Wednesday, November 02, 2011
Tuesday, November 01, 2011
In the Ecclesia Gnostica, we officially use "the Holy" rather than "Saint" much of the time, for example, "the day of the Holy Thomas." That usage helps in seeing 'Saint'/'Holy' as an attribute, the apprehension of a distinct spiritual difference, rather than a title/role recognized by an institution according to its rules. That expansive view leading us to consider holy ones from other traditions and examples living examples of holiness and the long work of transformation and sacrifice required.
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Monday, October 03, 2011
The Kalama Sutta is the Buddha's reply.
- Do not believe anything on mere hearsay.
- Do not believe in traditions merely because they are old and have been handed down for many generations and in many places.
- Do not believe anything on account of rumors or because people talk a a great deal about it.
- Do not believe anything because you are shown the written testimony of some ancient sage.
- Do not believe in what you have fancied, thinking that, because it is extraordinary, it must have been inspired by a god or other wonderful being.
- Do not believe anything merely because presumption is in its favor, or because the custom of many years inclines you to take it as true.
- Do not believe anything merely on the authority of your teachers and priests.
- Do not accept any doctrine from reverence, but first try it as gold is tried by fire
The same text, said the Buddha, must be applied to his own teachings.
Sunday, October 02, 2011
I have not seen anything from you on your blog in a while. You mentioned you had health problems. I hope you are well and that I will see more of your work in the future.
Thanks for inquiring,
Unfortunately, I have been in very poor and worsening health for the past 4 years, there is no end in sight and I have had to accept the fact that I am disabled. There are times when I am able to compose and write, but it is for short periods of the day on good days. Good days come and go by seeming whim, while exertion is rewarded with a month or more of deep disability. I have some hope to eventually be awarded my due disability benefits, and make what progress that can be made.
The only project I can keep going through this so far is the calendar, since I have enough time that I usually have enough good days to finish it at least before the year starts. There is much more that I really want to be able to do.
My recall is very poor when my energy is low, so when I have a bad period I usually can't recall very much of I was doing before. This has lead to times when I think of a new angle of research and only when I go to save my notes days later do I find that there already is a document named the same containing similar notes from a year or more ago. It is frustrating to say the least. I am trying to work out new strategies, when I remember to do so. Everything takes more time, and invokes layers of second guessing. I edit and rewrite something like this for days, for example, because I will post it.
The overall effect on me was summed up well by a cousin who hadn't seen me for years. She quipped, "When do you turn 60?" I replied, "You already missed it." I was 40 when this hit.
Thanks again. I share your kind hope that you will see more work from me. I'd like nothing more.
Monday, December 13, 2010
(I haven't included standard primary sources: Tanakh, New Testament, Wisdom literature, Apocrypha, Philo, etc.)
Barker, Margaret. 2008. Temple themes in Christian Worship.
Barker, Margaret. 2003. The Great High Priest: The Temple Roots of Christian Liturgy.
Barker, Margaret. 1992. The Great Angel: A study of Israel's Second God.
Binger, Tilde. 1997. Asherah: goddesses in Ugarit, Israel and the Old Testament.
Birkan, Amy. 2005. The Bronze Serpent, a Perplexing Remedy: An analysis of Num. 21.4-9 in light of Near Eastern Serpent Emblems, Archeology and Inner Biblical Exegesis. Thesis.
Burrus, Virginia. 1995. The Making of a Heretic: Gender, Authority, and the Priscillianist Controversy.
Chadwick, Henry. 1976. Priscillian of Avila: the Occult and the Charismatic in the Early Church.
Cross, Frank Moore. 1973. Canaanite myth and Hebrew epic: essays in the history of the religion of Israel.
Davies, Le Grande. 1986. Serpent Imagery in Ancient Israel: The Relationship Between the Literature and the Physical Remains.
Day, John. 2000. Yahweh and the Gods and Goddesses of Canaan.
Day, John (ed). 1995. Wisdom in ancient Israel: Essays in honour of J.A. Emerton.
Dever, William. 1984. “Asherah Consort of Yahweh: New Evidence from Kuntillet Ajrûd.” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, No. 255. (Summer, 1984), pp. 21-37.
Edersheim 1874. The Temple: Its Ministry and Services as they were at the time of Jesus Christ.
Epstein, I. 1952-61. Soncino Babylonian Talmud: Translated into English with Notes, Glossary and Indices. (Available from Halakhah.com.)
Fantalkin & Yasur-Landau (eds).2008. Bene Israel: Studies in the Archaeology of Israel and the Levant during the Bronze and Iron Ages in Honour of Israel Finkelstein.
Garfein, Susanna. 2004. Temple-Palace Conflict in Pre-exilic Judah. Dissertation.
Hoffnung, Frayda D. 1980. The Family of Jesus: A Sociological Analysis. Dissertation.
Hogan, Karina Martin. 2002. Theologies in Conflict in 4 Ezra: The wisdom debate and apocalyptic solution. Dissertation.
Karmi, Yael. 2005. The Goddess Asherah in Ancient Israel and Her Pillar Figurines. Thesis.
Meyer, M. (ed). 2007. The Nag Hammadi Scriptures: the International Edition.
Moor, Johannes Cornelis de. 1987. An Anthology of religious texts from Ugarit.
Kletter, Raz. 2010. Yavneh I: the excavation of the 'temple hill' repository pit and the cult stands.
Klingbeil, Martin. 1999. Yahweh Fighting from Heaven: God as Warrior and as God of Heaven in the Hebrew Psalter and Ancient Near Eastern Iconography.
Knohl, Israel. "Melchizedek: A Model for the Union of Kingship and Priesthood in the Hebrew Bible" in Clements & Schwartz (eds) Text, Thought, and Practice in Qumran and Early Christianity.
LeMon, Joel Marcus. 2007. Iconography of Yahweh's Winged Form in the Psalms. Dissertation.
Mason, Eric Farrel. 2005. The Concept of the Priestly Messiah in Hebrews and Second Temple Judaism. Dissertation.
Mullen, E. Theodore. 1980. The Divine Council in Canaanite and Early Hebrew Literature.
Prag, Kay. 2001. "Figurines, Figures and Contexts in Jerusalem and Regions to the East in the Seventh and Sixth Centuries BCE." in Amihai Mazar (ed) Studies in the Archaeology of the Iron Age in Israel and Jordan.
Rainbow, Paul. "Melchizedek as a Messiah at Qumran." Bulletin for Biblical Research 7 (1997) 179-194
Smith, Mark S. “Ugaritic Studies and Israelite Religion: A Retrospective View.” in Near Eastern Archaeology, Vol. 65, No. 1, (Mar., 2002), pp. 17-29.
Swain, Sally. 2003. "The Great Goddesses of the Levant" in The Journal of the Society for the Study of Egyptian Antiquities, v. 30, pp. 127-182.
Toorn, Karel van der. Et al. 1999. Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible (2nd ed).
Torhjelm, Roger. 2003. 11QMelchizedek: Liberation, Judgment, and Kingdom. Dissertation.
Wyatt, N. 2002. Religious Texts from Ugarit (2nd ed.).
Yadin, Azzan. 2003. “קול as Hypostasis in the Hebrew Bible.” Journal of Biblical Literature, 122/4 pp. 601-626.
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Featuring the Liturgical Calendar of the Ecclesia Gnostica
Anno Domini 2011
by the Rev. Troy Pierce
The calendar features the Liturgical Calendar of the Ecclesia Gnostica:
the Sundays and Holy days/holidays of the year, with the liturgical
color of the day in the upper right hand corner.
The Gnostic Calendar also features many additional dates of interest.
It is an introductory outline, in calendar form, to different threads in the Gnostic Tradition. Also included are many unofficial Gnostic holidays, historical days of note, secular holidays, humorous/fun holidays, made-up holidays, Buddhist holidays, solar holidays, full and new moons--and yes, more.
Facing pages feature original art and information on Gnostic themes by a Gnostic Priest and Scholar. This year's theme is “Where can Wisdom be found?”: Gnostic roots in ancient Israelite Religion.
Printed on high-quality thick and durable acid-free paper, the Gnostic Calendar sells for only slightly more than you'd pay for a non-generic calendar at a retail outlet.
Proceeds benefit education and services in the Salt Lake City area, and programs and outreach on the internet.
Space may separate us, but time can join us. May this help serve that purpose.
Calendar price: $22 per wall calendar not including packaging and shipping. Discounted 10% from last year. Now Shipping. Order here.
General shipping costs:
These rates may be subject to modification based on actual postage fees for a given order.
US $2.50 First class Mail for 1 + $.75 per additional calendar Canada $3.25 Airmail shipping for 1 + $1.25 per additional calendar Overseas $7.00 Airmail Shipping for 1 + $2.50 per additional calendar
(Large quantities may qualify for free shipping.)
Monday, August 30, 2010
So, here are some results of my ruminations, levels of common ground, such as objective systems one can appeal to arbitrate in a dispute:
4. Where there is mutual compassion, one need not appeal to an objective system, but appeals directly to the other.
3. Where there is acknowledgment of mutual social standing, one can appeal to common courtesy.
2. Where there is recognition of mutual reasonableness, one can appeal to ethics (or specific rules, such as the rules for argumentation).
1. Where there is recognition of mutual humanity, one can appeal to morality.
0. Where there is no recognition of mutuality, there is only the law to be appealed to.
We cannot change the other person, or force them to accept arbitration by any objective system other than the legal system we share in common. This is most likely why we have become such a litigious society. If you find yourself in this situation, don't feel bad if you actually need to invoke the law. That is were the other person is at, but it doesn't need to be where you are at. You can pursue necessary legal action compassionately, courteously, ethically, and morally.
Ideally, we should at least try to listen and interact with compassion in regards to others. Unfortunately, you never know when something will set someone you don't know off the deep end when you are trying to help. But, try to always have a compassionate ear open, and try to do no harm if possible.
In any case, we should not see even user's code names and silly avatars as anything other than representing people. You will not want to interact with them all, and some will take delight in going after you and yours, but there are people behind each avatar. Some may act like internet interactions are not subject to morals, ethics, or courtesy, let alone compassion. And, they may hide in places where they can isolate themselves from responses to, or consequences of, their actions. But we are all people, and compassion is the ideal.
Saturday, August 07, 2010
To question all things;– never to turn away from any difficulty; to accept no doctrine either from ourselves or from other people without a rigid scrutiny by negative criticism; letting no fallacy, or incoherence, or confusion of thought step by unperceived; above all to insist upon having the meaning of a word clearly understood before using it, and the meaning of a proposition before assenting to it;– these are the lessons we learn from the ancient dialecticians.
- John Stuart Mill, Inaugural Address as Rector, University of St, Andrews, 1867.
(Quoted by Margaret Barker.)
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Continuing a users guide to Gnosis, an overview in the form of "you are here." A naive view of meaning sees it as "out there," a property of the object that we perceive rather than something we participate in. Far from being "out there" meaning is something that we make in an interaction of what is "out there" and the many meaning frameworks we exist in, and the interpretations we bring to bear on what is "out there." The many ways in which we construct meaning are important to how we understand the world, ourselves, and the Gnostic tradition.
Topics include: misunderstanding that meaning is objective, early studies of meaning, portrayal of remote scenes in local contemporary terms, paradigm in Kuhn's the Structure of Scientific Revolutions, paradigm shift as change in meaning structure, assimilation versus accommodation, overuse of paradigm, valid and invalid interpretations, interpretations of Gnostic texts, misuse of interpretation by Ireneaus, Heracleon's exegetical use of interpretation, importance of interpretation in making use of Gnostic texts, modern disadvantage of not having gnosis in our meaning framework, importance of gnosis in all of its dimensions, awareness of when we do or do not have gnosis, importance of metaphors in understanding, nature of the metaphor influences the meaning of the concept conveyed, Gnostic meaning framework a part of the path of gnosis, Lakoff's work on frames, frames used to elicit a positive or negative reaction, propaganda, meaning of metaphor, study of metaphors, meaning and perception without cultural context, equivalent to gnosis lacking in language and cultural understanding, encountering the absence of gnosis in artificial intelligence design, perception of objects, limitations from cultural context, ontology as another dimension to interpretation, the ability to change perspectives, emancipatory and transformational learning.
Presented at the Holy Gnosis of Thomas Chapel in Salt Lake City, 13 June 2010.
Episode 15: "You Are Here" (part 3) Making Meaning
Examining meaning frameworks that can blind us and keep us from liberation, and frameworks that can aid us in liberation.
Topics include: Different frameworks of meaning can be a source of blindness or aid in liberation, if we are unaware of our meaning structures we are locked within it, main source of difficulty in approaching Gnosticism is a pre-existent meaning structure, frameworks of religion, in-group out-group bias, orthodox religion framework is belief-centric, religion studied within an orthodox framework, Gnosticism is not belief-centric, Gnosticism in a belief-centric framework is inconsistent or nonexistent, over-determined view of Gnosticism when orthodox frameworks imposed upon it, evidence bias, frameworks that blind, over-determined frameworks, examples of over-determined frameworks in Elaine Pagels's account of drawing lots in the Gnostic Gospels, inappropriate frameworks, invalid conspiracy theory frameworks as predetermined conclusions in search of evidence viewed through a modern idiosyncratic framework, egocentric psychology as framework, using philosophical tools for spiritual liberation, shift from egocentric psychology as major developmental shift of meaning framework, frameworks that aid in liberation, elements of the Gnostic worldview, mythic poetic symbolic as inner-deeper meaning framework, limited imperfect framework, liberation is possible framework, dangers of ego taking over these views, individual self-transformational framework, the truth shall set us free.
Presented at the Holy Gnosis of Thomas Chapel in Salt Lake City, 13 June 2010, by Gnostic priest and scholar Troy Pierce.
Episode 16: "You are Here" (part 4) in Frameworks that Blind or Aid
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Topics covered: Understanding a system of concepts versus having gnosis of real things, the surprising encounter with the real, the motif that “names/images can deceive/enslave” with texts, the motif of “truths in symbols, types, and names” with texts, the motif of “seeds of logos/truth” with texts, the image that is presented is only the beginning point, the motif of “the visible as image of invisible/hidden” with texts, the motif that “mysteries connect the image with the real” with texts, the bridal chamber, psychic versus pneumatic understandings, misunderstanding of Gnosticism as a system of concepts/beliefs, need to connect to the reality beyond the images, trust that the image points towards the real, temptation of system building, desire to fill in the blanks, cultural images, archetypal images, Christ as image of God, experiential symbolism.
Presented at the Holy Gnosis of Thomas Chapel in Salt Lake City, 06 June 2010.
Wednesday, June 02, 2010
Finding a connection between Plato and Gnostic understandings of meaning, in the wee hours lead to a presentation exploring meaning in terms of gnosis in the ancient Platonic context familiar to the ancient Gnostics and terms from Gnostic texts. (Reference Handout available.)
Topics include: brief look at interpretive frameworks, projection of literalist interpretation on ancient Gnostics, Plato's framework for making distinctions between knowing with gnosis and knowing without gnosis in both the sensible and the noetic, knowing without gnosis in sensible and noetic both called images, Jewish Platonic tradition of allegorical exegesis, gnosis and meaning in three passages from the Gospel of Philip, comparison to the hymn of the pearl, uses of Plato's framework in understanding Gnostic texts, reason for emphasis on gnosis after the apostolic age.
Presented at the Holy Gnosis of Thomas Chapel in Salt Lake City, 30 May 2010.
Friday, May 28, 2010
Part of a "last lecture" series on essentials. A users guide to Gnosis continuing with an overview in the form of "you are here." As a social animal we have evolved in groups and will instinctually repeat patterns in organizing ourselves into group. The instinctual form of this and the type of hierarchy that results is discussed in the context of sociobiology. Functional pragmatic hierarchies are discussed, and contrasted with instinctually based ones.
Topics include: evolution and group organization, bio-social forms of hierarchies, examples, evidence, ways of recognizing sociobiological hierarchies, pragmatic hierarchies, formalization of pragmatic hierarchies provides opportunity for bio-soc form to take over, pattern in christian history, bio-soc hierarchies are a part of human nature no ideology, authority as a manifestation of bio-soc pattern, failed attempts to address bio-soc hierarchy issues, ways to keep a pragmatic hierarchy from being taken over, recognition of teachers in some traditions, lack of that in Western traditions, Holy Orders in that context. Followed by a discussion that includes: modern Gnostic practice, the necessity of psychological perspective, how you understand religion, religion as developmental framework, historical encounter of the West with the East, pragmatic religion.
Presented at the Holy Gnosis of Thomas Chapel in Salt Lake City, 16 May 2010
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Continuing a series on essentials of Gnosticism. A users guide to Gnosis beginning with an overview in the form of "you are here."
Topics include: Perspectives on religion without Gnosis, tripartite division of the human and individual orientation, our evolved nature, evolution's aims and the suffering that causes, evolved capabilities, evolved mechanisms for cooperation, modeling others and self, ego, identity, self-deception, freedom through awareness, gnosis and logos, limits of knowledge, steadfast pursuit of Gnosis, religion as social control or developmental system, progressing to uncertainty, not knowing.
Presentation with discussion in the Holy Gnosis of Thomas Chapel in Salt Lake City, 16 May 2010, by Gnostic priest and scholar Troy Pierce.
Direct Link for the non-podcastically inclined.
Saturday, May 15, 2010
Health-wise I was worse off while recording this than while recording the previous week.
Presented at the Holy Gnosis of Thomas Chapel in Salt Lake City, 9 May 2010.
The science fiction story mentioned is "They're made out of meat" by Terry Bisson.
Sunday, May 09, 2010
Although it varies within a range, long-term my health isn't getting any better. While I plan and would very much like to write about the understanding I have arrived at after decades of study and practice, it may not happen. So, I hope these short talks will be of service in passing on some of what I have found that may be valuable.
Please, forgive some of the lack of composition and coherence. They are necessarily given at less than 100% ability, the fatigue effects my ability to think, speak, and recall. This podcast has been edited to reduce those effects.
The first of a planned series on essentials of Gnosticism, this one considering the nature of gnosis and implications from the ancient context. Topics include: meanings and implications of the term 'gnosis' in the context of the Greek language and philosophy and in ancient Gnostic texts, concluding with a free ranging discussion. Presentation and discussion at the Holy Gnosis of Thomas Chapel in Salt Lake City, 2 May 2010, by Gnostic priest and scholar Troy Pierce.
Here is the direct link
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
The next part of the lecture was an overview of Gnostic teachers and developments after Jesus. And that was followed by what connects them all together--Gnosis. (It seems actually possible to get across what Gnosis is in the tradition that way.) I finished with a quick overview of modern history, but that was a preface to even more content that there wasn't time for.
I think I'll follow a suggestion of giving, and recording, a series of lectures covering the same ground in more detail. And also including the aspects of modern science I didn't even touch upon.
Let me know your reactions.
Direct link to the mp3 file
Saturday, January 30, 2010
MISHLOVE: June, in your early work at the Jung Institute, you have described in Boundaries of the Soul how for your final examination you were asked to describe the process of individuation, which is the goal of Jungian therapy, as if you were talking to a street sweeper while you were waiting for a bus. I wonder if you could repeat that definition for us.
SINGER: Yes, and that was a shocker of a question, I might add, because I had studied all the parallels of the individuation process from the alchemist down to the present day. So when this question came to me, to describe this process while you're waiting for the bus and you're talking to a street sweeper, I looked out at the Lake of Zurich, and I thought, well, it's something like being in a sailing boat on the lake and utilizing the wind, understanding that the wind is something that you don't make and you can't control. But you need to understand how to live your life in the same way that you understand how you would sail a boat, taking the power of the wind and going with it and allowing your own knowledge of it and your understanding of it to help you go in the direction that you need to be headed. And so in Jungian analysis you learn how to deal with your own power, or rather the power that comes through you, and live your life in such a way that it's harmonious with that power which is above and beyond and all around.
MISHLOVE: It's as if the forces within our psyche are like the winds that might blow us about, and as we learn how to work with the winds we can direct ourselves through our lives.
SINGER: And we don't change them. We don't in Jungian analysis try to make somebody different from who they are. But what we try to do is to guide people to recognize themselves and discover themselves and find out what was always there, but hasn't been recognized or lived out.
Friday, January 08, 2010
Birthday of Alan W. Watts, Priest, Scholar, and Philosopher (1915 - 1973). "...you can only know God through an open mind just as you can only see the sky through a clear window." [from 2008 Gnostic Calendar]
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Believe me: It is no teaching and no instruction that I give you. On what basis should I presume to teach you? I give you news of the way of this man, but not of your own way. My path is not your path, therefore I cannot teach you. The way is within us, but not in Gods, nor in teachings, nor in laws. Within us is the way, the truth, and the life.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
The spirit of our time spoke to me and said: "What dire urgency could be forcing you to speak all this?" This was an awful temptation. I wanted to ponder what inner or outer bind could force me into this, and because I found nothing that I could grasp, I was near to making one up. But with this the spirit of our time had almost brought it about that instead of speaking, I was thinking again about reasons and explanations. But the spirit of the depths spoke to me and said: "To understand a thing is a bridge and possibility of returning to the path. But to explain a matter is arbitrary and sometimes even murder. Have you counted the murderers among the scholars?"
Wednesday, December 09, 2009
The calendar features the Liturgical Calendar of the Ecclesia Gnostica: the Sundays and Holy days/holidays of the year, with the liturgical color of the day in the upper right hand corner.
The Gnostic Calendar also features many additional dates of interest. It is an introductory outline, in calendar form, to different threads in the Gnostic Tradition. Also included are many unofficial Gnostic holidays, historical days of note, secular holidays, humorous/fun holidays, made-up holidays, Buddhist holidays, solar holidays, full and new moons--and yes, more.
It includes quotes from almost all the authors noted. Facing pages feature original art and commentary on Gnostic themes by a Gnostic Priest. This year's themes include a series on the Great Guides to Gnosis, with Basilides, Valentinus, Bardesenes, Marcus the Magician, and more.
Printed on high-quality thick and durable acid-free paper, the Gnostic Calendar sells for only slightly more than you'd pay for a non-generic calendar at a retail outlet. Proceeds benefit education and services in the Salt Lake City area, and a portion aids a Gnostic Priest facing a debilitating illness.
Space may separate us, but time can join us.
May this help serve that purpose.
Online Ordering is now available!
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Sunday, September 20, 2009
- c. 1850 Paschal Beverly Randolph begins an eight year career as a medium, appearing as a "trance speaker" and working as a "clairvoyant physician."
- c. 1857 Randolph travels through Europe and the near East. He later recounts that it is on this trip he learned "the fundamental principle of the White Magick of Love."
- 1858 Randolph renounces Spiritualism, ending an eight year career as a medium.
- 1861 Randolph travels to London, where he is inducted by Hargrave Jennings as a knight of the Order of the Rose.
- Human Love by Paschal Beverly Randolph
- 1870 Founding of the Brotherhood of Eulis to spread Randolph's teachings.
- The Rosicrucians: Their Rites and Mysteries by Hargrave Jennings.
- 1872 Randolph is arrested for distributing "free love" pamphelets, tried, and acquitted.
- 1873 The Ansairetic Mystery: A New Revelation Concerning Sex! by Paschal Beverly Randolph
- 1874 Eulis! The History of Love: Its Wondrous Magic, Chemistry, Rules, Laws, Modes, Moods and Rationale; Being the Third Revelation of Soul and Sex, and The Immortality of Love: Unveiling the Secret Arcanum of Affectional Alchemy by Paschal Beverly Randolph.
- 1875 Ancient Symbol Worship: Influence of the Phallic Idea in the Religions of Antiquity by Hodder M. Westropp and C. Staniland Wake (Second Edition).
- 1880 Phallic Worship anonymously by Hargrave Jennings. Privately Printed.
- 1884 The Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor goes public, offering a correspondence course on occultism including a number of selections from the writings of Hargrave Jennings and Paschal Beverly Randolph.
- 1889 Phallism: A Description of the Worship of Lingam-Yoni in Various Parts of the World and in Different Ages anonymously by Hargrave Jennings. Privately Printed.
- 1904 When visiting Egypt, Aleister Crowley engaged in sexual magic invocations of Egyptian gods that inspired his writing of the Book of the Law, a text couched in that mythology, and his philosophy of Thelema.
- 1906 Theodor Reuss, inspired by Carl Kellner, and assisted by Franz Hartmann, founds the OTO as an umbrella occult organization with sex magic as its core, the "key" that explains "all the riddles of nature, all the secrets of Freemasonry, and all systems of religion."
- L'Eucharistie ('the Eucharist') by Chevalier Le Clément de St.-Marcq, which puts forward a theory of "Sacred Spermatophagy." Reuss wrote to Le Clément, "I enclose two numbers of the 'Oriflamme' which will show you that the Order of the Oriental Templars is in possesion of that same knowledge contained in your L'Eucharistie."
- 1908 A Masonic and Spiritualist conference held by Gérard "Papus" Encausse. Theodor Reuss comes into contact with Encausse and Jean Bricaud. Reuss and Encausse exchange offices for the OTO and the Martinist Order. Bricaud receives a masonic charter from Reuss. Reuss subsequently founds Die Gnostische Katholische Kirche (GKK, 'the Gnostic Catholic Church'), under the auspices of the OTO.
- 1912 Reuss takes the OTO public. He recruits Aleister Crowley and quickly raises him to the then highest degree of the order.
- Bricaud begins confering the title of Gnostic Legate on many individuals in esoteric circles.
- 1918 Reuss refers to himself as "Sovereign Patriarch and Primate" of the GKK, now being called the Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica, and establishes Aleister Crowley's Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica Canon Missa ('the Canon Mass of the Gnostic Catholic Church', aka "the Gnostic Mass") as the central ritual of the OTO.
- 1919 Bricaud names Reuss as a Gnostic Legate to Switzerland.
- 1929 Arnoldo Krumm-Heller founds the Fraternitas Rosicruciana Antiqua (FRA, 'Fraternity of the Ancient Rosicrucians') and is subsequently called Frater Huiracocha.
- 1950 El Matrimonio Perfecto ('the Perfect Matrimony') by Víctor Rodríguez (Samael Aun Weor).
Paschal Beverly Randolph
Modern sexual magic was initiated through the teachings of Paschal Beverly Randolph (Deveney, 1997, p. xxi; Urban, 2006, p. 36), a "trance speaker" and "clairvoyant physician." In 1857 he traveled to Europe and from there to Epypt and Syria. It is on this trip that he writes of encounters that change the course of his career.
One night - it was in far-off Jerusalem or Bethlehem, I really forget which - I made love to, and was loved by, a dusky maiden of Arabic blood. I of her, and the experience, learned - not directly, but by suggestion - the fundamental principle of the White Magick of Love; subsequently I became affiliated with some dervishes and fakirs of who, by suggestion still, I found the road to other knowledges; and of these devout practicers of a sublime and holy magic, I obtained additional clues - little threads of suggestion, which, being persistently followed, led my soul into labyrinths of knowledge themselves did not even suspect the existence of. (Randolph, 1874, p. 48; cited in Urban, 2006, p. 66)The essence of sexual magic in Randolph's view is as follows:
The moment when a man discharges his seed--his essential self--into a ... womb is the most solemn, energetic and powerful moment he can ever know on earth; if under the influence of mere lust it be done, the discharge is suicidal. ... At the moment his seminal glands open, his nostrils expand, and while the seed is going from his soul to her womb he breathes one of two atmospheres, either fetid damnation from the border spaces or Divine Energy from heavens. Whatsoever he shall truly will and internally pray for when Love ... is in the ascendant, that moment the prayer's response comes down. (Randolph, 1874, p. 339-40; cited in Urban, 2004, p. 68)The association and subsequent use of, and identification with, the term 'Gnosticism' by sexual magic groups is of twentieth century origin. In his book length study of the phenomenon, Hugh Urban concludes that, "despite the very common use of sexual symbolism throughout Gnostic texts, there is little evidence (apart from the accusations of the early church) that the Gnostics engaged in any actual performance of sexual rituals, and certainly not anything resembling modern sexual magic" (Urban, 2006, p. 36, note 68).
The Ordo Templi Orientis
At first associated with the Middle East, and then with Tantric traditions of the East, the association of sexual magic with Gnosticism came by way of Theodor Reuss and his interaction with leaders of the French Gnostic Church, with its close ties to Masonry, Martinism, and the strong esoteric current of the time. It is from that highly interconnected milieu of esoteric societies and orders which the most influential of sex magic orders arose, the Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO, 'Order of Oriental Templars').
The individual primarily responsible for associating sexual magic with Gnosticism was German Occultist Theodor Reuss, who was interested in the accusations of sexual impropriety made against the Gnostics and the Templars. Such charges brought against these groups were most probably politically motivated fictions, yet, "they would reappear in striking new form in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries with the foundation of a new Templar order--the Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO)..." (Urban, 2006, p. 36).
The Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor (HB of L) propagated sexual magic teachings derived from Paschal Beverly Randolph through its correspondence course on occultism (Deveney, 1997, p. xxiii; Greer, 2003, p. 348). It is likely that this was the primary source on sexual magic for Theodor Reuss, a member of the HB of L. In 1906, inspired by co-member and practitioner Carl Kellner, and assisted by Franz Hartmann, Reuss founded the OTO as an umbrella occult organization with sexual magic as its core (Greer, 2003, p. 221-2). It initially consisted of nine grades, the first six being along masonic lines and the last three focusing on sexual magic. For Reuss sexual magic was the "key" that explains "all the riddles of nature, all the secrets of Freemasonry, and all systems of religion" (Urban, 2006, p. 98).
The French Gnostic Connection
In 1908 Reuss came into contact with Gerard Encause and Jean Bricaud at a Masonic and Spiritualist conference organized by Encause. Further ties were established with Reuss and Encause exchanging charters for the OTO and Martinist Orders. A similar exchange is claimed by some sources, with Reuss granting charters in the Memphis Mizarim Rite of Freemasonry to Bricaud in return for a grant concerning the Eglise Catholique Gnostique (EGC, 'the Gnostic Catholic Church'). Sources infer this because Reuss subsequently founded Die Gnostische Katholische Kirche (GKK, 'the Gnostic Catholic Church'), under the auspices of the OTO (Pearson, 2007, p. 47). However, it is unclear whether there was any formal tie to the ECG, or the nature of such a connection. It should also be noted that there is a significant difference between ecclesiastical and esoteric bodies, it would not constitute a simple reciprocal exchange like that between Reuss and Encause.
When the OTO went public 1912, Reuss recruited Aleister Crowley and quickly raised him to the then highest degree of the order.
By 1918 the GKK certainly had no ties to the EGC/EGU, as Reuss proclaimed himself "Sovereign Patriarch and Primate" of the church, having dedicated the OTO to the promulgation of Crowley's philosophy of Thelema. It is for this church body, called in Latin the Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica (EGC), that Aleister Crowley wrote the Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica Canon Missa ('the Canon Mass of the Gnostic Catholic Church'), the central ritual of the OTO that is now commonly called the "Gnostic Mass." Although it is generally referred to as the "Gnostic Mass," that name refers to its status as the official "mass" of the Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica.
In 1919 Bricaud named Reuss as a Gnostic Legate of the Eglise Gnostique Universelle (EGU) to Switzerland (Pearson, 2007, p. 47). Although it was a title conferred on many individuals in esoteric circles beginning in 1912, its conference on Reuss and his use of it at that time indicate that Reuss's church (GKK/EGC) had not officially been affiliated with, and so did not actually break away from Bricaud's (ECG/EGU). The Ecclesia Gnostica Catholica remains an active arm of the Ordo Templi Orientis, and the mass that Crowley wrote for it remains the central ritual of the OTO.
Krumm-Heller and the FRA
Arnoldo Krumm-Heller traveled in occult circles at the turn of the century where he studied with notable figures such as Gerard Encause of the Martinist Order and Franz Hartmann of the OTO.
Krumm-Heller moved back to Germany in 1920, where he made contact with Aleister Crowley. He founded the Iglesia Gnostica (Gnostic Church) in Mexico. Not finding as much success as he hoped for, he moved through Latin America before settling in Brazil. In 1929 he founded the Fraternitas Rosicruciana Antiqua (FRA, 'Fraternity of the Ancient Rosicrucians') and took the name Huiracocha.
He kept a low profile through WWII, but when he was able to travel again after the war, he resumed contact with his Latin America students. Between the end of WWII and his death in 1949, Krumm-Heller encountered and subsequently mentored Víctor Manuel Gómez Rodríguez who would subsequently take the name Samael Aun Weor (Dawson, 2007, p. 55-57). Rodríguez states that Krumm-Heller taught a form of sexual magic without ejaculation that would become the core of his own teachings.
Samael Aun Weor and the "International Gnostic Movement"
Víctor Rodríguez left the FRA after the death of Krumm-Heller. He also reports an experience of being called to his new mission by the "venerable white lodge" (associated with Theosophy). Sexual Magic without ejaculation (called the Arcanum AZF) became the core of Weor's "New Gnosis", calling it "the synthesis of all religions, schools and sects." Moving through Latin America, he finally settled in Mexico where he founded the Movimiento Gnostico Cristiano Universal (MGCU, 'Universal Gnostic Christian Movement'), then subsequently founded the Iglesia Gnostica Cristiana Universal ('Universal Gnostic Christian Church') and the Associacion Gnostica de Estudios Antropologicos Culturales y Cientificos (AGEAC, 'Gnostic Association of Scientific, Cultural and Anthropological Studies') to spread his teachings (Dawson, 2007, p. 54-60).
The MGCU became defunct by the time of Weor's death in December 1977. However, his disciples subsequently formed new organizations to spread Weor's teachings, under the umbrella term "the International Gnostic Movement". These organizations are currently very active via the Internet and have centers established in Latin America, the US, Australia, and Europe (Dawson, 2007, p. 60-65).
Dawson, Andrew (2007). New era, new religions: religious transformation in contemporary Brazil. Burlington, VT: Ashgate.
Deveney, John Patrick (1997). Paschal Beverly Randolph: a nineteenth-century Black American spiritualist. Albany: State University of New York.
Greer, John Micheal (2003). The New Encyclopedia of the Occult. St. Paul: Llewellyn.
Pearson, Joanne (2007). Wicca and the Christian Heritage. New York: Routledge.
Urban, Hugh B. (2006). Magia Sexualis: Sex, Magic, and Liberation in modern Western esotericism. University of California.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
[Somewhat redacted for language]While I can understand frustration with a question that is itself a problem and that has vexed many theologians for many centuries, I cannot understand your personal attacks.
Reverend, I don't see how saying that Gnosticism is mythical rather than theological answers my question. I already knew what the problem of evil is, and I have no interest in reading a scholarly discourse or in reading a bunch of mystical mumbo-jumbo, so why can't you just answer my [emphasis] question? If you don't know the answer to the question (as I don't), then just say so and I would respect that. I know what you're thinking, [personal abuse]. You're thinking that you have attained gnosis and I haven't and therefore I am not capable of understanding your incoherent [dismissive descriptor].
The "question" itself is incoherent and self-contradictory. You are demanding a simple answer when to my knowledge none has ever been given to the problem of evil in the centuries since it has been formulated within the theological system in which it arose. You expect me to force the Gnostic mythos into some theological system it won't fit, then crank out a satisfactory answer.
I have tried in good faith to show you that it is the question that is incoherent. When you complained of my first attempt, I started again. This takes time and patience, with which I have been generous. The problem is philosophical and I used some basic tools of philosophy: analogy, logic, and epistemology; to try to explain the problems with the question. Jesus could use simple and direct symbols that worked on many levels, the Buddha could hold up a flower to preach a sermon, but I have only what small skill in trying to explain these things that I have. My failure to communicate is nothing that I find pride in.
If we look at it as a story, such a story is a way of explaining and understanding the general situation that we find ourselves in that we cannot otherwise articulate. It is a mirror in which we see ourselves, our situation, and the solution to it. If it did not unfold as it did, we would not see these things within it, we could not find ourselves and our way back.
Blessings on your journey.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
The best advice that I can give you is to at least travel to visit and participate for a few days in parish life (if any) and speak at length with different types of participants in any church you are seriously considering, before entering any formation program. This happens automatically in our tradition, because people either live there or are considering moving there. However, in many of these churches one generally only meets others in person for ordination, and these may be at extraordinary events (visits or conferences) disconnected from life at the parish level. Beyond being due diligence, it will also give a level of insight that will prove invaluable if you enter a distance formation program.
Geography is a serious limitation, however gnosis (first-hand knowledge and experience) is also a limitation in that a distance formation is one without the dimension of gnosis. Recently founded church bodies that have such programs don't see gnosis as part of the formation process, and in my experience that is correlated with demonstrations of an understanding of Gnosticism centered on doctrinal elements. There is a long development of an individual's understanding of gnosis, that is itself a part of the overall developmental process, and an institutional understanding narrowly focused on doctrinal elements is more likely to hinder than to aid in this.
For me, an established community of practice is a large part of what a spiritual institution has to offer. It isn't necessarily correlated to the age of a particular institutional form, but it is a matter of having significant experience and interaction in a community of practice. In all spiritual traditions an individual is first a student and is then graduated by being encouraged or approved to teach by a long established teacher. This basic system doesn't always work as intended, but its fundamental purpose is to both pass on a living tradition tied into a larger community of practice, and to ensure the development of the individual beyond a certain point before they become a teacher in that tradition. The “living” aspect and the “development” aspect are of the nature of gnosis. It is worth considering how far back a living tradition goes within an institution and its leading and teaching members.
It may also be useful to point out that at different points of development there are common “universal solutions” that one realizes are not actually solutions of any kind a bit further along. I am not just speaking of personal observations, but also of quantitative research in developmental psychology. While it is best to avoid any simple easy “universal solution” presented, the example of this that is seen far too frequently is the notion of otherwise empty empowerment. This may manifest as a desire of an individual to receive a title without formation, because the title is all that is perceived as needed. It may also manifest as someone essentially granting titles without a formation process, and thinking that doing so is the same as someone going through a formation process.
I think that to be a Gnostic is to consider gnosis to be of importance, even when it is not redemptive-gnosis (usually referred to as Gnosis). One can learn quite a bit at a distance. There is no limitation on information at a distance, but there are severe limitations on gnosis at a distance. I suggest being aware of the severity of the limitations and considering the implications before entering such a program.
For my part, although I am designing a largely distance learning program in Spiritual Ministry and have no reservations about the granting of academic degrees in such a program, I cannot imagine putting someone forward as a candidate for the priesthood who has not had significant experience of the priesthood liturgically and within the context of parish service. Which would result in becoming a Gnostic Priest without gnosis of what a Gnostic Priest does liturgically and informally. That just strikes me as something of an oxymoron.
I hope all goes well whatever path you take. Development does not end with formation, and in an open and supportive environment, where further development does not inevitably lead to conflict with the institution, much can be accomplished. All institutions have their limitations, their blind spots, their weaknesses along with their strengths. I would simply reiterate the suggestion to visit before entering any formation program—a bit of first-hand knowledge, gnosis, is worth more than thousands of words.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Tuesday, June 09, 2009
- 1900 Fragments of a Faith Forgotten by G. R. S. Mead.
- Doinel readmitted to the Gnostic church as a bishop (Tau Julius).
- 1903 Additional material from the Gospel of Thomas discovered at Oxyrhynchus. Beginning of the text through logion 7, logion 24 and 36 and fragments of logion 36 through 39.
- 1904 New Sayings of Jesus and Fragments of a Lost Gospel by Bernard Grenfell and Arthur Hunt. Pre-publication abridgment of the Oxyrhynchus Papyri: Part 4.
- 1906 Thrice Greatest Hermes a comprehensive three volume treatise by G. R. S. Mead.
- 1907 Jean Bricaud, a bishop of l'Église Gnostique since 1901 with previous connections to the Eliate Church of Carmel of Eugene Vintras, the remnants of Bernard-Raymond Fabré-Palaprat's l'Église Johannites des Chretiens Primitif (Johannite Church of the Primitive Christians), and the Martinist Order, establishes the Eglise Catholique Gnostique (Gnostic Catholic Church) combining these, becoming patriarch under the name Tau Jean II. Liturgical services are based on Western Rite Christianity rather than the Cathar inspired rituals established by Doniel. Bricaud was encouraged and supported by fellow bishop Gérard "Papus" Encausse, likely to provide sacraments to excommunicated members of the Martinist Order.
- 1908 Eglise Gnostique Universelle (Universal Gnostic Church) becomes the name of the church lead by Bricaud. The original church body founded by Doinel continues under the name Eglise Gnostique du France (Gnostic Church of France).
- 1911 The close ties between Eglise Gnostique Universelle and the Martinist Order are formalized.
- 1917 Septem Sermones ad Mortuos (Seven Sermons To The Dead) by Carl Gustav Jung. Privately published.
- 1921 Pistis Sophia (Second edition, with commentary) by G. R. S. Mead.
- 1926 l'Église Gnostique du France (the original church body founded by Doinel) is disbanded in favor of the Eglise Gnostique Universelle.
- 1928 The Gnostic Society founded in Los Angeles by Theosophists James Morgan Pryse and his brother John Pryse for the study of gnosticism.
- 1933 First annual meeting of Eranos, an academic group inspired by Jung, focused on the study of religions. Participants include the foremost scholars of religion, subsequently called the "history of religions" school of thought.
- 1944 Jean Bricaud's successor in the EGU, Constant Martin Chevillon (Tau Harmonious) is executed by Nazi collaborators.
- Ronald Powell, an Australian of French decent and priest in the Liberal Catholic Church, leaves Australia for Europe, eventually settling in England. He acquires a grant of nobility in keeping with his understanding of spiritual nobility, and legally changes his name to Richard Jean Chretien Duc de Palatine.
- 1945 A cache of codices representing a large collection of Gnostic texts in Coptic is found near Nag Hammadi.
- 1949 A rare copy of Jung's Septem Sermones ad Mortuos is shown to a young student at Innsbruck by the name of Stephan Hoeller, because of his interest in Gnosticism.
- 1951 Gnosis als Weltreligion (Gnosis as World Religion) by Gilles Quispel.
- 1953 The first codex of the Nag Hammadi Library to be acquired, dubbed the Jung Codex, is formally presented to C. G. Jung.
- The Pre-Nicene Gnostic Catholic Church (now called Ecclesia Gnostica) instituted by the Most Rev. Richard Duc de Palatine, consecrated a bishop previously that year.
- 1954 The first translation of the Berlin Codex is published.
- 1955 The Jung Codex by H. Puech, Gilles Quispel, and W. Van Unnik. First publication of translations of Nag Hammadi texts.
- 1958 Morton Smith reports finding an ancient copy of a letter by Clement of Alexandria quoting a secret Gospel of Mark.
- The Gnostic Religion: The message of the alien God and the beginnings of Christianity by Hans Jonas, a student of Bultmann and Heidegger. Second edition 1963.
- Eglise Gnostique Apostolique instituted by Robert Amberlain.
- 1959 The Ante-Nicene Gnostic Catholic Church becomes active in the US through the ministry of Stephan Hoeller.
- English translation of the Gospel of Thomas.
- 1960 Eglise Gnostique Universelle discontinued in favor of Eglise Gnostique Apostolique by Robert Amberlain (Tau Jean III).
- 1967 The Institute for Antiquity and Christianity is founded. The Coptic Gnostic Library Project directed by James Robinson, is one of its six initial projects.
- Consecration of Stephan Hoeller (Tau Stephanus) as regionary bishop of the Americas for the Ante-Nicene Gnostic Catholic Church (Ecclesia Gnostica).
- 1973 The Gnostics By Jacques Lacarrière. English translation published in 1977.
- 1977 Die Gnosis: Wesen und Geschichte einer spatiken Religion (Gnosis: The Nature And History of Gnosticism) by Kurt Rudolph. Revised and expanded 1980. English translation 1983.
- 1977 The Nag Hammadi Library in English edited by Marvin Meyer and James Robinson.
Sunday, June 07, 2009
- 1735 Isaac de Beausobre publishes the first modern monograph on Manicheism (Rudolph, 1983, p. 30).
- 1738 Papal Bull In eminenti apostolatus specula issued by Pope Clement XII, banning Roman Catholics from becoming Freemasons.
- 1769 The Bruce Codex was brought to England from Upper Egypt by the famous Scottish traveller Bruce, and subsequently bequeathed to the care of the Bodleian Library, Oxford (Mead, 1900, p. 426).
- <1785 The Askew Codex was bought by the British Museum from the heirs of Dr. Askew (Mead, 1900, p. 426).
- 1835 Die Christliche Gnosis (The Christian Gnosis) by Ferdinand Christian Baur. According to Kurt Rudolph (1983, p. 31), Baur is "the real founder of research into gnosis."
- 1851 Pistis Sophia text and Latin translation of the Askew Codex by M. G. Schwartze.
- 1864 The Gnostics and Their Remains by Charles William King, an expert on, and the largest collector of, ancient gems. In it King puts forward the theory of the Eastern origins of Gnosticism, common to the period.
- 1875 The Theosophical Society founded by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky and Col. Henry Steel Olcott.
- 1877 Isis Unveiled by Helena Petrovna Blavatsky. Gnostics are one of the spiritual traditions mentioned favorably. King's the Gnostics and Their Remains repeatedly cited as a source and quoted.
- 1884 Encyclical Humanum Genus of Pope Leo XIII against Freemasonry. This inspires the writer known as Léo Taxil to engage in an elaborate hoax claiming that Freemasonry was satanic.
- 1887 The Gnostics and Their Remains (Second edition) by Charles William King. Expanded, including account of the Pistis Sophia.
- 1886 Lerhrbuch der Dogmengeschichte (The History of Dogma) by Adolph von Harnack. According to Rudolph, Harnack "laid the basis for an assessment of Gnosis from the point of view of church history" (1983, p. 31).
- 1890 l'Église Gnostique (the Gnostic Church) established after discovery of Cathar documents and a series of spiritual experiences by archivist Jules-Benoît Stanislas Doinel du Val-Michel (aka Jules Doinel), becoming patriarch under the name Tau Valentin II. Teachings are based on extant Cathar documents and the Gospel of John with a strong influence of Simonian and Valentinian cosmology. The church having both male and female Clergy, such as, male bishops and female "sophias." Liturgical services are based on Cathar rituals.
- through 1891 Mead publishes a serial article on Pistis Sophia in the Theosophical magazine Lucifer, the first English translation of the Askew Codex.
- 1891 The Bruce Codex text and French translation with a brief introduction by E. Amélineau. Text was based on a century old copy, without knowing that it consisted of two manuscripts whose leaves were intermixed.
- The Martinist Order founded by Gérard Encausse, primarily known by his nome du plume "Papus."
- 1892 The Bruce Codex critical text and German translation by Carl Schmidt. First critical edition.
- 1895 Pistis Sophia French translation of Schwartze's text by E. Amélineau.
- Jules Doinel resigns and converts to Roman Catholicism (apparently one of many duped by Léo Taxil's anti-masonic hoax) writing Lucifer Unmasked against freemasonry.
- 1896 Pistis Sophia by G. R. S. Mead. Translation of the Askew Codex.
- The Coptic Berlin Codex (aka. the Akhmim Codex), unearthed in Akhmim, Egypt, wrapped in feathers, in a niche in a wall at a Christian burial site.
- through 1898 Mead publishes another serial article, "Among the Gnostics of the First Two Centuries," that laid the foundation for his monumental compendium Fragments of a Faith Forgotten.
- 1897 "The Acts of John" by M. R. James in Apocrypha Anecdota II. A long fragment of the Acts of John, much of which was previously unpublished.
- Two Lectures on the 'Sayings of Jesus' Recently Discovered at Oxyrhynchus by Walter Lock and William Sandy. Text, translation and lecture commentaries on first fragments of the Gospel of Thomas discovered earlier that year (fragments of logion 26 through 33).
- 1898 The Oxyrhynchus Papyri: Part 1 by Bernard Grenfell and Arthur Hunt. Begins with unidentified fragment of the Gospel of Thomas.