heimskringla: (Default)

They saw a Samaritan carrying a lamb on his way to Judea.
He said to his disciples, "That man is round about the lamb."
They said to him, "So that he may kill it and eat it."
He said to them, "While it is alive, he will not eat it, but only when he has killed it and it has become a corpse."
They said to him, "He cannot do otherwise."
He said to them, "You too, look for a place for yourselves within repose, lest you become a corpse and be eaten.

- Logion 60, The Gospel of Thomas

I've been thinking recently, about the notion of an 'interior castle' as a kind of fortification for the spirit, and this post by Fr. Jordan Stratford brought those thoughts to the forefront of my mind.

We live in a world where we are surrounded by information, by the need to keep doing, to keep moving, to fill our days with activity after activity, to keep "busy" no matter what. For what? For money? Wealth? Power? Distraction? Fear of being alone? Fear of silence?

What happens when we neglect the so-called "interior castle" of the spirit, when the flames no longer flicker in the lamps and the musty odour of dust has replaced the rich aroma of frankincense? What happens when we both dwell in the world and become of the world?

It carries us off, bound like a lamb for slaughter. Money, wealth, power, being "busy," what do they bring? Temporary benefits, temporary comfort? And when you're alone what then?

Don't fear that place of repose within yourself... nourish it.
heimskringla: (seafood)
This WorldNetDaily article on the Da Vinci Code is probably fairly typical conservative, literalist Christian fare, but it got me thinking.

How many times have I, or any of you, encountered the fellow who thinks like the author of this article?

"But... it has to be true, it's in the Bible!"

"The Bible is historically verifiable!"

"If Christians were better educated, they'd know their fath!"

The assertions go on, and on, and on, and they're all along the same lines. They're based in fear and a need to be right, because what happens if they're not right? Maybe they go to hell or maybe they give up and turn to atheism.

The last question usually means something like, "If you had a better religious education, you wouldn't have a different opinion about Christianity (or perhaps dog breeding) than I do." And this is, of course, absolute rubbish.

Religion is, at best, mankind's attempt to connect with the Holy Other. We use language and mythic symbols to express thoughts and ideas which are difficult at best and impossible at worst to express any other way. Our speculation about the Holy Other is rooted in experience, somewhere down the line. Maybe it's not personal experience (why not?), but somewhere down the line, someone had an experience and they attempted to describe it. Maybe several someone's had a similar experience and used similar language and symbolism to describe it.

Gnosticism, as a religion, is about personal accountability and responsibility. I am responsible for my own "salvation." The priest down the street isn't... the guy sitting next to me isn't, I am. If the Bible isn't literally true, if Jesus of Nazareth didn't exist (or maybe it was "Jesus of the Nazarim"), does it matter? Does it change the situation any? Am I somehow less responsible for myself than I was before?

It doesn't change a thing. The language and the symbolism presented by Christianity are still useful in the light of Gnosticism whether historically verifiable or literally true, and hey... it is okay to be wrong about the Holy Other. Don't have to be right... don't really even have to think about it... you've just got to experience it.
heimskringla: (magdalene)

"Great is the mystery of marriage! For without it the world would not exist."

Dan Brown's The DaVinci Code (which I'll refrain from linking) has generated a lot of interest in Mary Magdalene and alternative Christianities, for which I am ever thankful to Mr Brown; I only wish Mr Brown had the integrity to admit his work was entirely fictive. Now, then. Who was Mary Magdalene really and what was her role in the fellowship of Jesus?

The Eastern church has honoured Magdalene with the accolade "Equal to the Apostles," but is always careful to note that she did not participate in the Apostolic ministry, nor did she receive the gifts of the Holy Ghost for that purpose. The Eastern church answers the question of Magdalene's identity and role by according her high stature and honour amongst the early Christian community. In the East, she was never conflated with the harlot; indeed, Magdalene was a wealthy woman who provided for Jesus and his band of disciples.

The Western church has, owing to an unfortunate Easter sermon given by Pope Gregory "the Great," often confused Mary Magdalene with the harlot mentioned earlier in the gospels, but acknowledges that she was redeemed by Jesus.

So far, we're two for two. Despite Magdalene being the first witness to the resurrection and equal to the apostles, she's still not an apostle. She doesn't have the same authority to teach, to preach, and to baptize that the bull-headed Peter enjoys.

Ah! There is another option, and it's one Dan Brown only vaguely manages to hint at in The DaVinci Code. He focuses far too much on the idea of the Holy Grail/Holy Blood[line] myth and is unable to see Magdalene not only as Christ's earthly consort, but as his spiritual consort as well. Lets take a few moments and consider some passages from the Gospel of Philip:

[The Savior] loved her more than all the disciples and used to kiss her often on her mouth. They [the disciples] said to him, "Why do you love her more than all of us?" The savior answered and said to them, "Why do I not love you like her? When a blind man and one who sees are both together in darkness, they are no different from one another. When the light comes, then he who sees will see the light, and he who is blind will remain in darkness."

Here, Jesus likens the disciples to the blind man who cannot see and Magdalene to the sighted man whose vision is only obscured because there's a dearth of light. He is, in effect, saying "This woman can see where you cannot. Her vision is not clouded by scales. I have given her light, and she flourishes." Or, "This woman can see what you cannot. She knows me as you will not."

According to Gnostic thought (or at least the Valentinian school), we can see that Magdalene was neither a harlot or merely a wealthy woman, but she was beloved of Jesus in a way that the disciples weren't, because of her capacity for spiritual insight. This is one passage from one text favoured by one Gnostic school, but I hope it will give a modicum of insight into other possibilities for Magdalene and her role in the community.

When Eve was still in Adam death did not exist. When she was separated from him death came into being. If he enters again and attains his former self, death will be no more.

The Nymphon, or the Bridal Chamber, is how the Valentinian school conceptualized this necessary reunion between Adam and Eve, not necessarily in a physical sense (though not excluding it), but moreso in a spiritual sense.

If the woman had not separated from the man, she should not die with the man. His separation became the beginning of death. Because of this Christ came to repair the separation which was from the beginning and unite them But the woman is united to her husband in the bridal chamber. Indeed those who have united in the bridal chamber will no longer be separated. Thus Eve separated from Adam because it was not in the bridal chamber that she united with him.

So, here we get more blathering about how the lack of unity between Adam and Eve was the cause of death and how they need to be reunited in order for death to stop, but the death alluded to isn't the death of the body, but rather the spirit.

So what, or where is the bridal chamber? The Gospel of Philip compares the bridal chamber to the "holy of holies" in the Temple at Jerusalem, which is the place only the high priest entered on certain days after observing certain rituals and precautions. It's the same for the bridal chamber. It may be achieved through earthly sexual union (or earthly sexual union may be the parallel of the bridal chamber which is the spiritual mirror of earthly sexual union), but it can only be achieved when the participants are spiritually ready and prepared.

How, precisely, does this tie in to Jesus and Magdalene? I posit, as have many before me, that Magdalene is Eve to Jesus' Adam, at least on a spiritual level. He a vessel of the Logos and she a vessel of Echamoth or Sophia. Only together were Magdalene and Jesus whole, and only with the Logos can Sophia create.

I've barely begun to scratch the surface of Jesus and Magdalene or Nymphon, for that matter, but there's a lot to dig in to. And hopefully, you get the point of the icon now.

The Dyer

Aug. 19th, 2005 09:31 pm
heimskringla: (jesus)

God is a dyer. As the good dyes which are called "true" dissolve with the things dyed in them, so it is with those whom God has dyed. Since his dyes are immortal, they become immortal by means of his colour. Now God dips what he dips in water.

The lord went into the dye works of Levi. He took seventy-two different colours and threw them into the vat. He took them out all white. And he said, "Even so has the son of man come as a dyer."

The Gospel of Philip is often categorized, by scholars, as a Gnostic sacramental catechism. These two passages from the Gospel do not appear together in the manuscript, but thematically the two passages compliment each other.

God is revealed as a dyer who uses "true" dyes which do not fade. The medium of this "true" dye is then revealed in its sacramental form as the water of baptism. Secondly, Christ is identified as taking part in his Father's work as a dyer. He cast 72 "different colours" (a reference to the band of 72 disciples) and threw them into a vat of the "true" dye and they arose from the water all white, or rather they arose from the waters having received the Holy Ghost and the resurrection of the spirit (thusly having received immortality):

Some are afraid lest they rise naked. Because of this they wish to rise in the flesh, and they do not know that it is those who wear the flesh who are naked. It is those who [...] to unclothe themselves who are not naked.
heimskringla: (haha)

God is a man-eater. For this reason, men are sacrificed to him. Before men were sacrificed, animals were being sacrificed, since those to whom they were sacrificed were not gods.

This particular aphorism in the Gospel of Philip always struck me as a little strange, not to mention abstruse. The pseudographic Philip alludes to the Levitical sacrifices of the temple cult, through which offerings were made as expiation for sin. Pseudo-Philip says that animals were sacrificed because "they" did not sacrifice to gods.

So what's it mean? Is the Big Hairy Primate (or Flying Spaghetti Monster) saying he wants him some down home human sacrifice? Nah, don't think so. You can read the passage as plainly as you like and figure that "God" was satisfied with the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross or you could take a little bit of a deeper look at the passage in light of the generally anti-hylic nature of most Gnostic schools (Philip is most often associated with the Valentinian school) and read it like this:

Stop worrying over all the pointless little animal sacrifices and the cult of the Temple. When you make a sacrifice at the Temple, you're not making a sacrifice to God anyway, because I don't really live there. If you want to give me something, give me that part of you which is "man" (e.g. your material self) so you can know the truth of the spirit.

I will admit, perhaps a draught of absinthe (or a hit of LSD) might have made this little rambling a bit more enjoyable... I mean "God is a Man-eater..." isn't that great imagery for a trip?

P.S. I have found the most amusing/"teh bestest" website ever: hit it for the glory of God.
heimskringla: (Default)
Earlier, in the Gnosticism community, [livejournal.com profile] swisscelt brought up an issue regarding the Apostle Creed, and I was perusing the Beliefnet Gnosticism boards a bit ago, and I was reminded of this passage from the Gospel of Philip:

Some said, "Mary conceived by the Holy Spirit." They are in error. They do not know what they are saying. When did a woman ever conceive by a woman? Mary is the virgin whom no power defiled. She is a great anathema to the Hebrews, who are the apostles and the apostolic men. This virgin whom no power defiled [...] the powers defile themselves. And the Lord would not have said "My Father who is in Heaven" (Mt 16:17), unless he had had another father, but he would have said simply "My father".
heimskringla: (haha)
It can easily be said that the Gnostic (or a spiritual seeker of any stripe, most likely) journies along a road which has several distinct stops or signposts. Gnostics understand these to be five in number, with one being necessary before the journey to the next begins; think of it rather like the Gnostic version of Maslow's heirarchy.

1. Aphoria - Aphoria is translated directly as "roadlessness" and most often results in the seeker feeling lost or trouble. There's the realization that something is not quite right; it creates an internal conflict within the seeker and serves as the genesis for further growth.

2. Ephiphany - The Epiphany is more or less translated as "shining light" or "manifestation." The veils of dokkos (illusion) are parted and the seeker begins to grasp spiritual truth. It's, more or less, a eureka! moment stemming from the earlier sense of aphoria.

3. Agon - Agon's most apt translation is "struggle." The seeker realizes that there is more to the world, more to himself, than meets the eye, but there are forces (internal or external) whose desire is to convince the seeker that the dokkos is fine, just fine. Think of the scene in The Matrix where Morpheus offers Neo a choice between the red pill and the blue pill. You can choose to remain awake or to fall back asleep.

4. Gnosis - Enlightenment or Inner Knowing. An encounter with the Divine Reality/Pleroma; the undeniable knowledge that the Other does indeed exist. Gnosis must be experienced as opposed to being read about or spoken of. There's no magic forumla to attain it, just work.

5. Charis - This word means "grace" and perhaps carries a connotation of sanctity or holiness. This is the end of the road, personified in people like Buddha, Jesus, Rumi, Mani, and others.
heimskringla: (magdalene)
There's a meme going around on LJ, and it reminded me of the above text found at Nag Hammadi.

I was sent forth from the power,
and I have come to see those who reflect upon me,
and I have been found among those who seek after me.
Look upon me, you who reflect upon me,
and you hearers, hear me.
You who are waiting for me, take me to yourselves.
And do not banish me from your sight.
And do not make your voice hate me, nor your hearing.
Do not be ignorant of me anywhere or any time. Be on your guard.
Do not be ignorant of me.

For I am the first and the last.
I am the honored and the scorned one.
I am the whore and the holy one.
I am the wife and the virgin.
I am the mother and the daughter.
I am the members of my mother.
I am the barren one, and many are her sons.
I am she whose wedding is great, and I have not taken a husband.
I am the midwife and she who does not bear.
I am the solace of my labor pains.
I am the bride and the bridegroom, and it is my husband who begot me.
I am the mother of my father and the sister of my husband,
and he is my offspring...
heimskringla: (Default)
I don't really do a whole lot of religion/spirituality blogging on LJ at the moment, but for those of you who are interested in finding out what sort of stuff goes on in my head where that area is concerned click here. Read, comment, whatever, but the folks who usually read that blog don't know about the LJ, and I discuss some topics and interests here that not a lot of people who know me, or the "other me" are aware of, so keep that in mind.


heimskringla: (Default)

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