘an acausal connecting principle’, meaning a principle by which events occur without the natural, causal events that one would usually expect to observe in the ’cause and effect’ relationship that is empirically observable in the material Cosmos. Put more simply, synchronicity occurs when events in the world around oneself mirror the events of the inner world in patterns of meaningful coincidence. Through the art of Sorcery, one can actually extend one’s will outward into the world with such force and intent that synchronicity begins to fall into line with that will.

How does Gnosis affect your own personal pursuits such as music, writing, art, magic praxis, blogging, etc and even your own personal outlook on everyday life in general?

If Gnosis can be said to be my attempting to gain an apprehension of the acausal entities and phenomena of the Abyss, and by extension both the Divine beyond them and my own Self beneath them, then it is indeed the unifying factor that underpins all of those things. The root awareness behind all of those things you mentioned are the expressions of the acausal through the psyche into the causal realm or ‘world’. Together they are a unification that cannot be separated once their unity has been realized. Hence, my expressions, be they creative, intellectual, magical or related to everyday thought, processes and interactions are all unified by the singular awareness of apprehending the denizens of the Abyss.

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Forbidden Fruit in the Midst of the Garden (Part 2)

{Forgive the lateness of this article as my life has given me a few curve-balls as of late. But, the show must go on…}

In the previous article, I illuminated the Gnostic interpretation of the Genesis creation account which downgraded the Hebrew God and identifying it with the malicious Demiurge while upgrading the pariah figure of the serpent into a hero and champion of knowledge. I will be focusing on not only the serpent but also the symbols of the Tree of Knowledge and Life and the Fruit, in Part 3.

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The Serpent Revisted. 

One of many bothersome issues that have puzzled many, including scholars and Christian apologists appear right in the first chapters of Genesis, which posit two separate portrayals of the creation of Adam and Eve. In Chapter 1, verses 26-31, where on the sixth day of creation, after God created the heavens and the earth, he proclaims:

Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiple, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

Note the use of the plural possessive pronoun through the supposedly singular “God”, which indicates that there was more than one creative being involved—which tends to corroborate the Gnostic creation accounts in many different texts.

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

It is at this point Adam is charged with tending of the garden and told not to touch the fruit of a particular tree:

And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

In the first creation account, man and woman are created in the same way, being from the dust of the Earth. In the second version, woman was fashioned from Adam’s rib:

And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. … And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.

The first creation account, man and woman are created in “God’s image”. In the second creation account, God breathes into Adam the “breath of life”, not mentioned in the first account.  There is no mention of a garden, and no mention of forbidden fruit. Rather mankind is specifically told to eat whatever they want because it was all “good” in the Lord’s eyes. Perhaps most importantly, since only the creatures of the second creation are given rules to follow, only they can transgress those rules. The first mankind is blessed and told to “be fruitful and multiply.” Interestingly, it is only the second mankind that experiences the fall from grace after eating from the Tree of Knowledge, and gain sexual experience as a result of it.

As mentioned Part 1, the “knowledge” that serpent promised to Adam and Eve was also sexual in nature, according to some sources. Not only did Eve and her husband Adam gain an awareness that was previously forbidden to them, but also gained the power of generation or the power to create life “in their image” just like God. Through the Serpent’s gift, Adam and Eve had also gained the power of generation and through their “transgression” death entered into the world as a result.

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The deuterocanonical text, Baruch claims that the Serpent had sexual relations with both Adam and Eve:

For going to Eve he deceived her and committed adultery with her, which is contrary to the law; and he went also to Adam and used him as a boy, which is also against the law. Hence arose adultery and pederasty.

The Gospel of Philip suggests something rather similar:

First adultery came into being, afterward murder. And he was begotten in adultery, for he [Cain] was the child of the serpent.

The 13th century Spanish Kabbalist, Rabbi R Isaac Hacohen, the author of A Treatise on the Left Emanation, claimed that the disaster caused by the sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden was a sexual awakening among the two pairs of “twins,” an awakening in which the snake, called “Nahasiel” or Gamliel  took part. The result was that the snakes became “biting snakes,” that is, Evil came into its own, and began to express itself.

Certain Gnostic schools (Saturnilus specifically per Irenaeus’ testimony) regarded sexual intercourse as an abomination because it involved the expenditure of man’s precious seed, used to propagate other human beings, multiplying suffering and perpetuating the kingdom of the Demiurge. They quoted St. Paul’s support for celibacy from 1 Corinthians 7. The pleasure and lust that comes with sexual union and climax were seen as the contrivances of Satan. (Also note that the spermatozoon itself is shaped like a serpent or snake). The whiplash of sexual desire was wrought as a wonderful weapon to be brought under the domain of Saklas (‘fool’), the archon of fornication because man is reduced to a state of imbecility by his wiles and seduction into lusting, adultery and continual fornication. This strong element of sexophobia was also attributed to misogyny because intercourse with seductive women resulted in further flesh with a terrible stench that imprisoned the lost light sparks. A better alternative to physical, sexual union was a spiritual union which implied a return to a state of androgyny symbolized as the bridal chamber. (More on this later.) 

The serpent itself has a vast array of symbolism. It is associated with immortality and the conquest of death. It is also regarded as a phallic symbol and deity of sexual pleasure as noted above. Philo of Alexandria in Allegorical Interpretation of Genesis allegorized the serpent of Genesis 3 as pleasure or sexual lust. He also equated the bronze serpent of Numbers 21 as being opposed to the serpent of Genesis 3, as being a symbol of self-mastery and purity.

Glycon was considered to also be a snake god in satirical form as mentioned by the satirist Lucian, and was said to be the incarnation of Asklepios in the mysteries of Alexander of Abonutichus, a pagan philosopher of the 2nd century.

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In paganism, the bacchoi held their sacred orgies as well as eating raw flesh from their butchered victims in honor of the frenzied Dionysus and the consecrated serpent was symbolic of this. Zagreus being the “first-born Dionysos,” was a god of the Orphic Mysteries. He was a son of Zeus and Persephone, who would seduce others in the guise of a serpent. Being a chthonian creature by finding its home underneath the ground, it is also associated with darkness.

Orphic Egg

In Orphic mythology, the serpent was sometimes linked with the primordial egg from which all things emerged and is shown entwined around the egg. Epiphanius in The Panarion discusses the doctrines of the Epicureans who believed that the universe was formed by chance rather than providence:

Originally the entire universe was like an egg and the spirit was then coiled snakewise round the egg, and bound nature tightly like a wreath or girdle. (3) At one time it wanted to squeeze the entire matter, or nature, of all things more forcibly, and so divided all that existed into the two hemispheres and then, as the result of this, the atoms were separated. (4) For the light, finer parts of all nature—light, aether and the finest parts of the spirit—floated up on top. But the parts which were heaviest and like dregs have sunk downwards. This means earth—that is, anything dry—and the moist substance of the waters. (5) The whole moves of itself and by its own momentum with the revolution of the pole and stars, as though all things were still being driven by the snake like spirit.

In the Pistis Sophia, the serpent was linked to the cosmos, whose ruler is the earth-circling dragon called Satan:

The outer darkness is a great dragon, whose tail is in his mouth, outside the whole world and surrounding the whole world. And there are many regions of chastisement within it.

The circular symbol of the serpent eating its own tail is known as the Ouroboros, the primal being who said,

I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last (Rev. 22:13).

The serpent is also seen in the Syriac Hymn of the Pearl as it depicts the soul’s descent into the world, forgetting his mission but eventually roused by the call on high to remind him of his original nature and duty, his glorious rising again into the Kingdom of the Father. The Pearl, the Prince seeks in Egypt, represents the Gnosis, and the terrible Serpent that guards it, is depicted as the passion of egotism.

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Typical to Jewish and Christian tradition, another negative portrayal of serpent imagery was used by the Church Father Epiphanius in his closing comments in the Panarion to high-light the “evil nature” of Simon Magus as being like a snake, asp and a viper.

In the Targum Psuedo-Jonathan, it equates the Serpent with the fallen angel Samael, the “Blind One” who was a originally a great prince in heaven, descended to earth and rode upon the serpent to deceive Eve and seduce her. The fruit of his seduction, as the same text claims (like the Gospel of Philip) was Cain, being the son of the Devil.

And the woman saw Sammael, the angel of death, and she was afraid, and she knew that the tree was good for food.

Rabbi Isaac in The Treatise of the Left Emanation, also compared Samael and Lilith as husband and wife, much like Adam and Eve—an inverted, “Satanic” power, a concept which is featured later in the Zohar and Jewish myth concerning evil. Samael acts as an evil doppelganger of the first man that came into being with the first human transgression:

The first prince and accuser, the commander of Jealousy and Enmity…he is called ‘evil’ not because of his nature but because he desires to unite and intimately mingle with an emanation not of his nature… it is made clear that Samael and Lilith were born as one, similar to the form of Adam and Eve who were also born as one, reflecting what is above. This is the account of Lilith which was received by the Sages in the Secret Knowledge of the Palaces. The Matron Lilith is the mate of Samael. Both of them were born at the same hour in the image of Adam and Eve, intertwined in each other.

As this passage suggests, Jewish mysticism contains a dialectic notion of “evil”; all things emanate from God, so Samael is one of God’s “severe agents,” yet he grows beyond the attenuated form God intended because he feeds upon the evils of the world. The Zohar builds upon the image of Samael found in Rabbi Isaac’s text as the demon king and consort of Lilith; together they are the evil counterparts of Adam and Eve. Samael is the tempting angel from who “copulates” with Lilith as the male and female principles of the “left side emanation”, united and achieve their full potential by spawning demons. Samael is in effect the evil left-side counterpart of Tiferet in the Sefirotic system of the Tree of Life. In the Apocryphon of John, Samael also happens to be one of the alternative names for Ialdabaoth, the Satanic creator god.

In later Kabbalistic thought, Samael is increasingly de-personalized, becoming the organizing force of the Qliphoth, the garments of evil that enshroud the divine sparks contained in the material universe, similar to the Gnostic idea of matter blinding the souls of their divine origins in a miasma of forgetfulness.

The underlying philosophy of most Gnostic schools was one of androgyny (Andros, ‘man’, gyne, ‘woman’). This relates to the condition that the two sexes are present in the same person. Androgony was symbolic of wholeness and unity in spiritual power. In several Gnostic systems, the Supreme being or Monad is regarded as almost always androgynous despite being called the “Unknowable Father”. In Hermetic writings such as Asclepius and Poimandres, there are several references to the bisexual nature of God.

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In Plato’s Symposium, he relates that there was originally a race of hermaphrodites who were split in two by Zeus for their lofty ambitions. The perfected person is one who unites both the male and female aspects into one. The virgin is also considered to be a type of androgyne. The Gnostic idea of the Anthropos or Primal Man, like the other aeons, was a hermaphrodite (‘Hermes’ being male, “Aphrodite” being female). The figure of the Primal Man has a close relationship with the idea of the “Son of Man”, the pre-existent heavily being—something lower than God and something higher than the angels. According to Enoch 42:8, the Son of Man is to be “the staff of the righteous whereon to stay themselves and not fall”.  The rabbinical school known as the Pharisees believed that the Adam Kadmon, the perfect Primordial Man was a mirror image of the divine Logos (“the Word”), and a hermaphroditic being.

The Gospel of Philip says of the:

Son of Man [emphasis mine] came forth from Imperishability being alien to defilement. He came to the world by the Jordan river, and immediately the Jordan turned back. And John bore witness to the descent of Jesus. For he is the one who saw the power which came down the Jordan river; for he knew that the dominion of carnal procreation had come to and end. The Jordan river is the power of the body, that is, the senses of pleasures. The water of the Jordan river is the desire for sexual intercourse. John is the archon of the womb.

The River Jordan who flows south to the Sea of Galilee and further into the Dead Sea, came to symbolize lust and its name implies descent into the natural direction of sexual pleasure and desire for carnal cohabitation. However, the river can be made to ascend by damming the upward flow of the stream which represents the conservation of semen during intercourse, and the generation of divinity instead of seminal emission and expenditure of male energy, much like how we see in certain Tantric practices. The Valentinian Gospel of Philip regarded the separation of the sexes as the cause of death:

When Eve was in Adam there was no death. But when she was separated from him, death came into being.

The Gospel of Thomas presents the child as an exemplar of the androgynous state:

Children are like those who enter the kingdom. When like little children you take off your clothes without shame, when you make the two become one, when you make the male and female into a single unity, then you shall enter the kingdom.

According to the 19th century Catholic mystic, Franz Von Baader, he writes:

The higher meaning of sexual love, which should not be identified with the instinct for reproduction, is nothing other than to help both man and woman to become integrated inwardly (in soul and in spirit) in the complete human or original divine image.

This notion of the divine hermaphrodite reoccurs over and over again in ancient mystical traditions such as the Qabalah and alchemy to modern practices involving sex magic.

As noted in Part 1, many Gnostic sects had strong Ophite leanings—most notably the Naasseenes, who are mentioned by Hippolytus. Hippolytus claims that the Nassenes were the founders of the Gnostic heresy; but he is alone in making this claim (Refutation., 6:1). All of the other Fathers claim that the Gnostic heresy was founded by Simon Magus, starting with Irenaeus. And then there is Origen, who in contrast with Hippolytus says that the Naassenes were an “insignificant sect” (Against Celsus, 6:24). Hence the Church Fathers do not agree on the Naassenes in terms of their role in history and their significance.

The Ophites connected the eternal principle, Nous, “mind”, with Naas, the Greek word for serpent—stating that the serpent in the Garden of Eden was actually Nous in serpent form. Accordingly, the Demiurge tried to prevent Adam and Eve from acquiring knowledge, and it was the serpent who persuade them to disobey the Demiurge and taste of the fruit. This was the origin of gnosis. Because the serpent frustrated Jehovah’s designs, the serpent was cursed (Gen. 3:14). The Naasenes also agreed with the sentiments expressed in the Gospel of Philip, in that the separation of sexes marked the beginning of death and evil when they claimed that sex was “…man’s fatal effort to become one without recognizing that the only real unity was spiritual.”

According to the Church Fathers, the Ophites had a peculiar ritual meal involving a snake. The Ophites made a distinction between Christ the Savior, and Jesus, the man. Christ equated the serpent with the Son of Man (John 3:14), whereas Jesus equated serpents with scorpions, and spoke of the serpent as the “enemy” (Luke 10:19). For this reason some Ophite sects vilified Jesus. Origen in Contra Celsum records that the Ophites cursed Jesus, and wanted converts to do the same. St. Paul’s reference to those who curse Jesus (1 Cor. 12:3) may point to these snake-worshipers. The Ophites also happened to believe that Adam and Eve were originally beings of light, according to Irenaeus in Against Heresies, I, 30.9:

Adam and Eve previously had light, and clear, and as it were spiritual bodies, such as they were at their creation; but when they came to this world, these changed into bodies more opaque, and gross, and sluggish.

The Epicurean Celsus and the Church Father Origen described different diagrams of the Ophites that described their cosmology, which are similar to the account described in the Apocryphon of John. The drawing depicted the seven cosmic spheres ruled by the archons, each symbolizing an aspect of the demiurge enclosed within a large outer circle called the Leviathan or Ouroborous. The innermost circle lay the netherworlds of evil—Hades, Tartarus, Gehenna and Behemoth. The Church Father Origen writes in Contra Celsum that the seven heavens controlled by angelic powers in animal shapes take on the forms of either predatory or aggressive beasts such as a lion, bull, scorpion, eagle, bear, ape, etc. Origen also claimed that the Ophite Demiurge had the head of a lion and was connected with Saturn, and this has led some scholars to conclude that Ialdabaoth was a combination of Baal and Kronos. Others have noted Ialdaboath’s similarities with the Greek monstrous Typhon. These are the same angelic rulers which the Christian Gnostic Saturninus of Antioch describes as the “seven angels who made the world”.

Cherubim by William Blake

Interestingly, the Alexandrian Gnostic teacher, Basilides called the demiurge “the Seven” which could have been a reference to the seventh planet, Saturn, which rules the rest. The Hebrew name of the planet Saturn is Shabbathai, clearly transcribed in the form “Sabbataios” in Gnostic verbal play on the term “Lord of Hosts” as a reference to YHWH. Tacitus in Histories 5,4 associates the Jewish God with Saturn. Saturn is naturally also honored on the same day by the Pagans that the Jews did with Jehovah on Sabbath. Since the Jews worshiped on Saturday, the Graeco-Roman world in which Basilides lived in tended to identify Jehovah with Saturn. Saturn is the Graeco-Roman sky-god so consumed with fear of being overthrown that he devours all his children, missing only Jupiter (Zeus), who does later overthrow him. In Rome the overthrow of the old year by the new, the hunched-up old man by the babe, was celebrated in the Saturnalia. Similarly, for Gnostics, the Christ child replaced the tribal god Jehovah.

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As Irenaeus relates in his Against Heresies, Ialdabaoth is the eldest of seven rulers born of Lower Wisdom (See the Secret Book of John for this story). Ialdabaoth is depicted as a grotesque mutant—a lion-headed serpent which fits with Plato’s distinction of the “rational soul” part from the lion and the many headed beast portions of the soul in the Republic along with the Orphic Phanes or Eros.

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Using a stolen spiritual power from his Mother, Yaldabaoth creates a material world in imitation of the divine Pleroma. To complete this task, he spawns a group of entities known collectively as Archons, “petty rulers” and craftsmen of the physical world. Like him, they are commonly depicted as having the heads of animals. At this point the events of the Sethian narrative begin to cohere with the events of Genesis, with the demiurge and his archontic cohorts fulfilling the role of the creator. As in Genesis, the demiurge declares himself to be the only god, and that none exist superior to him; however, the audience’s knowledge of what has gone before casts this statement, and the nature of the creator itself, in a radically different light.

They make a human being being Adam, during the process unwittingly transferring the portion of power stolen from Sophia into the first physical human body. He then creates Eve from Adam’s rib, in an attempt to isolate and regain the power he has lost. By way of this he attempts to rape Eve who now contains Sophia’s divine power; several texts depict him as failing when Sophia’s spirit transplants itself into the Tree of Life; thereafter, the pair are ‘tempted’ by the serpent, and eat of the forbidden fruit, thereby once more regaining the power that the demiurge had stolen. Irenaeus continues:

But their mother, Sophia, planned to seduce Adam and Eve through a serpent, so that they would transgress the commandment of Ialdabaoth. Eve, hearing this word as if it came directly from the Son of God, readily believed it and persuaded Adam to eat from the tree from which Ialdabaoth had said not to eat. When they ate, they knew the power which is above all, and they departed from those who had made them.

This paraphrase is a good example of how Irenaeus colors his reportage with his own prejudices. Several Coptic texts have been found recounting the story of Sophia’s intervention in the garden, but none talks Sophia “seducing” Adam and Eve, or the advice coming “as if” from the Son of God. In one text, the Origin of the World, Christ actually does appear in the tree to speak to Eve. But Irenaeus does paraphrase correctly when he says that in these texts what Adam and Eve get from following the serpent’s advice is Gnosis of the Most High, a knowledge that even their own creators, Ialdabaoth and his crew, lack. Another group of Gnostics makes the connection to Sophia even clearer. Irenaeus says,

Some assert that the serpent was Sophia herself; for this reason it was opposed to the maker of Adam and gave knowledge to men, and therefore is called the wisest of all.

The text in front of him is probably the Hypostasis of the Archons, which we will see below:

Then the authorities came up to their Adam. And when they saw his female counterpart speaking with him, they became agitated with great agitation; and they became enamored of her. They said to one another, “Come, let us sow our seed in her,” and they pursued her. And she laughed at them for their witlessness and their blindness; and in their clutches she became a tree, and left before them her shadowy reflection resembling herself; and they defiled it foully. – And they defiled the stamp of her voice, so that by the form they had modeled, together with their (own) image, they made themselves liable to condemnation.

Later on in the the Hypostasis of the Archons, the Feminine Spiritual Principal entered a serpent, who instructed Adam and Eve to eat of the tree of knowledge, that they might know their divine origins.  Accordingly, eating the forbidden fruit was not the first sin, but the first act of redemption and liberation! The Gnostics emphasized a crisis of the Divine Fullness as it encounters the ignorance of matter, as depicted in stories about Sophia. Adam and Eve’s removal from the Archon’s paradise is seen as a step towards freedom from the Archons, and the serpent in the Garden of Eden becomes a heroic, salvic figure.

Calling the snake “the wisest of all” is a reference to Jesus’s saying, “Be ye wise as serpents and harmless as doves” (Matt. 10:16). The implication is that the serpent, far from being evil, was honored by Jesus himself, just as the dove was honored as the symbol of the Holy Spirit. (Anyone wondering what orthodoxy made of that implication may consult the “Church Father” Epiphanius [1987, 247] for a rebuttal. According to him, Jesus obviously meant only that the serpent is wise because in coiling it protects its head, just as the faithful should protect their faith in Christ when preaching to unbelievers. What an image of Christian preachers! With refutations like this one, it is no wonder the Church Fathers decided just to burn such commentaries on scripture, rather than debate them.

Accordingly, the rulers wanted to confine Adam in the lowest plane of existence (being matter), so they created and imprisoned Adam in the earthly paradise (the Garden of Eden), and bound Adam in sleep and placed the bond of forgetfulness upon him. But this material body was lifeless and without a soul. According to Saturnilus, Adam was initially created as a spine-less, golem-like creature who writhed on his stomach:

The (first) human being was a creation of angels [but was] unable to stand erect because of the angels’ impotence, and rather writhed on the ground like a worm….

The Second Treatise of the Great Seth refers to Adam as a:

laughingstock, since he was made a counterfeit type of man by the Rulers.

As briefly discussed earlier, to regain the creative power that Ialdaboath stole from Sophia (his mother), she secretly counseled Ialdabaoth to blow the spirit into the face, so that the body would waken. Ialdabaoth ignorantly blew on Adam’s face, so that the spirit and the power of his mother (Sophia) left Ialdabaoth’s own body and entered into the body he had created: Adam became alive. The purpose was to put the image (soul) of God into physical body so that they can capture it. The theme of “stealing light” is also only understood in the context of an energy based universe, where the archon’s need the Light to maintain their very existence if not their powers over a beautiful but nonetheless bungled prison, that is the cosmos.

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According to On the Origin of the World, Ialdaboath immediately became jealous, because his creation was more powerful and intelligent than him and the other archons. Eve, being an avatar of Sophia, is the one who awakens Adam from his forgetfulness while helping him escape the wrath of the authorities.

Then the authorities were informed that their modelled form was alive and had arisen, and they were greatly troubled. They sent seven archangels to see what had happened. They came to Adam. When they saw Eve talking to him, they said to one another, “What sort of thing is this luminous woman? For she resembles that likeness which appeared to us in the light. Now come, let us lay hold of her and cast her seed into her, so that when she becomes soiled she may not be able to ascend into her light. Rather, those whom she bears will be under our charge. But let us not tell Adam, for he is not one of us. Rather let us bring a deep sleep over him. And let us instruct him in his sleep to the effect that she came from his rib, in order that his wife may obey, and he may be lord over her.”

Then Eve, being a force, laughed at their decision. She put mist into their eyes and secretly left her likeness with Adam. She entered the tree of knowledge and remained there. And they pursued her, and she revealed to them that she had gone into the tree and become a tree. Then, entering a great state of fear, the blind creatures fled.

The Hypostasis of the Archons is somewhat different in detail, and can be supplemented with the longer text of On the Origin of the World. In the Hypostasis of the Archons, Ialdabaoth is infuriated with Adam and Eve’s disobedience and pursues Eve in order to rape her and implant sexual desire into the human race, so that he would have more people to have his counterfeit spirit, who were susceptible to his blandishment and fall into sins and wickedness. Through this mechanism, he was able to ensnare them because desire is part of the dominion of death and ignorance.

The Gnostic authors of these texts instead saw the creator god as the one who implanted sexual desire instead of the serpent. Eve, the woman and “mother of the living”, no longer is the reason behind the fall from grace occurs, but instead becomes a beacon of illumination and salvation for man. True to form, the lustful archons become enamored with Eve and pursue her, foreshadowing their future, disastrous actions when they would return to intermingle with the human race once more and breed a race of terrible, blood-thirsty giants being born of the “fire of the angels and the blood of women.”

As quoted earlier, the Hypostasis of the Archons relate how the brigade of lustful archons literally gang-rape a mere shadowy image or projection of Eve, while the Spiritual Eve escaped their clutches by shape-shifting into a tree through docetic means.

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The Pompeii mosiac of “Pan and Hamadryad” found in Museum of Antiquities in Nola, Italy, seems to repeat the theme of the Spiritual woman escaping her satyr-like pursuers when the horny pagan god Pan attempts to reach out to the nude woman, consumed with lust; but the attempt to have sex with her is in vain because she is changing into a tree! The woman in essence reveals her true nature as a tree-nymph. The tree was often associated with life, knowledge and enlightenment. Just as the Hamadryad is ultimately inaccessible to Pan, so also are Life and Knowledge from inaccessible to the worldly “Authorities.”

In modern occultism, the Serpent is considered to be symbol of sexual liberty and hedonism as the infamous occultist Aleister Crowley writes in his book, Liber Al vel Legis (The Book of the Law):

I am the Snake that giveth Knowledge & Delight and bright glory, and stir the hearts of men with drunkenness. To worship me take wine and strange drugs whereof I will tell my prophet, & be drunk thereof! They shall not harm ye at all. It is a lie, this folly against self. The exposure of innocence is a lie. Be strong, o man! lust, enjoy all things of sense and rapture: fear not that any God shall deny thee for this. I am alone: there is no God where I am.

In Part 3, the archetypal symbols of the Tree and Fruit will be explored and discussed in-depth in relation to the helper and instructor figure of the serpent and how the Orthodox version of events in the Garden became the Archon of Christian theology.