Sunday, February 24, 2008


When writing about Gnosticism it is very difficult to present an objective view of this system of belief or its participants. The reason for this is that there are very few exhibits of first hand copies of their writings. These writings were burned by the orthodox Christians from the first century onward. Gnosticism was considered heretical and Gnostics heretics. So, until the find of Nag Hammadi in 1945 little was known of Gnosticism and the Gnostics except from the writings of their adversaries.

One of the main things which separated the Gnostics from orthodox Christians was the mysticism of their beliefs. It began with their views of God and creation. They viewed the One which they called the true God as having a feminine part which was the Spirit. In accord, they also held that Jesus came from God and the Spirit to form the Trinity.

In the Gnostic version of creation of the world the Spirit of God is referred to as the Wisdom of God or Sophia who is also a feminine creative force. It seems she wished to give birth to a creature like herself. She did so without the permission of her partner. She was able to do this by the power within her. The fruit of her desire was something imperfect and different from her in appearance. She was ashamed of it, threw it outside of the heavenly realm and hid it in a cloud so none of the Immortals would see it. According to the Gnostics this horrible child became the one they called the Demiurge. Unbeknown to him his mother gave him some of her power which contained the Spirit. The Demiurge thought the power which his mother gave him was his own, and with it he started creating the physical world. In doing this the Gnostics believed the Demiurge entrapped the Spirit in matter. They viewed the Demiurge as being the Christian God, the creator, basing their belief on the statement, "I am God, and there is no one besides me."

Also, the Gnostic differed with the orthodox Christians on two other major issues: the salvation of man and the person of Jesus. They disagreed with the theory that man was sinful by nature, but believed man erred through ignorance; by knowledge man could correct his ways and gain salvation. The special knowledge which the Gnostics subscribed to was known as "gnois." Gnois was not a logical type of knowledge as one might gain in the study of mathematics or chemistry, but it was an intuitive or reflexive type of knowledge which comes from the study of man's inner self or soul. Any other knowledge did not concern the Gnostics. They called this gnois illuminated Logos because they believed it led to man's salvation.

For them the principle teacher of gnois was Jesus; a special person who did not come from the Demiurge but had come directly from God and the Holy Spirit. The Gnostics claimed Jesus taught them secret knowledge which he did not share with the general congregation of the Church. This sort of claim did not set too well with the Church at a time when it was striving to gain strength and power. Another point concerning Jesus which caused discord was that the Gnostics did not accept that Jesus was born of a virgin. Holding that Jesus specially came from God and the Spirit, they said he entered a body brought about by sexual intercourse between Mary and Joseph. Many Gnostics scoffed at the idea of a virgin birth which other Christians held.

Within this gnois, or secret teaching, were beliefs for escaping the clutches of the Demiurge. Since it was held that the Demiurge had entrapped the Spirit in matter, especially in man, through creation, it was therefore believed that not to prolong or propagate life was the best way to ultimately free the Spirit. Such a belief led to a schism among the Gnostic community. The majority formed sects practicing almost total monasticism, while a minority had sects which practiced libertinism. Where marriage was permitted within the monastic sects, sexual intercourse was absolutely forbidden. Many types of sexual acts and perversions were permitted in the libertine sects. One, the Ophites -- a name which honored the snake or serpent -- was known for its love feasts. The purpose of all the sects on both sides of the schism was the same, to liberate the Spirit by stopping the propagation of life. The Gnostics took Jesus' answer to his disciple Solame's question, "How long will death reign?" literally when he responded, "As long as you women bear children." Also to disobey the laws of the Demiurge, who was evil himself, was justified to the Gnostics. Therefore, to them the Demiurge not only represented the Christian God, he represented the Devil as well.

But these nihilism beliefs embodied within Gnosticism tended to be overshadowed by other teaching of the Gnostic Jesus, and these teachings still permeate modern Gnostic teachings. These teachings concern the inner self. According to Gnosticism Jesus showed much concern for the knowledge of inner truth, or "know thyself." He wanted his disciples to be seekers and seers. In the work "Pistis Sophia" he instructed them, "Do not leave off searching day and night." He warned that inner truth would bring turmoil, but with the turmoil would come astonishment." He explained further, "Let him who seeks continue seeking until he finds. When he finds, he will become troubled. When he becomes troubled, he will become astonished, and he will rule over all things."

From "Dialogue of the Savior" there is another quote attributed to Jesus: Silvanus, the teacher, says, "...Bring in your guide and your teacher. The mind is the guide, but reason is the teacher...Live according to the mind...Acquire strength, for the mind is strong...Enlighten the mind...Light the lamp within you."

The preceding passages are samples which show the differences between Gnosticism and orthodox Christianity. Gnosticism is more of an introspective teaching or philosophy to live by. It is quite different to say Jesus talked of the mind as being a light which serves as a personal guide than to quote him as saying, "Do not hide your light under a basket." In the latter quote he seems to be directing the disciples to use their spirituality and influence to persuade and direct others which the Church has done for many years.

To follow this further, one thinks that Jesus is saying one finds happiness within oneself. Within the Gnostic Gospels there are passages leading to such a conclusion. When his disciples asked when the new world or kingdom would come Jesus is to have said in the Gospel of Thomas: "...Rather the Kingdom is inside of you, and it is outside of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will be known, and you will realize that you are the sons of the living Father. But if you will not know yourselves, then you will dwell in poverty, and it is you who are that poverty."

In another passage when describing the kingdom Jesus said, "What you look forward to has already come, but you do not recognize it...the Kingdom of the Father is spread out on the earth, but men do not see it."

Within the teachings of Gnosticism the Kingdom of God seemed to represent an alternation of consciousness rather than a physical coming future event. "...Say, then, from the heart that you are the perfect day, and dwell in the light that does not fail...For you are the understanding that is drawn forth..."

Again when Jesus saw infants being nursed by their mothers he said, "These infants being suckled are like those entering the Kingdom." And the disciples asked, "Shall we, then, as little children, enter the Kingdom?" He answered them, "When you make two one, and when you make the inside the outside and the outside the inside, and the above like the below, and when you make the male and female one and the same...then you will enter (the Kingdom)."

When reading of Gnosticism and its various teachings, except for its nihilism aspect, one might get the impression that one was reading Greek philosophy. The concept of "Know Thyself" is definitely Platonic. It is not surprising that Gnosticism contains much Platonism because many of the Gnostics were Hellenistic by birth and nature. Just as it is not surprising that Gnosticism incorporated its believers' ancient teachings, it is no more surprising that the spirit of Gnosticism is still present. In an age when the attitudes of self-awakening and self-knowledge are very much in the consciousnesses of people it is no wonder Gnostic teachings are being reexamined. Large groups of people feel alienated from the Christian God. They feel even more alienated from the Christian Church. Many have turned to the pre-Christian dieties and nature for sources of their spiritual and religious experiences. Gnosticism can be one of these sources because is makes man feel worthy of himself and his Diety. A.G.H.

Pagels, Elaine, The Gnostic Gospels, New York: Vintage Books, 1979.
Nigg, Walter, The Heretics, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1962
Meyer, Melvin W., translator, The Secret Teachings of Jesus: The Four Gnostic Gospels, New York: Random House, 1984

Article Source : The Mystica

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Saturday, February 23, 2008


Gnosis--awakening from a state of sleep, unity6 with the Immeasurable All, the truth that existed before ignorance--but what does gnosis feel like? Read what Gnostic scripture says about gnosis in "'Gnosis' According to the Gnostics".


The four point plane of Gnosticism (sometimes abbreviated as the "4pp") is an effective tool for teaching those unfamiliar with Gnostic thought and scripture. The pace of Gnostic scholarship has risen steadily since the discovery of the Nag Hammadi Library in 1945 and the continuing discovery and public release of ancient Gnostic writings can seem confusing to people interested in knowing what Gnosticism is and what it is not. While scholars often politely disagree on the interpretation of Gnostic teachings and writings, most of those at the Palm Tree Garden agree that the 4pp is useful for introducing Gnostic thought to an audience of interested if uninformed listeners. The four "points" of the "plane" are:

1. Emanations cosmology (Becoming is an extension of Being)
2 Immanent Pneumatology (Spirit is "veiled" in matter and can be "unveiled")
3. Gnostic soteriology (The experience of gnosis is what saves one from the realms of imperfection)
4. Sacramental Praxis (Gnosis is achieved by a variety of practices which seek to make the imperfect realms "holy" or sacred-- the eucharist, contemplative practice, etc.)
If you are unfamiliar with Gnosticism and wish to have a basic understanding of Gnostic thought, or if you are a Gnostic in need of a simple way of explaining Gnosticism to others, visit The 4pp "in action".


Among the ancient Gnostics were many groups, or sects, the Hermetics, the Sethians, the Valentinians, the Thomasines, and others. The Sethian and Valentinian traditions have sometimes been confused by us in the twenty-first century as to the differences of their thoughts and practices. In our "Sethian/Valentinian/Thomasine" forum thread, today's Gnostic scholars examine such questions as to what extent Christianty and Christ or the soteriological figure informed these traditions. Where these traditions lived and thrived and what influenced them and what they, in turn, influenced is examined with reference to texts both old and new.

Article Source : Palm Tree Garden

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Gnostic Christianity?

I've always considered myself to be a Christian, but not the orthodox type. More along the outer fringes of Christianity. Unorthodox Christianity. The type of Christianity your pastor would tell you does not exist, or is the stuff of movies and works of fiction. The Christianity that stems from the root word "Christos"...(Greek).

As the Arch Angel Gabriel said to Daniel. (O.T., Book of Daniel)....

9:25. Know thou, therefore, and take notice: that from the going forth of the word, to build up Jerusalem again, unto Christ, the prince, there shall be seven weeks, and sixty-two weeks: and the street shall be built again, and the walls, in straitness of times.

9:25. scito ergo et animadverte ab exitu sermonis ut iterum aedificetur Hierusalem usque ad christum ducem ebdomades septem et ebdomades sexaginta duae erunt et rursum aedificabitur platea et muri in angustia temporum ...(Latin)

...and again...

9:26. And after sixty-two weeks Christ shall be slain: and the people that shall deny him shall not be his. And a people, with their leader, that shall come, shall destroy the city, and the sanctuary: and the end thereof shall be waste, and after the end of the war the appointed desolation.

9:26. et post ebdomades sexaginta duas occidetur christus et non erit eius et civitatem et sanctuarium dissipabit populus cum duce venturo et finis eius vastitas et post finem belli statuta desolatio ...(Latin)

...also mentioned in the O.T. Book of Psalms...

2:2. The kings of the earth stood up, and the princes met together, against the Lord, and against his Christ.

2:2. Consurgent reges terrae et principes tractabunt pariter adversum Dominum et adversum christum eius ...(Latin)

I refer to the Old Testament, to show that the term "Christ" was in use long before the Master Jesus walked in this world. Were there Christians also? Were there Christians before the days Master Jesus walked? I believe so...

Christ is to Christianity, as Gnosis is to Gnosticism. Always there, just out of reach. Christ is a state of being that good Christians hope to achieve. Much like the Buddhists work to emulate Buddha, and the Gnostics strive for Gnosis.

Some would have us believe that Gnosis is everywhere. That they achieved Gnosis by merely cracking the spine of a few books. When in fact, it may be that they haven't even begun the initiatic process, and true Gnosis may be several lifetimes away. Such is the nature of treasure. We could have a map, and still not be able to find it.

There are Ministers today who preach the word, but do not teach. They have become very good at using the gospels to get their point out, but miss the mark when it comes to getting the point of the Gospels out. We need more teachers. Spiritual teachers.

Gnosis is elusive. Like the wind, it can be felt but not touched. We may think we know, yet thinking and knowing, are quite different from one another. As Intelligence is to Wisdom. One may be Intelligent enough to know that smoking is bad for them. Yet lack the Wisdom to stop.

As I move along the path to Gnosis, I stumble upon a gem now and then. I have a video on this blog, concerning the secret. What you resist, persists. A good video. As i watched the video over and over, I was reminded of a post on another gnostic blog, about loving your enemy and so on. But as we learn from watching the video, that by loving our enemies, we are in fact giving energy to them. We would be better served by turning our attention away from the negative, and concentrating more intently on the positive.

Article Source : Gnosis And Knowledge Blog

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Kabbalah and Gnosticism

G.W.F. Hegel:

[An excerpt from Hegel's Lectures on the History of Philosophy, translated from G.W.F. Hegel's Vorlesungen über die Geschichte der Philosophie ii , (Theorie Werkausgabe, Bd. 19), Frankfurt a.M., Suhrkamp Verlag, 1977, 426-430]

translation and notes by Scott J. Thompson

Kabbalah and Gnosticism

Kabbalistic Philosophy and Gnostic theology are also occupied with the concepts of Philo. The first of these concepts is Being: abstract, unknown and nameless. The second is disclosure: the concrete which emanates from Being. The return to unity is also accepted to a certain extent, particularly with the Christian philosophers. This return, which is considered third, approaches Logos. [1] According to Philo, Wisdom is the teacher, High Priest, which leads the third back to the first, and thus to the vision (hóros) of God.

Kabbalistic Philosophy

Kabbalah is called the secret wisdom of the Jews. Much has been fabled concerning its origins, and much of it is enigmatic. It is said to be embodied in two books: the Sefer Yetzirah (Book of Formation) and the Sefer ha-Zohar (Book of Splendor). The Sefer Yetzirah is the same primary book which has been attributed to Rabbi Akiba. A completed edition is soon to appear from Herr von Mayer in Frankfurt. [2]

There are ideas in the book which lead into Philo to a certain extent, but they do so in a very enigmatic way, and are presented more for the Phantasie. It is not as venerably ancient as is claimed by those who revere it, for they suppose that Adam was given this heavenly book as a consolation for his fall. It is an astronomical, magical, medicinal, prophetic brew. An historical pursuit of its traces indicates that it was cultivated in Egypt.

Akiba was born soon after the destruction of Jerusalem. In 132 A.D. the Jews revolted against Hadrian with an army of 200,000 men. The Rabbis were also active in the revolt. Bar Kokhba had passed for the Messiah and was flayed alive.

The second book, Sefer ha-Zohar, is said to have originated from a pupil of Rabbi Simeon b. Yochai. He was called the Great Light, the Spark of Moses. Both Sefer Yetzirah and Sefer ha-Zohar were translated into Latin in the 17th Century. [3]

In the 15th Century a speculative Israelite, Rabbi Abraham Cohen Herrera, also wrote a book Puerto del Cielo (The Gate of Heaven) which is connected to Arab and Scholastic philosophy. [4] It is an enigmatic mixture, but the book does have foundations which are universal [allgemeine Grundlage]. The best within it travels along a conceptual path similar to Philo. There are certainly some genuinely interesting determinations of a fundamental nature [Grundbestimmungen] in these books, but they tend to lead to enigmatic fantasizing. In the early history of the Jews one finds nothing concerning the notion of God as Being of Light, or of an opposition between light and darkness (seen as a struggle between good and evil); one finds nothing in early Jewish history on good and evil angels, or of the rebellion of evil, its damnation and sojourn in hell; nor anything concerning the future world judgment over good and evil, and the corruption of the flesh. In these books of the Kabbalah the Jews first began to develop their thoughts about their reality and to unveil to themselves a spiritual, or at least spirit-world, whereas they had previously been absorbed in the mire and self-importance of their existence and in the preservation of their people and race.

Concerning the particulars of the Kabbalah, the following can be said here: the One is declared the principle of all things, for this is the primeval source of all numbers. Just as the totality of numbers is itself no number, in the same way God is the foundation of all things, Ain Sof (without limit). The emanations associated with Ain Sof proceed from this first cause through contraction of that original boundlessness; this is the hóros (boundary) of the first. In this first single cause everything is preserved eminenter, not formaliter but rather causaliter.

The second main point is Adam Kadmon, the first man, Keter, the first generated, highest crown, the Macrocosmos- Microcosmos, to which the emanated world is connected as the flux of light. Through further emanation the other spheres become the circles of the world, and this emanation is represented as a stream of light. Ten streams of light issue from the primal source, and these emanations, Sefirot, compose the pure world of Azilut (world of divine emanations), which is itself without variability; second, the world of Briah (world of creation), which is variable; third, the formed world of Yetzirah (the pure souls which are deposited in the material, the souls of the stars; the pure spirits are further differentiated as this enigmatic system proceeds); and fourth, the established world of Asiah (world of activation), which is the lowest vegetative and sentient world.


Fundamental notions similar to those of the Kabbalists constitute the determinations (Bestimmungen) of the Gnostic theology. Herr Prof. Neander has given us an erudite collection of the Gnostics, which he has explained in detail. Some of these forms accord with those discussed above.

One of the most outstanding Gnostics is Basilides. According to Basilides, the first is the unspeakable God, theós arretos, the Ain Sof of the Kabbalah, which as tó ón, o ón [Being] is nameless ('anonómastos), and immediate, as with Philo.

Second is noús (spirit, mind), the first born, Logos Sophía (Wisdom), the active dynamis (power) which differentiates more precisely into justice (dikaiosyne), and harmony (eiréne). These are followed by further developed principles which Basilides calls Archons, the heads of the spirit realms. A central issue in this schema is again the return, the soul's process of clarification, the economy of purification, oeconomía katharoeon, from the hyle (materia). The soul must return to Sophía and harmony. The primeval essence contains all perfection within itself, but only in potentia; the spirit (noús), which is the first born, is only the first manifestation of what is veiled, and created beings can only obtain true justice in harmony with it through connection to God.

The Gnostics, for example Markos, call the first the unthinkable, anennóetos, and even non-existence, anoúsios. It is that which proceeds into the determinate, monótes. They also call it the pure stillness, sigé (silence). From it proceed Ideas, angels and the aeons. These are the roots and seeds of the particular fulfillment: lógoi (words), rízai (roots), spérmata (seeds), plerómata (plenitudes), karpoí (fruit); and each aeon contains its own world within itself.

According to other Gnostics, for example Valentinus, the first principle is also called Aeon or the unfathomable, the primeval depth, the absolute abyss, bythos, in which everything is sublimated (aufgehoben) before the beginning (proárche) or before the Father (propátor). Aeon is the activator. The transition or unfolding of the One is diáthesis (arrangement), and this stage is also called the self-conceptualizing of the inconceivable (katálepsis toú akataléptou), which we have encountered in Stoic philosophy as katálepsis (grasping, conceiving). These concepts are the Aeons, the particular diáthesis, and the world of the Aeons is called the pléroma (plenitude). The second principle is called the hóros (boundary), the development of which is to be grasped in contraries, the two masculine and feminine principles. The one is the pléroma of the other, and the plerómata (plenitudes) emanate from their union, syzygía. The union is the foremost reality. Each opposite has its own integral complement, syzygos; the sum of these plerómata is the entire world of Aeons all together, the universal pléroma of the bythos (abyss, depth). The abyss is thus called Hermaphrodite, the masculine-feminine, arrenóthelys.

Ptolemaios attributes to the bythos two pairs (syzygous), two arrangements or dispositions (diátheseis) which are presumed through all existence: will and thought (thélema kaí énnoia). Colorful forms and ornamentation then enter into the picture. The essential determinate is the same: abyss and unveiling. The manifestation as a descent is also dóxa (splendor), Shekhinah of God, Sophía ouránios (heavenly wisdom), which refers to the vision of God (horasis toú theoú): dynámeis agénetoi (uncreated force), "the light about him flashes brilliantly" (ai péri autón oúsai lambrótaton phos apastráptousi), the Ideas, lógos, or pre-eminently the name of God (tó ónoma toú theoú), the name of the many-named God (polyónymos), the Demiurge, i.e., God's appearance. All of these forms pass into the enigmatic. In general, the fundamental terms of these different Gnostic theologies are the same, and at their core is an attempt to conceive and determine what is in and for itself. I have mentioned these particular forms in order to indicate their connection to the universal. Underlying this, however, is a deep need for concrete reason.

The Church repudiated Gnosticism because it remained in the universal, and grasped the Idea in the form of Imagination, which then opposed the actual self-consciousness of Christos in the flesh, Xpristós én sarkí. The Docetists say that Christos had merely an apparent body and an apparent life. The thought was a cryptic one. The Church stood firmly opposed to this in favor of a definite form of the personality, and it adhered to the principle of concrete reality.



[1] Hegel is referring to the Neoplatonic triad of moné (Being or 'abiding'), próodos (the procession from the cause) and epistrophé (the return to the cause).--SJT

[2] Das Buch Jezira, die älteste kabbalistische Urkunde der Hebräer (The Book Yetzirah, The Oldest Document of the Hebrews). Published by Johann Friedrich von Mayer, Leipzig, 1830.

[3] Hegel is referring to the volume Liber Jezirah. Qui Abrahamo Patriarchae adscribitur, uno cum commentario Rabi Abraham Filii Dior super 32 Simitis Sapientiae a quibus liber Jezirah incipit. Translatus et Notis illustratus a Joanne Stephano Rittangelio. Amsterdami 1642. [For a more complete bibliography of Sefer Yetzirah, see Sefer Yetzirah Bibliography]--SJT

[4] Regarding Herrera, Gershom Scholem writes the following in his encyclopaedic Kabbalah (1974): "Abraham Herrera, a pupil of Sarug who connected the teaching of his master with neoplatonic philosophy, wrote Puerto del Cielo, the only kabbalistic work originally written in Spanish, which came to the knowledge of many European scholars through its translations into Hebrew (1655) and partly into Latin (1684)." In another context Scholem mentions Herrera's rôle in the discussion of Spinoza and Kabbalah: "The question of whether, and to what degree, the Kabbalah leads to pantheistic conclusions has occupied many of its investigatior from the appearance in 1699 of J.G. Wachter's study Der Spinozismus im Judenthumb, attempting to show that the pantheistic system of Spinoza derived from kabbalistic sources, particularly from the writings of Abraham Herrera."

In the context of Hegel's short entry on kabbalah, the following passage is worth quoting from Herrera's book Puerto del Cielo (included in a Latin translation in Christian Knorr von Rosenroth's Kabbala denudata: "Adam Kadmon proceeded from the Simple and the One, and to that extent he is Unity; but he also descended and fell into his own nature, and to that extent he is Two. And again he will return to the One, which he has in him, and to the Highest; and to that extent he is Three and Four" (Kabbala denudata I, Part 3, Porta coelorum, ch. 8, paragraph 3, p. 116).--SJT


Hegel Links:

Hegel Society and Links

The Owl of Minerva [Official Journal of the Hegel Society]

Works by Hegel in German: Books

G.W.F. Hegel, Phenomenologie des Geistes [text on-line in German from Projekt Gutenberg]

Works by Hegel in English: Books

G.W.F. Hegel, Phenomenology of Mind, trans. J.B. Baillie

G.W. F. Hegel, Science of Logic, trans. A.V. Miller, London, George Allen & Unwin/ New York, Humanities Press, 1969, 844 pp.

G.W. F. Hegel, The Logic of Hegel (1873) [From the Encyclopaedia of the Philosophical Sciences], trans. William Wallace, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1963, 439 pp.

G.W. F. Hegel, Philosophy of Right, trans.T.M. Knox, London, Oxford University Press, 1967,382 pp.

G.W. F. Hegel,Lectures on the Philosophy of World History: Introduction, trans. H.B. Nisbet, intro. Duncan Forbes, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1975, 252 pp. [J. Sibree trans. of the Introduction]

G.W. F. Hegel, Lectures on the History of Philosophy (3 vols.), trans. E.S. Haldane & Frances H. Simson (1892-1896), Lincoln, Nebraska, University of Nebraska Press, 1995, 487pp. (I), 453 pp. (II), 571 pp. (III). Articles on Anaximander by G.W.F. Hegel [c/o Charles Taylor's course on the Presocratics 1998]

Secondary Works on Hegel in English: Essays, Articles and Reviews

Martin Heidegger, "Hegel and the Greeks" [From the Conference of the Academy of Sciences in Heidelberg, July 26, 1958

Lloyd Spencer, Hegel for Beginners (Icon Books, 1996) [Selected Excerpts]

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by Bishop John Cole

The distinctive forms of medieval kabbalism can with a great deal of certainty be said to have had its birth or rather rebirth in the area of the Languedoc. Many sources place the root of this revival in Spain, however it was not until the early thirteenth century that it was transplanted to places such as Aragon and Castille from the Languedoc.

The time period of this development in Southern France would be between the years 1150-1220. This appears to be a very magical period for intellectual as well as for theological and theosophical speculation. We also received some of the most impressive and enlightened Grail literature from this period.

The area of Languedoc would have been an idea place for Jewish culture to flourish during the 12th and 13th centuries. Catholic Christianity had lost its reign and the much more tolerant Cathars had become the prominent Christian culture of the region. The Cathars detested the corruption of the catholic clergy, and sought to practice a form of Christianity more identical with Primitive Christianity, claiming their own apostolic lineage.

So in effect arose a very unique opportunity for religious expression in a time when this attitude of tolerance was becoming a rare phenomenon in the world at large. The most interesting aspect of this situation however was that of the co-existence and close proximity of Jewish and Christian Gnostic schools. In fact this became fertile soil where the Judeo-Christian esoteric traditions produced several hybrid strains that continue to enlighten and influence us to this day.

The Bahir, one of the older and most profound of all Kabbalistic texts was well received on many fronts in the Languedoc. The cosmology of the Bahir appears only a slightly modified form of that of the Christian Gnostics. One of the more important Gnostic ideas found in the Bahir is in the Hebrew word 'ha=male'; the full or the fullness having the same meaning as the Gnostic Pleroma. In the Bahir we find:

What is the meaning of the verse (Deut.33: 23): "And full of the Lord's blessing, take possession of the west and south." That means: In every place the letter Beth (with which the Torah and also the word berakhah begin), is blessed because it is the fullness. This verse may thus be understood: And the "fullness" id the blessing of God. And it is He who gives drink to the needy and with it counsel was taken at the very beginning.

Here the word 'ha-male' does not simply mean the world of angels as it does in other literature, rather it refers to the highest reality in which the 'fullness' of God's blessing is contained. It may also be interpreted as a pool of dammed up waters from which God gives drink to those who thirst.

Another word representing this fullness is 'ALL'. In the Gospel of Truth we find:

They found...the perfect Father who generated the ALL, in the midst of which is the ALL and of which the ALL has need...for what did the ALL need if not the Gnosis concerning the Father.

Compare it to the Gospel of Thomas.


Opponents to the theory of a solid connection of the Kabbalists and Cathars in twelfth century France might say that there is a lack of hard evidence for making such conclusions, however if one uses a fine tooth comb and searches meticulously, there will be little doubt that there was a meeting of the mystic minds, the only question being of what degree.

The most common similarity of both groups is the notion regarding the reality of a separate higher world belonging entirely to God Himself and in which there occur certain dramatic events that have their counterpart in the lower world. This supreme world of the unknown God may correspond, in the case of the Kabbalists, to the Gnostic pleroma. The Cathars recognize four elements as composing that supreme world just as did the circle of Isaac the Blind. The creator God or Demiurge of the Cathars is identical with Satan, has a form and figure in which he appears to the prophets; while on other hand, the true and good God imperceptible to the eye and for all practical purposes is unknowable to the hylic mortals. The Cathar idea of Satan also holds a resemblance in the Bahir of the prince of Thou, who was the creator of the material world.

The system of syzygies or the coupling of masculine and feminine potencies in the upper world, and its reflection in the lower world can be found in the doctrines of the Spanish Kabbalists as well as the Cathars. This connection, however seems not to be from the immediate influences but rather from a common source within the ancient Gnosis. This may be further deducted by the fact that the idea of the syzygy may be found universally, especially in the east in such rich esoteric traditions as Taoism.

Lastly, the one major issue that our two groups have most in common is that of the transmigration of souls, although the details vary to some degree. The Cathars regarded the higher souls as those of fallen angels that must continue to wander until they attain the body of a Cathar Perfecti did. Similarly, when a student engaged himself to a Kabalistic school, one of the first things taught to the novice was that he probably would not complete his work in the present lifetime (assuming that the present lifetime was the first one to partake of this spiritual path). In fact, the idea of transmigration of souls can be traced back among both traditions to a much older time frame. The earliest Christian Gnostic embraced this idea, as did the Jewish mystics of the same period.

Perhaps the similarities of the Cathars and Kabbalists may be attributed to other factors than direct contact. The mystical concepts accepted by these traditions can also be found in numerous other esoteric lineages, east and west. Due to the geographical barriers between these groups there appears to be ample evidence that these people were drawing from the same archetypal well of wisdom, and with this in mind, we need only lower our pail into the same well of the collective unconscious.

If you liked this article the next article is also written by +John Cole, Other articles by Bishop John Cole: THE SONS OF ZADOK AND THE CHRISTIAN GNOSIS, SANCTUARY OF THE HOLY GRAIL, INTRODUCTION, THE DHARMA OF DEVEKUT

Article Source : Order of the Grail

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Gospel of Judas

This has been in the news recently, and while I have had an opportunity to read it, I've really only skimmed it. However, it seems to my semi-scholarly opinion that it does fit into a "Gnostic" worldview. It should be noted, however, that Gnostic is very difficult to define. It's rather anti-dogmatic nature means that one could include just about anything. But a few things jump out at me in this Gospel of Judas.:

1. When he [approached] his disciples, gathered together and seated and offering a prayer of thanksgiving over the bread, [he] laughed.

A laughing Jesus is often seen in the Nag Hammadi texts. Especially one laughing at the ignorance of his followers believing in empty ritual. He's pointing out here that ritual is only effective/beneficial when it is done from the heart, not merely from rote behavior.

2. You are from the immortal realm of Barbelo.

Barbelo is a fairly dead give-away. Even Irenaeus mentions Barbelo in connection with the Gnostics.

3. Knowing that Judas was reflecting upon something that was exalted, Jesus said to him, “Step away from the others and I shall tell you the mysteries of the kingdom."

In the Gospel of Mary Mary Magdalene reveals to the disciples the teachings Jesus gave to her in private. (of course most don't believe her, since she's "just" a woman.) We also see her having a greater understanding than the other disciples. Many scholars, and other people alike, have speculated that these texts represent an early power struggle in the Church, where some people accepted Mary as a source of authority and learning, and others, the 'orthodox' view point which ultimately won out, did not. My opinion is that the Gospel of Judas belonged to a group which saw Judas as another source of authority, since he too received special, secretreadGnosticc) teachings from Jesus.

4. and corruptible Sophia

DING! Again, a pretty dead give-away. And corruptible Sophia is important. Sophia, in most Gnostic myths is responsible, through her desire to know and emulate the Monad, for bringing about the demiurge, the creator of the physical world. Her actions sometimes lead to her being cast out of the Pleroma, and wandering the world, being used, sexually, by the archons and other powers. Other times she has some of her power stolen by her 'son',whichis trappeddwithinn humanity. Either way, Sophia in a text of this time (say 2nd-4th century) generally indicates a Gnostic text of some kind.

5. Self-Generated

The divine parent, or Godhead, goes by many names and attributes. It is called Bythos (abyss), the Monad, The One, and (you guessed it) the Self-Generated. It is difficult to explain this 'being', since 'it' is so far outside human comprehension that we can only speak metaphorically and in incomplete images. Some times it is called Father. But Self-Generated works too!

6.Adamas and the Luminaries

Adamas is the first Human, but not inphysicallyl sense. "He" is the spiritual human, and we are reflections of "his" form. (I put he and his in quotation marks because I think the intention behind the male pronouns in the text were meant to include everyone, not just he's). This is influenced by Plato who spoke of forms, in the heaven. These forms where pure and absolute, what we saw here on earth, however, were mere reflections of these forms. Shadows on a cave wall type thing. A selection of Plato was found at Nag Hammadi, oddly not the section talking about forms. But still, the influence of Platonic though on Gnosticism, and other things, is well documented.

7. Yaldaboath and Saklas

Again, fairly common names for the demiurge, or one of his powers. These names, especially Yaldaboath (or similar names, are almost cornerstones for Gnostic texts.

So, it seems to me fairly obvious that this is a Gnostic text, the only thing left to do would be to try and determine which group it came from/was used by. The Sethians jump to mind. They, according to Irenaeus, revered Barbelo as a divine figure. They were Christian Gnostics with strong Platonic influence, from them we get the Adamas ideal. But of course we should be careful, since we get these classifications come from the people who were against the Gnostics. It is possible that this, and other texts, were not exclusive to oneparticularr group, but were used by individual groups as they saw fit.

I've also heard that some see the text as antiSemiticc, but I'm afraid I just don't see it. In some cases Gnostic texts clearly identisy the Demiurge, the ignorant if not evil creator of the world, with the God of the Old Testament, but to me this isn't anti-semitism. It's just a denial of an old world order, infavorr of a new one.

So there are my thoughts on the Gospel of Judas. I may have more to say later, but for now that's it. Untill then....
posted by gnosticnicole at 1:46 PM 5 comments

Thursday, May 04, 2006
What Gnosticism Means to Me...Part One
How I "got into" Gnosticism

AKA A Short, Selected, Personal History

It all started with a dream. In the dream I was locked in a building, like a jail execpt not, with many other people. Then we needed to escape because there was a flood. We ended up on the roof, a few dozen of us, and then the roof became an island. We were the only people left on earth. It was cold and night-time, and we were all scared. We looked up and the moon, a crescent moon with something wierd attached to the end, began 'dancing'. We knew this was an omen of impending doom.

This dream bugged the heck out me! I wanted to know what it meant (and no dream dictionary entries don't help). So, I bought a few books on moon lore, and one of them had something about goddess. Well after a while the dream faded, although it returns to haunt me periodically, but I started reading books about women and various religions, mostly Christian, and pagan/goddess. I had been raised as, well nothing really but Christian in a VERY non-denomination/non-church-related way, but I had always believed in something divine. But Christianity turned me off, because of the male bias. That's when I stumbled, quite by accident, upon Elaine Pagel's book "Adam, Eve and the Serpent", which seemed to be delving into the gender issues of the Genesis story. It did, but by examining the myth in gnostic texts. I was fascinated. And when I get that fascinated, look out!

So I started reading into gnosticism, searching out every book I could get my hands on. I've had books that I didn't see literally fall off the shelf, drawing my attention to them. I was able to get a copy of the Nag Hammadi Library by James M. Robinson. Then I had access to the texts themselves. That sealed the deal. Everything just fell into place.

So now that you know how I became Gnostic, I should tell you what attracted me to it. Well the main thing that did, and still does (only more so now), reel me in, was the fact that women are treated much more sympathetically then in most of Christianity, and in fact in many World Religions. Rather than seeing Eve as the first sinner, here she is viewed as the first teacher. Women were active in the early Gnostic Churches (as they were in most early Christian churches despite what you may have heard.) Women were equal to men, they were revered in the persons of Eve, Sophia, Mary Magdalene and other goddess-like figures. This was exactly what I had been looking for. And the best part, I could still consider myself a Christian, a Gnostic Christian! (FYI - this is a position I've been reconsidering since)

So, That's part one of what Gnosticism means to me. Female equality and power in the religious sphere. Of course this isn't all that gnosticism has to offer. But that will have to be discussed at a later time. Untill then...

Oh and if you know nothing about Gnosticism, visit my page in the links section (The Thunder). Anything else you need to know that you can't find there, ask me! Untill whenever....
posted by gnosticnicole at 3:22 PM 0 comments

In Case you were wondering, this isn't me, it's my puppy. His name is "Plato" and he's a Pomeranian:)
posted by gnosticnicole at 2:59 PM 0 comments

My first post
Well, I've never done this before, but I've been looking for a way to express my Gnosticism, and this seems as good as any. I guess I should start with a little intro. I'm a student of Religious Studies at the University of Ottawa. I have about a year and a half left in my B.A. Then I want to get my masters and phd and be a professor. I started taking religious studies because I had read about Gnosticism, and decided that I liked learning about religion enough to make a career out of it. My first intro to Gnosticismm was Elaine Pagel's book "Adam, Eve, and The Serpent. I was immediatly intrigued, and read more and more. And the more I read, the more I realized that it made sense to me. Soon I was hesitantly calling myself a Gnostic. Now, I have a web page (The Thunder), and openly tell people I am a Gnostic, which usually leads to the question, What's that? Well that question is hard to answer and I hope this blog will help answer that. In the meantime, I'm going to go figure this 'blog' thing out. Hopefully I'll get it down pat by tomorrow.. Untill then....
posted by gnosticnicole at 1:56 PM 3 comments
About Me

Name: Nicole
Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
I'm a student of Religious Studies, working towards my PHD. I'm a self proclaimed Gnostic, and want to use this blog to express what that means to me.

Article Source : Gnostic Nicole

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Gnosticism 101

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Two thousand years ago, in Northern Egypt, a religious culture existed that embraced early Christianity, Qabalistic Judaism, Roman State Religion, Egyptian Mystery cults, Mithraism, and Greek philosophy. Because this religion emphasized personal revelatory experience and rejected Faith, it was a threat to the conformist orthodoxy which was taking shape in the Christian Church. Gnosticism's adherents were first ostracized, then persecuted, then slaughtered. But Gnosticism's ideas speak to a basic truth, and Gnosticism itself resurfaced countless times in the intervening centuries.

- In the beginning, there is only the Pleroma (the "empty fullness"), a state of infinite potential, unity, nothingness, and totality. For the Gnostic, this is God - without gender, personality, or human characteristics. The Pleroma is the Primal Source, and every universe, and the potential for every universe, is an emanation of the Pleroma.

- At some point, the Pleroma conceives of the "something" as opposed to "nothing". There is a sudden and significant division between these two poles, a fundamental one and zero. As yin and yang, positive and negative, male and female - all Diads are a reflection of these two "magnetic poles of God".

- These two poles, yearning for the unity of the pre-existing Pleroma, again come together. The result of that union is a daughter, Sophia ("Wisdom"). Sophia is as close as a Gnostic comes to ascribing a human personality to God.

- In one myth, Sophia, jealous of Her parents ability to create, creates in turn Her own children. These children, however, do not contain the spark of the Divine, as they do not come from the Pleroma.

- These children - known as the Archons, or rulers - are a huge problem. They are in turn jealous of their Mother's ability to create, and they create an entire universe over which to rule. The set themselves up as gods over their creation, but as they are imperfect their creation is flawed, cruel, and grotesque. This is the universe in which we live, and we are their creatures. It is a caricature of the Real World of union with the Pleroma.

- The early part of human history relates to our imprisonment and the injustice of the created world. A critical part of the Archon's agenda is to hide the truth of the Pleroma from their pawns. The chief of the Archons, the Demiurge, is particularly megalomaniacal and sadistic. He wants the world to worship him as the one true god.

- Sophia discovers the scheme of the Archons and their creation, and is horrified. She returns to the Pleroma and repents for Her error. She then carries a "spark" of Divinity, slips down through the complex hierarchies of the Archons, and conceals a splinter of God into everything and everyone.

- In some traditions, Sophia incarnates as Eve within the garden. Other stories have Her assume the role of Serpent. When the Demiurge appears before Adam and Eve and declares "There is no God but me", Sophia reveals Her True Self and states "You are wrong!" and shames Her monstrous offspring.

- Things start to get paranoid here. A small number of the Archons realize their error, and wish to return with Sophia to the Pleroma. She commands that they remain in their creation to act secretly as her agents, and encourage the spark in humanity.

- Christian Gnostics subscribe to the tradition which implies that Sophia is thereafter trapped in the created world and separated from the Pleroma. One aspect of the Pleroma, the Logos ("Word") is sent down through the Archons to rescue Her. The Logos is incarnated as Jesus, and his mission is to awaken the spark of God among humankind in order to generate a kind of "critical mass" of Divinity. The idea is that this would function as a kind of rocket fuel to return both the Logos and Sophia to the Pleroma. Some traditions state that this was successful, others not.

- Where this leaves us, as Gnostics, is to kindle the inner spark in order to escape the cruelty of the Demiurge and his agents, and light the way home to Divinity. This awakening is called gnosis ("knowledge" - spiritual enlightenment), a first-hand certainty of their relationship with the divine. This also involves a rejection of faith, and of third-party salvation. The Gnostic must personally negotiate with the Archons, and debate, argue, and define the nature of that relationship.

- I've never met a Gnostic who feels this is anything other than a metaphor, a powerful and transformative myth. But it does describe an almost universal sense of "this is not the deal", that the SYSTEM ("kosmos") of time, decay, disease, ignorance, jealousy, pettiness - does not reflect the "true" world, and that the god in charge of this creation must be cruel, insane, or both.

- Gnostics tend to come in one of three main varieties: Christian (about 70%), Hermetic (about 25%) and Sophianic (5%).

- The main sources for Gnostic thought, written between 200 BCE and 200 CE, were narrowly circulated, and hidden from mainstream or orthodox authorities. A large collection of these texts, the Nag Hammadi library, was unearthed in 1945. Among these is the Christian Gospel of Thomas, believed by many biblical scholars to be the oldest and most accurate account of the real teachings of Jesus.

- Hermetic Gnostics study the writings of the semi-mythical Hermes Trimegistus, an Egyptian priest (actually a nom-de-plume for up to a dozen philosophers over a few centuries). It is the discipline of magic, of alchemy and metaphysics, the "yoga of the west". The renaissance humanists, the Rosicrucians and early Freemasons were of these.

- Sophian Gnostics hold the idea of the Divine Feminine, inherent in the world and advocating for our enlightenment. She is the Queen of Heaven, Holy Wisdom, the Celestial Bride. Similarly, the Magdalene is also a central figure as an aspect of Sophia, as is the Egyptian goddess Aset, more commonly known as Isis.
posted by Jordan Stratford+ at 1:26 PM

Article Source : Egina Blog

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Monday, February 18, 2008

Gnosticism, is a philosophical and religious movement prominent in the Greco-Roman world in the 2nd century AD.

While Gnosticism drew from and influenced in turn many traditional religions, its effect was most clearly felt on nascent Christianity, in which it led to the formation of the canon, creed, and episcopal organization.

The designation Gnosticism, derived from the Greek gnostikos (one who has gnosis, or "secret knowledge"), is a term of modern scholarship. Evidence for the Gnostic phenomenon, found in the Church Fathers who opposed Gnostic teachings (Irenaeus, c. 185; Hippolytus, c. 230; Epiphanius, c. 375) and in the Gnostic writings themselves, reveals a diversity in theology, ethics, and ritual that defies strict classification.

Yet Gnostic sects appear to have shared an emphasis on the redemptive power of esoteric knowledge, acquired not by learning or empirical observation but by divine revelation.


The origins of the Gnostic world view have been sought by scholars in the dualism of Iranian religion, the allegorical Idealism of the Middle Platonic philosophers, and the apocalypticism of certain Jewish mystics.

There are analogies also with Egyptian and Mesopotamian thought. It was only with the rise of Christianity, however, that Gnostic syncretism came to full expression.

The first Gnostic about whom something can be said with confidence is Simon Magus, a 1st-century Jewish heterodox teacher who introduced the fundamental Gnostic conception that evil resulted from a break within the Godhead.

But Simon's gnosis remained essentially Jewish and monotheistic, as did that of the Gnostic circles to which later parts of the New Testament allude.

The dualistic phase was reached after the expansion of Gnosticism into the Hellenistic world and under the influence of Platonic philosophy, from which was borrowed the doctrine that a lower demiurge was responsible for the creation of this world.

This teaching is to be found in the Apocryphon of John (early 2nd century) and other documents of popular gnosis discovered near Naj' Hammadi in upper Egypt in the 1940s and in the Pistis Sophia, a 3rd-century Gnostic work in Coptic belonging to the same school.

The learned gnosis of Valentinus, Basilides, and their schools presupposes this popular gnosis, which, however, has been thoroughly Hellenized and Christianized and sometimes comes very near to the views of Middle Platonism.

Eastern Gnosticism took a somewhat different course. Under the influence of traditional Iranian religion, the semi-Gnostic Manichaeism developed an absolute cosmic dualism between soul and matter.

Moreover, it showed the enormous influence of Syrian asceticism, but it was equally rooted in popular Gnosticism and preserved its essential doctrines.


In the Gnostic view, the unconscious self of man is consubstantial with the Godhead, but because of a tragic fall it is thrown into a world that is completely alien to its real being.

Through revelation from above, man becomes conscious of his origin, essence, and transcedent destiny. Gnostic revelation is to be distinguished both from philosophical enlightenment, because it cannot be acquired by the forces of reason, and from Christian revelation, because it is not rooted in history and transmitted by Scripture.

It is rather the intuition of the mystery of the self.

The world, produced from evil matter and possessed by evil demons, cannot be a creation of a good God; it is mostly conceived of as an illusion, or an abortion, dominated by Yahweh, the Jewish demiurge, whose creation and history are depreciated.

This world is therefore alien to God, who is for the Gnostics depth and silence, beyond any name or predicate, the absolute, the source of good spirits who together form the pleroma, or realm of light.

These conceptions are expressed in various myths, which employ material from many traditional religions but serve to express a basic experience that is new, the discovery of the unconscious self or spirit in man which sleeps in him until awakened by the Saviour.

The Gnostic sects of the 2nd century made use of Hebrew and Christian religious writings, employing the allegorical method to extricate Gnostic meanings from them.

Most Gnostic groups seem to have been organized as schools, in which the authoritative teaching was transmitted, interpreted, and kept secret.

There was wide disagreement among groups as to the importance of rites, with some practicing quasi-Christian Eucharists and baptisms and others rejecting all aspects of conventional worship, including prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

Notions of ethics likewise varied widely.


The development of Christian doctrine was to a large extent a reaction against Gnosticism. The formulation of creedal symbols, the canonization of the New Testament Scriptures, and the emphasis on episcopal authority all were made necessary by the Gnostics' claims.

Moreover, in some measure the Gnostics were the first theologians, and their systems prompted the systemization of early Christian thought.

In addition, they kept alive the great issues of freedom, redemption, and grace, which for a time lost their emphasis among Christian writers. In a later period, the theology of Augustine owed a great deal to his early experience as a Manichaean.

Reference: Encyclopedia Britannica

Article Source : Crystal Links

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Introduction to Gnosticism

In our study of the different mystic schools, we introduce Gnosticism

Happy reading

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