Philosophy

The Megas Aeon Podcast #7 – Dr. Kyle Fraser – Zosimos & the Alchemical Tradition

In this episode, I interview an actual academic! I speak with Dr. Kyle Fraser of University of King’s College, History of Science and Technology. He is a professor and scholar specializing in Hellenistic and Late Antique esoteric currents such as Greco-Egyptian alchemy, magical papyri, Hermetism, Gnosticism, and how they relate to Western occultism, the history of science and Platonic philosophy. In other words, he’s a genius. We discuss the Gnostic-Hermetist Zosimos and his work in spiritual alchemy and his take on Gnosticism, Jesus Christ as the Savior, the Corpus Hermeticum, the Book of Enoch, and much, much more!

Outro music: Sepultura – Angel.

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Henotheology!

Welcome to 2017! In previous posts, especially this one, I’ve noted that the Old Testament and even the New Testament are rife filled with references to other gods, or a plurality of gods (which are actually angels or archons, according to the Christian and Gnostic traditions). This is especially evident in the apocrypha like the Books of Enoch, Jubilees, the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Nag Hammadi Library. Many are brainwashed by such dogma as the Nicene Creed of Orthodoxy and Catholicism into thinking that Moses taught monotheism on Mount Sinai from Yahweh. He didn’t. They tell us that the Judeo-Christian tradition has always believed in only one God since the beginning. It didn’t. In fact, monotheism wasn’t even part of church doctrine until well into the Middle Ages. It didn’t even exist in the minds of the ancient Hebrews or Egyptians until the late 600’s BCE, long after Moses and the early Prophets. As we saw, the Bible is one of many places that the tradition of “many gods” can be found.

In the Dead Sea Scrolls for instance, the War Scroll 1:10 tells us:

On the day when the Kittim fall, there shall be battle and terrible carnage before the God of Israel, for that shall be the day appointed from ancient times for the battle of destruction of the sons of darkness. At that time, the assembly of gods and the hosts of men shall battle, causing great carnage; on the day of calamity, the sons of light shall battle with the company of darkness amid the shouts of a mighty multitude and the clamour of gods and men to (make manifest) the might of God. And it shall be a time of [great] tribulation for the people which God shall redeem; of all its afflictions none shall be as this, from its sudden beginning until its end in eternal redemption.

In the Nag Hammadi Codices, a rather curious and long, late Valentinian text, called the Tripartite Tractate, the author goes on a long-winded diatribe about how some Jews were not monotheists:

By interpreting them, they established many heresies which exist to the present among the Jews. Some say that God is one, who made a proclamation in the ancient scriptures. Others say that he is many. Some say that God is simple and was a single mind in nature. Others say that his activity is linked with the establishment of good and evil. Still others say that he is the creator of that which has come into being. Still others say that it was by the angels that he created.

Back in the Dead Sea Scrolls, specifically in the War Scroll (IQM, 1Q33, 4Q491-7, 4Q471), it mentions a church of gods, and that Michael reigns over a kingdom of gods. They also specify that these are living gods, indicating their real existence outside the imagination.

Be strong and fear not; [for they tend] towards chaos and confusion, and they lean on that which is not and [shall not be. To the God] of Israel belongs all that is and shall be; [He knows] all the happenings of eternity. This is the day appointed by Him for the defeat and overthrow of the Prince of the kingdom of wickedness, and He will send eternal succour to the company of His redeemed by the might of the princely Angel of the kingdom of Michael. With everlasting light He will enlighten with joy [the children] of Israel; peace and blessing shall be with the company of God. He will raise up the kingdom of Michael in the midst of the gods, and the realm of Israel in the midst of all flesh. Righteousness shall rejoice on high, and all the children of His truth shall jubilate in eternal knowledge. And you, the sons of His Covenant, be strong in the ordeal of God! His mysteries shall uphold you until He moves His hand for His trials to come to an end.

The Dead Sea Scrolls were written by the Essenes, who, as many other authors have stated, were in many ways similar to Jesus, and were the only major denomination of Judaism that Jesus did not criticize. One must ask: if Jesus were so adamantly opposed to the Pharisees and the Sadducees, who believed in only one God, yet was tolerant toward the Essenes, who believed in many gods, then does it not stand to reason that Jesus Christ himself may have also believed in many gods? In fact, Jesus Christ did believe in many gods. This is implicitly stated within his commentary on Psalm 82 in the Gospel of John! The Jews were criticizing him for calling himself the Son of God, because they thought it was blasphemy. In response, Jesus pointed out that Psalm 82 in the Bible says that there are many gods, and so therefore it is not blasphemy for Jesus to assert that he is one of these gods, as he put it (John 10:33-38):

The Jews answered Him, “We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.” Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are “gods’”? If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came–and Scripture cannot be set aside–what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’? Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father. But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.”

By saying this, Jesus affirmed the real existence of more than one God and affirmed his own divinity at the same time. Michael S. Heiser writes in The Unique Son of the Most High: The place of Jesus in the divine council, Part 1 of 4 John 10:22-42 (Jesus quotes Psalm 82:6):

6 I (the speaker is God) have said, “You are gods (Myhl); )eloh|4m); and all of you are children of the most High (!Ayæl.[, ynEßb.; be ne, (elyo4n). 7 But you shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.

To whom is he speaking? The Jews at Sinai? No – the other elohim of the council in verse 1 of Psalm 82 are the audience. When Jesus quotes Psalm 82:6, he is mouthing the words of Yahweh (the original speaker in 82:6) and quotes the passage as it originally reads – God speaks to the other elohim. Jesus is not using the verse to say that Psalm 82 had God speaking to the Jews at Sinai.

Verse 7, the next verse, confirms this interpretation, since it says that these gods to whom God was speaking would “die like men” – if they were already men, this makes no sense. Who are the princes? See Daniel 10 – divine beings (the same Hebrew word for Michael and Gabriel beings “princes” is used here in Psalm 82:7 – r#o – sar).

POINT: Jesus does not view the plural elohim of Psalm 82:1 as mere humans, and there’s a reason this is so. The reason he quotes this verse is NOT to claim he’s just a man who can call himself a god like other men – it’s to claim deity as a son of the Most High, and to DISTINGUISH himself from the other sons. The former is the direct impact of John 10; the latter requires taking John 10 in the context of Jesus and John’s prior descriptions of Jesus in this same gospel as the “monogenes” – the UNIQUE son.

There are many other references to “many gods” in the Nag Hammadi as well. In the text On the Origin of the World, 2:97, it tells us:

Seeing that everybody, gods of the world and mankind, says that nothing existed prior to chaos, I, in distinction to them, shall demonstrate that they are all mistaken, because they are not acquainted with the origin of chaos, nor with its root.

And it is these gods that are actually subservient to what the text calls “Yaldabaoth,” the child of chaos or the Satanic demiurge and material principle.

And when Pistis Sophia desired to cause the thing that had no spirit to be formed into a likeness and to rule over matter and over all her forces, there appeared for the first time a ruler, out of the waters, lion-like in appearance, androgynous, having great authority within him, and ignorant of whence he had come into being. Now when Pistis Sophia saw him moving about in the depth of the waters, she said to him, “Child, pass through to here,” whose equivalent is ‘yalda baoth‘.

Since that day, there appeared the principle of verbal expression, which reached the gods and the angels and mankind. And what came into being as a result of verbal expression, the gods and the angels and mankind finished.

In the Books of Jeu, the Untitled Text, of the Bruce Codex, it tells us about a Heavenly, Pleromic City in which all manner of divinities dwell:

And in the place of the indivisible one there are twelve springs, and upon them twelve fatherhoods, surrounding the indivisible one in the manner of the deeps or these veils. And there is a crown upon the indivisible one in which is every species of life : and every triple-powered species; and every incomprehensible species : and every endless species ; and every unutterable species; and every silent species ; and every unmoved species ; and every first-visible species ; and every self-begotten species ; and every true species ; all being within it.

And in this is every species and every gnosis. And every power receives light from it.And every mind is revealed in it. This is the crown which the Father of the All gave to the indivisible one, in which there are 365 species, and they shine and fill the All with imperishable and inextinguishable light.

In the Gospel of Thomas, Logion 30, Jesus seems to indicate the reality of the divine mystery of the Trinity. But as in due course, we will see this mystery is anything but.

Jesus said, “Where there are three gods, they are gods. Where there are two or one, I am with him.”

In the Gnostic text Melchizedek, it differentiates between the gods, the archons and the archangels:

Death will tremble and be angry, not only he himself, but also his fellow world-ruling archons, and the principalities and the authorities, the female gods and the male gods, together with the archangels.

In the Hermetic-Stoic text Asclepius 21-29, it says that certain Gnostic human beings or Hermetic sages have expanded their spirits enough to be indeed enlightened dual beings–being of both spirit and matter and actually contain in themselves the ability to create gods through their theurgical rituals which taps into the realms of the imaginal, in which I will discuss later.

“And it happened this way because of the will of God that men be better than the gods, since, indeed, the gods are immortal, but men alone are both immortal and mortal. Therefore, man has become akin to the gods, and they know the affairs of each other with certainty. The gods know the things of men, and men know the things of the gods. And I am speaking about men, Asclepius, who have attained learning and knowledge. But (about) those who are more vain than these, it is not fitting that we say anything base, since we are divine and are introducing holy matters.

“Since we have entered the matter of the communion between the gods and men, know, Asclepius, that in which man can be strong! For just as the Father, the Lord of the universe, creates gods, in this very way man too, this mortal, earthly, living creature, the one who is not like God, also himself creates gods. Not only does he strengthen, but he is also strengthened. Not only is he god, but he also creates gods. Are you astonished, Asclepius? Are you yourself another disbeliever like the many?”

The Gospel of Philip tells us something very similar:

That is the way it is in the world – men make gods and worship their creation. It would be fitting for the gods to worship men!

Returning to the Hermetic text, Asclepius, it also states that “the gods are derived from pure matter.” Here, the gods are not spiritual entities, but material entities, and therefore may be biological in nature like humans are. Yet the same passage also asserts that the gods are immortal. Perhaps certain biological entities that are much more intelligent than mankind have figured out a way to cheat death indefinitely, and thus become “pure matter.”

For the gods, since they came into being out of a pure matter, do not need learning and knowledge. For the immortality of the gods is learning and knowledge, since they came into being out of pure matter. It (immortality) assumed for them the position of knowledge and learning. By necessity, he (God) set a boundary for man; he placed him in learning and knowledge.

The depths of hell are also filled with distinctly different entities, including at least four different types, according to the Trimorphic Protennoia:

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

In the Platonizing Sethian text, Allogenes, it ruminates on whether or not the “Summum Bonum”, or the Highest Good actually has angels at his beckoning call:

We do not know whether the Unknowable One has angels or gods, or whether the One who is at rest was containing anything within himself except the stillness, which is he, lest he be diminished.

In Genesis 3:5, the Serpent tempted Eve saying:

For God does know that in the day you eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

In other words, the fruit from the tree of knowledge would give Eve the perspective and “knowledge” of the Elohim. The Hebrew word elohim can mean either “God” singular or “gods” plural, depending on the verb. The Hypostasis of the Archons clarifies the matter, explicitly saying that Eve would become like the gods but the “chief ruler” or Yaldabaoth/Yahweh, out of jealousy, damned the primal couple, when they were expelled from the Garden of Eden.

And the snake, the instructor, said, “With death you shall not die; for it was out of jealousy that he said this to you. Rather your eyes shall open and you shall come to be like gods, recognizing evil and good.” And the female instructing principle was taken away from the snake, and she left it behind, merely a thing of the earth.

Moreover, the book of Jubilees (3:19) found among the Dead Sea Scrolls also confirms that “gods” plural is the original meaning.

And the serpent said unto the woman, ‘Ye shall not surely die: for God doth know that on the day ye shall eat thereof, your eyes will be opened, and ye will be as gods, and ye will know good and evil.

Moreover, it seems like the God of Genesis doesn’t really know everything when he asks:

And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?

The Testimony of Truth has this to say about the Genesis account:

But what sort is this God? First he maliciously refused Adam from eating of the tree of knowledge, and, secondly, he said “Adam, where are you?” God does not have foreknowledge? Would he not know from the beginning? And afterwards, he said, “Let us cast him out of this place, lest he eat of the tree of life and live forever.” Surely, he has shown himself to be a malicious grudger! And what kind of God is this? For great is the blindness of those who read, and they did not know him. And he said, “I am the jealous God; I will bring the sins of the fathers upon the children until three (and) four generations.” And he said, “I will make their heart thick, and I will cause their mind to become blind, that they might not know nor comprehend the things that are said.” But these things he has said to those who believe in him and serve him!

The Genesis account presents us with one single all powerful Creator God and yet has a few references to the Elohim in regard to both the Trees of Knowledge and Life. Does Jesus say anything in reference to Genesis? Actually, Jesus never does affirm that the earth was literally created in six days nor does he affirm the literal creationist timeline as creationists might have you believe. There is only one reference out of the entire New Testament that discusses the creation account in the 7 day period including the day of rest in Hebrews 4:3-7, a text, by the way, which had a hard time entering into the traditional cannon and is kept out of eastern church cannons.

Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said,

“So I declared on oath in my anger,

    ‘They shall never enter my rest.’”

And yet his works have been finished since the creation of the world.For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “On the seventh day God rested from all his works.”And again in the passage above he says, “They shall never enter my rest.”

Therefore since it still remains for some to enter that rest, and since those who formerly had the good news proclaimed to them did not go in because of their disobedience, God again set a certain day, calling it “Today.”

Moreover, the opening verse of John’s gospel, “In the beginning was the Word,” presents a creation account that appears to be aimed at competing against Genesis 1. The Greek word Logos implies logic, order and reason, which is the exact opposite of what Genesis 1 says about the earth being “without form and void.” This indicates that the Logos was sort of a demiurgical force that gave some sort of semblance of order from the chaotic abyss, from which Yaldaboath, the god of the void, also emerges from.

Henotheism, not monotheism, is the theology of Moses and the Prophets. It is the chief theology of Jesus Christ himself as well. This fact is generally accepted by scholars, as any number of authorities can attest. So, what exactly is Henotheism? Nothing better defines Henotheism than what St. Paul the Apostle told in 1 Corinthians 4-8:

So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that “An idol is nothing at all in the world” and that “There is no God but one.” 5 For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.

Henotheism is the belief that many gods exist, but that only one God should be worshiped. Unlike monotheism, there are truly many gods and they really do exist. Yet unlike polytheism, not all the gods are worshiped. Only one of them is worshiped, and the rest are profane and are to be shunned. Henotheism explains why James the brother of Jesus and Saint John the Apostle, together with all the Prophets, were so thoroughly against idols and eating meat sacrificed to idols, even to the point where it was one of the few regulations of the Old Testament that they insisted non-Jewish Christians must keep in full as stated in Acts 15:29.

You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things. Farewell.

This is because sacrifices to idols serve profane entities that truly do exist, according to 1 Corinthians 10:19-22:

19 What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons.22 Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?

Henotheism explains why idolatry is the most frequently mentioned offense in the entire Bible–for if God is all powerful, then an idol is nothing, and it would only be an inconsequential joke and hardly worth the mention. But if idolatry truly serves other gods that truly do exist, and if sacrifices to idols truly feeds those gods, then this explains why Yahweh and his Prophets are so vociferously against idolatry. For if there are other gods, then these gods are truly a threat to Yahweh and to his Messiah, and therefore it is particularly important that idolatry does not infiltrate the ranks of the faithful, for it truly gives enemies a foot in the door by which they can infiltrate the armies of Yahweh. The God of Henotheism is actually competing against other gods who are real. Worshiping other gods is serving other gods, and serving other gods undermines the power of your covenant God, and this is tantamount to adultery against your God and treason against your nation. In such terms the Prophets speak of idolatry. This line of thinking only makes sense in light of Henotheism.

If God were Almighty, then the overarching importance of the prohibition against idols makes no sense at all, because in a monotheistic system, and idol has no power. Which is worse, praying to rocks and dead trees, or committing murder?  In a monotheistic system, the first is laughable but the second is quite heinous. But in a Henotheistic system, idolatry is even more heinous than murder, for murder can only kill the body, but idolatry kills both body and soul, for it puts the soul at the mercy of gods who care not for humanity. Only within the framework of Henotheistic thinking does it make sense that idolatry is a worse crime than murder, theft, sexual perversion, or any other infraction. Seeing that the Bible condemns idolatry more frequently than any other sin, this is a case for Henotheism. Idolatry is also considered the same as adultery by Jesus as well in Matthew 5:27-28.

27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

In other words, if you are worshiping God but then praying to other pagan gods, then in reality, you are already committing adultery. In the Old Testament, we actually the first instance in which a foreign god actually humbles himself before Yahweh–that being is Dagon, the fish god in 1 Samuel 5:2-4:

Then they carried the ark into Dagon’s temple and set it beside Dagon.When the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the Lord! They took Dagon and put him back in his place. But the following morning when they rose, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the Lord! His head and hands had been broken off and were lying on the threshold; only his body remained.

In the text Ruth 1:15-17, we have Naomi who was a Hebrew who believed in Yahweh, but here she sanctioned the worship of other gods besides Yahweh, but only for those outside the Hebrew nation.

15 “Look,” said Naomi, “your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her.”

16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. 17 Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely,if even death separates you and me.”

In Jeremiah 48:7, the Moabite god Chemosh is said to be bound in chains like an actual person, thanks to Yahweh’s invasion.

Since you trust in your deeds and riches, you too will be taken captive, and Chemosh will go into exile, together with his priests and officials.

As stated in earlier posts, we saw that many of the western Semitic peoples, including Hebrews, Canaanites, and the more archaic city of Ugarit, believed in a Father-God called El, which corresponds to the Greek Ouranos. The name El and its variants are known throughout the Bible, El, Elyon, El-Shaddai, and Eloah. They believed El spawned a brood of sons called bn-Ilm (Ugaritic) or beni-ha-Elohim (Hebrew), which means “sons of El” or “sons of the God,” and that these sons of El participated in some kind of divine government called “the congress of the gods.” Mark S. Smith in the book The Origins of Biblical Monotheism: Israel’s Polytheistic Background and the Ugaritic Textstells us that the Psalms 82 reference of the “divine council” scene, doesn’t actually portray Yahweh as the head of the assemblage.

One biblical text that presents Yahweh in an explicit divine council scene does not cast him as its head (who is left decidedly mute or undescribed, probably the reason why it survived the later collapsing of the different tiers). This text is Psalms 82, which begins in verse 1:

“God (elohim) stands in the divine assembly of El, among the divinities (elohim) He spronounces judgment.”

Here the figure of God, understood as Yahweh, takes his stand in the assembly. The name El was understood in the tradition – and perhaps at the time of the original text’s composition as well – to be none other but Yahweh, and not a separate God called El.

This is the origin of the title “Standing One” of Simon Magus. It indicates that a divine power has decided to stand up and forge his own divine kingdom and even wage war against the other gods. The operations of this congress are implicit within such Biblical stories as the Tower of Babel, where Yahweh consults with the other gods – “Let us go down and confuse their language” Genesis 11:7 – and in Job, where “the sons of God came to present themselves before Yahweh.” Job 1:6, 2:1. El and his wife Asherah had a total of 70 sons in the Biblical and Ugaritic traditions, or 77 in the Hittite tradition. These were the “sons of God,” and to each of them El gave a nation as an inheritance. Yahweh was one of these sons of El, and his inheritance was Israel, as stated in an earlier article. Consequently, each nation was supposed to worship one of the sons of El as its appointed God. Canaan worshiped Baal, Moab worshiped Chemosh, Ammon worshiped Molech, and Israel worshiped Yahweh. They all paid homage to El as the Father-God. This can be seen in Jubilees, where Shem,

“blessed the God of gods, who had put the word of the Lord into his mouth, and the Lord for evermore.” Jubilees 8:20-21.

In this passage, it sounds as if Shem was blessing two distinct divine entities – El and Yahweh, Father and Son. We already saw that in Deuteronomy 32:8, Dead Sea Scrolls and Septuagint tells us:

“When Elyon divided the nations, when He separated the sons of Adam, he set the boundaries of the nations according to the number of the sons of Elohim.

What this passage means is this: The Father-God Elyon divided the nations according to the number of sons he had, and so each nation got its own god. Your Bible might say “sons of Israel” in place of “sons of Elohim,” but both the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Septuagint attest that the Bible originally said “sons of Elohim” not “sons of Israel,” as does Irenaeus also (Against Heresies 3.12.9). Many scholars believe that the Hebrew Bible was intentionally corrupted by the monotheists to read “sons of Israel” because later Judaism evolved to become monotheist.

Often, even in early times, the national god was combined with the Father-God El to form one entity, hence the term “Yahweh Elyon” (the LORD Most High) in Genesis 14, and “Yahweh Elohim” (the LORD God). Hence, the two deities were collapsed into one long before monotheism was invented. This also is the origin of Trinitarian thinking – that Jesus Christ, as an entity, can be collapsed into a single entity with the Father and the Spirit, thus making God three-in-one. Today, theologians often refer to the Trinity as a “mystery,” but there was no such “mystery” in the minds of ancient Christian Trinitarians. They took it for granted, because it was consistent with the same way they had thought for centuries. Only with the general acceptance of the monotheistic heresy did the Trinity become a seemingly self-contradictory “mystery.”

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This brings us to the violent activities of the God of Israel. Psalm 82:6-8 tells us:

“I said, ‘You are “gods”;

    you are all sons of the Most High.’

But you will die like mere mortals;

    you will fall like every other ruler.”

Rise up, O God, judge the earth,

    for all the nations are your inheritance.

In other words, the God of Israel’s rightful destiny is to ultimately conquer the other gods and appropriate their inheritances. In a world filled with warfare and hostile nations, the logical thing to do is to have your nation and the god that rules over it, top dog. That is exactly how the ancient Israelite’s viewed such things. Yahweh should be president in the congress of the gods and should have the power to make war with the other gods and take away their power.

This is especially evident when we study the Psalms and the life story of King David. David’s covenant or pact with Yahweh was simple: you keep me from being killed by my enemies, and I will conquer all Israel’s neighbors for you. The covenant was a contractual obligation between two parties for their mutual benefit. The benefit to David was a long life. The benefit to Yahweh was the conquest of Edom, Moab, Philistia, Syria, Ammon, and the national unity of Israel. Once this is understood, David’s Psalms make sense. His frequent mention of the underworld and his intense fear of death–coupled with his description of Yahweh as a god of war with nostrils filled with fire, riding on thunderclouds, sword in hand, hurling lightening bolts, and shooting arrows at his enemies, along with multiple songs of victory–these features are consistent with David’s incessant wars of conquest against all Israel’s neighbors.

In this god-eat-god cosmic system, David wanted to ensure Yahweh was the top dog or the king of the jungle–hence the image of the lion and the serpent associated with the Jewish god. This sort of alliance system between gods and humans is what Old Testament covenant theology is all about. When Israel went to war, they carried the throne of Yahweh into battle, the Ark of the Covenant, because Yahweh was their commander and ally. Before they attacked, they consulted with Yahweh, to make certain he approved of the military action. Every war was a holy war against some other competing nation and its god. Expanding the boundaries of your nation meant expanding the empire of your covenant god, and your god would reward you for it.

Jesus himself acts like a warring Son of God with words like:

“Do not think that I came to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword?” Luke 12:51, Matthew 10:34.

Jesus, is in essence, a holy warrior. Jesus says things like this because he knows he is in an all-encompassing cosmic battle with the chief principle of matter of this world–Satan–as well as his hordes of demons. Jesus Christ made friends with the poor and the wretched, the prostitutes, and social outcasts. He was not looking for ethical or self-righteous people. He was looking for loyal people, worthy to his cause. He was looking for people in the dregs of society or the worst of sinners who would fight for him–who would risk everything for him, because they had nothing to loose anyway. Jesus is presented as not an all-powerful being but a god among gods, who must fight his way to become chief of the gods, or else he would become a slave to gods more powerful than himself–at least in this world anyway. He wants violent people, red hot for their faith and devotion to his cause rather than embrace a universalistic religious message as espoused by more pacifist saints. That is why Jesus says he will vomit out the lukewarm in Revelation 3:16.

Jesus continually talks about the the wicked hearted hypocrites and calls them vipers and perverse. He also referred to gentiles as dogs. The Lord wasn’t some friendly hippie that the New Age makes him out to be. He’s too much of a truth teller so they killed him for it. Jesus continually told his disciples to count the cost of being loyal in his service. In Luke 14:25-33, he tells them to properly anticipate all the costs of being associated with the Son of God in terms of building towers and warfare strategies similar to those devised by Sun Tzu.

25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said:26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

28 “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’

31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.

However, very few make it past the veil and are indeed victorious over the world.

13 Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

If I’m right, and all these deities have competing interests and are recruiting followers on earth for unseen cloak-and-dagger conspiracies on the other side, Jesus could be some opposing force that steals their recruits and diminishes their ranks, which would explain why they hate him so dearly. Jesus, in essence, would be like the “get out of jail free” card of the spirit world. This also explains why the other gods also hate Yahweh, because he is in constant war and competition with them. So, were the Gnostics right in saying we are in a prison house or insane asylum ruled by multiple cosmocraters and demonic archons? And that Jesus chooses to baptize those who he wants to be his disciples? The Excerpts of Theodotus say something to this affect.

Now, regeneration is by water and spirit, as was all creation: “For the Spirit of God moved on the abyss.” And for this reason the Saviour was baptized, though not Himself needing to be so, in order that He might consecrate the whole water for those who were being regenerated. Thus it is not the body only, but the soul, that we cleanse. It is accordingly a sign of the sanctifying of our invisible part, and of the straining off from the new and spiritual creation of the unclean spirits that have got mixed up with the soul.

Some of the archons would undoubtedly be less evil than others. Some might not even be evil and may be, in fact, good, but their ultimate intentions may not be so pure. They could, perhaps, all desire power, worship, and honor, even the good ones, so even if you serve the good archons, you’re still a slave. Jesus is some formerly unknown alien infiltrator who showed up out of nowhere and began zapping people out of the sphere of the archons. Yahweh would be one of the archons, not the true father of Jesus Christ. Maybe he’s a good archon, but he still wants power, glory, and submission. This is the Gnostic belief. Sabaoth, the “Lord of Forces” would essentially be Yahweh as we think of him today. The malicious aspects of the OT deity could be Yaldabaoth or Satan. They would all be part of the Elohim or the original pantheon of divinities worshiped in ancient Mesopotamia.

The Marcionites believed that the ones who would be saved were those who were cursed by the demiurge and were unfairly treated in this world, i.e., sinners and outcasts, kind of like Cain, Korah, Balaam, and other so-called bad guys of the Old Testament. Because these sorts of people were so unfairly mistreated in the world, the Marcionites thought, they would be the only ones who would be opening to receiving the radical gospel about the alien God of Jesus Christ. They were the perfect soldiers for Jesus’ controversial and exclusive message of his divine sonship, the redemption of the believer and the coming judgment and destruction of the cosmos through the fiery conflagration.

This is perhaps where some mythicists go wrong. They are right in saying that Jesus shares many similarities with other pre-Christian gods and their dramatic stories. Jesus also shares similarities with other enigmatic and magical figures in the Bible like Simon Magus, etc. But to say that Jesus was simply invented in the twisted, archonic minds of the Roman rulers or invented by some unknown cabal is exactly what the controllers want you to believe. This is exactly what Gnostic texts like On the Origin of the World is refuting!

“Now the Word that is superior to all beings was sent for this purpose alone: that he might proclaim the unknown. He said, “There is nothing hidden that is not apparent, and what has not been recognized will be recognized.” And these were sent to make known what is hidden, and the seven authorities of chaos and their impiety. And thus they were condemned to death.

So when all the perfect appeared in the forms modelled by the rulers, and when they revealed the incomparable truth, they put to shame all the wisdom of the gods. And their fate was found to be a condemnation. And their force dried up. Their lordship was dissolved. Their forethought became emptiness, along with their glory.”

I definitely don’t think it’s mythology. I know it’s not mythology. These entities are real. Once you conjure to manifestation, you know of their reality forever. And of course, they know that you know of their reality forever. You get marked, essentially. Whether by Jesus Christ or some other demonic being. And we have to decide which team to side with since they are all fighting for our souls.

And as Christopher Knowles over at the Secret Sun once said in his series explaining why he is not a mythicist:

But believing Jesus or Paul were real people doesn’t mean you need to buy into the tenets of orthodox Christianity, or of any other kind of Christianity, for that matter.

And finally, the Neoplatonists taught the idea of a world-soul, or the Anima Mundi, in which they acquired from Plato. This is the divine, noetic realm from which emerged the gods and daimons. It is also the equivalent of Dr. Carl Jung’s collective unconscious and Dr. Henry Corbin’s Imaginal Realm. All gods, daimons, angels, heroes, fairies, devils, monsters, and myths originate from there as well. This is the very subject of focus in Daimonic Reality: A Field Guide to the Otherworld by Patrick Harper. In fact, that is what the On the Origin of the World is telling us, explicitly:

Now the eternal realm (aeon) of truth has no shadow outside it, for the limitless light is everywhere within it. But its exterior is shadow, which has been called by the name ‘darkness’. From it, there appeared a force, presiding over the darkness. And the forces that came into being subsequent to them called the shadow ‘the limitless chaos’. From it, every kind of divinity sprouted up […] together with the entire place, so that also, shadow is posterior to the first product. It was <in> the abyss that it (shadow) appeared, deriving from the aforementioned Pistis.

The Soul of the World, collective unconscious, or Imaginal Realm, is the very source of which all the gods emerge from, like droplets from a wave. In other words the gods, daimons, and myths of the Imaginal Realm are not in the Imaginal Realm etc.–they are the Imaginal Real. It is this dynamis or power from which many Gnostics drew their strength from to create the gods through occult means similar to that of creating egregores as hinted at in the Hermetic text, Ascelpius. In fact, it is a dynamic, tempestuous place that constantly branches into “our” world–its tendrils leaping into the physical plane, the mental plane (our thoughts/imagination) and our psychological complexes and dreams.

The Anima Mundi, the daimonic reality in which our spirits also originate from, also exists within each of us–it is a plan of being that is as much “out there” as it is “within us,” as as opposed to how the “unconscious” part of the collective unconscious suggests as area of being that can be reduced to psychological factors. It is also connected to the idea of the “vault of heaven” as per Genesis or the demiurgical “womb” of the Cainites per the church father Epiphanius. And it is the means by which we can create physical reality and impress our will upon (e.g) the law of attraction–a subject and direction that will be explored further in depth, this year in 2017.

The Megas Aeon Podcast #2: Mystery Initiation, Simon Magus, and the Path of Gnosis

This is part 2 of my interview with Michael Eleleth/Janus. Here, we discuss more of his background and spiritual path. We also discuss Simon Magus and his connections with St. Paul, Jesus Christ, St. Peter and John the Baptist. We also talk about what it means to be a Gnostic, Gnostic dualism, Manichaean doctrines, hidden gnosis in pagan religions, Hermetism, the canonical Gospels, and much, much more. Hope you enjoy!

P.S. I realize there is a slight echo with the guest’s voice but it isnt too distracting. I couldn’t figure out how to get rid of it. I will eventually put these episodes on i-Tunes or another service, once I figure that out. Thanks for listening!

Outro Music: Jega – Knight Lore.

Update: You can now listen and download the episodes directly from my site on the right-hand menu. Just right click on your mouse and click “save link as”. Thank you for your patience. 

New Project Alert: The Megas Aeon Podcast

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

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

The Secrets of Saturn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And soon after he says:

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

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

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

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

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

Some equate the Garden of Eden with the Golden Age of Saturn. Some even postulate that Eden was actually some sort of “Sacred Mountain” or the World Axis, like the climbing of Dante’s Mountain of Purgatory that represents the pilgrim’s progress, through the sphere. Eden was blocked off from Adam and Eve because of their transgression of Divine Law. This sacred mountain, upon whose summit stood the temple of the gods, gave rise to the stories of Olympus, Meru, and Asgard. The City of the Golden gates—the capital of Atlantis—is the one now preserved among the numerous religions as the City of the Gods, the Holy City, and even the New Jerusalem of Revelation, with its streets paved will gold and its twelve gates shining with precious stones.

Atlantis was said to have been a naval power that took over parts of Western Europe and Africa in 9400 B.C. before an explosion sank the island beneath the ocean. Like Eden, it was said to have been centered at the source of four rivers—which also comes from Sumerian myth of Ziusudra and the Zoroastrian legend of pairideaza, from which we get the word “paradise”. The Garden of Eden is called gannah in Hebrew, which means a hidden place. It’s an Avestan term from Old Persia, which was also used as a term to refer to enclosed parks, matching with Plato’s description of Atlantis being a highly advanced society, walled off from the rest of the barbaric world, in his writings. The author of Mystery Babylon writes about the “hidden” nature of Saturn:

Saturn was, and is, probably one of the most important figures behind the development of Mystery Babylon. Interestingly enough, Saturn was also known to be a “god of hidden counsels,” a “concealer of secrets,” and a “god of ‘mysteries.’ In fact, one of the major subtitles of this god was, “the Hidden One” or the “Hidden God.” Now, what was so mysterious about this god; that he had to be hidden?

According to some ancient thought, Saturn might have originally been equated to Noah – at least at first; and the reason he was known as “The Hidden One” was simple: Noah was “hidden” in the ark for an extended period of time! Because of this, Noah could have been considered “the first of the Hidden Ones” – but, not the last!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Hippolytus’ Refutation of All Heresies (V, 11), he mentions a Gnostic group called Peratics, they specifically name Cronus as the demiurge and lord of mortal generation.

For Cronus is a cause to every generation, in regard of succumbing under destruction, and there could not exist (an instance of) generation in which Cronus does not interfere.

They also say that this god is identified with the midheaven cardinal point, or the summer tropic, which is the very force that turns the wheel of fate over the world (V, 10).

Since, then, astrologers are acquainted with the horoscope, and meridian, and setting, and the point opposite the meridian; and since these stars occupy at different times different positions in space, on account of the perpetual revolution of the universe, there are (necessarily) at different periods different declinations towards a centre, and (different) ascensions to centres. (Now the Peratic here-ties), affixing an allegorical import to this arrangement of the astrologers, delineate the centre, as it were, a god and monad and lord over universal generation, whereas the declination (is regarded by them as a power) on the left, and ascension on the right. When any one, therefore, falling in with the treatises of these (heretics), finds mention among them of right or left power, let him recur to the centre, and the declination, and the ascension (of the Chaldean sages, and) he will clearly observe that the entire system of these (Peratae) consists of the astrological doctrine.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bringing Down the Heavens

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

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

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

Those with ears let them hear!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So Mote It Be

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

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

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

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

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

The Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC) reads:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the Corpus Hermeticum XIII, we read:

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

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

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

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

“The will of God, my child.”

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

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

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

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

“Do I have tormenters in me, father?”

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

“I am ignorant of them, father.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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More as it develops…

 

Theurgy and Knowledge in the Chaldean Oracles, IAO and Hekate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Pope Solar Disk

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The ruler of those named ‘archontics’ is termed the ‘accursed’ god. Who would venture to use such language—as if there could be an “accursed” divinity! Yet the God of the Mosaic cosmogony is termed an accursed divinity, because such is his character, and worthy of execration in the opinion of those who so regard him, inasmuch as he pronounced a curse upon the serpent, who introduced the first human beings to the knowledge of good and evil.

What could be more foolish or insane than such senseless wisdom? For what blunder has the Jewish lawgiver committed? and why do you accept, by means, as you say, of a certain allegorical and typical method of interpretation, the cosmogony which he gives, and the law of the Jews, while it is with unwillingness, O most impious man, that you give praise to the Creator of the world, who promised to give them all things; who promised to multiply their race to the ends of the earth, and to raise them up from the dead with the same flesh and blood, and who gave inspiration to their prophets; and, again, you slander him! When you feel the force of such considerations, indeed, you acknowledge that you worship the same God; but when your teacher Jesus and the Jewish Moses give contradictory decisions, you seek another God, instead of him, and the Father!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marcion and Empedocles: The Gnosis of Love and Discord

The Church Father and Pope Hippolytus in Refutations of All Heresies (1.3) writes about the pre-Socratic and Orphic philosopher Empedocles:

But Empedocles, born after these, advanced likewise many statements respecting the nature of demons, to the effect that, being very numerous, they pass their time in managing earthly concerns. This person affirmed the originating principle of the universe to be discord and friendship, and that the intelligible fire of the monad is the Deity, and that all things consist of fire, and will be resolved into fire; with which opinion the Stoics likewise almost agree, expecting a conflagration. But most of all does he concur with the tenet of transition of souls from body to body, expressing himself thus:–“For surely both youth and maid I was, And shrub, and bird, and fish, from ocean stray’d.”

This (philosopher) maintained the transmutation of all souls into any description of animal. For Pythagoras, the instructor of these (sages), asserted that himself had been Euphorbus, who sewed in the expedition against Ilium, alleging that he recognised his shield. The foregoing are the tenets of Empedocles.

Hippolytus makes it clear that it is his mission to expose many Gnostic heresies is fueled by also explaining the doctrines and ideas of the philosophers and the pagan mysteries, including Empedocles and his master Pythagoras, which he connects to Marcion. In a nutshell, Hippolytus was trying very hard to say that all the Gnostic mystery schools were nothing more than clever rip-offs of the pagan myths, legends and philosophy. According to some mythicists, the same can be said for Christianity in general. Hippolytus also makes it clear that his main argument in Refutation (V11. 29-31) is that Marcion is a parasite of Empedocles’s mysteries, who is also treated as a follower of Pythagoras. While much has written about Marcion and his heresy and doctrines, there isn’t much written in regards to how and why Hippolytus compares him to the pre socratic philosopher.

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Bust of Empedocles

Hippolytus writes about Marcion’s heresy and apparent plagiarism from Empedocles:

This (heretic) having thought that the multitude would forget that he did not happen to be a disciple of Christ, but of Empedocles, who was far anterior to himself, framed and formed the same opinions, — namely, that there are two causes of the universe, discord and friendship. For what does Empedocles say respecting the plan of the world? Even though we have previously spoken (on this subject), yet even now also, for the purpose, at all events, of comparing the heresy of this plagiarist (with its source), we shall not be silent.

According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, it states how Empedocles went astray from sticking to his Pythagorean roots when he was suddenly exiled from a “blessed life” since he spilled animal blood and ate animal flesh as part of a ritual sacrifice:

In the opening lines, the narrator of the poem, who is presumably Empedocles, describes himself as a god, received as such by the cities to which he travels. To them he dispenses advice, prophecies, and cures (B 112). This god is actually a spirit—a daimôn—who has been exiled from the blessed life of the other spirits by breaking an oath and shedding blood (by killing and eating animals: see below). He wanders throughout the natural world, rejected by the very elements, because he put his trust in raving Strife (B 115). Exiled daemons are reincarnated into all sorts of living forms, finally coming to be as prophets, poets, physicians, and leaders among men.

So the ultimate aim of a daimonic philosopher is to journey back to a state of purity by siding with Love instead of Strife. This applies to the shedding of blood and to live a conscious life. Marcion was also known to tell his fellowship to abstain from meat and wine as well and forbade his followers from sexual intercourse and marriage. Love or Friendship leads the punished souls inside the realm of Strife and Discord (compared with the Demiurge) out from the world and into a realm of unity as Hippolytus says.

The souls, then, thus detested, and tormented, and punished in this world, are, according to Empedocles, collected by Friendship as being a certain good (power), and (one) that pities the groaning of these, and the disorderly and wicked device of furious Discord. And (likewise Friendship is) eager, and toils to lead forth little by little the souls from the world, and to domesticate them with unity, in order that all things, being conducted by herself, may attain unto unification. Therefore on account of such an arrangement on the part of destructive Discord of this divided world, Empedocles admonishes his disciples to abstain from all sorts of animal food. For he asserts that the bodies of animals are such as feed on the habitations of punished souls.

Not only is there similarities between Marcion and Empedocles, but also the later and the Prophet Manes. For Manes or Mani, the Two Roots or universal principles (Do Bun in Persian) are Light and Dark. The Tree of Life and the Tree of Death. It is said that the teachings of the Greek scholars, Empedocles and Pythagoras were passed down to Mani by the teacher Scythianus, whom it is said, lived at the time of the Apostles (although there is no evidence that Scythianus even existed). Empedocles is a source for the doctrine of the four elements (fire, water, air, earth), even as it manifests itself in Hippocrates and Galen’s teaching of the four humours. This is a very practical doctrine which is used widely even today. Empedocles also taught that the universe is composed of the forces of Neikos: Strife/Discord and Philia: Love/Friendship. Here is another source for the Manichean Two Roots in the Roman Emperor Septimius Severus who is quoting probably from the Kephalaia:

The difference between these two Principles is like that between a King and a pig: Light dwells in a royal abode in places suitable to its nature, while Dark like a pig wallows in mud and is nourished by filth and delights in it.

To be sure, preoccupation with the problem of evil did not originate with Manichaean dualism or its predecessor in Gnosticism. The Greek philosophers had long devoted considerable attention to the nature and source, of evil. In the Platonic Academy, in particular, the close links between evil and matter were emphasized as the Hellenistic world emphasized the transient and hostile nature of the natural world despite what some consider to be simply “marginal” beliefs of the world’s first “chaos magicians” (being the Gnostics) who hate and reject matter (as if any person can reject matter in the first place!). This simplistic view however, when one researches the subject in depth can easily be dispelled since many Gnostic groups were actually involved in the great medical schools of the first and second century and had much more nuanced views on matter when one reads Gnostic texts from the Nag Hammadi Library.

Returning back to Marcion, he was a well known Gnostic in whom the Church Fathers dedicated the most vehement hatred and disgust, out of all the heretics of the ancient world. The Apostle Paul was the figurehead for his church, who during the second century was a fierce Hellenistic competitor with the Apostolic Orthodox church. Marcion once had a principle text called Antitheses.  

In Adolf Harnack’s sympathetic study on Marcion in Marcion: The Gospel of the Alien God (more than Bart Ehrman’s Lost Christianities), he writes that Antitheses, was intended to be a bedrock for the Marcionite faith, indeed as a “creedal book.” A reconstruction of Antitheses is not possible, Harnack informs us, in part because “not even the arrangement of the work is clear,” but a number of things can nonetheless be determined or gleaned based upon quotes from it found in the works of the church fathers. The purpose for this book was to “demonstrate the irreconcilability of the Old Testament with the gospel,” along with the latter’s origin from a different God (p. 17).

We also know its opening lines: “O wonder upon wonder! Rapture, power, amazement! We can say nothing about the gospel message, not even compare it with anything else.” Here, Christ was saying that Christ came from another realm altogether with a wondrous message of deliverance in ecstatic terms. Moreover there seems to have been a special emphasis on one word in particular—“new.” We can find references to “new God,” “new deity,” “the new kingdom,” “new and unheard of kingdom,” “new master and proprietor of the elements,” “novel doctrines of the new Christ,” “new works of Christ,” “new miracle,” etc, etc, as opposed to the old wine skin of the Old Testament.

It looks like Marcion was struck with astonishment, bowed down in awe before a revelation so utterly prodigious of the Gospel. Clement of Alexandria felt equally exalted:

Christ shines. He shines more brightly than the sun. Night flees before him, fire is afraid, death departs. He presents the believing soul to the Father to keep in heaven for all eternity. O true sacred mystery! O clear, pure light!”

Marcion referred to this “new,” supreme God as “the Stranger.” The Marcionites also could call themselves “strangers,” much like other Gnostics did as not a pejorative term but an endearing one, as they proclaimed a strange or foreign gnosis or knowledge, a term that reveals some of their philosophy of existence.

The Latin Church Father Tertullian accused Marcion of deism (then called Epicureanism, since Epicurus the philosopher was technically a deist) in Against Marcion 1.24.

If (Marcion) chose to take any one of the school of Epicurus, and entitle him God in the name of Christ, on the ground that what is happy and incorruptible can bring no trouble either on itself or anything else (for Marcion, while poring over this opinion of the divine indifference, has removed from him all the severity and energy of the judicial character), it was his duty to have developed his conceptions into some imperturbable and listless god…

But (once for all) let Marcion know that the principle term of his creed comes from the school of Epicurus, implying that the Lord is stupid and indifferent; wherefore he refuses to say that He is an object to be feared.

Tertullian also makes fun of the idea of there being a “new God,” exposing his hopeless rhetoric and red-hot Catholic love for the Old Testament (1.8).

In the first place, how arrogantly do the Marcionites build up their stupid system, bringing forward a new god, as if we were ashamed of the old one! So schoolboys are proud of their new shoes, but their old master beats their strutting vanity out of them.

Tertullian was comparing Marcion’s conception of god to Epicurus. Tertullian says Marcion’s metaphysical beliefs are closer to Stoicism and Platonism. The reason he accuses him of Epicureanism is because Epicurus was a deist who denied that the gods had any involvement or concern with the affairs of man. Marcion’s supreme god was similar in that he had no involvement with creation and was entirely complacent, although he did eventually intervene as Jesus Christ. Irenaeus writes in Against Heresies (V.26):

Let those persons, therefore, who blaspheme the Creator, either by openly expressed words, such as the disciples of Marcion, or by a perversion of the sense [of Scripture], as those of Valentinus and all the Gnostics falsely so called, be recognised as agents of Satan by all those who worship God; through whose agency Satan now, and not before, has been seen to speak against God, even Him who has prepared eternal fire for every kind of apostasy.

Tertullian also says something very interesting in Against Marcion (3.12):

You will find that among the Hebrews there are Christians, even Marcionites, who use the name Emmanuel when they wish to say God-with-us…

Tertullian is saying that there were Jewish Marcionites. Isn’t that kind of important, since Marcion is constantly being accused of anti-Semitism? So, let us sort this mess out. Marcion, as far as we know, had nothing against Jews. His Romans retained most of the verses sympathetic to Jews. He even felt pity for the ancient Israelites, always going so far as to blame their god, and not them, for the atrocities of the Old Testament. And he even inspired Jews themselves to convert to his religion. Yet he is accused of being an anti-Semite.

Irenaeus also posed this question to Marcion (Against Heresies 4.33.2):

…how can he be good who draws away men that do not belong to him from him who made them, and calls them into his own kingdom?

Plotinus likewise objected to the Gnostic propensity to find fault with the universe and its cause (the creator). Porphyry’s title for Plotinus’ tractate against the Gnostics is: Against those who say that the demiurge of the universe and the universe are evil. Simon Magus in the Clementine literature accuses the God of the Old Testament of creating evils, being unmerciful, not being good, and being subject to harsh passions.

The Gnostics and other similar groups believed and based their cosmological systems on the idea that various powers identified with numerous figures from Greco-Roman, Egyptian and Biblical traditions do feature in some astrological content—especially with the notion of astrological fate which early Christians and Gnostics regarded as demonic. They taught that the antithesis of belief in astrological fate was freedom of the will. Therefore, since astrological fate as a demonic power, non-Gnostic humanity was seen as being completely subservient to fate, having lost their freedom under the bondage of the law, flesh and the counterfeit spirit all orchestrated by the wicked goddess Heimarmane.

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These beings were often tied with the “the authorities of the universe and the spirits of wickedness” of St. Paul’s Ephesians 6:12, which directly corresponded with the Archons of Gnosticism. These beings were also said to be the astral lords of fate and were assigned many other terms in both the Nag Hammadi Corpus and the New Testament, such as the “governors”, “guardians”, “gate keepers”, “robbers” , “toll collectors”, “judges”, “pitiless ones”, “adulterers”, “man-eaters”, etc.

These beings will that every “star” or soul would “go astray on the way” as the Gospel of Philip puts it. Each Archon could have also been associated with a planet (no Gnostic text makes this association explicit). And each Archon, according to the Apocryphon of John, has an adjunct or ‘power’ with the head of a beast or predatory animal. Thus, the seven rulers also corresponded to the planetary spheres, the same powers that helped the Demiurge create the world and humanity. As mentioned earlier, zealous church fathers like Hippolytus confirm these accounts in the discussion of Empedocles, in which Hippolytus claimed that the much reviled arch-heretic Marcion had derived his system of dualism from in Book VII, Chapter 17 of Refutation of All Heresies. Hippolytus quotes Empedocles of saying:

Of these I also am from God a wandering exile.

Hippolytus also wrote that Empedocles taught that the first principle, being God or the ineffable Monad existed in a sublime unity before the eventual and furious “Discord” that is a chief characteristic of the Demiurge, the creator of the world and it is this “Discord” that “forcibly severs from unity, and (which it) fashions and operates upon”. Plotinus (or really Porphyry, since he is more likely the author the Enneads), the father of Neo-Platonism grumbled that the Gnostics took a pessimistic view on the world, with continual complaints against providence and the design of the world (Enneads 2.9.8). They cite how there is a constant inequality in wealth and that passions dominate humanity rather than reason (2.9.9). Above all, the material world and all its faults are considered a consequence of the World-Soul’s fall (2.9.4).

Much like the Cynics and the Epicurians, the Gnostics disparaged the glorious celestial lights of the Planets and taught they produced “tragic dramas” and tyranny over the lives of humanity because of the cosmic spheres’ influence. This is much like the “tormentors” of the Zodiac in the Corpus Hermeticum. Their radical critique of the cosmos conflicts with the Stoic idea of the “all-pervading Logos” pan-present throughout the cosmos, the optimism of Plato’s Timaeus with the Demiurge doing his best to emulate the ideal forms, and expression of God’s glory within creation on the account in Genesis. According to Eugnostos the Blessed, the world is conceived as a cavern of chaos and oblivion because of the general lack of knowledge:

Let us, then, consider (it) this way: Everything that came from the perishable will perish, since it came from the perishable. Whatever came from imperishableness will not perish but will become imperishable, since it came from imperishableness. So, many men went astray because they had not known this difference; that is, they died.

The Gnostic perspective on the gods was very similar to Epicurus who refused to accept that the gods had anything to do with the universe, even its creation, because since the world is so evil, anything that produced it would have to be evil, too, according to him. He devised a famous argument on theodicy which goes like this: If god is wants to prevent evil, but can’t, then god is impotent. If god can prevent evil, but doesn’t, then he, too, is evil. If god doesn’t want to prevent evil and can’t prevent evil, then he is evil and impotent. But if god can prevent evil and wants to prevent evil, why does evil exist?

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Plotinus, while accepted the three-fold nature (nous, psyche, matter) like any good Platonist would have; he went to great lengths to refute the Gnostic idea that the soul’s fall into matter was seen as a punishment for its audacity and sin, expiated by metempsychosis and demonic chastisement. Plotinus instead believed, much like Irenaeus, that it was good for the soul to descend into matter, to experience good and evil while the unfolding and goodness of the hierarchy of being included the physical realm. Despite Plotinus’ complaints directed against the Gnostics for their infiltration in their lecture-room, he also shared their denial for the corruptible flesh (that it could be saved) which can be traced back to Plato’s body-soul dualism: the body entombs the soul, and upon death our souls rise to the higher spirit realm of truth and perfection which also mirrors the spirit-matter dichotomy of the physical universe, by contrast, as an inferior realm that poorly copies the Forms. The Pistis Sophia explicitly compares the cosmic rulers with the planets, where the Demiurge:

…set five other great Rulers in every Aeon as lords over the 360 (Rulers), and over all the bound Rulers who are called in the whole world of mankind these names: Saturn, Mars, Mercury, Venus, Jupiter.

From these examples list above, it is easy to see that Gnosticism was a critical response to planet worship and the Fates that the planets charge. Now, what about the claim that the Gnostics beheld Jesus to be the sun? In a way, Jesus could very well be seen as the incarnation of the Sun God. However, the Apostle Paul, to which the Gnostics revered, also condemned planet worship in Galatians 4:

So also, when we were underage, we were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces of the world. … Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God—or rather are known by God —how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.

Colossians 2:16-17 also says:

Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you.

Paul repeatedly condemns other religions, specifically Judaism and pagan religions, for worshiping lesser beings and planets. Christianity, like Gnosticism was a critical reaction to planetary worship, rather than a continuation thereof. By examining his letters, Marcion’s Paul was a mystic who has visions of a disincarnate, spiritual being, who he identified with Jesus Christ. Paul was actually awaiting a docetic savior to transform his mortal body into a spiritual body and whisk him away to an immaterial heaven as indicated in 1 Corinthians 15. Paul’s Christ was a being he encountered in visions.

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While there are certain varieties of doceticism and have many meanings and ideas attached to them, it is essentially the view that Jesus was in nature supremely divine, eliminating his humanity and substituting it for a seemingly one. The term Docetism (Greek, dokein = “to seem” or “to appear” and sometimes “to think” or “imagine”) indicated the distinctive thesis of it that Christ’s incarnation, hence his sufferings, were unreal, phantasmal, appearing only to be human. The Gnostics offered a vision of a non-material Christ who did not suffer and die on the cross. In fact, he was laughing at the trick he had played on all of those who thought he was dying as the Apocalypse of Peter suggests:

I saw him seemingly being seized by them. And I said “What do I see, O Lord? That it is you yourself whom they take, and that you are grasping me? Or who is this one, glad and laughing on the tree? And is it another one whose feet and hands they are striking?”

In other words: Jesus was different from what he seemed to be. Doceticism claimed that Christ only appeared or seemed to be a man. This view clearly shows the Hellenistic assumption the divine impassability and the inherent corruptible nature of matter, although there are other variations of this doctrine. The first to mention expressly “Docetists” or “Illusionists” is Serapion of Antioch (c. 200 A.D.) in his letter to the Church at Rhossos. It was not a simple heresy on its own, but was an attitude that many of its proponents held in their own nuanced and varied ways, including Marcion, Simon Magus, Saturninus, Basilides, Cerinthus, Valentinus, Bardesanes, the authors of many Sethian texts such as the Second Treatise of the Great Seth, the Gospel of Judas, etc. This was firmly countered and opposed by the church fathers, including Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, Ignatius, Clement, Origen and especially Tertullian.

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This heresy is combated by the pastorals in the New Testament, such as some parts in 2 John, some parts of the Gospel of John (which some suspect as Orthodox interpolations since its fundamental theology resembles something that is much more Hellenistic and even Gnostic), and 2 Timothy. Anti-Gnostic authorities and heresiologists such as Irenaeus would write against this docetic heresy:

“Vain indeed are those who allege that He appeared in mere seeming. For these things were not done in appearance only, but in actual reality. But if He did appear as a man, when He was not a man,” there was no “degree of truth in Him, for He was not that which He seemed to be” (AH 5.1.2; 1:527)

According to Irenaeus’ logic, when he charged the Gnostics with teaching this heresy, he claimed it was damnable error because it left man with no hope of union with God through Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross, or so as the Orthodox narrative goes. Irenaeus is as vigorously anti-docetic as he is anti-Gnostic. Mankind’s true salvation in the flesh was at stake through the doctrine that resurrected carnal fleshly bodies would literally fly into the sky in the clouds. Polycarp, Irenaeus’ alleged teacher and sworn enemy of Marcion, made the strongest possible charge against the Docetists by saying that “everyone who does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is an anti-Christ,” echoing 1 John 4:2-3. However, this apparently “demonic” docetic heresy can actually be traced to the Apostle Paul, as he writes in Romans 8:3:

Christ came in the likeness [i.e. appearance] of sinful flesh and condemned sin in the flesh so that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us.

The logic in that passage follows a consistent theme: Flesh forces man to sin. Man cannot save himself because he has flesh. Therefore, Christ comes in the LIKENESS (Gk: homoioma, literally “appearance”) of flesh and condemns sin so that man might be relieved from the guilt of the law that he was unable to fulfill himself. If the author of that passage (Paul) had said that Christ came in actual flesh, it would destroy the entire context of the passage. Homoioma literally means “likeness” or “appearance” as a statue of a man would resemble an actual man. In other words, something that appears similar to, but not actually is, the thing that it appears to be.

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:5-8.

Further on, in the hymn of Philippians 2:6-11, Christ descends, “bearing human likeness and the fashion of a man.” Why this oblique phraseology? The author of that passage clearly did not believe that Christ had an actual body. “Being found IN APPEARANCE AS a man.” If Paul believed that Christ was indeed a man, wouldn’t he just say so? Why would he say that Christ APPEARED to be a man? The passage presents Christ which is the Savior and Logos as being flesh. He took on flesh, he put flesh on. He wore flesh. He never BECAME or transformed into flesh. We also wear flesh. You cannot possibly be your flesh in Gnostic thought. Furthermore, in Colossians 2:9, Paul posited that Christ Jesus was the Godhead bodily who appeared in the “body” (Somatikos). A body does not automatically imply human flesh. The docetic heresy unanimously condemned by the church fathers is right in the New Testament as Paul preached the docetic Jesus, who never came to earth, and the Jewish apostles preached the human Jesus depicted in the gospels, who was a different Jesus altogether, since Paul’s Jesus is so radically different from the Jesus of the gospels. Paul himself acknowledges different Jesuses in 2 Corinthians:

For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.

In the Dialogues of Adamantius, Chapter XXVII, the Megethius (the Marcionite voice against the Catholic Adamantius i.e. Origen) hints at the “alien” or spiritual nature of Christ, sent by the Stranger God to rescue humanity from the clutches of the creator god or Demiurge, the author of the Law and the Flesh:

To such a degree was Christ an alien, to those whom he appeared, and again, Christ to the creator god, that Paul said (Gal .3:13): “Christ purchased us”. It is obvious that he was an alien, for nobody at any time purchases what is their own. But it says that those who were purchased by the alien, he desired to have as his own.

Of course, Empedocle’s doctrine of Strife and Discord can also be found in Genesis, in the fruit of knowledge of good and evil, where the primal parents Adam and Eve partook of a certain dualistic knowledge from their previous pristine, higher existence when they communed with God. From this, the fall occurred which severed the link between man and God. We can also see this dualism in Genesis, where God formed man from earth and then breathed into him the spirit of life. In other variations of this story, the Ophites claimed that Sophia was the one that really blew the spirit of life into Adam, through YHWH/Elohim. So, man is a combination of profane matter and Divine Spirit. Moreover man is the arena of an internal strife between the evil instinct (in Hebrew: Yetzer-hara) and the good instinct (Yetzer-hatov) which reflects this knowledge of good and evil. It also reflects the Platonic idea that the body is the tomb for the soul was adopted by many groups, and not just the Gnostics. In the Kabbalah, the Tikkunei Hazohar states: “A king’s [God’s] spirit is imprisoned in the tresses of the mind.”

Paul in Romans, also claimed a kind of patent dualism that the later Gnostic figure-heads and schools would subscribe too and build upon in that the spirit of Truth was the prisoner of history, space and time belonging to the reality of the rulers:

I find that a law, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man;  But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin, which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from this body of death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

This dualism is reflected in both man and the cosmos like the radical stripe of Marcion, Manes and Empedocles. Man is mortal in his body, but immortal in his divine spirit. Man is the battleground in which angels and demons duke it out. Man is the microcosm reflecting the macro-cosmos of creation. In Gnosticism, dualism was only used to emphasize the transcendental nature of God rather than the traditional Zoroastrian view that there two equal, separate forces in a constant state of struggle and warfare. And so, the Gnostics attempted to explain that evil was a consequence of this spiritual descent into matter and the mundane.

As Ray Embry writes in Marcion: Possible Progenitor of Three Famous Christian Communities: Baptists, Catholics, Gnostics, this Gnostic conception of the spiritual fall from the One still reflects a sort of Mosaic monotheism as opposed to the simple dualism of Marcion, in which he thought that there was an Unknown God superior to the inferior creator god.

All Gnostic theologies seemingly spring forth as ideological children born from the ancient Mosaic idea about an inviolable monotheism. This form of theism sees everything (no matter what) as ultimately deriving from a single Creator. Working within this rigid model of monism, the Judaistic or Mosaic theoreticians could only think in a linear or vertical fashion, where our world lies on one end, while an independent Father of Light stands on the other.

Much like how the Old Testament records this primeval struggle between the upper-light and the lower-darkness, theological tenants were also hotly debated and meted out between many Christian sects—both being of an Orthodox persuasion and a heretical one. Further evidence indicates that the original Christians were Gnostics, not literalists or fundamentalists. The Gnostics preached the Good News of Gnosis which advocated the liberation of every soul. The Orthodox Church Fathers, however, taught that the scriptures were historical and literal. “True knowledge” for Irenaeus (an attack on the Gnostic idea of salvation through knowledge) comes in the Apostolic Tradition, which comes through the succession of Bishops, which is Catholic and not sectarian:

True knowledge is [that which consists in] the doctrine of the apostles, and the ancient constitution of the Church throughout all the world, and the distinctive manifestation of the body of Christ according to the successions of the bishops, by which they have handed down that Church which exists in every place, and has come even unto us, being guarded and preserved without any forging of Scriptures, by a very complete system of doctrine...(4.33.1-9)

To Irenaeus, salvation was a more or less an ecclesiastical matter rather than an individual’s sovereign right to achieve the Great Work outside of demiurgical iron manacles of organized religion. To theologans like Irenaeus, the Gnostics were simply false prophets and schismatics. The Church Fathers along with the newly created Roman Church eventually took religious intolerance to undreamed of levels, eventually destroying all forms of religion (other than their very narrow version) that they could get there hands on as recorded in Eusebius’ Life of Constantine, 3:64, 65.

The Gnostics rivaled the emerging Catholic groups among other groups like the Jewish Christians and the Marcionites and were just as determined as their Catholic opponents to legitimize their views in any way possible. It became of utmost importance for Catholic apologists to demonstrate that Gnosticism was an erroneous doctrine of Christian heresy, and is founded or inspired by those who opposed the apostles themselves. Irenaeus taught that Simon Magus was the father of all Gnostic heresy and the Simonians of his own day claimed him as founder, just as St. Paul was the “apostle of the heretics”, as per Tertullian.

The aim of Gnosis is simple: the extraction or resurrection of the spiritual man–the spark of the “alien” Divinity imprisoned in the jail cell of spiritual death and ignorance. Any means to reach liberation and freedom from the temporal fetters of matter, from the vicissitudes of history, the turpitude of daily routines, the pain and suffering that is experienced by the less fortunate (which has always been the vast majority of the human race) to the pure transcendental good father was acceptable. Asceticism or libertinism, and every variation in between was practiced. For a savior figure like Simon Magus to redeem his consort Helen, fallen into whoredom, he must roll with her in the mires of depravity. He, like Jesus had to put on the appearance of a man, although humanity wasn’t his original nature. The Savior or Gnostic must also practice sacred deceit: He must disguise himself as an adherent to the Demiurge and the powers that rule the world, to be admitted to his domain, in order to save the souls, the sparks of Divinity, exiled and stranded as ship-wrecked sailors of ascension.

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The 33° Freemasonic author Albert Pike has many fascinating things to say in his massive tome, On Morals and Dogma, especially in the following excerpt from Morals and Dogma, XXX. Knight Kodash. Pike basically admits that the Masonic lozenges or “checker board” symbolism so prominent in Masonic temples actually symbolizes the radical dualism proposed by Zoroaster and Mani (or Manes).

For the Johannism of the Adepts was the Kabalah of the earlier Gnostics, degenerating afterward into those heretical forms which Gnosticism developed, so that even Manes had his followers among them. Many adopted his doctrines of the two Principles, the recollection of which is perpetuated by the handle of the dagger and the tesserated pavement or floor of the Lodge, stupidly called “the Indented Tessel,” and represented by great hanging tassels, when it really means a tesserated floor (from the Latin tessera) of white and black lozenges, with a necessarily denticulated or indented border or edging. And wherever, in the higher Degrees, the two colors white and black, are in juxtaposition, the two Principles of Zoroaster and Manes are alluded to. With others the doctrine became a mystic Pantheism, descended from that of the Brahmins, and even pushed to an idolatry of Nature and hatred of every revealed dogma.

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Now I am going to speaking on a personal level from here on out. I was inspired by a conversation with a friend of mine and this is what I think. Basically, what the old Hermetic alchemists were saying is that God is the only thing that’s truly real, and He’s present everywhere, or at least fragments or evidence of his existence. Under the rock and in the wood, like the Gospel of Thomas says. What we see with our senses is basically a shadow. It’s not real, in an ontological sense. This is what Benjamin Walker is getting at when he writes in Gnosticism: It’s Influence and History (p. 37):

The exercise of free will requires an area for its operation, and this resulted in certain catastrophic consequences. Where the will of the Father was withdrawn, the will of the opposing archons prevailed. Where the writ of his goodness did not run, evil emerged. Where his spirit was removed, matter came forth. Where his light was withdrawn, darkness supervened. Instead of love and providence, there was now law and fatality. And where there had been life, there was now death.

Yet it must be remembered that nothing can have existence without God, and even when God is apparently absent, his erstwhile presence has left its permanent impress. The Gospel of Truth speaks of this residual presence of God even after his withdrawal, as the footprint-trace ([ichnos) of the Father’s will. Basilides too emphasized the essential presence of God in all circumstances and situations, when he said that the empty place resulting from God’s withdrawal did not ever cease to show traces of the divine brightness. The vacated place retained the ‘flavour’ of the Father, just as a bowl containing sweet smelling unguent retains the fragrance even after the bowl has been completely emptied.

Giordarno Bruno once said that the since God is infinite, the universe must also be infinite, as God’s manifest form. I also read a recent article that some scientists now question the big bang, and think that the universe may have always been here, which if the case, Bruno was right all along. But from a theurgical perspective, which is more holistic in the view that everything is compromised of some sort of spiritual nature, and that everything in existence exists for some grand purpose. Even evil has some sort of necessary function or reason for being. I guess I’ve been influenced by Hermetic monism.

I’m choosing to look at it this way because radical dualism has become highly disturbing to me as of late. The thought that evil exists as some counter deity and functions independently with no intended purpose from the good is a very grim prospect. I have to believe there is a reason for everything now. The science fiction author Philip K. Dick had the same issue. At times, he would be a radical dualist, but then it would become so disturbing to him that he would adopt a more monistic worldview. The Hypostasis of the Archons sort of reflects this more monistic (in its own contradictory pluralistic sense) way of looking at things.

The rulers laid plans and said, “Come, let us create a man that will be soil from the earth.” They modeled their creature as one wholly of the earth. Now the rulers […] body […] they have […] female […] is […] with the face of a beast. They had taken some soil from the earth and modeled their man after their body and after the image of God that had appeared to them in the waters. They said, “Come, let us lay hold of it by means of the form that we have modeled, so that it may see its male counterpart […], and we may seize it with the form that we have modeled” – not understanding the force of God, because of their powerlessness. And he breathed into his face; and the man came to have a soul (and remained) upon the ground many days. But they could not make him arise because of their powerlessness. Like storm winds they persisted (in blowing), that they might try to capture that image, which had appeared to them in the waters. And they did not know the identity of its power. Now all these things came to pass by the will of the father of the entirety.

And again it says:

Now when Yaldabaoth saw him (Sabaoth) in this great splendor and at this height, he envied him; and the envy became an androgynous product, and this was the origin of envy. And envy engendered death; and death engendered his offspring and gave each of them charge of its heaven; and all the heavens of chaos became full of their multitudes. But it was by the will of the father of the entirety that they all came into being – after the pattern of all the things above – so that the sum of chaos might be attained.

So from the Sethian perspective, even the demiurge and the archons were created for a reason which accounts for a more nuanced Hermetic view that isn’t as dualistic as many consider Gnosticism to be. Both radical dualism and radical monism can be taken to extreme conclusions. The more moderate approach of the Sethians and the Hermetists is the most rational, out of these perspectives. And yet, radical and moderate dualism are just two different ways of looking at the same thing. Both are true and compatible with one another. It just depends on whether you’re going to focus on the light or the dark. New Agers represent the radical monism worldview. They’re so hyper-focused on the positive that they totally reject the influence of evil in the world and are thus totally exposed to demonic influence and deception. It’s like these New Agers who channel random spirits and believe all the wacky BS that comes along with their messages about our beloved space brothers, aliens, ascension into the fourth dimension and such.

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There is a good part in the novel, A Scanner Darkly where Philip K Dick muses on radical and moderate dualism. He writes as Bob Arctor about how he suspects that radical dualism may be true, but he hopes that it isn’t.

“What does a scanner see? Into the head? Down into the heart? Does it see into me? Into us? Clearly or darkly? I hope it sees clearly because I can’t any longer see into myself. I see only murk. I hope for everyone’s sake the scanners do better, because if the scanner sees only darkly the way I do, then I’m cursed and cursed again.”

I see the devil as a sort of tool of God. He’s evil and in rebellion, but God secretly uses him to do his will. Kind of how the Valentinians saw the demiurge as well as the Ophites with Sophia and Ialdabaoth. Holism is inherent to natural and sympathetic magic. Tantra also encompasses holism as well. Everything in nature exists for some specific purpose and is imbued with a spiritual nature that can be tapped into through occult knowledge. The Gospel of Philip tells us this exactly:

“The saints are served by evil powers, for they are blinded by the Holy Spirit into thinking that they are serving an (ordinary) man whenever they do so for the saints. Because of this, a disciple asked the Lord one day for something of this world. He said to him, ‘Ask your mother, and she will give you of the things which are another’s.'”

So what we call the Devil and his legions of demons from hell would be the anarchists of the cosmic hierarchy. They’re chaotic and in rebellion to God’s will, but God’s providential scheme already accounted for the faults of free will before it was even enacted. Or maybe Empedocles and Marcion were right along to say that there were two opposing principles from the beginning of creation or that this dualism is somehow an aberration or deviation from an original unity of existence. At this point, I am open to any of these possibilities. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Hermetic Hocus Pocus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Paul, Thrice Great

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Biblical Exegesis: Nicodemus’ Mistake

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“Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him: Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do, unless God is with him” (John 3:1-2).

The phrase “A ruler of the Jews” indicates that Nicodemus symbolized an àrchön, which is the exact word used in the Greek original. An àrchön is the Gnostic technical term for any power or agent of the Demiurge, to whom John 12:31 refers with the words: ho àrchön toû kòsmou toùtou, “the ruler of this world”, whose agents, in Paul’s words, are hoi àrchontes toû aiônos toùtou (“the rulers of this aeon” – the kòsmos) of 1 Corinthians. 2: 6, 8 (there in the genitive). Therefore also Nicodemus’ name may be significant, for Nikòdëmos means “conqueror of the people”, and the Demiurge is the one who “conquers” people and keeps them in slavery through the power of his heimarmènë, the Fate (karma). This means of slavery is called the “counterfeit spirit” in the Apocryphon of John.

The Jewish Pharisees, in John’s Gospel, symbolize the hylic class of human beings. The Law of Moses according to Paul also symbolized the flesh and was thus crucified on the Cross. The Gospel of John attaches fundamental importance to the cross and through it Christ throws down the Prince of the world. It is the cross that for Paul and John, it must be looked upon in order to be saved, just as the bronze serpent was looked at.

The Demiurge rules within the shadows, and therefore moves in the darkness. Not by chance then Nicodemus “came to Jesus by night”. It is an apt description of Nicodemus’ life and all those who live within the cave of matter. Man is a prisoner of this cave, or the box of time-space continuum. Now how can any demiurgic power, or any man under the demiurgic rulership, understand the nature of what shines beyond its sphere?

First of all, such power or man cannot but reason in terms of heimarmènë, of cause and effect, ignoring that space and time do not exist beyond his world of cause and effect. He believes that he can recognize a divine incarnation (an Avatara) from the “signs” He does. He thinks he can measure the divine dimension as he would the ability and the cleverness of a juggler. Jesus does not waste his time in explaining him the difference. He just points at Nicodemus’ blindness (because of the darkness he moves in) and at the condition necessary to overcome it:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born ànöthen, he cannot see the Kingdom of God”(3:3).

Anöthen means both “anew” and “from above”. Naturally Nicodemus understands it in terms of time (“anew”) and of “reincarnation” which indicates his carnal thinking:

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

Nicodemus is one of those who believe that one can reach the infinite by adding step to step, or that eternity is an infinite summation of days. He believes that finally his heimarmènë will produce the uncaused. Now Jesus tries to open Nicodemus’ eyes:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God.”

(The words “of the water and” are missing in many ancient manuscripts). And Jesus explains the difference between the heimarmènë-bound world of matter and that of Spirit’s freedom:

“That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you: You must be born (ànöthen). The spirit (Pneuma) blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes”.

And finally He makes it clear what ànöthen really means:

“No one has ascended to heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man (the Anthröpos) (ho hyiòs toû anthròpou)”.

Here “the son of the Anthropos” is the Pneumatic (spiritual) element in man. Anöthen means a vertical movement intervening in the horizontal chain of cause and effect in time and space, which is the schêma, the latter being unable to stop itself. The laws of cause and effect are also very much a big concern in later Hermetic texts. Although this scene is not mentioned in Heracleon’s (a Valentinian teacher) fragments as preserved by Origen, he does give some interesting insights into another scene that is somewhat reminiscent of the scene with Nicodemus. Here is one example taken from these fragments:

Fragment 20, on John 4:21 (In John it says, “Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.’”) The mountain represents the Devil, or his world, since the Devil was one part of the whole of matter, but the world is the total mountain of evil, a deserted dwelling place of beasts, to which all who lived before the law and all Gentiles render worship. But Jerusalem represents the creation or the Creator whom the Jews worship. . . The mountain is the creation which the Gentiles worship, but Jerusalem is the creator whom the Jews serve. You then who are spiritual should worship neither the creation nor the Craftsman (Demiurge – my emphasis), but the Father of Truth. And he (Jesus) accepts her (the Samaritan woman) as one of the already faithful, and to be counted with those who worship in truth.

As we can see, allegory was a common teaching tool that many early Christians and Gnostics were engaged in. Even Hellenistic Jews like Philo Judeaus of Alexandria was heavily invested in this allegorical methodology but applied to the Old Testament. Another example of this can be seen in the Valentinian teacher Theodutus’ fragments as preserved by Clement of Alexandria:

XXIV. For we are of the earth. . . . Caesar is the prince, for the thee being, whose earthly image is the old man, to which he has returned. To him, then, we are to render the earthly things, which we bore in the image of the earthly, and the things of God to God. For each one of the passions is on us as a letter, and stamp, and sign. Now the Lord marks us with another stamp, and with other names and letters, faith instead of unbelief, and so forth. Thus we are translated from what is material to what is spiritual, “having borne the image of the heavenly.” [2]

Stay tuned for more small posts like these in the tradition of the Biblical Exegesis.