What do the Dreamtime of the Aborigines, the visions of William Blake, the theory of the Electric Universe and the ancient Gnostics, all have in common? They all suggest mankind is subject to forces that they do not comprehend, and that may not have their best interests at heart.
The question is, are they all talking about the same thing?
Did an ignorant and malevolent entity create the world to be ruled with spite and jealousy?
This was a belief of some of the Gnostics, whose obscure doctrines spread around the Levant and the Mediterranean two thousand years ago.
Surely theirs was a myth with no relevance to science of today?
Demiurgos - is the term employed by Plato (428-348BCE) in the Timaeus, for the Architect of the Universe. In his philosophy and that of the Neoplatonists who followed, this aspect of Divinity is entirely good. He looks to the Archetypal Ideas within the Great Mother and reproduces them in the worlds of Form (the Objective Universe).
The Gnostic teachings are a loose conglomeration of ideas and philosophies that developed in the first two centuries of the Common Era. Part of those teachings suggested the Divine Sophia (Wisdom) produced an ignorant entity (The Demiurgos) also known as Ialdabaoth or Yaldabaoth) that produced the material cosmos, full of error and wickedness.
We can see in this teaching could be a distortion of the Platonic original, with Sophia (in the role of Great Mother) producing a son (Demiurge) prone to error. However, if we see Sophia as the mother of mankind in a symbolic sense, then until mankind becomes wise as a totality, then we - as mini-creators - are indeed prone to error.
We are the false demiurge, in that sense.
"The error of Sophia, which is usually identified as a reckless desire to know the transcendent God, leads to the hypostatization of her desire in the form of a semi-divine and essentially ignorant creature known as the Demiurge (Greek: dêmiourgos, "craftsman"), or Ialdabaoth, who is responsible for the formation of the material cosmos.”
Most of the teachings of the Gnostics we know through the critiques offered of those ‘heretical’ teachings by their Christian critics. Consequently, it is hard to know exactly what the pure teachings were. Some argue that these teachings were in fact the actual doctrine of Yahusiah (Jesus). The growing church that came to be known eventually as Christianity promoted the need for male priests to intervene for a laity on their behalf, to know God. Gnosis (which means knowing or knowledge in Greek, and from which we get our word ‘know’), suggested that the pathway to Divine Knowledge was within each individual, and did not require the intervention of a priest or church as such.
The struggle, that went on for 1,000 years, up to the destruction of the Cathars, was the establishment of the Catholic Church as supreme against alternative doctrines. These alternative teachings stressed the ability of the blessed to know the Divine through direct experience. The Catholic faith was predicated on the intercessionary power of male (and only male) priests.
In considering Yaldobaoth we are faced with the problem of the origin of evil, the nature of limited existence within the material universe, and the role of mankind.
Origin of evil
The way the gnostic teachings are passed down to us now contains a philosophical absurdity, namely that:
There can be a Good God and a Bad God and both are equally powerful
The God, as the Good, can produce or become that which is evil.
That evil, as such, has a transcendent reality, sometimes represented as an eternal being like Lucifer of Satan.
We can say with confidence, there is no ultimate Principle of Evil, as Evil is in essence, non-being. In other words, the more evil is given expression the more it tends towards self destruction. This does not mean that evil conditions on our Earth haven’t persisted over very long periods of time, but any institution, organisation or social system resting entirely on evil would tend swiftly to disintegrate.
However, dualism, the doctrine of equal forces of evil and good (somewhat like Star Wars) has taken deep roots in our world philosophies. This teaching can be traced in part to Baba Raban, a Persian ruler in the Second Century CE. We know these ideas as Manichaeism. These teachings have also joined the melting pot called ‘gnosticism’. Raban was clear that to follow his philosophy, ruling Earth as though a God, required enormous discipline and study. It is this knowledge and discipline that has run in deep subterranean streams within some of the world’s religions, where the goodness is on the outside, and this darker doctrine of power, is within. Elements of this doctrine can be found in the three religions of the Book, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and go a long way to explain the excesses of each.
Aspects of this creation of the Mundane World have been covered here, here, and here.
The idea of Yaldabaoth raises further complexity. If we free it from the role of ‘Creator of the Universe’ but see it as a distortion of Wisdom (Sophia as it’s mother), then it arises through the turning of knowledge to ends less than the highest good. The role that Yaldabaoth plays in relation to Earth may indeed be the creation of conditions that are less than heavenly.
Rudolf Steiner, the Austrian philosopher and mystic, gave a powerful lecture about these matters from which the following is a quotation.
We must therefore think of the Demiurgos as a sublime Being, as the Creator of the world who sends forth other Beings from Himself. The Beings sent forth by the Demiurgos were ranked in successive stages, each stage being lower than the last ... The life of these Beings, however, was held to be entirely free from the conditions of earthly birth and earthly death.
In Greece they were known as Aeons — of the first rank, the second rank and so on. The Aeons were Beings who had issued from the Demiurgos. Among these Aeons, Jahve or Jehovah was a Being of a relatively subordinate rank.
And this brings us to a consideration of the teachings of the Gnostics, as they were called, in the early centuries of Christendom. It was said that Jehovah united with matter and that from this union man came into existence.
According to this Gnostic conception, therefore, Jehovah was a somewhat lower descendant of the more lofty Aeons who had proceeded from the Demiurgos, and as the outcome of Jehovah's union with matter, man was created.
“Pleroma” was the name given to a world which transcends, although it has its basis in the phenomena of the world of sense. This conception was thoroughly intelligible to the Ancients although it was utterly beyond the grasp of a later humanity. The Pleroma was a world at a higher level than the physical world but peopled none the less by individualised Beings. And at the lowest level, at the lowest stage of the Pleroma, the human being created by Jehovah comes into existence. At this same stage, another Being appears, a Being incorporate not in the individual man nor yet in a nation, but rather in humanity taken as one whole, a Being who remembers its descent from the Demiurgos and strives again to reach the spiritual world.
The name of this Being was Achamoth and in Greece, Achamoth was a personification of the spiritual strivings of mankind. The urge which lives in men to reach the spiritual world again was therefore said to be due to Achamoth.
Another conception was then added to this world of ideas, namely, that in order to reward the strivings of Achamoth, the Demiurgos sent down an Aeon of a very high rank. This Aeon — so it was said — united with the man Jesus in order that the strivings of Achamoth might be fulfilled. The Gnostic teaching was that in the man Jesus there had dwelt a Being belonging to the ranks of the Aeons, a Being of a far more highly spiritual order than Jahve or Jehovah.
And so, among those in whom these ideas lived during the early Christian centuries — and the hearts of many men in those times were turned with the deepest fervour and reverence to the Mystery of Golgotha — there grew up the conception of the great mystery connected with the man Jesus in whom a holy Aeon had come to dwell.
Steiner continues, in the same lecture:
The forces living in the Pleroma were dragged down to the material world in an Ahrimanic form and were applied not only on Earth but in the spiritual world bordering on the Earth, the influences of which pour down upon human beings. And so, Eastward of the Ural and Volga regions, in the astral world which borders on our physical world, there arose during the later Middle Ages, continuing through the centuries to our own day, an Ahrimanic form of magic practised by certain spiritual beings who in their etheric and astral development stand higher than man but in their development of soul and Spirit stand lower than man.
From a Lecture by Rudolf Steiner, given in July 1923 and reproduced in full here
In this powerful lecture we learn many things. The idea that there are many levels to the creative process is one. Another, is that the creatures of the astral kingdoms, so close to the physical world, have an impact on that world even though they are (mostly) invisible to it. A third, is that these astral creatures were different in the East than in the West. In the East they expressed themselves through a perverted form of shamanism. In the West they promoted an intellectualism (known as Scholasticism) that has ultimately led to the anti-spiritual so-called rationalism, that plagues our thinking today.
In the time when Gnostic thought was being forged, the Greek psyche, according to Steiner, could see vividly into the Pleroma, the fullness of the spiritual realms. Thoughts appeared to emanate from those realms. Gradually, this living connection faded, and mankind, especially in the West, had to develop independent thought. But the reality of the spiritual realms (Pleroma) became as though a myth and a fairy tale (and indeed lived on really only in the form of myths and fairy tales as we see here.
Yaldabaoth is sometimes described, in its serpent like form, as an octopus. Strangely, a recent symbol used by an American spy satellite, uses just such a symbol. Could this be representing Yaldabaoth in some way?
The answer is simply yes, as we shall see in a subsequent post.
The NASA symbol is confirmed on a NASA Spaceflight site here
Murray Morison is a novelist living in Crete
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When a teenage priestess, living 5,000 years ago in Ancient Egypt, connects with Rhory, an English schoolboy visiting the British Museum, she puts herself and him in grave danger.
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