Abraxas and Gnosticism
  • Recently Duncan was on the Joe Rogan Experience and was talking about Gnostic Christianity and the figure "Abraxas." I am Gnostic Christian and have some information on the subject that I felt that others might find interesting. (I wanted to post it on the JRE message forum, but for whatever reason they will not let me activate an account on that forum. I hope that this will be an equally good place to post the info.)

    To start with, I would like to point out that Abraxas is not a “god” in any sense. Gnosticism is a monotheistic religion and we only have one God.

    However that being said Abraxas is a confusing figure and I think this is partially b/c many of our texts have been lost, but also b/c ancient Gnostics didn’t always have a consensus about their varying cosmologies (system of gods/angels/demons etc).

    Abraxas is supposedly an “aeon” or divine immortal spiritual being. However, to the best of my understanding, Abraxas is either ambiguous or malevolent, which, in the case that he is evil, would make him the only malevolent aeon. Typically malevolent beings are known as archons, which are shadowy demonic rulers.

    In Gnosticism we typically believe that the physical world is an illusion and is under the control of these “archons.” The term archon may be metaphorical (i.e. alcoholism, child abuse, political corruption, government in general, etc) or it may also be literal, depending on the believer’s perspective.

    Astrology was really big during the second century and that is probably why the letters of Abraxas’s name corresponds with the planets. Some people believed their lives were dictated by fate which was controlled by the stars and planets. Taking that into consideration, Gnostics considered this a demonic system, making the planets/stars archonic rulers. I wish I could remember the text but I remember reading a verse that said something to the effect that: “All men are bound to the fate of the archons (stars), except to those who receive Gnosis (salvation), which is freely available to everyone.” Basically saying that there is no freedom, except for those who truly know God.

    Abraxas is bizarrely enough depicted with a chicken’s head. I found a picture of a Roman (if I remember correctly) god with a chicken’s head also. I asked a priest about this and he said that the chicken’s head was simply a symbol of a ruler, or divine ruler, at the time.

    Although Abraxas is ultimately probably more of an ambiguous figure I would consider it malevolent for two reasons. #1 Second century Gnostics considered government and rulers demonic/archonic. As I understand this was near the height of when Christians were being murdered by Romans in the coliseum, so government at the time was very oppressive and obviously seemed demonic to Christians. So I think the chicken head showing Abraxas as a ruler definitely points to Abraxas being evil.

    #2 Also I think the Abraxas amulet described in April De’Conick’s “The Thirteenth Apostle” is another good indicator Abraxas was evil. She says the figure appears with the names Judas and Yaldabaoth (If I remember correctly). She says people (I’m not sure if these people were Christian, pagan, or what) used to put these amulets in their mouths before a battle and yell the names of the demons on the amulet to summon them for protection. Yaldabaoth is our equivalent to satan so this would also be a very strong indication Abraxas is malevolent.

    Considering that Gnostics believed the world is controlled by shadowy demonic rulers (governments especially), it is especially creepy that a government agency would name a surveillance program “Abraxas.” Maybe they just thought it was a neat sounding word, and accidently named it something very ironic, but regardless of the reason, it is a bit unsettling.

    Anyways, I hope that was helpful/interesting. If anyone has any more questions about Gnosticism feel free to ask. I enjoy talking about the subject. BTW the Gnostic mass Duncan described sounded pretty cool. I'm a bit jealous, b/c there isn't a Gnostic church anywhere near where I live ;)

    Whoever has come to know the world has discovered a corpse, and whoever has discovered a corpse, of that person the world is not worthy.
  • I found that interesting. Now some questions if you don't mind; Do you believe that the physical world is an illusion? Do you believe that good and evil exist? Could that duality also be an illusion? What is this one god you claim to have? How do you define it?
  • The physical world is an illusion, but IMHO not as much in the "Matrix" type of way often associated with us. (The Matrix is a good allegory, but not as useful IMO if taken literally). We very well may be living in a matrix but that honestly doesn't matter doesn't it? After all it is our perception of the world around us that defines the reality that we live in, and whether or not it is a real solid world or simply electronic impulses makes absolutely no difference.

    What I really consider the illusions of this world are things like: fame, money, power, recreational drugs, etc. There are a lot of things that people kill each other for, or destroy themselves for, or waste their entire lives striving for, but are not real in any sense whatsoever. I consider that all things that are not permanent are in some way an illusion. We live in a world that is full of illusions, and in a way is almost entirely illusory. Spirit is reality; matter is illusion.

    Good and evil exist, but not necessarily as opposing "forces" like in star wars or something. I consider evil a perversion of good, not an equal or opposing force.

    I think opposites are often illusions (I don't have much time, so I'll go into that later), but I don't consider duality as in good/evil and illusion. I've read some really heated arguments about whether or not Gnosticism is monistic or dualisitc. I don't think the world is as black and white as either one of those things.

    Our one God is God the Father. Christ and Sophia (the Holy Ghost) are either manifestations of him in the physical world (emanations approach), or they are part of Him (trinitarian approach).
    Whoever has come to know the world has discovered a corpse, and whoever has discovered a corpse, of that person the world is not worthy.
  • Abraxas is also the name of Santana's best cd.
    the cover is amazing...it's a beautiful painting called Annunication by Mati Klarwein
    the songs on it are beautiful
    Eyes that have seen will know what I mean - Todd Rundgren

  • XrabbitX said:

    After all it is our perception of the world around us that defines the reality that we live in...

    What I really consider the illusions of this world are things like: fame, money, power, recreational drugs, etc. There are a lot of things that people kill each other for, or destroy themselves for, or waste their entire lives striving for, but are not real in any sense whatsoever.



    What if they perceive things like fame, money, etc to be real? Would they be real to those that perceive such? Perception is reality, right? Could something be real to some other one, and not be real to you?

    XrabbitX said:


    Our one God is God the Father. Christ and Sophia (the Holy Ghost) are either manifestations of him in the physical world (emanations approach), or they are part of Him (trinitarian approach).



    What do you mean now by God the Father? How do you define this term? Are you suggesting that you think Jesus Christ is God, in a physical form? Do you think Jesus Christ existed in the physical form, as a man?

  • Wow...

    OP subcribes to an illusionary belief system and spouts about how our world is defined by illusory control factors...

    we're living a life of illusion as joe walsh once sang about...

    and yet...the OP can see past this illusion that the rest of us can't...

    lucky guy !!!...or

    just another mouse in the maze repeating the conditioning process without any real thought ?
  • @XrabbitX Do you follow Samael Aun Weor or just the gospels, or someone/thing else? If you've never heard of Samael you should check him out, he lived about 30 years ago and "Christified his Will".
  • I'm sorry but Jessie "The Body" ruined Abraxas for me...

    image

  • abhorson said:

    @XrabbitX Do you follow Samael Aun Weor or just the gospels, or someone/thing else? If you've never heard of Samael you should check him out, he lived about 30 years ago and "Christified his Will".



    Weor, is into some weird things. For instance he says he is the only person who can correctly interpret the Pistis Sophia. When I hear people say they are the "only one" who can interpret something, that is a pretty huge red-flag for me. No one I know considers him actually "Gnostic" or Christian.

    Personally I'm more interested in the Gnostic gospels, the Bible, and discussions with other Gnostics and Christians, prayer, mediation, etc. IMO Weor gets into a bizarre culty area that I try my best to avoid.

    Post edited by XrabbitX at 2012-09-03 23:30:31
    Whoever has come to know the world has discovered a corpse, and whoever has discovered a corpse, of that person the world is not worthy.
  • Wow...

    OP subcribes to an illusionary belief system and spouts about how our world is defined by illusory control factors...

    we're living a life of illusion as joe walsh once sang about...

    and yet...the OP can see past this illusion that the rest of us can't...

    lucky guy !!!...or

    just another mouse in the maze repeating the conditioning process without any real thought ?



    Not like you, right? You seem like you have it figured out. You should post more, I'm sure people like the OP could benefit from your wisdom.
  • "What if they perceive things like fame, money, etc to be real? Would they be real to those that perceive such? Perception is reality, right? Could something be real to some other one, and not be real to you?"

    When I say "perception is reality" I mean more like whether or not the "world" we live in is physical or we only perceive it to be physical when it could be electrical impulses and so forth. It really doesn't matter if the physical world is an illusion in that way or not b/c we perceive it as solid and tangible.

    A lot of people perceive things like fame and money to be "real," just like many people are fooled by illusions into thinking they are real and important things. That, however doesn't make them real.

    "What do you mean now by God the Father? How do you define this term? Are you suggesting that you think Jesus Christ is God, in a physical form? Do you think Jesus Christ existed in the physical form, as a man?"

    In orthodox Christianity God exists as a trinity: Father, Son, Holy Ghost. Three in one. Some Gnostics are trinitarian, just like orthodox Christians. However I think generally Gnostics present God in what we call emanations cosmology.

    The way emanations go was that in the beginning there existed the Monad (the "one" or God the Father) and nothing else. The Father had a thought which was so powerful it produced an emanation which was Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ had a thought and it was so powerful it produced Sophia (the Holy Ghost), and She had a thought which was so powerful it produced another aeon (immortal spiritual being) and so on and so on.

    This was an idea that I believe was taken from neo-platonism, but have been told Emanations cosmology is probably as old as dirt.

    A lot of Gnostics consider Christ and Sophia to be metaphorical representations of God. One of the priests I know considers Osiris a earlier representation of "Christ" in religion. God communicates through symbols and stories, so in this way the truth about Christ is in some ways just as, or even more real than a physical manifestation of Christ.

    "Truth did not come into the world naked, but it came in types and images. The world will not receive truth in any other way. There is a rebirth and an image of rebirth. It is certainly necessary to be born again through the image. Which one? Resurrection. The image must rise again through the image." - The Gospel of Philip

    I personally believe in Christ both as a symbol of God, but also as a literal incarnation of God. I think of Gnostic Christianity not necessarily as radically reinterpreting everything Orthodox, but providing another layer of understanding.


    Post edited by XrabbitX at 2012-09-03 23:27:08
    Whoever has come to know the world has discovered a corpse, and whoever has discovered a corpse, of that person the world is not worthy.
  • @XrabbitX Were you born into gnostic Christianity, or Christianity in general? I checked out a Gnostic service on Easter one time, although it was difficult to discern much of a difference. Seemed like a very traditional mass to me, though my knowledge and understanding of the Gnostics was and is minimal. Basically I came away thinking that the only way I would learn anything about it was from personal research rather than participation, at that particular church anyways. So I am wondering whether your knowledge comes from a personal interested and motivated research or if you were brought up in some kind of Gnostic community?

  • and yet...the OP can see past this illusion that the rest of us can't...

    lucky guy !!!



    Gnostics were considered elitists and "know-it-alls" and Gnostic was originally an insult. From what I am told, originally only Sethians actually called themselves "Gnostic."

    I think it is a fair criticism to consider us elitist, but at the same time I think one should understand that holding a belief to be true immediately implies that something else is false.

    A good illustration of this kind of process is an old Taoist proverb that goes something like: "When you call something beautiful, something else in the world immediately becomes ugly without you even knowing it."

    The idea that the world is illusory, I believe, was originally taken from Platonism, or neo-Platonism. It's not a commonly held belief but is one that I think has solid roots.

    Christ says in the Gospel of Thomas: "Know yourself and you will be known." However, it is impossible to truly know one's self without knowing God and knowing one's divine origin. Gnosis (spiritual knowledge/ intimate understanding or experiential knowledge) of God is something we believe shows the believer the difference between what is real and what is illusion, thus freeing us from the archons (whether they be literal or metaphorical).

    So yes, I believe that Gnostics have spiritual knowledge that an atheist or agnostic etc, would not possess. But like ladychef mentioned, I'm not here to sell anything. I'm just discussing something that Duncan brought up on the JRE, but a bit more in depth.

    I am fascinated by religion in general, and this is always a subject I enjoy talking to others about. I am not, however, asking or expecting anyone to agree with me.
    Whoever has come to know the world has discovered a corpse, and whoever has discovered a corpse, of that person the world is not worthy.
  • XrabbitX said:

    A good illustration of this kind of process is an old Taoist proverb that goes something like: "When you call something beautiful, something else in the world immediately becomes ugly without you even knowing it."



    XrabbitX said:

    God is something we believe shows the believer the difference between what is real and what is illusion, thus freeing us


    Posted for a little elbow jabbing irony. ;)

    XrabbitX said:

    the archons (whether they be literal or metaphorical).

    So yes, I believe that Gnostics have spiritual knowledge that an atheist or agnostic etc, would not possess.


    Hey, hey there High Horse! Atheists can know all about archons metaphorical. :D

    Keep at it. What do you think of the famous Linklater scene in Waking Life?
    Post edited by orgone at 2012-09-04 00:00:02
    image
  • ehhrrwal said:

    @XrabbitX Were you born into gnostic Christianity, or Christianity in general? I checked out a Gnostic service on Easter one time, although it was difficult to discern much of a difference. Seemed like a very traditional mass to me, though my knowledge and understanding of the Gnostics was and is minimal. Basically I came away thinking that the only way I would learn anything about it was from personal research rather than participation, at that particular church anyways. So I am wondering whether your knowledge comes from a personal interested and motivated research or if you were brought up in some kind of Gnostic community?



    I was Protestant for about 20 years, but have been studying Gnostic Christianity for about 7 years and have considered myself Gnostic Christian for about the last 5 years. There are a lot of good books available on the subject. I read most of the books Elaine Pagels wrote. I would highly recommend her book "Beyond Belief: The Secret Gospel of Thomas." From what I understand there is some scholarly argument about whether that text is truly "Gnostic" or not, and she also uses John as a counterpoint to Thomas, but I think now there is some argument that the canonical Gospel of John was Gnostic in origin. However she does provide the best written description of Gnosis (which we consider salvation) which I have read in a book.

    I would also highly recommend her book "The Gnostic Gospels," and April DeConicks "The Thirteenth Apostle."

    I gained a lot of information from a now defunct discussion group, and the message forum Spiralinward.com (which isn't very active now, but still has a lot of good info).

    From what I understand a lot of modern Gnostic churches use the same traditions as Catholic churches. Whatever traditions we specifically had were probably lost in the 4th century with the creation of "The Bible." However, from what I've read April Deconick said that some Gnostics went to pre-Catholic churches with other Christians and then met later in lodges with other Gnostics. So I think it is reasonable that our beliefs and practices are very intertwined with orthodox beliefs and practices.
    Post edited by XrabbitX at 2012-09-04 00:11:31
    Whoever has come to know the world has discovered a corpse, and whoever has discovered a corpse, of that person the world is not worthy.

  • "Hey, hey there High Horse! Atheists can know all about archons metaphorical. :D"

    I wouldn't disagree with that ;)

    "Keep at it. What do you think of the famous Linklater scene in Waking Life?"

    I'm not familiar with that, could you tell me about it?

    Whoever has come to know the world has discovered a corpse, and whoever has discovered a corpse, of that person the world is not worthy.
  • The clip has been taken off of YouTube for copyright reasons but here is a written synopsis and a low quality version of the full film on google video (higher quality vimeo), the scene is @ ≈01:25:30
    Post edited by orgone at 2012-09-04 00:16:33
    image
  • quote the xrabbitx...

    A good illustration of this kind of process is an old Taoist proverb that goes something like: "When you call something beautiful, something else in the world immediately becomes ugly without you even knowing it."

    unquote""



    the act of finding beauty causes something else to become ugly ?

    is that what it is saying ? Is it implying that the other thing wasn't already ugly...


    Seems a tad bit selfish or self centered...and gives power to the individual, which has just made a cognitive decsion based from an operating system,that is constantly searching to find symetry...flaws,deformaties...etc


    so i disagree with that proverb...and think it is flawed !!!

    does that mean somewhere else another proverb, hidden somewhere became available to be recognised as unflawed ?

    is that how the proverb works ?

    a finding of a flaw cause something else to become flawless...

    i don't know....seems a lil sketchie...to me
  • orgone said:

    The clip has been taken off of YouTube for copyright reasons but here is a written synopsis and a low quality version of the full film on google video (higher quality vimeo), the scene is @ ≈01:25:30



    I'll check that out when I'm at the library this week. My internet isn't fast enough to stream video at home ;)

    Whoever has come to know the world has discovered a corpse, and whoever has discovered a corpse, of that person the world is not worthy.
  • quote the xrabbitx...

    A good illustration of this kind of process is an old Taoist proverb that goes something like: "When you call something beautiful, something else in the world immediately becomes ugly without you even knowing it."

    unquote""



    the act of finding beauty causes something else to become ugly ?

    is that what it is saying ? Is it implying that the other thing wasn't already ugly...


    Seems a tad bit selfish or self centered...and gives power to the individual, which has just made a cognitive decsion based from an operating system,that is constantly searching to find symetry...flaws,deformaties...etc


    so i disagree with that proverb...and think it is flawed !!!

    does that mean somewhere else another proverb, hidden somewhere became available to be recognised as unflawed ?

    is that how the proverb works ?

    a finding of a flaw cause something else to become flawless...

    i don't know....seems a lil sketchie...to me



    I think you can read it more than one way. My point was belief in an absolute truth automatically means a person believes something else is a lie. I don't really think it's fair to shit on people for believing something is a lie, b/c that is the natural extension of faith in anything.

    I think the Taoist proverb mostly means that arbitrary or absolute labels create opposite labels. You don't create ugliness itself by saying something is beautiful, you just create the label of ugliness.
    Post edited by XrabbitX at 2012-09-04 10:46:21
    Whoever has come to know the world has discovered a corpse, and whoever has discovered a corpse, of that person the world is not worthy.
  • orgone said:

    The clip has been taken off of YouTube for copyright reasons but here is a written synopsis and a low quality version of the full film on google video (higher quality vimeo), the scene is @ ≈01:25:30



    That's really fascinating! I'm glad you showed me that. I hadn't heard that story before, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if it was true. I know Philip K. Dick is pretty big in the Gnostic community but I'm not that familiar with his work. I've seen Blade Runner and that is about it.

    The process of saying no to God until you wake up, is basically the crux of Gnostic Christianity. I'm not 100% positive all Gnostics believe in universal salvation, but I think we tend to lean toward that.

    It wouldn't surprise me at all if time was in some way illusory. One of our symbols is the ouroboros, which is a snake devouring it's own tail. It basically represents being trapped in endless and completely pointless cycles.

    When I talked about illusions in earlier posts I left out mentioning that I believe that progress, success, and achievement (in many cases) is illusory also. The reason I don't mention it right off the bat is b/c it is harder to explain that something we generally agree is a good, can also be an illusion.

    "All rivers run toward the sea, but the sea is never full." - Ecclesiastes
    "Winning and losing are the same." -Lao-tzu

    I think if you can wrap your head around the idea that time is an illusory than the other things are not so difficult to imagine.

    Thanks again so much for showing me that. I'm going to go share that with the others at our forum. ;)
    Post edited by XrabbitX at 2012-09-05 17:32:13
    Whoever has come to know the world has discovered a corpse, and whoever has discovered a corpse, of that person the world is not worthy.
  • I think it might be worth adding, that considering this view of time that the orthodox view of hell is very valuable. Although hell is real, it isn't exactly what we've been taught it is. ^_^ I've felt for a long time that hell is here with us, I guess this is probably just more conformation ;)
    Whoever has come to know the world has discovered a corpse, and whoever has discovered a corpse, of that person the world is not worthy.
  • @xrabbitx you said that you believe in good and evil I was wondering if you meant that in a sense of certain actions are inherently good or evil or did you mean it in more of an intentions can be good or evil sense and if so whats the line on trying to do something good but in the end doing harm
    Much love
  • @xrabbitx you said that you believe in good and evil I was wondering if you meant that in a sense of certain actions are inherently good or evil or did you mean it in more of an intentions can be good or evil sense and if so whats the line on trying to do something good but in the end doing harm



    I don't know that I have a great answer to this, but I'll try my best ;)

    I think there is a way that our lives and our world should be (a reflection of heaven, if that makes sense), and all those things/actions would inherently be good.

    All perversions of the way things should be would then be "evil." For instance, stealing would be a perversion of working for something, lies are a perversion of truth, and so forth.

    Or to go a bit further, sickness is a perversion of health, and the violence of nature a perversion of peace. In Gnosticism there are two sources of evil. Ignorance and Chaos. First there was ignorance, and ignorance created chaos. Ignorance is moral evil, and chaos is the evil of the natural order. For instance, tornadoes destroying mobile homes and wolves eating rabbits are good examples of chaos.

    Again I wouldn't consider evil a force, even in considering the natural order "evil." Chaos is more like a predictable pattern of events, or like dominos knocking eachother down in a line.

    As for our own morality, Christ's instructions for us are remarkably simple (yet incredibly hard for most to follow): "Don't tell lies and don't do things that you hate (or don't be a hypocrite)," and "Treat others the way you would want to be treated."

    I think if a person keeps to those two teachings they shouldn't have many, if any, moral problems, especially when it comes to relationships with other people. Relationships are fluid, and if you unintentionally do something to cause harm, you simply continue move forward to correct your mistake or do better next time.

    Ultimately I think intentions are are more important than consequences, however I don't think it is acceptable to be evil, for a "greater good." I don't think it is ok to sacrifice one morality for another. Obviously there is some grey area there, however I don't think you will ever have to be a liar, murderer, thief, or etc, to ever help anyone.

    Post edited by XrabbitX at 2012-09-05 20:35:09
    Whoever has come to know the world has discovered a corpse, and whoever has discovered a corpse, of that person the world is not worthy.
  • @XrabbitX No problemo, Linklater's one of my favorite directors, especially when it's his play.
    image
  • Thats a pretty good explanation I would say it just raises one more question though with the wolf analogy are you saying that everyone should be vegetarian or am I just asking a dumb question
    Much love
  • Thats a pretty good explanation I would say it just raises one more question though with the wolf analogy are you saying that everyone should be vegetarian or am I just asking a dumb question



    No I think that is a really good question.

    I think it depends on the individual, and how the Spirit leads you when it comes down to something like that.

    Paul wrote: "All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify."

    So I think even if eating meat is cruel, then it's not necessarily morally harmful. Everyone has their own path to walk when it comes to those type of issues, and Gnosticism isn't really rule oriented, so it's not really our place to go around telling others what to do when it comes to this sort of thing.

    Personally I'm transitioning into being a vegetarian, partially b/c I do think the natural order is evil and twisted. (I don't spend money on meat any more unless I'm splitting a meal with someone.) I have a lot of reasons not to eat it, including high cholesterol, and the fact that I just don't like the way it feels in my mouth lot of times. But the spiritual issue I guess is one that kind of pushed me over the edge.

    Gnostics aren't real big on the old testament (I still find it useful, but not in a strict literal way). In Genesis the fact that people began eating meat signified the corruption of the physical world. Later in Isaiah the image of a lion laying with a lamb is used to signify the restoration of the world. Later in the New Testament Peter has a dream proclaiming all things lawful to eat, however I feel that simply b/c all things are lawful to eat doesn't mean killing animals for food isn't horrible.

    I think in James it says something that one of the purposes of religion is "not to become polluted by the world." And I think that is a helpful thing for me to keep in mind. We can't fix the archonic systems that govern the physical world, including the fact that almost everything lives by killing something else, but I think there are times that we can remove ourselves from some of those systems as best as possible.

    And once again, I'm not saying to anyone not to eat meat, or that they shouldn't eat meat for spiritual reasons. I just personally don't feel like I should any more than necessary, and those are my reasons for that.

    Sometimes Gnostics get accused of living an ascetic life style, and I think it is important to point out that really isn't accurate. If we don't partake in something it is b/c we genuinely don't have a desire to be a part of it. "Don't tell lies and don't do things that you hate" isn't exactly a radical denial of all pleasure, it is just a direction to know what is real and what isn't, what is good and what isn't, and act accordingly.
    Post edited by XrabbitX at 2012-09-06 01:39:51
    Whoever has come to know the world has discovered a corpse, and whoever has discovered a corpse, of that person the world is not worthy.
  • Paul wrote: "All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify."


    Really enjoyed this quote I will remember this
    Much love
  • Paul wrote: "All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify."


    Really enjoyed this quote I will remember this


    Cool! Glad you found it useful. It's not a view that I think is fair to apply to absolutely everything, but when it comes down to the more hair-splitting aspects of morality I think it's something good to consider.

    Whoever has come to know the world has discovered a corpse, and whoever has discovered a corpse, of that person the world is not worthy.

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