Friday, October 10, 2014

The Yezidis & Gnosticism in Islam: Aeon Byte Gnostic Radio



I'm on Aeon Byte Gnostic Radio again, discussing the Yezidis with Miguel Conner.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Charlie Chaplin's London - Funding Campaign Launched



I'm cross-posting this from the filmmaking blog, just in case there are any Chaplin fans reading this! We want to raise a modest amount of cash to complete a short film about Charlie Chaplin's London, shot by legendary Scottish auteur Bill Douglas. More info on the IndieGoGo link. Please chip in if you can. Thanks.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

On this day in 1666...


Today is one of my favourite alchemical anniversaries. John Frederick Helvetius takes up the story. The action takes place in The Hague, in late 1666:

"A little after this, he also asked me, whether I had not another Room, the Windows of which were not to the Street-side; I presently brought this Phaenix, or Bird most rare to be seen in this Land, into my best furnished Chamber; yet he, at his Entrance (as in the manner of Hollanders is, in their Countryes) did not shake off his Shoes, which were dropping wet with Snow. I indeed, at that very time, thus thought: perhaps he will provide, or hath in readiness some Treasure for me; but he dashed my hope all to pieces. For he immediately asked of me a piece of the best Gold-mony; and in the mean while layed off his Cloak, and Country Coat; also he opened his Bosom, and under his Shirt he wore in green Silk, five great Golden Pendants, round, filling up the magnitude of the Interior Space or an Orb of Tin. Where, in comparing these, in respect of Colour and Flexibility, the difference between his Gold, and mine, was exceedingly great. On these Pendants he had inscribed with an Iron Instrument, the following Words, which, at my request, he gave leave that I should coppy out.

The form of the Pendants, and words engraven thereon, are as follows.

I. Amen. Holy , Holy, Holy, is the Lord our God, for all things are full of his Power. Leo: Libra.

II. The wonderfull wonder-working wisdom of Jehovah in the Catholick Book of Nature. Made the 26 day Aug. 1666.

III. [Sun. Mercury. Moon] The wonderfull God, Nature, and the Spagyrick Art, make nothing in vain.

IV. Sacred, Holy, Spirit, Hallelujha, Hallelujha. Away Devil, Speak not of God without Light, Amen.

V. The Eternal, Invisible, only wise, Best of all, and omnipotent God of Gods; Holy, Holy, Holy, Governour and Conserver deservedly ought to be praysed.

Moreover, when I, affected with admiration, said to him; My Master, I pray tell me, where had you this greatest Science of the whole World?"

Where indeed.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Tarkovsky and eastern philosophy




My essay on Tarkovsky and eastern philosophy has just been published - in Russian only, I'm afraid! I hope it will appear in English at some point. The book is the proceedings of the Tarkovsky conference held in Ivanovo last June. 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

A Gnostic Easter


The Gnostic view of the resurrection, as we might expect, differs markedly from the orthodox position. The Nicene Creed states that Jesus ‘suffered and was buried, and the third day he rose again’. This resurrection is bodily, which will one day be experienced by all, as the Creed states ‘we look for the resurrection of the dead’. The Gnostic text known as the Treatise on the Resurrection, however, regards the Resurrection as something that is not physical at all, something ‘which is better than the flesh’. As with Paul’s interpretation of the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15, which was written to offer the only true understanding of it, so the Nag Hammadi Treatise was likewise written to a Gnostic who did not know what to believe. The anonymous author tells his recipient, a man named Rheginos, that the resurrection is a necessary experience for the Gnostic believer to undergo, but it is a raising from the death of ordinary consciousness to the life of gnosis:

"What, then, is the resurrection?... It is the truth which stands firm. It is the revelation of what is, and the transformation of things, and a transition into newness."

The Gospel of Philip is quite explicit about what the resurrection actually is:

"Those who say that the Lord died first and then rose up are in error, for he rose up first and then died. If one does not first attain the resurrection he will not die."

The idea is reiterated later in the gospel, making it clear that the resurrection happens before death, not after it:

"Those who say they will die first and then rise are in error. If they do not first receive the resurrection while they live, when they die they will receive nothing."

from The Gnostics: The First Christian Heretics











Saturday, April 19, 2014

The (un-)Harrowing of Hell


The idea of a fleshy Jesus being crucified while the real Jesus laughs would be more than enough to have the Church Fathers reaching for their smelling salts; it completely subverts orthodox doctrine. Subversion, however, was not the Gnostic intention. Rather, they held that the crucifixion – like the rest of Jesus’ ministry and teaching – can only really be understood through paradox, poetry and startling images. The concept of the laughing Jesus is perhaps best understood this way.

Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy point out that, while the world is full of beauty, it is also full of suffering and death. The way to free oneself is through gnosis (which they term ‘lucid living’), which in turn enables one to both rise above suffering and empathise with those who are experiencing it: '…when we live lucidly we find ourselves loving all and suffering willingly with all. This is the state of gnosis symbolised by the sublime figure of the laughing Jesus.'

from The Gnostics: The First Christian Heretics

 

Friday, April 18, 2014

A Gnostic Good Friday


Following the Round Dance comes a section [in the Acts of John] known as the Revelation of the Mystery of the Cross.When Jesus is crucified, the disciples ‘fled all ways’, with John hiding in a cave on the Mount of Olives.While he is there, Jesus appears to him and shows him a cross made of light around which a multitude stands. The cross is the Word which unites all things and only when people hearken to it will all the light particles scattered within humanity be gathered back together again and be taken up. Jesus also tells John that he is not ‘he who is upon the cross’ at Calvary, reflecting the common Gnostic belief that Jesus was a divine being, not a human one.

Furthermore, Jesus informs John that:

‘You hear that I suffered, yet I suffered not; that I suffered not, yet I did suffer; that I was pierced, yet I was not wounded; hanged, and I was not hanged, that blood flowed from me, yet it did not flow.’

The Nag Hammadi Apocalypse of Peter takes the image of a Christ who does not suffer during the crucifixion one stage further, portraying Jesus as ‘glad and laughing on the tree’. Jesus explains to Peter that:


‘He whom you saw on the tree, glad and laughing, this is the living Jesus. But this one into whose hands and feet they drive the nails is his fleshly part, which is the substitute being put to shame, the one who came into being in his likeness. But look at him, and look at me.'

from The Gnostics: The First Christian Heretics