Friday, June 22, 2007

"Praxis: End Genocide"

Fr. Jordan+ made an excellent post a few days ago about the genocide in Darfur, and shows a few things we can do to help. Along with our prayers for the people there, and for peace for all the world, check out some of the other "praxis" we can do to help:

Thursday, June 21, 2007

"Hail Sol, Lord of Light at his zenith!"

These are the words spoken to celebrate the Summer Solstice, as part of the O.'.S.'.D.'.L.'.'s Solstice Ceremony, as well as that performed by the Irish Occult community on this day. May the blessings of Sol be upon you all, that we might bask in the Light of its Beauty, and that we may all be purified and regenerated by its healing power.

Sol Invictus! Sol Triumphant!


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

"Suicide State Ireland"

I want to point out a blog post from an Irish priest here that deserves some attention. Suicide is a growing trend in modern Ireland, with us ranking 5th in Europe for it, and it is a topic that needs to be highlighted. In this light, I want to link you all to the post in question and point out the last few paragraphs in particular for anyone who is considering suicide:

Remember, there are people who can help, people you can talk to, people who will neither judge nor condemn, and people who not only understand many of these issues intimately (having experienced them in some manner or form), but have the relevant experience to help deal with them.

For others - parents, teachers, and, indeed, every single person in Ireland now, I must say this: "Let those with ears to hear, listen", for there is not much listening going on right now in Ireland.

I pray, in the name of the Lord God Almighty, that the pressures of modern society lessen and subdue, and that if and when they become too much, there are people and services available to help. May those who struggle, be their problem big or small, find the necessary outlet to express their concerns, to find help in whatever manner they need, even if it's just a helping hand, a listening ear, or a shoulder to lean or cry on. May we all learn to avoid judgement, especially of those who have experienced things we do not or can not know, and may we all pray together in the spirit of love, charity, mercy, and endless compassion, that none of God's children go unheard.


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Praxis: Lectio Divina

The first practical exercise we'll explore here is called Lectio Divina, Sacred or Divine Reading. This is an important exercise, since we, among other faiths, have a large collection of texts at our disposal (such as the Bible and the Nag Hammadi finds). While we must, by all means, utilise our intellect in our approach to these texts, it is also important to "read" them in another manner, to allow the truth that is hinted by their words to filter into our heart and change us. In this sense, reading such scripture becomes a form of prayer, a method of communion with the Divine.

This process generally takes the following form, though don't feel limited to it, as each individual reader and reading will follow its own path when allowed to, and communication with God is never truly defined by the bonds of structure. Take it as a guideline and go from there:

1. Lectio

This is the reading part itself, but unlike some other forms of reading, where we may be merely skimming the lines or trying to hurry through to the next paragraph, this should be a slow, deliberate reading of the selected material. Several rereads are also good practice, to allow the verse (etc.) to sink in.

2. Meditatio

This is the part where you meditate upon the words and meaning of the reading you have chosen. Try to uncover its meaning and how it applies to you, but don't force it; let it flow naturally from the piece itself, letting key words lead you on trains of thought and new meaning.

3. Oratio

This is the part where you make a response to the piece and your findings through meditation on it. It is where, effectively, you "talk" to God, expressing what you have discovered about the world and yourself via the reading.

4. Contemplatio

This is the part where God makes his response, and this is accomplished by trying to clear the mind from your own conscious and unconscious thought patterns and allowing the voice of the divine to descend upon you. While this is expressed in terms of a dialogue, it's important to note that this is primarily an inner dialogue, so expect "contact" via thoughts, ideas, etc. that arise during your contemplation.

While some of the above stages may seem similar to each other, the subtle differences can only truly be known by actually practicing it. It's also important to note that you should not select a huge piece of scripture to read, as this may distract from the exercise itself. You are more likely to have success with this exercise if you take small passages individually and allow them to sink in without battling for attention with other passages.

And that's that. Remember, this is not merely a form of reading. It is a sacred act of communion with the Divine, an act of prayer that opens the channels on both ends. With that I wish you the best with practice of this. Feel free to leave comments on how you are progressing.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


One of the common experiences of Gnostics (and other "alternative" groups) is the feeling of alienation, of not quite belonging where they are. This, of course, is partly due to the fact that a Gnostic is 1 in a 1000, if even, and that minority groups are, by their nature, somewhat alienated from the dominant culture and group of the given people. But is that all of it? Gnosticism gives another reason.

Have you ever had the feeling that you just don't belong here? By here, I mean in your town, in your country, on this planet. This should ring a bell for many people who are reading this blog, and let me try to explain why.

You don't come from this place. Yes, you're "human", and yes you were physically born here on this planet. I would never argue against that. But, as we all know, there is more to this than meets the eye, because there is more than the physical. Creation didn't start with "Creation" (a la Genesis) - something happened before this. This is a common teaching in both Gnostic and Qabalistic texts. So, while Genesis describes the creation of the Cosmos (the "System" that Gnostics try to break out of [in much the same manner as the Buddhists do with Samsara]), which includes, of course, the "stuff" that makes up the Earth and our physical bodies, that "stuff" isn't all of us, and our True Creation goes back a lot further than that. In essence, you could see it as: the Demiurge created our bodies, but our souls were created by God. The Breath of God was breathed into Adam, whose body lay like a lifeless inanimate shell, and it is the Divine Spark in all of us that harks back to our true heritage in the Pleroma, in the Fullness of God and his infinite majesty.

So what does this all mean? Simply put, the reason why you feel you don't belong here is because you belong in the Pleroma, and by "you" I mean a greater you than the ego usually likes to admit. The body is, in essence, a cage, just as the Cosmos is - the Matrix that we all have to wake up to and break free from, and "what makes us free is the Gnosis". I'm not saying, of course, that we should shun the physical or commit suicide in order to try to "get out", as that simply won't accomplish anything. You can't escape easily. You will be reincarnated. The bondage of Samsara is broken through other means, and this is through contact with the Divine (through Gnosis). Over a number of incarnations where such contact is sustained the bonds begin to weaken, and eventually there is an Ascension of the soul, a Return of the the Divine Sparks into the Pleroma, the Tiqqun (Repairing) of the World, the Reunification of the Shekinah with the King.

This is a common thread of Gnostic thought (see "Allogenes", for example, which means "the Foreigner", and deals extensively with this subject), and, indeed, was important for Christianity and Judaism as well (among other religions), since, for example, Judaism places a special importance on their exile from Egypt and subsequent places (identifying it with the exile from the Garden of Eden and the fall of the Shekinah, which is the fall of Sophia). It is a recurring trend in all people, which tends to strengthen the idea that humanity doesn't quite "belong" here. We belong, in essence, in the Garden of Eden, from which we were exiled, and we are homesick, yearning to return there, for no grass here has the greeness of those meadows, and no fruit can taste as sweet as that of the Tree of Life.

To be alienated is, in essence, to be alone (or, at least, the experience can feel like that), but to be alone is to be One, for the word "alone" is a conjunction of "all" and "one": all-one becoming al-one. This is the same for other words of a similar nature like "only", which was originally written as "onely" in an older form of English. So, to be alone is to be One, and when we consider the philosophical implications of this, the "loneliness" element is diminished considerably. As a Gnostic, one of the key beliefs is that all is One, that everything ultimately belongs to the Fullness. Thus, if we are "all one", then being "alone" (in a negative sense) is merely a misconception of the state of our total being, of God being alone in the Universe.

Let us pray for Tiqqun, and let us share our Wisdom, our Understanding, and our Knowledge with one another, that we might all know the mysteries that make up the Ascension. May we remember our Fall and Exile, and that of Sophia (the Shekinah), and we work towards the Restoration of God, which is the Restoration of Man.

Monday, June 11, 2007

God Or You?

The Rev. Msgr. Ken Madden+ of the AJC posed the following question in an email discussion group, and I thought it was interesting enough to share with you. I'd be very interesting in hearing other people's answers to this, and I will post my own sometime during the week:

"If we are already One within the Divine, who is having the experience [of gnosis]?"

Friday, June 08, 2007

The Neccessity Of Praxis

Practice (in Greek, "praxis") is one of the areas that is often overlooked when it comes to spiritual paths like this. There is so much academic discussion and arguing, not to mention the sheer reading pleasure of the texts we have available, that the actual practical application of these things can be ignored. Many people are studious in terms of the intellectual elements of these things, and that is a vital element, without doubt, but most of them fail to balance that with actual practice, with actual use of what the material describes.

If there is no practice, it amounts to little more than, as many call it, intellectual masturbation (effectively, stroking the brain). It might be fun, but it isn't going to produce much more than short-term pleasure, and spiritual progress relies on much more than intellectual knowledge. As Gnostics this should be doubly notable, given how we stress that Gnosis is not intellectual knowledge. Reading books won't produce Gnosis (though it will help towards it) - if there is no practical application of knowledge, it is wasted potential for growth. It is the planting of seeds and not watering and nurturing them.

I implore, therefore, that all genuine students of any form of spirituality, religious or mystical, orthodox or heretical, put the teachings of their path to use, to help transform the world and the lives of those within it. Spirituality that is divorced from everyday life is spirituality that is divorced from an integral aspect of God, the God that is right here and now.

I will be devoting a few posts to things that aspiring Gnostics can do in terms of "praxis", so keep reading for the next few weeks.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

The Greatest Of These Is Love

"If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love."

- 1 Corinthians 13:1-13

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Never-Ending Task Of Theology

"The price of God's purity is the loss of His living reality. For the living God can never be subsumed under a pure concept. What makes Him a living God in the mind of a believer is precisely what involves Him in some part of the human world, what makes it possible for man to see Him face to face in a great religious symbol. Reformulated in rational terms, all this vanishes. To preserve the purity of the concept of God without loss of His living reality - that is the never-ending task of theology."

- Gershom Scholem, "On The Kabbalah & Its Symbolism"

One of the pivotal points of Gnostic theology is that God is indescribable, that his true essence cannot be summed up in words (in much the same way that Gnosis itself cannot). It has been the principle of Gnostics therefore (and, indeed, Kabbalists and other members of the broader "Gnostic" communion of mysticism) to limit descriptions of God to negative terms: indescribable, infinite, ineffable, illimitable, ad infinatum. The True God is, while very definitely present here in our everyday lives, far beyond the realm of our limited conceptions, so much so that we can only truly describe what God is not (i.e. finite, "good", etc.).

But this makes for a somewhat "distant" God. If God cannot be described, if all our attempts at such description are doomed to failure from the outset, and if God can only be conceived in this abstract "pure" manner (which many would argue is still a limited conception of God), then doesn't that make God, to the human mind, an alien force? If God cannot be expressed in a human way, how can the human hope to know God, feel his presence, or come to walk a path laid out by him? If God is "maths" and not "mythology", then doesn't it make God a bit clinical, a bit impersonal, a bit too "other" to really mesh with how we, as humans, interact the world?

The answer is, of course, yes, and a very valid yes. Personal interactions with God are, by their very nature, a limited experience, and we cannot use them as a basis for describing God in his totality of being. But what we can do is use our mythology, our anthropomorphisms of God, to help us recognise God as he is "here" in order that we might know more fully what he is like "there", in that abstract unmanifest realm. We cannot describe Gnosis accurately, but we can intimate what Gnosis is, and help inspire Gnosis in others (by stimulating their inner spark), by means of mythology and poetry, and likewise we can intimate what God is, and help inspire contact with him (by, again, stimulating that inner divine spark), in those whom we communicate with. So long as we recognise that the words are only directions to God and not what God actually "is", they become invaluable tools in our search for divinity.

Monday, June 04, 2007

The Nature Of Scripture

"Scripture is like a man and has flesh [according to the literal meaning], soul [according to allegorical interpretation] and spirit [in accordance with the mystery]."

- the Zohar (via Scholem's "On The Kabbalah & Its Symbolism")