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Messalians

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  • Magusadeptus
    Hello PMCV, I decided to join your group. I am constantly encountering various gnostic groups in my reading and finding it increasingly difficult to sort
    Message 1 of 10 , Sep 29, 2003
      Hello PMCV,

      I decided to join your group. I am constantly encountering various
      gnostic groups in my reading and finding it increasingly difficult to
      sort through the numerous contradictions, as well as, the enmity
      toward heretical sects that is often present in articles on gnostics.
      I was wondering what could you tell me of the medieval Messalians? My
      searches yielded plenty regarding the earlier sect mentioned by
      Epiphanius, but almost nothing concerning these 11th century gnostics.

      Sincerely,
      Magusadeptus
    • pmcvflag
      Well, Magusadeptus, you may need to clarify for us. I have heard the name applied to Bogimils, but I don t get the impression that this is what you are talking
      Message 2 of 10 , Sep 29, 2003
        Well, Magusadeptus, you may need to clarify for us. I have heard the
        name applied to Bogimils, but I don't get the impression that this is
        what you are talking about. I know that Epihpanius talks about two
        different groups by that name (which he tries to draw together in
        some way I can't remember... but that sounds typical), but I guess
        niether of those groups are who you are talking about.

        In any event, I am aware of no medieval groups that I would say are
        technically "Gnostic" (with the possible exception of the Mandaeans,
        but the jury is still out on that one), and I am really not familiar
        with any Messalians besides the several different groups I already
        mentioned. Maybe some of the other founders here know something, or
        one of our many very knowledgable members can help.

        PMCV

        --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "Magusadeptus" <nwheeler@m...>
        wrote:
        > Hello PMCV,
        >
        > I decided to join your group. I am constantly encountering various
        > gnostic groups in my reading and finding it increasingly difficult
        to
        > sort through the numerous contradictions, as well as, the enmity
        > toward heretical sects that is often present in articles on
        gnostics.
        > I was wondering what could you tell me of the medieval Messalians?
        My
        > searches yielded plenty regarding the earlier sect mentioned by
        > Epiphanius, but almost nothing concerning these 11th century
        gnostics.
        >
        > Sincerely,
        > Magusadeptus
      • Mike Leavitt
        Hello pmcvflag ... If he is referring to the Bogomils, they are more Manachean, and while they may be our second cousins, they are not really gnostics. The
        Message 3 of 10 , Sep 29, 2003
          Hello pmcvflag

          On 29-Sep-03, you wrote:

          > Well, Magusadeptus, you may need to clarify for us. I have heard the
          > name applied to Bogimils, but I don't get the impression that this
          > is what you are talking about. I know that Epihpanius talks about
          > two different groups by that name (which he tries to draw together
          > in some way I can't remember... but that sounds typical), but I
          > guess neither of those groups are who you are talking about.
          >
          > In any event, I am aware of no medieval groups that I would say are
          > technically "Gnostic" (with the possible exception of the Mandaeans,
          > but the jury is still out on that one), and I am really not familiar
          > with any Messalians besides the several different groups I already
          > mentioned. Maybe some of the other founders here know something, or
          > one of our many very knowledgeable members can help.
          >
          > PMCV

          If he is referring to the Bogomils, they are more Manachean, and while
          they may be our second cousins, they are not really gnostics. The
          Bogomils were involved in the founding of the Cathars, again our
          second cousins, with I have the utmost sympathy, but who are again
          not really gnostics. They all outdo the gnostics with their absolute
          dualism, probably due to Mani's having been influenced by both
          gnosticism and Zoroastrianism.

          Regards
          --
          Mike Leavitt ac998@...
        • Terje Bergersen
          PMCV,Magus,Mike &C... PMCV ... With regard to Epiphanius accusations in his catalogue of heresies, the Panarion (ach pew pew pew!) - it lists:
          Message 4 of 10 , Sep 30, 2003
            PMCV,Magus,Mike &C...



            PMCV
            > Well, Magusadeptus, you may need to clarify for us. I have heard the
            > name applied to Bogimils, but I don't get the impression that this is
            > what you are talking about. I know that Epihpanius talks about two
            > different groups by that name (which he tries to draw together in
            > some way I can't remember... but that sounds typical), but I guess
            > niether of those groups are who you are talking about.

            With regard to Epiphanius accusations in his catalogue of heresies, the
            Panarion (ach pew pew pew!) - it lists: "Wandering,cohabitation of males
            and females, total renunciation of material posessions, "irregular"(sic!)
            prayer and fasting, literal identification with spiritual exemplars and
            persons and :argia- a refusal to work as slaves or for wages but choosing
            to go begging for livelihood instead.." is curious, to say the least - and
            speak nowhere of any actual doctrinal basis. I do not think he intended
            all of his "sects" to be dubbed "gnostic" or understood under the same
            header - well, is "Hellenism","Judaism" and "Pythagoreism" among others..
            "Gnostic" or sects of "Gnosticism"?? I notice later writers apparently
            believe it is.. but I shall not offend the man`s intelligence (I *refuse*
            to speak of his virtues,sorry), also some stuff seems to be slurs directed
            at lower level members of the more secret organizations.. like
            cohabitation, the chief sin in the eyes of the Messalians are mutiny
            against God through sexual relations, which makes possible the
            introduction of demons into children who thus needs to be liberated
            through "Fire Baptism", I am quite sure that the Greek of the Panarion,
            using "Cohabitation", is highly suggestive of this being the arrangement,
            while also just listing a possible feature, an Encratism of one kind or
            another, among these puritans.

            That description are somewhat generic..as is typical of the time.


            Another E. with probably the same agenda wrote a lot on the threatening
            heresies around his parts, and especially in his own monestary - he is
            among the first medieval reporters on the existence of the "prayerfuls"
            (Euchites) or "prayer people" (Messalians), this E. , Euthymios of
            Peribleptos, is source for what many scholars believes to be the primary
            stages of the Bogomil movement, but this is rather skeleton assertions.
            Steven Runciman as a man of Oxford integrity, bought the whole story as
            well as all the theories presented after that particular E. and presented
            to the world a summary of Medieval sources on the western dualist
            movements (and assorted odds and ends quite different from these,
            including the puritan movement of Peter Waldo (the Waldenesians)) and
            concluded that they must be all Manichaeans - his work, which still holds
            cred with people who find it ...useful.. is also succinctly called "The
            Medieval Manichee".



            > In any event, I am aware of no medieval groups that I would say are
            > technically "Gnostic" (with the possible exception of the
            > Mandaeans,
            > but the jury is still out on that one), and I am really not familiar
            > with any Messalians besides the several different groups I already
            > mentioned. Maybe some of the other founders here know something, or
            > one of our many very knowledgable members can help.

            PMCV... the Messalians are not really among the suspects of any
            speculation, they are a name-drop in the weave of Runcimans and others..
            the Hamiltons (Alaistar B.Hamilton and his wife, Janet) picked apart the
            Manichaean origin theory concerning the Paulicians quite effectively in
            the forword to their _Christian Dualist Heresies in the Medieval Byzantine
            World_ - and gives some critical, very critical, evaluation of the
            credence of the "primary" sources which Runciman used for his thesis.





            Massalian or Messalian is Syriac, and means "the praying people", they are
            also called Enthusiasts and Euchites (meaning "prayerfuls")
            - they were am anti-clerical pietist sect very loosely organized, whose
            actual teachings are very little known.
            Several of the early medieval polemists against the Paulicians and
            Bogomils mentions these while summing
            up the heresies in different geographical areas, there is a trend or
            tendency among those authors to first of
            all bung every mentioned group/sect/movement into one whole, and also to
            say that these originated from
            the Manichaeans and were in fact Manichaeans with a few innovations. The
            scholarships that followed some
            few decades after Steven Runciman`s summary of these theories and
            accertions in his "The Medieval Manichee"
            has disputed the probability of any direct connection between
            Manichaeanism as it is classically understood,
            and these groups. Of all the groups mentioned by Runciman`s work, the
            Messalians or "Euchites" are the least
            probable "liason" with the Manichaeans, and even less to anything
            "Gnostic" in the strict sense.
            The Messalians were known to believe that from birth every man (human
            being) had dwelling inside him
            a demon, a wicked spirit (similar views exist alongside the full scale of
            apocalyptic and anthropological
            dualism - the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Damascus Document contains
            assertions to the nature of humanity
            having within itself two "principles" - the principle of righteousness and
            the principle of unrighteousness..it
            is far from unique with anything "Gnostic", for instance a similar view
            exists concerning Man in the Orphic
            speculations concerning the merger of Dionysius-Zagreus slain by the
            Titans, and the ashes or remains
            of the Titans having been struck by Zeus lightning) - baptism as practised
            by the Orthodox (and presumably
            this was also the case, in their view, with *any* baptism, also heterodox
            baptism as practised by the Bogomils
            or Cathars or their predecessors) and other sacraments of the established
            traditions living alongside them,
            has no saying over human persons who are posssessed, and the only thing
            which can rid man of his indwelling
            demon is the continuous,zealous,life-long saying of prayers, and an
            esoteric type of baptism dubbed "baptism
            by (or in) fire". They believed that after an extended and intense period
            of penatory and purificatory prayer
            some persons would reach a state of "passionlessness", a "clarity" or
            "transparence" wherein men would
            be incapable of thwarting God`s will and begin to show forth the intended
            bounties and qualities of God`s creation,
            the latter is significant. Presumably, the origin of the demons and their
            arrangement of entering men upon conception
            (not birth, but sexual relations) where Adam`s sin of disobeying God (the
            creator) and obeying the insistance of the
            Devil, through this fall a covenant were made between mankind and the
            diabolical powers, wherein every child born
            by such unions would become the property of the Devil. Their christology
            is much in accord with late antiquity and
            medieval "orthodox" christianities - the Son of Man accords with the image
            of the jewish messiah as reinterpreted
            in certain apocryphal literature, especially the Book of the Secrets of
            Enoch - while he is also subject to a physical
            birth, but through a virgin; which is to say, without the sexual union
            which made the invasion of demons into the
            body of the unborn child possible. Once the demon were expelled through
            attaining this condition of "passionlessness",
            the Holy Spirit could descend and dwell in the body in its place. It is
            quite possible they viewed the entire human personality
            as either the demon or a flaw depending upon the demon, and like some of
            the more ecstatic religions, looked towards
            a replacement of the human personality by way of some divinity, in this
            case the divinity named "Holy Spirit".
            Due to this doctrine of perfection by receiving the Holy Spirit and the
            status ascribed to "passionlessness", the Messalians
            who claimed this, or claimed to aspire towards such ends, were routinely
            accused by the Orthodox authorities to be
            engaged in immoral activities and being in nature entirely anti-nomian,
            and anti-authoritarian. They most certainly
            did not pay much attention to the strictures of the aforementioned
            authorities and recognized no "Church" or
            "Sacrament". Regardless of this, some sectarians spread these teachings
            within the Orthodox monasteries,
            similar doctrines did actually appear at Mt.Athos in the 10th and 11th
            century and seems to be re-emerging with a
            political twist in the 21st.
            Yuri Stoyanov in his "The Hidden Tradition in Europe" - theorizes about
            its origination in north-eastern Mesopotamia
            around the 4th century CE, spreading from there into Syria and Asia Minor.
            Emerging in Armenia at the beginning
            of the 5th century to settle there for the very least 500-600 years - it
            was much more persistent than the Bogomilian,
            Severian,Paulician and Cathar "heresies", while never establishing a
            concept of lineage,hierarchy or ritual rule, and
            having no "church" form, it appears for the longest time they attempted to
            be identified with the pious renunciates
            of the Orthodox tradition, wearing similar modes of clothing as monks
            (Eastern Orthodox monks), living in Monasteries,
            going on pilgrimages etc. In the 7th century some thousands, from the
            peasant stock villages in Armenia, were
            resettled (exiled) by the secular (military) authorities along with
            Paulicians, to the Balkans.
            They were certainly "neighbours" with the Paulicians and possibly were
            around at the inception of the Bogomils -
            but they shared, apart from their demonology, exorcistic baptisms and
            asceticism, most of their doctrines with
            the Orthodox and had no distinct mythology like the Bogomils - saw towards
            the same Eschaton, or end of time,
            as many apocalyptics who nevertheless remained "pillars" in the Orthodox
            community for centuries, and were
            not metaphysical dualists, only dualist in relationship to the dual
            prinsciple in non-renunciate men.
            By the 11th century sightings of Massalians were subclassed with the
            emerging Bogomils, before this they
            are not confused with Manichaeans or such, but when the Bogomils and
            Paulicians were polemized against
            as Manichaeans, they were subclassed as such. The same happened to the
            Waldensians when the Cathars
            were polemized against with the same method.


            The Massalians are most certainly *not*doctrinally similar to the
            "Archontics" and "Phibionites" mentioned by Epiphanius of Salamis,
            but resided for a period in the same geographical area.
            The latter two are actually somewhat strange, but seems to accord with the
            controversial teachings concerning a lower creator and a lowly creation -
            this is not the preoccupation or "Heresy" of the Massalians, rather theirs
            is the assumption that it is possible through prayer and renunciation to
            attain some kind of moral perfection and become receptacles of the Holy
            Spirit and have superiority over the adherents of the Orthodox Churhc on
            that basis. I`d say they are the forerunners of the Taborians and other
            anti-catholic supermen in the later middle ages, as they are described by
            Noman Cohn in his _Pursuit of the Millenium_.


            Theodoret,Ecclesiastical History - on the doctrines of the Messalians
            according to a certain Adelphios:

            "Holy baptism is of no use to those to whom it is administered;
            persevering prayer alone is able to put to flight the demon dwelling in
            us. When the demons have been expelled by prayer, the Holy Spirit then
            comes and manifests his presence visibly and to the senses, freeing the
            body from the movement of the passions and completely liberating the soul,
            which is no longer inclined towards evil. It is no longer necessary
            thereafter to fast in order to tame the body nor to submit to guidance in
            the way of righteousness. The person who has obtained this gift is not
            only freed from the uncontrolled movements of the body but also sees the
            future clearly and with his eyes looks on the divine Trinity."
            (Ecclesiastical History IV, 10)

            "some of them used to dance by way of trampling on the demons which they
            saw, a practice from which they were called Choreutae.Things they saw in
            their dreams they took for realities, and boasted that they then acquired
            a knowledge of future events, could see the condition of departed souls,
            and could read men's hearts. Both sexes might partake of this divine
            illumination, and they had female teachers, whom they honoured more than
            the clergy. The use of the Lord's Supper they regarded as a thing
            indifferent: it could neither benefit the worthy nor harm the unworthy
            receiver; but there was no reason for separating from the church by
            refusing it. They disparaged all the ordinary forms of Christian charity
            as compared with the merit of bestowing alms on one of their members. They
            had speculations about our Lord's humanity, of which the most intelligible
            is that the body which He assumed had been full of demons which it was
            necessary for Him to expel.

            They held that in consequence of Adam's sin every one had from his birth a
            demon, substantially united to his soul, which incited him to sin, and
            which baptism was ineffectual to expel. Dealing only with past sin,
            baptism did but shear off the surface growth, and did not touch the root
            of the evil. The true remedy was intense, concentrated prayer, continued
            till it produced a state from which all affections and volitionswere
            banished .In this the soul felt as sensible a consciousness of union with
            its heavenly bridegroom as an earthly bride in the embraces of her
            husband. Then the demon went out in the spittle or in the mucus of the
            nose, or was seen to depart in smoke or in the farm of a serpent, and
            there was in like manner sensible evidence of the entrance of the Holy
            Spirit. St. Augustine (Haer. 57), who had some source of information
            independent of Epiphanies, ascribes to them a fancy that the Holy Spirit
            might be seen to enter in the appearance of innocuous fire, and the demon
            to pass out of the.man's mouth in the farm of a sow with her farrow.
            Possibly language intended by them metaphorically was misunderstood; for
            they described the soul of him who had not Christ in him as the abode of
            serpents and venomous beasts. They further thought that he who had arrived
            at the passionless state could see the Holy Trinity with his bodily eyes;
            that the three hypostases of the Trinity coalesced into one, which united
            itself with worthy souls. This doctrine no doubt furnishes the key to the
            account given by Epiphanies of the effacement of the sense of distinct
            personality in members of this



            (C.Wace:Biographical Dictionary of Christianity)



            The ecumenical council at Ephesus in 431 condemned all Messalians,
            Euchites or Enthusiasts, and anathematized an _Asceticon_, reputedly the
            Messalian manual. There have long been questions whether such a book
            existed. John of Damascus (eighth century) cited 18 sections from the
            so-called Asceticon in his On Heresies, but these citations have been
            shown to be excerpted from the spiritual homilies of Pseudo-Macarius.

            From - NOTE ON THE MESSALIANS OR MASSALIANS.

            (Tillemont, Memoires, Tom. VIII., Seconde Partie. Condensed.)
            http://www.ccel.org/fathers/NPNF2-14/4Ephesus/Massal.htm

            "Their principal tenet was that everyone inherited from his ancestors a
            demon, who had possession of his soul from the moment of his birth, and
            always led it to evil. That baptism cut away the outside branches of sin,
            but could not free the soul of this demon, and that therefore its
            reception was useless. That only constant prayer could drive out this
            demon. That when it was expelled, the Holy Spirit descended and gave
            visible and sensible marks of his presence, and delivered the body from
            all the uprisings of passion, and the soul from the inclination to evil,
            so that afterwards there was no need of fasting, nor of controlling lust
            by the precepts of the Gospel.

            Besides this chief dogma, gross errors, contrary to the first principles
            of religion, were attributed to them. That the divinity changed itself in
            different manners to unite itself to their souls. They held that the body
            of Christ was infinite like his divine nature; they did not hesitate to
            say that his body was at first full of devils which were driven out when
            the Word took it upon him.(1) They claimed that they possessed clear
            knowledge of the state of souls after death, read the hearts and desires
            of man, the secrets of the future and saw the Holy Trinity with their
            bodily eyes. They affirmed that man could not only attain perfection but
            equal the deity in virtue and knowledge.

            They never fasted, slept men and women together, in warm weather in the
            open streets. But certain say that before attaining to this liberty of
            license three years of mortification were required,

            The most well-known point of their discipline is that they forbade all
            manual labour as evil, and unworthy of the spiritual."











            ---

            Some works of interest

            Specifically on Messalianism:

            Daniel Caner
            Wandering, Begging Monks
            Spiritual Authority and the Promotion of Monasticism in Late Antiquity


            Spec. on medieval "groups":

            The Other God: Dualist Religions from Antiquity to the Cathar Heresy (Yale
            Nota Bene) -- Yuri Stoyanov

            Christian Dualist Heresies in the Byzantine World C.650-C.1450: Selected
            Sources (Manchester Medieval Sources Series)
            by Janet Hamilton (Editor), Bernard Hamilton (Editor), Yuri Stoyanov (Editor)

            The Hidden Tradition in Europe -- Yuri Stoyanov

            The Medieval Manichee : A Study of the Christian Dualist Heresy
            by Steven Runciman (Oh,If you must...)

            The Tree of Gnosis: Gnostic Mythology from Early Christianity to Modern
            Nihilism by Ioan P. Couliano (although incomplete and
            a bit wobbly, I really think it is a good read)


            ---


            Pax Pleromae

            --
            Terje Dahl Bergersen
            Deacon,Capella Santa Sophia,Ecclesia Gnostica Norvegia
            terje@...
            http://terje.bergersen.net/
          • Magusadeptus
            Hello PMCV, ... the ... is ... Mandaeans, ... familiar ... Perhaps this will help clarify. Here is the source that prompted my question about the Messalians:
            Message 5 of 10 , Sep 30, 2003
              Hello PMCV,



              --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, pmcvflag <no_reply@y...> wrote:
              > Well, Magusadeptus, you may need to clarify for us. I have heard
              the
              > name applied to Bogimils, but I don't get the impression that this
              is
              > what you are talking about. I know that Epihpanius talks about two
              > different groups by that name (which he tries to draw together in
              > some way I can't remember... but that sounds typical), but I guess
              > niether of those groups are who you are talking about.
              >
              > In any event, I am aware of no medieval groups that I would say are
              > technically "Gnostic" (with the possible exception of the
              Mandaeans,
              > but the jury is still out on that one), and I am really not
              familiar
              > with any Messalians besides the several different groups I already
              > mentioned. Maybe some of the other founders here know something, or
              > one of our many very knowledgable members can help.
              >
              Perhaps this will help clarify. Here is the source that prompted my
              question about the Messalians:

              " The occultation of ancient alchemy's theoretical component can be
              partially explained by religious considerations. Alchemy, a sacred
              art
              in the Hellenistic East, employed the metal-tinting recipes as part of
              a redemptive ritual. Thus it competed with the new redemptive god of
              the Christians, who suppressed the alchemical texts. Despite
              persecution
              certain heretical Christian sects, particularly the Gnostics,
              continued to
              secretly practice the Sacred Art. It has recently been suggested that
              the alchemical-technological recipes may have passed surreptitiously
              into the West with Cathar missionaries. The Cathars, in turn, learned
              the
              recipes from the Messalians, a medieval Gnostic sect that is known to
              have practiced the Sacred Art and to have preserved secret books from
              antiquity. Other recipes may have come with migrating craftsmen who
              had been in contact with one or another of these heretical sects…"
              page 32, Science And The Secrets Of Nature, Books of Secrets in
              Medieval
              and Early Modern Culture, William Eamon, Princeton University Press.

              I appreciate your thoughts.

              Sincerely,
              Magusadeptus
            • Magusadeptus
              Hello Terje Bergersen, Wow! I couldn t have asked for better information than what you have presented here. I knew the experts at this group could help me
              Message 6 of 10 , Sep 30, 2003
                Hello Terje Bergersen,

                Wow! I couldn't have asked for better information than what you have
                presented here. I knew the experts at this group could help me
                separate the wheat from the chaff, when it comes to information on
                the Gnostics, but I did not realize that a member of the Holy Order
                of Theurgists group was among them. Would you mind if I posted this
                information there also?

                Sincerely,
                Magusadeptus


                ----------------------------------------------

                --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "Terje Bergersen" <terje@b...>
                wrote:
                > PMCV,Magus,Mike &C...
                >
                >
                >
                > PMCV
                > > Well, Magusadeptus, you may need to clarify for us. I have heard
                the
                > > name applied to Bogimils, but I don't get the impression that
                this is
                > > what you are talking about. I know that Epihpanius talks about two
                > > different groups by that name (which he tries to draw together in
                > > some way I can't remember... but that sounds typical), but I guess
                > > niether of those groups are who you are talking about.
                >
                > With regard to Epiphanius accusations in his catalogue of heresies,
                the
                > Panarion (ach pew pew pew!) - it lists: "Wandering,cohabitation of
                males
                > and females, total renunciation of material
                posessions, "irregular"(sic!)
                > prayer and fasting, literal identification with spiritual exemplars
                and
                > persons and :argia- a refusal to work as slaves or for wages but
                choosing
                > to go begging for livelihood instead.." is curious, to say the
                least - and
                > speak nowhere of any actual doctrinal basis. I do not think he
                intended
                > all of his "sects" to be dubbed "gnostic" or understood under the
                same
                > header - well, is "Hellenism","Judaism" and "Pythagoreism" among
                others..
                > "Gnostic" or sects of "Gnosticism"?? I notice later writers
                apparently
                > believe it is.. but I shall not offend the man`s intelligence (I
                *refuse*
                > to speak of his virtues,sorry), also some stuff seems to be slurs
                directed
                > at lower level members of the more secret organizations.. like
                > cohabitation, the chief sin in the eyes of the Messalians are mutiny
                > against God through sexual relations, which makes possible the
                > introduction of demons into children who thus needs to be liberated
                > through "Fire Baptism", I am quite sure that the Greek of the
                Panarion,
                > using "Cohabitation", is highly suggestive of this being the
                arrangement,
                > while also just listing a possible feature, an Encratism of one
                kind or
                > another, among these puritans.
                >
                > That description are somewhat generic..as is typical of the time.
                >
                >
                > Another E. with probably the same agenda wrote a lot on the
                threatening
                > heresies around his parts, and especially in his own monestary - he
                is
                > among the first medieval reporters on the existence of
                the "prayerfuls"
                > (Euchites) or "prayer people" (Messalians), this E. , Euthymios of
                > Peribleptos, is source for what many scholars believes to be the
                primary
                > stages of the Bogomil movement, but this is rather skeleton
                assertions.
                > Steven Runciman as a man of Oxford integrity, bought the whole
                story as
                > well as all the theories presented after that particular E. and
                presented
                > to the world a summary of Medieval sources on the western dualist
                > movements (and assorted odds and ends quite different from these,
                > including the puritan movement of Peter Waldo (the Waldenesians))
                and
                > concluded that they must be all Manichaeans - his work, which still
                holds
                > cred with people who find it ...useful.. is also succinctly
                called "The
                > Medieval Manichee".
                >
                >
                >
                > > In any event, I am aware of no medieval groups that I would say
                are
                > > technically "Gnostic" (with the possible exception of
                the
                > > Mandaeans,
                > > but the jury is still out on that one), and I am really not
                familiar
                > > with any Messalians besides the several different groups I already
                > > mentioned. Maybe some of the other founders here know something,
                or
                > > one of our many very knowledgable members can help.
                >
                > PMCV... the Messalians are not really among the suspects of any
                > speculation, they are a name-drop in the weave of Runcimans and
                others..
                > the Hamiltons (Alaistar B.Hamilton and his wife, Janet) picked
                apart the
                > Manichaean origin theory concerning the Paulicians quite
                effectively in
                > the forword to their _Christian Dualist Heresies in the Medieval
                Byzantine
                > World_ - and gives some critical, very critical, evaluation of the
                > credence of the "primary" sources which Runciman used for his
                thesis.
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
                > Massalian or Messalian is Syriac, and means "the praying people",
                they are
                > also called Enthusiasts and Euchites (meaning "prayerfuls")
                > - they were am anti-clerical pietist sect very loosely organized,
                whose
                > actual teachings are very little known.
                > Several of the early medieval polemists against the Paulicians and
                > Bogomils mentions these while summing
                > up the heresies in different geographical areas, there is a trend or
                > tendency among those authors to first of
                > all bung every mentioned group/sect/movement into one whole, and
                also to
                > say that these originated from
                > the Manichaeans and were in fact Manichaeans with a few
                innovations. The
                > scholarships that followed some
                > few decades after Steven Runciman`s summary of these theories and
                > accertions in his "The Medieval Manichee"
                > has disputed the probability of any direct connection between
                > Manichaeanism as it is classically understood,
                > and these groups. Of all the groups mentioned by Runciman`s work,
                the
                > Messalians or "Euchites" are the least
                > probable "liason" with the Manichaeans, and even less to anything
                > "Gnostic" in the strict sense.
                > The Messalians were known to believe that from birth every man
                (human
                > being) had dwelling inside him
                > a demon, a wicked spirit (similar views exist alongside the full
                scale of
                > apocalyptic and anthropological
                > dualism - the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Damascus Document contains
                > assertions to the nature of humanity
                > having within itself two "principles" - the principle of
                righteousness and
                > the principle of unrighteousness..it
                > is far from unique with anything "Gnostic", for instance a similar
                view
                > exists concerning Man in the Orphic
                > speculations concerning the merger of Dionysius-Zagreus slain by the
                > Titans, and the ashes or remains
                > of the Titans having been struck by Zeus lightning) - baptism as
                practised
                > by the Orthodox (and presumably
                > this was also the case, in their view, with *any* baptism, also
                heterodox
                > baptism as practised by the Bogomils
                > or Cathars or their predecessors) and other sacraments of the
                established
                > traditions living alongside them,
                > has no saying over human persons who are posssessed, and the only
                thing
                > which can rid man of his indwelling
                > demon is the continuous,zealous,life-long saying of prayers, and an
                > esoteric type of baptism dubbed "baptism
                > by (or in) fire". They believed that after an extended and intense
                period
                > of penatory and purificatory prayer
                > some persons would reach a state of "passionlessness", a "clarity"
                or
                > "transparence" wherein men would
                > be incapable of thwarting God`s will and begin to show forth the
                intended
                > bounties and qualities of God`s creation,
                > the latter is significant. Presumably, the origin of the demons and
                their
                > arrangement of entering men upon conception
                > (not birth, but sexual relations) where Adam`s sin of disobeying
                God (the
                > creator) and obeying the insistance of the
                > Devil, through this fall a covenant were made between mankind and
                the
                > diabolical powers, wherein every child born
                > by such unions would become the property of the Devil. Their
                christology
                > is much in accord with late antiquity and
                > medieval "orthodox" christianities - the Son of Man accords with
                the image
                > of the jewish messiah as reinterpreted
                > in certain apocryphal literature, especially the Book of the
                Secrets of
                > Enoch - while he is also subject to a physical
                > birth, but through a virgin; which is to say, without the sexual
                union
                > which made the invasion of demons into the
                > body of the unborn child possible. Once the demon were expelled
                through
                > attaining this condition of "passionlessness",
                > the Holy Spirit could descend and dwell in the body in its place.
                It is
                > quite possible they viewed the entire human personality
                > as either the demon or a flaw depending upon the demon, and like
                some of
                > the more ecstatic religions, looked towards
                > a replacement of the human personality by way of some divinity, in
                this
                > case the divinity named "Holy Spirit".
                > Due to this doctrine of perfection by receiving the Holy Spirit and
                the
                > status ascribed to "passionlessness", the Messalians
                > who claimed this, or claimed to aspire towards such ends, were
                routinely
                > accused by the Orthodox authorities to be
                > engaged in immoral activities and being in nature entirely anti-
                nomian,
                > and anti-authoritarian. They most certainly
                > did not pay much attention to the strictures of the aforementioned
                > authorities and recognized no "Church" or
                > "Sacrament". Regardless of this, some sectarians spread these
                teachings
                > within the Orthodox monasteries,
                > similar doctrines did actually appear at Mt.Athos in the 10th and
                11th
                > century and seems to be re-emerging with a
                > political twist in the 21st.
                > Yuri Stoyanov in his "The Hidden Tradition in Europe" - theorizes
                about
                > its origination in north-eastern Mesopotamia
                > around the 4th century CE, spreading from there into Syria and Asia
                Minor.
                > Emerging in Armenia at the beginning
                > of the 5th century to settle there for the very least 500-600
                years - it
                > was much more persistent than the Bogomilian,
                > Severian,Paulician and Cathar "heresies", while never establishing a
                > concept of lineage,hierarchy or ritual rule, and
                > having no "church" form, it appears for the longest time they
                attempted to
                > be identified with the pious renunciates
                > of the Orthodox tradition, wearing similar modes of clothing as
                monks
                > (Eastern Orthodox monks), living in Monasteries,
                > going on pilgrimages etc. In the 7th century some thousands, from
                the
                > peasant stock villages in Armenia, were
                > resettled (exiled) by the secular (military) authorities along with
                > Paulicians, to the Balkans.
                > They were certainly "neighbours" with the Paulicians and possibly
                were
                > around at the inception of the Bogomils -
                > but they shared, apart from their demonology, exorcistic baptisms
                and
                > asceticism, most of their doctrines with
                > the Orthodox and had no distinct mythology like the Bogomils - saw
                towards
                > the same Eschaton, or end of time,
                > as many apocalyptics who nevertheless remained "pillars" in the
                Orthodox
                > community for centuries, and were
                > not metaphysical dualists, only dualist in relationship to the dual
                > prinsciple in non-renunciate men.
                > By the 11th century sightings of Massalians were subclassed with the
                > emerging Bogomils, before this they
                > are not confused with Manichaeans or such, but when the Bogomils and
                > Paulicians were polemized against
                > as Manichaeans, they were subclassed as such. The same happened to
                the
                > Waldensians when the Cathars
                > were polemized against with the same method.
                >
                >
                > The Massalians are most certainly *not*doctrinally similar to the
                > "Archontics" and "Phibionites" mentioned by Epiphanius of Salamis,
                > but resided for a period in the same geographical area.
                > The latter two are actually somewhat strange, but seems to accord
                with the
                > controversial teachings concerning a lower creator and a lowly
                creation -
                > this is not the preoccupation or "Heresy" of the Massalians, rather
                theirs
                > is the assumption that it is possible through prayer and
                renunciation to
                > attain some kind of moral perfection and become receptacles of the
                Holy
                > Spirit and have superiority over the adherents of the Orthodox
                Churhc on
                > that basis. I`d say they are the forerunners of the Taborians and
                other
                > anti-catholic supermen in the later middle ages, as they are
                described by
                > Noman Cohn in his _Pursuit of the Millenium_.
                >
                >
                > Theodoret,Ecclesiastical History - on the doctrines of the
                Messalians
                > according to a certain Adelphios:
                >
                > "Holy baptism is of no use to those to whom it is administered;
                > persevering prayer alone is able to put to flight the demon
                dwelling in
                > us. When the demons have been expelled by prayer, the Holy Spirit
                then
                > comes and manifests his presence visibly and to the senses, freeing
                the
                > body from the movement of the passions and completely liberating
                the soul,
                > which is no longer inclined towards evil. It is no longer necessary
                > thereafter to fast in order to tame the body nor to submit to
                guidance in
                > the way of righteousness. The person who has obtained this gift is
                not
                > only freed from the uncontrolled movements of the body but also
                sees the
                > future clearly and with his eyes looks on the divine Trinity."
                > (Ecclesiastical History IV, 10)
                >
                > "some of them used to dance by way of trampling on the demons which
                they
                > saw, a practice from which they were called Choreutae.Things they
                saw in
                > their dreams they took for realities, and boasted that they then
                acquired
                > a knowledge of future events, could see the condition of departed
                souls,
                > and could read men's hearts. Both sexes might partake of this divine
                > illumination, and they had female teachers, whom they honoured more
                than
                > the clergy. The use of the Lord's Supper they regarded as a thing
                > indifferent: it could neither benefit the worthy nor harm the
                unworthy
                > receiver; but there was no reason for separating from the church by
                > refusing it. They disparaged all the ordinary forms of Christian
                charity
                > as compared with the merit of bestowing alms on one of their
                members. They
                > had speculations about our Lord's humanity, of which the most
                intelligible
                > is that the body which He assumed had been full of demons which it
                was
                > necessary for Him to expel.
                >
                > They held that in consequence of Adam's sin every one had from his
                birth a
                > demon, substantially united to his soul, which incited him to sin,
                and
                > which baptism was ineffectual to expel. Dealing only with past sin,
                > baptism did but shear off the surface growth, and did not touch the
                root
                > of the evil. The true remedy was intense, concentrated prayer,
                continued
                > till it produced a state from which all affections and volitionswere
                > banished .In this the soul felt as sensible a consciousness of
                union with
                > its heavenly bridegroom as an earthly bride in the embraces of her
                > husband. Then the demon went out in the spittle or in the mucus of
                the
                > nose, or was seen to depart in smoke or in the farm of a serpent,
                and
                > there was in like manner sensible evidence of the entrance of the
                Holy
                > Spirit. St. Augustine (Haer. 57), who had some source of information
                > independent of Epiphanies, ascribes to them a fancy that the Holy
                Spirit
                > might be seen to enter in the appearance of innocuous fire, and the
                demon
                > to pass out of the.man's mouth in the farm of a sow with her farrow.
                > Possibly language intended by them metaphorically was
                misunderstood; for
                > they described the soul of him who had not Christ in him as the
                abode of
                > serpents and venomous beasts. They further thought that he who had
                arrived
                > at the passionless state could see the Holy Trinity with his bodily
                eyes;
                > that the three hypostases of the Trinity coalesced into one, which
                united
                > itself with worthy souls. This doctrine no doubt furnishes the key
                to the
                > account given by Epiphanies of the effacement of the sense of
                distinct
                > personality in members of this
                >
                >
                >
                > (C.Wace:Biographical Dictionary of Christianity)
                >
                >
                >
                > The ecumenical council at Ephesus in 431 condemned all Messalians,
                > Euchites or Enthusiasts, and anathematized an _Asceticon_,
                reputedly the
                > Messalian manual. There have long been questions whether such a book
                > existed. John of Damascus (eighth century) cited 18 sections from
                the
                > so-called Asceticon in his On Heresies, but these citations have
                been
                > shown to be excerpted from the spiritual homilies of Pseudo-
                Macarius.
                >
                > From - NOTE ON THE MESSALIANS OR MASSALIANS.
                >
                > (Tillemont, Memoires, Tom. VIII., Seconde Partie. Condensed.)
                > http://www.ccel.org/fathers/NPNF2-14/4Ephesus/Massal.htm
                >
                > "Their principal tenet was that everyone inherited from his
                ancestors a
                > demon, who had possession of his soul from the moment of his birth,
                and
                > always led it to evil. That baptism cut away the outside branches
                of sin,
                > but could not free the soul of this demon, and that therefore its
                > reception was useless. That only constant prayer could drive out
                this
                > demon. That when it was expelled, the Holy Spirit descended and gave
                > visible and sensible marks of his presence, and delivered the body
                from
                > all the uprisings of passion, and the soul from the inclination to
                evil,
                > so that afterwards there was no need of fasting, nor of controlling
                lust
                > by the precepts of the Gospel.
                >
                > Besides this chief dogma, gross errors, contrary to the first
                principles
                > of religion, were attributed to them. That the divinity changed
                itself in
                > different manners to unite itself to their souls. They held that
                the body
                > of Christ was infinite like his divine nature; they did not
                hesitate to
                > say that his body was at first full of devils which were driven out
                when
                > the Word took it upon him.(1) They claimed that they possessed clear
                > knowledge of the state of souls after death, read the hearts and
                desires
                > of man, the secrets of the future and saw the Holy Trinity with
                their
                > bodily eyes. They affirmed that man could not only attain
                perfection but
                > equal the deity in virtue and knowledge.
                >
                > They never fasted, slept men and women together, in warm weather in
                the
                > open streets. But certain say that before attaining to this liberty
                of
                > license three years of mortification were required,
                >
                > The most well-known point of their discipline is that they forbade
                all
                > manual labour as evil, and unworthy of the spiritual."
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
                > ---
                >
                > Some works of interest
                >
                > Specifically on Messalianism:
                >
                > Daniel Caner
                > Wandering, Begging Monks
                > Spiritual Authority and the Promotion of Monasticism in Late
                Antiquity
                >
                >
                > Spec. on medieval "groups":
                >
                > The Other God: Dualist Religions from Antiquity to the Cathar
                Heresy (Yale
                > Nota Bene) -- Yuri Stoyanov
                >
                > Christian Dualist Heresies in the Byzantine World C.650-C.1450:
                Selected
                > Sources (Manchester Medieval Sources Series)
                > by Janet Hamilton (Editor), Bernard Hamilton (Editor), Yuri
                Stoyanov (Editor)
                >
                > The Hidden Tradition in Europe -- Yuri Stoyanov
                >
                > The Medieval Manichee : A Study of the Christian Dualist Heresy
                > by Steven Runciman (Oh,If you must...)
                >
                > The Tree of Gnosis: Gnostic Mythology from Early Christianity to
                Modern
                > Nihilism by Ioan P. Couliano (although incomplete and
                > a bit wobbly, I really think it is a good read)
                >
                >
                > ---
                >
                >
                > Pax Pleromae
                >
                > --
                > Terje Dahl Bergersen
                > Deacon,Capella Santa Sophia,Ecclesia Gnostica Norvegia
                > terje@b...
                > http://terje.bergersen.net/
              • Terje Bergersen
                Hi Magus ... I would not mind, although I wish it was better organized and edited.. but it does not matter, we process information as we would. I am just niw
                Message 7 of 10 , Oct 1, 2003
                  Hi Magus

                  > Wow! I couldn't have asked for better information than what you have
                  > presented here. I knew the experts at this group could help me
                  > separate the wheat from the chaff, when it comes to information on
                  > the Gnostics, but I did not realize that a member of the Holy Order
                  > of Theurgists group was among them. Would you mind if I posted this
                  > information there also?

                  I would not mind, although I wish it was better organized and edited.. but
                  it does not matter, we process information as we would.
                  I am just niw trying to get together a reply with that
                  Messalian-Alchemists excerpt..

                  Pax Pleromae

                  --
                  Terje Dahl Bergersen
                  terje@...
                  http://terje.bergersen.net/
                • Magusadeptus
                  Hello Terje Bergersen, ... edited.. but ... Thanks, consider it posted. I m looking forward to your thoughts on the Messalians and the art of alchemy.
                  Message 8 of 10 , Oct 1, 2003
                    Hello Terje Bergersen,


                    --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "Terje Bergersen" <terje@b...>
                    wrote:
                    > Hi Magus

                    >
                    >[ I would not mind, although I wish it was better organized and
                    edited.. but
                    > it does not matter, we process information as we would.
                    > I am just niw trying to get together a reply with that
                    > Messalian-Alchemists excerpt..]


                    Thanks, consider it posted. I'm looking forward to your thoughts on
                    the Messalians and the art of alchemy.

                    Sincerely,
                    Magusadeptus
                  • Terje Bergersen
                    ... With regards to the excerpt: Are the means by which Alchemy is designated a sacred art qualified and explained in the book? Is it established, with
                    Message 9 of 10 , Oct 2, 2003
                      Magusadeptus wrote:
                      > Perhaps this will help clarify. Here is the source that prompted my
                      > question about the Messalians:
                      >
                      > " The occultation of ancient alchemy's theoretical component can be
                      > partially explained by religious considerations. Alchemy, a sacred
                      > art
                      > in the Hellenistic East, employed the metal-tinting recipes as part of
                      > a redemptive ritual. Thus it competed with the new redemptive god of
                      > the Christians, who suppressed the alchemical texts. Despite
                      > persecution
                      > certain heretical Christian sects, particularly the Gnostics,
                      > continued to
                      > secretly practice the Sacred Art. It has recently been suggested that
                      > the alchemical-technological recipes may have passed surreptitiously
                      > into the West with Cathar missionaries. The Cathars, in turn, learned
                      > the
                      > recipes from the Messalians, a medieval Gnostic sect that is known to
                      > have practiced the Sacred Art and to have preserved secret books from
                      > antiquity. Other recipes may have come with migrating craftsmen who
                      > had been in contact with one or another of these heretical sects…"
                      > page 32, Science And The Secrets Of Nature, Books of Secrets in
                      > Medieval
                      > and Early Modern Culture, William Eamon, Princeton University Press.


                      With regards to the excerpt:

                      Are the means by which Alchemy is designated a "sacred art" qualified and
                      explained in the book?
                      Is it established, with textual (and I don`t mean a citation from another
                      book of this kind.. ) evidence and groundwork,
                      that Alchemy -as a sacred art- originates and is employed -to those ends-
                      in Hellenistic antiquity?
                      That question is quite interesting, if it is qualified,"proved" or proved
                      probable, and given foundation - it is worth the chapter or the half -
                      which is the usual contigent in books like these..

                      Of course, Alchemy is a very specific topic to many readers of this list,
                      while it is a general and tenuous one to many others...
                      I get the impression that the simple definition used for "alchemy" here
                      has to do with the doctrines concerning "refinement", which is to say -
                      "perfection" - I have this quiet suspicion that very many, too many to
                      list, in fact, of the religious and philosophical remnants of our past and
                      passing civilizations (our culture is turning into static..beyond that
                      threshold lays oblivion), traditions,movements,groups..religions - in some
                      way employ intelligence,immagination,intuition and a collective and
                      individual effort towards one or another kind of such "refinement".
                      To demonstrate the idea behind such "refinement" (which incidentally is
                      also just a barely workable metaphor) you could employ mental images,
                      examples which is not the thing itself, or entirely representative as such
                      - but which gives you an impression of what is at stake and if not the
                      processes themselves, at least the fact of some kind of process being
                      involved; one such would be the very primitive concern of what it takes to
                      purify a metal - or distill something - or indeed, "produce gold". That`s
                      everyday usage of the term "alchemy" - hard work and concentration to
                      which is added a bit of genius, and a pinch of brimstone - produced
                      brilliance, pure gold..

                      The nature of the formula as claimed by the Messalian heretics (according
                      to Theodoret among others) could remind one somewhat of the overblown and
                      optimistic evaluations of certain
                      philosophers,authors,artistes,socioanthropologists,psychologists and
                      others.. concerning the effect of the "Psychedelic"; by "cleansing the
                      doors of perception" - in the case of the messalians by way of "fire
                      baptism" and ascetic and devotionary discipline - in the case of Huxley
                      and other Psychedelic pioneers - by ingesting, "under the right set and
                      setting", a substance - a true vision or appreciation of reality, not the
                      collective and dull reality, but an expanded, "higher" reality - which to
                      the Messalians included angels,spirits,gods and so forth .The "effect" of
                      the discipline as cited by Theodoret almost suggest a shamanic direction..
                      which isnt too uncommon among pietists - consider the trances and
                      ecstasies of the early Quakers, the Shakers, the noncomformist communalist
                      sects of the Taborians and their russian brethren the Dukhobors etc. all
                      sharing a lifestyle and perspective which includes the ideal of
                      "perfection" and the acquisition of the vision of heaven,angels etc.
                      through ascetic discipline and contemplative prayer.

                      All this is well and good, if it can be established that the doctrinal
                      platform of for instance the Messalians or the Cathars - include an
                      understanding of human divinity or consciousness of the divine,being
                      increased by effort and technique; I`ll admit that we may very well
                      combine two words -sacred- and -art-, but do we with those ingredients get
                      Alchemy?

                      I suspect the author of that book of really sincerely and perhaps even
                      intensively studying what Titus Burkhardt had to say about Alchemy being
                      an Sacred Art..but I also suspect,being a suspicious bastard.. that he
                      runs off with it, reversing the relationships, so *any* "Sacred Art", as
                      qualified by ourselves, becomes "Alchemy", and uses the two so much
                      interchangeably. This is typical of so-called "popular occultists" and
                      thats where I spot that assertion which includes or employs a "total
                      unknown", which if partially "known" - like through the articles
                      I cited in my last post, also is controversial.

                      The cited authors casual accusation that Christianity, in general , of
                      trying to obliterate a "science" or initiatory tradition, that really did
                      not please me or impress me either ; considering that the Alchemical
                      tradition were sustained in particularly two areas, one western and one
                      eastern, and these were chiefly Christian and Islamic; The religious
                      imagry/ideas that the author obliquely refers to in the excerpt -
                      originates from these two, to which is added an almost necessary
                      "Platonic" perspective on the relationship between a manifest,solid and
                      muteable/manipulative/elastic constitution of matter/physicality - and a
                      spiritual world of forms,"ideals",patterns and "powers" which
                      inform,"sustains" and penetrates into the physical and sensual domains in
                      which man, The Quintessence, finds himself immersed. This dependence of
                      the Christian philosophers who employed themselves with or of Alchemy in
                      one variety or another, upon Platonism,especially neo-platonism, is very
                      much in evidence. From what we can gather it is highly probable that
                      Thomas of Aquinas, a Docteur and Sainte of the Catholic Church, authored
                      the Aurora Consurgens,
                      which is a very curious document which, read by modern or probably
                      contemporary eyes..However, if we inspect the Messalians and their
                      Orthodox (Eastern Orthodox) counterparts
                      in late antiquity, we find little evidence of that inspiration, nor
                      dependence. We find the suggestion that matter is corrupt through sin, sin
                      having brought about the presence of
                      evil spirits within material containers and forms,in particular - human
                      bodies; if these selfsame bodies are exorcised and purified, and kept in a
                      state of "perfection", wherein
                      the individual makes no bidding for his fate and desires nothing, being
                      impassionate about anything but doing the will of God, they become vessels
                      of light and of the Holy Spirit.
                      This is quite comparable to the speculations and approach of the medieval
                      Homines Intelligae, or the "Brethren and Sistren of the Free Spirit" -
                      Their evaluation of the "base"
                      stage of humanity, the state of being for the majority of humankind, and
                      its foundation; sin - is similar to that of the Messalians, while it is
                      quite different from the Cathars, because the latter, while divided
                      between Traducianism (wherein the same psychological or "psychic"
                      substance or persona is spread thin through the
                      generations originating in Adam (and sometimes in Adam and Eve)) and the
                      belief of the pre-existence of each individual soul as angels fallen or
                      trapped into the condition
                      of incarnation,human bodies - who employs the idea of a metaphysical
                      cause: the fall of higher intelligences into Mutiny against God and the
                      "First Creation" (which appears
                      to me to be so dependant on Origenes Peri Archon (On First Principles)
                      that they are practically "Origenists") but most dramatically: the flawed,
                      rebellious, "wicked" creation
                      of the physical universe, or at least the earth and its inhabitants
                      physical forms. A "Biblical Demiurge" theme.

                      With the Cathars we have an "ascension theme"; they seek liberation as the
                      end of all ascetic and contemplative disciplines used on their path; the
                      ritual of the Consolamentum are a formal seal
                      which signify towards the exterior authorities (the "powers" or "archons")
                      that they formally belong to the Church of God and endeavoured to give
                      Caesar what is Caesar`s :
                      their bodies, their birthright, their properties and so forth; as such,
                      the body is not claimed from the possession of evil spirits, but in a very
                      real sense consigned and given up to the world.
                      With the Messalians we have chiefly a "perfection theme"; they seek a
                      glorified deification of man as a physical creature, the role of the
                      "elite" in a Manichaean and Cathar (here they are
                      similar) setting is to "show the way", the role of the "elite" with the
                      Messalians is kingship,domination and leadership - a theocracy - the body
                      is claimed from the possession of evil
                      spirits, purified, perfected and ..according to Epiphanius, allowed
                      certain licenses which would theologically now befall the perfected soul,
                      while in a state of imperfection, any pleasure
                      would be considered the privilege of the devil, which of course had to be
                      denied him. In addition, the perfected would expect to receive all gifts
                      and abilities ascribed traditionally to such
                      a condition and to the "gifts of the holy spirit".

                      This difference of opinion upon the theme of Soma is quite significant,
                      from the early 2nd century
                      dissent and disagreement, even among those which historians treat as
                      "Orthodox", have encrouched the question of the physicality or somatical
                      nature of Jesus/Christ,
                      the somatic or spiritual nature of Jesus resurrection and ascent (and
                      death, as shown in the Docetic variant) as put against the expected
                      physical or somatical "eternal abode/life"
                      of the elect or the true christians, their possible resurrection, and
                      "journey to heaven" - whether there is a temporal "rest" which some are
                      consigned to, an eternal physical hell
                      or an eternal physical paradise.. even if the anatomy of God the Father is
                      a complete and actual physical and material analogue to the human, since
                      the human is considered
                      "the image of God". Of course, they would not use those struggling and
                      failing terms; agreement over terminology took up quite a lot of the time
                      as well, and even marching out
                      as party or rebellious to one or another doctrinal Council, it doesnt
                      appear that everyone got the same idea of what had been agreed upon.. The
                      Messalians heresy would be
                      declared as such, treated as such and very strongly argued against *after
                      the disappearance of the heresy*, when the same ideas,practices and
                      attitudes were discovered
                      and treated in other movements...In the late middle ages. At that time -
                      the more sophisticated and literate followers of such, *would* have an
                      idea about Alchemy and other arts,
                      and would adapt either their theology to its imagry,ideas and terminology
                      - or vice versa. The "perfection theme" remains in a more socialized
                      fringe than the "ascension theme"-
                      the strongest "ascension theme" religion or movement, which is not
                      violently fought and polemized against by the west - is actually
                      non-Christian and non-western in origin and expression;
                      It`s Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism. The "perfection theme" in various kinds,
                      also including the somatic view of the Messalians - you can find all over,
                      but not particularized or put
                      into a dogmatic body as such; Christian Science, New Thought, various
                      trends of occultism including the so-called New Age - and yes, here we
                      *do* find it conglomerated
                      and synthetized with a symbology adapted from Alchemy.




                      Pax Pleromae


                      --
                      Terje Dahl Bergersen
                      terje@...
                      http://terje.bergersen.net/
                    • Magusadeptus
                      Hello Terje Bergensen, ... qualified and ... another ... ends- ... proved ... half - ... designated Books of Secrets in antiquity and medieval periods and as
                      Message 10 of 10 , Oct 4, 2003
                        Hello Terje Bergensen,


                        --- In gnosticism2@yahoogroups.com, "Terje Bergersen" <terje@b...>
                        wrote:
                        >


                        >
                        >
                        > With regards to the excerpt:
                        >
                        >[ Are the means by which Alchemy is designated a "sacred art"
                        qualified and
                        > explained in the book?
                        > Is it established, with textual (and I don`t mean a citation from
                        another
                        > book of this kind.. ) evidence and groundwork,
                        > that Alchemy -as a sacred art- originates and is employed -to those
                        ends-
                        > in Hellenistic antiquity?
                        > That question is quite interesting, if it is qualified,"proved" or
                        proved
                        > probable, and given foundation - it is worth the chapter or the
                        half -
                        > which is the usual contigent in books like these..]
                        >
                        > The primary focus of Eamon's book are the recipe and formula books
                        designated
                        Books of Secrets in antiquity and medieval periods and as such
                        pertain to
                        the practical side of alchemy as opposed to the philosophical side.
                        I do not think that Eamon is wrong in referring to alchemy as a
                        Sacred Art, as it is in accord with not only other scholarly books
                        that I have read on the subject, but actual texts that are attributed
                        to late antiquity.
                        The literary tradition behind the recipe books dates back to
                        Hellenistic times and has its roots in the alchemical tradition.
                        Three of the earliest recipe books are Egyptian papyri known as the
                        Leyden X, Stockholm papyrus and Papyrus Ebers.
                        Three other alchemical manuscripts to which scholars attribute the
                        originals to the Hellenistic period are the `The Precepts of Hermes
                        Trismegistus', ` Zosimus, On Completion' and `Book of Comarius,
                        Philosopher and High Priest Who Was Teaching Cleopatra the Divine,
                        the Sacred Art of the Philosopher's Stone'. Sacred Art actually
                        appears in the title of the latter, while Zosimus' work refers to
                        alchemy as the Divine Art.





                        [Of course, Alchemy is a very specific topic to many readers of this
                        list,
                        > while it is a general and tenuous one to many others...
                        > I get the impression that the simple definition used for "alchemy"
                        here
                        > has to do with the doctrines concerning "refinement", which is to
                        say -
                        > "perfection" - I have this quiet suspicion that very many, too many
                        to
                        > list, in fact, of the religious and philosophical remnants of our
                        past and
                        > passing civilizations (our culture is turning into static..beyond
                        that
                        > threshold lays oblivion), traditions,movements,groups..religions -
                        in some
                        > way employ intelligence,immagination,intuition and a collective and
                        > individual effort towards one or another kind of such "refinement".
                        > To demonstrate the idea behind such "refinement" (which
                        incidentally is
                        > also just a barely workable metaphor) you could employ mental
                        images,
                        > examples which is not the thing itself, or entirely representative
                        as such
                        > - but which gives you an impression of what is at stake and if not
                        the
                        > processes themselves, at least the fact of some kind of process
                        being
                        > involved; one such would be the very primitive concern of what it
                        takes to
                        > purify a metal - or distill something - or indeed, "produce gold".
                        That`s
                        > everyday usage of the term "alchemy" - hard work and concentration
                        to
                        > which is added a bit of genius, and a pinch of brimstone - produced
                        > brilliance, pure gold..
                        >
                        > The nature of the formula as claimed by the Messalian heretics
                        (according
                        > to Theodoret among others) could remind one somewhat of the
                        overblown and
                        > optimistic evaluations of certain
                        > philosophers,authors,artistes,socioanthropologists,psychologists and
                        > others.. concerning the effect of the "Psychedelic"; by "cleansing
                        the
                        > doors of perception" - in the case of the messalians by way of "fire
                        > baptism" and ascetic and devotionary discipline - in the case of
                        Huxley
                        > and other Psychedelic pioneers - by ingesting, "under the right set
                        and
                        > setting", a substance - a true vision or appreciation of reality,
                        not the
                        > collective and dull reality, but an expanded, "higher" reality -
                        which to
                        > the Messalians included angels,spirits,gods and so
                        forth .The "effect" of
                        > the discipline as cited by Theodoret almost suggest a shamanic
                        direction..
                        > which isnt too uncommon among pietists - consider the trances and
                        > ecstasies of the early Quakers, the Shakers, the noncomformist
                        communalist
                        > sects of the Taborians and their russian brethren the Dukhobors
                        etc. all
                        > sharing a lifestyle and perspective which includes the ideal of
                        > "perfection" and the acquisition of the vision of heaven,angels etc.
                        > through ascetic discipline and contemplative prayer.]
                        >

                        To my knowledge Psychedelics are not mentioned in Eamon's book.



                        > [All this is well and good, if it can be established that the
                        doctrinal
                        > platform of for instance the Messalians or the Cathars - include an
                        > understanding of human divinity or consciousness of the divine,being
                        > increased by effort and technique; I`ll admit that we may very well
                        > combine two words -sacred- and -art-, but do we with those
                        ingredients get
                        > Alchemy?
                        >
                        > I suspect the author of that book of really sincerely and perhaps
                        even
                        > intensively studying what Titus Burkhardt had to say about Alchemy
                        being
                        > an Sacred Art..but I also suspect,being a suspicious bastard.. that
                        he
                        > runs off with it, reversing the relationships, so *any* "Sacred
                        Art", as
                        > qualified by ourselves, becomes "Alchemy", and uses the two so much
                        > interchangeably. This is typical of so-called "popular occultists"
                        and
                        > thats where I spot that assertion which includes or employs
                        a "total
                        > unknown", which if partially "known" - like through the articles
                        > I cited in my last post, also is controversial.]

                        Eamon also writes:
                        "We are obviously concerned here with a cultural climate in which the
                        distinction between gold making and gold faking was not as obvious as
                        it is to us. As Joseph Needham observed, the distinction between
                        aurification (counterfeiting gold and aurifaction
                        (transmuting "ignoble" metals into gold) is not technological but
                        cultural: it depends upon what you think you are doing. Indeed the
                        alchemists real aim had little to do with either the making or
                        counterfeiting of gold. His goal was a religious one: to project upon
                        matter the mystical drama of the passion, death and resurrection of
                        the god of the mystery cult. In the sudden appearance of alchemical
                        texts at the beginning of the Christian era we witness the
                        convergence of two esoteric traditions, one learned and the other
                        popular, one representing the revealed wisdom of the East and the
                        other by the craft tradition, the guardian of trade secrets…" -page
                        31, Science And The Secrets of Nature, William Eamon.

                        >
                        > [The cited authors casual accusation that Christianity, in
                        general , of
                        > trying to obliterate a "science" or initiatory tradition, that
                        really did
                        > not please me or impress me either ; considering that the Alchemical
                        > tradition were sustained in particularly two areas, one western and
                        one
                        > eastern, and these were chiefly Christian and Islamic; The religious
                        > imagry/ideas that the author obliquely refers to in the excerpt -
                        > originates from these two, to which is added an almost necessary
                        > "Platonic" perspective on the relationship between a manifest,solid
                        and
                        > muteable/manipulative/elastic constitution of matter/physicality -
                        and a
                        > spiritual world of forms,"ideals",patterns and "powers" which
                        > inform,"sustains" and penetrates into the physical and sensual
                        domains in
                        > which man, The Quintessence, finds himself immersed. This
                        dependence of
                        > the Christian philosophers who employed themselves with or of
                        Alchemy in
                        > one variety or another, upon Platonism,especially neo-platonism, is
                        very
                        > much in evidence. From what we can gather it is highly probable that
                        > Thomas of Aquinas, a Docteur and Sainte of the Catholic Church,
                        authored
                        > the Aurora Consurgens,
                        > which is a very curious document which, read by modern or probably
                        > contemporary eyes..]

                        It is true that for a period the Church did not ban alchemy, but
                        that is not to say that it supported it either. In 1317 Pope John
                        XXII issued a Papul bull condemning the art. It is also true that
                        various heretical sects were known to have practiced the art.
                        For example, Nestorians and the Monophysites were aquainted with
                        alchemical doctrines and carried these through Syria and Persia.
                        "The immediate cause was the expulsion of the learned sect of the
                        Nestorians from Constantinople in A.D. 431. They formed an active
                        school of Greek learning at Edessa in the north of Syria. Thence they
                        were expelled by the Greek Emporer in 489. They then moved to Nisibis
                        in Mesopotamia and soon after A.D. 500 finally settled a Jundai-
                        Shapur, the great Persian medical school, some distance north of
                        Basra. The Nestorians long retained a knowledge of Greek and soon
                        began to translate Greek works into Syriac. In the next century the
                        Monophyisite Christians wer also expelled from Constantinople and
                        migrated to Syria and Persia. Some, at least of the Greek works of
                        alchemy were translated by them in Syriac." Page 68, The Alchemists,
                        F. Sherwood Taylor
                        I have read elsewhere that the Ophites practiced alchemy but the
                        source eludes me at the moment. Nevertheless, Seligmann in his
                        History Of Magic and the Occult, mentions that the serpent Ouroboros
                        was worshipped by several sects of the Ophites. This symbol not only
                        appears on gnostic gem amulets but is also a prominent symbol in
                        alchemical texts. In Arcana Mundi, in the section on alchemical
                        texts, Luck gives an Ouroboros symbol accompanied with the words "One
                        is all, and by it all, and if one does not contain all, all is
                        nothing." Page 367 Arcana Mundi , Magic and Occult in the Greek and
                        Roman Worlds , Georg Luck.

                        [However, if we inspect the Messalians and their
                        > Orthodox (Eastern Orthodox) counterparts
                        > in late antiquity, we find little evidence of that inspiration, nor
                        > dependence. We find the suggestion that matter is corrupt through
                        sin, sin
                        > having brought about the presence of
                        > evil spirits within material containers and forms,in particular -
                        human
                        > bodies; if these selfsame bodies are exorcised and purified, and
                        kept in a
                        > state of "perfection", wherein
                        > the individual makes no bidding for his fate and desires nothing,
                        being
                        > impassionate about anything but doing the will of God, they become
                        vessels
                        > of light and of the Holy Spirit.
                        > This is quite comparable to the speculations and approach of the
                        medieval
                        > Homines Intelligae, or the "Brethren and Sistren of the Free
                        Spirit" -
                        > Their evaluation of the "base"
                        > stage of humanity, the state of being for the majority of
                        humankind, and
                        > its foundation; sin - is similar to that of the Messalians, while
                        it is
                        > quite different from the Cathars, because the latter, while divided
                        > between Traducianism (wherein the same psychological or "psychic"
                        > substance or persona is spread thin through the
                        > generations originating in Adam (and sometimes in Adam and Eve))
                        and the
                        > belief of the pre-existence of each individual soul as angels
                        fallen or
                        > trapped into the condition
                        > of incarnation,human bodies - who employs the idea of a metaphysical
                        > cause: the fall of higher intelligences into Mutiny against God and
                        the
                        > "First Creation" (which appears
                        > to me to be so dependant on Origenes Peri Archon (On First
                        Principles)
                        > that they are practically "Origenists") but most dramatically: the
                        flawed,
                        > rebellious, "wicked" creation
                        > of the physical universe, or at least the earth and its inhabitants
                        > physical forms. A "Biblical Demiurge" theme.
                        >
                        > With the Cathars we have an "ascension theme"; they seek liberation
                        as the
                        > end of all ascetic and contemplative disciplines used on their
                        path; the
                        > ritual of the Consolamentum are a formal seal
                        > which signify towards the exterior authorities (the "powers"
                        or "archons")
                        > that they formally belong to the Church of God and endeavoured to
                        give
                        > Caesar what is Caesar`s :
                        > their bodies, their birthright, their properties and so forth; as
                        such,
                        > the body is not claimed from the possession of evil spirits, but in
                        a very
                        > real sense consigned and given up to the world.
                        > With the Messalians we have chiefly a "perfection theme"; they seek
                        a
                        > glorified deification of man as a physical creature, the role of the
                        > "elite" in a Manichaean and Cathar (here they are
                        > similar) setting is to "show the way", the role of the "elite" with
                        the
                        > Messalians is kingship,domination and leadership - a theocracy -
                        the body
                        > is claimed from the possession of evil
                        > spirits, purified, perfected and ..according to Epiphanius, allowed
                        > certain licenses which would theologically now befall the perfected
                        soul,
                        > while in a state of imperfection, any pleasure
                        > would be considered the privilege of the devil, which of course had
                        to be
                        > denied him. In addition, the perfected would expect to receive all
                        gifts
                        > and abilities ascribed traditionally to such
                        > a condition and to the "gifts of the holy spirit".
                        >
                        > This difference of opinion upon the theme of Soma is quite
                        significant,
                        > from the early 2nd century
                        > dissent and disagreement, even among those which historians treat as
                        > "Orthodox", have encrouched the question of the physicality or
                        somatical
                        > nature of Jesus/Christ,
                        > the somatic or spiritual nature of Jesus resurrection and ascent
                        (and
                        > death, as shown in the Docetic variant) as put against the expected
                        > physical or somatical "eternal abode/life"
                        > of the elect or the true christians, their possible resurrection,
                        and
                        > "journey to heaven" - whether there is a temporal "rest" which some
                        are
                        > consigned to, an eternal physical hell
                        > or an eternal physical paradise.. even if the anatomy of God the
                        Father is
                        > a complete and actual physical and material analogue to the human,
                        since
                        > the human is considered
                        > "the image of God". Of course, they would not use those struggling
                        and
                        > failing terms; agreement over terminology took up quite a lot of
                        the time
                        > as well, and even marching out
                        > as party or rebellious to one or another doctrinal Council, it
                        doesnt
                        > appear that everyone got the same idea of what had been agreed
                        upon.. The
                        > Messalians heresy would be
                        > declared as such, treated as such and very strongly argued against
                        *after
                        > the disappearance of the heresy*, when the same ideas,practices and
                        > attitudes were discovered
                        > and treated in other movements...In the late middle ages. At that
                        time -
                        > the more sophisticated and literate followers of such, *would* have
                        an
                        > idea about Alchemy and other arts,
                        > and would adapt either their theology to its imagry,ideas and
                        terminology
                        > - or vice versa. The "perfection theme" remains in a more socialized
                        > fringe than the "ascension theme"-
                        > the strongest "ascension theme" religion or movement, which is not
                        > violently fought and polemized against by the west - is actually
                        > non-Christian and non-western in origin and expression;
                        > It`s Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism. The "perfection theme" in various
                        kinds,
                        > also including the somatic view of the Messalians - you can find
                        all over,
                        > but not particularized or put
                        > into a dogmatic body as such; Christian Science, New Thought,
                        various
                        > trends of occultism including the so-called New Age - and yes, here
                        we
                        > *do* find it conglomerated
                        > and synthetized with a symbology adapted from Alchemy.]
                        >
                        > The circulation of alchemical texts along sectarian groups does not
                        necessarily dictate that the same religious doctrines are transmitted
                        as well. Alchemy has since it inception had two sides one practical,
                        the other religious. One sectarian group may interpret the religious
                        side differently from the next. I suspect that a lot of what passes
                        as alchemical doctrine may in fact be practical formula disguised as
                        such. Imagine how chemical formulas would read if the elements on an
                        elemental chart were substituted for words from the Bible. H2O might
                        read as Holy Holy Omega. To the untrained eye this would appear as an
                        incantation, but the Elect it is the formula for water. Ancient
                        alchemists did not have the elemental chart, but they did couch their
                        formulas in cryptic language equally as enigmatic.
                        >
                        >

                        Sincerely,
                        Magusadeptus
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