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The Letter of Peter to Philip

The Letter of Peter to Philip is the second and final tractate of Codex VIII from the Nag Hammadi Library.

As the title suggests, the Letter of Peter to Philip is a letter from Peter to Philip written after Jesus’ death, asking Philip to meet him to discuss how they should organize themselves to teach and preach the salvation promised by Jesus Christ. Philip joyfully agrees and Peter summons the other apostles.

The text opens with the apostles praying on the Mount of Olives when,

“a great light appeared, and the mountain shone from the vision of one who appeared. And a voice called out to them and said,

‘Listen to my words that I may speak to you. Why are you looking for me? I am Jesus Christ, who is with you forever.’”

The apostles ask questions about the deficiency of the aeons, the pleroma (fullness), detainment in this world, and the battle against the powers of this world.

Jesus addresses each of their concerns – ‘again’, reminding them that he has already answered these matters.

Concerning the deficiency of the aeons, Jesus refers to the myth of Sophia (see Secret Book of John) where she wanted to set up aeons; the ‘arrogant one’ (demiurge) followed her and formed ‘mortal bodies’ who worshipped the demiurge and not the ‘pre-existent Father’. This led to the world as we know today – full of pain and suffering.

With regard to the pleroma, Jesus declares that he himself is the ‘fullness’, describing how he was sent down from above and went unrecognized by people in the world, but when he spoke with his own, his own responded to him.

So those who listen to the word of Christ will also attain the joy and fullness of the divine. Like Christ, they will become ‘fullness’.

Concerning detainment in this world, the Saviour says,

“It is because you are mine.  When you strip yourselves of what is corruptible, you will become luminaries in the midst of mortal people. Concerning the fact that you are to fight against the power, it is because they do not have rest like you, since they do not want you to be saved.”

The apostles ask how they can fight the archons/rulers who dominate and oppress humankind; Jesus acknowledges there is a war going on, but it is a spiritual war and the world rulers are fighting against the ‘inner person’. It is a spiritual struggle, and so the weapons must also be spiritual – for the apostles to equip themselves with the power of the Father, gather in worship and prayer, and to teach and preach salvation in the world.

“Surely the Father will help you, as he helped you by sending me. Don’t be afraid, I am with you forever, as I have already said to you when I was in the body.”

Then came lightning and thunder from heaven, and what appeared to them was taken up to heaven.

Peter proceeds to discuss suffering:-

“He suffered for us, and we must also suffer for our smallness.”

‘Smallness’ refers to deficiency and our mortal existence.

Peter continues,

“My brothers, Jesus is a stranger to this suffering. We are the ones who have suffered through the Mother’s transgression.

The Lord Jesus, Son of the Father’s immeasurable glory, is the author of our life.”

Jesus suffers, though not to atone for human sins. Jesus suffers as a divine being in this world to show how to enter into and overcome mortal (corruptible) existence.

To transcend death, embrace life and show humanity the way to do the same.

Scholars believe the Letter of Peter to Philip was originally composed in Greek, in Alexandria, in the 2nd or 3rd century.

I believe it was written by Mary, daughter of Sarah and granddaughter of Mary Magdalene, at Lake Mareotis in the late 1st century.

Mary then wrote The Sentences of Sextus, the first tractate of Codex XII, which I will discuss in my next blog. 

#egypt #gnostic  #mary #naghammadi #sophia #savior #spiritual                                                    

Zostrianos

Zostrianos is the first tractate of Codex VIII from the Nag Hammadi Library discovered in Egypt in 1945. It is the longest text in the Library and relates how one initiate (Zostrianos) attains enlightenment, implicitly setting out a programme for others to follow.

Zostrianos is taken from earth and led to heaven by an angel, where he ascends progressively through the thirteen aeons of the inferior sphere without being stopped by their archons.

Taken in charge by an angelic entity, he is purified, anointed, clothed with heavenly garments, crowned and enthroned. He receives a great number of revelations, until he reaches the highest knowledge that God commands him to record in order to hand it down to his genos (kind, race, class, generation) after having coming back to earth.

Zostrianos relates that, first, through ascetic practices he had to remove physical desires from himself:

“I mentally abandoned my inner corporeal darkness, psychical chaos, and dark, lustful femininity…”

Then, he says,

“A holy spirit higher than God settled upon me as I was improving myself, and I saw the perfect child” – a vision of the divine presence. Later he says,

“Seeking to understand these things I would offer them up daily to the god of my fathers… I did not stop seeking a place of rest worthy of my spirit, where I would not be bound in the perceptible world.”

But then, becoming ‘deeply troubled’, discouraged with his progress, he goes out into the desert, prepared

to deliver myself to the wild beasts of the desert for a violent death.”

 There he receives a vision of “the angel of the knowledge of the eternal Light”.

At each level of the ascent, Zostrianos is instructed about its character and spiritual inhabitants, whereupon he contemplates them and is assimilated to their nature. At each stage Zostrianos also receives baptism – not by immersion in water but by philosophical enquiry.

Zostrianos receives his final 22nd baptism from Youel, the all-glorious virgin, mother of the Glories (celestial helpers) residing in the Aeon of Kalyptos (first and highest of three subaeons within the Barbelo Aeon – Protophanes and Autogenes are the others)

 After 125 pages of visions and revelations, the narrative ends with his descent to earth, where he is now able to master the physical aspect of his existence.

He records the revelations he has received on three wooden tablets and launches a mission to awaken ordinary mortals to the dangers of lustful materiality. He issues a strong warning to the ‘seed of Seth’ not to be baptized with death – that is, to stop practicing the earthly ritual of the Five Seals.

Zostrianos stresses the transcendental baptisms into knowledge characteristic of his visionary ascent are the way to become enlightened through the grace of the trustworthy Father.

“The kind Father has sent you the Saviour and empowered you! Why do you hesitate? Seek when you are sought; when you are invited, listen.. Behold the Light! Flee the darkness. May you not be led astray to your destruction.”

Scholars say the text was originally composed in Greek around late 2nd century Alexandria.

The author, Zostrianos, portrays himself as a man but I believe the author is a woman. The reference to “lustful femininity” in the 1st person (third paragraph page 1) sounds like a woman to me..

I believe Codex VIII, Zostrianos and The Letter of Peter to Philip were penned by Mary, elder sister of Jude, daughter of Sarah and granddaughter of Mary Magdalene. Mary also wrote The Sentences of Sextus (Codex XII), a collection of 451 concise spiritual sayings, as she recognized her mighty tome Zostrianos would not be read by the masses.

#egypt #gnostic  #naghammadi #spiritual                                                         

The Three Steles of Seth

The Three Steles of Seth is the fifth and last tractate of Codex VII from the Nag Hammadi Library discovered in Egypt in 1945.

The traditional steles, or tablets of stone and brick, preserved Seth’s writings from destruction by flood or fire, and record three ecstatic hymns glorifying Barbelo.

It is thought they were used during a communal ritual of celestial ascent practised by a community of Seth’s descendants (those who viewed the biblical Seth as their hero and later reincarnated as Jesus).

The hymns are addressed by Seth to, in ascending order, his own father, Pigeradamas (the heavenly Adam), and the three members of the Sethian trinity:   the self-Generated son, the divine mother Barbelo, and the pre-existent Father.

These hymns of praise, anciently preserved for the elect “living and unshakeable generation” and apparently discovered by Dositheos, reputed founder of the Samaritan gnostic religion.

The Three Steles of Seth is a simplified version of the ascensional technique described in Zostrianos and Allogenes the Stranger.

It describes two main transcendent levels in addition to the cosmos; that of the supreme and absolutely singular pre-existent One or truly living Spirit (or supreme Invisible Spirit), and that of its product, the triple-powered Aeon of Barbelo.

There is no mention of baptismal seals in this celestial ascent – it is a practice of contemplative ascent.

The text concludes with Dositheus’ directions for use of the hymns: the mystical ascent:-

“Whoever remembers these things and always glorifies will be perfect among the perfect and free of suffering beyond all things..

As it has been ordained for them, they ascend. After silence, they descend from the third. They praise the second, and afterward the first. The way of ascent is the way of descent.

So understand as those who are alive that you have succeeded. You have taught yourselves about things infinite. Marvel at the truth within them, and at the revelation.”

This final section refers to the mystical ascent of the soul back to the Pleroma (fullness) within Barbelo (see also Zostrianos). The silence referred to is the climax moment of contemplation in ascension, where the soul resides in the third and highest realm within Barbelo, at which point the descension back to the first realm where Adam and Seth reside begins, blessing the other realms on the way down.

The text indicates that those who remember and recite the tablets and always glorify Barbelo will ascend to the Pleroma where they rightly belong.

My brief summary does not do justice to these beautiful hymns; ‘wisdom from the books’ cannot give you an experience of the divine.

I suggest you read them for yourself and see how the words makes you feel..

Along with the rest of codex VII, (The Paraphrase of Shem, The Second Treatise of the Great Seth, The Revelation of Peter and The Teachings of Silvanus) I believe the Three Steles of Seth was written by Jude (grandson of Mary Magdalene) at Lake Mareotis, Alexandria in the 1st century.

#gnostic #jude #naghammadi #seth                                                       

The Teachings of Silvanus

The Teachings of Silvanus is the fourth tractate of Codex VII from the Nag Hammadi Library discovered in Egypt in 1945.

The tractate has the literary form of Jewish wisdom literature where a teacher named Silvanus addresses the reader as ‘his son’ asking him to accept his education and teaching.

The teacher encourages his followers to resist unconsciousness:

“listen to my good and useful teaching, and bring an end to the sleep that weighs heavy upon you. Come away from the forgetfulness that fills you with darkness.. why do you pursue the darkness when the light is at your disposal?..Wisdom calls you, yet you desire foolishness.. A foolish person swims in life’s desires and has already sunk to the depths.. He is like a ship tossed to and fro by the wind, and like a loose horse that has no rider. For this person need the rider, which is reason..

Before everything else, know yourself..”

The teacher reminds his pupil of his baptism:

“When you entered into a bodily birth, you were begotten. When you were born again (baptized), you came to be inside the bridal chamber, and you were illuminated in mind.”

The pupil is then warned of the adversary (the demiurge)whose aim is to lead astray with “strange kinds of knowledge”, “spurious knowledge.. disguised as mysterious sayings.”

One should rely on Christ alone.

A wise person watches his speech and does not put his trust in human friendship; “Have a good number of friends, but not many counsellors.. But if you do acquire a friend, do not entrust yourself to him. Entrust yourself to God alone, both as father and as a friend.”

The teacher goes on to describe Christ:

“For he is the true light and the sun of life. Just as the visible sun shines on physical eyes, so Christ illuminates every mind and heart.”

God is impossible to know or understand – He can only be known through Christ: “For it is not only difficult for human beings to comprehend God, but it is also difficult for every divine nature, the angels and the archangels.. You cannot know God through any means except through Christ, who bears the image of the Father. For this image reveals the true likeness of God in a visible way. A king is usually not known apart from an image.”

The reader is urged to examine oneself to ensure one really has the light:

 “My child, do not let your mind stare downward, but rather let it look with the light at things above. For light always comes from above.. Illuminate your mind with heavenly light, so that you may turn toward the light of heaven”

and walk in the way of Christ.

Christ is praised for his descent to “the underworld”, his incarnation on behalf of humanity, that “humanity might become like God”.

One should entrust oneself entirely to him and drink from the true vine:

“Give yourself gladness from the true vine of Christ. Satisfy yourself with the true wine in which there is neither drunkenness nor dregs. The true wine entails the end of drinking, since it can give joy to the soul and mind through the Spirit of God. But first, before you drink of it, nurture your reasoning powers.”

One should let Christ into the temple of the soul and thus become truly blessed.

The author concludes his teachings urging his pupil to:

“Open the door for yourself, that you may know the One Who Is. Knock on yourself, that the Word may open to you. For he is the door of faith and the sharp sword. He became all for everyone, because he wishes to have mercy on everyone.”

The text ends with:

“Accept for yourself the wisdom of Christ, who is patient and mild, and guard this, O my child, knowing that God’s way is always profitable.”

——

The Greek original was sadly lost; the Coptic version was discovered near a monastery of Pachomius in Egypt and was entered into the Cairo Coptic Museum in 1956.

Scholars (eg Birger A Pearson) agree the tractate contains material dating back to the 1st century and its author was active in Alexandria, Egypt.

As part of codex VII, I believe the Greek original of the Teachings of Silvanus was written in the late 1st century by Jude.                                

#gnostic #jude #naghammadi                                                      

The Revelation Of Peter

The Revelation of Peter, or the Gnostic Apocalypse of Peter, is the third tractate of Codex VII from the Nag Hammadi Library discovered in Egypt in 1945.

The Saviour reveals to the apostle Peter the meaning of the crucifixion and the nature of true Christianity.

The Revelation of Peter opens with a scene in the temple at Jerusalem on the night before the crucifixion, a short time before Peter’s denial, where the Saviour is seated talking to Peter.

Although Peter is portrayed as an angry misogynist in the Gospel of Mary, the Gospel of Thomas and Pistis Sophia, here text Peter is positive and described as a ‘friend of gnosis’. Initially he is timid and fearful, but experiences a revelation following the Saviour’s teachings.

The teachings of the Saviour address the crucifixion of Jesus and disagreements among Christians. Peter receives the revelation in a vision, and only at the very end of the text does he return ‘to his senses’.

Peter envisions the threats of priests and people, and after seeing Jesus being arrested and crucified asks,                                                                                   “What do I see, master? Is it really you they are seizing, and are you holding onto me? And who is the one laughing and smiling above the cross? Is it someone else whose feet and hands they are hammering?”

The Saviour explains that the fleshly body of Jesus was crucified, but the living Jesus is an immortal being who does not suffer and die. Furthermore, the Saviour is more than the living Jesus, he is a transcendent spiritual being. Peter has a glimpse of this and describes what he sees:

“Then I saw someone about to approach us who looked like the one laughing above the cross, but this one was intertwined with holy spirit, and he was the Saviour. And there was an unspeakably bright light surrounding them and a multitude of ineffable and invisible angels praising them. When the one who glorifies was revealed, I myself saw the Saviour.”

The Saviour confirms this to Peter:

“I am the spirit of thought filled with radiant light. The one you saw approaching me is our fullness of thought, which unites the perfect light with my holy spirit.”

Ultimately, the Revelation of Peter is proclaiming the Saviour is the transcendent spiritual presence manifesting the thought and fullness of the divine.

As in the Second Treatise of the Great Seth, the Revelation of Peter has strong criticism of some members of the Christian church who claim to follow Christ but fall into error. In contrast to the ‘little ones’ who are the true believers or genuine Christians, the misguided ‘hold onto the name of a dead man’ and ‘follow an evil deceiver with complicated doctrines’ which leads them astray into ‘heresy’.

These other Christians have bishops and deacons who claim to have divine authority, but they are all ‘dry canals’.

The Saviour declares:

“For a specified time proportionate to their error, they will rule over the little ones. Eventually, truth will triumph over error and the little ones will be vindicated. They will rule, and in the end their immortal souls will receive the reward.”

The Saviour then says to Peter:

“You are to present what you have seen to those who are strangers*, who are not of this age. For there will be no grace among those who are not immortal, but only among those chosen because of their immortal nature, which has shown it can receive the one who gives in abundance.”

(* Stranger in this context refers to a spiritually mature person who becomes a ‘stranger’ to the material world.)

Religious scholars do not know who wrote the Revelation of Peter, and postulate it was written in Alexandria in the 2nd century.

Codex VII comprises the Paraphrase of Shem, the Second Treatise of the Great Seth, the Revelation of Peter, the Teachings of Silvanus and the Three Steles of Seth.

I believe Codex VII was written by Mary Magdalene’s grandson, Sarah’s son Jude, at Lake Mareotis, Alexandria at the end of the 1st century.            #gnostic #jude #marymagdalene #naghammadi

The Second Treatise Of The Great Seth

For nearly 2,000 years, Christian tradition has preserved and revered orthodox writings that denounce the gnostics, while suppressing (and albeit destroying) the gnostic writings themselves. Now for the first time, certain texts discovered at Nag Hammadi reveal the other side of the coin: how gnostics denounced the orthodox. Speaking for those he calls the ‘sons of light’ the author of the Second Treatise of the Great Seth (Codex VII, second tractate) rants against orthodox Christianity:-

“..we were hated and persecuted, not only by those who are ignorant (pagans), but also those who think they are advancing the name of Christ, since they were unknowingly empty, not knowing who they are, like dumb animals.” 

Great Seth is a leading character in other Gnostic texts, such as the Holy Book of the Invisible Spirit, where the heavenly figure of Seth is believed to have incarnated in the person of Christ. 

The text is a rousing homily to encourage faithful Gnostic Christians facing increasing opposition from the emerging orthodox church.

The narrator of the Second Treatise of the Great Seth is Jesus. The basic message is that the Saviour has come down from the divine Majesty above into the cosmos of Yaldabaoth (see Secret Book of John) and his archons, and here in this world he has requisitioned a human body by ejecting its previous tenant. That is how the Saviour has become Christ the anointed.

As a stranger here below, Jesus proclaims a message of gnosis and unity among all those who are kin to him, and after being crucified, which was ‘a joke’, the Saviour returns to heaven to enjoy a wedding celebration with a “wedding of truth” and a “feast of love”.

The good news for the readers this text was intended for is that they too can experience the same joy, truth and love when they realise their oneness with the Saviour and the One Who Is, the Father of the All.

Jesus explains that when he came down from the Majesty of the Spirit, the rulers of the world were confused and upset at the divine stranger in their midst, although one of the powers, Adonaios, did not join the other archons in their opposition to Jesus. Adonaios comes from Adonai, Hebrew for “my Lord”. So Adonaios represents the Lord of the Jewish people and is a fairly good archon.

The rest of the archons try to kill Jesus, but in their ignorance they are unable to do so. Jesus says:

“The death they think I suffered they suffered in their error and blindness. They nailed their man to their death. Their thoughts did not perceive me, since they were deaf and blind. By doing these things they pronounce judgement against themselves. As for me, they saw me and punished me, but someone else, their father, drank the gall and the vinegar; it was not I. They were striking me with a scourge, but someone else, Simon bore the cross on his shoulder. Someone else wore the crown of thorns. And I was on high, poking fun at all the excesses of the rulers and the fruit of their error and conceit. I was laughing at their ignorance.” 

What makes the crucifixion laughable is the ignorance of the archons/powers who think they can execute the real, living Jesus. The reference to Simon concurs with the New Testament where it is said Simon of Cyrene carries the cross for Jesus. Jesus says,

“Though they punished me, I did not die in actuality but only in appearance.”

Jesus goes onto criticise the leaders of the orthodox church, saying they focus on the crucifixion, which they do not understand, and base their theology on it.  Like Paul, they claim that baptism is dying with Christ, but in this text Christ says that true baptism means people come to be in Christ and Christ in them:

“The scripture regarding the ineffable water in use among us is this word: I am in you and you are in me, just as the Father is in me and in you, with no guile at all”.

The orthodox church leaders preach “the doctrine of a dead man”, behaving in a legalistic fashion, so they are in bondage, although they use the name of Christ and claim to be his followers. In reality they serve two masters, Christ and Yaldabaoth, the world ruler, along with his archons. These Christians, along with the ignorant, oppose the members of the perfect assembly (Gnostics).   

So, The Second Treatise of the Great Seth divides people into the ignorant (people of flesh), ordinary Christians (people of soul) and members of the perfect assembly – Gnostics (people of spirit).

Christ teaches he has come to his own and has united with them. He says,

“Our thought was one with their thought, so they understood what I was saying”.  Jesus concludes:

“They have come to know fully and completely that the One Who Is is one, and all are one. They have been taught about the One and the assembly and the members of the assembly. For the Father of the All is immeasurable and immutable, mind, word, division, jealousy, fire, yet he is simply one, all in all in a single principle, because all are from a single spirit.”

This text is a document with poetry and power. Religious scholars do not know who wrote it, but believe it was written in the 2nd century in Alexandria.

I believe The Second Treatise of the Great Seth, along with the rest of Codex VII (The Paraphrase of Shem, The Revelation of Peter, The Teachings of Silvanus and The Three Steles of Seth) was written by Jude, son of Sarah and grandson of Yeshua and Mary Magdalene, at Lake Mareotis at the end of the 1st century. 

#egypt #gnostic #jude #marymagdalene #naghammadi #seth

The Discourse On The Eighth And Ninth

The Discourse on the Eighth and Ninth is the sixth tractate of Codex VI which gives specific instructions on how to reach ‘spiritual perfection’.         

It is in the form of a dialogue between a “father”, sometimes called Hermes Trismegistus (a legendary figure combining the Greek god Hermes and the Egyptian god Thoth) and a student referred to as his “son” or “my child.” 

The Discourse opens with the student reminding his master of a promise,

“My father, yesterday you promised you would take my mind to the eighth stage and after that you would take me to the ninth. You said this is the sequence of the tradition.” 

The student has already progressed through the first seven levels of understanding but admits he has had no experience of the divine, which cannot be reached through studying books. 

“Father, I understand nothing else than the beauty I have experienced in the books.”

This involves an initiation into the divine mysteries of the Eighth and the Ninth heavenly spheres, so that he may be born again and be directly inspired by God’s mind.

The two join in prayer to “the invisible God to whom one speaks in silence”.

The prayer moves into a chant of sacred words and vowels:-

These letters are from the ancient Greek alphabet: an accent above a vowel makes it a ‘long’ sound eg O as in Om

The teacher prays, “Lord.. acknowledge the spirit that is in us” and enters an ecstatic state,

“I see, I see ineffable depths. How shall I tell you, my child! How shall I tell you about the universe? I am mind (nous) and I see another mind, one that moves the soul. I see the one that moves me from pure forgetfulness. You give me power. I see myself. I wish to speak. Fear seizes me. I have found the beginning of power above all powers, without beginning.. I am mind. I have seen. Language cannot reveal this. For all on the eighth, my child, and the souls in it, and the angels, sing a hymn in silence. I mind, understand.”

Watching, the student himself is filled with ecstasy:

“I am happy, father, to see you smiling. The universe is happy.”

Seeing his teacher embodying the divine, the student pleads with him,

“Trismegistus, do not let my soul be deprived of the vision. O divine being, everything is possible for you as master of the universe.”

The master tells him to sing in silence, and to “ask what you want in silence.”

“When he had finished praising, he called out, ‘Father Trismegistus! What shall I say? We have received this light. And I myself see the same vision in you. I see the eighth, and the souls in it, and the angels singing a hymn to the ninth and its powers… I pray to the end of the universe and the beginning of the beginning, to the goal of the human quest, the immortal discovery…I am the instrument of your spirit, mind is your plectrum, and your guidance makes music with me. I see myself. I have received power from you, for your love has reached us.”

After giving thanks to God for his favour, the Discourse closes as the master instructs the student to write his experiences in a book:

“My child, copy this book for the temple at Diospolis (Diospolis Magna, now Luxor), in hieroglyphic characters, and call it the ‘Eighth reveals the Ninth.’”

In order to “progress by stages and advance in the way of immortality” under the guidance of Hermes Trismegistus, the student must pass through an initiatory mystery, a rite of regeneration. 

The key experience of this mystery is vision of oneself – “I see myself”.

Not only does this vision bring about the regeneration of the initiate, but it enables him to recognize the one initiating him – the figure of Hermes Trismegistus himself.

How can we achieve this? 

With spiritual exercise and grace. 

The main exercise is prayer. Prayer implores God’s assistance, and complements the meditative contemplation of the beauty of the soul that preceded the prayer. Those who pray become “a reflection of the Fullness (pleroma)”.

By praising the divinity, the student must first honour and unite with his siblings who live in this world, the congregation of Hermes’ spiritual offspring.

Eventually he also meets the souls and the angels of the eighth sphere as well as the power of the ninth one.

True prayer is a spiritual sacrifice to God uniting all of the souls and spirits in this world as well as in the highest heavens. 

By silently praising God we become able to conceive ourselves as pure minds, released from our bodies and able to receive “the power that is light” or the Divine Mind itself.

The Discourse on the Eighth and Ninth concludes with a warning from Trismegistus:

“Copy an oath in the book, so that those who read the book may not use the wording for evil purposes or to subvert fate. Rather, they should submit to the law of God, and in purity ask God for wisdom and knowledge (gnosis). Whoever is not begotten by God will not be able to read what is written in the book, even though the person’s conscience is pure. Such a person progresses by stages and advances in the way of immortality..”

The following penultimate tractate from Codex VI, The Prayer of Thanksgiving, sums up in lyrical form the successive steps of the Hermetic ascent to immortality, and would follow the last stage of initiation described in the Discourse on the Eighth and Ninth.

After the prayer, the newly born again child of Hermes Trismegistus would take part in the community ritual of a banquet,

“When they prayed and said these things, they embraced, and went to eat their sacred bloodless (vegetarian) food.

Scholars agree this text was originally written in Greek in Egypt.

As I said in an earlier post, as part of codex VI, the Discourse on the Eighth and Ninth and The Prayer of Thanksgiving were written by Anne, daughter of Sarah and granddaughter of Mary Magdalene, at the end of the 1st century at Lake Mareotis, Alexandria.

The Discourse on the Eighth and Ninth and the Prayer of Thanksgiving give us a rare insight into the initiation ceremonies that took place in these communities.    These would not have been possible without communities such as Lake Mareotis – the mystery school teachings would have been passed down orally through the female line.

#gnostic #hermes #mysteryschool #naghammadi

The Concept Of Our Great Power

The Concept of our Great Power is the fourth tractate of Codex VI

It opens with a discourse uttered by the great Power himself. The great Power refers to the highest God.

The great Power promises invisibility and safety to those who know him and offers salvation to everyone,

“For all those in whom my form appears, from seven days old to one hundred twenty years old, will be saved.” 

These people will be able to see the great Power and prepare their future there.    The supreme deity offers the hearers a profound teaching about past and present:

“Come to know how what has gone has come to be, that you may know what is alive will come to be.”

The deity also encourages his hearers to ask the most essential questions about their present condition in the world and their aim for the future life,

“what that aeon looks like, what its nature is, and how it came into being. Why don’t you ask what its nature will be, or how you have come into being?”

These questions are typical of gnostic self-enquiry and recall the words from Excerpts from Theodutus:

“Who are we? What have we become? Where are we? Where have we been cast? Where shall we go?”

The great Power recounts the history of salvation, based on biblical sources and divided into two main periods before and after the flood: the age of the flesh and the age of the soul.

Creation consists not only of water, earth and air, but also fire, which is present in darkness and the underworld. Even if the great Power is not the creator of the universe, he is involved by providing the Spirit to people,

“The Spirit was given to people so that they may receive life from it day by day”.

During the period of the age of the flesh, ‘giant bodies’ (Nephilim) came into existence resulting in lust and corruption. This incurs the wrath in the ‘father of the flesh’ – the Old Testament god (Demiurge) – who sent the flood to humanity. But Noah was saved because he was pious and worthy.

“Noah proclaimed a message of piety for one hundred twenty years, but no one listened to him. So he made a wooden ark, and whoever he found went in. Then the flood came, and Noah and his sons were saved. If there had been no ark, the flood water would not have come.” 

The age of the soul follows and is trivial and small. Souls are polluted by their association with bodies:

“It produced all sorts of things – many works of wrath, anger, envy, jealousy, hatred, slander, contempt, and warfare.. and unjust judgements given arbitrarily.” 

It is during this period of the soul that,

“there will come the human who knows the great Power.”

This human, who will speak in parables and proclaim the aeon that is to come, is referring to Christ, although he is not explicitly named. The saviour abolishes the law of the aeon by his word.

“The rulers (archons) rose up in wrath against him, and they wanted to give him over to the ruler of the underworld (Demiurge).”

And so Christ was crucified, but the ruler of the underworld discovered 

“that his flesh could not be seized and shown to the archons. His word (logos) has abolished the law of the aeon.”

“Then the ruler of the west (Demiurge) arose. He will act from the east and will teach people his wickedness.”

This ruler is referred to as an ‘imitator’ who reigns over earth and leads people astray.

As apocalyptic signs of the end appear in nature, the great Power withdraws with those who know him, and all enter into the light. Protected by holy garments, they are unharmed by darkness or fire. 

The domination of the archons comes to an end:

“Then mercy will come.. through Sophia.. The firmaments (heavens) will collapse down to the abyss. The children of matter will perish.. They will be in the aeon of beauty.. and they will be adorned through Sophia.” 

The followers of the great Power will taste knowledge, light and rest. 

“They all have come to be as reflections in his light. They all have shone and they have found rest in his rest. The one who is in oneness will free the souls being chastised, and they come to live in purity.”

The final state of those who follow the great Power will be rest in the eternal realm.

The Concept of our Great Power was originally penned in Greek by Anne, daughter of Sarah, and granddaughter of Mary Magdalene at Lake Mareotis, Alexandria, Egypt, in the late 1st century. 

#gnostic #naghammadi #sophia 

The Acts Of Peter And The Twelve Apostles

The Acts of Peter and the Twelve Apostles is the first tractate of Codex VI.

This is an allegorical story where Peter relates, some time after the crucifixion, of how he and his companions set sail on a ship in order to preach the ministry Christ entrusted to them.

After having sailed for a day and a night, the wind brings them to a small city in the middle of the sea. Once on the dock, Peter is told the name of the town is “Abide-in-endurance.” As he enquires about lodgings, he meets a merchant man holding a book and a box made of precious wood crying out “Pearls! Pearls!”

Peter assumes he is an inhabitant of the city and asks about lodgings, since he and his friends are strangers to the city, but the merchant replies that he is a stranger himself.

The announcement about pearls briefly catches the attention of wealthy people, but the poor surround the man, eager to just see the pearl, as they would never be able to afford to buy one.

The foreign merchant says to them,

“If you can, come to my city, so that I may not only show it to you but may give it to you free of charge.”

The poor people are understandably incredulous and reply,

“We are beggars, and we know that nobody gives a pearl to a beggar. Beggars usually get bread and money. So we ask you this favour, that you show us the pearl, and then we can brag to our friends that we saw a pearl with our own eyes.”

The merchant repeats his invitation and the poor rejoice.

Peter asks the merchant his name and what hardships would be involved in visiting his city, as he and his companions had been entrusted with spreading the word of Christ everywhere. The merchant replied,

“My name is Lithargoel, which means ‘light bright stone’. And concerning the way to this city, none can travel that road unless they renounce all their possessions and fast daily from one night’s stay to the next. There are many robbers and wild beasts on that road. If people take bread, black dogs kill them because of the bread. If they carry expensive garments of this world, robbers kill them because of the garments. If they carry water, wolves kill them for the wolves are thirsty..”

Lithargoel sees Peter’s downcast face and said to him,

“Why are you groaning if you know the name of Jesus and believe in him? He is a power great enough to give you strength. For I also believe in the Father who has sent him.”

“This is the name of my city. In nine gates let us praise God, and consider that the tenth gate is the main gate.”

Peter and his companions follow the merchant’s instructions and arrive safely at the gates of the city.

Lithargoel appears, but looks more like a physician than a merchant. He is holding an ointment box, accompanied by a young disciple carrying a pouch full of medicine. At first the apostles do not recognize Lithargoel, and Peter asks the physician to show him Lithargoel’s house, but then the mysterious physician reveals himself as Christ.

He offers his pouch of medicine to Peter and urges them to return to the city Abide-in-endurance and heal the sick people of the city who believe in his name. Peter is sceptical, saying if they do not even have enough food for a single day how can they help the poor? Christ replies,

“Peter it was necessary for you to understand the parable I told you. Don’t you know that my name is worth more than all the riches, and the wisdom of God is worth more than silver and gold and precious stones.”

Peter is afraid to question a second time and urges John to speak. John points out that they have not been taught how to heal:

“How then, shall we know how to heal bodies, as you have told us?”

Christ answers him by stating that,

“The doctors of this world heal what is of the world, but the doctors of soul heal the heart.”

Christ advises them to heal bodies first, without wordly medicine, so that people will believe in their power to heal illnesses of the heart.

Christ issues a final warning about not having fellowship with the rich people, as many people in the churches show favour to the rich – an aside directed towards the orthodox church.

The apostles fall down to worship him. Christ makes them stand up and departs.

Jesus often used parables in the New Testament to convey his teachings. 

The pearl is known from the famous Hymn of the Pearl in the Acts of Thomas –the  pearl in the Acts of Peter and the Twelve Apostles symbolizes spiritual salvation.  Renouncing one’s worldly possessions in order to save one’s soul is a familiar theme.   

The city of nine gates bring to mind the city of Jerusalem and its nine gates, with the tenth gate being the entrance to the heavenly realms.

Lithargoel is an angel of healing known from Book of the Installation of the Angel Gabriel in which the angel states,

“I am Litharkuel, in whose hand is the medicine chest, filled with the medicine of life. I heal every soul.”

A parable is a story which has a moral (or message), is universal, appeals to all age groups and cultures, is timeless and has an element of magic!

Some things never change – every billion dollar franchise (e.g. Star Wars, Harry Potter) still uses this same formula today!

As I said in my previous post, the Acts of Peter and the Twelve Apostles was originally written in Greek in the late 1st century by Anne, daughter of Sarah and granddaughter of Mary Magdalene, at Lake Mareotis, Alexandria, Egypt. #gnostic #naghammadi  

Pistis Sophia

Pistis Sophia (‘faith-wisdom’) was the most significant text to have surfaced prior to the Nag Hammadi discovery in 1945, discovered in Upper Egypt in the late 18th century. A simpler, shorter version of Pistis Sophia was later found at Nag Hammadi.

Like the Gospel of Mary, Pistis Sophia takes place after the resurrection and features Mary Magdalene in a prominent role, revealing a deep spiritual relationship between Mary Magdalene and Jesus.

The text relates that the Saviour remained on earth for 11 years after the crucifixion to instruct the disciples (including his mother Mary, Mary Magdalene, Mary Salome and Martha), teaching them only the lower mysteries. After 11 years, the Saviour receives his true garment and is able to reveal the higher mysteries. These mysteries relate to complex cosmologies and knowledge necessary for the soul to reach the highest divine realms.

To the Gnostics, Sophia was a divine syzygy of Christ; in a papyrus codex found at Nag Hammadi the Saviour explains Pistis as follows;-

“Again, his disciples said: ‘Tell us clearly how they came down from the invisibilities, from the immortal to the world that dies?’                                                                 

The perfect Saviour said: ‘son of Man consented with Sophia, his consort, and revealed a great androgynous light. Its male name is designated ‘Saviour, begetter of all things’. Its female name is designated ‘All-begrettress Sophia’. Some call her ‘Pistis’.

The translation I have by G.R.S Mead divides the text into six books (these did not exist in the original manuscript). Over half the text is dedicated to the myth of the fall and restoration of the figure known as Pistis Sophia, giving detailed parallels between her prayers of repentance and Psalms and Odes of Solomon.

The first book (Chapters 1-62) sets the scene with the Saviour remaining with the disciples for 11 years teaching them the ‘lower mysteries’. The disciples believe they have progressed far along the path of gnosis, announcing:

“Blessed are we before all men who are on the earth, because the Saviour hath revealed this unto us, and we have received the Fullness and the total completion.”

However, the disciples are mistaken. Light descends over the Saviour, which “Stretched from under the earth right up to heaven. – And when the disciples saw that light, they fell into fear and great agitation.”

Upon his return, the Saviour, seeing their fear and agitation reassures them. He informs them,

“I have gone to the regions out of which I had come forth. From this day on I will discourse with you in openness, from the beginning of the Truth unto its completion.”

A lengthy narrative the Saviour relates concerning his journey ‘upwards and inwards’ and of his receiving a garment of light. He travels through the heavenly spheres, revealing the existence of the First Mystery – the true God – to the rulers of the spheres and their attendant angels. When he reaches the twelfth sphere, he encounters ‘Adamas, the Great Tyrant’, who tries to resist the light and, along with the archons, fights against it. The Saviour relates, “And I took a third of their power, in order that they should not be able to accomplish their evil deeds.. Who hath ears to hear, let them hear.” This can be interpreted as the Saviour reducing the effectiveness of astrological magic.

Mary Magdalene meditates for an hour and then asks to speak. The Saviour’s reply shows the esteem in which he holds her:

“Mary, thou blessed one, whom I will perfect in all mysteries of those of the height, discourse in openness, thou, whose heart is raised to the kingdom of heaven more than all thy brethren.”

Mary interprets the Saviour’s narrative, describing how Isaiah prophesied what he has told them, then she begins to ask various questions; the only male disciple to quiz the Saviour is Philip, who has been transcribing the Saviour’s words. Mary is taking the lead in asking the Saviour to explain himself further, showing she is actively assimilating the Saviour’s teachings, more so than the other disciples .

The Saviour continues his discourse, revealing that he encountered Pistis Sophia “grieving and mourning, because she had not been admitted into the thirteenth aeon, her higher region.”

Unlike the version of the Sophia myth in the Secret Book of John, here Pistis Sophia is a being of the lower, material aeons. She is not a high, divine being, and her restoration is not to the realms of light, but only back to her pace in the thirteenth aeon. Her longing for the first Mystery – the true God – led to her being tricked out of the thirteenth aeon by the great triple-powered ‘Self-Willed’, who together with other aeons, project their own light downwards. Pistis Sophia mistakes this light for the light of the First Mystery, heads towards it and becomes entrapped in the world of chaos and matter. She meets Yaldabaoth (the Demiurge), who strips her of her remaining power. Pistis Sophia begins to sing hymns of repentance (there are 13 in all):

“Now, therefore, O Light of Truth, thou knowest that I have done this in my innocence, thinking that the lion-faced light power (Yaldabaoth) belonged to thee; and the sin which I have done is open before thee.  Suffer me no more to lack, O Lord, for I have had faith in thy light from the beginning; O Lord, O Light of the powers, suffer me no more to lack my light. And because of the illusion of thy light, I am become a stranger to my brethren, the invisibles, and to the great emanations of Barbelo.”

Mary once again interprets the story of Pistis Sophia, telling the disciples that what they have just heard was prophesied in Psalm 68. The Saviour commends her interpretation and continues with a description of Pistis Sophia’s second repentance. Once the Saviour has finished speaking, Peter clearly agitated by Mary’s understanding of the teaching, complains that, “My Lord, we will not endure this woman, for she taketh the opportunity from us and hath let none of us speak, but she discourseth many times.”

The Saviour invites Peter to give his interpretation of the second repentance (there are thirteen in all).  The Saviour continues to answer questions from his disciples; with Mary Magdalene asking the majority of them. The rift between Mary and Peter is clear:-

“My Lord, my mind is ever understanding, at every time to come forwards and set forth the solution of the words that she (Pistis Sophia) hath uttered; but I am afraid of Peter, because he threatened me and hateth our sex.”

The Saviour defends her,

“Everyone who shall be filled with the spirit of light to come forwards and set forth the solution of what I say, no one shall be able to prevent him.”

Peter backs down, and Mary Magdalene continues to be the main questioner and interpreter of the Saviour’s words. Pistis Sophia is finally allowed to return to the thirteenth aeon, where she sings a song of praise to the First Mystery.

The second book makes up Chapters 63-101. After the conclusion of the story of Pistis Sophia, the text turns to long explanations of cosmology and knowledge of the prized mysteries.

Books three and four (Chapters 102-135) is taken up with further revelations, together with ethical instructions which the disciples are to preach once the Saviour has returned to the light. It outlines what is needed for right thought and right action, as well as actions that are not acceptable and their punishments.

“Renounce love of the world, that ye may be worthy of the mysteries of the light and be saved from the pitch and fire-coats of the dog-faced one.”

“Renounce wickedness, that ye may be worthy of the mysteries of the light and be saved from the fire-sea of Ariel.”

Further exhortations follow, bringing together the Gnostic and the orthodox:

“Say unto them: Be ye loving unto men.. Be ye gentle.. Minister unto the poor.. and the sick and the distressed.. Be ye loving unto God, that ye may receive the mysteries of the Light and go on high into the Light-kingdom.

The fourth book provides an outline of what to expect for the first baptism. Two more baptisms follow; a fire-baptism and a baptism of the Holy Spirit of the Light, but these are not described; the initiate must persist on the path and be deemed ready.

Mary asks questions about the afterlife states of the sinner and the re-incarnational cycle that souls must endure in order to be cleansed, referring to a ‘cup of forgetfulness’ administered prior to incarnation, which explains why we do not remember our past lives:- “..And then Adamas, bringeth a cup filled with the water of forgetfulness and handeth it to the soul, and it drinketh it and forgetteth all regions and all the regions to which it hath gone. And they cast it down into a body, which will spend its time continually troubled in its heart. And that cup of forgetfulness becometh body outside the soul, and resembleth the soul in all – which is what is called the counterfeiting spirit.”  

* In 2003 scientists discovered a molecule in the brain called PP1 which affects the memory. My cellular memory tells me the ‘cup of forgetfulness’ refers to PP1 – we are programmed to forget.

Baptism purifies our soul – the counterfeit spirit is separated from our soul and we can become a ‘perfect soul’.

The Saviour urges people not to defer spiritual development for another lifetime, as the critical number of perfect souls could be reached at any moment. This is the completion of the First Mystery and the gnosis of the universe. At this point, no more souls will be able to return to the Light-kingdom.      

“And from this hour onwards no one will be able to enter into the Light. For at the completion of the time of the number of the perfect souls, before I have set fire to the world*, in order that it may purify the aeons and the veils and the firmaments and the whole earth, mankind will be still existing.”

* Apparently this will be a sequence of natural events forest fires, volcanoes, which with global warming at its present rate it is a real possibility.

“Strive thereafter, to renounce the whole world and the whole matter therein, that ye may receive the mysteries of the Light before the number of the perfect souls is completed*, in order that they may not stop you before the gates of Light and lead you away into the outer darkness.”

* My cellular memory tells me the number of perfect souls required is 360. If you define a perfect soul as someone with a Level of Consciousness +700, there are currently 20 alive today.

Mary Magdalene asks questions about the ‘outer darkness’ and ‘regions of chastisement’. The Saviour answers:-  “The outer darkness is a great dragon, whose tail is in its mouth, outside the whole world and surrounding the whole world. And there are many regions of chastisement within it. There are twelve mighty chastisement-dungeons and a ruler is in every dungeon and the face of the rulers is different one from another.”

The Saviour says “.at the dissolution of the world, that is at the ascension of the universe, those souls will perish through the violent cold and the exceedingly violent fire and be non-existent for ever.”

Pistis Sophia says the only way to access the Treasury of Light is via Jesus. Jesus is a frequency, a high vibration – and we all have the capacity to experience the Inner Christ within us.

I believe the first four books of Pistis Sophia and the eight tractates of Codex VI were written by Anne, daughter of Sarah and granddaughter of Mary Magdalene, at Lake Mareotis, Alexandria, Egypt in the late 1st century.

This ancient text is relevant today as I believe we are at this point in history now..

#gnostic #marymagdalene #naghammadi #sophia