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!

A Gnostic Hymn

I want to highlight a fragment that is in the Bruce Codex. To me, the Bruce Codex features some of the best Gnostic material available but it seemingly gets over looked by most people. With this post, I want to highlight the segment titled “Fragment of a Gnostic Hymn”. This is fragmented but still, as it is, it’s quite the interesting hymn. I have also linked to a youtube video that does a reading as well as the vowel chant. Yes, this hymn features vowel chanting, which is a trait among some Gnostic texts.

From Gnosis.org:

Hear me as I sing praises to thee, O Mystery who existed before every incomprehensible one and every endless one. Hear me as I sing praise to thee, O Mystery, who hast shone in thy mystery, so that the mystery which exists from the beginning should be completed. And when thou didst shine, thou didst become water of the ocean whose imperishable name is this :

[AHZA]

Hear me as I sing praises to thee, O Mystery who existest before every incomprehensible one and every endless one, who hast shone in thy mystery. The earth in the middle of the ocean was purified, of which the incomprehensible name is this:

[AHZAE]

Hear me as I sing praises to thee, O Mystery who existest before every incomprehensible one and every endless one, who hast shone in thy mystery. All the powerful matter of the ocean which is the sea, with every kind within it, was purified, of which the incomprehensible name is this:

[AHZAHE]

Hear me as I sing praises to thee, O Mystery who existest before every incomprehensible one and every endless one, who hast shone in thy mystery. And as thou didst shine, thou didst seal the sea and all things in it, because of the power within them rebelled, of which the incomprehensible name is this:

[.......]

Hear me as I sing praises to thee, O Mystery who existest before every incomprehensible one . . .

Here is the youtube video link. If you enjoy that audio clip, I recommend checking out the entire video as the author of that clip did other Gnostic vowel chanting from various texts.

The Black Madonna of the St. Meinrad Archabbey

This entry is a bit different than ones I have done in the past. This is in regards to my experience with the Black Madonna that stands in the St. Meinrad, Indiana archabbey.

Inside the St. Meinrad archabbey

The summer of 2021, I had a pretty rough time with my job. I work in management and had to deal with a lot of stressful issues that had not appeared before in my 17 years of working at this place. It almost broke me. One day after work, I decided to just take a drive. To get away from everything. I have lived here in Southern Indiana for most of my life, minus a few years, and thought I knew the area pretty well, but there was a stretch of highway I never travelled before, or if I did, I did not take note. It’s one of those “lost highways” that no longer serves much of a purpose since the interstate runs parallel to it. But my sense of exploration took hold, so I went down this road. One of the first things I saw that caught my eye was the “Mary Help of Christians” Catholic Church in Mariah Hill, Indiana. I stopped by and admired it’s architecture and the grounds. I did not step inside at that time (I did at a later date and it’s a beautiful church), but this stop inspired me. Remembering there is a monastery in the area, I decided to keep driving and went to St. Meinrad, Indiana.

Saint Meinrad, Indiana is a small town with just a few hundred people living there but is home to one of a few Catholic archabbeys in the world. My first stop in town was to the Monte Cassino shrine Chapel that sits on the outskirts of town. It is such a beautiful chapel (see below).

Monte Cassino shrine Chapel

Built around 150 years ago, this chapel made of local sandstone, is dedicated to Mary and inside the chapel features artwork covering the walls and ceiling. It felt like I just stepped back in time to somewhere in Europe. Truly amazing and I could not believe it was here, in Southern Indiana, just 30 minutes away from my house.

Now this was truly inspiring! Just a side note, ever since this visit, I come to this chapel every week for meditation, reading and prayer practice. It has become a weekly spiritual pilgrimage for me. Now I had to go see the monastery! So I went back into town and found the entrance to the monastery, and WOW, what a sight it was to behold!

St Meinrad Archabbey

Seeing this from the drive way to the grounds was breath taking. You simply do not see buildings like this in the area. I was in awe.

The archabbey serves as a monastery, an educational school as well as a spiritual retreat. I am not going to show pictures of the entire area, but a quick google search will give you a glimpse. On my first initial visit, I just checked out the cathedral that was there. I had quite the feeling walking up to this place. I am a huge fan of architecture, so this was quite the thrill. Once I went into the cathedral, there was a deafening silence. It was so, so quiet. Beautiful I tell you! The cathedral has stained glass everywhere and when the light comes in, it just lights up the place. Artwork is presented in different areas. I had never seen anything like this before. Talk about sensory overload! While walking around, I came upon her……The Black Madonna.

the Shrine of Our Lady of Einsiedeln

I have heard of Black Madonnas but never realized there was one just down the road from where I live. Now this particular statue is actually a reproduction of the Lady of Einsiedeln. The St. Meinrad archabbey is a sister monastery to the one where the original statue is. But still, what a sight to behold. I know there are a lot of theories and speculation on what the Black Madonna means, and this particular one has played a role in my spiritual path, but I’ll save that discussion for another time.

Dressed up for special times during the year

After this special visit in the summer of 2021, I now travel to the monastery grounds every week. I visit the chapel for sure, and the cathedral I visit every once in awhile (it’s a long walk up to it from the parking lot, and when there is ice and snow on the ground, that can be quite the venture, lol). The grounds also feature various other shrines (a few dedicated to Mary) as well as artwork on various walls in other places. There is also a gift shop that features quite a bit of nice stuff including icons, books, statues, prayer cards, artwork, baked goods, etc… I really recommend everyone stopping by if you are in the area. I have posted an url to their website for those interested:

https://www.saintmeinrad.org

This off the cuff trip to these places inspired me to do more and ever since then, I go around seeking other churches and temples (Buddhist) to visit. I even got the chance to tour an Eastern Orthodox church in Louisville which was just as inspiring as this original trip was (I didn’t take pictures on that visit, but my love of icons skyrocketed because of that church visit). I also view these trips as homework, as I hope to one day have such a place for those who follow the gnostic path such as myself.

-bP

Simon Magus’ “The Great Announcement”

To continue on my Simon Magus postings, this particular entry includes the only writing attributed to Simon himself! It survives in fragmented form thanks to Hippolytus in the book “Philosophumena“, aka “Refutations of All Heresies.”

The following is the collection of sayings that G.R.S Mead put together for his book “Simon Magus: The Gnostic Magician.”

To you, therefore, I say what I say, and write what I write. And the writing is this.

Of the universal Aeons there are two shoots, without beginning or end, springing from one Root, which is the Power invisible, inapprehensible Silence. Of these shoots one is manifested from above, which is the Great Power, the Universal Mind ordering all things, male, and the other, (is manifested) from below, the Great Thought, female, producing all things.

Hence pairing with each other, they unite and manifest the Middle Distance, incomprehensible Air, without beginning or end. In this is the Father who sustains all things, and nourishes those things which have a beginning and end.

This is He who has stood, stands and will stand, a male-female power like the pre-existing Boundless Power, which has neither beginning nor end, existing in oneness. For it is from this that the Thought in the oneness proceeded and became two.

So he was one; for having her in himself, he was alone, not however first, although pre-existing, but being manifested from himself to himself, he became second. Nor was he called Father before (Thought) called him Father.

As, therefore, producing himself by himself, he manifested to himself his own Thought, so also the Thought that was manifested did not make the Father, but contemplating him hid him—that is to say the Power—in herself, and is male-female, Power and Thought.

Hence they pair with each other being one, for there is no difference between Power and Thought. From the things above is discovered Power, and from those below Thought.

In the same manner also that which was manifested from them although being one is yet found as two, the male-female having the female in itself. Thus Mind is in Thought—things inseparable from one another—which although being one are yet found as two.

The tomb inscription of Flavia Sophe

This artifact is an interesting piece. It is a tomb inscription of a woman by the name of Flavia Sophe. This stone dates back to the third century and what is written by her husband, is quite beautiful. A really good example of Valentinian poetry. There is writing on the front and back of the stone (what is pictured is the front). This particular translation comes from the book Valentinian Christianity: Texts and Translations by Geoffrey S. Smith, which takes it from the Peter Lampe’s book From Paul to Valentinus: Christians at Rome in the First Two Centuries.

Front:
Yearning for the fatherly light, my sister and wife, Sophe,
Anointed in the baths of Christ with perfume unfading, pure,
You were eager to behold the divine countenances of the eternities,
The great angel of the mighty council, the true Son,
Processing [into] the bridal chamber and ascending into the fatherly chambers
Undefiled and [. . . you were crowned].

Back:
She experienced no common end of life, this woman who died;
She died, yet she lives, and sees the truly unfading light;
She lives among those who live, but she died to those who are in reality dead.
Earth, why are you amazed by a corpse of this sort? Are you afraid?

Andrew Phillip Smith did his own version of the front inscription, using a few translations and came up with this particular verse:

You were filled with longing for the father’s light,
My sister, my spouse, my Sophe.
Now, anointed with holy immortal chrism in the baths of Christ,
Be quick to view the divine faces of the aeons,
The great angel of the great council, the true Son.
You made your way into the bridal chamber and made an undying ascent
Into the breast of the Father.

You can visit his blog at: http://www.andrewphillipsmith.com/uncategorized/the-tomb-inscription-of-flavia-sophe/

More Sayings from Simon Magus

“I am the first power, who am always, and without beginning. But having entered the womb of Rachel, I was born of her as a man, that I might be visible to men. I have flown through the air; I have been mixed with fire, and been made one body with it; I have made statues to move; I have animated lifeless things; I have made stones bread; I have flown from mountain to mountain; I have moved from place to place, upheld by angels’ hands, and have lighted on the earth. Not only have I done these things; but even now I am able to do them, that by facts I may prove to all, that I am the Son of God, enduring to eternity, and that I can make those who believe on me endure in like manner for ever. But your words are all vain; nor can you perform any real works such as I have now mentioned, as he also who sent you is a magician, who yet could not deliver himself from the suffering of the cross.” Simon Magus, from book 3 of The Recognitions of Clement.

Now those are some claims that Simon is putting forth there! Below are some more book 3 quotes from Simon Magus:

"If the Creator is good, and the world is good, how shall He who is good ever destroy that which is good? But if He shall destroy that which is good, how shall He Himself be thought to be good? But if He shall dissolve and destroy it as evil, how shall He not appear to be evil, who has made that which is evil? "
"It does not seem to me that the heaven, which has been made by God, can be dissolved. For things made by the Eternal One are eternal, while things made by a corruptible one are temporary and decaying."

Below is an interesting story involving Simon flying. Yes, flying, which then leads to his death. This is an exchange between Simon, Paul, Peter and Emperor Nero. This comes from the text The Acts of Peter and Paul:

Simon said: "Listen, O Cæsar Nero, that you may know that these men are liars, and that I have been sent from the heavens: tomorrow I go up into the heavens, that I may make those who believe in me blessed, and show my wrath upon those who have denied me."

Peter and Paul said: "Us long ago God called to His own glory; but you, called by the devil, hasten to punishment." 

Simon said: "Cæsar Nero, listen to me. Separate these madmen from you, in order that when I go into heaven to my father, I may be very merciful to you." 

Nero said: "And whence shall we prove this, that you go away into heaven?"

Simon said: "Order a lofty tower to be made of wood, and of great beams, that I may go up upon it, and that my angels may find me in the air; for they cannot come to me upon earth among the sinners." 

Nero said: "I will see whether you will fulfil what you say."

Then Nero ordered a lofty tower to be made in the Campus Martius, and all the people and the dignities to be present at the spectacle. And on the following day, all the multitude having come together, Nero ordered Peter and Paul to be present, to whom also he said: Now the truth has to be made manifest. 

Peter and Paul said: "We do not expose him, but our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, whom he has falsely declared himself to be."

And Paul, having turned to Peter, said: "It is my part to bend the knee, and to pray to God; and yours to produce the effect, if you should see him attempting anything, because you were first taken in hand by the Lord." 

And Paul, bending his knees, prayed. And Peter, looking steadfastly upon Simon, said: "Accomplish what you have begun; for both your exposure and our call is at hand: for I see my Christ calling both me and Paul." 

Nero said: "And where will you go to against my will?" 

Peter said: "Whithersoever our Lord has called us."

Nero said: "And who is your lord?" 

Peter said: "Jesus the Christ, whom I see calling us to Himself." 

Nero said: "Do you also then intend to go away to heaven?" 

Peter said: "If it shall seem good to Him that calls us." 

Simon said: "In order that you may know, O emperor, that these are deceivers, as soon as ever I ascend into heaven, I will send my angels to you, and will make you come to me." 

Nero said: "Do at once what you say."

Then Simon went up upon the tower in the face of all, and, crowned with laurels, he stretched forth his hands, and began to fly. And when Nero saw him flying, he said to Peter: "This Simon is true; but you and Paul are deceivers." 

To whom Peter said: "Immediately shall you know that we are true disciples of Christ; but that he is not Christ, but a magician, and a malefactor." 

Nero said: "Do you still persist? Behold, you see him going up into heaven." 

Then Peter, looking steadfastly upon Paul, said: "Paul, look up and see." 

And Paul, having looked up, full of tears, and seeing Simon flying, said: "Peter, why are you idle? Finish what you have begun; for already our Lord Jesus Christ is calling us." 

And Nero hearing them, smiled a little, and said: "These men see themselves worsted already, and are gone mad."

Peter said: "Now you shall know that we are not mad." 

Paul said to Peter: "Do at once what you do."

And Peter, looking steadfastly against Simon, said: "I adjure you, you angels of Satan, who are carrying him into the air, to deceive the hearts of the unbelievers, by the God that created all things, and by Jesus Christ, whom on the third day He raised from the dead, no longer from this hour to keep him up, but to let him go." 

And immediately, being let go, he fell into a place called Sacra Via, that is, Holy Way, and was divided into four parts, having perished by an evil fate.

A lot of the texts that involve Simon Magus are usually dialogues / debates between him and Peter. If twitter existed back then, they would be constantly trolling each other, lol. I’ve accumulated quite a bit of Simon from various sources and will post more about him in the future. He’s quite an interesting fella.

The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ

Recently I read the 1894 book, “The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ” by Nikolai Aleksandrovich Notovich, that was supposedly to contain a translation of a Buddhist text about Issa (Jesus) traveling to the East. Scholars believe this book to be complete BS. Supposedly this text existed at a monastery and the author claimed to have someone read it to him (since he couldn’t read it himself) and he wrote down what the texts said. Now there are some differences in what is presented and what is in the “canon”, most noticeably that in this version, it is Pilate who wants Issa killed, and even after the death of Issa, it was Pilate’s men who took the body after it was in the tomb that unintentionally made others to believe the body was resurrected. Whoops! Even if the story is all fabricated, is there any wisdom to be found? When I read these types of texts, I rarely take any of it literally and not too concerned about the “historical accuracy” of them. But if there is some kind of gnosis that can be found, an universal truth if you will, then that’s what I am after. Well, I did find such in this text, particularly chapter XII, verses 9 through 21. This section has Issa talking about women and their role in the universe. I really like what he says. See below:

9. Then said Issa: "It is not good for a son to push away his mother, then he may occupy the place which belongs to her.  Whoso doth not respect his mother - the most sacred being after his God - is unworthy of the name of son."

10. "Hearken to what I say to you: Respect woman; for in her we see the mother of the universe, and all the truth of divine creation is to come through her."

11. "She is the fount of everything good and beautiful, as she is also the germ of life and death.  Upon her man depends in all his existence, for she is his moral and natural support in his labors"

12. "In pain and suffering she brings you forth; in the sweat of her brow she watches over your growth, and until her death you cause her greatest anxieties.  Bless her and adore her, for she is your only friend and support on earth."

13.  "Respect her; defend her.  In so doing you will gain for yourself her love; you will find favor before God, and for her sake many sins will be remitted to you."

14. "Love your wives and respect them, for they will be the mothers of tomorrow and later the grandmothers of a whole nation."

15. "Be submissive to the wife; her love ennobles man, softens his hardened heart, tames the wild beast in him and changes it to a lamb."

16. "Wife and mother are the priceless treasures which God has given to you.  They are the most beautiful ornaments of the universe, and from them will be born all who will inhabit the world."

17. "Even as the Lord of Hosts separated the light from the darkness, and the dry land from the waters, so does woman possess the divine gift of calling forth out of man's evil nature all the good that is in him."

18. "Therefore I say unto you, after God, to woman must belong your best thoughts, for she is the divine temple where you will most easily obtain perfect happiness."

19. "Draw from this temple your moral force.  There you will forget your sorrows and your failures, and recover the love necessary to aid your fellow men."

20. "Suffer her not to be humiliated, for by humiliating her you humiliate yourselves, and lose the sentiment of love, without which nothing can exist here on earth."

21. "Protect your wife, that she may protect you - you and all your household.  All that you do for your mothers, your wives, for a widow, or for any other woman in distress, you will do for your God."

Some good stuff there!

If you are curious about the book, it’s not too big. A little over 100 pages and most of the book is about the author’s travels in the area, and I must say, that was really interesting. I found that more intriguing than the “lost scripture” aspect. The book is an easy read and I noticed on youtube there are several “audiobook” versions if you prefer that route. Amazon has copies of modern reprints for very cheap. I picked up the version that has the cover picture that I have featured on this post.

bP