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The Gnostics and Their Remains

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Demiurge
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δημιουργός (dēmiourgós, latinized demiurgus δήμιος


« Reply #180 on: March 13, 2009, 03:13:05 pm »

above bear the unmistakable stamp of the age when the old, liberal, mythology of the West, which had pictured Heaven as a well-ordered monarchy peopled by innumerable deities, each one having his own proper and undisputed position therein, was fast giving place to the gloomy superstitions of Syria, which made the tutelary divinity of each nation or sect the sole god of Heaven, condemning those of all other races as mere deceivers and evil spirits.

There are, however, many gems, fine both as to material and workmanship, which give us, besides Serapis, the primitive Egyptian gods exactly as they appear in the most ancient monuments, but engraved in the unmistakable style of Roman art. Most of these are to be referred to the efforts of Hadrian to resuscitate the forms of that old religion whose life had long before passed away in this equally with the grander department of sculpture. Under his zealous patronage, the religion of the Pharaohs blazed up for a moment with a brilliant but factitious lustre, a phenomenon often observed to precede the extinction of a long established system. * To this period belongs a beautiful sard of my own, which represents Serapis enthroned exactly as Macrobius describes him, whilst in front stands Isis, holding in one hand the sistrum, in the other a wheatsheaf, with the legend, ΗΚΥΡΙΑΙCΙC ΑΓΝΗ. † "Immaculate is our Lady Isis!" This address is couched in the exact words applied later to the personage who succeeded to the form, titles, symbols and ceremonies of Isis with even less variation than marked the other interchange alluded to above. The "Black Virgins" so highly venerated in certain French Cathedrals during the long night of the Middle Ages, proved when at last examined by antiquarian eyes to be basalt statues of the Egyptian goddess, which having merely changed the name, continued to receive more than pristine adoration. Her devotees carried into the new priesthood the ancient badges of their profession; "the obligation to celibacy," the tonsure, the



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« Reply #181 on: March 13, 2009, 03:13:15 pm »

bell, and the surplice--omitting unfortunately the frequent and complete ablutions enjoined by the older ritual. The holy image still moves in procession as when Juvenal laughed at it (vi. 530), "Escorted by the tonsured, surpliced, train." Even her proper title "Domina," exact translation of the Sanscrit Isi, survives with slight change, in the modern "Madonna" (Mater-Domina). By a singular permutation of meaning the flower borne in the hand of each, the lotus, former symbol of perfection (because in leaf, flower, fruit, it gave the figure of the Circle, as Jamblichus explains it), and therefore of fecundity, is now interpreted as signifying the opposite to the last--virginity itself. The tinkling sistrum, so well pleasing to Egyptian ears, has unluckily found a substitute in that most hideous of all noise-makers, the clangorous bell. But this latter instrument came directly from the Buddhistic ritual in which it forms as essential a part of the religion as it did in Celtic Christianity, where the Holy Bell was the actual object of worship to the new converts. The hell in its present form was unknown to the Greeks and Romans; its normal shape is Indian, and the first true bell-founders were the Buddhist Chinese. Again relic-worship became, after the third century, the chief form of Christianity throughout the world; which finds its parallel in the fact that a fragment of a bone of a Buddha (that is, holy man in whom the deity had dwelt during his life) is actually indispensable for the consecration of a dagobah, or temple of that religion; equally as a similar particle of saintliness is a sine quâ non for the setting-up of a Roman-Catholic altar.

Very curious and interesting would it be to pursue the subject, and trace how much of Egyptian, and second-hand Indian, symbolism has passed over into the possession of a church that would be beyond measure indignant at any reclamation on the part of the rightful owners. The high cap and hooked staff of the Pharaonic god become the mitre and crosier of the bishop; the very term, Nun, is Coptic, and with its present meaning: the erected oval symbol of productive Nature, christened into the Vesica piscis, becomes the proper framework for pictures of the Divinity: the Crux ansata, that very expressive emblem of the union of the Male and Female

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« Reply #182 on: March 13, 2009, 03:13:25 pm »

Principles, whence comes all Life, and therefore placed as the symbol of Life in the hands of gods, now, by simple inversion, chances into the orb and cross, the recognised distinction of sovereignty.

But to give a last glance at Serapis and his attributes: his bust on gems is often accompanied by a figure resembling a short truncheon from the top of which spring three leaves, or spikes. Can it be some plant sacred to the god, or else some instrument of power?--certain it is that Iva, Assyrian god of Thunder, carries in his hand a fulmen of somewhat similar form in the Ninivitish. sculptures. A dwarf column, supporting a globe, a corded bale, the letter Μ, * are all frequently to be seen in the same companionship. Another symbol is of such mighty import in the domains of the Lord of Souls, that its discussion may fairly claim to itself the space of the following section.

 

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« Reply #183 on: March 13, 2009, 03:13:37 pm »

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« Reply #184 on: March 13, 2009, 03:13:53 pm »

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Footnotes
173:* Shering, in his 'Benares,' observes that the Hindoos are now building and restoring temples everywhere with greater zeal and cost than at any time since the final overthrow of Buddhism; and yet the religion itself is utterly worn out.

173:† In inscriptions of this period the long Ι is usually written ΕΙ.

175:* Perhaps the Greek numeral = 40, which was the number sacred to the Assyrian Hoa, god of Water. A conjecture, therefore, may be hazarded that these figures symbolise The Four Elements under the protection of the supreme Lord, Serapis.



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« Reply #185 on: November 22, 2009, 08:10:17 pm »

p. 176
THE CADUCEUS, AND ITS SYMBOLISM.

Macrobius seems to afford us some clue for solving this enigma by his remarks upon the true universality of the sun-worship under different names (Sat. i. 19). "That under the form of Mercury the Sun is really worshipped is evident also from the Caduceus which the Egyptians have fashioned in the shape of two dragons (asps), male and female joined together, and consecrated to Mercury. These serpents in the middle parts of their volume are tied together in the knot called the 'Knot of Hercules;' whilst their upper parts bending backwards in a circle, by pressing their mouths together as if kissing complete the circumference of the circle; and their tails are carried back to touch the staff of the Caduceus; and adorn the latter with wings springing out of the same part of the staff. The meaning of the Caduceus with reference to the nativity of man, technically termed his genesis (or horoscope), is thus explained by the Egyptians: they teach that four deities preside
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« Reply #186 on: November 22, 2009, 08:10:50 pm »

and attend at man's birth--the Daimon (his genius), Fortune, Love, and Necessity. By the two first of these they hold that the Sun and the Moon are meant; because the Sun, as the author of spirit, heat, and light, is the producer and guardian of human life, and therefore is esteemed the Daimon that is the god of the person born. The Moon is the Fortune, because she is the president over our bodies which are the sport of a variety of accidents. Love is signified by the kissing of the serpents; Necessity, by the knot in which they are tied. The reason for adding the wings has been fully discussed above. For a symbol of this nature the convolution of the serpents has been selected in preference to anything else, because of the flexuosity of the course of both these luminaries. From this cause it comes, that the serpent is attached to the figures both of Aesculapius and of Hygiea, because these deities are explained as expressing the nature of the Sun and the Moon. For Aesculapius is the health-giving influence proceeding out of the substance of the

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« Reply #187 on: November 22, 2009, 08:11:23 pm »

Sun, that benefits the souls and bodies of mortals. * Hygieia again is the influence of the nature of the Moon, by which the bodies of things animated are holpen, being strengthened by her health-giving sway. For this reason, therefore, the figure of the serpent is attached to the statues of both deities, because they bring it about that our bodies strip off, as it were, the slough of their maladies, and are restored to their pristine vigour, just as serpents renew their youth every year, by casting off the slough of old age. And the figure of the serpent is explained as an emblem of the Sun himself for the reason that the Sun is perpetually returning out of, as it were, the old age of his lowest setting, up to his full meridian height as if to the vigour of youth. Moreover, that the dragon is one of the chiefest emblems of the Sun, is manifest from the derivation of the name, it being so called from δέρκειν, 'to see.' For they teach that this serpent, by his extremely acute and never-sleeping sight, typifies the nature of the luminary; and on this account the guardianship of temples, shrines, oracles, and treasures is assigned to dragons. That Aesculapius is the same with Apollo is further proved by this fact, not merely that he is reputed the son of the latter, but because he also is invested with the privilege of divination. For Apollodorus, in his Treatise on Theology, lays down that Aesculapius presides over augury and oracles. And no wonder; seeing that the sciences of medicine and of divination are cognate sciences: for medicine predicts the changes for good or ill about to succeed in the human body. As Hippocrates hath it, the physician should be competent to predicate of his patient 'both his present, his past and future condition,' which is the same thing as divination which foreknows, as Homer says,
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« Reply #188 on: November 22, 2009, 08:11:46 pm »

'The things that be, that shall be, and that were.'"

It has been already stated how, in the Mithraic worship, the image, surrounded from foot to head by the spiral convolutions of the serpent, had become the established emblem of the deity himself. The incidental remark in the above citation, that the

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« Reply #189 on: November 22, 2009, 08:12:10 pm »

flexuous motion of the reptile represented to the Egyptians, the annual course of the sun, affords the sufficient reason why his image should be thus encircled by so significant an attribute. Taking therefore into account the fact that the disputed symbol we are considering was by its nature primarily confined to talismans designed for medical agents, there is at once sufficient reason to suppose it connected with the worship of Aesculapius; and secondly, as it always appears in such cases in company with the Agathodæmon, the undoubted emblem of the Solar god, it may be inferred to be either a symbol or a hieroglyphical representation in little of the same type. In other words, the figure signifies nothing more than a serpent-entwined wand, and its sense only contains an allusion to the principal visible manifestation of the nature of the Sun. But this point must he left for fuller examination in its connexion with the hitherto unexplained Sigil which invariably makes its appearance on the reverse of the Chnuphis talismans, and which therefore must have been regarded as an essential element in their potency.
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δημιουργός (dēmiourgós, latinized demiurgus δήμιος


« Reply #190 on: November 22, 2009, 08:13:08 pm »



Footnotes

177:* Or in modern scientific phrase, Aesculapius is but another name for electricity.

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« Reply #191 on: November 22, 2009, 08:15:21 pm »

p. 179
DEATH, AS DEPICTED IN ANCIENT ART.

The King of the Shades has formed the subject of the preceding investigation. The natural sequence of ideas requires us to consider by what visible form ancient imagination expressed the direct agency of his power, and represented to the eye the unwelcome apparition of the "Satelles Orci."

Mingling among the Cupids, whether sculptured or glyptic, and easy to be mistaken for one of the sportive group by the casual observer, comes the most popular antique embodiment of what to our notions is the most discordant of all ideas. He can only be distinguished from the God of Love by observing his pensive attitude; his action of extinguishing his torch either by striking the blazing end against the ground or by trampling it out with the foot; otherwise he leans upon it inverted, with folded wings, and arms and legs crossed in the attitude of profound repose. At other times he is divested of wings, to typify the end of all movement, and whilst he quenches his torch with one hand, he holds behind him with the other the large hoop, annus (which the Grecian Ενίαυτος carries before him), to signify that for his victim no more shall the year roll on.
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"And he is impious in his arrogance which is in him. For he said, 'I am God and there is no other God beside me,' for he is ignorant of his strength, the place from which he had come."- Yaltabaoth
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δημιουργός (dēmiourgós, latinized demiurgus δήμιος


« Reply #192 on: November 22, 2009, 08:15:39 pm »

To understand how so charming a type came to be appropriated to such a signification, it is necessary to cast off modern associations, and to recollect that to the ancient mind, arguing merely from the analogy of Nature, death presented itself as merely the necessary converse of birth, and consequently carried no terror in the thought--"nullique ea tristis imago," as Statius happily words it. For it implied nothing worse than the return to the state of unconsciousness, such as was before Being commenced; or, as Pliny clearly puts the case, "Unto all the state of being after the last day as the same as it was before the first day of life; neither is there any more sensation in

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« Reply #193 on: November 22, 2009, 08:16:03 pm »

either body or soul after death than there was before life." On this account the mere return, as Byron hath it--

"To be the nothing that I was,
 Ere born to life and living woe,"

inspired no fears beyond those springing from the natural instinct of self-preservation. Many carried this indifference to the opposite extreme--exemplified in the trite story of the Thracians lamenting on the occasion of a birth, and rejoicing on that of a death in the family. Pliny boldly declares that the greatest favour Nature has bestowed on man is the shortness of his span of life; whilst the later Platonists, as seen in that curious chapter of Macrobius, "On the descent of the Soul," termed the being born into this world "spiritual death," and dying, "spiritual birth." But after the ancient order of ideas had been totally revolutionised--when the death of the body came to be looked upon as the punishment of Original Sin, and as the infraction, not the fulfilment of a natural law--the notion necessarily assumed a more horrific aspect; which again was exaggerated to the utmost of their power by the new teachers, for it supplied them with the most potent of all engines for the subjugation of the human soul--"Æternas quoniam pœnas in morte timendum." The ancient type, therefore, which implied nothing but peace and unbroken repose, was therefore at once discarded, as totally inconsistent with the altered view of the reality. Add to this the fact that everything in the shape of Cupid had been forcibly enrolled amongst the Cherubim and Seraphim, and had thereby received a character yet more foreign to that of the newly-created King of Terrors.
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"And he is impious in his arrogance which is in him. For he said, 'I am God and there is no other God beside me,' for he is ignorant of his strength, the place from which he had come."- Yaltabaoth
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δημιουργός (dēmiourgós, latinized demiurgus δήμιος


« Reply #194 on: November 22, 2009, 08:16:23 pm »

Hence the Christians were driven to seek in the ancient iconology for a more fitting representation of the offspring and avenger of transgression--something that should be equally ghastly and terror-inspiring--and such a representative they found made to their hand in the former way of picturing a Larva, or bad man's ghost. This had always been depicted as a skeleton, and such a figure was recommended by old association to their minds in the times when (as Böttiger phrases it) "the Christians creeping forth out of their catacombs

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