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Re: Messalians

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  • Magusadeptus
    Hello Terje Bergensen, ... qualified and ... another ... ends- ... proved ... half - ... designated Books of Secrets in antiquity and medieval periods and as
    Message 1 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 secretsÂ…" -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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