Monday, March 2, 2015

The Pagan Experience - Knowledge, Wisdom and Gnosis

WK 1- Mar. 2 - Knowledge,Wisdom and Gnosis - What do these words mean to you? How do express these principles in your spiritual work? Is any one more important than the other? Why?

Sometimes I tell people that Wicca is my religion but my spirituality is Gnosticism.  The problem with this, however, was that very few people know what I mean when I say I am a Gnostic.  Sometimes I don’t know what I mean, either.  What I do know, however, is the feeling I get when I read the Gospel of Thomas or Thunder, Perfect Mind.  I know that Gnosticism did more than just help me to reconcile any anxiety I had about my torrid Christian past.  It opened up a whole new trajectory for my future, in this life and beyond.

Identifying as a Gnostic doesn’t mean I can’t practice Wicca or be a witch or I had to change anything about my life.  If anything, it gives me more options.  I can pretty much enter into any religious ritual or ceremony and feel perfectly at home because it’s like God speaks to me anywhere and everywhere I go.  We’re surrounded by myths and stories and archetypes, and Gnosticism gave me the lexicon with which to understand what God was saying through these tools.

Here’s what Gnosticism is not – despite what you may have read in a billion Neo-Pagan books, we don’t believe that we are aliens from another planet who got stuck on earth because of the evil Demiurge.  For some reason every time I read a Neo-Pagan book that mentions Gnosticism, they always have these ridiculous concepts of what Gnosticism is and it really pisses me off.  Saying that Gnostics believed they were aliens is such an oversimplification, and furthermore, that’s literalist thinking.  If the Gnostics do anything, it’s reject literalist thinking. 

When the ancient Gnostics wrote about being from “some other place”, they were talking about pieces of themselves, what we’d call Aggregate Structures in the Esoteric Mysticism system.  So these pieces are part of greater, more complete and permanent pieces of the Cosmos, and we are made up of these aggregate structures.  But aggregate structures aren’t of this world; they’re of something more than this world and beyond this world.  Alien just means outsider, because we’re not of this world.  This world is an illusion.  So we nurture and foster these permanent structures because they will help us to return to the True Source, which is not of this world or this existence. 

So as a Gnostic I’m not recreating some science fiction story where I’m looking for my mothership to take me home beyond the stars.  I just recognize those greater pieces of me that are part of the Cosmos, and I can use those pieces to help me forge a greater bond to Deity, which is beyond this time and space.  By engaging in Gnosis, in knowing, I recognize that piece of me, and I know how it relates back to the Source.  I can begin to see past the illusions of this reality, and I KNOW.  Gnosis is a place beyond logic or thought or feeling.  It just is.  It’s certainty with every fiber of your being because Gnosis is every fiber of your being.

Sophia, or Wisdom, plays a great role in Gnostic teachings.  In some Gnostic myths (since there are so many of them because the Gnostics loved to write and re-write and re-write myths) Sophia is a piece of the Monad, the oneness that is the Cosmos and all things and no things.  But she messed up a little and creates the Demi-urge, the little maker.  The Demiurge doesn’t know it’s connected to the Oneness (like many of us do not know we are connected to the Oneness) so he creates this world, but it’s a shitty world.  So Sophia feels bad and she tries to help the Demiurge’s creations, who would be Adam and Eve.  She helps them by putting a piece of herself in them, a powerful and permanent aggregate structure that is a piece of Wisdom.  This piece that is within us all is closer to the Oneness than Sophia’s own flawed creation, the Demiurge, who is the creator in some myths (such as the Christian creation story.) 

So what is Wisdom?  Wisdom is Sophia realizing she made a mistake and having the grace to try to fix it the best she can.  Wisdom is thoughtful compassion which guides action. 

And knowledge is just the fact that I read all of this stuff in lots of books over the years, that I can regurgitate it to you in a blog post.  Knowledge of these mysteries prepared me for them, but it took a long time for me to have the Wisdom to understand, and even longer for the Gnosis to settle itself permanently into my being.  I’m not just some flawed creation.  I am a being of light and Wisdom, connected to the Cosmos.  I am a Gnostic. 

If you’re interested in reading more, I’ve written a lot about Gnosis and the Gnostics over the years.  You can find more about these topics at the following links:

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