egyptian


OSIRIS AND ISIS
When Osiris reigned death was not in the land. Arms were not in men’s hands; there
were not any wars. From end to end of the land music sounded; men and women spoke so sweetly and out of such depth of feeling that all they said was oratory and poetry.
Osiris taught men and women wisdom and he taught them all the arts. He it was who first planted the vine; he it was who showed men how and when to sow grain, how to plant and tend the fruit-trees; he caused them to rejoice in the flowers also. Osiris made laws for men so that they were able to live together in harmony; he gave them knowledge of the Gods, and he showed them how the Gods might be honoured.
And this was what he taught them concerning the Gods: In the beginning was the formless abyss, Nuu. From Nuu came Rê, the Sun. Rê was the first and he was the most divine of all beings. Rê created all forms. From his thought came Shu and Tefênet, the Upper and the Lower. Air. From Shu and Tefênet came Qêb and Nut, the Earth and the Sky. The Earth and the Sky had been separated, the one from the other, but once they had been joined together. From the eye of Rê, made out of the essence that is in that eye, came the first
man and the first woman.
And from Qêb, the Father, and Nut, the Mother, Osiris was born. When he was born a voice came into the world, crying, “Behold, the Lord of all things is born!”
And with Osiris was born Isis, his sister. Afterwards was born Thout, the Wise One. Then there was born Nephthys. And, last, there was born Sêth. And Sêth tore a hole in his mother’s side–Sêth the Violent One. Now Osiris and Isis loved each other as husband and wife, and together they reigned over the land. Thout was with them, and he taught men the arts of writing and of reckoning.
Nephthys went with Sêth and was his wife, and Sêth’s abode was in the desert.
Sêth, in his desert, was angered against Osiris, for everywhere green things that Sêth hated were growing over the land–vine, and grain, and the flowers. Many times Sêth tried to destroy his brother Osiris, but always his plots were baffled by the watchful care of Isis. One day he took the measurement of Osiris’s body–he took the measurement from his shadow–and he made a chest that was the exact size of Osiris.

Soon, at the time before the season of drought, Sêth gave a banquet, and to that banquet he invited all the children of Earth and the Sky. To that banquet came Thout, the Wise One, and Nephthys, the wife of Sêth, and Sêth himself, and Isis, and Osiris. And where they sat at banquet they could see the chest that Sêth had made– the chest made of fragrant and diversified woods. All admired that chest. Then Sêth, as though he would have them enter into a game, told all of them that he would give the chest to the one whose body fitted most closely in it. The children of Qêb and Nut went and laid themselves in the chest that Sêth had made: Sêth went and laid himself in it, Nephthys went and laid herself in it, Thout went and laid himself in it, Isis went and laid herself in it. All were short; none, laid in the chest, but left a space above his or her head.
Then Osiris took the crown off his head and laid himself in the chest. His form filled it in its length and its breadth. Isis and Nephthys and Thout stood above where he lay, looking down upon Osiris, so resplendent of face, so perfect of limb, and congratulating him upon coming into possession of die splendid chest that Sêth had made. Sêth was not beside the chest then. He shouted, and his attendants to the number of seventy-two came into the banquetting hall. They placed the heavy cover upon the chest; they hammered nails into it; they soldered it all over with melted lead. Nor could Isis, nor Thout, nor Nephthys break through the circle that Sêth’s attendants made around the chest. And they, having nailed the cover down, and having soldered it, took up the sealed chest, and, with Sêth going before them, they ran with it out of the hall.
Isis and Nephthys and Thout ran after those who bore the chest. But the night was dark, and these three children of Qêb and Nut were separated, one from the other, and from Sêth and his crew. And these came to where the river was, and they flung the sealed chest into the river. Isis, and Thout, and Nephthys, following the tracks that Sêth and his crew had made, came to the river-bank when it was daylight, but by that time the
current of the river had. brought the chest out into the sea.
Isis followed along the bank of the river, lamenting for Osiris. She came to the sea, and she
crossed over it, but she did not know where to go to seek for the body of Osiris. She wandered through the world, and where she went bands of children went with her, and they helped her in her search.
The chest that held the body of Osiris had drifted in the sea. A flood had cast it upon the land. It had lain in a thicket of young trees. A tree, growing, had lifted it up. The branches of the tree wrapped themselves around it; the bark of the tree spread itself around it; at last the tree grew there, covering the chest with its bark.
The land in which this happened was Byblos. The king and queen of the city, Melquart and Astarte, heard of the wonderful tree, the branches and bark of which gave forth a fragrance. The king had the tree cut down; its branches were trimmed off, and the tree was set up as a column in the king’s house. And then Isis, coming to Byblos, was told of the wonderful tree that grew by the sea. She was told of it by a band of children who came to her. She came to the place: she found that the tree had been cut down and that its trunk was now set up as a column in the king’s house.

She knew from what she heard about the wonderful fragrance that was in the trunk and branches of the tree that the chest she was seeking was within it. She stayed beside where the tree had been. Many who came to that place saw the queenly figure that, day and night, stood near where the wonderful tree had been. But none who came near was spoken to by her. Then the queen, having heard about the stranger who stood there, came to her. When she came near, Isis put her hand upon her
head, and thereupon a fragrance went from Isis and filled the body of the queen.
The queen would have this majestical stranger go with her to her house. Isis went. She nursed the queen’s child in the hall in which stood the column that had closed in it the chest which she sought. She nourished the queen’s child by placing her finger in its mouth. At night she would strip wood from the column that had grown as a tree, and throw the wood upon the fire. And in this fire she would lay the queen’s child. The fire did not injure it at all; it burned softly around the child.
Then Isis, in the form of a swallow, would fly around the column, lamenting.
One night the queen came into the hall where her child was being nursed. She saw no nurse there; she saw her child lying in the fire. She snatched the child up, crying out. Then Isis spoke to the queen from the column on which, in the form of a swallow, she perched. She told the queen that the child would have gained immortality had it been suffered to lie for a night and another night longer within the fire made from the wood of the column. Now it would be long-lived, but not immortal. And she revealed her own divinity to the queen, and claimed the column that had been made from the wonderful tree.
The king had the column taken down; it was split open, and the chest which Isis had sought for so long and with so many lamentations was within it. Isis wrapped the chest in linen, and it was carried for her out of the king’s house. And then a ship was given to her, and on that ship, Isis, never stirring from beside the chest, sailed back
to Egypt.
And coming into Egypt she opened the chest, and took the body of her lord and husband out of it. She breathed into his mouth, and, with the motion of her wings (for Isis, being divine, could assume wings), she brought life back to Osiris. And there, away from men and from all the children of Qêb and Nut, Osiris and Isis lived together.
But one night Sêth, as he was hunting gazelles by moonlight, came upon Osiris and Isis sleeping.
Fiercely he fell upon his brother; he tore his body into fourteen pieces. Then, taking the pieces that were the body of Osiris, he scattered them over the land.
Death had come into the land from the time Osiris had been closed in the chest through the cunning of Sêth; war was in the land; men always had arms in their hands. No longer did music sound, no longer did men and women talk sweetly and out of the depths of their feelings. Less and less did grain, and fruit-trees, and the vine flourish. The green places everywhere were giving way to the desert. Sêth was triumphant; Thout and Nephthys cowered before him.
And all the beauty and all the abundance that had come from Rê would be destroyed if the pieces that had been the body of Osiris were not brought together once more. So Isis sought for them, and Nephthys, her sister, helped her in her seeking. Isis, in a boat that was made of reeds, floated over the marshes, seeking for the pieces. One, and then another, and then another was found. At last she had all the pieces of his torn body. She laid them together on a floating island, and reformed them. And as the body of Osiris was formed once more, the wars that men were waging died down; peace came; grain, and the vine, and the fruit-trees grew once more.
And a voice came to Isis and told her that Osiris lived again, but that he lived in the Underworld where he was now the Judge of the Dead, and that through the justice that he meted out, men and women had life immortal. And a child of Osiris was born to Isis: Horus he was named. Nephthys and the wise Thout guarded him on the floating island where he was born. Horus grew up, and he strove against the evil power of Sêth. In battle he overcame him, and in bonds he brought the evil Sêth, the destroyer of his father, before Isis, his mother. Isis would not have Sêth slain: still he lives, but now he is of the lesser Gods, and his power for evil is not so great as it was in the time before Horus grew to be the avenger of his father.

egypte_louvre_066

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If this metaphysical space is to be known,

such knowledge can be attained only by faith and grace,

not by ‘entering’ but by ‘being entered’

-this is so because the greater must reveal itself to the lesser.

Put differently, that which is immanently ‘Spirit’ can only be known receptively,

through its own intellective vision, and not any derivative faculty such as reason,

feeling or sensation. Reason can only discern conceptually,

at best reducing reality to a dualism of subject and object

(as in the case of Descartes) or catagorical postulate

(as in the case of Kant) or dialectic process

(as in the case of Hegel) – its ‘telos’ will tend to be utopian(as in the case of Marx),

fundamentalist( as in the cases of religious, political or secular dogmatism)

or anthropocentrically consencual (as in the case of Rousseau’s social contract);

while sensation or feeling even where elevated to

the level of empirical ‘science,’ can only discern reality as matter or as psyche,

quantitatively, thereby cutting it off from its transcendent

and qualitative roots, leading to an emphasis on hypertrophic subjectivism

(as in the case of Nietzsche), Psychologism(as in the case of Freud),

or reductive positivism(as in the cases of philosophical positivism and of scientism).

That which transcends us cannot be known reductively

but only by that transcendent faculty which is immanent in us-which in

Tradition is termed the ‘Intellect’

or the Self-knowing Spirit. To know is to discern BEING.

We must empty ourselves or our ‘self’ in order to know who we ARE.

We must return to the sacred emptiness of the space that is our

ontological core in order to know that which truly IS.

–M Ali Lakhani (the Distance between us, found in Sacred Web issue 31)

 

 

 

Soaring upwards
Can be like reaching down

Pushing forward

Can be like pushing back

Going right

Can be like Going left

Within is within

All things begin

And end at the cross roads

–GraalBaum 2013

 

 

This world-mountain was Nizir to the Chaldeans, Olympus to the Greeks, Hara Berezaiti to the Persians of the Avesta, the later Alborz and Elburz; a transfer, as says Mme. Ragozin, of ‘mythical heavenly geography to the earth.’ This mountain—the solar hill of the Egyptians—we shall again refer to in the next two or three chapters. At its apex springs, the heaven tree on which the solar bird is perched. From its roots spring the waters of life—the celestial sea, which, rushing adown the firmament, supplies the ocean which circumscribes the earth or falls directly in rain. At their fountain these springs are guarded by a goddess. In Egypt Nut, the goddess of the oversea, leans from the branches of the heavenly persea and pours forth the celestial water. In the Vedas, Yama, lord of the waters, sits in the highest heaven in the midst of the heavenly ocean under the tree of life, which drops the nectar Soma, and here, on the ‘navel of the waters,’ matter first took form. In the Norse, the central tree Yggdrasil has at its roots the spring of knowledge guarded by the Norns, the northern Fates; two swans the parents of all those of earth, float there. In Chaldea the mighty tree of Eridu, centre of the world, springs by the waters. The Avesta gives a very complete picture—Iran is at the centre of the seven countries of the world; it was the first created, and so beautiful, that were it not that God has implanted in all men a love for their own land, all nations would crowd into this the loveliest land. To the east somewhere, but still at the centre of the world, rises the ‘Lofty Mountain,’ from which all the mountains of the earth have grown, ‘High Haraiti;’ at its

summit is the gathering place of waters, out of which spring the two trees, the heavenly Haoma (Soma), and another tree which bears all the seeds that germinate on earth. This heavenly mountain is called ‘Navel of Waters,’ for the fountain of all waters springs there, guarded by a majestic and beneficent goddess. In Buddhist accounts, the waters issue in four streams like the

Eden from this reservoir, and flow to the cardinal points, each making one complete circuit in its descent. In the Persian Bundahish there are two of these heavenly rivers flowing east and west. To the Hindus the Ganges is such a heavenly stream. ‘The stream of heaven was called by the Greeks Achelous.’ The Nile in Egypt, the Hoang-Ho in China, and the Jordan to the Jews, seem to have been celestial rivers. This mountain of heaven is often figured in Christian art with the four rivers issuing from under the Throne of God.

Sir John Maundeville gives an account of the earthly Paradise quite perfect in its detailed scheme. It is the highest place on earth, nearly reaching to the circle of the moon (as in Dante), and the flood did not reach it. ‘And in the highest place, exactly in the middle, is a well that casts out the four streams’—Ganges, Nile, Tigris, and Euphrates. ‘And men there beyond say that all the sweet waters of the world above and beneath take their beginning from the well of Paradise, and out of that well all water come and go.

 

http://www.sacred-texts.com/earth/amm/amm07.htm

 

http://chasinghermes.com/2009/04/24/08-axis-mundi.aspx

 

Perplexity is the beginning of knowledge. 
  --Kahlil Gibran 
 
 
 
Only crime and the criminal, it is true, 
confront us with the perplexity of radical evil; 
but only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core.
 
--Hannah Arendt

 

 
 
 

"Jesus said, `Blessed are those alone and chosen, for you will find

the kingdom. For you are from it, and to it you will return'" (Gos.

Thom. 49).

 

In our Yahoo chat room the other day, someone asked me about this

verse, and generally what it means to talk about "the chosen"

or "the elect" in a Gnostic context. This concept has been another

of the many subjects through which Christianity has attempted to

denigrate Gnosticism, in this case by suggesting that we Gnostics

believe that only a certain (small) class of people are capable of

gnosis, creating a kind of fundamental soteriological hierarchy. In

other words, this would mean that being "chosen" would be a kind of

volitional and constitutive act, presumably by God, without which

one cannot enter through the gate of knowledge.

 

There may indeed have been some Gnostics in the past who believed

this, and who suggested that initiates into their religious groups

could only be drawn from a very small "gnosis-capable" part of the

human population, so to speak. However, the earliest articulations

of Gnosticism, and pre-Gnostic texts such as the Gospel of Thomas,

suggest in contrast a radically inclusive version of "the chosen," a

version that is flowering again today in our neo-classical Gnostic

Renaissance. I would like to take a few minutes here to suggest the

outlines of this understanding, which I hope may be helpful for you

in considering the history and theology of Gnosticism, and your own

personal spiritual outlook.

 

While the limited, exclusive theory of "the chosen" is attributed to

Gnostics by mainstream Christians, it actually is far more clearly a

part of THEIR religious traditions. The notion of predestination,

in particular, has made this idea of "divine election" profoundly

volitional in its metaphysical origins and constitutive in its

metaphysical effects on human beings. What many do not realize is

that a fairly robust form of predestination continues to be

theologically present in the belief systems of many denominations

that no longer emphasize it publicly, such as the Catholic Church –

in the case of Catholicism, as recently as the Council of Trent that

followed the Protestant Reformation, a Catholic doctrine of

predestination was solemnly affirmed. I say this only in passing to

provide you another example of the many inconsistencies in Christian

denunciations of Gnosticism – although, as I have said before, we

should not expect to find any consistency, because Christian polemic

against Gnosticism is not fundamentally concerned with being either

rational or coherent, but rather with foisting off on Gnosticism all

the difficulties, repressions, and forms of guilt that have

accumulated over the centuries in the massive social and cultural

edifice that calls itself the Christian church.

 

Now, on to the contrasting INCLUSIVE theory of "the chosen." What

in fact does it mean to be chosen or set apart? Is this setting

apart purely self-referential, or does it have an object? In other

words, are we just chosen, or are we chosen FOR something? This is

the key distinction that allows us to make sense of the whole

concept. When we embark on the path of gnosis, we are responding to

the basic call of the spirit within us, and the spirit beyond us

that ultimately is God. Because of this response, we are chosen by

God and set apart to be as it were the avatars of the spirit in the

world. As we move forward toward enlightenment, we have more and

more responsibility for the actualization of our own spirits but

also for true spiritual compassion of those all around us. We

are "the chosen" not indeed as if those around us are incapable of

gnosis, but in fact to be the instruments by which their gnosis can

come about as well! This is, of course, not at all the same as the

mainstream Christian notion of conversion, because that is about

dominating the other, about forcing the other into your own

prefabricated "truth." Being called and chosen, we are to form a

kind of sacred river, flowing through the world with what looks to

those outside to be passivity and even surrender, but gently picking

up the salt of the spirit as it were on our way to the sea.

 

So, the idea of a certain "chosen" group does not necessarily mean

in any way that other individuals are incapable of gnosis, for it

seems certain that other human beings, who share the basic

experiences of life with us, must have those experiences rooted in

the same kind of spiritual nature. Rather, being chosen, or

constituting an "elect," is in many ways a practical description,

since most of the people around us, fully capable of gnosis as they

are, are held back by many painful and frightening things from

taking those first steps that set us apart at the very beginning.

This point is made clear by another saying from the Gospel of

Thomas, which is included in the canonical New Testament as

well: "Jesus said, `The harvest is great but the laborers are few.

Beseech the Lord, therefore, to send out laborers to the harvest'"

(73).

 

Look around you: how great is this harvest, how ripe the fruit of

human beings standing just on the front porch of enlightenment,

ready to take that first step through the door! How late the time

is, my dear friends, and how quickly the sands of time are falling;

look at the darkness descending and the blood-red sun sinking low on

the horizon, as our world is weighed down ever more by the pain of

violence and hatred. How many sit in the lingering twilight,

yearning for the night to come – for the pain of living in this

world without joining in the life of the spirit has become

unbearable without drugs, and distractions, and addictions that ease

the pain.

 

We have been called to be those laborers, to be those shepherds, to

live not only for ourselves, but for all. To be chosen is to be set

apart as a gift to others, not to be elevated above others. Pride

is extinguished in love, and the ultimate love leads us to the

sacrifice of the bodhisattva, to the sacrifice of Christ. While the

light is still with us, before the clock strikes the closing of the

day, let us seek love and the fruits of love. For truly "there is

light within a person of light, and that person lights up the whole

world" (Gos Thom. 24).

 

In Christ and Sophia,

 

Matthew

 

Gender in Gnosticism

If the woman had not separated from the man, she should not die with the man. His separation became the beginning of death. Because of this, Christ came to repair the separation, which was from the beginning, and again unite the two, and to give life to those who died as a result of the separation, and unite them. But the woman is united to her husband in the bridal chamber. Indeed, those who have united in the bridal chamber will no longer be separated. Thus Eve separated from Adam because it was not in the bridal chamber that she united with him.

–Gospel of Philip

God, the one true God, the source of being is seen as a force that transcends gender and ultimately God is beyond categories of gender. But at the same time gender is very formative of our human experience. So just like God in an absolute sense cannot be contained in words but we still have to approach God through language, right? Through myths and stories and theology and…which is all kind of creating analogies about God. Similarly we have to approach God, or approach God through gender. And traditionally of course there’s been this hyper masculinisation of God, in which God has been primarily confined to male attributes, the father, the son or you know, God as the old bearded guy of the Cisteen Chapel ceiling or God as Superman, shooting down fire from the sky and destroying people. What Gnosticism works to change this image, not to destroy the male imagery of the father, the son or the imagery of the brother, but rather to compliment it with female imagery as well. SO that we understand in some sense that our relationship to God is like a father and a mother, like a lover and the beloved, a brother and a sister; so it’s like a complimentary to the relationship.

So what I want to talk about tonight is the metaphysical nature of gender itself. I’m going to leave the question of God alone for this evening and talk about our own experiences of gender and what the spiritual significances of those might be. I think we begin from a Gnostic perspective that gender arises out of the cosmos, out of the material reality or the physical reality and like other dualities, good /evil, light/dark, right/left…these are seen as the constituents parts of material reality, its these dualities and divisions and separations that make the material what it is and create the limitations that we associate with physical reality. And of these limitations it is probably gender that Gnosticism sees as the most traumatic one of all, well except maybe the good/evil dichotomy. But the division of male/female gender, the division is very traumatic in a lot of ways, it’s been a sort of division of the wholeness of the spirit into two separate pieces and as a result can often lead to very self destructive behavior as all too often when we adhere to the gender identity that we are taught to display and see in ourselves and we don’t find a way to pursue the complimentary aspects of the spirit then we quickly descend into patterns of abuse and dependence and domination that are really devoid of the true spiritual connection.


So one of the goals of Gnosis is to transcend and heal these dualities and divisions in human experience. And thus the question of gender and the question of how we heal the brokenness that is sort of implicit in it is stressed in the Gospel of Thomas especially saying 22:

Jesus saw some infants nursing. He said to his disciples, “These nursing infants are like those who enter the (Father’s) kingdom.”

They said to him, “Then shall we enter the (Father’s) kingdom as babies?”

Jesus said to them, “When you make the two into one, and when you make the inner like the outer and the outer like the inner, and the upper like the lower, and when you make male and female into a single one, so that the male will not be male nor the female be female, when you make eyes in place of an eye, a hand in place of a hand, a foot in place of a foot, a likeness in place of a likeness, then you will enter [the kingdom].”

So when we look at this issue of what needs healing and the reconciliation, the issue, the problem, is that we’ve been taught and conditioned not just in our own lifetimes but over in generations of humanity to ascribe huge importance over what are really minor biological differences and not really seek to expand our consciousness in this area. To assume that we are locked in this duality and that there is no way to transcend it.

So what Gnosticism does, is to argue that each of us has a spiritual identity and it is the spiritual identity that can lead us back on a path to wholeness this is because even though we live in a very divided and sometimes painful existence in the physical world the spirit has what the Gnostic teacher Carpocrates would call a “deep spiritual memory.” These are the words he uses “the spiritual memory.” The most famous place where he talks about what this memory is when he makes his Christological statement about Jesus and says “That Jesus is a man like any other man, the son of Joseph; except that he was different from other people in that his mind, pure and clear could remember, could exercise memory of what it had seen in the realm of the ungenerated God.”


So if Jesus is a great model for what we can attain, then through Gnosis we can gain access to these spiritual memories of what was in the realm of the ungenerated God, to use Carpocrates’ term. And these memories are of wholeness, of a unity, indeed not a cessation of our individual existences, but rather as it were a completion of them. And part of this spiritual memory of wholeness beyond the divisions of gender is part of what makes up this spiritual memory, and it is in this sense that the Gospel of Thomas puts this question as central to the idea of what is going to bring us into what the Gospel calls the Kingdom. It is very important to make clear here that, the Gospel of Philip makes it clear that not only is this unity, the Pleroma, the fullness, it’s not only our destiny, but it’s also as spiritual beings, but also as in the words of the Gospel of Philip, our earliest origin, the earliest origin of things. So there is some way that this wholeness of the Pleroma is imprinted and on our spirits, this pneuma or the breath that gives us life, or rather makes us human, and we can access those memories that are imprinted on us. But it is something that takes time as we are held back by other things.


So when we begin to pursue through Gnosis a kind of healing and wholeness through the question of gender a number of things begin to happen in our lives and in the way we experience the world. First of all we begin to revolutionize the way in which we relate to others especially those of the other gender or to use the more common term, the opposite sex…and really what begins to happen is instead of seeing them quote “as the opposite sex” as something to be possessed or owned or intimidated or feared or dominated or dominated by in an unhealthy way, we can begin to construct relationships with those of other genders in a way that really engage in a true human level; and seek on those others how we can begin to complete our own spiritual existence. In this sense relationships between men and women are very important because they have so much to teach us about this completeness, this wholeness and what it might look like. We are in many ways, forces of revelation to each other. Allowing us to open up the mysteries of the hidden things concealed in those things visible, to use the words of the Gospel of Philip. Or to return to the Gospel of Thomas as Jesus says “The person of light, lights up the whole world.” Or in other words, we are each other’s light. These places of spiritual wholeness are sometimes shrouded in a kind of darkness and ignorance. Through the light provided by other people we can begin to see the contours of their meaning.


So I think there is an importance for anyone seeking the Gnostic path to obtain a certain degree of intimacy with people of the opposite sex. Now what I want to make clear is what I am talking about is not tied in any way to what is called sexuality. I’m certainly not saying that heterosexual sexuality is somehow necessary for Gnosis, although it can indeed be an important manifestation of this kind of intimacy. Or it can be a barrier to this kind of intimacy, as we know. Of course we know there are lots of people who are simply not heterosexual. They don’t share this sexual orientation, as part of their constituent identities; they have some kind of other sexual orientation; that they are drawn to other ways of living as sexual beings. Gnosticism of course is generally open to lots of different forms of sexual identity.


But ultimately what I am saying is, it is not that important about sexual contact, it’s about intimacy. The kind of inter gender intimacy that can be pursued in lots of ways. Through friendship, through intellectual exchange, through the kind of connection where you learn to build mutual networks of care…and exchange of thoughts and ideas, and spiritual growth. Men and women learn from each other in a mutual way when they begin to experience this intimacy. Which indeed, indeed, even when it does involve sexuality, when it does involve heterosexual contact is in fact something that transcends it. It is an intimacy that takes place on the spiritual level and transcends merely the physical level.


So this should make clear, as is important to state, that gender like other forms of division in the material world are not EVIL; it’s not as if gender is something bad and evil and something we want to run away from. These sources of division are indeed sources of limitation. U ironically or paradoxically, the very things that create these limitations can be the sources of the transcendent liberation, that can lift us up out of the world as defined by limitations and limits or rather live in that world in a way that helps set our spirits free.


The question of suffering, similarly suffering is something we see as to be transcended through Gnosis but at the same time, it offers us things. It offers us understanding and compassion toward others. Again it can make us bitter and angry people or it can make us much more open to other people. And I think gender is much the same way. It can be a very troubling phenomenon or it can be something we harness the force of to propel us along the spiritual journey in a way that incorporates healing and reconciliation. So ultimately I think though, the pursuit of gender wholeness, if that is what we want to call it, is probably more importantly something that happens within ourselves. Our intra-gender identities rather than our inter-gender relationships.


When we begin to search for that spiritual memory that Carpocrates talks about; that memory of spiritual wholeness. In the Pleroma, that was later divided through the shaping of the Demiurge. We are really searching to recover in our own beings a wholeness of gender that has been divided and separated in our own experience of life. It is important to remember that of course that, Demiurgic forces and Archonic forces and Pleromic forces are not so much beings but are forces operating within us. So we are looking for something in our own identities and what we want to do is move closer to wholeness. And it is this wholeness that is already deep within us. As I said, as Carpocrates said it is imprinted on the spiritual memory, that we all possess through the pneuma, through the spirit that is within us.


So we want to move closer to that wholeness that is both our ultimate destiny and is our earliest origins. To use the words of the Gospel of Philip, we want to gradually transform our lives, and our beings and our existences into that image of that spiritual memory at the heart of the pneuma, the spirit. Which is indeed what really makes us human.


The journey of Gnosis is predicated on the idea that even in the midst of this limited material existence we can begin to transform things and transform ourselves. Our bodies, our minds, in a way that infuses them with a new wholeness of the spirit. And as you see in that same verse, saying 22 of the Gospel of Thomas that we not only recreate the unity of gender, that it goes on to say that we, it goes on to say that we, you know, make the hand in the place of a hand and the foot in the place of a foot and likeness in the place of a likeness… One way to think of that is it is talking about a recreation of the self and the image of the spirit. Or as some have said, through our spirit we are created in the image of God. What we need to do through Gnosis is to recreate ourselves into the likeness of God. That is to transform the entirety of our being into a full realization of this image of God that is in our deepest human natures.


In a very real sense we have already in our spirits a sort of latent inner partnership between things we have called male and female in our experience of the material and intellectual world. Thus, in a very real sense each of us has within us, a sort of inner man and inner woman, what some mystics have spoken of as the Animus and Anima. We must pursue the kind of inner metaphysical partnership that will allow their mutual complimentarity that will shine forth in our lives and transform our consciousness.


Just as we want to revolutionize our relationships externally with regards to gender, and the opposite sex; so in parallel, we want to revolutionize our gender relationships internally within our own identities.


Now, if we look at Christ and Sophia, I want to discuss how they personify a Gnostic theory of gender both in terms of what we should do unto others and how we should persue that wholeness of gender within ourselves. We see in the stories of Christ and Sophia a great exchange, a great partnership, a sort of dialogue that is going on in these stories of “cosmic missions” and developments in time. These forces that represent in some sense the feminine and the masculine within the whole unity of the Pleroma.


If we look at the creation myth of the Valentinians, these were the Gnostics that followed Valentinus, the great preacher of the 2nd century, it is a little more different and complicated from what you may be used to. Just to give you a taste of what I mean, what happens to Sophia in this story is that… of course it starts off the same, she’s an Aeon, she’s in fact sometimes portrayed as the yuoungest of the Aeons, and she goes off by herself. Wanting to obtain more about her origins, thinking she can learn more by being alone and thinking alone. This of course brings about division and separation. What she produces, now in the Valentinian story is not the Demiurge immediately, but rather a realm of imperfection, the cosmos or chaos which is the stuff that the Demiurge will later create the cosmic world. What happens in the Valentinian story (again you’ll see how this is different to the simpler Gnostic story) is that this is so traumatic that Sophia literally gets split into two pieces. There ends up being a higher Sophia, who remains kind of connected fully in the Pleroma, but there also emerges a lower Sophia, part of Sophia’s identity becomes trapped in the imperfect realm. It becomes trapped in the cosmic chaos, and it tries and tries to get out, but it can’t. What happens is the Demiurge emerges out of the imperfect realm and begins to create all this stuff and eventually creates human beings. In the Valentinian story the Demiurge thinks its creating everything on its own for its own power. But in fact the lower Sophia (Echamoth) with the help of the Aeons, is influencing the Demiurge. They are subtly, sort of influencing what he does. In particularly, subtly pressing him into the creation of human beings.


The lower Sophia realizes the only way she can free herself and the rest of the spirit that is trapped in the cosmic world is if there can emerge some kind of beings that will have some kind of amalgamated identities. That is, they will be, part of the cosmic world and part of the spirit world. Part cosmos and part Pleroma. This she sees in human beings. So there is a sort of subversion of what the Demiurge wants to do. He wants to create automatons to worship him, but Sophia wants to create autonamus beings that can achieve liberation. So it is the lower Sophia, in this Valentinian story that comes into the form of the serpent. The lower Sophia says, “Alright, I have to get in contact with the human beings.” And so she says “What I’ll do is that I will go into the most humblest and the most simple of physical things. This animal that simply slithers along the ground, the serpent.” The Demiurge is so overwhelmed with his own arrogance and his own power that he’s not going to notice something as humble as the serpent. It is going to be completely off his radar screen.


So the lower Sophia, enters the serpent and comes to the people and then has the dialogue in which she begins to tell them the truth about things which is as she says, the Demiurge is not the one true God. That in fact human beings have this divine core within them and that if they would have the courage to eat the fruit of moral truth, if they have the courage to face the realities of the universe or rather not the universe but of all existence. Then they too can be transformed into God.


So you can see that is a little more complicated than other stories. I wouldn’t say it contradicts “on the origin of the World” more that it compliments it. What we see is the relationship between Christ and Sophia becomes more explicit. When Christ comes down to earth and manifests in the human being Jesus, Valentinian Gnostics would say “Why?” you know, why? This is a problem, why does Christ come into the world? I mean what is the point? They would say it is to help liberate Sophia. It is because Sophia is so important, so fundamental to him in the Pleroma, that he sees the lower Sophia and the rest of the spirit in the cosmic realm. He wants to enter that world; he wants to be willing to empty himself into a human existence so that he can help bring about the liberation of the lower Sophia and the reunification of the two parts of Sophia. Because there is a great pain involved in the separation for every being in the Pleroma because their wholeness has been ripped apart. So there is very much a sense that Christ and all the other beings or Aeons and God, even God, is deeply moved by compassion. It is compassion that moves all of these forces to try to help us. It is compassion and it is suffering. As Origen, an early Christian theologian said something interesting, he said, he was talking about Jesus Christ and he said “Christ suffered before he died on the cross.” And that “Actually Christ suffered before he was even born.” He goes on to say that “If Christ did not suffer, he would have never have come down to Earth.” That is his explanation of why Christ enters the world. That you can see is tied into this very interesting relationship between Christ and Sophia.

Brother Matthew Ouroboro

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Sophia: Means “Wisdom.” Like the Logos this is considered a primal form. While the Logos is personified as male, Sophia is female. Logos has a direct and intellectual basis for guidance, Sophia is inspirational (sometimes even sensual). The basic idea is comparable to wisdom being Sophia (sofia) or “Holy
Spirit” in the form of pure wisdom. Pistis, means faith, hylic, or Prunikus Sophia refers to the imperfect or earthly state of the living, or earthly form from Pleromic origins. ”As appropriated by Sethianism and the Gnostics in general, Sophia is a hypostatized form of Hokmah, (i.e., the divine Wisdom of Proverbs 8, Job 28, Sirach 24).” ( See; Turner.)


Carpocrates: (100?-150 CE); Formed a sect in Alexandria known as Carpocrations. Possible successor to Samaritan Simon Magus. He taught reincarnation in his Gnostic philosophy. An individual had to live many lives and adsorb a full range of experiences before being able to return to God. They practiced free sexuality. They believed that Jesus was the son of Joseph. They questioned the docetic aspects attributed to Jesus. (See; “Stromata,” Bk 3.) http://www.antinopolis.org/carpocrates.html

Pleroma: The word means “fullness,” and the ‘All.’ It refers to ”all existence
beyond matter. Refers to the world of the Aeons, the heavens or spiritual
universe, which represents being out of the state of matter. According to the
“Gospel of Truth” “….all the emanations from the Father are Pleromas.” see
Tractates 3, 2, Codices, I, and XII, Nag Hammadi Lib. Pleroma can have other
connotations according to the Gnostic school of thought, some differences in
Sethian and Valentinian (other) schools can be noted. Pleroma, is different than
Logos. (See; Logos, See also; Gaffney, p. 246.)

Pneumatic: One who identifies with the spirit (pneuma), beyond that of the
physical (hylic) world and the intellect alone (psychic). The pneuma, described
in the ”Gospel of Phillip,” as ‘breath,’ refers to bonding with the internal
spark (spinther) that came from and is drawn to reunite with the Father in some
Gnostic schema. One who awakens it (the spinther) within the self does it
through the process of gnosis. (See; Gregory of Nicea (Basil), who used the term
in his mystical teachings, and is a later term which connotes Gnostic. See;
Early Christian Mystics,” McGinn, Crossroads, 2003.)

the “Pneumatics”, correspond with “Pneuma”, the spiritual
“breath”, the spiritual order.  These are the Gnostic Initiates,
those who go beyond mentality/consciousness, and all modes related to
the individuality.  That which concerns Pneumatics, is as different
from the psychics, and the psychics from the hylics.

Aeon: These are characterized as emanations from the ‘first cause,’ the Father in some Gnostic schema. The word not only refers to the “worlds” of emanation, but to the personalities as well. Sophia, Logos, and the other high principles are aeons. ”A link or level of the great chain of being, the sum total which is the ‘All’ or Pleroma…Can also mean a world age.” (See; Gaffney) ”According to other Gnostics, for example Valentinus, the first principle is also called Aeon or the unfathomable, the primeval depth, the absolute abyss, bythos, in which everything is sublimated…” translated by Scott J. Thompson from G.W.F.
Hegel’s ”Vorlesungen über die Geschichte der Philosophie ii ,” (Theorie Werkausgabe, Bd. 19), Frankfurt a.M., Suhrkamp Verlag, 1977, 426-430] ( See also; Pleroma.) The first ten aeons in the Valentinian schema are, Bythios (Profound) and Mixis (Mixture), Ageratos (Never old) and Henosis (Union), Autophyes (Essential nature) and Hedone (Pleasure), Acinetos (Immoveable) and Syncrasis (Commixture,) Monogenes (Only-begotten) and Macaria (Happiness). http://www.wbenjamin.org/hegel_kabbalah.html

Demiurge: Meaning ‘Creator’ in Greek. Thought to be the “Craftsman” or creator of the material world. (Heracleon) In Orthodox thought this is a supernatural entity or force, such as the appearance of God to Moses. In the Gnostic schema the Word refers to an order, and it may be a natural sort of intelligent design, related to wisdom, the earthly or kenomic state of the higher wisdom, or form from the Pleroma. The material state is considered less than the Pleromic, and highly flawed. Archons seem to be emanations from the Demiurge process, much like other emanations from the Pleroma. (See; Pleroma, Kenoma, Archon.)

https://magdelene.wordpress.com/2008/01/08/the-demiurge/


Echmoth: (Echamoth) Meaning a form of wisdom; “Echamoth is one thing and Echmoth, another. Echamoth is Wisdom simply, but (e) Echmoth is the Wisdom of death, which is the one who knows death, which is called “the little Wisdom”. (”Gospel of Phillip, NHL.)

Abru-el. An Arab equivalent for the Gabriel of Daniel, and of

the New Testament, both meaning, in Semitic speech, “ Power (or

mighty one) of God.”

Abu. An early Egyptian god of light, and a city sacred to the

ithyphallic Khnum (or Kneph), known to Greeks as Elephantis—not

from elephas “ elephant,” or elaphos “ deer,” but from Elaphas, an

Osirian god of light, or of the sun to which special libations were

offered at Abu. Ab was a name of Osiris, and his hieroglyph was the

phallus (see Kneph). [Eb was also the elephant in Egyptian ; like the

Hebrew, and Tamil, Hab.—ED.]

Arabuda. A celebrated mountain, lofty and detached

from the Araveli range, in the Sirohi state of Rajputāna, where we

lived for four summers. It has played an important part in the

religious history of India, and is still claimed by Hindus, who have

shrines on the heights, and by Buddhists and Jains, whose shrines are

in the valleys : round these still flourish more ancient non-Aryan

cults, at little white shrines (of Adhar-devi, Durga, etc.) seen on the

hill-sides. We have often seen sacrifices of goats, and cocks, to the

ancient Ambā (Sivi) called Bhavānī. The famous Jaina shrines in the

Vale of Delvada (or Dilwara), “ the place of temples,” still contain

cells for Devī-Ambā, who is always curiously associated with Nemināth,

the 21st or 22nd Jain Tirthankara; and nimi, like ambā, is an

euphemism for the mul (pudendum), and also means, “ winking one,

eye, gem, sign, or mark.” Amba’s cell occupies the S.W. corner, or

place of honor in Jaina Vastupālas; and beside it is Adi-nāth’s beautiful

shrine, where stands a colossal black image of Nemi-nātha. For

the old Turanian tribes of India (as seen also from the Euphrates to

the Seine) have always loved a black image, like those of the Madonna,

or of Osiris. It is evident that Jainas have built at Abu on the holy

sites of ancient nature worshipers.

The existing Jaina temples (elaborately sculptured) were erected

by rich merchants. The chief one was built by Vimalsa of Patan

(older Anhil-wāda) of Gujerat, about 1030 A.C. “ He could purchase

armies, and overturn kingdoms.” The second in importance is that of

Vastupāl and Tej-pāl—Jaina ministers of the Rāja Vidaval (1197-

1247 A.C.). These are carefully described by Mr James Fergusson

and others. They approach the Buddhist Vihara style. The second

is dedicated to Adi-nāth (the “ Ancient of Days ”), in his bull incarnation

as the Tirthankara named Rishāba-nātha. In the first are ten

marble elephants (his sawāri) ; and, in the entrance lobby, are statues

of Vimalsa, and of his nephew, on horseback : they are of alabaster,

and stand before a chau-mukh, or “ four-faced,” image of Paris-nāth.

Abu is one of the Tirthas or “ most holy places ” of India.

Jainas here followed the old Adi-nāth, whose shrine is probably far

older than the time of Buddhism. In a lonely cell of the Yoni godess

Bhavāni, he stands in a temple reputed to be much the oldest on the

mountain. East of the Jaina shrines we find the older sites of nature

worshipers—the Achal-Garh (“ abode of fire ”), or Achal-Gādh of

Sivaite and Vishnuva Hindus. The Sivaites say the name, Achal-isvar,

means “ stable, or immoveable god.” For, in the little attached

shrine of the Brimh-Khar (“ hot spring ”), which issues from a deep

fissure over which presides Pārvati (typifying woman), the god’s

“ Toe ” is shown in the water, as an oval whitish button; and, as long

as the “ Foot ” here rests, the mountain will remain, and the faithful

need not fear its rumbling and quaking—often very alarming. By

this thermal spring the bi-sexual creator appears as Ardanār-Isvara

(see Rivers of Life, ii, Plate XIV.), who made male and female. The

whole mountain is called “ the womb of Pārvati ” ; and the fissure is

her Yoni, whence Faith issued as a “ two months’ foetus.” No

European may pass its barred entrance; but we managed to enter the

shrine, and to look closely at the white button in the bubbling hotspring.

On an altar is a silver Pārvati, with two side figures, one

being Siva. They face the great brazen bull of Gawāla (“ the

guardian ”)—the Nandi which ikonoklasts stole or destroyed.

All round this it is holy ground. On the N.E. lies the sweet

wooded undulating vale of Agni-Kund, with a pilgrim tank (350 by

150 ft.) once warm, as the name shows, but now cold and ruined, like

the numerous surrounding shrines scattered up and down the pretty

green valley. Among them is a Jaina shrine of Santi-nāth, the 16th

Tirthankara ; but there are no Buddhist remains. In the centre of

the Kund rises a lingam rock—a shrine now dedicated to Matā the

dreaded godess of small pox. Other rural shrines—mostly Sivaite—

are falling into decay, with broken Nandis and lingams, which are

scattered about the valley ; on one mandap (“ porch ”) Vishnu was

carved as Narāyana, reclining with Lakshmi on Sesha, the Serpent of

Eternity, as when creating the world (see Vishnu).

On the high overhanging cliffs to S.E., is the ruined fort and

palace of the Rānas of Chitor, reached by a steep rocky path, fitly

named after Hanumān, the monkey god. Here are found a small

shrine, and the house of the pujāri, or priest in charge. He shows

three equestrian statues of brass, representing the founders, or

patrons, of his office in the 15th century A.C.—believed to be Kumbha,

the famous Rana of Medwada (1419-1469 A.C.), and two of his Rājas.

North of the valley is the largish village of Urya, north of which

is a path leading to the highest summit of the range, a peak 5660 feet

above sea-level, claimed by Vishnuvas as the shrine of their Gurū,

Abury

Sikār (or Sekra), an old form of Indra, who also rules on Adam’s

peak in Ceylon, where (as here also) is a Pādukā, a Prāpad, or divine

“ foot,” carved on the granite ; which Vishnu here left when

he descended from heaven incarnate as Dālā-Bhrigu, to drive away the

Nāgas, or serpent worshipers (see Nāga). A small temple is built

on the upper plateau. It is probably a natural cave, with a sacred

adytum, and a rest cell for the weary. A bell scares away demons,

and reminds the neighbours that the hungry attendants wait to be

fed. These include wild Bāwas and idiots, Sanyasis and anchorites,

who let their nails grow through their palms : also, till lately, Mard-

Khors, or “ corpse eaters,” the last of whom was walled up alive in a

cave (see Aghors).

Sivaites say that the mountain was cast down by Siva in answer

to the prayers of the great Rishi Vasishta, when his “ cow of plenty ”

(Nandini, “ the earth ”) fell into a deep pool. The mountain spirits

filled the void, and the Great Serpent, or Bud, carried up those who

could not walk. Bud became Budha and Buddha (“ the wise one ”),

whose faith here prevailed from 3rd century B.C. to the 8th or 9th

century A.C. Then came a revolution to Neo-Brāhmanism, when—it

is said—Vishnu recreated Kshatryas. Indra, Brāhma, Rudra, and

Vishnu visited Ara-Buddha (Abu), and purged away its impurities

with Ganges water, and Vedas, driving away the Daityas, “ drinking

the blood of many.” Not till the 14th or 15th century A.C. did

Buddhists however wholly disappear hence. They were probably

then absorbed by the present Jainas.

The Vedas recognise this holy hill, saying that it was thronged

with Ārbuda-Sarhas, worshipping serpents—which are still holy, and

too numerous. Abu was the Zion of the Rājas of Chandra-Vati—

their once resplendent capital on the plains to its S.S.E., now marked

only by broken carved marbles. In 1593 the tolerant Emperor

Akbar gave to the Setām-bari Jains a grant, securing them all their

lands and shrines, and adding that “ all true worshipers of God should

protect all religions. Let no animals be killed near Jaina lands ”—a

mandate that still holds good.

Abury. Avesbury. A celebrated English solar shrine (see

Rivers of Life, ii. pp. 237, 238, 290, 387).

from WIKI: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avebury

Avebury is the site of a large henge and several stone circles in the English county of Wiltshire surrounding the village of Avebury. It is one of the finest and largest Neolithic monuments in Europe dating to around 5,000 years ago. It is older than the megalithic stages of Stonehenge, which is located about 32 kilometres (20 mi) to the south, although the two monuments are broadly contemporary overall. It lies approximately midway between the towns of Marlborough and Calne, just off the main A4 road on the northbound A4361 towards Wroughton. The henge is a Scheduled Ancient Monument[1] and a World Heritage Site.[2]

Avebury is a National Trust property.

Avebury

Avebury

Abydos. In Egypt the Greek name of Thinis (see Thinis).

from WIKI:

Abydos (Egyptian Abdju, 3bdw, Arabic: أبيدوس, Greek Αβυδος), one of the most ancient cities of Upper Egypt, is about 11 km (6 miles) west of the Nile at latitude 26° 10′ N. The Egyptian name of both the eighth Nome of Upper Egypt and its capital city was Abdju, technically, 3bdw as in the hieroglyphs shown to the right, the hill of the symbol or reliquary, in which the sacred head of Osiris was preserved. The Greeks named it Abydos, after their city on the Hellespont; the modern Arabic name is el-‘Araba el Madfuna (Arabic: العربة المدفونةal-ʿarabah al-madfunah).

Considered one of the most important archaeological sites of Ancient Egypt (near the town of al-Balyana), the sacred city of Abydos was the site of many ancient temples, including a Umm el-Qa’ab, a royal necropolis where early pharaohs were entombed.[1] These tombs began to be seen as extremely significant burials and in later times it became desirable to be buried in the area, leading to the growth of the town’s importance as a cult site.

Today, Abydos is notable for the memorial temple of Seti I, which contains an inscription from the nineteenth dynasty known to the modern world as the Abydos King List. It is a chronological list showing cartouches of most dynastic pharaohs of Egypt from the first, Narmer or Menes, until Ramesses I, Seti’s father.[2] The Great Temple and most of the ancient town are buried under the modern buildings to the north of the Seti temple.[3] Many of the original structures and the artifacts within them are considered irretrievable and lost, many may have been destroyed by the new construction.

Horus presents Regalia to Pharoah

Horus presents Regalia to Pharoah

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Abadon. Hebrew. “ Destruction ” personified as the Greek

Apolluōn (Revelat. ix, 11), and as Asmodeus (see Asmodeus) called

by Rabbis Ashmadai (see Job xxvi, 6); and in the Book of Wisdom

(xviii, 25) Olothreuōn in the Greek.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abaddon


Abel. It is necessary to distinguish Abel the second son of Adam

(Hebrew Habl), from Habāl or Hobāl the great Arabian deity,

though the letters seem the same (see Habāl). Abel is usually

supposed to be the Babylonian word Ablu “ son.” The Hebrew Ābel

is again different—a common term for “ meadow.” Arabs and

Persians call Abel and Cain, Habīl and Ḳ abīl. No very satisfactory

explanation of their legends in Genesis has been given (see Ḳain).

Detail of the Ghent Altarpiece (1432) at Saint Bavo Cathedral.

Detail of the Ghent Altarpiece (1432) at Saint Bavo Cathedral.

Aben. Hebrew Eben, “ a stone.” Perhaps the root is found in

Banah “ to build,” as Ban or Ben (“ a son ”) is builder of the family

(see Ben). Ebenezer (“ stone of help ”) was a stone emblem of the

god, like those of Arabia (see Arabia). Jeremiah tells his tribe that

a stone begat them, and that they committed adulteries with stones

Jer. ii, 27 ; iii, 9. See also Gen. xxxi, 48 ; and 1 Sam. iv, 1 ;

vii, 12). Āban (says Delitzsch) has the sense of a “ peak ” or “ pointed

thing ”—the Assyrian Ubanu “ peak, rock, or finger ” (see Finger).


Abhi-Marsin. Sanskrit. Courting, inciting.


Abi-Kāma. Sanskrit. “ Love primeval,” intense desire, struggle,

war.


Ablathanabla. See Abraxas.


Abors. Bors. The Asamese term for the wild race, calling

themselves Padams or Pagdams, inhabiting the N.E. frontier of British

territory at the bend of the Brāhmapūtra River (N. and N.W.), and

embracing the greater and lesser Dihong river valleys, north of

Sadiya. The term Abor is said to mean “ savage,” “ non-tribute

payer,” or “ fierce man ” : for Abors are a much-feared people who

hunt down even the “ wild cow ” (or Nilgau), and eat buffalo beef,

but not cows—showing a Hindu influence. They worship Nāts or

fays, spirits of the woods and waters : they tattoo their bodies, and

clothe themselves in skins and bark, but go naked in the hot season.

They are never without their bows and arrows—the latter poisoned

(for war) with the powdered root of the wild aconite, or with blood.

They wear a dhār, or long cutlass, at the waist, or slung (as by

Burmese) over the shoulder.

These people are scarcely as yet out of the communal stage, and

pay scant respect to chiefs, with some 250 of whom the Government had to deal in 1859-1870, and to try to keep them quiet by

subsidies. They are all sullen, clownish, and violent when roused,

like their congeners of Tibet and Barmah. Families are distinguished

by totems, or by marks on the forehead. The poorer are often

polyandrous : the richer are polygamous ; and sometimes they are

communists, a group of men living with a group of women. There

are barracks for bachelors and women, where considerable licence is

practised ; and chastity consists in having no intercourse outside the

clan. As regards religion, they believe in a life hereafter, with rewards

and punishments ; and sacrifices are said to please and propitiate the

spirits, and to be necessary to prevent famine and pestilence.


Abram. Abraham. There is no very satisfactory etymology of

this mythical patriarch’s name. Abram (Babylonian Ab-ramu) is

usually rendered “ high father,” that is to say, a deity like Brahmā.

Abraham is compared with the Arabic rahām, “ a host—a “ Lord of

Hosts” like Gānesa, or Yahveh. Hindus call a loving brother Rāmu.

The tablets of Esarhaddon’s days give such names as Abi-ramu and

Am-ramu. If we take the root to be Abr “ strong,” as in Abir a

“ bull ” or “ hero,” the m is only a suffix—as in Hebrew, Sabean, or

Babylonian speech. Some think this word connected with ’Abr (see

Gen. xiv, 13, and Exod. v, 3) ; for Abraham is especially called the

“ Hebrew,” and descendant of ’Eber, father of Peleg. Coming from

Padan-Aram he would naturally worship the “ high God ” (El-’Eliūn),

and seek his shrine at Ieru-salem (“ the abode of salvation ”). There

stood (no doubt) his symbol, a sacred stone (menhir or lingam) ; and

naturally he dedicated to this the agent of creation by circumcision,

swearing solemn oaths thereby, as we read that Abram and Isaac did

by what is euphemistically called the “ thigh.” See the Jewish World

(3rd April 1885), where the learned writer says: “ Abraham is a title

applied to the Creator only ” ; and if so, based on the root Bra “ create “

(Gen. i, 1).

Most Syrians and Arabs considered Abraham to be a Messiah ;

and prayers are still addressed to him (at his tomb in Hebron), as

Christians pray to Christ or to Mary. Abraham, as Ab-ram, “ the high

father,” was both a Malaki-ṣadī ḳ (Melchisedec), or “ King of righteousness,”

and a Shem—“ sign ” or “ mark.” Yet, says the Rev. Dr Cheyne

(Hibbert Lectures, 1892), “ Abraham must be given up as an historical

figure . . . some one must confess this truth, which ought, long ago,

to have found its way into our schools and colleges.”

This view is corroborated by the various widely different periods

assigned as the age of Abraham. The Samaritan and Greek Bibles say

he lived in 2605 B.C. Josephus said 2576, and the Vulgate, 2015 B.C.

Prof. Hommel (in 1896-7), says he “could not have lived earlier

than 1900 B.C.,” and Archbishop Ussher makes him 175 years

old in 1821 B.C. According to this Biblical chronology, he left Padan

Ararn in 1921 B.C. (see Bible), and went to Egypt on account of a

famine. But by Egypt we may understand the south of Palestine,

then perhaps an Egyptian province. Thence, about 1917 B.C., he

went to settle with Lot, “ towards Sodom.” In 1913 B.C. Chedorlaomer,

King of Elam, came, with ’Aniraphel, King of Shinar, Tidal king of

nations, and Arioch, King of Ellasar (Larsa), to quell a rebellion in

Eastern Palestine, which had been under Elam for twelve years.

The Biblical legend runs that Abraham (apparently 83 years old),

pursued this Babylonian army with three hundred and eighteen armed

retainers, defeating it, and taking the spoil and prisoners (Lot among

them), near Ḥ obah, “ north of Damascus.” This Hebrew fable, however,

enables us to test the dates. A tablet from Tell Lo ḥ (Revue Assyr. iv, p.

85, 1897), has been supposed to mention ’Amraphel (as Ḥ ammurabi),

with Arioch (Eriaku),and Tidal (Tudkhal), in which case Abraham would

live about the 22nd century B.C. [This translation is, however, rejected

by most specialists ; and the tablet is late, and probably refers to events

about 648 B.C.—ED.] Ḥ ammurabi (Kha-am-mu-ra-bi), is usually

supposed to have acceded in 2139 B.C. (the date given by Dr Peiser,

and by Col. Conder in his Hittites, p. 175). He ruled over “ the

west ” (Martu in Akkadian), like his successor Ammi-satana

(2034-2009 B.C.).

It has puzzled some commentators that Abraham went “ south ”

from Egypt on his way to Bethel [see Gen. xiii, 3. But the Hebrew

word so rendered is Negeb, a term applying to the “ dry ” country—as

the word means—near Beersheba.—ED.] The fatherland of Abraham

was at “ Ur of the Chaldees ” (Hebrew “ Ur of the Kasdīm ”), the later

Edessa, now Orfah. Ignoring this site, scholars have placed Ur at

Mugeiyer in Chaldea (near the mouth of the Euphrates), and have been

puzzled to explain why he went to Ḥ aran (near Edessa); but that

Ḥ aran was his fatherland, we see by his sending his confidential servant

there to seek a wife for Isaac. [The error is due to following the Greek

translation of Kasdīm by Khaldaioi (whom Herodotos mentions in

Babylon), and identifying them with the Kaldu, a people of Kaldea,

south of Babylon. Kasdīm appears to mean “ conquerors ” in Assyrian.—

ED.] The author of Acts vii, 2-4 calls Padan-Aram (Mesopotamia), the

“ land of the Ohaldeans.” Ṭ eraḥ called his youngest son also Ḥ aran ; and

there are still many legends of the patriarchs in this region—such as that

Orham, King of Or (Edessa), called Abram Ab-or-ham—reminding us of

Pater Orchamus (Ovid. Metam. iv, 212), the fabled son of Zeus, founder

of the empire of the Anatolian Mineans, who ruled Boiōtia and North

Greece from their capital Orkhomenos. M. Renan (Hist. Israel, i,

p. 63), even says, “Orham has lent his name, and several characteristic

traits, to the history of Abraham.”

Many years after the above was first written appeared the

valuable paper by Mr Hormazd Rassam, the old explorer of Nineveh

(Proc. Soc. Bib. Arch., February 1898), which proves that “ Ur of the

Ohaldees ” was Edessa, or Orfah. Cappadocia (Kappadokia) proves to

have been early entered by the Babylonians, who spread all over

North Syria. The name Khaldaioi (in the Septuagint) may thus be

connected with that of Khaldis on the Vannic inscriptions [applying

to a deity.—ED.]. From Ur, Ṭ era ḥ ’s family went to Ḥ aran, which is

only some two days’ journey from Edessa. In Judith (v, 6, 7), Jews

are called descendants of the Arameans, “a belief prevalent among all

Hebrews in Biblical lands at the present day” (Rassam). It is not

known, however, why the Septuagint translators changed the Hebrew

Kasdīm into “ Chaldeans.” According to Ezekiel (i, 3), the “ land

of the Kasdīm ” was by the River Chebar (or Khabūr River), a great

tributary of the Euphrates, one affluent of which rises in the Aram

or “ high land ” near to where Edessa is situated. It was the country

of Bal’aam (Deut. xxiii, 4), and was higher up the Euphrates than

Babylon, whereas Mugeiyer is near the mouth of that river, far below

Babylon. All this, and more, is ably set forth by Mr Rassam, who

only follows in the track of many other Oriental scholars.

In the Book Zohar (see Ḳ abbala) Abraham is called an “ incarnation

of love, mystery, and divine unity ” : he is symbolised by a pillar

(p. 41) as were Zeus, Yahveh, etc. He was the first to teach the

Ḳ abbala to Egypt, and received the mysteries “ from Noah, who

received them from Adam, who received them from God ” (Ginsburg’s

Zohar). Moses had personal intercourse with Abraham, as had most

legislators down to David and Solomon (p. 80). In the Book Jetzira

(“ Creation ”) the Ḳ abbala is called “ a monologue of Abraham,”

whereby he is induced to accept the true faith; and he is there said

to have invented writing and the Hebrew characters (p. 65). Elsewhere

he is described as a “ giant, a monster, having the strength of

seventy-four men, and requiring the food and drink of the same.”

The Arabian El Kindy (in our 8th-9th century) says, “ Abraham

lived seventy years in Ḥ aran, worshipping Al’Ozzah, who is still

revered in Arabia ” (see Royal Asiatic Society Journal, January 1882 ;

and Sir W. Muir’s El Kindy). He says that the inhabitants were

given to human sacrifice—which Abram wished to continue in

Palestine, whence the early rite of devoting the first-born to Yahveh.

The sacrifice of Isaac (or, as the Arabs say, of Ishm’ael) has now been

whittled down by Ezra-itic writers, who were evidently ashamed of it,

as making their God a bloodthirsty fiend, and their patriarch the

heartless murderer of his innocent boy. Tradition, and the persistence

of race barbarism, are however too strong for the would-be cleansers of

history ; and God and man still appear cruel and deceitful, while

multitudes still commemorate the half-enacted rite (see Sacrifice).

Abraham is represented as trying to hide his murderous purpose from

his son and servants by a lie, saying he would return with the child.

The deity doubts his sincerity till the knife is raised, when the wouldbe

murderer is lauded for wondrous “ Faith.” Faith in a God ?

—nay, in a dream. His God then promises him wealth, and offspring,

in abundance.

The sacrifice was originaJly commemorated in autumn, when

human sacrifices were common ; and what would be more orthodox

than that a great Sheikh, entering on a new land to found a colony,

should begin by offering his first-born to the god of the land ? Did

not the Christian Saint Columba bury his brother, St. Oran, in the

foundations of his church ? (Rivers of Life, ii, p. 340.)

Abraham, however, seems to have been anything but wealthy

when he died, possessing only the burial-place that he is said to have

purchased. He had given “ all he possessed ” to Isaac, and “ the

rest ” to numerous children by two stray wives. Islāmis say that he

travelled in both Arabia and Babylonia, but chiefly in Arabia ; and

that he assisted Ishm’ael in building the fourth shrine of Makka, and

in establishing the “ Black Stone ” (see our Short Studies, p. 539).

Hebrews and Arabs have reverently called him the Khalīl, or “ friend ”

of Allah (see Gen. xv, 17 ; Isaiah xli, 8).

Among arithmetical errors in the Bible is the statement that he

was born when Ṭ era ḥ was 70 years old, yet was 75 when (apparently)

Ṭ era ḥ died at the age of 205 years. He is also said not to have

known Yahveh, but only the tree gods—Āle-im or Elohim. He twice

dissembled to save his life by endangering his wife’s chastity, which

he seems to have valued little, as she lived some time in the harīms of

Pharaoh and Abimelek, who heaped riches on Abraham. It is untrue

to say that Sarah was “ without shame or reproach,” for Genesis

xii, 19 should read, “ she is my sister though I have taken her for

my wife.”

We shall not attempt to record the voluminous legends (in the

Talmud, etc.) concerning Abraham, of which the Old Testament does

not give a tithe. He is said to have visited Nimrod, and to have

converted him by the old feeble argument: “ Fire must not be worshipped

for water quenches it ; nor water because clouds carry this ;

nor clouds because winds drive them.” He might have added, “ Nor

Yahveh because we invented him.” According to other traditions,

Yahveh found great difficulty in calling (or killing) Abraham. He

sent the archangel Michael several times, to break the command to

Abraham as gently as possible : for the patriarch loved life. The

archangel—whom he fed—told his mission to Isaac, who tried to

explain it, deploring that both sun and moon (Abram and Sarah)

must ascend to heaven. The patriarch then accused Michael of

trying to steal away his soul, which he said he would never yield up.

The Lord then reminded him, by Michael, of all that he had done

for him ; and that, like Adam and others, he must die. Abraham

asked that he might first see “ all peoples and their deeds ” ; but,

when carried up in a chariot, he was so disgusted, by what he saw,

that he begged the earth might open and swallow all peoples. God

then shut his eyes lest they should all be destroyed, saying, “ I do not

wish it so, for I created all, and will only destroy the wicked.”

Abraham then saw a narrow road with few people on it, and a man

on a gold throne, “ terrible and like God,” though it was only Adam :

and again a broad road thronged with people, and with pursuing

angels. The man (or god) tore his hair and beard in sorrow, and

cast himself and his throne to the ground ; but, as people increased

on the narrow way, he rose rejoicing though “ in 7000 years only

one soul is saved.” The angels were scourging the wicked with

whips of fire ; and at the door of heaven sat one “ like the Son

of God,” though he was only Abel, having before him a table, and

a Bible twelve yards long and eight yards wide. He wrote down

the virtues and sins of all, and then weighed the souls (like Thoth).

The Lord had commanded Abel to judge all till the final judgment,

which is to be by the Son of God. Some souls were however set

aside as wanting an extra good deed, and “ Abraham prayed for such,

and the Lord saved them because of Abraham’s holiness.” He also

saved, at his request, all whom Abraham had cursed on earth. The

patriarch was then taken back to his house, to the great joy of his

family, and commanded to settle his worldly affairs, and to give up

his soul to Michael. This Abraham again refused to do; so the

Angel of Death was told to visit him—which he was very unwilling

to do. He was however commanded to disguise himself as a gentle

and beautiful spirit ; but he confessed to Abraham that he was the

“ poison of Death.” He argued long that he could not depart

without Abraham’s soul ; and he assumed many horrid forms, but

did not frighten the patriarch, who accused Death of killing even

boys and girls, and made him kneel down with him and pray for

their restoration. Death continued to torment the patriarch, who

was 175 years old ; and at last he slept on his bed, and kissed

Death’s hand, mistaking it for that of his son, so receiving “ the

poison of death.” Michael and innumerable angels “bore away his

pure soul, and placed it in the hands of the Lord ; and his body was

swathed in pure white linen, and buried in ‘ Dria the Black ’ or Elonē-

Mamre.” (From a Roumanian text, published by Dr Gaster, who

gives this interesting Apocalypse in the Transactions, Bib. Arch.

Soc., ix, 1.)


Abraxas. Abrasax. Abracadabra. Ablathanabla.

Abanathabla. Various terms on Gnostik charms—see Rivers of

Life, i, p. 511. [The translations are much disputed. Probably

they are Aramaic sentences: Abrak ha dabra, “ I bless the deed ” :

Ablaṭ ha nabla, “I give life to the corpse” : Abana thabla, “ Thou

our father leadest.”—ED.] The Persian sun-god was seen in the

Greek letters Abraxas, representing in numbers 365—the days of

the solar year. This word, placed on an amulet or seal, exorcised

evil spirits, and was eXplained by Semites as meaning Abra-Shedabara,

“go out bad spirit out” [or perhaps better, Abrak ha āsh, “I

bless the man.”—ED.] In Syria Abraxas was a form of Iao (Yahveh),

Mithras, Ṣ abaoth, or Adonis, figured as a lion-headed solar serpent

with a rayed glory (Rivers of Life, ii, p. 274) : or as a cock-headed

serpent, or the eastern serpent (Sesha) biting his own tail as Ananta

“ the Eternal.” In Egyptian Abrasax was thought to signify “hurt me

not ” ; and the pious Christian Marullus bequeathed to his children

an amulet, with this name on the one side, and a serpent on the

other, of jasper enclosed in a golden Bulla shaped like a heart—the

seat of emotions. Such bullæ are said to be the origin of the “ Sacred

Heart,” and to explain the name of Papal “ Bulls,” though these had

leaden “ seals ” later (Rivers of Life, ii, pp. 237-8). Such amulets

cured bodily pains, and averted the evil eye. We read of the

physician of Gordian II. as prescribing one for his patient (see King’s

Gnostics, pp. 105-6). Basilides the Gnostik is said to have invented

Abraxas, to denote the spirit presiding over the 365 days of the year.

But the radical idea was that of fecundity, for the image is found as

a bearded Priapus grasping his organ like Osiris.


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