Friday, September 26, 2014

Songs of the Siren on the River Styx


Jeff Buckley's family is producing a bio-pic on the late singer's life, provisionally entitled Mystery White Boy. Penny Dreadful star Reeve Carney has been cast as Buckley and Medium/ Gospel of Thomas channel Patricia Arquette has been cast as his mother. 

For those of you who may not know, Buckley died by drowning in a river in Memphis, TN in 1997, just as he was celebrating the completion of a new group of songs for the follow-up to his 1994 breakthrough album, Grace.


I don't know if they'll include former Cocteau Twins singer Elizabeth Fraser in the story; if they've read my posts on Buckley's relationship with the Siren, they may very well not. It's not a story a family would want to tell. 

But it's the only story that's true.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Fragments of an Alien Faith, Part 2 (UPDATED)


Earnest, well-intentioned scholars like Elaine Pagels and Gilles Quispel worked very hard to bring Gnosticism back into the public consciousness in the past 40 years but presented a Gnosticism that I'm not sure the ancients would have necessarily recognized. 

The Gnosticism they put across in their books semed more a substitute for the worthy liberal Protestantism they were raised in, and didn't quite grapple with the fundamental weirdness of the ancient sects. Because if you read the actual texts you see that Gnosticism was more Protean than Protestant, more Unarian than Unitarian.

We looked at the Mandaean light beings and light-ships, and touched upon the flying cloud and pillar imagery of Gnostic texts like Revelation of the Magi and The Gospel of Judas and then brought the gonzo UFOlogy of John Keel into the mix. 

But there was another flying cloud passage from The Apocalypse of Adam that struck a chord with me:
And the eighth kingdom says of him that a cloud came upon the earth and enveloped a rock. He came from it. The angels who were above the cloud nourished him. He received glory and power there. 
Again, the flying clouds that land and hover and produce "angels" and what not. But something seemed familiar about this passage; Jacques Vallee, from Dimensions: A Casebook of Alien Contact, wrote this about the manifestation of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima, Portugal, some 30 years before the Nag Hammadi texts were discovered:
From a nearby cave or grotto came a golden-colored cloud. Soon after came an entity, described as a beautiful lady, who placed herself above a bush that was moving as if it were windy. At Fatima, there was a wind which "moved across the mountain without touching the trees." 
The Lady of Fatima consistently appeared in the top branches of a small tree, whose center shoots were found bent toward the east, as though tilted in that direction when the apparition departed. Lucia, of Fatima, was closely questioned on this point and stated that "our Lady's feet rested lightly on the top of the leaves." 
This event reminds us not only of Adam but also of the Revelation of the Magi. A cloud descends, produces a divine being who then instructs an earthling in the ways of Heaven. The Apocalypse of Adam wouldn't even be discovered for another 30 years so there's zero chance that the little Catholic peasant children of rural Portugal were LARPing ancient Gnostic texts for the lulz. 



What is especially important here is that the events at Fatima led to what many researchers call the largest mass UFO sighting in human history, the so-called Miracle of the Sun in 1917. Even more astonishing is that all of this became one of the most important events in modern Catholicism. 

As we've seen, the Queen of Heaven and mass miracles are nothing novel to the 20th Century; similar events during the Second Punic War led to the official adoption of the Phrygian goddess Cybele into the Roman pantheon, a goddess whose renown would come to outshine most of Rome's native goddesses and rival that of fellow import Isis herself.

Like Keel, Vallee doesn't labour under the Saturday morning cartoon reductionism of the Ancient Aliens crowd when it comes to these kinds of manifestations. Vallee sees all of this as something far more profound. 

Like the Gnostics, he sees these numinous intruders as ambassadors from another dimension entirely, nothing less than a slap in the face to our concept of being itself, stating that "the UFO occupants, like the elves of old, are not extraterrestrials. They are the denizens of another reality."

Slapping people's conceptions of the space-time continuum in the face, particularly when it's accompanied by remarkably lucid and consistent contact narratives, didn't make the ancient Gnostics any friends either. 



This episode from The Acts of Peter plays like any number of contact stories I've read in UFO literature, right down to a being who manifested appears one way to one set of witnesses and entirely differently to another (see: Hill, Betty and Barney). Note the "light as cometh in the clouds." Again, they're talking about a different kind of cloud:
And when all had prayed, the hall wherein they were shone as when it lighteneth, even with such a light as cometh in the clouds, yet not such a light as that of the daytime, but unspeakable, invisible, such as no man can describe, even such that we were beside ourselves with bewilderment, calling on the Lord and saying: Have mercy, Lord, upon us thy servants: what we are able to bear, that, Lord, give thou us; for this we can neither see nor endure. 
And as we lay there, only those widows stood up which were blind; and the bright light which appeared unto us entered into their eyes and made them to see. Unto whom Peter said: Tell us what ye saw. And they said: We saw an old man of such comeliness as we are not able to declare to thee; but others said: We saw a young man; and others: We saw a boy touching our eyes delicately, and so were our eyes opened.  

We're only scratching the surface here. But what I wanted to impart is that the Mandaeans' remarkable literature is by no means an isolated phenomenon, that it grew out of a culture steeped in a cosmic consciousness filled with all kinds of flying vehicles, most often described as "clouds" or "clouds of light." 

But as mentioned before, there is precedent for this language in the Hebrew Bible. Although artists beginning in the Middle Ages, depicted all of these "clouds" as clouds, the word seems to have another meaning here. As documented extensively by "Bible UFO" researchers, it appears throughout the Book of Exodus, referring to the Host of Hosts as he guided the Israelites through the Sinai as a "pillar of cloud". 

As quoted in the prophetic book of Nehemiah 9:19 : “Because of your great compassion you did not abandon them in the wilderness. By day the pillar of cloud did not fail to guide them on their path, nor the pillar of fire by night to shine on the way they were to take."  

In the prophetic book of Daniel (7:13), this vision comes again, associated with Divinity. “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence." 


Evolution: From popular Phoenician Horus winged disk amulet 
to popular Gnostic Abraxas amulet
 But as Biblical historians have discovered with the Ugaritic religious texts which were unearthed in 1973, the language of the Hebrew Bible evolved from the older Canaanite religion of Ba'al. The Canaanite sky god is rather stunningly referred to as a "charioteer of the clouds." From the Ugaritic Baal and `Anat Cycle:
I say to you, O Prince Baal, I declare O Charioteer of the clouds: Now your enemy, O Baal; now your enemy you will smite. Now you will destroy your adversary. Take your eternal kingdom, your dominion of all generations.
The Ba'al literature is filled with heavenly hosts busy at work up in the un-cloudlike "clouds", tantalizingly reminiscent of the much, much later Gnostic texts. Of course, all of this will be taken for granted by ancient astronaut theorists, but we like to show our math here. 

And for good reason. The standard AAT exegesis might be the most direct path from point A from point B, but there's always been a major stumbling block for me; it just doesn't seem alien enough. 

It's just not weird enough to account for the strangeness these texts go to such great lengths to delineate. No one spent more time with their heads in UFO reports than Keel or Vallee and both of them ended up dispensing with the Man-from-Mars kind of thinking that still dominates UFOlogy and AAT. Why? Because there was too much evidence that you had to throw out in order to hammer that round peg into that square hole.

Take Synchronicity for example. Both Keel and Vallee were all about it, observing that Synchronicity followed UFOs around like a lost puppy. And the grand-daddy of all things Synchro, Carl Jung, began his career in the high and the weird with this text right here,  with the Mithraic Liturgy of the Paris Codex. 

There's been a lot of debate as to whether it's actually Mithraic, that it reads more like a Hermetic text, despite the shout-outs to Helios Mithras. Either way, this isn't technically a Gnostic text, but like the Nag Hammadi Library it is an important part of the Western esoteric canon and kicked off the occult career of one of our most important modern Gnostics.

But as we looked at a few years back, the Liturgy also reads a lot more like an abduction account, since this particular sundisk has doors and windows, what sounds like a rocket engine with exhaust pipes and beings inside it going about their business.  In short, it sounds like a kind of space shuttle than an interplanetary craft. 

Written at least seventeen centuries ago.



But the thing is, this whole experience starts with the abductee tripping balls on some kind of mixture of "herbs and spices." And according to Graham Hancock, this exact kind of experience is not unknown to ayahuasca shamans either. (Note: you might want to read the version of the liturgy with the visual aids here):
...It is impossible for me, born mortal, to rise with the golden brightnesses of the immortal brilliance ...Draw in breath from the rays, drawing up three times as much as you can, and you will see yourself being lifted up and ascending to the height, so that you seem to be in mid-air. 
You will hear nothing either of man or of any other living thing, nor in that hour will you see anything of mortal affairs on earth, but rather you will see all immortal things. 
For in that day and hour you will see the divine order of the skies: the presiding gods rising into heaven, and others setting. 
Now the course of the visible gods will appear through the disk of god, my father...
As you might imagine with a flying disk that sucks up random humans, this disk seems to have an exhaust system.
...and in similar fashion the so-called "pipe," the origin of the ministering wind. For you will see it hanging from the sun's disk like a pipe. 
You will see the outflow of this object toward the regions westward, boundless as an east wind, if it be assigned to the regions of the East--and the other similarly, toward its own regions.
And surprisingly, the pilots of this disk seem rather alarmed at the ritualist's presence at first. But then seem to shrug and say, "oh, just another tripper. Back to work."*
And you will see the gods staring intently at you and rushing at you. So at once put your right finger on your mouth and say: "Silence! Silence! Silence! Symbol of the living, incorruptible god! 
Then you will see the gods looking graciously upon you and no longer rushing at you, but rather going about in their own order of affairs. 
This is really the freakiest ancient text I've ever read. And damn if this doesn't sound like a spaceship going into hyperspace. But that's crazy talk, right?
So when you see that the world above is clear and circling, and that none of the gods or angels is threatening you, expect to hear a great crash of thunder, so as to shock you. 
Immediately after you have said these things the sun's disk will be expanded. 
And after you have said the second prayer, where there is "Silence! Silence!" and the accompanying words, make a hissing sound twice and a popping sound twice, and immediately you will see many five- pronged stars coming forth from the disk and filling all the air.  
If you want to know why I believe this isn't just the Sun they're talking about, oh, maybe it's on account of the fact of THIS DISK HAS FRICKIN' DOORS. And a very noisy engine, I have to say. They might want to have that looked at:
"And when the disk is open, you will see the fireless circle, and the fiery doors shut tight." 
Say all these things with fire and spirit, until completing the first utterance; then, similarly, begin the second, until you complete the seven immortal gods of the world. When you have said these things, you will hear thundering and shaking in the surrounding realm; and you will likewise feel yourself being agitated.  
Then open your eyes and you will see the doors open and the world of the gods which is within the doors, so that from the pleasure and joy of the sight your spirit runs ahead and ascends. 
Now when they take their place, here and there, in order, look in the air and you will see lightning-bolts going down, and lights flashing , and the earth shaking...
But here's where things get interesting. Inside another set of doors in this flying disk up in space, are yet another surprise:
After saying this, you will see the doors thrown open, and seven virgins coming from deep within, dressed in linen garments, and with the faces of asps. They are called the Fates of heaven, and wield golden wands.  
Oh dear- the Reptilians have arrived.



Reptilians have become a bit of a cliche in modern UFOlogy, but it's not as if they're a brand new thing. According to at least one apocryphal Hebrew text, the Watchers were also Reptilian, you have all the feathered serpents of Mesoamerican mythology, and bringing us back on topic, the Serpahim/n were also serpent-like. 

This text comes from the Nag Hammadi Library and sports the portentous title, "On the Origin of the World." Needless to say, this "chariot" was probably similar to Ba'al's cloud chariot:
And before his mansion he created a throne, which was huge and was upon a four-faced chariot called "Cherubin"...Furthermore, from this chariot the seventy-two gods took shape; they took shape so that they might rule over the seventy-two languages of the peoples. And by that throne he created other, serpent-like angels, called "Seraphin", which praise him at all times.    
I needn't remind my readers that the ancient Egyptians placed serpents at the pineal gland on the head-dresses of royalty and so on, but please do note that one of the major Gnostic cults took their name from the Greek word for serpent:
The Ophites evolved in Egypt during the 2nd century AD and existed for several centuries afterwards. The name derived from the Greek 'ophis', meaning 'serpent', and relates to the great reverence which the Ophites had toward the serpent, a reverence inherited from traditional Egyptian religion, and which passed into Greek mythology in the stories surrounding Asclepios, the god of healing. 

 Mysteries abound. Of course, some of the earliest artifacts we have of a settled human culture are of the startling snake people of Tel al'Ubaid, the pre-Sumerian Mesopotamian culture who carved a number of snake-headed people who looked remarkably like the so-called "Reptilians" of UFO lore. 

This symbolism is well known to those involved in the AAT and High Weirdness research communities, and is all over the place in Sumerian culture, as well as other ancient cultures as well. To see it in Gnostic literature adds a new layer to a mystery that seems to deepen at every turn.

But the association with the Seraphin or Seraphim with serpents was also used in the Apocryphal Book of Enoch, which by sheer dint of coincidence just happens to sport that very same "cloud" UFO imagery we see all over the Gnostic literature. 

Which makes a strange kind of sense, seeing that a kind of UFOlogical imagery seems to link all these various apocryphal traditions together:
 39:1-3 And it will come to pass in these days that the chosen and holy children will descend from the high heavens, and their seed will become one with the children of men. In those days Enoch received books of zeal and of anger, and books of disturbance and of expulsion, and "mercy will not be upon them," said the Lord of the spirits. And at that time, a cloud and a whirlwind seized me from the face of the earth, and carried me to the end of the heavens.    
"The Book of Enoch" is a misnomer, it's actually several books cobbled together. And it's chock-full of what seems the freak-daddy UFO joyride of all time, with Enoch being given a tour of the Heavens and the Earth by the non-fallen Watchers. Note the uncanny description of a volcano here:
And they took and brought me to a place in which those who were there were like flaming fire, and, when they wished, they appeared as men And they brought me to the place of darkness, and to a mountain the point of whose summit reached to heaven. And I saw the places of the luminaries and the treasuries of the stars and of the thunder and in the uttermost depths, where were a fiery bow and arrows and their quiver, and a fiery sword and all the lightnings.  And they took me to the living waters, and to the fire of the west, which receives every setting of the sun. And I came to a river of fire in which the fire flows like water and discharges itself into the great sea towards the west. 
We'll be looking more at Enoch and the Watchers in the future, but as it happens there's good reason that both Jewish and Christian authorities rejected the books for inclusion in the canon- it's the same reason that the Freemasons were probably so fascinated with them. 

It seems that the Watchers were borrowed from Lebanese (read: Phoenician) religion, bringing us back to those mysterious pictographs that Jacques Vallee was so fascinated by. From Haaretz:
The myth of the Watchers, familiar to us mainly from Jewish texts, started out as an Aramaic myth in Lebanon. Most of its elements are best understood against the backdrop of Lebanese folklore and local artistic landmarks, which played an important role in historical memory as early as the Hellenistic period. 
Jews learned about the myth through apocalyptic circles, only then connecting it with the biblical story of the “sons of God and daughters of man” in Genesis 6.
It seems that certain Jewish mystics were fascinated by ancient depictions of flying men and sun-disks and folded them into stories they were hearing from the locals in Lebanon, and folded it all into the ancient tales of the Nephilim, marrying it to the ancient patriarch Enoch.
The ancient, engraved images looked to the later observer like a vestige from the world of the Watchers (Aramaic: ‘irim ), primordial angels who, according to popular mythology, descended to earth in hoary antiquity and bequeathed civilization to mankind. 
If you will, these are aliens, in a way resembling those recounted by Erich von Däniken in his pseudo-scientific book, “Chariots of the Gods.” 
Ahh, those chariots again.


One of the Phoenician flying disk pictographs that fascinated Jacques Vallee
This one depicts Melqart (known to the Greeks as Heracles) battling griffins
And as I've long suspected, the Watchers were someone else's gods who were literally demonized. 

After all, the Watchers "taught enchantments and root-cuttings" and "taught men to make swords, knives, shields, breastplates, the fabrication of mirrors and the workmanship of bracelets and ornaments, the use of paint, the beautifying of the eyebrows, the use of stones of every valuable and select kind, and of all sorts of dyes, so that the world became altered" and "taught the science of the constellations" and "taught the bitter and the sweet, the use of ink and paper"and all other sorts of useful arts and sciences while the Archangels merely taught men how to grovel. 

You knew going into it that there was something wrong with this story. 

Seeing as we started all of this with the followers of John, it's only appropriate to end it for now with a reference to Oannes: 
Babylonian mythology already told of ancient sages who were half-man and half-fish who emerged from the sea and bequeathed civilization to mankind. This old myth was revived in new garb in Lebanon, Syria and the Land of Israel in the Hellenistic period. In its Jewish form, the myth bore a new aspect: the Watchers conveyed forbidden knowledge, brought to human beings in an original sin. The bearers of the knowledge in the present version were not ancient fish who emerged from the sea but the mysterious angels who descended from heaven.
Forbidden knowledge? Well, that brings us right back to the very core of Gnosticism, doesn't it now?

We've only scratched the surface here- this is simply the start of a conversation. But it's an important start. I'll be continuing my study of these texts, having seen them now in a whole new light. 

Pun intended.

UPDATE: In a stunning turn, a recent news story on Al-Arabiya reveals that the Islamic Caliphate maniacs- current oppressors of the Mandaeans- confess to drinking blood. 

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has shocked the world with its beheadings and mass killings and now an alleged member has declared that the group relishes “drinking blood.” 
Self-claimed ISIS militant Rabie Shehada, known as “the Palestinian slayer,” made the chilling statement in a video recently posted online. 
“I swear we are a people who love death for the sake of God just as you love to live. I swear we are a people who love drinking blood. We came to slaughter you,” he said in the video. 
“We love dying for God as much as you love life,” he also said in the brief footage. 
The 26-year-old militant is believed to be from Nazareth, a city in northern Israel with a predominantly Arab population, according to an Al Arabiya correspondent.

And from the ancient Mandaean prophecy:
"And men will be polluted and during that period man will drink the blood of fellow-man. All that is fair (will disappear) , (but), amongst Nasoraeans, he that is steadfast in and holdeth to these teachings and this great revelation will rise up by the path of believers and will behold the great Countenance of Glory."
Nazareth, Nasoraeans? Something is unfolding here.



*The liturgy reminds me of the Star Trek episode "Homeward", in which Brian Markinson (X-Files, Caprica) plays a primitive villager who finds himself beamed aboard the Enterprise and experiences utter religious terror at the knowledge of a ship orbiting in space. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Fragments of an Alien Faith, Part 1

Paging Dr. Clelland....

Note: Be sure to check out my interview on Aeon Byte Gnostic Radio!

In a previous post, we looked at the remarkable literature of the Mandaeans, who are currently in exile from their native lands in Iraq. Their religious texts are filled with beings and ships of light as well as the very clear, lucid and oft-repated insistance that they are just vistors here, that their true home is on another world, a more perfect world.

In many ways, the Mandaean literature is the most striking (for its directness, if nothing else) but is not by any means unique. 

Gnostic literature on the whole is filled with arcane references to strange lights and clouds and strange clouds of light, as well as any number of celestial abductions, ascensions and encounters. 

The problem is that you get the impression that Gnostic culture was visionary in the traditional sense (read: entheogenic), and they may have inherited their liturgical methodology from the Mystery religions they rubbed elbows with in cities like Alexandria and Tarsus. 

You very much get the sense there is core experience unique to Gnosticism, a culture of contact if you will, that these Knowers did indeed know something because they were experiencing it out at night in the Egyptian or Judean or Syrian deserts. Roughly the same kind of experience our more contemporary Gnostics experienced out in the Mojave desert.  

Which is to say that when a scholar like Pagels states that the Gnostics didn't need a church to experience God, they just needed to go off into the desert, she's correct. She's just leaving an important detail out. 



But the Gnostics' experiences took them to a realization that neither the Mysteries nor religions like Christianity ever contemplated. The Gnostics' minds were so blown that they came to believe that they were were beings of light trapped in meat suits on a miserable alien planet. And they meant this quite literally.
The fundamental difference that separates the Gnostics from their contemporaries is that, for them, their native `soil' is not the earth, but that lost heaven which they keep vividly alive in their memories: they are the autochthons of another world. 
Hence their feeling of having fallen onto our earth like inhabitants from a distant planet, of having strayed into the wrong galaxy, and their longing to regain their true cosmic homeland, the luminous hyper-world that shimmers beyond the great nocturnal barrier. 
Their uprooting is not merely geographical but planetary. And to treat them as aliens in the political or civic sense - which is what happened - could be nothing but an absurd misunderstanding, like giving a Martian a temporary residence visa. - The Gnostics by Jacques La Carriere
This realization made them outcasts among outcasts, rebels among rebels. To them Christ was one of many emissaries from the Light-World, who came to awaken the Gnostic to their true identity. In short,  humanity were alien prisoners of a mad Demiurge who created the cosmos (the physical world in the Greek) so he could play God.
Of the profusion of gnostic experiences and symbolic expressions, one feature may be singled out as the central element in this varied and extensive creation of meaning: the experience of the world as an alien place into which man has strayed and from which he must find his way back home to the other world of his origin. Eric Vogelin, Collected Works: Science, Politics and Gnosticism
So it is exactly this cosmology that we see in the writings of the Mandaeans (who we studied recently here), who long outlived the other sects of the early Christian era; the Sethians, the Valentinians, the Carpocratians, the Ophites, the Manichaeans, and on and on. 

But perhaps it's because their writings had a more terse and compelling ring, that they were able- in the tradition of the best Biblical authors- to put across their message in a strong, simple and compelling fashion, lacking the kind of circular indulgence that makes a lot of the Nag Hammadi library a tougher slog. 

Remember that these Uthras are angelic light beings who exist in a very tangible fashion on Earth, acting as emissaries of the Light-World, assisting and protecting the Knowers:
To your first earth, ascend, to the place from which you were transplanted, to the fine abode of the uthras. Bestir yourself, put on your garment of radianceand put on your resplendent wreath. Sit on your throne of radiance, which the Life set up for you in the Place of Light. Rise up, inhabit the skinas, among the uthras, your brothers.
As a reader pointed out,  Uthras to the Flatwoods Monster

And here- untold years later- are we able to read one of the most stunning descriptions of a spaceship we have in ancient literature, one of several in Mandaean literature and one we can be grateful the producers of Ancient Aliens have not discovered yet. Note that it travels to the "shekinahs", or the divine dwelling places of the Almighty, which the Mandaeans quite explicity state repeatedly are on another world:
Life knotted for me a noose and built for me a ship that fades not,—a ship whose wings are of glory, that sails along as in flight, and from it the wings will not be torn off. 'Tis a well-furnished ship and sails on in the heart of the heaven.  
Its ropes are ropes of glory and a rudder of Truth is there to it. Sunday takes hold of the pole, Life's Son seized the rudder. They draw thither to the shekīnahs and dispense Light among the treasures. Thrones in them they set up, and long drawn out come the Jordans upon them. 
On the bow are set lamps that in the wildest of tempests are not put out. All ships that sight me, make obeisance submissively to me. Submissively they make me obeisance and come to show their devotion unto me.
Lamps that the wildest of tempests will not put out. Well, we have those now, don't we? They certainly aren't anything a late Bronze or Iron Age people had any experience with.

That's the Mandaeans. But you can't throw a rock without hitting a lightship in a Gnostic text. Perfect example is the recently published Revelation of the Magi, a Syrian text dated to the second or third century.  Here we get a much different take on the Star of Bethlehem. 


And by different take, I mean…well, how many stars do you know that descend to Earth, enter caves and then produce "a small and humble human" from inside?
And when we [the Magi] bathed in the Spring of Purification with joy, and we ascended the Mountain of Victories as we were accustomed, and we went up and found that pillar of light in front of the cave, again a great fear came upon us.  
12:3 And again, we saw that heaven had been opened a like a great gate and men of glory carrying the star of light upon their hands. And they descended and stood upon the pillar of light, and the entire mountain was filled by its light, which cannot be uttered by the mouth of humanity. 
12:4 And (something) like the hand of a small person drew near in our eyes from the pillar and the star, at which we could not look, and it comforted us. And we saw the star enter the Cave of Treasures of Hidden Mysteries, and the cave shone beyond measure.  
12:5 And a humble and kind voice made itself heard by us, which called out and said to us: “Enter inside without doubt, in love, and see a great and amazing vision.” And we were encouraged and comforted by the message of the voice.  
12:6 And we entered, being afraid, and we bowed our knees at the mouth of the cave because of the very abundance of the light.  
12:7 And when we rose at its command, we lifted our eyes and saw that light, which is unspeakable by the mouth of human beings.  
13:1 And when it had concentrated itself, it appeared to us in the bodily form of a small and humble human, and he said to us: “Peace to you, sons of my hidden mysteries."
"My hidden mysteries." Huh. I'll bet.

The Gospel of Judas, another well-publicized, recently unearthed Gnostic text, is also filled with the kinds of luminous cloud imagery you see in a lot of Gnostic texts. In Judas, the clouds runs the gamut, from the Mega-Cosmic to the merely cosmic.


The Gospel boasts a creation treatise, with the "Self Generated" either existing within a cloud or forming the cloud itself. Either way, the cloud seems to be an angel factory, as the Self-Generated uses this "cloud" to create an entire cosmology. 

What becomes clear as you read Gnostic literature is that these clouds are not the same clouds as the ones up in the sky that cause the rain and what-not; this is an entirely different reality for which "cloud" seems to be the best metaphor available:
And a luminous cloud appeared there. He said, ‘Let an angel come into being as my attendant.’ A great angel, the enlightened divine Self-Generated, emerged from the cloud. Because of him, four other angels came into being from another cloud, and they became attendants for the angelic Self-Generated. 
This cosmology appears in other Gnostic texts, in even more sci-fi/heavy metal-friendly renderings, such as The Gospel of the Egyptians.
After five thousand years, the great light Eleleth spoke: "Let someone reign over the chaos and Hades." And there appeared a cloud whose name is hylic Sophia [...] She looked out on the parts of the chaos, her face being like [...] in her form [...] blood. And the great angel Gamaliel spoke to the great Gabriel, the minister of the great light Oroiael; he said, "Let an angel come forth, in order that he may reign over the chaos and Hades." 
Then the cloud, being agreeable, came forth in the two monads, each one of which had light. [...] the throne, which she had placed in the cloud above. Then Sakla, the great angel, saw the great demon who is with him, Nebruel. And they became together a begetting spirit of the earth. They begot assisting angels.  
Even more metal is this apocalyptic Rapture in The Apocalypse of Adam, in which the Gnostic faithful are spared God's wrath when plucked from Earth in those interesting "clouds":
For rain-showers of God the almighty will be poured forth, so that he might destroy all flesh [of God the almighty, so that he might destroy all flesh] from the earth on account of the things that it seeks after, along with those from the seed of the men to whom passed the life of the knowledge which came from me and Eve, your mother. For they were strangers to him. 
Afterwards, great angels will come on high clouds, who will bring those men into the place where the spirit of life dwells.  
Which brings us back to Judas. Later a mysterious "cloud" descends and Judas enters into it for reasons unclear since the text is so heavily damaged. Later Judas apparently re-emerges and does his assigned duty and betrays Jesus so his mission may be completed. 

Again we see the Gnostic focus on "external realms" (read: outer space) that we first saw in the creation myth of Hypostasis of the Archons. Oh, and the cloud:
Judas said to Jesus, “Look, what will those who have been baptized in your name do?” Truly [I] say to you, Judas, [those who] offer sacrifices to Saklas [...] God [—three lines missing—] everything that is evil.
“But you will exceed all of them. For you will sacrifice the man that clothes me.
 And then the image of the great generation of Adam will be exalted, for prior to heaven, earth, and the angels, that generation, which is from the eternal realms, exists.
 
Look, you have been told everything. Lift up your eyes and look at the cloud and the light within it and the stars surrounding it. The star that leads the way is your star.” 
Judas lifted up his eyes and saw the luminous cloud, and he entered it. Those standing on the ground heard a voice coming from the cloud… 

Compare this language to the Magi description and realize that these texts are emerging from similar cultures at roughly the same time. I really hope an intact version of The Gospel of Judas is found one day, because I have a feeling there's a lot more information about these "clouds," so-called, lost in all those gaps.

Now, what interested me about all of this was my previous reading of John Keel, who wouldn't blink at any of this. As to the "clouds," with their various and sundry behaviors, Keel would tell you that's par for the course. From Operation Trojan Horse on UFO sightings:
Most of these were of luminous objects that behaved in peculiar, unnatural ways. The great majority of all sightings throughout history have been of "soft" luminous objects, or objects that were transparent, translucent, changed size and shape, or appeared and disappeared suddenly. Sightings of seemingly solid metallic objects have always been quite rare. The "soft" sightings, being more numerous, comprise the real phenomenon and deserve the most study. 
As to the endless citations of impossibly cosmic lightclouds flying around and descending and picking up passengers in the Gnostic texts?    
Everything from the Dead Sea Scrolls, the ancient scriptures of the Orient, and the records of early Egypt to the modern messages of the psychics and contactees and the thousands of inspired books indicates that mankind was directly ruled by the phenomenon for many centuries. The god-king system established a universal theocracy which enabled ultrater­restrials posing as gods and superkings to supervise human events.
Well, that's Keel for you, Mr. Hyperbole. 

But there was a passage in the Apocalypse of Adam, which is a Nag Hammadi text undiscovered until 1946 and unpublished until several years after that, that rang a certain bell with me. A certain manifestation of the Godhead that may ring a bell with you as well.



TO BE CONTINUED

Friday, September 12, 2014

Psychic Survival Strategies on Aeon Byte Gnostic Radio



This is one of my favorite podcast appearances. Miguel Connor is a great conversationalist with a wide range of interests and we both spent a lot of time preparing for this talk. The general outline covers politics, pop culture and Gnosticism, but as good conversations do we cover a lot of bases in-between.

Here's Miguel's show notes for this episode:
Gnostic philosophy has greatly influenced many alternative movements in their search for individual freedom, from secret societies to enlightenment thinkers to iconic artists of modernity. But can Gnosticism assist in modern politics? It can indeed, especially since the Gnostic speculations of what forces rule the systems of the cosmos have come true, reflected on material society and its existentialist morass of alienated humanity. We delve into these speculations and attempt to find solutions within the mystic ideas of ancient heresies.
If you enjoy this talk, please head over to Aeon Byte to hear more. Miguel has had an impressive roster of guests on his show and his archives are well worth your time and your financial support.

Enjoy!

POSTSCRIPT: When you're finished with this, head over to Hidden Experience and check out Mike Clelland's talk at Exopolitics UK on Owls and Synchronicity.


Sunday, September 07, 2014

AstroGnostic: The Mandaeans' Elusive Companions



There is a lot more going on in Iraq and Syria than almost unimaginable carnage and human suffering, from the looting of the Sumerian artifacts from the Baghdad museum in 2003 to a more current situation in which the Islamic Caliphate is blowing up ancient archaeological sites and shrines, a practice begun by the Taliban in Afghanistan. 

The world at large was introduced to the rich and ancient religious diversity of Mesopotamia during the Iraq War, to the ancient Gnostic sects that long predate Islam, even if only because these vulnerable people were being systematically wiped out by their Muslim neighbors.


The Yazidis became a cause celebre over the summer, putting a once-obscure sect onto the international headlines.  Some claim the Yazidis are the world's oldest extant religion, and their faith has been misunderstood and sensationalized as "devil worship," especially in the old pulp magazines. The Yazidis are ethnic Kurds and many are now being trained to help resist the Islamic State's encroachments on Kurdish territories, reminding one of the Druze militias in Lebanon.

John the Baptist and Jesus
But I'm more interested in the Mandaeans (also known as the Nasoraeans, also known as the Sabians), the followers of John the Baptist who fled Palestine in the wake of the Judean Wars in the First Century CE and settled in modern day Iraq. 

We touched on at their history in the Knights Templar series as one of the many heterodox groups who came into context with the Templars and influenced what later became the modern Western Mystery Tradition.
In the wake of the carnage of Bush's (now Obama's) Folly, the Mandaeans fled to Syria, ruled by the Allawites, yet another heterodox group the Saudi-based Fundamentalist cult known as the Wahabi are seeking to genocide out of existence (top-ranking Saudi officials are now speaking openly about eliminating all of the Shi'a as well). 

Because of this, many Mandaeans have now sought refuge in Western countries and Iran.
I can't quite parse what the end game here is but I'm reminded of the paragraph in Josephus, in which Disapora Jews blamed the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Third Temple on Herod's treatment of the Mandaean's direct ancestors: 
And so John, out of Herod's suspiciousness, was sent in chains to Machaerus, the fort previously mentioned, and there put to death; but it was the opinion of the Jews that out of retribution for John God willed the destruction of the army so as to afflict Herod.
Is such a retribution in the cards for Islamic State and their paymasters? As we'll see, the Mandaeans may have some interesting allies-- and have seen many a conqueror fail to ruin.

For their part, the Mandaeans predicted their own persecution in their holy text, The Haran Gawaitha:
And then Hibil-Ziwa - praised be his name! - taught Nasoraeans about the end of the last age. For evil will increase and pollutions will be many and abound in the world, since it is decreed that wickedness will increase and pollutions multiply greatly in the world; because it is destined in that age. So that of a great shekel of gold but half-a-draehma's weight will rise up to the Light; everything will sink down into Darkness. In that period and epoch - from the rule of the Arab Son-of-Slaughter unto the end of the worlds - persecution and tribulation will increase for Nasoraeans; purity will decrease and pollutions, adultery, theft and fraud will increase. 
And men will be polluted and during that period man will drink the blood of fellow-man. All that is fair (will disappear) , (but), amongst Nasoraeans, he that is steadfast in and holdeth to these teachings and this great revelation will rise up by the path of believers and will behold the great Countenance of Glory. 
I have no doubt that the psychotics of Islamic State have drunk quite a lot of blood by now; they seem to have indulged every other atrocity you can name.

Be that as it may, some of you might be saying that the Haran Gawaitha isn't much different than any prophetic tradition of an oppressed people, that one day the strong will be cast down and the weak will be raised up. And certainly you can find precedent for this kind of language in the Bible.
But what is fascinating to me is that the Mandaeans have survived a very long time in a very tough neighborhood. Not a mean feat for a modestly-sized group of pacifists. After all, the Caliphate isn't the first pack of kill-crazy psychopaths to run rampant across Mesopotamia since these Gnostics settled there, some two thousand years ago. 

And though the pundits are now writing their epitaphs, claiming the Mandaeans could survive Muhammed and the Mongols but they couldn't possibly survive modern secular culture, I wouldn't be so sure. 
The Mandaeans are not your usual Gnostics. As mentioned before they claim lineage back to John the Baptist himself, a claim many scholars take seriously. And their literature...well, their literature is interesting. It's some of the more compelling Gnostic literature you'll read, free of the kind of philosophical navel gazing that makes some of the Nag Hammadi material a tough sled.
And their texts lead me to wonder their survival may not be due in part to a relation with a companion race, an elusive companion race. Because not only is their literature more engaging than a lot of other Gnostic material, a lot of it reads more like The Secret Commonwealth than The Secret Book of John.

This Evangelical diagram clearly shows that the Biblical term "waters"
refers to extrasolar outer space, the "firmament" describing our solar system
Mandaean literature speaks of a race of luminous beings called Uthras, who protect and instruct these Gnostics. Their religious liturgies are also heavily focused on the "waters," the traditional Biblical term for the cosmos, or outer space. There is also a fascinating thru-line focusing on the planets and stars. Read this, from "Adam's Baptism":
The planets stand there, they are bound by fetters and say: When Adam fled from us our watch-houses were destroyed. When Adam rose from us, our radiance was soon taken away. He rose up and ascended to the House of Life; They, the uthras, washed him in the Jordan they placed their right hand on him. They baptized him with their baptism and strengthened him with their pure words. They washed him and protected him in the Jordan...

Here's a bit of Gnostic cosmology that seems to imply that the Uthras are scouts or representatives from the Mandaeans true, heavenly home: 
To your first earth, ascend, to the place from which you were transplanted, to the fine abode of the uthras. Bestir yourself, put on your garment of radianceand put on your resplendent wreath. Sit on your throne of radiance, which the Life set up for you in the Place of Light. Rise up, inhabit the skinas, among the uthras, your brothers.
Several verses in their texts speak of a "cloud of light" which will take the Mandaeans to the "Place of Light":
My vigilance and praisegiving
Are my ferrymen across (the waters of death);
A transformation brought me over,
A cloud of light took me over.
In purity shalt thou rise to the Place of Light.
The clouds of light should ring a bell with anyone familiar with UFOlogical interpretations of the clouds in the Book of Exodus and other sources. In the Mandaean context here there is a clear connection with the travel of the soul after death, but in other verses the connection isn't quite as clear. Especially when compared to the repeated references of "light ships" in the literature, flying luminous craft associated with divinity. 

Uthras aboard a Sun Ship

This particular writing-- "John's Light Ship" --is so similar to the "Masks" episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, with its Solar/Lunar ritual dialogue, that I can't help but wonder if in fact the writer was influenced by it.:
 Yahyā proclaims in the nights, Yōhānā on the Night's evenings.  
YAHYĀ proclaims in the nights and says: "In the name of Him who is wondrous and all-surpassing! The Sun sat in his Court, and the Moon sat in the Dragon. The Four Winds of the House get them gone on their wings and blow not."  
The Sun opened his mouth and spake unto Yahyā "Thou hast three [head-] bands [and] a crown which equals in worth the whole world. Thou hast a ship of mashklil, which sails about here on the Jordan. Thou hast a great vessel which sails about here 'twixt the waters.
That may just be a bit of Astrotheology, or it may have been something else that evolved thereto (what I'm thinking). But this next writing, "The Light Ship of the Fisher", seems about as unambiguous as it gets- this is a space ship:
Life knotted for me a noose and built for me a ship that fades not,—a ship whose wings are of glory, that sails along as in flight, and from it the wings will not be torn off. 'Tis a well-furnished ship and sails on in the heart of the heaven. 
Its ropes are ropes of glory and a rudder of Truth is there to it. Sunday takes hold of the pole, Life's Son seized the rudder. They draw thither to the shekīnahs and dispense Light among the treasures. Thrones in them they set up, and long drawn out come the Jordans upon them.  
On the bow are set lamps that in the wildest of tempests are not put out. All ships that sight me, make obeisance submissively to me. Submissively they make me obeisance and come to show their devotion unto me.
Argue all you like about what the intent of this piece may actually be, but its meaning could not possibly be any clearer.

This excerpt from "The Final Submission of the Evil Fishers" also makes mention of a space ship but uses a term that caught my attention immediately. See if you catch it:
The fishers see him, become scarlet for shame and remain standing in their places. They say to him: "Whence comes it that thou dost fish without finding? Thy ship is not like our ship; it shines by night like the sun. Thy ship is perfected in æther, and wondrous standards are unfurled above it. Our ship sails along in the water, but thy ship between the waters. 
Catch it? Try this:
A crown of ether-light shone forth dazzlingly from the House of Life. 'Uthras brought it from the House of Life and the mighty First Life established it in His shkintas. He who setteth it up shall be set up and he who uplifteth it shall be raised up into the world of light and he who establisheth it into the enduring Abode.
Ah yes- ether ships, a term from the deepest recesses of UFOlogy. How strange to see it here, in an ancient religious text. 

Or perhaps not. If you read my post "Astro-Gnosis Redux," you'd see how this kind of literal alienation was not unknown to the Gnostics, that it informed a text as central to Gnostic theology as The Hypostasis of The Archons. What is remarkable is to see it spelled out as clearly and as explicitly as we do in the Mandaean literature. 


What's more,  Meade Layne, who brought the term "ether ship" to UFOlogy, may well have been influenced by the Gnostics. He was no backwoods bubba- he was a professor at USC  and probably discovered the Mandaean literature through G.R.S. Mead, the Theosophist polymath who translated so much of it for English speaking readers. This is usually how these things work out, isn't it?

It will certainly be interesting to see what kind of influence the Mandaeans may bring to bear on their new homes. Sometimes the most momentous changes can emerge from the most unlikely places.

SECRET SUN TOP TEN