THE BOOKS OF FOUNDATION - Gnosticism and the Classical World

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014
It is not easy to find one's way through the complex labyrinth of gnostic teachings.
To start with, there is much confusion about the precise definition of gnosticism.

Aztec Gnosticism
The Congress on 'The Origins of Gnosticism' held at Messina in 1966 tried to secure agreement on the significance and correct usage of such terms as gnostic, pre-gnostic and proto-gnostic, but without success.
Gnosticism embraces several religious doctrines of a secret character, embodying certain mysteries which, in a broad sense, are common to religious systems in many parts of the world.
Dr. Günter Lanczkowski of Heidelberg, for example, finds gnostic elements in the religion of the Aztecs of ancient Mexico (Bianchi, 1970, p. 676).
Aztec religion is the Mesoamerican religion of the Aztecs. Like other Mesoamerican religions, it had elements of human sacrifice in connection with a large number of religious festivals which were held according to patterns of the Aztec calendar. It had a large and ever increasing pantheon; the Aztecs would often adopt deities of other geographic regions or peoples into their own religious practice. Aztec cosmology divided the world into upper and nether worlds, each associated with a specific set of deities and astronomical objects. Important in Aztec religion were the sun, moon and the planet Venus - all of which held different symbolic and religious meanings and were connected to deities and geographical places. Large parts of the Aztec pantheon were inherited from previous Mesoamerican civilizations and others, such as Tlaloc, Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca, were venerated by different names in most cultures throughout the history of Mesoamerica. For the Aztecs especially important deities were Tlaloc the god of rain, Huitzilopochtli the patron god of the Mexica tribe, Quetzalcoatl the culture hero and god of civilization and order, and Tezcatlipoca the god of destiny and fortune, connected with war and sorcery. Each of these gods had their own temples within the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan - Tlaloc and Huitzilopochtli were both worshipped at the Templo Mayor. A common Aztec religious practice was the recreation of the divine: Mythological events would be ritually recreated and living persons would impersonate specific deities and be revered as a god - and often ritually sacrificed.
But strictly speaking, gnosticism is a phenomenon that can only be understood in an occult context, for the occult is fundamental to the gnostic doctrine of salvation.
Gnosticism is the name given to the beliefs and practices of a number of sects that flourished in the Hellenistic and Roman empires.
Alexandria
Its chief diffusion centre was Alexandria.
Alexandria was founded by Alexander the Great in April 331 BC as Ἀλεξάνδρεια (Alexandria). Alexander's chief architect for the project was Dinocrates. A few months after the foundation, Alexander left Egypt and never returned to his city. After Alexander's departure, his viceroy, Cleomenes, continued the expansion. Following a struggle with the other successors of Alexander, his general Ptolemy succeeded in bringing Alexander's body to Alexandria. The early Ptolemies fostered the development of Alexandria's museum into the leading Hellenistic centre of learning (Library of Alexandria), but were careful to maintain the distinction of its population's three largest ethnicities: Greek, Jewish, and Egyptian. 
Gnostic ideas are set forth in a wide variety of texts.
There can, however, be no synoptic presentation of Gnosticism, and any attempt to reconstruct it must be a patchwork made up of heterogeneous material culled from widely disparate sources.
The few issues on which most gnostic schools are in general agreement may be set forth in broad outline as follows.
Fundamental to all is belief in a transcendent God.
He is referred to as the ONE, who belongs to the upper world of light, but is utterly remote from our cosmos, and is indeed a stranger to it.


Demiurge
Much of the cosmos itself is intrinsically evil, and is not the work of the ONE, but of an opposing entity known as the Demiurge, or 'creator'.
There is also a pantheon or, hierarchy of celestial beings, roughly divided into two classes: those who are good, working for the upper world of light, and evil archons, working for the demiurge, in the inferior world in which we live.
Man, as formed by the Æons, is involved in the primordial duality that pervades the universe.
He fell from the world of light where he had his origin, and is now entrapped in matter and in the clutches of the Demiurge.
Salvation from this predicament has nothing to do with morality, good works or faith, but depends on a kind of transcendent knowledge (Gnosis) of the redemptive purpose through the Æons.
The world and its laws, religious, moral and social, which are the 'creation' of the  Demiurge, are of little relevance to the plan of salvation.
Each Gnostic sect filled in the bare bones of this theology in its own way, depending on the particular background from which it emerged.
Gnosticism was born at the crossroads of many ancient cultures, at a time in history that marked the beginning of the furthest development of pagan antiquity.
It owed its strength to the fusion of past and present, old and new, east and west.
It became heir both to the rational tradition of the classical world, and the mysticism of the oriental cults of antiquity.
The sources of Gnosticism are therefore to besought deep in the past.
They are fed by many diverse streams of the ancient world, and influences from many religions are discernible in the broad flow of the gnostic faith.
Among these sources we find Egyptian mythology, Hellenistic speculation and Zoroastrian dualism, while certain of its practices are directly traceable to Chaldean astrology, and Phrygian sensuality.

EGYPT

Egypt
The influence of Egypt on gnostic thought through Hellenistic channels is now well established, especially since the recent discoveries in Upper Egypt.
Syzygy
Eric Gill
Such ideas as the 'emanation' or emergence of 'gods' (Æons) one from the other, as Chepera from Nun, and Ra from Khepera; the pairing, or syzygy, of the Æons; the arrangement of Æons in groups, like the triad at Thebes, the Ennead at Heliopolis, and the Duodecad at Heracleopolis, were taken by the Gnostics from Egyptian tradition.
In many Gnostic systems, the various emanations of the ONE, who is also known by such names as the Monad, Aion teleos (αἰών τέλεος "The Broadest Æon"), Bythos ("depth or profundity", Greek βυθός), Proarkhe ("before the beginning", Greek προαρχή), the Arkhe ("the beginning", Greek ἀρχή), are called ÆonsIn the different systems these emanations are differently named, classified, and described, but the emanation theory itself is common to all forms of Gnosticism.Syzygies form male/female pairs (Greek συζυγίαι, from σύζυγοι syzygoi, lit. "yokings together"). In Gnostic teaching the syzygy of the Æons was compared to sexual coupling by humans.
Several of the greater Egyptian 'deities' (Æons) also figured in their writings and were engraved on Gnostic gems.


Hathor
Ptah
These included: the artisan Ptah; the ibis-headed Thoth, the scribe of the Æons (known to the gnostics as Hermes Trismegistus); the ramheade Khnemu (the Khnubis of the gnostics); the cow-headed Hathor; and the supreme trinity of Isis, Osiris and Horus.
Isis has been called the 'mother of all mysteries'.
According to the Greek philosopher and historian Plutarch, the base of her statue at the temple of Sais in the Nile Delta bore the inscription, 'I am everything that was, and is, and shall be, nor has any mortal ever uncovered my veil'.
The Gnostics held that the Egyptians were among the earliest nations to understand the 'holy and venerable mysteries relating to the rites and orgies of the Æons', which they sedulously withheld from the uninitiated.


Ka Statue
Furthermore, the Egyptians had a deep awareness of the importance of the asomatic or non-physical elements that make up the human being, such as the etheric double (Egyptian khaibit), the astral body (Egyptian ka), the soul (Egyptian ba), and other refinements, for which they had a large and varied vocabulary.
This, and their tendency to personify the different attributes and powers of the 'gods' (Æons), were taken over and adapted to their own needs by the Gnostics.
Such were the concepts of Fate (Egyptian shoy), Reason (Egyptian ab, 'heart', the seat of reason), the Word (Egyptian the Name (Egyptian ren), the Power (Egyptian heka), Wisdom (Egyptian sta).
According to Professor C. Jouco Bleeker, the latter personification 'shows resemblance to the gnostic Ennoia', or First Thought (Bianchi, 1970, p. 2 35).


Book of the Dead
The protective spells found in the 'Book of the Dead' are analogous to the Gnostic phonemes learned by initiates to guard against danger during the post-mortem journey of the soul.
In considering, among other matters, the Egyptian beliefs on death and resurrection, and the idea of a divine trinity, Dr Pahor Labib says, 'There are many other Egyptian survivals in the Nag Hammadi library, a wide field of future research' (Wilson, 1978, p. 151).
An earlier generation of scholars, like Sir Grafton Elliot Smith and Professor Williams James Perry, were of the opinion that Egypt was the grandam of all civilizations, and that the similarity of early cultures was due to their common origin in Egypt, from where they were diffused around the globe.

MESOPOTAMIA

Mosaic from Ur
From the Babylonian and Chaldean civilizations of Mesopotamia (the name by which the Greeks referred to the land 'between the rivers' Tigris and Euphrates), came the star-lore and number-lore that were to play a prominent part in Gnostic thinking.

Ishtar
Also, the legend of the love of the beautiful goddess Ishtar, known to the Philistines as Ashtaroth, for the young Tammuz, and of her descent to the underworld to seek him after his death.
Ishtar is the East Semitic Akkadian, Assyrian and Babylonian goddess of fertility, love, war, and sex. She is the counterpart to the Sumerian Inanna, and is the cognate for the Northwest Semitic Aramean goddess Astarte. Ishtar was the goddess of love, war, fertility, and sexuality. Ishtar was the daughter of Ninurta. She was particularly worshipped in northern Mesopotamia, at the Assyrian cities of Nineveh, Ashur and Arbela (Erbil). Besides the lions on her gate, her symbol is an eight-pointed star. In the Babylonian pantheon, she was the divine personification of the planet Venus.
Associated with her worship was a rite of sacred marriage, or hierogamy, that used to be celebrated in her temples, and mimetically enacted by the chief priest and priestess in a small inner sanctuary called the bridal chamber, to dramatize a divine act taking place in the realm of the 'gods'.
This too was to assume a central role in Gnosticism. - (see syzygy above).


Oannes 
Another significant figure was a Babylonian culture-hero of great antiquity, the man-fish 'Oannes', who appeared out of the Persian Gulf during the first year of the creation of the world.
This mythical association of 'Oannes' with water is said to be the source of all baptising cults.
Some scholars believe that his name is the ultimate origin of such names as Jonah, Ion, Ian, Johann and John.
Oannes (Ὡάννης - Hovhannes -[Հովհաննես - in Armenian) was the name given by the Babylonian writer Berossus in the 3rd century BCE to a mythical being who taught mankind wisdom. Berossus describes Oannes as having the body of a fish but underneath the figure of a man. He is described as dwelling in the Persian Gulf, and rising out of the waters in the daytime and furnishing mankind instruction in writing, the arts and the various sciences. Oannes and the Semitic god Dagon were considered identical.The name "Oannes" was once conjectured to be derived from that of the ancient Babylonian god Ea, but it is now known that the name is the Greek form of the Babylonian Uanna (or Uan) a name used for Adapa in texts from the Library of Ashurbanipal. The Assyrian texts attempt to connect the word to the Akkadian for a craftsman - ummanu.



ZORASTARIANISM

Turning now further north, it has been said that Iran's major contribution to the religious philosophy of the west, and to gnosticism in particular, was the idea of a fundamental dualism underlying the universe.


Zoroaster
This was expressed by Zoroaster (c. 700 BC) the prophet of ancient Persia, in terms of a continuing struggle between two cosmic powers: Ormazd the ruler of light, representing the principle of good, and Ahriman ruler of darkness, representing the principle of evil. 
Subordinate to these two principles were ranged the good and evil entities, whose hostile and opposing ranks bequeathed many features of 'angelology' and 'demonology' to the religious tradition of the ancient world.


Zurvan
Certain other Zoroastrian concepts were also adopted by Gnosticism.
Thus, the Iranian figure of Gayomart, a gigantic primordial Adam, is thought to be the prototype of the Gnostic Anthropos.
The Zoroastrian notion of Zurvan, 'time', and its two divisions into 'infinite time' and 'time of long duration', provided the basis for the gnostic concept of the timeless sphere of the Godhead, and the limited time-duration of the universe made by the demiurge or 'creator'.
The idea of lesser 'times', with their ruling entities, may have been responsible for the Gnostic concept of the 'archons'.


Mithras
Associated with Ormazd in his struggle against Ahriman was Mithra, also a deity of light, who became prominent from the third century BC.
Having completed his redemptive labours, which included slaying a bull, Mithra celebrated a last supper with the companions of his toils and then ascended to heaven.
An important Mithraic rite was a ceremony of death and resurrection.
The candidate was laid on the ground as if dead, and the hierophant with his right hand grasped the right hand of the recumbent man and raised him up.

Mithras and the Bull
He was thence forth spoken of as one of the syndexi, 'united by the right hand'.
Another rite was that of baptism, in which the candidate was made to stand naked in a pit beneath a grating, and a ram or goat, or more rarely, a bull, was sacrificially slaughtered above.
The blood fell through the grating onto the body of the neophyte who sipped it and rubbed it over himself.
After the ceremony he partook of a sacramental meal of bread and wine.


The Mithraic Mysteries were a mystery religion practised in the Roman Empire from about the 1st to 4th centuries AD. The name of the Persian god Mithra (proto-Indo-Iranian Mitra), adapted into Greek as Mithras, was linked to a new and distinctive imagery. Writers of the Roman Empire period referred to this mystery religion by phrases which can be anglicized as Mysteries of Mithras or Mysteries of the Persians; modern historians refer to it as Mithraism, or sometimes Roman Mithraism. The mysteries (see below) were popular in the Roman military. Worshippers of Mithras had a complex system of seven grades of initiation, with ritual meals. Initiates called themselves syndexioi, those "united by the handshake". They met in underground temples (called mithraea), which survive in large numbers. The cult appears to have had its centre in Rome. It has been suggested that Mithraism was "the Roman form of Mazdaism", the Persian state religion, disseminated from the East. Mithras, the ancient Aryan deity, may well be associated with the Hindu god Mitra of the Vedic hymns, and the god Mithras came to Rome "accompanied by a large representation of the Mazdean Pantheon".
 for more information about the Mysteries of Mithras go to:

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2016

GREECE

In the west, the Greeks in their turn garnered a rich harvest from the beliefs, mythology and ceremonial practices of the earlier inhabitants of the Mediterranean regions and the Near East, which in time was inherited, through Greek writings, by the Gnostics.
The most famous of the Greek cults, from which the Gnostics derived much of their ritualism, was linked with the great Eleusinian mysteries (see below).


Winged Victory of Samothrace
Another cult, said to have come down unchanged from pre- historic times, was centred on the Aegean island of Samothrace.
The details are not clear, but fragmentary descriptions survive of certain strange idols that adorned their sanctuaries.
The Greek historian Herodotus relates that when the Persian king Cambyses (d. 522 bc) entered one of their temples he was unable to restrain his laughter on seeing a statue of a man standing, 'erect', opposite the statue of a woman standing on her head.
Hēródotos
Ἡρόδοτος - Hēródotos - was an ancient Greek historian who was born in Halicarnassus, Caria (modern-day Bodrum, Turkey) and lived in the fifth century BC (c. 484–425 BC). He has been called "The Father of History", and was the first historian known to collect his materials systematically, test their accuracy to a certain extent, and arrange them in a well-constructed and vivid narrative.'The Histories' - is a record of his "inquiry" (or ἱστορία historía, a word that passed into Latin and acquired its modern meaning of "history"), being an investigation of the origins of the Greco-Persian Wars and including a wealth of geographical and ethnographical information.
In imitation of the Samothracian figures was a sculptured work on the gates of Philius in north-eastern Greece, showing a woman fleeing from an old man with wings and erect phallus.
Hippolytus, who wrote on the Gnostics, also refers to Samothracian temple statues, among them the representation of two ithyphallic men with arms stretched up to heaven. These Samothracian figures were well known in the mythology of esoteric art, and were used by the Roman architect Vitruvius and others to illustrate the ideal canons of proportion.
During the Renaissance two such human models were portrayed to symbolize the two extreme forms of religious dedication: asceticism and licentiousness, both of which were exemplified in the Gnostic sects.
Each figure was drawn in the form of a cross.
One in the shape of a T (the tau cross, from the Greek letter tau), legs together, arms horizontally out at the sides, penis flaccid.
The other in the shape of an X (the chi cross, from the Greek lettered)) arms up to form a V, legs spread out to form an inverted V, phallus erect.
It was said that the candidates at the Samothracian mysteries assumed these positions before and after initiation.
Orpheus and Eurydice
Breker
One of the most important of the Grecian cults was Orphism, named after Orpheus, a semi-legendary prophet, poet and musician of Thrace, who was said to have descended into Hades in an attempt to bring back his deceased wife Eurydice.
A number of the poems attributed to Orpheus were connected with the theme of the soul and its immortality.
Man is half celestial and half infernal, and there is a constant struggle going on between the Uranian (heavenly) and Titanic (diabolic) elements within him.
A basic Orphic doctrine was enshrined in the phrase: 'The body (soma) is the tomb (sema) of the soul', the implication being that the demands and desires of the physical body are a hindrance to the higher spiritual life.
The religious concepts and philosophical schools of the Greeks had a profound influence on Gnosticism.
The Simonians, Naassenes and other gnostic sects, devoted a good deal of attention to exegeses on the great Greek poets, especially Homer.
Among their favoured philosophers were Pythagoras, Plato and the Stoics.

THE MYSTERIES

The outer observances of the great religions of bygone times often took the form of popular festivities open to all.
At the same time there were certain other rites of a grave and solemn nature known as the Mysteries, reserved only for those specially prepared to receive them.
In contrast to the public festivals, which were celebrated for the welfare of the state, the inner mysteries were meant for the individual and were conducted in secret.
In one form or another, religious mysteries were practised in ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Thrace, Macedonia, Greece, Rome, Armenia, and various other parts of the world, from Gaul to the Pre-Columbian civilizations of America.
Several theories have been put forward regarding their purpose: they were ceremonies of initiation into the social laws and customs of a community; they were rites in which the traditional knowledge of healing, hunting, mining, metallurgy or some other science or skill was communicated to suitable candidates; they were puberty, fertility and phallic rites; they were agricultural ceremonies connected with seed-time and harvest; they offered a mystical experience of some sort; they provided an actual foretaste of death and resurrection.
There is much uncertainty about the exact details relating to most of the inner mysteries; the accounts we have of them are not consistent, and in some particulars confused.
Many elements have been forgotten since they were never put down in writing, but some idea of their character can be pieced together from scattered hints in extant texts.
No one has ever betrayed the mysteries.
Although sceptical and even cynical about many things, the Greeks and Romans took them very seriously.
The Greek dramatist Aeschylus (d. 456 BC), who was initiated into the Eleusinian rites, dedicated one of his eighty tragedies (only seven still exist) to his native town of Eleusis, after which these famous mysteries are named.
Phryne in Eleusus - Henryk Siemiradzki
Ἐλευσίνια Μυστήρια - The Eleusinian Mysteries - were initiation ceremonies held every year for the cult of Demeter and Persephone based at Eleusis in ancient Greece. Of all the mysteries celebrated in ancient times, these were held to be the ones of greatest importance. It is acknowledged that their basis was an old agrarian cult which probably goes back to the Mycenean period (c. 1600 – 1100 BC) and it is believed that the cult of Demeter was established in 1500 BC. The idea of immortality which appears in syncretistic religions of antiquity was introduced in late antiquity. The mysteries represented the myth of the abduction of Persephone from her mother Demeter by the king of the underworld Hades, in a cycle with three phases, the "descent" (loss), the "search" and the "ascent", with the main theme the "ascent" of Persephone and the reunion with her mother. It was a major festival during the Hellenic era, and later spread to Rome. The name of the town, Eleusís seems to be Pre-Greek and it is probably a counterpart with Elysium and the goddess Eileithyia.
Eleusís
Certain of his writings were alleged to have been so full of the spirit of the mysteries that he was charged by the Areopagus, the supreme court of Athens, with divulging the secrets, and banished from Athens.
Some think that his missing plays were deliberately suppressed or destroyed. It was generally thought that he received his just deserts when an eagle dropped a tortoise on his bald head and killed him.
The Mysteries were conducted with the greatest secrecy, the candidate taking a solemn oath (Gk. horkos\ Lat. sacramentum) that he would never reveal anything of what he saw or of what was imparted to him.
The word mystery is said to be derived from the Greek word meaning 'to shut' (myein), that is, to seal the lips in secret, and the initiate himself was called mystes, the one instructed in the secrets.
Death held the key to all the greater mysteries.
The candidate for the highest grades appears to have been given a form of god experience through the death experience, which was often very convincingly enacted.
He participated, as it were, in a rehearsal of his own death.
Hence initiation was known as telete, a word related to teleute, meaning 'death'.
The experience in some cases was apparently communicated with such realism that it is thought likely that the candidate, after his long vigils and fasts, may have been put into a hypnotic sleep or other xenophrenic state, and his subtle body was then helped to exteriorize in full 'astral consciousness'.
Xenophrenic - Xeno- from greek: xenos; xeno - different; foreign; alien; strangephrenic from New Latin, Greek: phrenicus - of or relating to the mind or mental activity
The most important part of the rite took place in a section of the shrine especially designed for the purpose.
The candidate was brought into an antechamber, his mouth was bound, he was blindfolded, his head further encased in a hood, and his hands tied behind his back.
This symbolized his state of dumbness, blindness, ignorance and general benightedness. He was then led into the main chamber and laid down on the ground as if dead, and his obsequies conducted.


Resting Hermes
After that he was made to stand up and was placed in the charge of a mystagogue representing the god Hermes, who is the 'conductor of souls' (psychopompos) responsible for guiding the dead through the underworld.
A mystagogue (μυσταγωγός "person who initiates into mysteries") is a person who initiates others into mystic beliefs, an educator or person who has knowledge of the Sacred Mysteries.Another word is Hierophant. In ancient mystery religions, a mystagogue would be responsible for leading an initiate into the secret teachings and rituals of the cultus. The initiate would often be blindfolded, and the mystagogue would literally "guide" him into the sacred space.
Psychopomps (ψυχοπομπός - psuchopompos, literally meaning the "guide of souls") are beings in many religions whose responsibility is to escort newly deceased souls to the afterlife. Their role is not to judge the deceased, but simply provide safe passage. In Jungian psychology, the psychopomp is a mediator between the unconscious and conscious realms. It is symbolically personified in dreams as a wise man or woman, or sometimes as a helpful animal.
The ensuing journey entailed a descent (kathodos) into a subterranean chamber echoing to harsh and threatening voices, then turnings and gropings through perilous labyrinthine passages which, according to Plutarch, 'create amazement, trembling and terror'.
Origen, quoting an earlier account, speaks of a terrifying 'masque of phantoms', perhaps representing the denizens of the underworld.
Then, following an ascent (anodos) to an upper chamber, his hands were untied and the blindfold suddenly removed, and he found himself in a brilliantly lit and richly decorated hall, filled with his fellows.
All voices swelled in the great Eleusinian cry: 'Give rain ! Give life !' (Hue ! Cue !).
Plutarch describes his own experience:
'A wonderful light burst forth, friendly landscapes received us, and by song and dance the splendour of sacred things was revealed to us.'


Sleeping Dionysus
The neophyte to whom these final revelations were made was now known as the witness (epoptes), and welcomed as one fully initiated into the mysteries.
In some places religious mysteries were also presented for popular entertainment and instruction in the form of a colourful spectacle (thea), with a great deal of dramatic display. 
Herodotus and other Greek writers have described the midnight pantomime beside the lake in Sais in Egypt that told the story of the god Osiris.
There were scenes of the birth of the god, his struggle {agon) against an adversary, his death (teleute) and burial (entaphiosis), the search (zetesis) for his body, its discovery (heuresis), and its resurrection (anastasis).


The Youth of Bacchus - William-Adolphe_Bouguereau
The Gnostic Dionysian Mysteries were a ritual of ancient Greece and Rome which used intoxicants and other trance-inducing techniques (like dance and music) to remove inhibitions and social constraints, liberating the individual to return to a natural state.
Antinous as Dionysus
Dionysus or Bacchus is described as a beautiful naked youth (ephebe). He is crowned with ivy and vine leaves, and bears in his hand a thyrsus. His chariot is sometimes drawn by leopards, or panthers; and surrounded by a band of Satyrs, Bacchae, and Nymphs, whilst old Silenus, his preceptor, follows.

It also provided some liberation for those marginalized by Greek society: women, slaves and foreigners.

In their final phase the Mysteries shifted their emphasis from a chthonic, underworld orientation to a transcendental, mystical one, with Dionysus - known to the Romans as Bacchus -  changing his nature accordingly.
By its nature as a mystery religion reserved for the initiated, many aspects of the Dionysian cult remain unknown, and were lost with the decline of Greco-Roman polytheism; our knowledge is derived from descriptions, imagery and cross-cultural studies.

"In intoxication, physical or spiritual, the initiate recovers an intensity of feeling which prudence had destroyed; he finds the world full of delight and beauty, and his imagination is suddenly :liberated from the prison of everyday preoccupations. The Bacchic ritual produced what was called 'enthusiasm', which means etymologically having the god enter the worshipper, who believed :that he became one with the god.'
for more information about Gnosticism and Classical religion go to:

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St Paul used the symbolism of the ancients when he spoke in a Christian context of the purpose of the hallowed revelation that transcends the rites of seed-time and harvest, of fertility and the phallus - that of death and resurrection:
'Behold', he exclaims, 'I show you a Mystery...we shall not all sleep - but we shall be raised.  For this corruption must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality' (I Cor. 15:51-53).
for more information see
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(THE CHOSEN PEOPLE OF THE DEMIURGE - III)

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© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014