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Earth Goddess A mythological figure universally recognized in indigenous cultures as well as in the Gnostic scenario of the Fallen Goddess.As far as I know the explicit identification of the Fallen Sophia with Gaia is unique to my presentation of Gnostic teachings in this site and elsewhere. The equation seems more than obvious, however. It is known on the testimony of Hippolytus, who wrote against Paganism, that all Mystery cults, despite their rich diversity, were universally dedicated to the worship of the Magna Mater, the Great Mother (W. W. King, Gnostics and Their Remains, p. 111). This is none other than the planetary Goddess whom we today call by the ancient Greek name for the Earth, Gaia.
Mater was the generic name for the planet we inhabit, considered by ancient
peoples of Europa to be a "mother goddess." In Gnostic cosmology,
the Aeon Sophia, a divinity from the Pleroma,
planet Earth. Hence the equation is complete: Magna Mater = Earth Goddess
Today, Navajo Indians in the deserts of the American Southwest still speak lovingly in their ancient stories of Changing Woman, one of the Holy People from the primordial era of world creation, who fashioned the first Navajo people from a mixture of cornmeal and shreds of her own epidermis. She is the very embodiment of life's orchestrated diversity and nature's awesome cyclic powers of rebirth and regeneration. In some sense, she is also a reflection of the wondrous, endlessly self-renewing, maternal earth itself, whose form traditional Navajo envision as a woman. Mountains and mesas are the contours of this feminine body, the geological expression of her heart, skull, breast, and internal organs. Fertile soil is her living flesh. Vegetation is her dress. The spinning of the seasons is a visible manifestation of her dynamic be4auty, ecological balance, and vitality. (Suzuki and Knudtsen, Wisdom of the Elders, p. 3)
This beautiful passage is one of dozens that could be cited in support of the belief that the physical Earth is the embodiment of a feminine divinity. This belief is basic to the extension of Deep Ecology under development in Metahistory.org. It is also basic to the Gnostic and Pagan spirituality of Europe, a vast body of ethnic traditions that were exterminated with the rise of Judeo-Christian-Islamic religion.
If my thesis that Gnosis was a sophisticated form of Goddess-based shamanism has any truth in it, Gnostics could not possibly have been nature-haters who rejected the sensory world and detested their own bodies, as is so often claimed. At least one scholar confirms my view, albeit obliquely:
- Luther H. Martin, Hellenistic Religions, p. 134
Translated into plain English this means that initiates in the Mystery Schools, where Gnostics held faculty positions, took the Earth Goddess for their savior and therefore took a positive view of the natural world. Although he asserts the positive view of the Mysteries, Martin says that "a gnostic alternative radically revalued this world as something to be rejected completely and transcended." (Ibid, p. 134) Here he parrots the usual negative hype on Gnosticism, and he is not the only one. Erik Davis, in his otherwise brilliant book TechGnosis, also mindlessly and uncritically repeats the usual negative rap on Gnosticism. It seems that this habit will die hard, if it ever does....
I would argue that the essence of the Mystery religions was a Gnostic vision that embraced the natural world but rejected the misconceived views we impose on it.
The "deficiency" (Greek kenoma) of the Goddess Sophia was a handicap due to her separation from the Pleroma, the galactic core, but it was also the occasion for coevolution between Sophia and humanity. The initiates were called telestai (singular telestes) in recognition of their specialist knowledge of the ultimate goal (telos) of human existence: coevolution in service to Gaia-Sophia. Gnosticism was a religious path of experimentation based on directives for coevolution, rather than on dogmas or doctrinal propositions. The directives came from the seers who communed with Sacred Nature in non-ordinary states of reality. (See also below: entheogenic theory of religion.)
Religion can be a complicated business, especially when we get into doctrinal formulations of unverifiable propositions such as virgin birth, resurrection, and the "end of days." However, there is a clear-cut choice of belief between the remote Father God, exclusive of all other divinities, and the Earth Goddess whose presence allows for a plethora of other spirits and deities. I maintain that the most compelling "proof" (if proof is what one needs) of the veracity of believing in the Earth Goddess versus the Sky God Father, is what could be called proof by ethics. Look at the rules for living prescribed for the Sky Father God and transmitted to humanity via his male emissaries (Moses, Jesus, Mohammed), then consider what kind of rules of living (ethical code) could be based on recognition of the Earth Goddess as both a source of physical life and a transcendent link to the Sky Gods of the Pleroma. The choice of beliefs here comes down to a choice between ecological ethics, exemplified in the earth-based morality of indigenous peoples and the Sophianic ethics of Gnosticism, contrasted to the "revealed" moral code of the Sky Father God.
We behave as we behold.
egodeath The experience of momentary dissolution of the personal ego, or fixed and familiar sense of identity, typically undergone in shamanic initiations and trance states induced by meditation, Tantric sex, ecstatic dance, and ingestion of psychoactive plants—or a combination of all the above, if you're up for it.
The joy and the terror of every psychonaut is to die before dying, to undergo the dissolution of personal identity in an altered state. The sensation of egodeath may be so intense as to verge on a sense of actually, physically dying. As the ego melts away, demonic apparitions arise. (Cremation ground guardian. Linrothe and Watt, Demonic Divine, Cat. no. 12, detail.)
What are we to make of the ferocious entities (better said, apparitions) that appear to the person whose ego is dissolving? Here is where belief plays a decisive role in shamanic visionary experience. The apparitions respond to what the psychonaut believes, but they may do so either by conforming to the beliefs held by the experiencer, or by shattering them. If, for instance, the person undergoing egodeath believes that the demonic entities perceived are capable of killing him or her, they may do so. The result would be a self-induced death, but this rarely occurs because the protective demons are benevolent and would not be inclined to force the issue in this way.
Those not prepared to undergo egodeath will be scared away from it, and so the experience itself is protected from interlopers and irresponsible trippers.
In The Psychedelic Experience, three Harvard professors (Richard Alpert, Timothy Leary, Ralph Metzner) made a brilliant analogy between egodeath and physical death. They do this by paraphrasing the Tibetan Book of the Dead, a manual to be read to the dying person, or the deceased, to assist them in passing through the bardos (transit-zones) of the afterdeath state. Having experimented clinically with LSD, and taken it themselves, they were aware that the start of the "acid trip" usually involves a distinct sense of mortality. As LSD comes on, the subject begins to think that he or she is going to die. The three shamans from academia realized that the physical death-experience described by stages in the Tibetan manuals also applied to egodeath under the influence of LSD. They wrote The Psychedelic Experience as a guide to dissolution of the ego.
Transegoic instruction is subliminal. The plant-teachers lower the threshold of resistence to the streaming of "information" through the sense-organs. In his spontaneous experience of "cosmic consciousness," German mystic Jacob Boehme described how he was able to" read the signature of all things." (For a discussion of this incident, see visionary trance.)
endowed culture or endowment culture Term
suggested by French anthropologist Roger Caillois [1913 78] for
cultures that view themselves as originating from a primordial ancestor
or god who endows them with special knowledge. (The act of endowment
by a superhuman being may be called servation.) Contrast to mandate culture.
entheogen Term proposed for psychoactive plants and fungi used in shamanic practices going back into prehistory. Literally, "generating the divine within." "No genuine entheogen is, as far as I know, addictive under any circumstances. All entheogens inspire awe and reverence and possess power for good." (R. Gordon Wasson, Persephone's Quest, p. 30)
Entheogenic theory of religion The theory that the true basis of religious experience (though not of religious doctrines and institutions) is ecstatic rapport with nature, achieved by the ritual ingestion of sacred plants. Practically identical to the Wasson Thesis.
Jesus depicted as lord of Magical Plants.
Psychopharmacologist Jonathan Ott, who along with Wasson and others coined the term entheogen in 1979, signals an "Entheogenic Reformation" that might correct and cure the spiritual ills of humanity. He defines it in these terms:
This is a narrow definition of the modern resurgence of entheogenic religion, because it designates the movement by particular cultic activity rather than by the zeitgeist. In a broader sense, Ott's 'Reformation' can be identified as the continuation of the underground drug culture that exploded in the "Psychedelic Revolution" of the Sixties. Another aspect of this movement is the "Archaic Revival" (a term introduced by Terence McKenna), including shamanic experimentation such as ahayuasca tourism, ecopsychology, and the sacramentalism proposed in this site, consistent with the Gaia-Sophia Principle and the visionary message of the Gaia Mythos.
Europa Suggested name for pre-Christian
Europe. The adjective would be “Europan.” Pan-Europan applies for the entire
area stretching from the Levant to the Outer Hebrides of Scotland and down
to the tip of the Iberian peninsula. Europa encompasses the region of Europe
from the Orkneys and Hebrides to the Mediterranean coast of Africa, eastward
to the borders of Asia Minor and northeastward toward the Ural Mountains.
Its heartland was the “Old Europe” of Marija Gimbutas, namely the Balkans
and regions of Eastern and southeastern Europe. “Pan-Europan” refers to
rites and traditions common to this entire region.
In Greek myth Europa
was a Phoenician princess seduced by Zeus in the form of a white bull.
He took her on his back and swam off to the island of Crete where she
bore him three sons who became the heads of royal dynasties. Europe today
very litle of ancient Europa, yet the ruins of the old Pagan civilization
are still to be seen in every nation-state of the "European Community." Gary
Snyder remarks that "the possibility of passage ito myth-time has
been all but forgotten in Europe." (The Practice of the Wild, p.
15) I couldn't agree more. Eruope has completely rotted out, down to
core and even into the mythological pit. I reckon it is worth the trouble
to distinguish the Europe of nation-states today from Europa. The Mysteries
were Europan, and certainly not European.
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