Thank you to everyone who attended the gnostic polytheism and animism presentation at Many Gods West on Sunday. The level of wisdom in our community is top notch and I am so proud of the ideas we generated together on receiving gnosis and transmitting wisdom.
At the start of our discussion, I asked “Who is the author of myth?” Some answers were bards, cultures, oracles, families and even the gods and spirits themselves. My concern was that although these answers were all correct, many implied a sense of the authors being far in the past. Our world is changing and we have new direction from spiritual beings and deities. However, due to issues with communication and trust sharing wisdom stories and messages that are coming to us is challenging. After tons of brainstorming and throwing out ideas we developed some processes for seeing personal gnosis through to meaningful modern myths we can be guided by as a community.
First, spirits or deities grant the experience of some knowledge to a person or people in a great variety of ways. Gnostic seekers may have dreams of gods and spirits in the form of a complete story or a direct lesson; they may sense an uncanny knowing; some mediums hear voices of spirits with messages to name a few ways. As a sacred artist, ideas often come to me as pictures or scenes that I see and feel viscerally. When an idea is just my creative imagination it does not make my skin tingle the way that spiritually inspired message does. Versus most of my regular art projects, I view a work of art completed gnostically almost as though it wasn’t me that painted it but that it was painted through me and know the image expresses gnosis. My sacred art also feels more alive and takes off on a path of its own.
Secondly, the gnostic seeker must determine if the message is wisdom, if it should be shared, with who and how. Not every spiritual interaction is going to be useful to others beyond yourself. The theme I noticed in our discussion was to run the transmission by a few people as a personal gnosis and see if it resonates with them. Now and then others will even say that they had been getting the same idea on the subject from their meditations. When I have an automatic drawing or have drawn a dream or vision, I usually share the sketches and ideas with a few trusted friends and talk about the message with them or ask their interpretations. If an idea isn’t meaning anything to others or it is easily misinterpreted, the gnosis might be just for you, need to be clarified, or saved for another audience it will make more impact upon.
Now and then I have set aside inspired ideas and refined them until they could make a bigger difference. Keeping notes is very helpful for allowing gnosis to mature and looking back over your papers periodically to ascertain if perhaps the concept or story is ready to be shared. I had a flash of inspiration once that the Morrigan served as psychopomp for her slain son Meiche and tended to his snake ridden heart. I tried to share this (re?)discovered part of the legend on livejournal, but it just didn’t come across well. However, more recently, I was able to draw the Great Queen like a valkyrie and share the piece with the ever growing Morrigan community in an anthology By Blood, Bone and Blade. Viewers can look at the illustration and place the picture into their worldview just for a moment and see if the scene makes sense to them. I have had other psychopomp visions that I felt that at least for the foreseeable future were just for my own psychic training.
When you have important wisdom to share with your spiritual community, careful consideration about how to best present it to your audience is key. There are times to be authoritative with personal gnosis and to confront the community with sermons or instructions, but those times are rare and are mostly reserved for teacher-student or priest-congregation relationships. More often people can better incorporate wisdom into their personal lives if they can interpret it for themselves, especially in communities of equals or in mixed settings. Sharing personal gnosis as an anecdote in first person, but leaving the meaning for others to do with what they may, writing a ritual for people to try, art, dance, poetry and stories are all excellent ways to share a divine message.
Third, people the gnosis was transmitted to and it resonated for affirm it either by a conscious approval or just by naturally incorporating and accepting it into their philosophies and or practices. The ritual or art is used, adapted, or inspires more creation and realizations. People retell your story or anecdote to others and overtime it could become traditional lore and then myth. With my sacred art, I start to see that a gnostic transmission is touching people because they share their reactions to me, tell me they worked it into their altar or spiritual practices, they write about how it changed their thinking about a rite of passage, etc. I paint plenty of pretty pictures and decent portraits, but based on the responses they do not affect people as deeply as something expressing gnosis.
Another sign that your personal gnosis is becoming community gnosis is when people begin identifying with the idea and asking for more details or guidance on how to incorporate the information into their lives. As gnosis takes on its own mythic life if it ever felt like your property it now firmly belongs to the community, a bit like a child that grew up.
Finally, we revisited the opening question, “Who is the author of myth?” and we gave a resoundingly modern answer: “Me!” as in each of us can be the one who brings to the community the wisdom of myth from out of our personal gnosis.