First entry for Gnostic Countercultures. Still in Chicago and getting ready to head to Houston. Testing, testing…all life is testing.
Jeff Kripal is on to discuss Biological Gods, the New Mythmakers of Science Fiction
Jeff starts by quoting someone who says that aliens don’t have to be material but can be energy.
Quotes Promethea: You might not want to look for folklore because folklore will come looking for you.
Jeff gives examples of UFO sightings, and how UFO began as a war-time name for an opposing force. And it hasn’t changed. Some of these certainly include sex with aliens. He quotes the book The Interrupted Journey. An interracial couple was abducted and raped (symbolical since it was in the Civil Rites era).
Some believe Aliens are us in the future coming back to teach us and re-calibrate our imagination. Quotes a lot of Jacques Vallee, the guy who said aliens appeared as children. Vallee was an advisor for Stephen Spielberg in Close Encounters.
Carl Sagan originated the Ancient Astronaut theory in 1966. Interesting.
Kripal proposes that the aliens are just modern gods, made of some substance we cannot understand. Kripal mentions PKD and his Valis experience, which seems alien but is probably much more but we understand alien our world so much better.
Dick contended everyone was made up of language. Reading was a sacrament or occult practice. Dick said his novels were Secret Gnostic Gospels. Dick does mention that Valis could be calling from the future, much like Vallee.
Whitley Strieber writes in his book Communion, where aliens are Archons that drain our emotions. In Dec 1985, he was abducted by aliens. Afterwards, he didn’t remember anything but felt anal pain and pain at the tip of his finger. He went and got help because of depression, and through hypnotism began to remember.
Four different types of aliens took Strieber to a craft and performed experiments. They anal probed him, as well as collected his semen. South Park satirized him and ruined his career.
Strieber got tested on his brain to make sure his mind was broken, but it seemed fine. He had many theories, including the aliens were spiritual beings in a parallel universe. The aliens might have been hiding in our folklore. We are embedded in their world like animals are embedded our world.
Now he moves to Barbara Ehrenreich and her book Living with a Wild God.
Ehrenreich was an atheist activist who was taken by aliens at 17 during a ski trip; and suppressed the event for decades. She didn’t want to sound crazy. She did discover there are many beings we simply can’t see, just as other animals might barely notice humans.
Basically, the gods are among us dressed in the clothing of our culture…or just us (higher selves) trying to make contact.
Margarita Simon Guillory is now on to discuss Louisianian Hoodoo Rituals:
Margarita explains the magical materials used in Louisiana for rituals. Sand was used a lot, a representation of matter and control.
New Orleans became a hot ,bed for African spirituality and artistic expression, from the 19th century to the present. Hoodoo is a blended system of African rituals with organic materials to draw desired results on clients. Material manipulation and magnetic drawing are common.
Hoodoo-ists believe sand is a magnetic material useful for creating desire in people of all sorts. It can also cause rejection.
- Bring spouses back home
- Attracting partners or friends
- Getting money
- Giving death to people
Mr. Sandman, bring me a dream!
Hoodoo works by a master giving a supplication to a god, through a poem or music. In one example, a horse shoe is sprinkled with silver and gold magnetic sand. Then this should get your husband back!
Margarita gives other examples, like a lady who can’t keep friends around. Woman supplicates to the god people just don’t want to hang out with her, and she’s lonely. The god says to put a bag around her neck, made of animal skin from some mountain, with silver magnetic sand and violet root. This makes the person a virtual magnet for lady friends.
In another ritual, the god says to throw sand on the floor with the names of people you don’t like. Rub the papers into pieces, and pick it all up. Throw in a box of iodine, and light black candles on each side. That should kill your enemies!
All these rituals depend on magnetizing the world around you. This attracts spirits that will make your will be done.
Basically revelatory forms of esoteric knowledge to get what they want.
Stephen Finley discussing African American Religion as American Gnosticism:
Stephen argues that Gnosticism ties to AA Religion, first because of its existentialism as slaves were brought to this alien land. He then brings the ideas of Harold Bloom and his American Religion theory (all American religion is indebted to Gnosticism, especially Mormonism).
Bloom doesn’t give a definition of Gnosticism, but does say American religion is about experience over faith, about god/self knowledge, and syncretism. Bloom does point out black religions for that. In fact, AA religion influences all facets of all American religion. AA religion is not a copy cat but a foundation for USA religion.
Baptist charismatic religion seeks experience with God, and Bloom argues that it’s directly influenced by African spirituality. It’s Gnostic because of its emotional immediacy with a higher power.
One can know God through ecstatic energy that floods the entire body.
Stephen quotes Dubois who relates his experience of Gnosis in the woods, once running into a “Southern negro revival.” He experienced a shamanistic Christian group that possessed him with spirit energy. He saw people handling not real snakes but kundalini snakes.
Dubois knew that although trapped in Christian clothing, what he witnessed surely originated from African spirituality.
Harold Bloom wrote many other examples.
In the 19th century American religion, with the rise of evangelicals, was all about a religious experience (Gnosis) and it was heavily influenced by AA Religion.
You can find this Gnosticism in such AA movements as the Nation of Islam. According to some of their tenets, God lived among humans and transmitted secret message.
Stephen contends that Gnosis is not just special knowledge, but the caretaking of the community at large. For AA, Gnosis is about to better the descendants of those who were thrown into an alien world. Also, the world focus on the black body, and AA need to transcend this viewpoint.
He recounts how Lewis Farrakah spoke about UFO, hinting the religion might be a UFO. But it’s symbolical, as blacks are aliens placed in a foreign planet. This symbolism can be powerful in understanding the nature of humanity.
Brent Landau is discussing Gnosticism in New Age and UFO
Brent starts with the apocryphal Revelation of the Magi, a popular medieval text.
The text has become more popular in the last five years, and embraced by the UFO crowd and New Agers. Why?
- The star of Bethlehem and Jesus are one and the same.
- The shape shifting Christ says he’s been here before.
Jesus is basically a Star Child.
Brent actually wrote a book The Revelation of the Magi. Mmm…future interview?
In fact, his publishing it in 2010 that made it widely available to the UFO crowd and New Agers.
In the text, the Magi come from far away, possibly China. They are called Magi because they pray in silence (?), and they guard the books of Seth, waiting for god to come in mortal form.
At last the star appears and then transforms into child. The magi follow the floating child to Bethlehem. The child then tells them to go back to their homeland and talk about the arrival of Jesus. People convert.
Years later, Judas Thomas shows up and baptizes the Magi and has them go spread the gospel.
Once Brent’s book came out, UFO people started harassing him at his office in the University of Oklahoma. He ignored all of them even some people the alternative media. They are convinced the Jesus/Star is an alien that arrives through a star gate/wormhole.
Books have been written on Brent’s work!
Of course, it can’t be because later gospels wanted to focus on the missing childhood of Jesus, it has to be aliens! But it’s not all fan fiction, Bent says, because of the rigid rituals it conveys. It possibly is speaking to an entire community. The text also is strong on experience, and thus it might be about a community who shared in this mystical experience.
It is interesting, Brent says, that a huge amount of UFO encounters deal with little people (child). Beings of light is also common.
Aliens or Saviors, or as Brent argues, entheogens because in the Revelation of the Magi people have visions right after they eat special food.
Sarah Johnston is now discussing the Great God Pan
What happens when Gnosis leaves you feeling worse…or even smaller. What do you do?
The human hunger for special knowledge can make things worse, can make humanity worse. Let’s find out.
Arthur Machen’s The Great God Pan is about a group of people into occult leanings. A Doctor performs some great, New Age operation on a girl named Mary, touching a part of her brain with his scalpel. He thinks he can open her channels of communication to the spirit world. Mary will see Pan.
After the operation, poor Mary goes crazy. The Doctor said she saw the whole of creation, the god Pan, and lost her identity. Somehow Mary gets pregnant and has a daughter named Helen, a miserable and sad person.
Helen ruins people’s lives with evil actions, and one day hangs herself out of despair. Her body shapes into several plant and animal, until she turns into a slimy horrible being that cannot be described.
This story is an allegory that getting quick Gnosis is destructive, and Helen is an antichrist.
Pan is obviously the horror and wonder of The All. And knowing The All can make one go into eternal evolution but also devolution.
Very interesting, and it seems the early Darwin age is a theme, which Lovecraft later warned about.
Pan is neither god nor best, but something higher and more terrible…perhaps Abraxas as Jung depicted him?
Pan has appeared in several novels, always as the collective vengeance of nature.
But in Lovecraft The Dunwich Horror, someone is punished for deciphering ancient texts by a slimy monster like Helen becomes in the previous book. Again, Gnosis leads to horror.
Peter Straub’s Ghost Story addresses Pan. Sarah reads a very disturbing passage, and discusses it’s about some protagonists who make terrible mistakes. The Gnosis here is that evil exists and it plays with humanity in order to amuse itself.
Fiction is a safe way to express what we want to keep from our lives. Horror, though, keeps coming back.
Gnosis is dangerous. Horror story scare us because that’s their purpose, and the story tells us a dark truth about our own humanity.
Now Matthew is talking about Laurence Caruana, visionary artist and a past guest of the show.
Laurence found the passage in the Gospel of Philip where you must enter the image and into the truth. It transformed his art and two books.
For Laurence, there is The One flowing into Archetypes flowing into Cultural Symbols and flowing into Individuals.
We see this Laurence’s book The Hidden Passion, where there is an earthly Jesus and a higher Christ, certainly echoing the work of Grant Morrison.
The Gospel of Philip also speaks one most be born through the image of resurrection in order to be a living Christ (as happens in Laurence’s book). Seeing the vision of Christ can turn you into a Christ, as perhaps it happened with Paul.
The novel also deals with the connection of Jesus and Mary Magdalene, a lower representation of the cosmic Christ and Sophia.
Matthew now talks about Jonathan Talat Philips, also a past guest of Aeon Byte. Philips, through drugs and Christ Mythicism, finds a healing model for the soul that can fit into many esoteric religions. He fuses kundalini yoga with Gnosticism, and certainly a lot of Gospel of Thomas.
Basically, one can melt ancient Gnostic thought with modern occultism…make it your own and damn the historical torpedoes. And Philips had certainly had a lot of visions, culminating with Jesus in digital form granting peace (and echoing PKD, Morrison, and the UFO Gnosis crowd).
Matthew Dillon is next to talk about Resurrecting the Gnostic Christ in Contemporary (Non) Fiction.
He starts by quote Grant Morrison’s The Invisibles, where a character says: “We have to save the past from the future.”
That is saving Gnosticism.
And that is how Morrison saves Gnosticism in his work, bringing Archons against new tech Saviors (The Invisibles).
Morrison studied Gnosticism to assist his fiction and Chaos Magick, but then he had experiences in India in the 90s. He had Gnosis similar to PKD, full of digital lights and the parting of reality. He also realized we lived in a hologram created by gods. Morrison had arrived to the reality of the characters of The Invisibles.
5th Dimensional Gnosis: Gnosis with science fiction that deconstructs reality.
Morrison started like one of the characters, King Moth. In fact, when King Moth was tortured in one writing, later on Morrison got really sick with similar symptoms. He knew King Moth was the new savior of fictional religion.
In another scene, Living Information is trapped in an undeground base along with UFO’s. The Invisibles need to free it from the Archons. “You are playing a game disguised as everything.” Good and evil are illusions, only liberated matters. Gods and demons are fiction; they are us and they can be transformative.
Jesus was a nice guy, Christ is the story that came from it and can awakens us.
In the discussion they talk about fictional religions like Lovecraftian: they know it’s fictional and don’t care, still wanting an experience and fellowship and meaning.
PKD and Alan Moore of course are experts at this.
Someone just asked they don’t see Gnosticism in PKD. What the..?
Promethea is more Hermetic, Wouter admits, but it has a strong theme of alienation that really moves it towards dualistic Gnosticism.
Wouter Hanegraaff is going to discuss Alan Moore.
He admits he never cared for comics but Jeff Kripal’s book Mutant & Mystics really opened his eyes.
The best way to hide something is to put it in plain site. And the occult and ancient religion is right in your face when it comes to comic books.
Now he’s interpreting Alan Moore’s Promethea. She’s different, an obvious walking occult symbol with nothing hidden. The comic books are more like an introduction to the Esoterica. Promethea is a celebration of the human imagination, saying that there is no difference between fiction and reality.
Some have called comic books:
- Fiction-based religion.
- Hyper-real Religions
- Invented Religions.
They are about personal experience and there is practices shown in many.
Alan Moore present as Promethea as historical, but she’s invented.
The story starts with a young girl during the days of Alexandria, being persecuted by Christians, meets Hermes Trismegitus, who makes her into a goddess by sending her to an imaginal realm.
Being seized by a story, Wouter says, which certainly sound like what Tolkien spoke about…that Middle Earth was the imaginal realm and not fictional.
Wouter now goes into the elaborate story of Promethea and her many incarnation throughout history, as she comes out of the imaginal realm to assist humanity.
Promethea deals with Kabbalah, the Tarot, Crowley, and basically everything. Again, it’s also a beginners text on occultism. It’s really stunning, pregnant with symbolism and a great plot.
I need to re-read it. The slides from the comic book are amazing, and Wouter deftly breaks apart the occult messages that are even deeper than the obvious ones.
The message is that anyone can find the imaginal world and find their own divinity.
Promethea also deals with the end of the world, but more like a Singularity, a shift in consciousness that might have happened in 2012. How does she do it? She basically turns to the reader of the comic book reader that reality is a long story and we can change history is we awaken.
Wouter compares Promethea to the Matrix, trapped in a bad story of bad dudes. Promethea is different as it isn’t about waking up but staying awake, as all of us know what is right but we are continually drowned by lies. We can create our own world, and it can be good, break away from the machine as Neo.
Wouter basically interprets: Prometheas’ thrust is that you should start your own religion…your artistic spirituality. Or like I say: write your own gospel and live your own myth. That is Promethea.
Mark Pilkington is next, but will be delivered by a student:
Talking about UFO’s and Gnosis!
Discussing UFO experience and how cosmic they are. There is light, vibration, and a celestial choir, in one account. There is a sense of oneness, it seems.
Mark explains UFO experiences are an encounter with the ‘other’ and thus a form of religious experience. There have been many people interviewed, and they all fall in this category. (Jung was very interested in UFO’s, for his own work on archetypes).
Groups have appeared that attempt to channel UFO’s, but it’s all like a religious cult or mystery religion, like the Venusians in the desert a few decades ago. They are a reaction and infusion of the atomic age.
Jack Parsons and L. Ron Hubbard embraced a very dualist form of Gnosticism, where we are trapped an earth ruled by bad aliens, waiting to return to a galaxy of light beings.
Of course there are the Realians, a benign UFO religion. They are very active and influential. Science fiction and conspiracy theory has elevated the interest in the 90s until today.
The main point is that many of these encounters reveal that humans are lights trapped in bodies, destined for something great. Even in alien abductions there is stories of a kidnapped dude being shows his true self. Some individuals, including a famous composer, said his talent was beamed down from other planets. Gnosis from outer space!
The dark culmination of this is, of course, Heaven’s Gate in the 90s. This group committed ritualistic suicide with their leader Marshall Applewhite, in the hopes of leaving their bodies for a passing comet. Applewhite told his followers the body only housed the soul and needed to go home…released when the comet came around.
It is Gnostic, except that the Gnostic wouldn’t accept the Divine Spark is meant to travel anywhere in this universe, but beyond.
UFO Gnosis is great, but reach beyond the stars!
Erik is talking about Dick’s love for the Hymn of the Pear, which he find in the Encyclopedia Britannica.
If you don’t know the story, read it and get back!
Dick admitted the Hymn of the Pearl encapsulated all of his ideas.
In later story, Dick went to the pharmacy and could not find that delivery woman with the fish necklace that gave him his Valis experience.
Erik Davis said Dick was playing a game of hide and seek, forgetting and remembering, basically like the god who is lost in matter of some Gnostic texts.
Davis now talks about The Divine Invasion, Dicks expression of Kabbalah. In it God is expelled from earth and has to return in a form of the child, in a distant future. The book is about humanity’s awakening to their divinity in a world that rejects. There is always an alarm clock telling us to wake up. Wake up!
Strange that Dick prophesized his own future in earlier novels. That obsessed him. It drove him to understand more the Hymn of the Pearl, where the character is the redeemed redeemer, a savior that has forgotten he came to this world to save.
Davis said Dick never saw himself as a Savior, but an apostle who was passing on the message of everyone’s own inner savior.
Dick said his writing was not fiction but revelation, all sent by none other than Sophia!
Erik Davis on now, talking about Philip K. Dick and his Gnostic experiences.
Discussing his 2-3-74 experiences with Valis. Dick felt he was possessed by an ancient figure called Thomas, and could see the Roman Empire rising around him as a hologram collapsed.
Indeterminacy is a term for Dick’s experiences, as one biographer wrote. Valis is the culmination of Dick’s Gnostic ideas, at first panned by critics but these days very warmly considered.
Then there is the Exegesis, the huge text where Dick put all of his mystic and paranoid ideas in no particular order. Paul Willimas, his agent, said its a vast labyrinth where he could draw form his earlier novels and finds prophecy.
Erik says that Dick was counterculture to the traditional religious experiences. It was more like ‘experiences deemed religious.’ The senses become big players organized by the mind, leading to a higher mind. In other words, very Sethian in nature. Dick’s experiences may seem esoteric, but they are more. They are a mystic mobious strip, winding and twirling and coming back to itself instead of the transcendental.
Three 60s religious cultural domains of occult:
- Psychedelics. People were tuning out and plugging in to higher states of consciousness.
- An new embrace of psychology and psychological language of the mind.
- A huge interest in mythology, whether it was Jung, Campbell or Tolkien.
Doesn’t get more Gnostic than that, if you read their texts. Dick was part of a huge stew of new religions and movements. People were creating their own reality like crazy.
Dick was more complicated, though. He was cerebral and conservative in many ways, as close to Des Cartes as he was to Boehme. And he was a trickster knowing that much of what he wrote was ‘bullshitting.’
Dick wrote about his experience of 2-3-74 first to Ursula L. Leguinn. He saw a flash in a girl’s fish necklace who was making a delivery. Pink beams bounced off and he has his great moment of Gnosis. Some believe the girl never was there, but the experience was there.
Dick wrote about the Gnostic Gnosis or anamnesis (lost of forgetfulness) where we remembered in our DNA everyone about our past and the universe and the reality of the cosmos.
Erik mentions the hippies had embraced the Jesus fish as symbol of counterculture. It rebelled against the strict religion and government. As Dick said: fish cannot carry guns.
Victoria talks about Russian mysticism, beyond Blavatski and Gurdjieff. Seems the Russian state promoted science fiction because people couldn’t get enough and UFO mania has always been strong in Russia.
Once the Iron Curtain went down, Shamanism, New Age, and racists mystic religions rose up in Russia.
The Ice Trilogy makes fun of them. It has parallels with the Night Watch series from Russia ( loved those movies!).
20th century Russian fiction is full of occult movies were people find secrets that make them divine. They are more than social messages but metaphors to man becoming god and the fall of the Archons.
In the end, Sorokin says that Gnosis is subversive because awakening is more powerful than any political system. He says we are cosmic being created by a higher intelligence. We are not meat machines.
The Children of the Light are us, partly 23000 lights and partly meat machines.
Victoria says she often saw “Just say no to Manichaeasm” at Berkley California. Cool!
Now she’s summarizing Gnosticism.
She talks about how in Gnostic myths humans have no life until the spirit of Sophia is breathed into them. Adam is often depicted like a worm (aka Frankenstein Monster).
She talks about Vladimir Sorokin, a Russian writer who wrote the Ice trilogy (I never read it). The works are a spanning historical world where he captures the grammar and mannerisms of changing Russian times.
The plot speaks of a person looking for the meteorite from the Russian Roswell. No fragments have ever been found, even if miles of forest were destroyed.
The protagonist, as he gets close somewhere in Siberia, feels a force calling him. He leaves the group. He reaches the tip of the meteorite, which is some magical force. He is transformed into a being by this meteorite, free of pain of loss. His mind is filled with the genesis of the universe. Reality began with a 23000-pointed light called Grow. The light creates Earth, which is a mistake. The 2300-pointed light is trapped in Earth and breaks up into evolution and evolves into humans.
The meteorite is one of the 23000-pointed light that was left behind, coming back to remind the other light of its true origin. The protagonist is the first one to awaken.
The protagonist then finds other followers and begin a heretical sect in Communist Russia. They are the Children of the Light. Of course the Bolsheviks and their descendants are portrayed as demiurgic fools.
His “Gnostic” group realizes that they must wage war against humanity, as only a few will awaken. They are no peaceful Gnostics, but violent revolutionaries, immortal and passing through time gradually destroying communism.
I keep getting the images of the beginning Frozen, except very violent. They go around with ice hammer killing people, although if tapped on the chest a person may awaken, like some Loki in The Avengers.
Humans without the divine spark are called meat machines or the Empty.
The second novel has these Children of Light appearing after Russia has becoming democratic.
In the third novel, the Children of Light have a massive corporation with their special ice that can control humans. The Children of Light, almost 23000, wait on a Chinese island to be taken up back to their “Pleroma.”
The ascension seems to fail as the 23000 are dead, like Heaven’s Gate or the Jim Jones cult. Did their spirits leave their bodies?
Seems the 23000 rays crashed against the true God; we find that humans are the only ones that can have true divinity, two slave humans realize. They go back to humanity to talk to God by interacting with other humans.
They are the new Adam and Eve.
That’s the summary, and I wish it was better than the wonderful presentation.
This work, not just Gnostic, but in the UFO/Left Behind. It harkens to Escape to Witch Mountain, Pynchon’s V, and the Gnostic novel Flicker.
Sorokin says he was inspired by Fitzgerald’s The Diamond as Big as the Ritz.
Mark Gregory is now speaking about them Cathars, I say!
He starts with his adventure in Cathar country in Southern France. One day I shall go!
Mark seems he’s going to dispel the legends of the Cathars as these wise and alternative Christians with New Age tendencies.
Mark explains this about the Cathars (are you ready):
Catharism never existed. It’s all bad scholarship and Christian romance.
They were just a form of Catholicism in a continent were Catholicism was a fluid and messy stew.
It’s a crappy term like Hinduism, Buddhism and Gnosticism…all created by westerners during the 18-19th century.
Mark is giving the history of bad historical methods, but hasn’t gotten into the reasons the Cathars aren’t Cathars (but I see his point). There is a lot of lazy scholarship.
Those persecuted by the Inquisition were but unfortunate Catholics in lands wanted by nobles. They were called the Good Men and Good Women, never considered heretics until the Inquisition created it for its own reasons. The violence created a romantic view that later became the Cathars. But the Good Men and Women were just Catholics, and many of their alleged beliefs and rituals are not recorded in those times, but added later.
The “Cathars” did believe in Baptism, did believe in reincarnation, abstained from meat to be pious, were worried about Satan, never had churches but the Catholic churches, and that’s about it. Dualism existed but only in the classrooms with intellectuals. Dualism was a concept no one in laity or even nobility knew about, because dualism really made sense in those days. The ghost of the Gnostics were resuscitated and then attached to the Good Men and Women.
The Good Men and Women were heretics, but they were not a religion. And they never called themselves Cathars.
Lautaro Roig Lanzillota is discussing the Apocalypse of Paul (Nag Hammadi or later, I wonder?)
It’s the Gnostic one.
It’s basically the expansion to Paul’s rapture in the third heaven (2Cor 12:2-4).
It talks about an out of body experience while still alive, where Paul takes a look at the outer dimensions. It’s one of the earliest accounts of souls being punished, not in hell, but in heavenly spheres.
The text has:
- 10 Heavens
- Three separate sections of creation
- Punishing Archons
- It’s not so much an apocalypse but a “heavenly journey text.”
It’s a 2nd century work attributed to Paul, and it lies on Hellene style and philosophy to a point. Some say it’s an early Valentinian work.
Paul is traveling heaven and meets some beings, one that might be a polymorphic Jesus. He sees some sinners punished in the fifth heaven. In the seventh, he meets an old man who is the demiurge, and avoids him. In the 8th heaven he become spiritually clean.
Three regions are mentioned: Mountain of Jericho (the world), Jerusalem (heavenly regions), Pleroma (8-10th heaven, beyond any reality).
The body is always associated with sin in this text. Yet the earthly spheres and heavenly spheres are very connected, meaning it’s all a big mess even beyond the material dimensions…or that matter and psyche are way too connected.
Sticking with Valentinian thought, the Demiurge is seen as a wise old man in a throne. He’s negative but not demented as with the Sethians. Paul simply has to give him a password and he’s gone from the 7th heaven.
The Archons rule the mind and body, and the passions originate in the heavenly realms.
The Apostles do follow Paul at first, but stay behind in the 7th heaven, probably because they’re dorks.
10 Heavens is not that unusual, as The Secret Book of John has that many celestial spheres. The 10 heavens appears even more in Hermetic writings like Poimandres, Discourse Eighth and Ninth, and others. Basically, become more moral and spiritual is an ascent. It is an ethical map from the body into the higher self.
Aaaaand…there is an ecstatic experience (out of the body and into bliss).
Lautaro has these conclusions: Tripart approach to the universe; influenced by Aristotle cosmology and the Eudoxian model; Greco-Roman background and no so much Jewish; not so much about the universe but about how we humans are divided.
It’s not so much about reaching a god but becoming a god by being an ethical person. So much for the science fiction adventure!
David quotes something I say on the show often, by Simon Magus: Thou and I art but one.
It’s not pantheism, but we all have that divine fire that is endless.
David doubts Simon wrote The Great Declaration. Regardless, it’s not about being arrogant and thinking one is God, but that every human has that potential. We are all part of divine self.
God engages in an act of self-reflection. We are all fragmented reflection of God. Self-knowledge is god knowledge, as Clement of Alexandria and so many others said.
There is nothing in Simon about rebelling against any deity. The Gnostic is just god’s child separated, captured by a foolish king in thrown in a mad house.
Children recreate themselves all the time. So does the Gnostic. More than divine, David says, we are all works of art.
Simon is a fool, according to Hypolitus and other church fathers.
David explains that the Great Declaration talks about a great fire within all human beings, an intelligence/consciousness.
There are 3 stages of God:
- God has a preexistent state
- God has a becoming state
- God has a state of return
To Simon Magus, all humans are god in these three stages, and as we are restored so it god (certainly a proto-Kabbalist idea).
To Simon, man becoming god is just part of the natural maturing of consciousness. The zenith is to become spirit and rise above the material world. Not to become like a god but to become god.
David Litwa is now on talking about Gnostic self-deification.
Is Gnosticism the Gospel of Narcissism as an orthodox scholar proposed?
Yes, but it’s a slow-burn self-realization, not a single flash of divinity. A slow finality with the self assimilated with the Alien God.
But the heresy hunters said Gnostics were arrogant and stuck up.
David gives three moments:
- The Gnostic discovers a divine core. Part of God is within us.
- Gnostics reflect to that divine core until he or she accepts it’s the real self. Rituals may vary
- The Gnostic meets that divinity in an outer form, the Gnostic Revealer. Maybe Morpheus or Jesus?
David says it’s all about making the inside like the outside/the outside like the inside as divinity meets in the awareness of the individual.
Simon Magus truly represents this, the allegedly arrogant ancient rock star yet who truly was god humbled on earth.
David gives the legend of Apsitoth and his parrots, a dude who trained parrots to say his name as god and then fooled the Libyans. Until he got caught.
Hypolitus says Apsitoth was wiser than Simon and his Great Declaration.
In the question session one asks that there is a theory that merely reading a ritual IS ritual performed. Very interesting.
Michael agrees that reading is a ritual and it does matter. Of course we can’t miss the obvious ritual in the Gnostic Gospels.
He concludes that it was Gershom Sholem, who first resisted, that this Oriental Judaism enriched all religions in modern times.
It wasn’t about history but imagination based on interpretation. It kinda went full circle with ancient Judaism!
As humans we want to tell a story that is meaningful and supports our dreams. Is that no better than dry history as long as dry history is parallel.
That is Gnosticism in all its wonder.
Wow…Martin Buber and other Jews really wanted Judaism to embrace mysticism and Easter thought, in order to revitalize itself.
It was called Oriental Judaism.
Aristotle did say the Jews learned from the Hindus. Who knows? Romantic, yes! And why not?
Sadly, certain other Germans were finding romance in Aryan myths right around that time.
Kabbalah became very popular beyond Judaism. It was a third space were Judaism could thrive outside the Abrahamic framework.
Certainly Gnosticism got a shot in the arm, and both Gnosticism and Kabbalah was embraced by a growing occult movement in Theosophy and others.
Kocku Von Struckrad is now on, to discuss the latest German scholarship on Gnosticism.
Talking about 19th century German scholarship between Jews and Protestant Germans. Kabbalism became very popular in scholarly circles, and that included the origins of Gnosticism. Some even said Kabbalah was the true Judaism, and ‘oriental’ Judaism became very popular.
Martin Buber is an example.
Pray like an Eastern Jew was to pray like a Dervish– was a popular saying. Yes, Easter religions also became infused into Judaism. Basically, Judaism was about an experience with God and much less ritual. April talked about ecstasy as part of Gnosis, and Judaism really wanted it back then.
Gershom Sholem criticized Buber for not focusing on history and more on myth. Buber didn’t care, wanting the experience and the mysticism that was lacking in those days as materialism grew in Europe. Like Nietzsche, he wanted Dionysus back in humanity!
The world is not a being but a becoming, Buber said, and that we were not the slaves of the world but its lovers.
Needless to say, and Graf goes into detail, the Gnostics and the Cult of Orpheus have striking parallels, and Irenaeus gives it way in his ranting.
It’s possible the Valentinians used a ‘pagan’ version of their mysteries for non-Christians (when they were hanging out with them).
Christians were beginning to move away from society in the 2nd century. The Valentinians offered an alternative for those who wanted to still be part of the Roman way of life.
An ancient Papyrus of Orpheus has been published in 2006. It predates Plato and is around the time of Socrates, and honors the philosopher Heraclitus.
It’s full of rituals, divination rites, and other goodies. It slams Greek city priests and those charging religious ritual for money. It also talks about gaining a special kind of ‘knowledge’ from an initiator (for free!).
And it talks about how the world is a mess, created by the semen of Zeus, a broken down machine.
Sound familiar? Marcus the Magician and Orpheus are almost one.
Fritz Graf is no some possible rituals on the Gnostics, gleaned from Irenaeus and his monkeyshines.
The Gnostics hung out with pagans in animal sacrifices and other festivities. They were normal citizens of the Roman Empire who likely had sexual relationships. Yes, they had dark myths but these were part of their mysteries to Achamoth, as Irenaeus says. Achamoth is Sophia, and it became an initiatory cult the Gnostics joined to transcend the flesh while on earth.
A person become permanently transformed, according to Irenaeus, discussing also Marcus the Magician. Irenaeus says Marcus is possessed by a Daemon that gives him powers.
Graf relates the Gnostic rituals to the Bacchus/Orpheus mysteries that Plato talked about. The description of their rites is eerily similar to that of Marcus and his Gnostics. Is Irenaeus placing these rituals on the Gnostic to make them libertine, or were the Gnostic actually part of that mystery religion tradition.
This rigid definition of Gnosticism (just the Sethians) does not work to find a modern meaning, Michael argues.
The term Gnosticism is brought into the Nag Hammadi, buttressed by the Church Father definition. Elaine Pagels does this and runs off with the definition as basically alternative Christians.
Basically: the church hated them and they wrote other gospels. They’re Gnostics!
Nicola Denzey Lewis does the same in her new book, although she brings in more 4th century mysticism.
Academia is just too dependent still on Irenaeus and not looking at the Nag Hammadi library. Brakke and Pagels all do it, according to Michael.
Lol…Michael says scholars day jobs are more like Irenaeus and less than Valentinus. One should be put in the shoes of the poet and start from there, not the old guy in a frock.
Gnosticism is about:
Self transformation through the realization of the hidden mysticism in the world. That can include the whole Nag Hammadi library. I mean, someone put the Nag Hammadi library together, knowing there was a common theme.
Wow…Michael said Gnosticism should be viewed as Jazz and not classical music. I said that years ago in an article. There is a rhythm and beat but artistic improvisation is king. In other words, create large parameters and see good results.
Gnosticism is about meaning and not ritual. Again, very jazzy. I mean, Sethians have magical rituals in other dimensions, which means they didn’t think you should be doing it!
Gnosticism is about traditional groups. There was a group of people who wanted to hang out; they saw the world more or less the same. They certainly should be called Christians. It is not parasitic but a stand alone religious view.
Gnosticism is about specifics. There are detailed mythic systems that show a large esoteric landscape. There are exceptions, but we got some specifics.
Gnosticism is about authority. Michael breaks with April. The Gnostics are looking for the ultimate authority, that is the Alien God. They are seeking order to a higher force. The may not like the king of this world, but they are seeking a new king. Gnosticism seeks power.
Ultimately, primary sources is where it all, although they lack a historical framework better found with opponents.
Heresy hunters mixing with Gnostic Gospels is what most experts do. Is that right, Michael posits.
But who are the Gnostics, though?
The movement seems to agree with Brakke and Layton that is should be the Sethians and such works as the Secret Book of John.
That might leave out the Gospel of Truth, Thunder the Perfect Mind, Apocalypse of Paul and The Gospel of Thomas.
But is this right. Michael continues.
He says Gnosticism is game we play, respecting historical record and how to synthesize it.
We fine definition in:
- Church Fathers
- The Nag Hammadi
Irenaeus is the main church father, respected by the Church and early scholars. He did work hard at organizing the various Gnostic sects.
John Turner, Gregory Shaw, and Zeke Mazur taking questions on the war between the Gnostics and Plotinus.
He’s quote WB Yates, saying “God is the Devil inverted” and that he took on the name Daemon in his own magical practices.
The demon who alienates us from god is the one who will take us back.
Very Luciferian, don’t ya think?
“Don’t you know there ain’t no devil, it’s just god when he’s drunk.” – Tom Waits
Great talk by Shaw!
Wonderful (and inspiration talk from Shaw) on the elegant philosophy of Neoplatonism. Reminds me of our interview with Jeffrey Kupperman:
We are not escape the world but share in its creative force, alongside the Daemons.
Daemons and heroes provide continuity between mortals and gods.
Plato said deamons can be accessed through divination ritusl. Daemons are the last extension of the gods, overseeing nature and the soul.
Iamblichus says Daemon bring the souls down to matter to create oneness in all of reality.
Souls can become heroes through faith and good works.
A soul and Daemon working together can finally understand the theophany that is the entire universe.
The paradox or Greek koan is solved: You ascend to divinity by descending into matter and allowing the gods to work through you (through their agents, the Daemon and Demiurge).
As below, as above, it seems!
Theurgy is to enter the activity of the demiurge…the creative aspect of the Mind of God.
Christ, as Justin Martyr said, is a demiurge, but it was a one time event. Iamblichus sees Christ force as continuous, always happening.
Shaw quotes Iamblichus:
The soul is a mean ot only between the undivided and the divide, the remaining and proceeding, the noetic and the irrational, but also between the uncreated and the created…Thus, that which is immortal in the soul is filled completely with mortality and no longer remains only immortal…”
We co create with the demiurge and fall into matter, and thus must return to the platonic demiurge.
Shaw calls it a paradox or Greek koan.
Plotinus says that our souls do not fully descend into a body. Plotinus thought embodiment was almost an embarrassment (yes, he didn’t like matter even as he hated on the Gnostics).
Iamblichus takes a more Christian stance that a soul is divided and placed in a body, and here we are. He feels the soul’s alienation in matter is part of salvation, as matter is another extension of the divine. The demiurge is making it alright in his system (Neoplatonists saw the demiurge of basically the creative thrust of the Mind of God…the Logos). In other words, the soul doesn’t have to escape matter because matter is God.
These two thinkers do have dualism (as much as they would deny it), which was absorbed by Augustine which of course influenced Christianity. Christianity rejected the higher self and soul, but kept dualism.
Gregory Shaw is on to discuss the Daemon in Iamblichean Theurgy.
Iamblichus says the universe is one big theophany, but we are a self-absorbed guest devouring everything and not seeing the vastness out there. That is the tragedy and victory of humanity.
The Platonic cosmos is a living organism, a ‘blessed god’ as Plato said. The Demiurge is a wonderful being that weaves our souls into the universe. We have the same mathematic ratio as the World Soul.
But souls go into a trauma when embodied. Sensations at birth makes us forget and even our even mathematical formulas are corrupted. Our souls are basically turned inside out.
He quotes Emerson who said: Man is a God in ruins.
I couldn’t agree more!
The Sethians claimed they have the dope to getting that thinking right, and any attempt would incur further reincarnation and cognitive transgression.
They said Platonic philosopher had lesser souls that would continue to reincarnate. Not surprising this pisses off Plotinus.
But all souls have a connection to Sophia. Because she is our story.
Plotinus uses a term of the Gnostics: ‘Members of Sophia’ as Paul uses ‘Members of Christ’. A Member of Sophia a lover of wisdom and thus a philosopher. We are all philosophers, and the argument of Plotinus and the Gnostics brings this to light. Debate can be good for third parties!
The story of the fall of Sophia is the story of our thinking gone bad. Cognitive transgression…and Zorostrianos and Plotinus echo this.
It’s a failed attempt to know the ultimate truth/Invisible Spirit…kinda like Icarus going for the sun on his own.
Zorostrianos talks about the cyclical voyage of souls, and their karmic rewards/punishments. Certainly echoes some of Plato’s work.
Only the enlightened Sethians have access to Barbelo who has access to the Invisible Spirit.
Zeke talks about ‘cognitive transgression’ of souls, echoing the fall of Sophia.
They say in AA and A Course in Miracles that our ‘thinking went wrong’ and here we are. Philip K. Dick that man’s fall was an intellectual one and not a moral one.
That’s what the Sethians are saying, but they also say that the main transgression is thinking you can be/know The One immediately, without divine assistance. This all from Zorostrianos.
Remember when Plotinus said the Gnostics contended you needed an angel to have Gnosis? We can become gods, but we need a lot of help and we need to think right.
Plotinus bitches that the Gnostics contended they could rise higher than the stars and become divine. That’s not part of the eternal chain of being! We must keep our places, people! Don’t rock the cosmic boat!
Again, Plotinus says the Gnostics abuse Plato and the venerable Greek tradition.
He says the Gnostics actually think they’re superior to the Greek philosophers, and that they have diluted the divine realm with weirdness and cosmic tragedies and all sort psychedelia.
Mmm…April said the Gnostics were like the 60’s counterculture and the reaction of society around it. Zeke is making the case for her.
Zeke picks up where Turner left off.
Plotinus is getting his ass handed to him, I feel.
Reminds me of a quote from Dr Who: The tragedy of smart people is that they think everyone around them is stupid.
Maybe that’s what happened to Plotinus. The Gnostic would say everyone is a genius in his/her own way…even the poor Demiurge.
Zeke Mazur is now coming on to talk more about Plotinus and the Gnostics. His paper is Forbidden Knowledge.
In Ennead 2.9 Plotinus bitches about the unnecessary use for complicated theological myths by the Gnostics.
To Plotinus, The One is too transcendent and cannot have any mediator (like Barbelo).
But Plotinus keeps riffing on the Gnostics, that naughty Platonists.
Of course, the idea of the Demiurge is really where they split. And also that the Gnostics created dimensions of repentance and purgation before a soul reached the higher realms of consciousness.
Turner is now going on how Plotinus says what the Gnostics got right they got from Plato, and the rest is archon-s**t. He says the Gnostics have no philosophical etiquette. It pisses him the Gnostics would draw on barbarians like Seth, Adam, and other OT characters.
The Gnostics felt that one needed angels for assistance to have any Gnosis. Plotinus contends one can contemplate without spiritual beings.
Plotinus take aim at the Valentinian Tripart Tractate (guess he didn’t just dislike the Sethians).
In this myth, Allogenes is replaced with The Son.
Turner is breaking down the baroque Valentinian cosmogony.
Interesting that the Tripart Tractate’s symbolism is very similar to Plotinus’ creation myths.
Plotinus really does have a love/hate relationship with the Gnosis.
Turner posits that it might be Plotinus borrowing from the Valentinians and Sethians!
The Gnostics saw reality flowing from the One or Invisible Spirit. Plotinus digs this, even as it flows out in self-understanding.
In essence, the mind of God is knowing itself. In the myth Plotinus is discussing, Allogenes (Stranger) is the demiurge. But is he bad?
Not really, and Plotinus agrees with the Gnostic supreme trinity: The Invisible Spirit, Barbelo and Allogenes.
These are all functions of a supreme mind understanding itself, flowing back and forth, contemplating existence.
Known and unknown become one.
This is all in the Nag Hammadi library’s Allogenes.
Turner is speaking, asking why the Gnostic thought was so subversive. He brings up the love/hatred relationship with Plotinus.
Plotinus loved how the Gnostics drew on Plato, but hated how they corrupted it with ideas of a bad Demiurge and corrupt matter.
Plotinus takes his wrath on the texts Allogenes and Zorostrianos. In Ennead 2.9, he accuses the Gnostics of violating Platonic metaphysics. Basically, Plotinus saw reality flowing from divinity, an unbroken chain, without mistakes.
The Gnostic, of course, saw a cosmic tragedy and many ruptures in reality.
Intellect to Soul to Matter, was to Plotinus, divinity always in three eternal phases.
John Turner will be discussing Plotinus & the Gnostics. Questions you might have let me know & I can forward them in discussion
John Turner will be taking the stand (who you can find in a past interview and in my book Voices of Gnosticism).
Here are some pics, but you can find their context at our Twitter or Facebook page. Don’t be shy, as Cat Stevens sang before his moment of (strange) Gnosis.
Q &A session now. Everyone wants to talk about sex now with the Gnostics.
Paraphrase of Shem shows that when Irenaeus and Ephihaneus are right about the teachings of the Cainites and Barbelolites. Doesn’t mean that they were libertine, but they were around and they were transgressive.
This is very close to the Agape, semen and blood feasts we hear about.
Read the Paraphrase of Shem. It’s wicked and dirty and demons be having sex.
Dylan is now going to break it down.
Seems the symbolism can be traced back to the Cult of Orpheus, because of the certain serpent symbolism. Dylan argues well that there is Manichaeans themes as well, and we know he used sex in many of his myths.
Ultimately, it’s not porn an allegory on fallen divinity that later WAS used for libertine groups.
Dylan Burns is now talking, explaining how the Paraphrase of Shem is one of the great sex magick, pornographic texts in all of history. Damn, he’s right!
Dylan explains that many Gnostics depicted the demiurge as a womb, much as Tolkien saw Sauron sometimes as a vagina.
The Caanites were into this, as they held kinship to the Sodomites.
Grant says the Sethians cannot be considered Christian as they worshiped a different god. Makes sense.
Grant finishes by speculating why they disliked the Demiurge.
They were too invested in the Old Testament, as original Jews. They were stuck.
Yet they were bitten by the Plato bug of the One.
So they bit back as their relationship with other Jews and Christians fell apart.
They wrote their texts mocking the biblical creator and attempting to find a higher god.
They also mocked the Demiurge of Plato.
Plontinus hated the Sethians. All major figures hated them. Maybe the Sethians were the original punk rockers…
Origen and Celsus agreed in one thing: they hated the Sethians! Sometimes I think I’m the only person who likes them…
Grant grants (pun intended) a great exposition on the Sethians, including the reaction of their opponents (and that included Plotinus).
Too much to get into here, but it reminds me of the elegant style of Steven Davis in The Secret Book of John, annotated and explained.
Grant Adamson is now speaking about Sethian counter culture in the Secret Book of John.
Interesting that polemics in the book from the Pharisee might have been a Sethian opposition group (s).
John represent new Sethian converts who accept that the Jewish/Christian scriptures are crap.
But all these Sethians agreed that Moses was listening to the wrong deity. And this deity, Saklas or Yaldabaoth, has to be parodied as much as possible, as seen by the Gnostic texts.
April ends with the warning not to forget about the idea of ecstasy in Gnosis. It feels good and it goes beyond the body!
Can’t wait for her book on New Age and Gnosticism!
April is now comparing ancient Gnosticism to today’s New Age movement: syncretism, psychological, rising in times of turmoil, fluid, and counter cultural. April is obviously drawing the genesis of the New Age movement with the 60’s, and not Oprah and Deepak.
The Gnostic texts speak directly to the reader, and thus have no need of church or teacher.
After orthodoxy won, Gnostic awakenings occurred with:
- The Hermetic texts in the Renaissance
- The 19th century Pistis Sophia and Bruce Codex with the occult movement
- Today with the Nag Hammadi and Gospel of Judas
Now April is addressing the idea of Gnosticism being a questionable term. Gnosticism is a dirty word, she says, and it’s bad for religious study. The Gnostics are being deconstructed by academia to the point they are being erased better than orthodoxy.
But the Sethians, Manichaeans, Mandaeans, and others were indeed in the days of early Christianity, or before.
Orthodoxy calls the Gnostics heretics, while academia calls the Gnostics heretical scholarship.
Gnosticism should be it’s own unique form of spirituality, beginning in the first century.
Four characteristics of Gnosticism:
- Direct experience with God
- This experience is carefully crafted with ritual and philosophy
- All humans have a divine spark that is part of the Unknown God
- This knowledge must be kept secret from orthodoxy because of the subversive message, and the Gnostic message must draw from all religions and myths
The Gnostics were new and fresh, not the same religiosity that saw man as under the gods in eternal submission. Man is here to vanquish the gods of this world.
Gnosticism didn’t emerge out of political revolt or desire it. It spoke to the fallen man bullied by temple and government, offering a journey beyond all systems of the cosmos.
April posits that disenfranchised Jews and Greeks went to Egyptian temples and were initiated into ancient mysteries. They saw visions and saw the god above god.
Thus, an attractive counter culture movement arose, drawing from all religions but rejecting all religions.
April is again on the podium, this time to give here presentation.
The question she asks is this: Why were the Gnostic texts forbidden?
Her answer: they promoted a new type of spirituality that confounded all ancient religions. It was dangerous. Mass religion was drug for the masses. The Gnostics offered divinity on earth and responsibility. The old gods had to go. The Alien God has to arrive.
A person can have direct experience with the divine.
Jeff Krippal is now introducing the conference, speaking about the broad occult mission statement of the religious department at Rice University.
Tacos and Gnosis is the theme, here in Texas.
April has taken the podium, reading the mission statement of the conference (found in the program).
One main point she is making is that Gnosticism is a useful term, and so is Gnostic. Looks like the gloves are off.
One mission of the conference will be to keep those terms.
I have arrived, and everyone is slowly entering the hall at Fondren Library in Rice University. First person I met was someone I’d wanted to meet for years. That is April:
Should start soon!
Oh, and don’t forget the hashtag #gcc2015!
Second post as I continue to test. I’ve put the whole program below, but here is the link.