Blessings and wingwhispers, Pi!!
I'd like to start with the fact that the ancient Gnostics didn't call
themselves 'gnostic' and even their enemies in the Church of Rome
didn't refer to them as gnostic, but rather as heretics and I even
saw a reference to the Cathars as "Manichees". So Gnosticism as a
term hasn't been around as long as the texts that are dubbed gnostic
have. But the belief systems go back much farther than 1966, and the
congress you mentioned I seriously doubt had any 'gnostics' on the
panel. And as far as it being for the intellectually superior part, I
think many have the idea that gnostics, manicheans and the like had
to be from higher social classes and such but I think that had to do
more with the constant suppression of the truth by 'authorities' and
sometimes the only way you could be in dissent of orthodoxy is when
you can hide behind land and title. That, of course, didn't stop the
Roman Church as it became a means to an end.
I would therefore perhaps call gnosticism as classification rather
than phenomenon, but that is me.
I totally understand your dilemma in finding flesh and blood, living
examples of an obscure and possibly extinct belief system. When I
first began my path, and read the texts, I found out quickly that no
one I could speak with knew anything about gnostics. So I took my
search to cyberspace. I began to research more and discovered the
Cathars (Albegesians) and I am still rabid in my consuption on that
subject. (Now wether the Cathars had connections to the ancient
Gnostics would be a subject of some debate, I'm sure.) Then I come to
discover the "Neo-Gnostics" perhaps would be the best term to
describe them. The Eglise Gnostique was established by Jules Doinel
who had a mystical experience during a time of researching the
Cathars in 1890 that he was to recreate, or create, as it were, the
assembly that once held the gnostic beliefs. This is still a
fundementally sound organization, as far as their belief system as
far as I could tell, and this could be one connection to a stream
that has survived despite the very successful efforts of the Roman
Catholic Church. Did you know, btw, that the Inquision was
established to deal with the Cathar 'problem?'
There is also the Ecclesia Gnostica, but I won't go into a discourse
on that yet as I believe there are those on this forum that could
provide much better info than I. Both can be found via the Internet.
I also enjoy discourse with the Sophian Fellowship, led by Tau
Malachi, which is the Sophian Tradition that has some very deep
roots, and I believe Tau Malachi to be a modern mystic. This is, of
course, my own opinion. This group can also be found on the Net. And
there is always the Rosecreutians and Knights Templar that can draw
some lines to gnostics.
I have never personally had the problems with the mythology and
cosmolgy, it was actually the first thing that made spiritual sense
to me and 'struck a chord' somewhere deep. (Perhaps I have the ears
to hear?) A bit overwhelming, perhaps, but so is the universe if I
attempt to conceive it in its entirity. It is a complex system that
shows us simple truths. Like the universe itself. And there would be
pettyness and drama in the stories, as it is an accurate description
of the manifestations of the ignorance embodied in the Demiurge.
Now when you use the word 'dogma'is it in the sense of having a
belief system, or is it the sense of someone aggressively pushing
thier views on another? If you mean that they were aggressive, I
have found that if that were the case, perhaps they would have won at
the Niocean Council and not those who later promoted orthodoxy. The
Cathars were also never known to proselyse. Dogma does not florish
in societies that value secret knowledge and initiations. The
gnostic saying is "those who know don't tell, and those who tell
I also don't think you will find the gnostics promoted guilt-quite
the contrary, the 'Fall' as orthodoxy would show is not comprehended
that way in a gnostic system. Adam was 'set up' in the first place,
and if any guilt need be laid it would be laid on the Demiurge. So
mankind in the gnostic sense would not be seen as
having 'transgressed' into the realm of God. For one thing, the
gnostics had many names, Monad, the Entirity, (I personally call it
Ain Sof or the One) but they did not call what they considered worth
worshipping as God. Unnameable, and if it had a name how could we
pronounce it when we are corruptable, how could mouths and tounges of
base matter give voice to the ineffiable? Just a thought.
The pleroma was transgressed upon, the Sophia was transgressed upon,
but the human species did not and has not transgressed. The
spirutual pull you mentioned is partly due to the dualism in our
nature, and what makes us able to achieve gnosis, whereas
other 'animals'cannot. The very thing that is our weakness can also
be out greatest strength.
I doubt if the tensions between you and the ancients goes both
Love and inner peas
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org
> The word "gnostic" is plagued with imprecision. The congress
> in Messina in 1966 defined "gnosis" as knowledge of the divine
> mysteries reserved for an intellectual elite; whereas "gnosticism"
> specific historical phenonenon. The problem, however is these
> definitions are ad hoc and don't spring up organically. We're
> a group of people without understanding how they saw themselves. In
> effect, by claiming to be a gnostic, I'm claiming that clothes
> made to fit someone else will also fit me.
> Well; in what sense then am I a gnostic? I've been reading
> the so-called Saphardic Jews living in the Iberian peninsula during
> 15th century. As the petty kingdoms of Spain began to unite, they
> put the squeeze on their Jewish populations. Jews were told to
> convert to Christianity or else get out. Those who did convert
> eventually left anyway because the Inquisition never trusted their
> Many of the "Christianized" Jews who immigrated from Spain and
> Portugal ended up in Amsterdam. For the most part, they couldn't
> Hebrew and had a skewed understanding of what it meant to be
> Essentually, they faced the same dilimma as I do: how does one
> a religion without flesh-and-blood examples to go by? While the
> Amsterdam were able to consult established cummunities elsewhere,
> as those in Vienna, the practical problem is similiar.
> The Jews who wanted to repatriate with Eretz Israel of course
> baggage. There were theological as well as social barriers between
> and the established community of Judaism. The problem wasn't as
> though as say, repenting Christians wanting to return to the fold.
> Historically, Judaism is more tolerent of heterodoxy than is
> The same is true of gnosticism. Although many gnostic teachers
> were indeed dogmatic, their core beliefs are not. Ironically, the
> of Amsterdam regained their Jewish identity through the on-going
> tensions with the larger community. Those "tensions" were, in
> dialogue. It's this paradigm which I claim allows me to
> claim to be a gnostic.
> Many gnostic embellishments are alien to me; some are down-
> bizarre. Yet, although being alien they continue to speak, albeit
> strange accents. Frankly, I just don't get much of what they say.
> example: different systems describe the machinations of various
> plotting to steal the purity of the supreme god. There's just so
> surreal and sometimes petty drama. While the specifics do seem
> arbitrary, however the message itself is pretty clear. Creation,
> by hubris aspires to be the creator. I also have stolen fire from
> gods; I warm myself with heat to which I have no right.
> The ancient gnostics knew humanity had transgressed the realm
> God. At the same time, they also knew humanity was ineluctably
> that realm. There's no clear line between guilt and entitlement.
> Knowing that is what makes me a gnostic. The superficial tensions
> between me and the ancient believers only make that knowledge more
> trenchant. And, after all, isn't knowledge what gnosis is all about?