On Gnosticism, the Book of Shadows, and Sex

On Gnosticism, the Book of Shadows, and Sex May 3, 2013

I received a few days ago my monthly statistical report from Patheos on how many hits I received last month, total, per day, per blog, etc. My total has been running just under 5,000. If I get up to 12,500, I start getting paid (hint, hint). It was interesting to see that the greatest number of hits were on two blogs: “On Jesus as a Gnostic” and “Some New Pages for the Book of Shadows.” I suppose I might garner some more hits if I expand upon those particular topics. I also see I’ve written somewhere between 100,000 and 150,000 words in these blogs since August. That’s enough for a fairly large book. Given my various topics, probably more like three smaller books.

I certainly could not foresee whether my speculations about Jesus might interest people who primarily regard themselves as Pagan, but apparently they do. I can only guess at exactly why. My overall trajectory with all that is thinking about whether a very different sort of Christianity, based on the new information about the beginnings and early history of the movement, not on sheer fantasy and wishful thinking, might provide a useful pathway for people who want a more adequate way to maintain themselves in a fit spiritual condition, one day at a time. I did some more detailed speculation about that in the blog entitled “Imagine Jesus and the Goddess Holding Hands.”

One can now make out a very good case that Mary (not his mother) was his wife or at least his lover (the Gospel of Philip flat out says she was) and had at least as good a claim as Peter had (or maybe a better one) to be his most important student and true successor of the movement he catalyzed. I know of several new Gnostic churches and one very big established one whose members believe all that about her, although the latter do not discuss those beliefs in public with the goyim or cowans. A few of those smaller churches even take the stance that, if the Father sent his Son, then the Mother sent her Daughter, and they proclaim Mary as being the incarnation of Sophia, the Divine Wisdom who was the actual Creator of our universe, and thus Co-Redemptrix with Jesus.

That is a beautiful and powerful concept. I would like to believe wholeheartedly in it—but I can’t. At least, not yet. Perhaps I may stumble across new evidence that would tip the balance. Perhaps if I could find evidence that Mary had also had an Awakening, which thus created her spiritual bond with Jesus, as Ki Longfellow speculates in her powerful novel, The Secret Magdalene (it is one of the best “Lives of Jesus” ever written—and I’ve read a lot of them), that would make the difference. Still, as I’ve said quite a few times, my own Awakening gave me marching orders not to ever become a True Believer in anything—because, on the fundamental question, I do not have to believe; I know—which is why I am a Gnostic. Sure took me long enough to realize that. But now I am comfortable with knowing that other people are probably not going to grasp how and why what works as the equivalent of belief for me is thoroughly catholic (pay attention; that’s a small c). Still, it would be nice if I could find a few other people who are Gnostics in the sense that I am whom I could talk shop with.

Now, about posting more pages for the Book of Shadows. I’d like to do that, but I see some serious technical and logistical and even ethical problems that would very likely come up. Why? Because most of the material I could post has to do with sex, which I have discussed a lot in previous blogs. A major factor in the appeal of the Craft as a spiritual pathway is that, for the great majority of Witches, the Craft is a sex-positive religion, utterly different from the sex-negativity of the churches many were raised in or of much of American culture in general. So many people have been so poisoned and crippled by the endemic mental illness I have labeled Aphrodiphobia that they cannot look sanely at anything to do with sex. As a result, such people misinterpret the beliefs and practices that are quite common among Witches and Pagans as being exploitative, “immoral,” illegal, or fattening, and it is almost always futile to try to persuade them otherwise.

In my middle teens, after my own Awakening, I was extremely angry at the Catholic Church over the emotional abuse I had suffered from because of the negative beliefs about sexuality I had been subjected to. I struggled for years to free myself from the aftereffects of that conditioning. It was only when I began reading Alan Watts about a decade later that I realized that those beliefs were not Christian at all, but were a heresy and pathology that has affected Western civilization for millennia (not that people at other times and places were usually better off). After decades of ups, downs, and sideways, I have arrived at what I hope is a sane and moderate position, shared by many other people I have great respect for: that our sexuality is holy, a gift, a blessing, but also fragile. There are lots of different ways to thoroughly screw up our ability to enjoy it in a healthy way. Becoming callous and uncaring about it is almost as sick as rejecting it entirely. In Jewish tradition (and some others), celibacy was considered one of the worst possible sins.

Our sexuality is a foundational, defining characteristic of the sort of critters we are. There are very few other traits of ours that are equally important. One linkage between the Craft and Gnosticism is the fact, recorded by Clement of Alexandria, that the Marianite Christians of Alexandria believed that sex provides one of our surest pathways to salvation. Some happily married couples throughout history have discovered that pathway for themselves, but I am pretty sure that most people, given the epidemic of Aphrodiphobia most people suffer from, are not likely to find it without guidance. The issue I am wrestling with here is the feasibility and ethics of offering such guidance, such as it might be, given that, as with anything to do with Awakenings or salvation or enlightenment or whatever else one might call it, there can never be any guarantees, and, given human frailties, there are always risks. It definitely seems dubious that such guidance could or should be given on such a public forum as this blog, yet I cannot right now think of some other way to do it. By the way, if it’s a question, I’m not talking about any Third-Degree secrets.

I would like to have some creative feedback about the preceding. I know I am probably going to have to just forget about it.


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