Our Lady of Montserrat

I mentioned before about my visits to the Saint Meinrad Archabbey and encountering the Lady of Einsiedeln. Well, with the school out of session for the summer, I’ve been exploring more of the monastery and first off, there is a second statue of Einsiedeln at the entrance to another chapel on the grounds. This copy of our Lady is a bit smaller than the one in the cathedral, but impressive none the less. See below:

Our Lady of Einsiedeln, outside the Saint Thomas Aquinas chapel at the St Meinrad Archabbey

Awhile back I heard that the archabbey has a statue of Our Lady of Montserrat. I eventually found her the other week at a chapel in the middle of the monastery (name of the particular chapel escapes me at the moment, but I will update this post next time I visit it). I’ve always been fascinated with Our Lady of Montserrat and the “golden ball” which is held in her hand. The history and mythology behind that statue is quite interesting. The statue here is a little bit different than the actual one. The colors are slightly different and the statue is smaller. I have posted several pics below, as well as a youtube “short” where I walk up to the statue.

Our Lady of Montserrat
Our Lady of Montseratt

The stand in which the statue sits presents the Madonna and child at eye level to me, and it’s quite hypnotizing when you look at her straight on. Side note, there is a second statue of her on the third floor in the “hallway of the Virgin Mary”, which is a long hallway that features various incarnations of Mary from various cultures. The statue up there is quite smaller and is one that would be seen on a home altar.

3 short video clips

Out of the recent recordings I did, I thought I’d edit three segments together. The first segment is an excerpt from the Gospel of Thomas, the second segment is the oldest known prayer to the Theotokos and the third segment is an excerpt from the First Apocalypse of James.

First segment, Gospel of Thomas saying 50:

Jesus said, 'If they say to you, "Where did you come from?", say to them, "We come from the light, the place where the light came into being of its own accord and established itself and became manifest through their image."  If they say to you, "Who are you?," then say, "We are its sons, and we are the elect of the living father."  If they ask you, "What is the sign of your father in you?," say to them, "It is movement and repose."

Second segment, the 3rd century Marian (Theotokos) prayer, “Beneath Thy Protection“. See this page for more information on the prayer. I used the English translation from the Greek version.

Beneath your compassion,
We take refuge, O Theotokos:
do not despise our petitions in time of trouble:
but rescue us from dangers,
only pure, only blessed one.

The third segment is an excerpt from the First Apocalypse of James:

You have come with knowledge,
that you might rebuke their forgetfulness.
You have come with recollection,
that you might rebuke their ignorance.
But I was concerned because of you.

For you descended into a great ignorance,
but you have not been defiled by anything in it.
For you descended into a great mindlessness,
and your recollection remained.
You walked in mud,
and your garments were not soiled,
and you have not been buried in their filth,
and you have not been caught.
And I was not like them, but I clothed myself with everything of theirs.

There is in me forgetfulness,
yet I remember things that are not theirs.

Barbelo

Barbelo, the reflection of the source. The first thought. Mother of us all. She is mentioned in numerous Gnostic texts but I wanted to share this passage from the Secret Book of John. I think it does a fairly good job of introducing her to the mythos.

Continuing with my readings, I have put together a video of this passage. See below:

The translation I used to read this passage is from https://gnosticismexplained.org/the-secret-book-of-john/. That website is truly amazing and I recommend everyone check it out if you haven’t. The website creator has done a few other translations as well. Here is the passage:

She is Barbelo, the most perfect glory of all beings, the glory of the disclosure of the Father’s thought. Her own first thought was to glorify and praise the Virgin Spirit from whom she had come forth.

Barbelo became the womb of the Fullness, for she was the first being, the Mother-Father, the first human, the holy spirit, the thrice-male, the triple power, the three-named androgynous being, the first among the invisible beings.

Barbelo requested that the Invisible Virgin Spirit grant her a gift: Foreknowledge. The Spirit agreed and revealed Foreknowledge, which stood at rest next to Forethought. Foreknowledge glorified the Spirit and Barbelo, the perfect power of the Spirit, for it was because of her that Foreknowledge had come to be.

Barbelo made another request: that she be given Incorruptibility. The Spirit agreed, and Incorruptibility appeared and stood at rest next to Forethought and Foreknowledge. Incorruptibility glorified the Invisible Spirit and Barbelo, those who had enabled it to live.

Barbelo made another request: that she be given Eternal Life. The Spirit agreed, and Eternal Life appeared and stood at rest next to the others. They glorified the Invisible Spirit and Barbelo, those who had enabled them to live.

Again Barbelo asked for a gift – this time, it was Truth. The Invisible Spirit agreed, and Truth appeared and stood at rest next to the others. They glorified the Invisible Spirit and Barbelo, those who had enabled them to live.

These are the five entities of the Father:
The first human, the reflection of the Invisible Spirit, Forethought, Barbelo;
Foreknowledge;
Incorruptibility;
Eternal Life;
Truth.

These are the five androgynous beings, who with their partners are a group of ten entities, and together they are the Father.

As Barbelo now stood amidst the untainted light that surrounds the Father and upon which the Father gazes, the Father gazed into her, and she conceived by him. She begot a spark of light that resembled the Father’s blessed light, but was not as great. This spark was the only-begotten Son of the Mother-Father and the only-begotten Son of the Father, the pure light.

Mary Magdalene Prayer

Here is another short prayer video, this time I read a Catholic prayer to Saint Mary Magdalene. Here is the text of the prayer:

Saint Mary Magdalene!  You heard from the loving lips of Jesus that your many sins were forgiven because you loved much.  Pour out your love at his sacred feet on our behalf.  Your tears of repentance and of love won for you the pardon of your sins and the vision of your risen Jesus on Easter morning.  Surely, dear Saint, he who refused nothing to your love on Earth, will graciously replenish us with those blessings, for which we implore your prayers.  Amen.

A Prayer to Our Lady of Einsiedeln

I wanted to try something new with this site. I’ve been experimenting with recording videos of myself reading various scripture, as well as prayers, to see how it would come off on a video recording. I admit, I am not a big fan of how I sound on video, but who is? lol However, I do like this particular prayer and wanted to share it. I recently purchased a small altar statue of “Our Lady of Einsiedeln” from www.sagrada.com and while I was on the site, I noticed a home made card of that particular Madonna, so I purchased it to go along with the statue. When I received it (which was only two days after placing an order!!), I noticed a small prayer on the back of the card written by Mary Busby, co-owner of the website. So I decided to do a video reading of the prayer. Enjoy.

Here is the prayer for those curious:

She calls us to deepen, stirring within us a sacred knowing. She whispers our name in every tree and creature in every stone– remembering us to Oneness. She beckons us to open our hearts as compassion and creativity emerge from sorrow. In her darkness, there is life. O Beloved Mother of Mystery, awaken and transform us.

The Book of Mary’s Repose (3 of 3)

And now the conclusion of the Liber Requiei.

The man who’s arms were cut off, wept to the apostles and begged them not to give him such torment. Peter informs him that he can not heal the wounds but rather the man would need to believe in Jesus. Peter orders the bier to be put down and tells the priest to go to the body and say:

"Are you listening now with your whole heart?  Go then and embrace Mary's body, saying, "I Believe in you and in the one who came forth from your womb."

The priest started to bless Mary for three hours. Afterwards, he told the priest to put his arms to his detached hands on the bier and say:

"In the name of Jesus, the son of Mary, the son of the dove, who was crucified, with goodness my hands have touched your bier."

Suddenly his hands were re-attached and normal as if nothing had happened. Peter tells the priest to return to town with a palm leaf and find blind people who do not see and do not recognize the way, and tell them what just happened. Those who will believe, place the palm leaf on their eyes and they will see. Those who don’t, will not see.

The apostles all then gathered around Mary’s body and began to wait for Jesus to appear to take Mary’s body. In the mean time, Paul speaks to Peter and asks of him to tell him the mysteries since he was not able to meet Jesus during his earthly life. Peter tells him to be patient and wait for Jesus to return, and if Jesus orders it, then he will tell Paul of the mysteries. Paul reluctantly agrees to this and then tells the apostles a story involving Solomon and demons who had ridiculed humans. This story goes on for several pages before ending. The apostles agreed with the morale of that story and asked that he keep on talking as they have three days of waiting. Paul, still kind of bitter about not getting the mysteries revealed to him from Peter, asks of Peter what does he teach, so he (Paul) can go forth and preach this doctrine.

Peter tells Paul what he has been saying is good, but if he wants to hear what he preaches, then he will oblige. Peter gives him the phrase:

"Whoever does not fast every day will not see God."

Paul tells Peter that if people hear that, they will rise up and kill them, as they worship gods and do not believe in God, nor in fasting. Paul then turns to John to get his advice. John says:

"If there is anyone who is not continent until his repose, he will not see God."

Paul tells John that the people will not believe this either and he will be stoned if he preaches this. Paul turns to Andrew and asks for his teaching. Andrew states:

"Whoever does not leave his father and mother, and his brothers and sisters, and his children, and his possessions, he has not followed God, and he will not be able to see him."

Once again, Paul scoffs at this teaching. Peter then asks Paul what would he preach. Paul then states:

"Let every man take his wife, so that they will not commit adultery"; and "let a woman take her husband, that she may not commit adultery."  And let us establish one or two days of fasting in the week for them, and let us not be too hard on them, lest they become negligent and turn away.  But if they fast today and are a little weary, they will persevere for the time and say, "Tomorrow we will not fast again."  And if they come to mealtime, and they have rested, they will give to the poor, saying, "Why this fast, which comes?" and they will ponder God in their hearts.  And let us also say to them, "Let the one who is not able to fast until the second hour, and the one who is average until the ninth, and the perfect one until evening."  And when we have trampled on their wings a little, we will know that they are able to bear this.  And then we can give them milk to drink, and we will tell them the glorious things."

The story then states that the other apostles murmured amongst themselves, not agreeing with what Paul said. Ouch! lol Amongst this chattering, Jesus arrives from heaven with the archangel Michael. Jesus then sort of sides with Paul on what he has been saying. In the Syriac translation, Jesus informs Peter that his advice has always been destructive, along with Andrew’s and John’s, and informs them that they should receive the word of Paul, for the whole world will be caught in the net of Paul’s words. The Ethiopic version isn’t as harsh, but still puts forth the same message. Jesus tells Paul not to be sad about not being revealed the mysteries, as he (Jesus) has only revealed the Earthly mysteries to the apostles, and not the heavenly mysteries, which he will teach Paul.

Jesus signaled to Michael, who then answered in the voice of a mighty angel, which called down 10,000 (Ethiopic version, 1,000 Syriac version) angels who took Mary’s body into the clouds. The apostles went with them into the clouds. Once they arrived in Paradise, Mary’s body was placed by the tree of life, in which her soul then entered her body.

The apostles then said to Jesus about seeing the torments (Hell). Jesus transported them, along with Mary and Michael, to where the sun sets and a pit in the earth opened up to expose the damned. When the damned saw Michael, they all started crying out to him asking for help. The cries caused a lot of distress for Mary and the apostles, which Jesus told them that they would not be able to handle this sight. The damned kept pleading with Michael to get Jesus to save them. Michael turned to Jesus and asked of him for his help. Jesus went into a long explanation that he is aware of their pleas and has pleaded with his Father on their behalf, but mercy will only be shown when the Father deems it.

The next few sections of the story involves Mary and the apostles spotting various individuals who were in torment and asking about each person. Oddly enough, most of these people were from the church, such as priests, deacons, etc… who were crooked/corrupt. Eventually Jesus gives the tormented nine hours of rest on the Lord’s day thanks to the tears of Michael, the apostles and Mary.

After this, he takes the group into Paradise to the tree of life where we get a who’s who of the Old Testament. There is Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Elizabeth, the Magi, Enoch, etc… Speaking of Enoch, a short flash back is inserted that states when Noah sent out the dove to find land, the dove would go to Paradise to the olive tree where Enoch was, and Enoch would petition God for mercy. It would not be until God showed mercy, that Enoch would give the dove a branch to take back.

Jesus tells the other apostles to stay with his mother while he and Paul ascends even higher so he can tell Paul of the mysteries. As they were ascending, the Devil himself cries out:

"Jesus, Son of God, who came into the world and preached before Jerusalem and gave a commandment to your apostles that they preach to the whole earth in Jerusalem, how do you make this one named Paul ascend, before he contends with me, in your greatness, and defeats me?  And it is fitting that you have shown everything to the twelve, since they were worthy, and they have contended with me and defeated me.  But this one has not contended with me and has not defeated me.  How do you make him ascend?  Let him come then: first he will contend with me, and if he defeats me, bring him and show him everything."

Jesus then tells Paul to “prepare yourself for battle, so that he will find nothing against you.” Jesus goes and gets Peter to help prepare Paul for the battle. Peter asks Jesus where the two will fight, on a mountain or in the middle of a crowd? Why, the middle of a crowd of course!!

Now in this particular translation, the author leaves out the fight. He states that this section is also presented in another apocrypha, that being the “History of Peter and Paul.” Feeling this was combined at a later time, this is why the author leaves that out. I haven’t read that particular apocrypha, but it’s now on my to read list.

The story continues after the fight, with everyone joining back up in Paradise. Jesus then takes them all to the seventh heaven where God sits. The apostles wanted to embrace God but were terrified as God is “entirely fire.” There were two seraphim standing next to God. Two of their wings were covering their faces, as not to see the face of God. The apostles were not able to see the face of God either. Jesus informs them all that the time will come when they can embrace the Father, but in the meantime, they will need to embrace the body of Christ and they will not die. Jesus made a signal to one of the seraphim, whom responded but no one understood what it said. Suddenly the tens of thousands of angels appeared. Mary was given a throne and went into Paradise. Michael then brought the apostles back to Earth so that they can continue their mission.

This last part of the dormition narrative could have been excised off the story and one wouldn’t really notice. I did find the bickering between the apostles, as well as the church clergy in Hell to be an interesting commentary on the early church (one of the reasons why I highly enjoy the ‘Gospel of Judas’). The description of the Father was quite interesting. You usually don’t see something like that in these stories, at least from the ones I’ve read.

I am still going through this book, Ancient Traditions of the Virgin Mary’s Dormition and Assumption by Stephen J. Shoemaker. If I find any more Gnostic related stories, I’ll blog about it. However, if you are interested in stories about the Theotokos, I do recommend picking up the book. It’s been quite the fascinating read so far (I’m a third of the way in).

bP

The Prophet Mani

While browsing around on gnosis.org, I noticed they use April 25th as a commemoration for the birth of the Prophet Mani. While April is the accepted month for his birth, the exact date seems to jump around. Those unaware of Mani, he is responsible for the Manichaean religion, which was the largest Gnostic religion the world has seen. For awhile, it was extremely popular but eventually it would almost fade out into obscurity. A sole Manichaean temple from antiquity still exists in China (Cao’an), as Mani was included in the Buddhist tradition of that area (as the Buddha of Light).

Fortunately some of the writings from this belief system still survive. I will admit, I am not expert in Mani. I know of him and have read some Manichaean material. I plan on doing a more deep dive into the subject at some point in the future.

The following is a Manichaean psalm that gnosis.org calls “Let Us Worship the Spirit of the Paraclete“:

Let us worship the spirit of the Paraclete (comforter).
Let us bless our Lord Jesus who has sent us the Spirit of Truth.
He came and separated us from the Error of the World.
He brought us a mirror. We looked into it, and saw in it the Universe.

When the Holy Spirit came,
he revealed to us the way of truth and taught us that there are two Natures,
that of the Light and that of the Darkness,
separated from each other since the beginning.

The Kingdom of Light consisted of five Greatnesses,
these are the Father and his twelve Aeons,
the Aeon of Aeons, the Living Air, and the Land of Light,
the Great Spirit blows in them and feeds them with its Light.

The Kingdom of Darkness, however, consisted in five Chambers,
these are Smoke, Fire, Wind and Water and Darkness.
Their resolution crawls in them,
moves them and spurs them on to make war with one another.

Now as they were warring with each other,
they made bold to attack the Land of Light,
considering themselves capable of conquering it.
Yet they know not that what they thought will recoil upon their own heads.

But there was a host of angels in the Land of Light
which possessed the power to issue forth and overcome the enemy of the Father,
whom it pleased that through the Word that he would send,
he would subdue the rebels
who desired to raise themselves above what was more exalted than they.

Like a shepherd who sees a lion approaching to destroy his sheepfold,
he uses guile, takes a lamb and sets it as a snare that he may catch it with it,
for with a single lamb he saves his sheepfold.
Afterwards he heals the lamb that has been wounded by the lion.

In this way too the Father acted,
who sent his stout Son.
He produced out of himself his Maiden, furnished with the five Powers
that she might fight against the five Abysses of the Dark.

When the Watchman stood fast within the frontiers of Light
he showed the powers of the Darkness his Maiden, who is his Soul.
They became agitated in the Abyss and wanted to possess her,
they opened their mouths and tried to swallow her.

He seized the Maidens power and spread it over the Powers of the Darkness,
like nets over fish, he rained her down on them.
Like purified clouds of water, she penetrated into them like a piercing lightning stroke.
She crept inside their insides and bound them all without their ever knowing.

When the First Man had ended his struggle the Father sent forth his Second Son.
He came and helped his brother out of the Abyss.
He built this whole world up out of the mixture
that had come into existence out of Light and Darkness.

All the Powers of the Abyss he spread out to the ten Heavens and to eight Earths,
he shut them up into this World and made it a dungeon for all the Powers of Darkness.
This World is also, however, a place of purification of the soul
which had been swallowed up in the Powers of Darkness.

The Sun and the Moon where set up and fixed in the heights, to purify the Soul.
They take the refined part daily upward to the heights but they destroy the deposit.
They convey it up and down.

This whole World stands firm for a Season,
since there is a great Building being erected outside the World.
At the Hour when the Architect shall complete it, the entire World shall be dissolved.
It shall be set afire, that the fire may melt it away.

All Life, the Remnants of Light in every Place
he shall gather to himself and form of it a Statue (Eidolon -- image, likeness).
Even the Resolution of Death also, the whole of Darkness,
he shall gather in and make an image of itself along with the Archon.

In a moment the Living Spirit shall come. 
It will succor to the Light,
but the Resolution of Death and the Darkness
lock away in the chamber that was built for it that it may lie in chains forever.

There is no other means save this means to bind the Enemy,
for he shall not be received into the Light because he is a stranger to it,
but he shall also not be left in his Land of darkness,
lest he may wage a greater war than the first.

A New Aeon shall be built in the place of this World, which shall be dissolved,
so that in it the Powers of Light may reign
since they have preformed and fulfilled the whole of the Father's will.
They have overthrown the hateful one, they have defeated him forever.

This is the knowledge of Mani,
let us worship him and bless him.
Blessed is every man that may trust in him
for he shall live with the Righteous.

Honor and Victory to our Lord Mani, the Spirit of Truth,
that cometh from the Father and has revealed to us
the Beginning, the Middle, and the End.
Victory to the Soul of the Blessed Mary. Theona, Pshai, Jemnoute.

This next hymn is ascribed to Mani and is titled “Praise of Jesus the Life-Giver“:

... all in one mind.
And we would stretch out our hands in invocation.
And we would lift up our eyes to your beautiful figure,
And we would open our mouths to call upon you,
And we would prepare our tongues to praise you;
We would call upon you, Jesus the Splendor, the New Dispensation.
You, even you are the just God, the noble physician,
The dearest son, the most blessed soul.

Welcome, liberated sovereign!
Come to help, good spirit, messenger of peace,
Helper of the meek and victor over the aggressors!
Welcome, redeemer of the imprisoned
And physician of the wounded!
Welcome, you who do awaken the sleepers,
Who do rouse those that slumber,
Who do cause the dead to rise!

Welcome, mighty God and sanctifying Voice!
Welcome, true Logos, great lamp and bountiful Light!
Welcome, new ruler and new day!
Welcome, foundation of the worlds and sacred meal of many!
Welcome, gift of the good, blessing of the gentle,
Who is venerated by those that sanctify!

Welcome, Loving Father, munificent benefactor
Of those that take refuge in you!
Welcome, our Father, who are our mighty refuge,
In whom we firmly trust!

(six lines missing)

Have mercy upon us and show us your love,
Oh beneficent one who are all love!
And reckon us not among the evildoers!
Save those that have taken refuge in you,
And be merciful to us.

Oh most beloved and loving one,
We have seen you, the New Dispensation,
And we have yearned for you who are all love.
Joyfully have we seen you, loving Lord,
And your name do we acknowledge, Mam-sin.
Separate us from the company of sinners
And distance us from the aggressors.
Lord, we are your own, have mercy upon us!
Come quickly, hasten to vanquish the sinners,
For they are haughty and have said,
"We are who we are, and no one is like us."
Be mighty and vanquish the aggressors!

(three lines missing)

We praise your name which is truly praiseworthy,
And your noble greatness which is pure joy.
Praise be to your name, Father,
And honor to your greatness!
Be it so for ever and ever!

Here is another hymn ascribed to Mani that goes under the name “The Hymn to the Father of Greatness“:

You are worthy of praise, beneficent Father, primeval Ancestor!
Blessed are you, beneficent God!

You, Lord, are the first alif and the last tau.
Through you yourself your pious wish has been fulfilled and
accomplished.

All gods and aeons, the deities of Light,
And the righteous bring praise to you,
singing "Holy" repeatedly.

The spirits, the plants and all . . . . truly implore you
to blessing. And bring forth supplications with one voice.

Grant us our pious wish . . . .
They bear the form that we have given up from afar.

Be merciful unto us in your mercy;
Show us your form, the noble epiphany, for which we yearn.

Let your brightness shine upon us, sweet source and breath of life!
Make, us, your children, strong.
In vain the dark foe boasts, together with the bellicose,
rebellious giants, In vain he wishes to cling to the Aeons.

I took these all from http://www.gnosis.org/library/manis.htm. Note there are more Manichaean texts out there. While I have not gotten a copy yet, I hear the “Gospel of Mani” by by Duncan Greenlees is quite good. It’s a fairly large book, coming in at 580 pages!

The Book of Mary’s Repose (2 of 3)

And the story continues…..

After Jesus ascended back into the heavens, Mary returned home. Entering the house, it began to tremble on the account of the glory of the book that Jesus had given her. She wrapped up the book and said various prayers over it. Her prayers eventually lead back to her son, who responds to her stating no other power will come for her except himself.

After Mary was done with the prayers, she went to her maidservant and told her to call upon all all her (Mary) relatives and those who know her, as she wished to speak to them. When the people arrived, she told them that she will go forth from her body tomorrow to eternal rest. She requested they perform a great act of kindness with her. She did not want any material possessions (silver/gold/etc…) but rather they all get a lamp and not let it go out in the next three days (two days in the Georgian versions) as Mary will speak of her charity to them. Yes, I realize it said at the beginning she would depart the next day, but then it says she will be with them for the next few days. I suspect either a translation error or she is referring to “tomorrow” as an event that is to be taken place very soon and perhaps not literally “tomorrow”.

Mary begins to speak proclaiming she does not know the hour of her departure but it will be soon. She then describes the death process for people and speaks of how two angels will come to a person, one of righteousness and one of wickedness, and those two will come with death. This is the process that she describes: Death will come to the body and if the person has done righteous and good deed, the angel of righteousness will rejoice as finding no sin on the person. That angel will call upon other angels to the soul and they all sing upon it until the soul reaches the place of all righteous. This will cause the angel of wickedness to weep. However, if the person was an evil doer, then this angel of wickedness (who is also referred to as Satan in the Georgian version) will call upon other evil spirits who will then tear the soul apart. Kind of reminds me of the Cenobites from the Clive Barker Hellraiser mythos! LOL

After this story, a woman in the group starts questioning Mary about the fact if she (Mary) is afraid, she will be fine as she is the Mother of the Lord but what about the rest of us common sinners. She continues for a bit before Mary tells her:

'Be silent, my brothers, and do not cry; but glorify the one who is among you at this moment.  I beg you, do not be cast down, because this is the joy of the virgin of God.  But sing instead of weeping, so that it will be to every nation of the earth and to all the heavens of God, and there will be a blessing rather than weeping.'

After this, Mary tells the group of a sin she once committed! She had, for one day, not believed in God. The story she tells is that she, Joseph and two of his children were fleeing when a sense of terror struck her. She heard what sounded like an infant speak to her. She turned around and the infant disappeared. She told Joseph that she saw an infant who was not of this world. The infant reappeared and said:

"Mary, my mother, every sin is imputed to you, because you have tasted the bitter as the sweet."

The story continues with Mary telling her group (in “present” day) about how she now understood who the child was and what was to come.

The next day at dawn, the apostle John came knocking on Mary’s door and when she saw him, she began to cry. She was in distress when she began to talk to John, reminding him of what Jesus said to them when he left (“John will take care of you”), how John was Jesus’ beloved and was the chosen virgin. Frantically, she was telling John not to abandon her. John is confused at this point because Mary had not informed him of her upcoming situation. He cried out in a loud voice to her that he had left someone with her to take care of her as he was doing the work of the Lord by traveling and spreading the good news. He asks what is causing her distress and she replies with a request that he place her body in a tomb and guard her (he and the other apostles) from the high priests, as apparently she heard one say:

"When we find her body, we will throw it into a fire, because the deceiver came forth from her."

Hearing about her death, this caused John to weep and want to leave his body as well. Mary comforts him and then leads him into her inner chamber where she gives him the book that Jesus gave her earlier. She tells him he must take this book and go forth with it but he said he could not because the other apostles were not there yet. And just as he said it, the other apostles starting appearing outside via clouds! Yes, they were seated on clouds.

Once all the apostles were there, the scene reminds me of when a group of old friends get back together as they all are greeting each other and being merry. At one point Peter tells Paul to pray before them because of the occasion, but Paul being humbled feels he is not worthy to lead prayer in front of the others. Eventually Peter leads the prayer. This goes on for quite a bit until they realize why they are at Mary’s house. They learn of of the situation and Mary greets them. She begins to give praise and one of the lines is quite interesting. She says:

"I bless the Great Cherub of Light, who dwelt in my womb."

I do not believe that Jesus was described as that before. I like it! After her praises, she shows the apostles around and explains what needs to be done for the next few days until her time of dormition.

The next several pages has Peter preaching to the people there. There are a few occasions where he goes on with parables, one about the kingdom of heaven is like a virgin (kind of got “Gospel of Thomas” vibes on some of these). Eventually this leads to the time of Mary’s departure. Peter sat by her head, John at her feet, and the rest of the apostles encircled her. Then a sweet, pleasant smell, (like the odor of Paradise) filled the room and everyone fell asleep except for the virgins, as they would stay awake to witness the funeral.

Jesus arrived on a cloud with a multitude of angels. He entered the chamber where Mary was, while the angels remained outside singing. Mary embraced him and began to speak. After she was done, Jesus took her soul and placed it in Michael’s hands, which was then wrapped with a garment. This was the description of her spirit:

 And the apostles saw Mary's spirit as it was given into Michael's hands: a perfect form, but its body was both male and female, and nevertheless one, being similar to every body and seven times white.

Jesus instructs Peter on where to take Mary’s body and soon they (the apostles, the crowd that was there, Jesus and his angels) began a funeral procession. During this, John had handed Peter the sacred book that Mary had given him earlier.

During this procession, the group were singing and this caused quite a stir in town and the high priests heard this. When they found out that Mary had left her body and the apostles were there as well, Satan had entered their hearts with the mission of killing the apostles and burning Mary’s body. The priests picked up spears and other weapons to attack the procession when angels came out of the clouds and caused hallucinations among the priests before smashing their heads into walls!! They weren’t playing around! One of the priests was able to get away from the chaos and grab a hold of the bier (which held Mary’s body) to throw it to the ground. But as soon as his hands grabbed it, his hands were ripped from his arms and stayed clinging to the bier!!

To be continued to part 3….

If you want to read the actual translation in full, pick up Stephen J. Shoemaker’s book Ancient Traditions of the Virgin Mary’s Dormition and Assumption. It’s an expensive purchase, but features 6 apocrypha of the dormition as well as an extensive background of these traditions. Well worth the money!

The Book of Mary’s Repose (1 of 3)

I have read some oddball apocrypha texts but this may be one of the strangest. Being quite fond of the Theotokos, I’ve been tracking down some apocrypha relating to her as of late. While watching the below video, it mentioned a text that included Gnostic elements! I have time stamped the video, so check it out real quick.

Wow, a text in which Jesus tells his mother of secret knowledge to bypass the rulers of the world! So I had to track down this text and see what it’s all about. Searching online, I did not find it at all, just articles talking about it. So I had to break down and purchase the $70 paperback book Ancient Traditions of the Virgin Mary’s Dormition and Assumption by Stephen J. Shoemaker. This is the only easily accessible way to read an English translation of the text.

This text, which also goes under the name “Liber Requiei Mariae”, survives in Ethiopic Ge’ez, but also in various fragments from various different languages. In this aspect, it’s quite popular due to the amount of evidence that survives. So why does this text not get spoken of much, and if it has Gnostic elements, why does it not get included in the numerous “Gnostic” collection books that seem to populate various online book stores?

The translation of this text contains the full Ge’ez to English translation, but also where other fragments survive, the text goes into two columns and has the Ge’ez to English on one side, and the other fragment translation to the right. I love this! I wish more translations did this. Here is my summary of the text, which will be split into three separate blog posts.

The beginning of the text has an angel appearing to (Mother) Mary with a book that she is to give to the apostles, so they could read it to her and upon the third day, she will leave her body. Mary asks the angel for it’s name, but the angel tells her that she must go to the Mount of Olives to hear his name, because if his name is mentioned there, the whole city of Jerusalem would be destroyed due to the power of the name. So she obliges and goes to the Mount of Olives with the book in her hands. When she arrives at the top of the mountain, all the trees inclined their heads and venerated the book she is holding. Mary then knew that the angel was Jesus. He states why the trees did this and the power that comes from him.

Now the story goes into flashback mode (which happens quite a few times) and Jesus speaks to his mother of a childhood memory. It involved them, along with Joseph, when they were in Egypt, when they could not find any food and Joseph begins to complain about having to leave his seven children behind (the Georgian language fragment states three sons, but the Ge’ez translation states seven children), but the surprising complaint is that he questions Mary’s Chasity. He even questions himself that perhaps he was drunk and had intercourse with Mary but then recalls he was only with Mary five months prior to her giving birth. Joseph eventually states that the child had to come from the Holy Spirit and he calms down from his ranting. This was quite the interesting conversation to be presented in the text!

The next two pages involves child Jesus speaking to a date-palm to lower it’s head so they may eat the fruit from it. Yes, another example of plants behaving out of the ordinary. The story goes back to it’s present setting and Jesus explaining to his mother of what will happen in the near future regarding her bodily death and ascension into paradise. Now this part does speak of her body remaining intact and being taken to paradise to remain there until the last day, in which it will then be resurrected. So in that aspect, it stays true with the typical Christian mythology in regards to the body. Gnostic tradition would shed the body without second thought.

The next part of the text involves Jesus telling Mary of secret prayers that must be said to ascend. Here are some examples of the text:

Mary, know from where the prayer has come and what it is, as you will need to observe it with every world. And even if a person has gained the whole world, and he has been abandoned to the beast with the body of a lion and the tail of a snake, what is his profit? And even if he is wise and richer than the whole world, and he has been abandoned to the monsters, will he not forfeit all of his possessions, even his body? Truly it is thus, Mary; for it is not possible to pass by the beast with the body of a lion and the tail of a snake, so as to pass through every world, because of the hatred of Satan, which he has brought on everyone. But, the one who understands this completely will give all his possessions in order to save his body.

This paragraph is obviously alluding to the demiurge, though the text never specifically refers to Yaldabaoth. The next page does make a reference to “The Ruler [Archon]” creating Adam, similar to the Apocryphon of John story. I do find it interesting this pops up in the text however. Unfortunately no mention of what the secret prayer(s) are.

The apostles enter the story and they beseech of Jesus to the prayer/repentance of a thief that was among them. Jesus does not comply and goes into a lesson with the apostles involving a visual parable involving trees (again with the plants! lol). The apostles don’t understand the lesson at first and get angry but eventually get it once it is explained to them.

After this lesson, Jesus tells his mother to give the sign to the apostles so they will tell of the mystery to those who believe. He goes into a story about how he is the “third that was created, and I am not the Son; there is no one greater than me.” He also mentions that he is the one who destroyed every firstborn of Egypt because of the great evil that was in them! This is referring to the Exodus story. A back story is given to this reasoning. One of the Israelites named Eleazar became ill and did not show up to work. An overseer came to visit him and ask why he had not come to work. Eleazar did not answer so the overseer went to the Pharaoh to ask what to do. The Pharaoh did not have any pity for the man and demanded that the man’s wife take his place. By doing this, it will also set a precedent among the others that the work will get done regardless. The overseer went to Eleazar’s house and seized his wife, Rachel, and brought her to the brick works. She was beaten to near death and then forced to work. The woman was pregnant and almost due. However, the overseer had no patience for her wanting to rest from her laboring in the brick works. She was forced to get back to work and during all this, she gave birth to twins. The first born child had died during this incident and Rachel prayed to God regarding this situation. Jesus was the one who responded to her promising for the firstborns of Egypt to meet the same fate.

And just as they caused your infants to fall, I will make their infants fall similarly. Thus I will make you see the Egyptians when their firstborn are made to fall from their mothers’ wombs. And now, Rachel, arise and do your work; for God has sent me to exact a blood vengeance for you.

After this story, it is also mentioned that Jesus was the one who went into Sodom to save Lot and destroy his wife. He is also the one who caused Joseph’s bones to be found, which the Pharaoh had hidden. This story goes on a bit before Jesus finally ends with him telling Mary that his name is “Adonai’el”. He hands her a book and tells her to give the apostles his name, before turning into pure light and ascending to heaven.

The strangeness will continue in part 2!

The Unknowable Monad

One of the questions I see in social media groups about Gnosticism regard “God” and what it is like.  Various Gnostic texts explain that the supreme “God” is unknowable.  Actually, they specifically describe what this supreme Monad is not, and usually in great deal.  I think it’s quite ridiculous that humans think they can describe what “God” is.  We may think we have an idea and like to attribute some characteristics to this entity, but really, we have no idea.  Is it just a collective consciousness?  Is it a literal entity (with a beard? LOL).  Personally I like the collective consciousness theory but I will be the first to admit that I could be totally wrong.  I really have no idea.  So when a religious institute tells me what the supreme God is, I just shake my head.  Now we all are aspects of the divine Monad, so in that regard, we can experience the divine that way and sort of help us understand somewhat.  This also goes with the notion of knowing the Father is to know the Son, and through the Son, one knows the Father.  Yes, an aspect, but this still does not answer the question of what “God” is.  Some will say “Love”, and yes, that’s an aspect, but not All.  

I like to show some examples from various Gnostic texts regarding the Monad.  Some of these can be a bit lengthy.

This section is from the Tripartite Tractate:

2. The Father

He existed before anything other than himself came into being. The Father is a single one, like a number, for he is the first one and the one who is only himself. Yet he is not like a solitary individual. Otherwise, how could he be a father? For whenever there is a "father," the name "son" follows. But the single one, who alone is the Father, is like a root, with tree, branches and fruit. It is said of him that he is a father in the proper sense, since he is inimitable and immutable. Because of this, he is single in the proper sense, and is a god, because no one is a god for him nor is anyone a father to him. For he is unbegotten, and there is no other who begot him, nor another who created him. For whoever is someone's father or his creator, he, too, has a father and creator. It is certainly possible for him to be father and creator of the one who came into being from him and the one whom he created, for he is not a father in the proper sense, nor a god, because he has someone who begot him and who created him. It is, then, only the Father and God in the proper sense that no one else begot. As for the Totalities, he is the one who begot them and created them. He is without beginning and without end.

Not only is he without end - He is immortal for this reason, that he is unbegotten - but he is also invariable in his eternal existence, in his identity, in that by which he is established, and in that by which he is great. Neither will he remove himself from that by which he is, nor will anyone else force him to produce an end which he has not ever desired. He has not had anyone who initiated his own existence. Thus, he is himself unchanged, and no one else can remove him from his existence and his identity, that in which he is, and his greatness, so that he cannot be grasped; nor is it possible for anyone else to change him into a different form, or to reduce him, or alter him or diminish him, - since this is so in the fullest sense of the truth - who is the unalterable, immutable one, with immutability clothing him.

Not only is he the one called "without a beginning" and "without an end," because he is unbegotten and immortal; but just as he has no beginning and no end as he is, he is unattainable in his greatness, inscrutable in his wisdom, incomprehensible in his power, and unfathomable in his sweetness.

In the proper sense, he alone - the good, the unbegotten Father, and the complete perfect one - is the one filled with all his offspring, and with every virtue, and with everything of value. And he has more, that is, lack of any malice, in order that it may be discovered that whoever has anything is indebted to him, because he gives it, being himself unreachable and unwearied by that which he gives, since he is wealthy in the gifts which he bestows, and at rest in the favors which he grants.

He is of such a kind and form and great magnitude that no one else has been with him from the beginning; nor is there a place in which he is, or from which he has come forth, or into which he will go; nor is there a primordial form, which he uses as a model as he works; nor is there any difficulty which accompanies him in what he does; nor is there any material which is at his disposal, from which <he> creates what he creates; nor any substance within him from which he begets what he begets; nor a co-worker with him, working with him on the things at which he works. To say anything of this sort is ignorant. Rather, (one should speak of him) as good, faultless, perfect, complete, being himself the Totality.

Not one of the names which are conceived or spoken, seen or grasped - not one of them applies to him, even though they are exceedingly glorious, magnifying and honored. However, it is possible to utter these names for his glory and honor, in accordance with the capacity of each of those who give him glory. Yet as for him, in his own existence, being and form, it is impossible for mind to conceive him, nor can any speech convey him, nor can any eye see him, nor can any body grasp him, because of his inscrutable greatness, and his incomprehensible depth, and his immeasurable height, and his illimitable will. This is the nature of the unbegotten one, which does not touch anything else; nor is it joined (to anything) in the manner of something which is limited. Rather, he possesses this constitution, without having a face or a form, things which are understood through perception, whence also comes (the epithet) "the incomprehensible. If he is incomprehensible, then it follows that he is unknowable, that he is the one who is inconceivable by any thought, invisible by any thing, ineffable by any word, untouchable by any hand. He alone is the one who knows himself as he is, along with his form and his greatness and his magnitude. And since he has the ability to conceive of himself, to see himself, to name himself, to comprehend himself, he alone is the one who is his own mind, his own eye, his own mouth, his own form, and he is what he thinks, what he sees, what he speaks, what he grasps, himself, the one who is inconceivable, ineffable, incomprehensible, immutable, while sustaining, joyous, true, delightful, and restful is that which he conceives, that which he sees, that about which he speaks, that which he has as thought. He transcends all wisdom, and is above all intellect, and is above all glory, and is above all beauty, and all sweetness, and all greatness, and any depth and any height.

If this one, who is unknowable in his nature, to whom pertain all the greatnesses which I already mentioned - if, out of the abundance of his sweetness, he wishes to grant knowledge, so that he might be known, he has the ability to do so. He has his Power, which is his will. Now, however, in silence he himself holds back, he who is the great one, who is the cause of bringing the Totalities into their eternal being.

It is in the proper sense that he begets himself as ineffable, since he alone is self-begotten, since he conceives of himself, and since he knows himself as he is. What is worthy of his admiration and glory and honor and praise, he produces because of the boundlessness of his greatness, and the unsearchability of his wisdom, and the immeasurability of his power, and his untasteable sweetness. He is the one who projects himself thus, as generation, having glory and honor marvelous and lovely; the one who glorifies himself, who marvels, <who> honors, who also loves; the one who has a Son, who subsists in him, who is silent concerning him, who is the ineffable one in the ineffable one, the invisible one, the incomprehensible one, the inconceivable one in the inconceivable one. Thus, he exists in him forever. The Father, in the way we mentioned earlier, in an unbegotten way, is the one in whom he knows himself, who begot him having a thought, which is the thought of him, that is, the perception of him, which is the [...] of his constitution forever. That is, however, in the proper sense, the silence and the wisdom and the grace, if it is designated properly in this way.

http://gnosis.org/naghamm/tripart.htm

This section is from Eugnostos the Blessed:

He-Who-Is is ineffable. No principle knew him, no authority, no subjection, nor any creature from the foundation of the world, except he alone. For he is immortal and eternal, having no birth; for everyone who has birth will perish. He is unbegotten, having no beginning; for everyone who has a beginning has an end. No one rules over him. He has no name; for whoever has a name is the creation of another. He is unnameable. He has no human form; for whoever has human form is the creation of another. He has his own semblance - not like the semblance we have received and seen, but a strange semblance that surpasses all things and is better than the totalities. It looks to every side and sees itself from itself. He is infinite; he is incomprehensible. He is ever imperishable (and) has no likeness (to anything). He is unchanging good. He is faultless. He is everlasting. He is blessed. He is unknowable, while he (nonetheless) knows himself. He is immeasurable. He is untraceable. He is perfect, having no defect. He is imperishably blessed. He is called 'Father of the Universe'.

http://www.gnosis.org/naghamm/eugn.html 

This section is from Allogenes: The Foreigner:

The Triple Powered One

He [exists] as an invisible One, unattainable for them all.
He contains them all within [himself], for [they] all exist because [of] [him].
He is perfect and [greater] than perfect.
And he is blessed, since he [is] always one.
And [he] exists [in] them all,
being ineffable, unnamable,
being [one] who exists through them all

--he whom, [should] one intelligize him, one [would not desire] anything that
[exists] before him among those [that possess] existence--

for [he] is the  [from which they were all emitted].

[He is prior to Perfection];
[he was prior] [to every] Divinity, [and]
he is prior [to] every Blessedness,
since he provides for every power.

And he is an insubstantial substance,
a God over whom there is no Divinity,
the surpasser of his own greatness and <beauty>.

http://www.gnosis.org/naghamm/allogenes-jdt.html 

This section is from the Gospel of the Egyptians:

The holy book of the Egyptians about the great invisible Spirit, the Father whose name cannot be uttered, he who came forth from the heights of the perfection, the light of the light of the aeons of light, the light of the silence of the providence <and> the Father of the silence, the light of the word and the truth, the light of the incorruptions, the infinite light, the radiance from the aeons of light of the unrevealable, unmarked, ageless, unproclaimable Father, the aeon of the aeons, Autogenes, self-begotten, self-producing, alien, the really true aeon.

http://gnosis.org/naghamm/goseqypt.html

This section is from Mansanes:

But after all of these things, I am seeking the kingdom of the Three-Powered One, which has no beginning. Whence did he appear and act to fill the entire place with his power? And in what way did the unbegotten ones come into existence, since they were not begotten? And what are the differences among the aeons? And as for those who are unbegotten, how many are they? And in what respect do they differ from each other?

When I had inquired about these things, I perceived that he had worked from silence. He exists from the beginning among those that truly exist, that belong to the One who exists. There is another, existing from the beginning, belonging to the One who works within the Silent One. And the silence [...] him works. For as much as this one [...], that one works from the silence which belongs to the Unbegotten One among the aeons, and from the beginning he does not have being. But the energy of that One <is> the Three-Powered One, the One unbegotten before the Aeon, not having being. And it is possible to behold the supremacy of the silence of the Silent One, i.e., the supremacy of the energy of the Three-Powered. And the One who exists, who is silent, who is above the heaven [...], revealed the Three-Powered, First-Perfect One.

http://gnosis.org/naghamm/marsanes.html

From the Untitled Text (from the Bruce Codex):

He set him up so that they should strive against the city in which was their image. And it is in that they move, and in it that they live. And it is the house of the Father, and the garment of the Son, and the power of the Mother, and the image of the Pleroma. This is the First Father of the All. This is the first eternity. This is the king of unassailables. This is he in whom the All is unconscious. This is he who gave form to it within himself. This is the self-originated and self-begotten place. This is the deep of the All, this is the great abyss, in truth. This is he to whom the All reached. There was silence concerning him. He was not spoken of, for he is an ineffable one, he cannot be understood. This is the first source. This is he whose voice has penetrated everywhere. This is the first sound until the All perceived and understood. This is he whose members make a myriad myriad powers to each of them.

http://gnosis.org/library/untitl.htm

This section is from the First Apocalypse of James:

Nothing existed except Him-who-is. He is unnameable and ineffable. I myself am also unnameable, from Him-who-is, just as I have been given a number of names - two from Him-who-is. And I, I am before you.

http://www.gnosis.org/naghamm/1ja.html

There are more examples, but you get the idea!