Gnosticism

The Megas Aeon vs The Magician and the Fool #16 – Simon Magus and the Standing Ones

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In this episode, I am joined by Domonic and Janus as we do a crossover, roundtable podcast on the myths, legends, magic, and mysticism associated with that bad-boy Samaritan and father of all heresies, Simon the Magician. We also explore the Gospel of John, the Clementine Homilies, Helen, Mary Magdalene, the Samaritans, the competing Orthodox Church vs. those heretical pesky Gnostics, the obscure Celtic legend of Mug Ruith, the Essenes, and much, much more! Part 2 coming soon!

This is a mirrored episode from the Magician and the Fool podcast, which you can find here: http://bit.ly/2plpRFw

Book Review: VALIS by Philip K Dick

Known for his books that eventually would become big-screen hits like Blade Runner and Minority Report, the author Philip K Dick in VALIS (Vast Active Living Intelligence), combines elements of autobiography, philosophy, science-fiction, Gnostic theology, psychoanalysis, and existential self-construction. Like the recently published Exegesis, it takes its origin in the need to understand and respond to the events of February and March 1974 (which Dick called 2-3-74). He was irradiated by a brilliant pink light emanating from a Christian fish-symbol (ichthys) necklace worn by a young woman. He had a series of visions over the next two months, and spent the rest of his life trying to understand them.

The novel splits Dick into two characters: the narrator, Philip K Dick, a moderately successful science-fiction writer; and his unattractively named “Horselover Fat” (Philip in Greek means “fond of horses”; “dick” is German for “fat”), which is his crazy, schizophrenic alter-ego, to whom the visions arrived, and whose life became a quest to resolve their enigma. The principal framework of this book is a sci-fi variant of Gnostic cosmology, where the phenomenal universe is a construct of a false, malevolent and insane god–explaining all of the irrationality and sufferings that it contains.

The world humanity finds itself exiled in, is called the Black Iron Prison, and we are its prisoners. The true God is outside the universe and breaking through to heal it and us in various ways, including the pink light that Dick experienced. After many surreal experiences and visions the book ends with the narrator, Philip K. Dick, sitting before the TV, watching and waiting. He is clear that this is his way of continuing the search and keeping to his mission: keeping awake and open to infinite possibility.

Dick’s novel opens with the beginnings of his eventual psychological break-down and suicide attempt:

Horselover Fat’s nervous breakdown began the day he got the phonecall from Gloria asking if he had any Nembutals. He asked her why she wanted them and she said that she intended to kill herself” (p. 1).

This is no message from a divine light, but the beginning of a soul-destroying relationship with a toxic, thanatotic individual, whose name “Gloria.” One of my favorite lines in the book, actually has little to do with Gnosticism. It goes like this:

I am, by profession, a science fiction writer. I deal in fantasies. My life is a fantasy. Nonetheless, Gloria Knudson lies in a box in Modesto, California. There’s a photo of her funeral wreaths in my photo album. It’s a color photo so you can see how lovely the wreaths are (p. 3).

I think many of us experience moments of revelatory intensity and also of intense despair at the imprisonment of our daily lives and of our very selves.

Caught in his own maze, like Daedalus, who built the labyrinth for King Minos of Crete and then fell into it and couldn’t get out. Presumably Daedalus is still there,  and so are we. The only difference between us and Horselover Fat is that Fat knows his situation and we do not; therefore Fat is insane and we are normal (p. 31).

How did humanity get in such a situation? By the blinding, hypnotic power of the Demiurge, of course. However, other divine beings like Christ, had other plans:

It can be argued that this is the most important statement in the New Testament; certainly it is the most important not-generally-known statement. We shall be like him. That means that man is isomorphic with God. We shall see him as he really is. There will occur a theophany, at least to some. Fat could base the credentials for his whole encounter on this passage. He could claim that his encounter with God consisted of a fulfillment of the promise of 1 John 3:1/2-as Bible scholars indicate it, a sort of code which they can read off in an instant, as cryptic as it looks. Oddly, to a certain extent this passage dovetails with the Nag Hammadi typescript that Dr. Stone handed to Fat the day Fat got discharged from North Ward. Man and the true God are identical-as the Logos and the true God are-but a lunatic blind creator and his screwed-up world separate man from God. That the blind creator sincerely imagines that he is the true God only reveals the extent of his occlusion. This is Gnosticism. In Gnosticism, man belongs with God against the world and the creator of the world (both of which are crazy, whether they realize it or not). The answer to Fat’s question, “Is the universe irrational, and is it irrational because an irrational mind governs it?” receives this answer, via Dr. Stone:

“Yes it is, the universe is irrational; the mind governing it is irrational; but above them lies another God, the true God, and he is not irrational; in addition that true God has outwitted the powers of this world, ventured here to help us, and we know him as the Logos,” which, according to Fat, is living information (p. 58).

An enlightened, immortal man existed before the creator deity, and that enlightened, immortal man would appear within the human race which Samael was going to create. And that enlightened, immortal man who had existed before the creator deity would trample upon the fucked-up blind deluded creator like potter’s clay (p. 55).

This is further elaborated in the different points in Dick’s Tractates Cryptica Scriptura.

44. Since the universe is actually composed of information, then it can be said that information will save us. This is the saving gnosis which the Gnostics sought. There is no other road to salvation. However, this information-or more precisely the ability to read and understand this information, the universe as information-can only be made available to us by the Holy Spirit. We cannot find it on our own. Thus it is said that we are saved by the grace of God and not by good works, that all salvation belongs to Christ, who, I say, is a physician.

45. In seeing Christ in a vision I correctly said to him, “We need medical attention.” In the vision there was an insane creator who destroyed what he created, without purpose; which is to say, irrationally. This is the deranged streak in the Mind; Christ is our only hope, since we cannot now call on Asklepios. Asklepios came before Christ and raised a man from the dead; for this act, Zeus had a Kyklopes slay him with a thunderbolt. Christ also was killed for what he had done: raising a man from the dead. Elijah brought a boy back to life and disappeared soon thereafter in a whirlwind. “The Empire never ended.”

46. The physician has come to us a number of times under a number of names. But we are not yet healed. The Empire identified him and ejected him. This time he will kill the Empire by phagocytosis.

Earlier in the book, Horselover Fat’s world steadily begins to unravel, much like the characters in the Dickian inspired movie Dark City. In Dark City: The Reality Projector, Individuation and the Aion, the author remarks on one of the characters, Detective Walenski, who has gone insane trying to find the truth about his unreality in his spiral-like existence.

“Round and round and round she goes… where she stops nobody knows.” – Detective Bumstead. Detective Walenkski’s drawings are reflections of his efforts to try to figure out that which he cannot remember or understand. The streets and subway follow a spiraling pattern . John finds out that the “Green Line” is the only way to Shell Beach (green-Osiris), but he has no way to get on it.

Horselover Fat eventually has a similar epiphany: that the present world of 1974, in reality, is a holographic cover-up, projecting over the sprawling nightmare, boiling behind it. To his horror, humanity was still stuck in the far-flung ancient world of Rome, where Christian martyrs were thrown to the lions, and all the Caesars spread the light of the Empire all over the known world. And curiously, behind ancient Rome, was also another “big brother,” communist, technocratic New World Order-type of dystopia, explored in another novel called Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said:

…during the interval in which he had experienced the two-world superimposition, had seen not only California, U.S.A., of the year 1974 but also ancient Rome, he had discerned within the superimposition a Gestalt shared by both space-time continua, their common element: a Black Iron Prison. This is what the dream referred to as “the Empire.” He knew it because, upon seeing the Black Iron Prison, he had recognized it. Everyone dwelt in it without realizing it. The Black Iron Prison was their world. Who had built the prison-and why-he could not say. But he could discern one good thing: the prison lay under attack. An organization of Christians, not regular Christians such as those who attended church every Sunday and prayed, but secret early Christians wearing light gray-colored robes, had started an assault on the prison, and with success. The secret, early Christians were filled with joy.

Fat, in his madness, understood the reason for their joy. This time the early, secret, gray-robed Christians would get the prison, rather than the other way around. The deeds of the heroes, in the sacred dream-time . . . the only time, according to the bushmen, that was real. Once, in a cheap science fiction novel, Fat had come across a perfect description of the Black Iron Prison but set in the far future. So if you superimposed the past (ancient Rome) over the present (California in the twentieth century) and superimposed the far future world of The Android Cried Me a River over that, you got the Empire, the Black Iron Prison, as the supra- or trans-temporal constant. Everyone who had ever lived was literally surrounded by the iron walls of the prison; they were all inside it and none of them knew it-except for the gray-robed secret Christians.

That made the early, secret Christians supra- or trans-temporal, too, which is to say present at all times, a situation which Fat could not fathom. How could they be early but in the present and the future? And if they existed in the present, why couldn’t anyone see them. On the other hand, why couldn’t anyone see the walls of the Black Iron Prison which enclosed everyone, including himself, on all sides? Why did these antithetical forces emerge into palpability only when the past, present and future somehow-for whatever reason-got superimposed?

Maybe in the bushmen’s dream-time no time existed. But if no time existed, how could the early, secret Christians be scampering away in glee from the Black Iron Prison which they had just succeeded in blowing up? And how could they blow it up back in Rome circa 70 C.E., since no explosives existed in those days? And now [sic], if no time passed in the dream-time, could the prison come to an end? It reminded Fat of the peculiar statement in Parsifal: “You see, my son, here time turns into space.”

In one article, by Kyle Arnold, he sums up the following points succinctly:

In the following months, the visions continued. Scenes of ancient Rome appeared, superimposed over Dick’s suburban neighborhood. A local playground seemed a Roman prison. Where there was a chain-link fence, Dick saw iron bars, and where there were children playing, he saw weeping Christian martyrs about to be fed to lions. Dick saw pedestrians dressed in Roman military uniforms, stone walls, and iron bars. “I hadn’t gone back in time,” Dick wrote to a friend, “but in a sense Rome had come forward, by insidious and sly degrees, under new names, hidden by the flak talk and phony obscurations, at last into our world again.” Dick supposed time had stopped in 70 A.D., the year the temple of Jerusalem was destroyed by a Roman siege. Everything that happened afterwards was an illusion, and the world was still under Rome’s dominion. Dick believed the Roman Empire was embodied in the tyrannical Nixon administration, and responsible for the assassinations of the Kennedys and Martin Luther King Jr. His own role was that of an undercover Christian revolutionary fighting to overthrow the Empire. That was why the delivery girl had flashed him the fish sign.

The novel ends with an optimistic phone-call from Horselover Fat reporting on his quest to find the 5th Messiah:

“one day I got a phonecall from Horselover Fat: a phonecall from Tokyo. He sounded healthy and excited and full of energy, and amused at my surprise to be hearing from him” (p. 210).

The split between Dick and Fat continues, but it enriches his life instead of despairing it. The healing power of ICHTHYS, anagram for “Iesous CHristos, THeou Yios, Soter” (Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior) and Eros has come to win out over thanatos (spiritual death or ignorance) and alienation. After all the speculations and synchronicities, after all the encounters both toxic and salvific, there is no final explanation only a new sense of optimism and openness:

“My search kept me at home; I sat before the TV set in my living room. I sat; I waited; I watched; I kept myself awake. As we had been told, originally, long ago, to do; I kept my commission” (p. 212).

At the same time, Dick tells us in, “The Ten Major Principles of the Gnostic Revelation”: “To know these ten principles of Gnostic Christianity is to court disaster.” PKD is telling us right there that the archons will come after you once you figure out what’s really going on, much like the Strangers in Dark City and the agents in the Matrix trilogy.

Johnny Mercury: John the Baptist in Egypt

Originally posted last year on Miguel Conner’s Aeon Byte Gnostic Radio site.

As the transit of the sun by the planet Mercury on May 9 draws closer, one may wonder the lore associated with Mercury and how it relates to other religions such as Christianity. The cosmocrator, Mercury, does relate to one particular figure—John the Baptist. John the Baptist is a peculiar, eponymous hero that appears many times not only in Christianity and the Gospels, but also in Gnostic, Mandean, Freemasonic and last but not least, connected to Egyptian sources. In the Gospel of John, he is depicted as a witness, a herald, a dedicated servant or a “Prophet-King” for the Light of the Logos, personified as Jesus Christ.

The Gospel of John goes out of its way to make sure the reader doesn’t confuse John the Baptist with the Messiah. In John 3:25-30, we see this distinction between Jesus and John being brought out in the controversy over purification between John’s disciples and a Jew. After this, Jesus withdraws from the whole argument (4:1) and from baptism itself since something greater than water is coming, being the baptism in the Spirit, which Jesus provides after his death and resurrection. John is adamant in saying that Jesus alone, and not the baptism is enough to take away the sins of the world. We see later that through the death of Jesus, are water and Spirit united (the means to be born again: 3:5), for out of his pierced side flowed, both water and blood (19: 34), united by the Spirit in the water of baptism and the wine of the Eucharist (cf. 1 John 5:5-8).

“An argument developed between some of John’s disciples and a certain Jew over the matter of ceremonial washing.  They came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan—the one you testified about—look, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.”

To this John replied, “A person can receive only what is given them from heaven.  You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him.’  The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less.”

“He must become greater, but I must become less.” This is John’s swan song, his last word in the gospel. It is also the formula under which John operates in the entire gospel, as well. His witness abides, but John slips off the stage. His death of beheading isn’t even mentioned. There is a more interesting theory behind John’s parting words. The late, departed and always controversial mythicist author, Acharya S aka D.M. Murdock, in Christ in Egypt, has this to say on the subject:

Anubis is somewhat confounded or identified with the god Ap-uat as the “opener of the ways,” while, again, Apuat/Wepwawet is also “identical with Osiris.” Like Anubis, Osiris too was the opener of the way, being born at the beginning at the Egyptian New Year, when it occurred at the summer solstice with the inundation of the Nile. However, since Wepwawet has been identified with Osiris, who in turn has been identified with Jesus, this comparison between John and Anubis becomes increasingly apparent, as Anubis would represent the summer solstice and Osiris the winter, while John the Baptist was supposedly born at the summer solstice, six months before Jesus, who was purportedly born at the winter solstice, according to popular tradition dating from at least the third century onward and taught to billions of people worldwide since then.

This juxtaposition of John and Jesus as the sun at summer and winter solstice brings vividly to light the meaning of the enigmatic remark made by “the Baptist” at John 3:30, previously mentioned: “He must increase, but I must decrease.” As the sun passes through the summer solstice, the days begin to decrease in length, until the winter solstice, when the day’s increase again. This peculiar remark, which would not seem to be applicable to a human being, is all the more interesting in view of the fact that it appears only in the gospel of John, again the most Egyptian of the canonical texts, likely written at Alexandria for an Egyptian audience. It may thus serve as evidence that the writer of the gospel was aiming to usurp Anubis with the Jewish “prophet.”

In keeping with the interchangeability of gods within mythology, Anubis is identified not only with Thoth but also with Osiris, his father, depending on the myth. Osiris and Anubis alike not only were associated with the afterlife but also symbolized both the star Sirius and different aspects of the sun, Osiris frequently representing the sun at night, while, like Horus, Anubis was the sun at the horizon, whether rising or setting.

According to Plutarch…Anubis is the horizon itself, representing the line between light and dark. He may thus also be considered “twilight.” As the baby whom she suckles with her finger, Anubis (the horizon) is Isis’s “attendant,” who accompanies her when she seeks her own newborn son (the rising sun). In addition, like Osiris, Anubis is the “god of the dead or the night god.”…

Anubis is further the “‘giver of Sirius,’ the starry opener of the year,” corresponding to the summer solstice, which just happens to be the traditional nativity and feast of John the Baptist… Indeed, St. John’s Nativity or Feast occurs on June 24th, the last of the three days the sun “stands still” during the summer solstice. Like John, who was said to be born six months before Jesus, Anubis was born shortly before Horus. The connection between John the Baptist and Anubis becomes more pointed when it is realized that, while John’s fest days is on the summer solstice, Anubis actually represents the personification of the summer solstice…

The curious, and perhaps even tenuous connection between John and Anubis, is nonetheless trumpeted by Acharya S, who draws extensively on nineteenth century researchers like Gerald Massey, among others. It still remains to this day that Egyptian parallels are viewed with suspicion by most mainstream scholars (e.g. parallelomania). Gerald Massey, as it turns out, has many interesting things to say throughout his work, especially in his Historical Jesus and Mythical Christ. Here is put a tiny glimpse in his work:

The words of John, “Jesus wept,” are like a carven statue of the “Afflicted One,” as Remi, the Weeper. Ra is also the God who “makes the mummy come forth.” Jesus makes the mummy come forth in the shape of Lazarus; and in the Roman Catacombs the risen Lazarus is not only represented as a mummy, but is an Egyptian mummy which has been eviscerated and swathed for the eternal abode. Ra says to the mummy: “Come forth!” and Jesus cries: “Lazarus, come forth!” Ra manifests as “the burning one, he who sends destruction,” or “sends his fire into the place of destruction.” “He sends fire upon the rebels,” his form is that of the “God of the furnace.” Christ also comes in the person of this “burning one”; the sender of destruction by fire. He is proclaimed by Matthew to be the Baptiser with fire. He says, “I am come to send fire on the earth.” He is portrayed as “God of the furnace,” which shall “burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” He is to cast the rebellious into a “furnace of fire,” and send the condemned ones into everlasting fire.

All this was natural when applied to the Solar-God, and it is supposed to become supernatural when misapplied to a supposed human being to whom it never could apply. The Solar fire was the primary African fount of theological hell-fire and hell.

Of particular importance to uncovering the theological identity of this baptism is its description as an external physical purification, whose efficacy is also preconditioned by inner spiritual purification. Such practices did not exist in mainstream Judaism, and in fact developed on the fringes of Jewish religion, like Qumran (perhaps with the Essenes) and continued by Jewish-Christian groups in the first century (A.D.) onward. However, such practices actually originate in Egypt. In the Hermopolitan Pyramid Texts (Sarcophagus Chamber: East Gable, Utterance 211:132), we read:

“Unas is conceived at night, Unas is born at night, for he belongs to the Followers of Re who are before the Morning Star. Unas is conceived in the Watery Abyss, he is being born in the Watery abyss. He has come, he has brought your bread which he has found there!”

Unas, was, in actuality, an ancient Egyptian Pharaoh, the ninth and last ruler of the Fifth Dynasty during the Old Kingdom period. Unas was also the first Pharaoh to have the Pyramid Texts carved and painted inside the walls of the chambers of Egypt as well. These texts identify Unas with Ra and Osiris, who were meant to help Unas reach the afterlife. Unas is said to be born at night in the watery abyss, and belong “to the followers of Re, who are before the Morning Star.” Gnostic texts like On the Origin of the World also depicts the Demiurge, Ialdabaoth, “moving in the depths of the waters of the abyss.” The title “Morning-Star” (Lucifer) here probably refers to Horus. Furthermore, Unas brought the “bread” in the “watery abyss” which brings to mind John the immerser, and Jesus’ words about being born again through “water and spirit” while bringing the Eucharistic “bread out of heaven.” (As pointed out further onward). 

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The English word “messiah” is a corruption of the Hebrew mashiach, which came to mean “anointed,” referring to how Egyptian Pharaohs and kings were invested and consecrated as royalty. At death, it may also refer to one is embalmed and prepared for mummification to survive in the netherworld. The root meaning of being a messiah meant to be like a “Moses”, a king, leader, way shower-to-freedom, and emissary to God. In the Old Testament (2 Samuel 2:14), we see King David, being anointed as a “Son of God.”

“When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his Father, and he shall be My son.”

Psalms 2:6 also says similar things. Thus the Gospel of John draws a parallel between Moses and Jesus specifically to state that Jesus is the Messiah, by God’s anointment and appointment. And it says Jesus is superior to him in a few verses. Although Jesus in the Gospel of John builds on Moses’ tradition with allusions to the raising of the bronze serpent (just like the caduceus of Enki, Asclepius and Hermes is said to be raised), Jesus declares himself and his heavenly substances as superior (6:32):

“Jesus therefore said to them, “Truly, truly I say to you, the bread out of heaven is not given you by Moses; no, the real bread out of heaven my Father is giving you. For the bread of God, is the one coming down out of heaven and giving life to the world.”

Acharya S, throughout Christ in Egypt, point out other similarities between Anubis, as being the “preparer of the way of the other world”, just as John the Baptist came to prepare the way for the Lord, and a connection between the Old Testament and the New (as a return of Elijah in which John denies being), as being the last Prophet-King and the first Christian saint. According to the arch-heretic Marcion, John proclaimed a Jewish messiah conversant with the Old Testament creator-God and had not expected a messiah like Jesus at all (Jesus as the Only-Begotten Son of the God above Jehovah). And so, John belonged to the old dispensation because of the connection between him and Elijah (Tertullian, Adv. Marcion, IV, 18). This wasn’t an attack against the Baptist cult, but rather a projection of Marcionite interpretation of the New Testament.

Acharya S further writes:

“Anubis is also the messenger of the gods, equivalent to the Greek god Hermes or Mercury, the counterpart of the Egyptian lunar god Thoth or Djehuty/Tehuti. Moreover, like Thoth, whose emblem is the Tau or T, Anubis is “never without a cross,” specifically the life-giving ankh, one of the holiest symbols in Egyptian religion. As related by the ancient writer Iamblichus (c. 245-c. 325 AD/CE), “The cross with a handle which Tot [Thoth] holds in his hand was none other than the monogram to his name.”

The connection between the ankh and the cross of Jesus is made more apparent when in Matthew 10:37, Jesus tells his disciples, “And he who does not take his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me.” Luke and Mark have similar variations of this passage. St. Paul is also said to be “crucified with Christ” often in his crucifixion mysticism. The Egyptian cross could be what Jesus is referring to in his commandment above. The ankh was a sign of royalty and life, whereas the cross of Christ was a symbol of debasement and sacrifice (but transformed into the means for “eternal life”).

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One might also consider that the reason for such a strong connection between the Fourth Gospel, John the Baptist, Anubis, Hermes and the Egypto-Hermetic religion might be because John was initiated in Egypt, just as his son/disciple Simon the Magician was said to be. This would make sense considering there are so many similarities between the Corpus Hermeticum and the Gospel of John, too. In the Gospel of John, we see that Simon the Rock (Simon Peter) is said to be the son of John the Baptist, as well.

We must also remember that Mercury is Hermes, who was also depicted as a psychopomp—the god who guides dead souls through the netherworld. As it follows, John is following the tradition of the “wisdom god” via Hermes, Aquarius, Anubis, Oannes, Enki, etc. The last god, Enki, the Sumerian water god of creation and agriculture, is said to provide two streams of Living Waters from his shoulders. The baptism of the initiate is said to herald the anointing of God’s supernatural power via the Holy Spirit, but also given the means to successfully separate or cross over from the world of flesh and into the world of spirit, and thus be saved. This is the meaning behind the allegory of “crossing the River Jordan.”

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It has been often been speculated that John was involved with the Essenes: his with this description in Mark 1:6, as being clothed with camel hair with a leather belt about his waist, and eating locusts and wild honey, as do the themes of repentance and purification. The Clementine writings, the Homilies and Recognitions also play an important part of the lore concerning John. In Baphomet: The Temple Mystery Unveiled, we discuss how the Clementines and the Babylonian Talmud show how Simon Magus and Jesus were both initiated in Egypt. Simon was known to pass on “the Christ” in discipleship succession—a practice that would be eventually adopted by Catholic Church through the apostolic succession of Bishops, Popes, etc.

Irenaeus (A.H. 1, 23.5) says that Simon initiated his disciple Menander, and as he passed the anointing holy spirit to his disciples—Saturninus and Basilides, which were both Gnostics. The Clementines also capture the idea that John the Baptist was hailed and considered to be the original “Christ”. Their enemies, however, would interpret this spirit as being a demon. This is actually what the unforgivable sin is according to Jesus (Matthew 12:30-32): blaspheming the holy spirit as demonic. Acts 8 also seems to be an early polemic/parody against this Simonian/Johannite practice, with Peter appropriating it, while Simon is seeking to “purchase” the powers of the Holy Spirit.

Here is more of what we have to say about it all this, in our book, Baphomet:

“In The Clementine Recognitions (1.54) and (1.60), it is described how some disciples of John felt that he was a more apt owner of the title “Christ” than Jesus:

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

. . .

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

In John 8:48, Jesus is accused of being a Samaritan magician in control of a demon:

Then the Jews answered and said to Him, “Do we not say rightly that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?” Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon; but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. And I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks and judges.”

It should be noted that Jesus doesn’t deny being a Samaritan (as Simon was), but only having a demon. This must be significant since in an older, primitive text may have had Christ admit that he was a Samaritan. The Samaritans were also associated with witchcraft. One must keep in mind that The Babylonian Talmud also named Jesus as a sorcerer who studied magic in Egypt, just as Simon is said to have done in the Clementines. They were probably trained by a Hermopolitan priesthood (the likely authors of The Pyramid Texts). This may account for the twelve missing years in Jesus life. When he finally returned to face the Temple hierarchy, he was a highly educated young man full of heterodox ideas—a savvy, mystical antagonist, just as John was. In The Babylonian Talmud, specifically in Tosefta Shabbat 104b, we find an obscure figure by the name of “Ben Stada” or “Ben Sattadai” who is said to have had the “witchcraft of Egypt” (i.e. magic spells) tattooed on his flesh. (Some scholars have identified Ben Stada as Jesus Christ, but this is a point of contention.)”

Elsewhere in the Clementines, John is paired opposite Jesus in a series of “syzygiai” or pairs, in league with such characters as Cain, Esau, Aaron, Simon Magus and the Antichrist (Hom. 11, 17; cf. Recog. III, 61). The old Egyptologist, E.A. Wallis Budge, suggests that Horus is the embodiment of “He who is above” and Set of “He who is below,” (in their eternal struggle) thus holding a significance to “As Above, So Below” much like how John’s arms are depicted (pointing up and down) in Leonardo da Vinci paintings, as well as Baphomet.

In Hom. III, 22 John is referred to as one “born of a woman” and therefore of the feminine (fallen) order, whereas Jesus, as the Son of Man, is masculine (heavenly)—a familiar Gnostic idea. Both the Homilies and Recognitions connect John with the rise of the Gnostics Dositheus and Simon Magus, as well as being connected to the Jewish sects that opposed the Apostolic church—the Sadducees, Samaritans, Scribes/Pharisees, and the Baptists (the last of which would morph into other cults like the Simonians, Dositheans, Mandeans, etc.) While this might be pure speculation, since some of Simon Magus’ titles include “Standing One” and the “Great Power of God,” we might also find its origins in the Pyramid Texts (Utterance 222, saying 199).

“Stand up upon this land [which came out of Atum, the spittle] which came out of the Becoming One! May you become over it, may you be high over it, so that your father sees you, so that [Re] sees you!”

Jesus is called the “Word/Logos of God” or more accurately, the “Reason of God”. The Logos translates to “reason.” The Logoi are also principles of reasons in Platonic material, as a plural of the Logos. The Logoi also refer to the Platonic Forms related to the Gods. Theurgical tokens and symbols as used by Neoplatonists like Iamblichus use as manifestations of these divine powers. These symbols may exist in the forms of a lion, a rooster, or heliotrope, all of which are representations of Helios and Apollon.

Iamblichus also interprets Greek and Hermetic gods like Dionysus and Asclepius as manifestations of the sub-lunar Demiurge (the craftsman of the world, below the moon). The initiated theurgist was said to have the Logoi filled in their souls. In magical rituals dedicated to Mercury, such as a consecration of a talisman, the Logoi or element of that deity is said to “empower” the object, much like how a Catholic Priest is said to bless “holy water,” the Eucharist, etc., through the laying of hands via Holy Spirit power. One may think of the Logoi as “daimons” who draw the Hermetic god’s power to the magician.

We will return to ritual magic and Johnny Mercury. But for now, let us gaze at Leonardo da Vinci’s “Baptism of Christ.” Notice how John the Baptist is depicted as the Zodiacal sign of Aquarius (the figure who pours water), and Jesus is depicted as the sign of Pisces with the shape of his hands.

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Guest Post: Understanding the Truth of the Crucifixion by “Colorbas”

Hey, folks. Here is the first guest post of 2017. This is by a friend of mine but who wants to remain anonymous through the pen-name “Colorbas”. This one is about the concept of the “abortion” in reference to Demiurge being a malformed aborted fetus which eventually grow up into a blundering “god of the void,” when he stole a portion of Sophia’s power. This connects to the Eucharist, the Gospel of John, and Epiphanius’ slanderous and lurid description of a Gnostic cannibalistic practice. Yeah. Read on to find out more!

Before learning what the truth of the crucifixion actually is, one must first understand the same theology that the Ancients understood. It is a prerequisite because today we live in a 2000 year old smoke screen theology of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches which has only served to provide a false foundation which corrupted a proper understanding of the true meaning of the crucifixion.

So for the first part we shall learn the story of Sophia (Wisdom), her fall, her birth of a male child first called “Yaldabaoth,” then also called “Samael.” But this child was the one who was the architect of this world. His servants call him Jehovah or Yahweh. But what one must learn is what Sophia and her child must do to have Sophia’s error corrected. So let us begin with this: Who was Sophia? Sophia (“Wisdom”) was the youngest of the emanated divinities (or “Aeons”). Here is an explanation of the Aeons derived from the Panarion of Epiphanius of Salamis – Section 31:

These are the 30 Aeons … which have been kept secret and are not known. This is their invisible, spiritual Pleroma, with its triple division into “Ogdoad”, “Decad” and “Dodecad”. … “First-Progenitor” is known only to “Only-Begotten”, that is to “Mind”, who originated from him. To all the rest he is invisible and incomprehensible. Only “Mind” … enjoyed the contemplation of the Father and rejoiced in the perception of his immeasurable greatness. And he intended to communicate the greatness of the Father to the remaining Aeons, what he was like and how great he was, and how he was without beginning, uncontainable and impossible to see. But by the Father’s will Silence restrained him, because she meant to arouse them all to an intent and yearning to seek after their “First-Progenitor”.

Similarly the other Aeons also had a sort of silent yearning to see the originator of their seed, and be informed of their root which had no beginning. Sophia, the youngest of the Aeons (emanated divinities), was the one who was responsible for the “Fall”. Sophia (“Wisdom”) attempted to know the “First-Progenitor;” although this was impossible for the Aeons who had come after the first “Ogdoad.” (Male-female pairs are called “Syzygies.” Two such Syzygies are called a “Tetrad.” Two such Tetrads are called an “Ogdoad.”)

How did Sophia Fall?

“And … Sophia (Wisdom) … being an Aeon, conceived a thought from herself with the reflection of the Invisible Spirit and Foreknowledge. She wanted to bring forth a likeness out of herself without the consent of the [Invisible] Spirit … and without her consort… And because of the invincible power which is in her, her thought did not remain idle and a thing came out of her which was imperfect and different from her appearance, because she had created it without her consort… And when she saw the consequence of her desire, it had changed into a form of a lion-faced serpent. And its eyes were like lightning fires… She cast it away from her, outside that place [the Pleroma], that no one of the immortal ones [the other Aeons] might see it, for she had created it in ignorance… And she called his name Yaldabaoth…” [Apocryphon of John, from the Nag Hammadi Library]

Yaldabaoth is the negative and/or inferior world-architect (“Demiurge”). The Cosmos is the result of a celestial error. The only perfect existence is the Pleroma. The Cosmos is not the result of a deliberate act of a supreme God (as is taught by most modern versions of Christianity) but rather the result of an error made by the lowest of the emanated divinities. Sophia’s passion generates an “abortion,” a “formless entity,” which she cast outside the Pleroma. As a result of this error, the Father emanates a new Aeon-pair (a new “syzygy”), Christ and Holy Spirit, to take care of the “formless entity” which had resulted from Sophia’s passion. And a new, unpaired Aeon, Jesus, is emanated, who is the “perfect fruit of the Pleroma”, and expresses in his being the full attributes of all the Aeons.

As it says in Colossians, “For in him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily”. The Christ Aeon re-shaped the “formless entity,” which then became the Demiurge. And Sophia becomes known as “Achamoth,” a lower Sophia. She becomes the spiritual essence hidden in the soul; and even unknown to her child the Demiurge. The “Fall” actually Preceded “Creation.” The Demiurge, upon,

“opening his eyes, he saw a vast quantity of matter without limit; and he became arrogant, saying, “It is I who am God, and there is none other apart from me”. When he said this, he sinned against the entirety. And a voice came forth from above the realm of absolute power, saying, “You are mistaken, Samael” – which is, ‘god of the blind’. [The Hypostasis of the Archons]

***

“And our sister Sophia is she who came down in innocence in order to rectify her deficiency. Therefore she was called Life, which is the mother of the living, by the Foreknowledge of the sovereignty of heaven. And through her they have tasted the Perfect Knowledge.” [The Secret Book of John]

Warning: The following last part is VERY GROTESQUE!

But it is necessary in order to come to a proper understanding of the crucifixion! How the Error of Sophia is Corrected Holy Communion, the bread and wine, from the earliest of times has always been understood to literally be the body and blood of Christ. Early Christians believed that the body of Christ was the dead body of that “formless entity” which emanated from Sophia. It was the “Abortion” which Sophia cast outside the Pleroma! If you are of the Spiritual you have true life within you. You must return that “formless entity” back to Sophia by eating it. Eating the body of Christ means to eat Sophia’s abortion! And this, the early Gnostic Christians called the “Perfect Passover.”

« But even though one of them should accidentally implant the seed of his natural emission prematurely and the woman becomes pregnant, listen to a more dreadfulthing that such people venture to do. They extract the fetus at the stage which is appropriate for their enterprise, take this aborted infant, and cut it up in a trough with a pestle. And they mix honey, pepper, and certain other perfumes and spices with it to keep from getting sick, and then all the revellers in this [herd] of swine and dogs assemble, and each eats a piece of the child with his fingers. And now, after this cannibalism, they pray to God and say, “We were not mocked by the archon of lust, but have gathered the brother’s blunder up!” And this, if you please, is their idea of the “Perfect Passover.” » (Panarion 26.5,4-6)

Gnostic Christians understood that having children is an error because all flesh in this world is the flesh of the archon who created the world and it really is a taking part in the Heavenly error made by Sophia when she gave birth to the abortion. The error is corrected by Sophia taking the archon/abortion back into herself. We take part in this correction by eating the aborted body and thus taking it back into ourselves. The Body of Christ is the dead body of this archon/abortion! This is the original understanding of Holy Communion and the Body of Christ on the Cross. Yes indeed! This theology is very grotesque! Christ gave the rite of Holy Communion to spare our minds from experiencing the consumption of human flesh and blood, which would only serve to set our minds on the flesh, rather than set our minds on the spirit. As it is recorded in the Gospel of John, “It is spirit who gives life; flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life” (John 6:63).

“Then the Jews began to argue with one another, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me, he also will live because of me” (John 6:52-57).

***

« “The Lord hath shown me what my soul must say on its ascent to heaven, and how it must answer each of the powers on high. ‘I have recognized myself,’ it saith, ‘and gathered myself from every quarter, and have sown no children for the archon. But I have pulled up his roots, and gathered my scattered members, and I know who thou art. For I,’ it saith, ‘am of the ones on high.’ “ » [From the Gospel of Philip – not the one in the Nag Hammadi Library, but rather the real one!] (Panarion of Epiphanius 26.13,2-3)

This quote is from the real Gospel of Philip, I say, because it is quoted by Epiphanius as such. And, the Gospel of Philip in the Nag Hammadi Library not only does not have this verse, but – in reading it – there is a lot of Catholic-like verses contained in it. The verse here quoted relates to the early Gnostic Christian understanding of how to correct the error of having children, i.e. “sowing children for the archon” (the archon is Jehovah). – The correction is by “gathering your scattered members.”

Epiphanius comments:

“But if it turns out to have fathered a son, it is detained below until it can take its own children up and restore them to itself.”

Conclusion

Now it becomes clear why they Apostle Paul referred to the “Cross” with the words the “offense of the Cross” (Galatians 5:11)! “As a result of this many of his disciples withdrew and were not walking with him anymore” (John 6:66). After Jesus left the Christ on the Cross, and the Christ said to Jesus, “My God my God why have you forsaken me,” the Second Man sacrificed his body on behalf of all bodies of flesh, so that by eating we spiritually we take part in the Perfect Redemption! “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself” (John 12:32). “Now those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:24).

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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.

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.

The Chimera Androgyne: The Esoteric Mystique of Baphomet and Abraxas (Part 2)

Part II. Abraxas

The ancient image of the Mithraic lion-headed serpent is first found at the start of the Christian-era who is sometimes depicted as crowned or surrounded by a halo or streaming rays indicating its inherent solar and magical nature. This image is called a Khnoubis or Chnoubis, carved on old gems and amulets. Hebraic names such as “IAO”, “Adonai”, “Sabaoth” and the Gnostic corruption of “Ialdaboath” are also found on these gems for superstitious purposes. Chnoubis was also synonymous with Abraxas, Ophis and Knuphis. Such names are ascribed to the public, builder-god, the “Demiurge” which is the Greek, Platonic term for “half-architect”, the “lord” and author of the structure of the material world.

In ancient magical texts such as the Greek Magical Papyri often invoke images of Chnoubis which were used for the purpose of warding off malevolent demonic influence as well as stomach aches by knowing and memorizing many different names of spirits in life and after death in efforts to banish them and overcome the cosmic rulers that guard each succeeding realm of the “astral realm”. The Greek Magical Papyri also provides the means to summoning of demons for various anti-social purposes of the magician (such as making thievery invisible, sending dreams, winning favors in both men and women, inflaming lust in the person of desire, killing, etc.)

In the Middle Ages, Abraxas was also known as the king of demons, a title similar to gods of other cultures such as Shiva of Hinduism. In the Dictionnaire Infernal (Demonographia), Abraxas was spelled “Abracas” as one of the many demons for the purpose of invocation similar to the usage ascribed in the Greek Magical Papyri. In many Gnostic texts, the Demiurge was also associated with the element of fire, besides bearing many Chimeric qualities as the Apocryphon of John indicates:

And when she saw (the consequences of) her desire, it changed into a form of a lion-faced serpent. And its eyes were like lightning fires which flash. She cast it away from her, outside that place, that no one of the immortal ones might see it, for she had created it in ignorance.

In the Pistis Sophia, the Demiurge isn’t at all by any means a handsome fellow as he’s depicted as a fiery yet dark lion-faced demon, residing within the Dante’s Inferno-like chaotic underworld of Hades where he and his forty-nine demons tortures the wicked souls who end up in such a horrible place in boiling rivers of pitch-black darkness. In the Gospel of Judas, “Nebro” (meaning rebel angel) Yaldaboath’s henchman and himself also dwell in Hades or hell as one of the twelve angels to come “into being [to] rule over chaos and the [underworld]”. He comes from heaven, his “face flashed with fire and whose appearance was defiled with blood”. The mythological Chimera found in the Homer’s Illiad was also described with similar features:

…a thing of immortal make, not human, lion-fronted and snake behind, a goat in the middle, and snorting out the breath of the terrible flame of bright fire.

The Gnostics had taken biblical theology into new, previously unknown territory by merging it with Platonic thought. Yet after this infusion, neither biblical theology or Platonic thought looked the same after. Plato had his benevolent Demiurge, a creator god from Timaeus. This Demiurge worked hard to create the best possible world as a reflection of the the Ideal realm. For Plato, matter is neither inherently good nor evil. It remains neutral. Matter in Timaeus is originally featureless and passive like the darkened, still waters of an isolated pond. It’s primeval and existent even before the four basic elements. Receptive matter is considered to be the “mother” while the “father” Demiurge becomes the active agent to mold it after the image of eternity as an imitation. The world he created was the best that could be given the fact that it was a reflection of the higher world in the realm of matter. The soul can work to be freed from matter by pious living, and upon death, ascend back to the Good.

The Sethian Gnostics on the other hand conceived the world as wholly disastrous and shitty by a retarded and spiritually blind creator, called Ialdaboath. The Gnostics’ obsession with theodicy or the problem of evil and its source became reflected on their myths. Like many Jewish thinkers of their time, the Gnostics posited a hierarchical duality between the Supreme God and the demuirgical angel. Yet their identification of the Demiurge with Satan become a much more radical and even “misotheistic” (hatred of the gods or the belief that god or the gods aren’t good but are in fact malevolent, bent on making the lives of their creation as miserable as possible) interpretation of the creator god. This malevolent demon-king was the warring, belligerent opponent to the Pleroma, the higher collective realm of the spiritual “aeons”. Because he was the one who created the world, it is a world of suffering and imprisonment. The Sethians had linked the story of Satan’s fall from Paradise with the Demiurge. Ialdabaoth in Gnostic literature was the aborted and accidental birth of Sophia, creator of the sensible cosmos and was eventually relegated as the blasted lion-faced fuck writhing within the bowels of Tartarus.

The only hope for freedom of the soul is for a redeemer to come and instruct it how to get out of the cycle of imprisonment that contains it through Ialdabaoth’s rule and destroy Ialdabaoth’s army of angels and demons by the means of spying, even shape-shifting into their bestial forms and destroying their yoke over the slave race of mankind. The Savior was essentially a betraying double-agent to the archons. No amount of righteous living is going to free the soul from the clutches of the Demiurge. Only a savior angel or “Illuminator” more powerful than the malicious Ialdabaoth could liberate the soul from the iron shackles of the cosmos. This is completely different to Plato’s myth. The archons are of course, the fallen or jealous angels who are battling the forces of the Stranger God and its emanated revealer who seek to reveal the fruit of gnosis to mankind which is held in captivity by the “god of the aion”. The daimons or demons are another inferior and subordinate class (to the gods) of malicious creatures created from a different substance than the angels. According to Irenaeus, the Gnostics taught that angels and demons (including the Devil) were crystallized from the tears of the fallen Sophia:

They further teach that the spirits of wickedness derived their origin from grief. Hence the devil, whom they also call Cosmocrator (the ruler of the world), and the demons, and the angels, and every wicked spiritual being that exists, found the source of their existence. They represent the Demiurge as being the son of that mother of theirs (Achamoth), and Cosmocrator as the creature of the Demiurge. Cosmocrator has knowledge of what is above himself, because he is a spirit of wickedness; but the Demiurge is ignorant of such things, inasmuch as he is merely animal. Their mother dwells in that place which is above the heavens, that is, in the intermediate abode; the Demiurge in the heavenly place, that is, in the hebdomad; but the Cosmocrator in this our world. The corporeal elements of the world, again, sprang, as we before remarked, from bewilderment and perplexity, as from a more ignoble source. Thus the earth arose from her state of stupor; water from the agitation caused by her fear; air from the consolidation of her grief; while fire, producing death and corruption, was inherent in all these elements, even as they teach that ignorance also lay concealed in these three passions.

Similarly, in the the little known text called The Paraphrase of Shem, reveals a mythology featuring a “cosmic” Womb which gives births to the cosmos, including both angels and demons. The text is very erotic, with sexual images everywhere, used to explain how this cosmos came into being:

And in order that the demons also might become free from the power which they possessed through the impure intercourse, a womb was with the winds resembling water. And an unclean penis was with the demons in accordance with the example of the Darkness, and in the way he rubbed with the womb from the beginning. And after the forms of Nature had been together, they separated from each other. They cast off the power, being astonished about the deceit which had happened to them. They grieved with an eternal grief. They covered themselves with their power.

A good example of this is the Paraphrase of Shem, which is one of the few extant Gnostic treatises which contains a three-principled system of origins as opposed to one. The author likens the cosmic catastrophe to sex. Perhaps the author didn’t like sex very much. The author of this text is probably the same of the same cult of “Sethians” or “Sithians” Hippolytus talks about in Refutation of All Heresies. These Sethians held to three originating cosmic principles, rather than one or two. Shem is a text from one such group. The author of Shem hypothesizes three different principles: light, darkness, and spirit.

There was Light and Darkness and there was Spirit between them. Since your root fell into forgetfulness – he who was the unbegotten Spirit – I reveal to you the truth about the powers. The Light was thought full of hearing and word. They were united into one form. And the Darkness was wind in waters. He possessed the mind wrapped in a chaotic fire. And the Spirit between them was a gentle, humble light. These are the three roots. They reigned each in them­selves, alone. And they covered each other, each one with its power.

Most other groups such as the Manicheans and Marcionites held a two-principled system: light and darkness, good and evil. The rooster-headed Anguepede (chimera) under his name Abraxas was also considered to be a combination of the seven planetary powers that consists of the archons discussed earlier. Abraxas and Chnoubis were also considered to be roughly equivalent to the Agathodaimon, the “good spirit” of fortune and health by the ancient Egyptians and Greeks. They were often represented as serpents. Abraxas, according to Gnostic myth, was a redeemed archon who rose above the Hebdomad to rule over it as an intercessory figure between the Pleroma and the world of matter.

Abraxas became a figure of veneration for many Gnostics such as those who followed Basilides. This astral god was feared by the ancient people because he controlled the universe. He ruled it and our fates. He usually has a leonine head or a cock-head, solar rays, and also serpentine form as both forms are interchangeable for Abraxas. Abraxas was however, often depicted as a bizarre mixture of man and beast, with the rooster’s head representing the dawn of understanding (roosters of course being the animal that traditionally greets the dawn) and a sense of vigilant wakefulness; the body of a man represents the embodied logos, the human capacity for understanding and growth; the snakes represent prudence and energy; while the whip and shield symbolize the dynamism of the life force and wisdom (the great protector) respectively. This fierce and terrifying astral lord goes by many other names as well.

Some Gnostics equated Abraxas with Ialdabaoth, Saklas, Samael, Nebruel, Michael, Elieli, and Judas. He was also equated with IAO, Chnoubis, Abrasax, etc. Abraxas appears in only a few instances throughout the Nag Hammadi codices in such Sethian texts such as The Great Book of the Invisible Spirit, The Apocalypse of Adam, and Zostrianos as basically a minor Aeon or angel that works in tandem with Sophia and the “four spiritual lights” to rectify the error brought on the rise of the “deficiency” in the fetters of the material.

Abraxas was also interchangeable with the deity-archon Sabaoth (meaning host), which according to the Gnostic mythology presented in On the Origin of the World was the son and offspring of Yaldaboath who would eventually rebel against his father in a great war, repent of his “sins”, and side with his grandmother, Sophia-Achamoth. The archon would be elevated “above the seventh heaven” or the “Ogdoad” and enthroned, surrounded by ministering angels and Cherubim within a mansion that is “huge, magnificent, seven times as great as all those that exist in the seven heavens.” According to Ireneaus in his work detailing his indictment against varies heretical schools of thought, Against Heresies, he lays out Basilides’ (possibly the inventor of Abraxas) system of thought pertaining to Abraxas’ domain:

They hold that their chief is Abraxas; and, on this account, that word contains in itself the numbers amounting to three hundred and sixty-five.” Abraxas or Abrasax becomes a de facto ruler of the “364 kingdoms of spirits (plus himself)” due to the fact that his name has a high numerical value that equals to 365, the number of days in the year.

G.R.S. Mead in Thrice-Great Hermes discusses the possible connection of Abrasax or Abraxas to the celestial spheres of the cosmic rulers of fate:

The name Abraxas, which consisted of seven elements or letters, was a mystery-designation of the God who combined in himself the whole power of the Seven Planets, and also of the Year of 365 days, the sum of the number-values of the letters of Abraxas working out to 365. This mysterious Being was the “Year”; but the Year as the Eternity, also conceived of in a spatial aspect, as the Spirit or Name that extends from Heaven to Earth, the God who pervades and full-fills the Seven Spheres, and the Three Hundred and Sixty-five Zones, the Inner God, “He who has His seat within the Seven Poles—ΑΕΗΙΟΥΩ,” as the Papyri have it, and also without them, as we shall see. (402)

Tertullian in Against All Heresies also discusses Abraxas in the account of Basilides’ system as his chief deity:

Basilides affirms that there is a supreme Deity, by name Abraxas, by whom was created Mind, which in Greek he calls Nous; that thence sprang the Word; that of Him issued Providence, Virtue, and Wisdom; that out of these subsequently were made Principalities, powers, and Angels; that there ensued infinite issues and processions of angels; that by these angels 365 heavens were formed, and the world, in honour of Abraxas, whose name, if computed, has in itself this number. Now, among the last of the angels, those who made this world, he places the God of the Jews latest, that is, the God of the Law and of the Prophets, whom he denies to be a God, but affirms to be an angel. To him, he says, was allotted the seed of Abraham, and accordingly he it was who transferred the sons of Israel from the land of Egypt into the land of Canaan; affirming him to be turbulent above the other angels, and accordingly given to the frequent arousing of seditions and wars, yes, and the shedding of human blood. Christ, moreover, he affirms to have been sent, not by this maker of the world, but by the above-named Abraxas; and to have come in a phantasm, and been destitute of the substance of flesh: that it was not He who suffered among the Jews, but that Simon was crucified in His stead: whence, again, there must be no believing on him who was crucified, lest one confess to having believed on Simon. Martyrdoms, he says, are not to be endured. The resurrection of the flesh he strenuously impugns, affirming that salvation has not been promised to bodies.

It’s almost as if Basilides becomes a worshiper of a Demiurgical figure—that being Abraxas. There is much speculation about the etymology concerning Abraxas which vary from meaning “holy word” or “blessed name”, although it still remains cloudy at best. It is also suggested that Abraxas is derivative of the Arimaic magical word “Abracadabra” meaning “I create as I speak”. Like Baphomet, Abraxas seems to be a concoction of different mythological symbols such as the two Indian cobras for his legs as represented in the above depiction. Irenaeus, in describing the followers of Basilides, claimed in Against Heresies:

These men, moreover, practice magic; and use images, incantations, invocations, and every other kind of curious art. Coining also certain names as if they were those of the angels, they proclaim some of these as belonging to the first, and others to the second heaven; and then they strive to set forth the names, principles, angels, and powers of the three hundred and sixty-five imagined heavens. They also affirm that the barbarous name in which the Saviour ascended and descended, is Caulacau.

Plotinus, the father of Neo-Platonism also maintained similar descriptions of the Gnostics as “magicians” and “sorcerers” by using the barbarous names of the Ineffable in his polemic in the Ennead 2.9, Against the Gnostics: Against Those That Affirm the Creator of the Cosmos and the Cosmos Itself to Be Evil:

In the sacred formulas they inscribe, purporting to address the Supernal Beings — not merely the Soul but even the Transcendents — they are simply uttering spells and appeasements and evocations in the idea that these Powers will obey a call and be led about by a word from any of us who is in some degree trained to use the appropriate forms in the appropriate way — certain melodies, certain sounds, specially directed breathings, sibilant cries, and all else to which is ascribed magic potency upon the Supreme. Perhaps they would repudiate any such intention: still they must explain how these things act upon the unembodied: they do not see that the power they attribute to their own words is so much taken away from the majesty of the divine.

Plotinus resented the Gnostics’ demonization of Plato’s Demiurge, the creator of the material cosmos. Plotinus believed the Gnostics had corrupted the original teachings of Plato to suit their world-views. In fact, Plotinus goes as far as to mock the Gnostic creation story of the fall of Sophia and the aborted Demiurge as surpassing “sheer folly.” Plotinus also took issue with the Gnostic’s neglect on their pursuit of virtue, maintaining themselves as beyond reproach of the laws of the world which were extrapolated and fueled by hypothetical rumors of their supposed hedonistic and libertine tendencies.

For they manufacture these doctrines as though they were not in contact with the ancient thought of the Greeks; for the Greeks knew, and spoke clearly without pomposity, of ascents from the cave, coming closer and closer by gradual stages to a truer vision.

This was a problem for Plotinus, who thought these Platonizing Sethians or Gnostics were mucking-up his philosophical circles with their static dualism, world-hatred, and defamation of the creator. Plotinus pretty much caricatures the Sethians as rubes for practicing magic. Needless to say, Neoplatonists didn’t like Gnostics very much. The Sethian Gnostics themselves weren’t a unified movement, but rather a diverse set of small cult communities—like the Borborites, Archontics, Ophites, etc. According to the Apocryphon of John, it says that everyone will have the opportunity to be saved, so that could mean that one essentially becomes part of the seed of Seth by undergoing Sethian conversion rituals. Yet, perhaps still in these instances neither Plotinus nor Irenaeus were lying about the Gnostics’ ritual magic tendencies since even their choice texts indicates this as a reality.

This all becomes rather apparent when one reads Ancient Christian Magic  as a catalog for superstition. It is replete with magical spells including love, money, healing and spells for revenge. These Gnostic practitioners more than likely invoked the name of Abraxas among other barbarous, secret names of God for their rituals and prayers. Yet, interestingly enough, most people practicing magic in the middle ages and the Renaissance were Catholic priests and brothers, so magic is surprisingly close to Catholicism. The NHC text On the Origin of the World mentions a compendium of demons attributed to King Solomon, so it’s possible that some Gnostics practiced early Solomonic magic:

Then Death, being androgynous, mingled with his (own) nature and begot seven androgynous offspring. These are the names of the male ones: Jealousy, Wrath, Tears, Sighing, Suffering, Lamentation, Bitter Weeping. And these are the names of the female ones: Wrath, Pain, Lust, Sighing, Curse, Bitterness, Quarrelsomeness. They had intercourse with one another, and each one begot seven, so that they amount to forty-nine androgynous demons. Their names and their effects you will find in the Book of Solomon.

“Their effects” probably meant the abilities they could be compelled to use if summoned, something like the Goetia. Another example of spells and incantations that were employed by the Gnostics is provided and supported by Karen King in What is Gnosticism? who has argued that the demonic correspondences to human body parts (highlighting the inherent corruption of the human body) listed so thoroughly is the long recension of the Apocryphon of John which was intended for use in rituals to heal the sick or injured. Some other of the Church Father’s (especially Epiphanius’ account in the Panarion, literally meaning “medicine chest” for poisonous heresies) accusations of the Gnostics was much more scandalous—much of it dealt with their alleged antinominan, lurid and pornographic-like accounts of secret Bacchic and Dionysian-like “swinging orgies” of their “agape feasts”. These orgiastic rites supposedly included the sacramental consumption of sexual fluids and even more unsavory practices that include the Eucharistic infanticide of an aborted embryo—not so dissimilar to the ones practiced in the higher degrees contained in the Ordo Templi Orientis. Epiphanius accusingly writes:

Their very liturgy they defile with the shame of promiscuity, consuming and con-taminating themselves with human and unclean flesh…. … [At their feasts:] They set out an abundance of meat and wine, even if they are poor. Having made their banquet from this and so to speak filled their veins to satiety, they proceed to arouse themselves. The man, moving away from the woman, says to his woman, “Arise, hold the love feast with your brother.” And the pitiful pair, having made love… then proceed to hold up their blas-phemy to heaven, the woman and the man taking the secretion from the male into their own hands and standing looking up to heaven. They hold in their hands the impurity and pray, … And then they consume it, partaking of their shamefulness, and they say, “This is the body of Christ and this is the Pasch for which our bodies suffer and are forced to confess the passion of Christ.”

They do the same with what is of the woman, when she has the flow of blood: collecting the monthly blood of impurity from her, they take it and consume it together in the same way. Although they have sex with each other, they forbid the begetting of children. They are eager for the act of corruption not in order to engender children, but for the pleasure … But if … the woman becomes pregnant, then listen to something even more dreadful which they dare to do. Extracting the fetus at whatever time they choose to do the operation, they take the aborted infant and pound it up in a mortar with a pestle, and, mixing in honey and pepper and some other spices and sweet oils so as not to become nauseous, all the members of that herd of swine and dogs gather together and each partakes with his finger of the crushed up child … They dare to do other dreadful things as well. When they fall into a frenzy among themselves, they soil their hands with the shame of their secretion, and rising, with defiled hands pray stark naked. (86)

That’s a spicy meatball! Epiphanius’ lurid accusations against the Gnostics as practitioners of baby consumption and sacrifice is somewhat unique but not unlike those made against the Jews throughout the Middle-Ages as “blood libel”. Similarly, accusations of child sacrifice were made against Aleister Crowley because to his “Bloody Sacrifice” chapter in Magick in Theory and Practice due to the fact he plainly without symbolic gesture tells us that blood sacrifice of a young boy is the most important and effective magickal technique available to the magician:

[a] male child of perfect innocence and high intelligence is the most satisfactory and suitable victim.

It is often said that Crowley’s references to “child sacrifice” were ghastly euphemisms to masturbation in a magical ritual. If this is the case then, this is indeed a “symbolic” failure on Crowley’s part. Later on Epiphanius describes and recounts the myth of the lewd Sophia or “Prounikos” (it seems like Epiphanius got it mad-confused with Sophia and Barbelo’s roles here) where she sets out to “reabsorb” and collect her living sparks of power that was stolen from her retarded son, Ialdabaoth and his legion of archons. She appeared to the archons in a beautiful and lustful form, seduced and quite literally, fucked the “living daylights” out of them, and when they had an emission she took their sperm, which contained the power originally belonging to her. Epiphanius repeats this in further detail:

For these angels went to war over the power from on high—they call her Prunicus, but she is called Barbero or Barbelo by other sects—because she displayed her beauty < and > drove them wild, and was sent for this purpose, to despoil the archons who had made this world. She has suffered no harm, but she brought them to the point of slaughtering each other from the lust for her that she aroused in them. And detaining her so that she should not go back up, they all had relations with her in each of her womanly and female bodies—for she kept migrating from female bodies into various bodies of human beings, cattle and the rest—so that, by the deeds they were doing in killing and being killed, they would cause their own diminution through the shedding of blood. Then, by gathering the power again, she would be able to ascend to heaven once more. …

But others honor one “Prunicus” and like these, when they consummate their own passions with this kind of disgusting behavior, they say in mythological language of this interpretation of their disgusting behavior, “We are gathering the power of Prunicus from our bodies, and through their emissions.” That is, < they suppose they are gathering > the power of semen and menses. … For if they say, “Prunicus,” this is just a belch of lustfulness and incontinence. Anything called “prunicus” suggests a thing named for copulation, and the enterprise of seduction. (2) For there is a Greek expression which is used of men who deflower slave women, “He seduced so-and-so.” And the Greek swindlers who compose erotica also record the word in myths by saying that beauty is “seductive.”

Despite the strong erotic and sexual symbolism used in Gnostic myth, for the most part, the accusations were often made without merit since many texts such as the Pistis Sophia (of the Bruce Codex) explicitly condemns the literal practices described above in the strongest terms. The caricature the Apostolic Fathers would draw up as slander against the Gnostics isn’t exactly an original phenomena that started with them as certain antinomian libertine currents have always existed alongside mainstream religion so it is probable that a few of these cults embraced these practices through sexual ritual and initiation, yet were lumped in the Gnostic milieu by their enemies.

These rituals of sexual magic were embraced by the Barbelite practitioners (identified by Epiphanius) while condemned by outsiders, both Gnostic and orthodox. Since some libertine Gnostic groups such as the Barbelites would consider the desirable “light-seed” inherent in the sperm and menstrual blood to be ingested in obscene rites, in a similar manner like Crowley did, then it would make perfect sense to engage in sexual ritual because it corresponded to their mythologies. Their “light” contained in their sexual emissions would be released back to the Supreme God in order to bypass the reproductive systems that perpetuated the materia by adding more bodies and souls under the wrath and authority of Jehovah, the blind and insane fallen angel and slave-master of the world. Many religious sects have been accused of perversity by their opponents yet it is more than likely sexual rites similar to the one described above probably happened more or less.

The biggest difference however between the ancient Gnostic’s and the Neo-gnostic, occultists of today, is their rejection of the material world as a product of corruption and evil which cannot be saved. This point of view also distinguished them from Christians, Jews and pagans alike. Yet, many neo-gnostics who have undertaken the label also attempt to psychologize the Demiurge, because a central tenet of New Age is that material existence is inherently good, so the idea that creation is the product of a lesser, flawed being is repugnant to them. Carl Jung in his seminal, The Seven Sermons of the Dead refers the figure as an “emergence” of form from the hidden depth of the Godhead as opposing and ultimately complimentary powers that become one in a sort of ying/yang tandem emobdied in Abraxas:

Abraxas is the god whom it is difficult to know. His power is the very greatest, because man does not perceive it at all. Man sees the supreme good of the sun, and also the endless evil of the devil, but Abraxas, he does not see, for he is undefinable life itself, which is the mother of good and evil alike…Abraxas is the sun and also the eternally gaping abyss of emptiness, of the diminisher and dissembler, the devil. The power of Abraxas is twofold. You can not see it, because in your eyes the opposition of this power seems to cancel it out. That which is spoken by God-the-Sun is life; that which is spoken by the Devil is death. Abraxas, however, speaks the venerable and also accursed word, which is life and death at once. Abraxas generates truth and falsehood, good and evil, light and darkness with the same word and in the same deed. Therefore Abraxas is truly the terrible one. He is magnificent even as the lion at the very moment when he strikes his prey down. His beauty is like the beauty of a spring morn.

Abraxas in this sense was seen as one of the many symbols Jung would use as the ancient doctrine of of “Coincidentia oppositorum” or the “unity of opposites”. Jung’s gnostic vision of 1916 with his bipolar Abraxas, which is written in the persona of Basilides, has virtually nothing to the actual teachings of the historical Basilides. Jung erroneously claimed that Abraxas was the embodiment of the Monad, where as the ancient heretics viewed Abraxas as a lower aeon or even an archon. Abraxas, like Baphomet, becomes a “syzygy” of an alchemical pair conjoined of good and evil, darkness and light, Christ and Anti-Christ, God and the Devil to the point where the figure transcended such dualities. Aleister Crowley also invokes the immensely complex and contradictory deity in the Gnostic Mass, evoking a certain ancient aura in the barbarous names of the god-forms he lists:

IO IO IO IAO SABAO KURIE ABRASAX KURIE MEITHRAS KURIE PHALLE. IO PAN, IO PAN PAN IO ISCHUROS, IO ATHANATOS IO ABROTOS IO IAO. KAIRE PHALLE KAIRE PAMPHAGE KAIRE PANGENETOR. HAGIOS, HAGIOS, HAGIOS IAO.

Here, Crowley perpetuates the magical tradition of chanting the “voces magicae” and “nomina barbara” in a similar fashion that the ancient Gnostics would conceive in their secret rites. Abraxas in ancient, classical Gnosticism was more or less a positive aeonic figure (minus Basilides’ version of the astral lord) while Abraxas in the romantic occult world was a synthesis of dualities—of good and evil. This is symbolic of the considerable discrepancy between the western esotericism and occultism that seek a union of opposites versus “Gnostic” systems that seek to separate light from darkness. This issue is muddied even further by the likes of Carl Jung, who erroneously creates an association between Gnosticism through his doctrine of “Coniunctio Oppositorum”. Although to be fair, there weren’t very many available “Gnostic” texts during his time in order to properly develop his views.

This union of opposites when viewed from a classical dualist mystical lens becomes in actuality a tragedy that gives rise to human suffering and all the world’s horrors. The Classical Gnostics by several estimates (by judging choice texts) were “mitigated” or less severe in their view of duality with spirit being the original unity while matter being a shallow imitation of the higher forms. In this estimation, the light is seen as the only eternal principle while the world of matter is simply a passing shadow, a temporary set-back or foul-up in the scheme of infinity that will eventually be rectified. A more radical interpretation of dualism would be that light and darkness existing as co-eternal yet independent principles with their own domain in a constant dueling of powers  found in the Manichean religion.

The light-dark opposite is for the most part rejected by western occultists due to its association with mainstream Judeo-Christian traditions which they consider deficient (e.g. the designation of ancient dualist religions and all previous religions in past civilizations, since they follow the supposed “LVX formula” as belonging to the troglodytes or cave-dwellers of “Old Aeon” in Thelema, for example). But the fact remains that the ancient Gnostics and many other groups (the Medieval Cathars, Manicheans, etc), considered themselves to be foremost as Christians and concerned with contrasts of sin and righteousness. To embrace the classical Gnostic tradition means to embrace their dualistic perspectives. It’s simply impossible separate such perspectives from Gnosticism with disdain as many occult and new age practitioners do. Aleister Crowley in Liber XC expresses the same sentiment as Jung’s “Coniunctio Oppositorum”, stating:

Many have arisen, being wise. They have said ‘Seek out the glittering Image in the place ever golden, and unite yourselves with it.’ Many have arisen, being foolish. They have said, ‘Stoop down into the darkly splendid world and be wedded to that Blind Creature of the Slime.’ I who am beyond Wisdom and Folly, arise and say unto you: achieve both weddings! Unite yourselves with both! Beware, beware, I say lest you seek after the one and lose the other! My adepts stand upright; their head above the heavens, their feet below the hells. But since one is naturally attracted to the Angel, another to the Demon, let the first strengthen the lower link, the last attach more firmly to the higher. Thus shall equilibrium become perfect. I will aid my disciples; as fast as they acquire this balanced power and joy so faster will I push them.

Baphomet carries a great deal of occult significance—from its original inception in the romantic era and even into this day, yet the origins of the enigmatic figure stem from deficient and sensationalist misunderstandings and demonic imagery which hardly deserves any adoration or praise. Abraxas likewise too sinks back into this occult sensationalist mire despite its nuanced inception. Occultism is a “hidden practice” or “craft” that only those who are initiated deserve to study in all its glory, intently. Neither occultism nor its views on the “unity of the opposites” are necessarily “bad”, as it is simply another way of experiencing an altered state of consciousness. The Chimeric figures of Baphomet and Abraxas both represent these “altered states” of occult consciousness to varying degrees. Everything from the astral body, the working of aeonic angels and archonic demons, to the “balance of genders” as symbolized through the “Androgyne”, these two symbols carry a great degree of esoteric importance. Occultism does however contain a very dark, elitist undercurrent that cannot be ignored, fostered in the bourgeoisie halls of the privileged elite.

 Master everything, but give generously to your servants, once they have unconditionally submitted. (Crowley, Magic: Book 4, 278)

Ritual magic has long since been associated with learned elites, especially with its origins in Europe. This is especially true during the medieval era where the occult became synonymous with unsavory and often repulsive practices involved with “black magic”, which goes without saying with its verbose flowery language that makes up many of their ego-fueled rituals. Modern, “watered-down” occult magic also seems to give people a sense of empowerment in a world in which they are powerless. That is not to say that all forms of magic are in itself useless and authored by the Devil as many ancient theurgists and Gnostics would profess otherwise since what is termed “high magic” is aimed at recovering a perfect knowledge of the transcendent signature left within the deepest layer of being—the Spiritual Seed.

The Chimera Androgyne: The Esoteric Mystique of Baphomet and Abraxas

Part I. 

The Demon Baphomet, illustrated by Eliphas Levi

In ancient and modern esoteric literature and occultism, Baphomet possesses a great importance among occult practitioners. From its inception from Templar idol lore to the English Magi of Eliphas Levi and Aleister Crowley’s revision and integration into their religious philosophies (such as Crowley’s Thelema), Baphomet has become a virtual mascot for the occult arts. I will not go too deeply into the long and dry history of the archetype (only very briefly), but focus on the symbolism shared by both Baphomet and the Gnostic god-form of Abraxas, respectively as well as the many implications involved in their subsequent backgrounds. Abraxas too has a deep and powerful history in occultism that goes even farther back into the ancient secret halls of the initiation.

Let’s start with the ever so infamous figure of Baphomet. The origins of the name Baphomet vary considerably. One theory is that Baphomet is a variation of “Mahomet” (due to the Knights Templar campaign in the Middle East and inclusion of some Islamic religious ideas and rumors of even a fifth-column type of support for the Muslims), a medieval French corruption of the Prophet Muhammad, the warrior-king and founder of Islam. It does seem rather odd that a “whack-ass” attempt for a Western tongue to get around a Semitic language would become associated with a prime symbol of the occult. The Arabic abufihamet comes out as bufihimat, which is translated as “Father of Wisdom” or “understanding.” Therefore, we can’t expect Baphomet to mean exactly what it says. If only one could consult the “Father of Understanding” to really get it. There hardly is anymore reason to suppose that there is a more complex understanding of Baphomet. Yet, this doesn’t stop occultist-psuedo-historians from doing so.

The “true” origins of the first, fetid whispers in the dark regarding Baphomet’s name often begin with the Templars and their private rituals that included some kind of head bust (perhaps even a real severed head of a person) for purposes of divination which only fueled the rumors of devil worship. Indeed, it is suggested by few that the importance of Baphomet to the Templars was often over-stated as simply a “tabloid smear” by their accusers with about as much true metaphysical dimension as Jack Frost, May Pole, the Unicorn, the Bogey-man, Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy. With its ambiguous origins aside, Baphomet has indeed been invoked out of the collective unconscious and into our awareness as a premier figure of the occult world.

A much more popular etymology, first established by  Joseph Baron von Hammer-Purgstall can be ciphered as the “Baptism of Wisdom”, from the Greek words “Baph” and “Metis”, a likely key reference to Sophia, a common incarnation of the divine feminine replete in classical Gnosticism, the Kabbalah, the Bible (Proverbs especially) and the Apocrypha. According to the same author, another suggestion is given as the Hebrew “Maphtah Bet Yahweh”, meaning, “The Key to the House of God.” These two suggestions are brought up in the elaborate and out-of-date pseudo-history presented in The Discovery of the Mystery of Baphomet, by which the Knights Templars, like the Gnostics and Ophites, are convicted of Apostasy, of Idolatry and of moral Impurity, by their own Monuments. Can you say that two-times fast? In both instances, the meanings infer a reference to the figure of Baphomet as a hieroglyph world of magic or the divine powers.

The 19th century occultist, Eliphas Levi’s (his real name is Alphonse Constant) conception of Baphomet as the Egyptian “Goat of Mendes” or the “Sabbatic Goat” is probably the most well-known which was first published in the 1854 in the magical text called the Dogmas and Rituals of High Magic. Eliphas Levi’s Baphomet was portrayed as a Chimera hermaphrodite with bi-sexual features (the female breasts and the caduceus for an erect cock, phallic symbolism and all). There is also the kundalini (spiritual energy symbolized as a serpent located at the human spinal column to be unlocked by the opening of the seven chakra points), tantric images displayed by the stiff caduceus sleuthing upward for physical desire (to replace the image of a hard-on), the “Rod of Hermes”. The caduceus is also associated with eternal life and regeneration.

Baphomet’s hands also point upwards (with the words inscribed in the arm “Solve”) and downwards (“Coagula”) showing the shortened Hermetic axiom of “As Above, So Below”.  “Solve et Coagula” is the great alchemical formula meaning “separate and join together” or “division and union”. The etymology of the word “alchemy” is derived from the Arabic el-kimya, Khem being the name for Egypt where magic and ritual was rightly pursued. The figure also bears a flaming torch on its head, symbolizing the fire of Prometheus similar to the Greek depictions of the Chimera as a fire-breathing elemental as well as wings of a fallen angel. The foremost common symbol of witchcraft and the occult, the pentagram is also most apparent placed strategically on his forehead. The pentagram in this sense is representative of the five elements (earth, fire, wind, water, spirit). Baphomet in this sense becomes the epitome of the “union of the opposites”, the upper and the lower, the balance of polarities and dualities inherent in the cosmos.

I will allow Eliphas Levi to explain the symbolism of his illustration even further, quoted from his book, Dogmas and Rituals of High Magic:

 The goat on the frontispiece carries the sign of the pentagram on the forehead, with one point at the top, a symbol of light, his two hands forming the sign of occultism, the one pointing up to the white moon of Chesed, the other pointing down to the black one of Geburah. This sign expresses the perfect harmony of mercy with justice. His one arm is female, the other male like the ones of the androgyne of Khunrath, the attributes of which we had to unite with those of our goat because he is one and the same symbol. The flame of intelligence shining between his horns is the magic light of the universal balance, the image of the soul elevated above matter, as the flame, whilst being tied to matter, shines above it. The beast’s head expresses the horror of the sinner, whose materially acting, solely responsible part has to bear the punishment exclusively; because the soul is insensitive according to its nature and can only suffer when it materializes. The rod standing instead of genitals symbolizes eternal life, the body covered with scales the water, the semi-circle above it the atmosphere, the feathers following above the volatile. Humanity is represented by the two breasts and the androgyne arms of this sphinx of the occult sciences. (211-212)

Despite the inherent esoteric and alchemical symbolism in the figure of Baphomet, there exists a certain demonic feature to the figure. Eliphas Levi’s insistence that it was not the same as the Devil is notable although he repeatedly compares it to the Devil Tarot card of the Major Arcana. Baphomet also seems to be an amalgamation of many different goat-forms including the infernal goat of Sabbath adored by witches of the Middle Ages, the severed head of the Templars in which they allegedly used for divination, the phallic lusty god, Pan, and finally the Marseilles Tarot trump card, The Devil. The horny Horned God is one of the oldest fertility gods in human history—taking the various incarnations of Nimrod, Mithras, and Dionysus, respectively. Eliphas Levi recognized this repeating “Horny god” archetype that eventually would become the patron saint of occultism as mentioned in his book, Transcendental Magic:

We recur once more to that terrible number fifteen, symbolized in the Tarot by a monster throned upon an altar, mitered and horned, having a woman’s breasts and the generative organs of a man — a chimera, a malformed sphinx, a synthesis of deformities. Below this figure we read a frank and simple inscription — the Devil. Yes, we confront here that phantom of all terrors, the dragon of all theogonies, the Ahriman of the Persians, the Typhon of the Egyptians, the Python of the Greeks, the old serpent of the Hebrews, the fantastic monster, the nightmare, the Croquemitaine, the gargoyle, the great beast of the Middle Ages, and — worse than all of these — the Baphomet of the Templars, the bearded idol of the alchemist, the obscene deity of Mendes, the goat of the Sabbath. (288)

Notice how Eliphas Levi contradicts himself by making no bones of Baphomet being associated with the Devil or Satan, the “prince of the air” and “lord of the world”, you know the dude that wants to take your soul along with him  to roast in an eternal BBQ in the infernal, ruinous fires of hell. Yes, Baphomet takes on a very symbolic archetype or “egregore” rather than an actual existing entity, yet it cannot be denied there exists a daemonic aura it, indifferent to conventional morality or man’s projections of good or evil. Rumor has it, the inspiration behind Levi’s illustration is up for speculation but it is often traced back to the grotesque sculptured illustrations of ravenous bearded demons with bat-wings mutilating, boiling and consuming people in an orgy of hellish blood-lust that were portrayed in Templar churches found in Saint-Merrie of Paris, France. Bingo. (Pssst: If you want to actually see these hard-to-find illustrations, check out Illuminati 4: Brotherhood of the Beast on Youtube.) 

In The Secret Doctrine, Madame Helena Petrovna Blavatsky writes a footnote comparing Baphomet to the Azazel:

In Demonology, Satan is the leader of the opposition in Hell, the monarch of which was Beelzebub. He belongs to the fifth kind or class of Demons (of which there are nine according to the medieval Demonology), and he is at the head of witches and sorcerers. But see elsewhere the true meaning of Baphomet, the goat-headed Satan, one with Azazel, the scape-goat of Israel. Nature is the God Pan. (406)

Although the name Azazel bears no connection to the name of Baphomet, the goat-headed deity Pan bears striking resemblance to the symbol that would often be associated with Azazel. Azazel was also associated with the two-fold nature of the “scapegoat” of Jewish custom called the “Day of Atonement” where one goat is slain on an altar, while a second goat is sent away into the “wilderness”. The priest lays hands on the chosen goat’s head as a “sin-bearer”. The goat is sent away into the wilderness as a symbol of “removing” the guilt and sins of Israel.

But the goat, on which the lot fell for Azazel, shall be set alive before YHWH, to make atonement over him, to send him away for Azazel into the wilderness. (Lev. 16:10)

In fact, “Azazel” has nothing to do with being a name and everything to do with being a noun (ayn, alpeh), meaning “dismissal” or “removal”. This sets a precedent for the Jewish conception of the high-priest, Messiah-King whose blood is shed to atone for the sins of man for all time.

The other symbol associated with Azazel was of course the enemy of mankind’s souls, Satan himself. The scapegoat was not killed just as the spirit of the Devil was not killed. The goat represents the condemnation of Satan and his infinitely inspired sins of humanity which is sent away into the dark, spiritual wilderness. The “casting out” of the accursed goat by the returning high-priest after returning from the Tabernacle is a symbolic prelude to Revelations 20:3, 10, where the Messiah, Jesus Christ as the heavenly judge and redeemer casts the old serpent Satan into the pit or the abyss after the war of Armageddon and his return from the super-celestial Throne Room of YHWH, the Lord of Hosts.

In the apocryphal Book of Enoch, the noun is associated with the leader of the rebellious “watchers”, the “sons of God” or fallen angels who had a propensity for copulating with human women. These angels are also specifically called “stars”. They are called “Watchers” or the (Greek) “Grigori” because they look down on Earth from Heaven, and they travel around through the 12 “watchtowers”, which are obviously the houses of the zodiac. Another reason why these angelic beings were called “Watchers” was that their job was to observe primarily humanity, lending a helping hand when necessary but not interfering in the course of human development. Of course, they do not keep their rules, thus disobeying the “Lord of Spirits” and instead did everything in their power to contact them, and reveal to them the “useless secrets of Heaven” as hidden, occult knowledge and of course, have divinely inspired-swinger parties. Thus, the angels become the original “stewards” of the first arcane knowledge as well as orgies of libidinous excess. This in turn produces “abortions” known as the blood-thirsty giant demonic race being referred as being referred as the “Nephilim” or the fallen, castaways.

Azazel along with several other fallen angels “oppressed the righteous” through his instruction of making instruments of war, antimony, cosmetics, and jewelry. His actions signaled the corruption the earth and godlessness. In Gnosticism, the myths concerning the fornication of angels were used in a cluster of similar themes concerning the seduction of the archons, the demonic abortions and the lustful demiurge’s rape of Eve. The fallen angels were often held as synonymous with the archons. Azazel along with his counterpart Shemhazai (the inciter or seducer angel) and host were cast into a hellish-like prison beneath the mountains of the earth, enchained and punished because “they do as if they were the Lord.” Again, the Book of Enoch says of the fallen angels that “their spirits, assuming many different forms, are defiling mankind.” Azazel’s judgment consists of being bound and cast into a deep pit in the desert as mentioned by 1 Enoch, “Make an opening in the desert which is in Dudael and cast him therein.” This of course also falls in line with the Azazel as a “sin-bearer” only this time bearing the multitude of sins of his angelic brethren. A fallen-angel Messiah perhaps?

Eliphas Levi in Transcendental Magic recognizes Azazel as a vessel for black magic:

IN BLACK MAGIC, THE DEVIL is THE GREAT MAGICAL AGENT EMPLOYED FOR EVIL PURPOSES BY A PERVERSE WILL. The old serpent of the legend is nothing else than the BLACK MAGIC, universal agent, the eternal fire of terrestrial life, the soul of the earth, and the living fount of hell. We have said that the astral light is the receptacle of forms, and these when evoked by reason are produced harmoniously, but when evoked by madness they appear disorderly and monstrous ; so originated the nightmares of St Anthony and the phantoms of the Sabbath. Do, therefore, the evocations of goetia and demonomania possess a practical result? Yes, certainly one which cannot be contested, one more terrible than could be recounted by legends! When any one invokes the devil with intentional ceremonies, the devil comes, and is seen. To escape dying from horror at the sight, to escape catalepsy or idiocy, one must be already mad. (126-127)

Eliphas Levi also recognizes Baphomet as some sort of “Universal Agent” that:

having equilibrium for its supreme law, while its direction is concerned immediately with the Great Arcanum of Transcendental Magic. … This agent… is precisely that which the adepts of the Middle Ages denominated the First Matter of the Great Work. The Gnostics represented it as the fiery body of the Holy Spirit; it was the object of adoration in the Secret Rites of the Sabbath and the Temple, under the hieroglyphic figure of Baphomet or the Androgyne of Mendes. (12)

Yet, even more puzzling is his declaration that Baphomet is equated to Christ or the Logos:

The symbolic head of the goat of Mendes is occasionally given to this figure, and it is then the Baphomet of the Templars and the Word of the Gnostics. (156)

This is a very not only out-dated, but disjointed view of what the Gnostics actually “worshipped” in light of the discovery of the Nag Hammadi Library and even the words of the Gnostics’ enemies contained within the Church Fathers’ rants against their doctrines as iconoclast, Satanic heresies. Their theologies, however, were distinctly different with Orthodox Christianity due to their Platonic and esoteric influences from their Hermetic lodges of Alexandria, Egypt. The lack thereof of any goat-headed Aeons in any Gnostic system shows quite a bit of creativity on Eliphas Levi’s part since the classical Gnostic groups did not revere grotesque, chimera-like goats that would serve as a symbol for Wisdom or the Logos. It would be completely absurd to employ such monstrous, bestial forms to represent such higher divinities. As mentioned earlier, the “baptism of absorption of wisdom” is a common etymology for Baphomet created by Hammer-Purgstall, in which modern occultists to this day tend to use.

Eliphas Levi created the common image of Baphomet in the 19th century for the sake of his occult vogue, and it is not the actual historical meaning of the word. His era was a time when sensationalism and misinformation about history and etymology was rampant. When talking about historical movements we have to be careful that modern versions of terms like this isn’t foisted backwards in time, an anachronism. Without this modern reworking of the term, it loses all connection to historical Gnosticism.

Further onwards, Levi viewed Baphomet as the embodiment of an “astral light” that Levi defines as:

AZOTH, universal magnesia, the great magical agent, the astral light, the light of life, fertilized by animic force, by intellectual energy, which they compare to sulphur on account of its affinities with divine fire. (337)

In this sense, Baphomet serves as a symbol or primal force to express the magician’s will or intent in a magical ritual—a force virtually identical with Azoth, the “astral light”, the “universal solvent” or the “mercurial element” of alchemists—as the end result of the synthesis of opposites. Baphomet in light of substance of Azoth is largely representative of the “subtle” or “astral body of light” of the magician who at will projects this semi-spiritual body into a separate plane or order of existence which interpenetrates the world of earthly perceptions. It is this semi-spiritual substance that also makes up the ever so famous “astral realm”—a world only a step above the physical as an intermediate level.

The occult term, “astral light” is in Gnostic terms, the “psychic” or “soul” of the tripartite system of the pneuma (spirit), psychic (soul or in-between matter and spirit) and hylic (matter) substances that make up the substratum of the cosmos and the self. These substances originated from the passions of Sophia-Achamoth who originally belonged to a vast hierarchy of immortals or “aeons” in Gnostic cosmogonies and cosmologies that detail the spiritual universe before the rise and descent of the material. It is “prima material” or primal elements of matter, the stuff that makes up the affects of the stars” or to be more accurate the influences of the planets (e.g. astral determinism, the govern-ship of the seven celestial archons as a division of the Old Testament deity into the seven days of the week much like various pagan gods of the old world) which were considered to be synonymous with the fallen angels (the Enochian “Watchers”) and demons. They are subsequently listed in the Apocryphon of John as follows:

The names of the glory of those who rule over the seven heavens are these:

The first is Athoth, with the face of a lion;
The second Eloaios, with the face of an ass;
The third Astaphaios, with the face of a hyena;
The fourth Yao, with the face of a seven-headed snake,
The fifth Sabaoth, with the face of a dragon;
The sixth Adonin, with the face of an ape;
The seventh Sabbataios, with a face of shining flames of fire.

This is the Seven of the week; these are the ones who govern the world.

These wicked archons were also equated with the rulers of the seven visible planets that make up the “hebdomad,” a multi-layered network of prison walls with the Earth as the core “dungeon”. Under this fatalistic zodiacal system, the particles of the pneumatic seeds (spirits of light) ascend into the paradise of light after death. Before birth, the light-soul descends from the ladder of the cosmic spheres and in the process “coarsened” by each of the planet’s influences—impressing their negative properties on the soul thus diluting it into the dirty layers of shadowy matter. Accordingly, the spirit of man is heavenly, but his flesh, his hylic and psychic bodies, are both a creation of seven cosmic rulers. Their acolytes, equal in number to the days of the year, complete the anatomy and instill the passions of the flesh as indicated in the Book of Zoroaster as quoted by the Apocryphon of John:

This is the number of angels: together they are 365. They all worked on it until, limb for limb, the natural and material body was completed by them. Now there are other ones in charge over the remaining passions, whom I did not mention to you. But if you wish to know them, it is written in the book of Zoroaster.

To the Gnostics, the passage and ascent through the celestial spheres, present the greatest danger since every intermediate realm or “heaven” there is a ruling archon which threatens traveling souls to seize them and “throw” them back into the cycle of “metempsychosis” (the Platonic form of reincarnation) and eventually the unconscious “forgetfulness” of the world.

The astral gods of the zodiac who were the “dwellers of the threshold” challenged the adepts’ attempts to return to their paradisiacal origins. They take a leading part in Gnosis where in their cruel, sadistic and inimical ways draws the soul to sin only later to chastise it. The celestial lords of fate were driven away by the means of magic formulas, passwords and various holy names to help the departed particles of light on their spiritual sojourn to the original unity of light. One reason why Gnosticism was criticized by their Neoplatonic contemporaries back in the day was because their doctrines were too life denying and too transcendental. The Hermeticists and Neoplatonists thought that the archonic influences needed to be transformed (e.g. transmuting the black sun of Saturn into the Solar Logos); the ancient Gnostics on the other hand thought they had to be wholly considered to be corrupt and need to be transcended. While the Gnostics did not worship the Aeons as goat-headed demons, however, is it possible that there were actually goat-headed Archons? Could Baphomet symbolize an Archon as well?

This may be the case. Origen in Contra Celsus, paraphrases Celsus, a pagan philosopher who adamant in refuting Christian doctrines and tends to conflate them with that of the Gnostics and the Ophites, in which he classifies all of them as “sorcerers” as a misnomer. Celsus claims he saw an Ophite Diagram, that sounds very close to the later Kabbalistic system of the Tree of Life. In this diagram Origen lists the very first Archon, in the form of a goat, “shaped like a lion”!

To return to the Seven ruling Demons, their order is laid down in the diagram. The goat was shaped like a lion. Again, the second in order is a bull, the third an amphibious sort of animal, and one that hissed frightfully; moreover, the fourth had the form of an eagle; again, the fifth had the countenance of a bear. To continue the account, the sixth was described as having the face of a dog; the seventh had the countenance of an ass. Moreover, if any one would wish to become acquainted with the artifices of those sorcerers, through which they desire to lead men away by their teaching as if they possessed the knowledge of certain secret rites, but are not at all successful in so doing, let him listen to the instruction which they receive after passing through what is termed the “fence of wickedness,”—gates which are subjected to the world of ruling spirits.

Ultimately like Baphomet, this “astral light” can be assigned a whole host of meanings. Baphomet is by in large the occult’s adaptation of the mythological Chimera since it was made up of a variety of creatures formed into one monstrosity. Baphomet was by in large a collective reflection of the occultist’s various designation of meanings. Baphomet can be seen as an astral entity or guide in the “psychic”. Amazingly, however, later on in Transcendental Magic, Levi completely makes a 180 and changes his tune to suggest that the worship of Baphomet as a false idol was indeed just that!

…let us state boldly and precisely that all the inferior initiates of the occult sciences and profaners of the great arcanum, not only did in the past, but do now, and will ever, adore what is signified by this alarming symbol. (288)

Despite the smoking gun, Aleister Crowley (who so happened to consider himself a reincarnation of Eliphas Levi) had taken on the magical name of Baphomet as his initiatory title in the order (Supreme and Holy King) that would eventually become a driving force to spread the message of his religious mystical system known as Thelema (which is Greek for “Will”). This was and is done though the Order of Oriental Templars or more commonly known as the Ordo Templi Orientis which is a quasi-Masonic order. Crowley had ascended the ranks of the “solar-phallic” cult, the O.T.O. and eventually received control over the organization which claimed to hold the secrets of the Rosicrucian’s, Freemasonry, the Knights Templar and the Medieval Alchemists.

When Crowley would eventually become the head of the O.T.O., he would eventually add an 11th degree which is by in large dedicated to butt-sex and sperm guzzling, where the group’s members would have sex with Crowley, the self described “Mega Therion” which is Greek for the “Great Beast 666”. High level members of the O.T.O. are referred to as “Most Illuminated and Most Puissant Baphomet.” In The Confessions of Aleister Crowley, Crowley indeed confesses to his affinity with the goat-demon:

I had taken the name Baphomet as my motto in the O.T.O. For six years and more I had tried to discover the proper way to spell this name. I knew that it must have eight letters, and also that the numerical and literal correspondences must be such as to express the meaning of the name in such a ways as to confirm what scholarship had found out about it, and also to clear up those problems which archaeologists had so far failed to solve…. One theory of the name is that it represents the words ???? ??????, the baptism of wisdom; another, that it is a corruption of a title meaning “Father Mithras”. Needless to say, the suffix R supported the latter theory. I added up the word as spelt by the Wizard. It totalled 729. This number had never appeared in my Cabbalistic working and therefore meant nothing to me. It however justified itself as being the cube of nine. The word ?????, the mystic title given by Christ to Peter as the cornerstone of the Church, has this same value. So far, the Wizard had shown great qualities! He had cleared up the etymological problem and shown why the Templars should have given the name Baphomet to their so-called idol. Baphomet was Father Mithras, the cubical stone which was the corner of the Temple.

Baphomet is also invoked in Aleister Crowley’s Gnostic Mass, the central ritual for the same cult through the words, “I believe in the serpent and the lion. Mystery of Mystery, in his name BAPHOMET.” In Thelemic lore, the “Lion and the Serpent” was largely symbolic of the sperm as mentioned in Crowley’s Book of Lies:

The predominant influence is that of the lion-serpent, Teth, a glyph of the spermatozoon, which is shown in the sigil in the shape of four vesicas depending from a serpentine form attached to a beast’s head…

In Liber Aleph, Crowley writes that pre-eminent in all sex magick “is the Formula of the Serpent with the Head of the Lion,” the semen, “and all this Magick is wrought by the Radiance and Creative Force thereof.” To Crowley the magick is man’s junk. The woman is a necessary, respected and consecrated essential of the formula for sex magic and creation, but only in a reflective sense as a vessel for the manifestation of the God. The word “mete” from Bapho(MET) has also been connected by linguists to the name of the Zoroastrian solar deity, Mithras. In Crowley’s Book of Thoth, he writes about another possibility behind the etymology of Baphomet:

Von Hammer-Purgstall was certaintly right in supposing Baphomet to be a form of a Bull-god, or rather, the Bull-slaying god, Mithras; for Baphomet should be spelt with an “r” at the end; thus it is clearly a corruption meaning “Father Mithras”. There is also here a connection with the ass, for it was an ass-headed god that he became an object of veneration of the Templars. (67)

The “lust” card of Crowley’s Thoth deck depicts the conjoining of Babalon and the Beast (an obvious derivative from the Whore of Babylon who rides the many dragon-headed Beast of the New Testament’s Book of Revelation or The Apocalypse of St. John), which produces the elixir (sperm) from the phallus into the cup or chalice (vagina). The occult Baphomet is the “magical child”, the hermaphroditic union and result of male and female forces in combination in the senses of the occult ritual of sex magic and sacrament (the consumption of the “elixer” or the mingled sexual fluids after intercourse). Baphomet is also associated with the fabled golem-like homunculus, “little person”, in other words a fetus (!) is produced in the flask of an alchemist. The occult importance often given to the sexual act by magicians is that orgasm mystically reunites and brings the participants mystically closer to the absolute in a holy mystery rather seen as a “sinful” act of in some dark corner of depravity. The true joy of sex has little to do with physical pleasure and more with the temporary spiritual integration of separate individuals in the original condition of the complete human–the original androgyne. The German Occultist Theodor Ruess, creator of the Ordo Templi Orientis had also embraced his own versions of tantric sex magic, practices which echo the the political accusations of sexual impropriety of the Gnostics and Templars made by their orthodox enemies within the Roman Catholic Church. Yet, ironically such accusations would eventually resurface as the central teachings within the higher echelons of the O.T.O.

You can see this sexual “magical thinking” again in Crowley’s The Cephaloedium Working:

Ayin is moreover the Devil of Lust, the Goat of Mendes, Pan, Baphomet; and spelt fully Ayin is the Erection and Leaping and Extension of the Phallus; Yod is the Spermatoon, the Solitary Boy Hermes, the Virgin; while Nun is the Eagle of sexual Ecstasy, the Serpent of Life through Death, the Scorpion of Scarab of Kephra, the Womb which transmutes through corruption, the Semen or fluid vehicle of the Spirit, the Elixer of Magick, the Blood, Wine, and Poison in the Chalice.

According to the mystical doctrine of Thelema, Nuit, the “Lady of the Starry Heaven” who is the speaker of the first chapter of Liber AL vel Legis, interacts and copulates with her and copulates in superconscious intercourse with her masculine counterpart being Hadit, thus creating the manifest physical universe in a Gnostic-like syzygy. This concept distinctly echoes the theme of copulating hermaphroditic god-forms in classical Gnosticism, which were called “aeons” which emanated from the Supreme Father which come to act independently from the Monad’s will. Nuit is also arguably comparable to Sophia or Barbelo of ancient Gnosticism. Barbelo according to Sethian myth is the first reflex of the first divinity, called the Invisible Spirit. Between the Invisible Spirit and Barbelo, they give rise to a multitude of aeons. The concept of the androgyne is one that repeats in many alchemical and occult traditions. In Gnosticism, however, the androgyne was linked to the deficiency, imperfection and “lack of form” or spirit, in especially in the descriptions of the monstrous Demiurge in the Nag Hammadi texts.

In light of this “Thelemic” view on sexuality, Crowley’s more candid thoughts become more revealing as quoted by Israel Regardie in The Eye in the Triangle:

 My instinct told me that Blake was right in saying ‘The lust of the goat is the glory of god.’ But I lacked the courage to admit it. The result of my training had been to obsess me with the hideously foul idea that inflicts such misery on Western minds and curses life with civil war. Europeans cannot face the facts frankly; they cannot escape from their animal appetite, yet suffer the tortures of fear and shame even while gratifying it. As Freud has now shown, this devastating complex is not merely responsible for most of the social and domestic misery of Europe and America, but exposes the individual to neurosis. It is hardly too much to say that our lives are blasted by conscience. We resort to suppression and the germs created an abscess. (63)

In Magick (Book 4) Crowley asserts that Baphomet was a (deficient) divine androgyne:

The Devil does not exist. It is a false name invented by the Black Brothers to imply a Unity in their ignorant muddle of dispersions. A devil who had unity would be a God… ‘The Devil’ is, historically, the God of any people that one personally dislikes… This serpent, SATAN, is not the enemy of Man, but He who made Gods of our race, knowing Good and Evil; He bade ‘Know Thyself!’ and taught Initiation. He is ‘The Devil’ of the Book of Thoth, and His emblem is BAPHOMET, the Androgyne who is the hieroglyph of arcane perfection… He is therefore Life, and Love. But moreover this letter is ayin, the Eye, so that he is Light; and his Zodiacal image of Capricornus, the leaping goat whose attribute is Liberty. (277)

In essence, Crowley was tapping into a sort of diabolical “Dionysian” or “Night of Pan” savage, lustful, sexual and destructive energy to fuel his feats of ritual magic and the supposed destruction of his ego (that didn’t really pan out well, now did it?). This becomes rather evident in what he and his “chela” Victor Neurberg was attempting to invoke in the horrific yet strangely hilarious episode, deep in a North African desert. Discovering one’s “true will” is in Thelema, the “true salvation”, let traditional “slave” morality be damned:

“There are no “standards of Right”. Ethics is balderdash. Each Star must go on its own orbit. To hell with “moral principle”; there is no such thing” – Crowley, Aleister. The Old and New Commentaries to Liber AL, II,28.

According to Crowley’s own commentary on his Liber AL vel Legis or more commonly known as The Book of the Law, the cornerstone of his religious system, the image of the “Lion and the Serpent” are also used to represent the “dwarf soul” or “secret self” represented by the god of silence, Harpocrates while mirroring the line used in Liber AL:

Every man and every woman is a star.

“Hadit” is also called being the core of each star which is described as “the Ego or Atman in everything.” This is called Khabs and it is the house of being (Hadit), the innermost (solar) light of the sovereign nature of each individual. Hadit, being the true self achieves a kind of “gnosis” by realizing its “True Will” through the Great Work. This higher ego is the “seed of life” as a concentration of the “phallic consciousness,” in the expansion of one’s will. The “Lion and the Serpent” overcomes death with renewal by creating continuity through generation. However, invoking such an image to represent the “pneumatic” self to a classical Gnostic would have been a ghastly anathema to their religious and philosophical doctrines. This was due to the fact that the “Lion and the Serpent” was representative of the blind, malicious and authoritative Demiurge-like demon Ialdabaoth, which is essence a mutated caricature representative of the Gnostic contempt for the Jewish deity, Jehovah.

Part II forthcoming…