Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Odes of Solomon - 4

Ode 4

1. No man can pervert Your holy place, O my God; nor can he change it, and put it in another place.
2. Because he has no power over it; for Your sanctuary You designed before You made special places.
3. The ancient one shall not be perverted by those which are inferior to it. You have given Your heart, O Lord, to Your believers.
4. Never will You be idle, nor will You be without fruits;
5. For one hour of Your faith is more excellent than all days and years.
6. For who shall put on Your grace and be rejected?
7. Because Your seal is known; and Your creatures are known to it.
8. And Your hosts possess it, and the elect archangels are clothed with it.
9. You have given to us Your fellowship, not that You were in need of us, but that we are always in need of You.
10. Shower upon us Your gentle rain, and open Your bountiful springs which abundantly supply us with milk and honey.
11. For there is no regret with You; that You should regret anything which You have promised;
12. Since the result was manifest to You.
13. For that which You gave, You gave freely, so that no longer will You draw back and take them again.
14. For all was manifest to You as God, and was set in order from the beginning before You.
15. And You, O Lord, have made all.

This Ode seems to discuss the location or "place" of God as He fits into the Universe. However, I think the first line is suggestive of the reality that God is immovable (He is the "Prime Mover"), and likewise is He incorruptible (these "negative descriptions" [i.e. in-, im-, un-, etc.] are typical of the Gnostic view of God the Father, showing the inability to describe what God is, but helping to understand God through describing what He is not). This immovable nature of God lies partly in the fact that He is everywhere - the Universe lies within Him, and yet He lies above the Universe. This is called panentheism, being immanent and transcendent simultaneously, and can be seen in many Gnostic texts. So God's place cannot be changed, for God simply is everywhere, and simply is ("I Am", Eheieh, etc.).

The "special places" of line two may refer to the Sephiroth, which are the spheres of the manifest. God the Father, in his truest guise, lies beyond this manifest world, beyond the Three Negative Veils (I find these "negative" veils tie in quite well with the "negative descriptions" typical of the Gnostic view of the Father), which would be His "Sanctuary" that He designed before the making of the "special places" (or Sephiroth). Man, being manifest, has some power over the Sephiroth but not over this "Sanctuary" beyond them, for he is (in a sense, described in the next line) "inferior" to the Father (only in so far as he is man and not the Divine Man which he also latently is).

Verse three strongly suggests this "inferiority", and then goes on to state that God has given His "Heart" to his followers ("believers"), which, if we look at it Qabalistically, would relate to Tiphareth, which is none other than Christ Himself, who, indeed, God gave to His people.

God will not be "idle", for He is the "Prime Mover", the Great Giver of Life (in maternal form), and idleness is Death. God, being the Fountain that all springs from, will not "be without fruits", both in the sense of the life that all partake from (or "eat" of) and in the sense of the Sephiroth being the "fruits" on the Tree of Life, which sprang forth from that great Fountain that never rests (for God is Potential).

The next few lines give a definite feeling of "clothing", and I would continue the idea of the Fountain of Light flowing down and over a person, so that they are immersed and now wear a garment of Light. This is the Grace ("Charis") of God offered to the Faithful (or, in in the Gnostic school, to Those Who Know, or have Knowledge). One hour of this "clothing of grace" is more excellent than a lifetime without, for it is the true guise of Man, and when you embrace Truth, there is no Time (Time is a Cage of Illusion), and those who are thus adorned cannot be rejected, for it is their True Form - "Do what thou wilt ... and no other shall say nay".

I see the "seal" as being Gnosis ("Your seal is known" hiding a blatant truth). This is the only real mark of importance - the rest is designed to attain, stimulate, or elongate the experience of Gnosis.

The next few lines suggest the fellowship of Man and God, and then go on to continue the idea of God being a Fountain, showering his children with "milk and honey" (a familiar phrase used in similar texts, I believe, though I cannot state examples offhand... "milk and honey", the nectar of the Gods).

There is no "regret" with God. Even though the Cosmos ("the System") has become corrupted to act as a cage for God's children (by that potent force, the Demiurge, and all who answer to him - likewise, think of the breaking of the vessels of the Sephiroth in Qabalistic lore), God does not regret His creation. Why? Because ultimately all must move in accordance with His will. Right here and now God penetrates all and works in subtle ways to bend things to His will (think "everything happens for a reason"). "The result was manifest" to God, for it was God who manifested it.

The giving forth, and giving freely, suggests to me the outpouring of Light from Kether (and above) to the Sephiroth, and the idea of God not drawing back or taking the Light from there suggests to me that God will not remove Light from this world, that we might all stray in Darkness, but will let the Light that He has shone forth illuminate all, that all might walk in the Dawn.

The next line is unusual in that it states that "all was manifest to You as God, and was set in order from the beginning before You". It is possible we could look at "God" there being the Creator God (or Demiurge in a less negative light), and that all was "set in order from the beginning" before this "God" by what is actually the True God, or the Father, who is much more difficult to comprehend and describe (with the term "God" being useful, but somewhat inaccurate). This ties in quite well with how we can look at Kether as "God" and yet know that there is more beyond it.

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