The Letter to Theophilus, Part III

[This is the last installment of a hypothetical letter that could have been written by Christian Gnostics who believed in sacred sexuality. There really were some. For more explanation see  the “Preview of the Letter to Theophilus” three days back.]

Of Baptism as the First Initiation

For their first initiation we lead our students to a place with living water. They descend into the water skyclad, and we baptize them, saying, “Into the name of the unknown Father of the universe, into Truth, the mother of all things, into Him who descended on Jesus, into union, and redemption, and communion with the powers. I invoke that which is above every power of the Father, which is called light, and good Spirit, and life, because you have reigned in the body.”

The initiate replies, “I am established, and I am redeemed; I redeem my soul from this world and from all things connected with it in the name of Christ who lives.” Then the bystanders add, “Peace be to all on whom this name rests.” After this we anoint the initiated person with balsam, which unguent is a type of that sweet odor which is above all things.

Some believe it superfluous to bring persons to the water, but mixing oil and water together, place this mixture on the heads of those who are to be initiated, maintaining this to be the redemption. They, too, are accustomed to anoint with balsam.

Others still continue to redeem persons even up to the moment of death, by placing on their heads oil and water, or the pre-mentioned ointment with water, using the same invocations, that the persons referred to may become invisible to the powers. Some of us employ outward marks, branding our students inside the lobe of the right ear.

Of the Prophets and the Laws

Sophia herself has spoken many things through us, but only some of the sayings of the prophets and of Jesus were inspired by the Mother. Others are false, and only the enlightened ones can distinguish between them. Many were inspired by those angels who formed the world; for which reason we no longer regard them, but, being free, live as we please; for we are saved through grace, not on account of our own righteous actions, for such deeds are called righteous not in the nature of things, but because those angels constituted them in order to bring men into bondage.

We are saved, indeed, by means of faith and love; but all other things, while in their nature indifferent, are reckoned by the opinion of men to be some good and some evil, yet nothing is really evil by nature. We know that we may do as we please, so long as we harm none, for we are not bound by the cruel rules that the heretics impose upon their own deluded followers.

We are not obliged to reveal our true beliefs to the heretics or to other persecutors, or to die for the truth, but to live it and teach it, although only one of a thousand, two of ten thousand, can truly understand the nature of the mysteries. Hence we should not speak openly of them before all, but instead keep them secret by maintaining silence about them. Know all, but let no one know you. Preserve the secret of the serpent and the dove, of the Father and the Mother.

As followers of Kharpocrates, we celebrate our bodily pleasures, unlike the heretics, and teach our initiates to do the same. We are free to enjoy all the pleasures of life that are bestowed on us by the Lord and that the foolish heretics reject.

We must undergo every possible experience, so that we may escape from the cycles of reincarnation and dwell finally with the gods.  We cannot be saved until we have gone through all kinds of experience. An angel attends us in all that we do, inspiring us with courage to attempt even the most difficult tasks. In all that we do, we do it in the name of the angel, saying, “O thou angel, I use your work; O thou power, I accomplish your operation!”  And thus we attain perfect knowledge.

Of Our Pursuits

We all own sacred images, some carved, some painted, some fashioned from other materials.  We crown these and set them up with the images of the philosophers of the world, of Pythagoras, and Plato, and Aristotle, and the rest. We honor these images after the fashion of the Gentiles.

Everyone one of us strives to create something new every day, as best we can, to exercise our abilities to create as bestowed upon us by the Creator.

Mark also taught the art of compounding philters and love-potions that can inspire a burning passion in others. Hence we practice magical arts, each one as best we can, including exorcisms and incantations, love-potions and charms, as well as using familiars, dream-senders, and other curious arts, in order to know and do the will of the Father.

We are grateful to eat meat that has been blessed by being offered to the gods, and we attend all the festivals that honor the gods, whom the heretics contemn.

A Myth Told by Saint Mark the Wonderworker

Christ descended to this world to find his lost sister Sophia and clothe her with the light. He found her in the Magdalene, who became his companion and his Queen. When all is complete, Sophia will receive Christ as her spouse, and they will rejoice in each other and celebrate the sacred mysteries of love in the bridal chamber above as is done below. Jesus and the Magdalene are the bride and the bridegroom, and their bridal chamber is the fullness of all.

When we recite the sacred passwords known only to our initiates to the angels of the rulers, the Mother rescues us, carries us into the heavenly bridal chamber, and joins us with our consorts in eternal, infinite, ecstatic bliss.

These, my dear Theophilus, are our cherished beliefs that you may teach to your own students. The brothers and sisters here send you all blessings and greetings in the name of the Lord who is both One and Many, and in the names of Jesus the Christ and of his Queen and consort Mariamme the Magdalene, who love each other and ourselves, and whom we love. Peace be with all on whom this Name rests.

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