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Terence McKenna (1949 - 2000) was a brilliant exponent of the use of psychoactive plants for the purposes of expanding human consciousness and encountering the Sacred. His views on the historical role of profane plants such as sugar and tobacco .. the adiction and enslavement of civilization.
The McKenna thesis has two aspects that distinguish it from Wasson: first, the claim that ingestion of psychedelic mushrooms in prehistory caused or at least augments the growth of the forebrain circuits of homo sapiens, and second, that some species of mushrooms such as Stropharia cubensis are emissaries from elsewhere in the universe. On the first point, McKenna went one step further than Wasson, who claimed that experimentation with psychoactive plants was the origin of religious experience, but not of higher consciousness itself, as McKenna argued. On the second point, McKenna took an even greater step. He proposed that mushroom spores can circulate freely through interstellar space, seeding various worlds with trans-galactic intelligence. The 'humble mushroom teacher to the million worlds" carries the essence of experience of many species and weaves countless life-threads into a vast tapestry of living intelligence. In short, McKenna saw in the "starseed" mushrooms a kind of unitive Logos, a transcendent species capable of overseeing and integrating the vast and varied realms of experience known to the creatures in those worlds.
The Mesotes might be defined as the internal auto-pilot function evident in many species, and not unique to humanity: the difference being that with other species the navigational instinct operates automatically, but with human beings, it has to be consciously engaged. Hence the term mijotes, "half-united," because we of the human species are only half-united with our guiding instincts. In this sense, we are less evolved that other species, like owls, bees, eagles and whales, who function infallibly from their internal instincts. On the other hand, due to the unusual "slack" in our psychic steering mechanism, we have the opportunity to develop as self-guiding individuals, each conscious of his or her own lifepath — whereas other animals, even when they develop a high degree of individuality, remain always closely bound to the generic program of their species.
The Inner Guide
The function of the "inner guide" was called "the living Jesus" in Mystery School teachings. The code found in the NHC, IS etone, indicates Iasius etone, "the ever-living healer." Even if IS is decoded as the name "Jesus," it must be allowed that Gnostics and initiates in the Mysteries did not regard the historical Jesus, or any historical person, as the ever-living healer and inner guide. The Coptic word etone denotes living in a manner that transcends a discrete, incarnated person. The ever-living or ever-lasting guide cannot be identified with an historical person who lives and dies within finite limits.
The Mesotes has been
widely recognized in religious teachings, mysticism, and modern
psychology, and it may be loosely equated with
function" in the individuation process of C. G. Jung.
In New Age terms the Mesotes is widely recognized as the "inner
guide." In New Age Christological terms, it is called the "Etheric
people in many cultures through the ages have encountered the inner
guide, but unfortunately, due to the massive impact of Catholic and
Christian indoctrination, witnesses tend to identify that mystical
entity with the figure of the historical Jesus, and, in turn, with
the superhuman Christ of Pauline and Johannine theology. This association
is totally misleading.
Imagine that you are given a compass to guide you on a journey through unknown territory. The needle of the compass is aligned to the magnetic field of the Earth, hence it provides you with a constant global or cosmic orientation. On the face of the compass are directions such as N, SWS, SE, which assist you in knowing where you are going and in holding a steady course. Now imagine that upon receiving this marvellous tool for self-guidance, you paint over the directions on the face with various private symbols that are dear to you, or with symbols you have inherited from others, believing they have a deep religious significance. You end up with a compass embellished with extraneous markings. At the N position, for instance, you write "GOD" or you inscribe some religious symbol. Soon you forget the purpose of the needle, you lose the global alignment. The compass no longer reads the territory where you are actually walking, it refers to an invisible realm, elsewhere, non-physical, out of this world. All that matters now is that at certain moments the needle points to the cherished symbols into which you read deep meaning. Thus although you have in your hand a device that allows you to hold a steady course, and map your own journey in real territory, you wander in all directions guided by the meaning that you attach to the extraneous markings on the face of the compass.
This is an analogy to what people commonly do with the Mesotes experience. In
ancient times this did not occur because tribal people around the world
were not subjected to a transmundane, earth-rejecting indoctrination that
conditioned them to see the inner guide as a single, unique,
historical figure. Hence, native people had vague names for the Mesotes,
names such as Manitou, Manu, Maniboozoo, and others beginning with the
root man-; or simply, the "Great Spirit." (The root man- does
not indicate man or manhood, but specifically alludes to the inner voice
of thinking, the mantrum that directs human thinking.) The Algonquin term,
Manitou, means just that: the Great Spirit. It was understood
presence who could not be pinned down or readily understood. In the vision
quest of Native Americans, each candidate was expected to meet the Manitou
at a certain moment, to gain guidance for living. What came out of this
a spontaneous development, a mystery to be explored and unfolded through
every day of one's life, never a doctrinal or conclusive statement.
According to the Sophia Myth of the Gnostics, at a certain moment when the Aeon Sophia was transforming into the earth, the Aeon Christos intervened to help Her put things in order. For the background of this event, we must look into the Gnostic creation myth which describes a company of gods, called Aeons, who inhabit the center of our galaxy, called the Pleroma. Abiding within the Pleroma, and without exceeding its bounding membrane, the Aeons project and emanate into the outer regions of the galaxy, the limbs or arms. Gnostics taught that one Aeon, Sophia, exceeded the cosmic boundary and became physically, dynamically enmeshed in a world emerging in the galactic limbs. This is the unique story of the goddess Sophia, the "Fallen Goddess scenario" described in the Gaia Mythos on this site.
Most of the direct textual evidence of the Sophia Mythos has been destroyed, so it has to be pieced together. Paraphrases of Gnostic teachings by the Church Fathers preserve key elements of the myth. For instance, Irenaeus says that the Aeon Christos, descending from the Pleroma, "imparted a figure" to the vast matrix of species gestating in the newborn earth.(Ireneaus, Against Heresies, Book One, Ch. IV.1) Sophia, as she metamorphosed into the planet Earth, was not able to manage all the abundant life She was producing, and bring it into a coherent form, so Christos interceded to impart a self-guiding function to the myriad species, including humanity. This is called the Christos intercession, and it was a key teaching of the Mysteries. In effect, the Pleromic god configured ("imparted a figure") an essential function in the human psyche.
We call the psychic configuration effectuated by the Christos instinct. This is a function of the psyche, but it has the nature of an inner, living presence: IS etone, the living Jesus or everlasting Iasius, the healer-guide. The intercession of the Aeon Christos must not be mistaken for the incarnation of a God in human guise. Christos did not incarnate in an historical person. The intercession was a cosmic event that transpired long before historical time, probably in what geologists call the Ordivician Age, around 450 million years ago. The first evidence of the ordering that the Christos imparted to the manifold of Gaian species was the appearance of primitive fishes such as the Astrapsis. Hence, the association of the Aeon Christos with the symbol of the Fish.
The Mesotes is the "intermediary" because Christos produced it by serving as intermediary between the Pleroma and the emergent species in Gaia's womb. After this exceptional deed of intervention, in which the entire Pleroma was involved, Christos withdrew back to the cosmic center. However, the impact of the Pleromic intercession has enduring effects; in particular, it left a kind of afterimage in the terrestrial atmosphere. The afterimage of the Aeon Christos is what people encounter and erroneously identify as the Etheric Christ. But in fact, this identification is not entirely wrong, if that term is understood in the sense of Gnostic and Mystery School teachings, and not in the sense of Christian doctrine of the Incarnation.
One cannot be too rigorous about these distinctions. In the perspective of the Pagan Mysteries, which long predated Christianity, Christos is an Aeon of the Pleroma, one among a vast company of gods, not a unique god who becomes incarnated as the man Jesus. It might be assumed that the Christian doctrine of the Incarnation is a slurred or deliberately spun version of the Gnostic teaching on the intervention of Christos — that may be so, but the supposition is questionable, because it would imply a knowledge of Mystery teachings and a deliberate intent to pervert them. But early Christian ideologues, such as the Church Father Irenaeus, were not initiates. They did not have enough Mystery knowledge to know how to systematically pervert it...
In any case, we today can distinguish "the
the intrapsychic guiding function, from the man Jesus, variously alleged
to be the Messiah (for Jews) and the Incarnation (Christians).
also observe this distinction, insisting that they experience Jesus/Christ
as an indwelling presence, a soul guide, and dismissing
the doctrinal fixations
to Jesus as the historical instrument of God. Although it does
approximate to Gnostic teachings on the Mesotes, this modified view still
does not dissociate Jesus in a sufficient way from the Old and New Testaments,
the nature of the Mesotes can be rigorously and accurately discerned.
What is called here "the living word" is comparable to the
genetic code, or, to refer to the above analogy, the blackscreen
which computer programs are written. Once again, the cursor we see
does not write this code, but it allows us to use it, and it activates
so that preinstalled programs are set running. The Second
Treatise op the Great Seth describes
the intrapsychic guiding function as "harmony of life and faith" (66:
25). This striking line suggests that we have to live out the guiding
process experimentally, learning by trial and error, but also have
faith in how it works.
In the Gnostic sense, faith in
"the living Jesus" is faith in the cursor, in our human instincts,
not irrational belief in a salvific power that dwells within us, or
a transmundane realm.
Benard cells are among the most mysterious phenomenon of nature, and, so it seems, one of the most omnipresent. Also called Rayleigh-Benard cells and Marangoni-Benard convection sells, they form spontaneously in fluids and gells, always in hexagonal or honeycomb patterns.
Benard cells are lavishly featured on the Internet. Here is a good visual for an introduction.
In Turbulent Mirror, F. David Peat observes that "scientists
think the spherical shell of the atmosphere, possibly the whole atmosphere,
may be a sea of seething Benard cells." Well, there you have it.
As someone who has directly experienced the Mesotes on several occasions,
I can attest to the vivid physical impression of being immersed in
a gelatinous sea of gold-toned honeycomb cells. I am delighted to see
a confirmation of Mystery experience coming from modern complexity
Still, the question remains, Why is the Mesotes so frequently interpreted
after the fact as a Christ experience? Well, it is a Christos experience.
The cursor seems to assume human form, but not because the Aeon
Christos has human form or
human form — radical Gnostic teaching denies this. In keeping with
the selfless manifestation of the Aeons, Christos (regarded as a male-gendered
his effect to us through the Mesotes, and the effect thus imparted
our own image,
not his. Hence, many people encounter the divinity of the Christos
as a luminous
in human form. This is totally natural, and predictable, in terms of
Mystery esperience. When Carlos Castaneda met this phantom, he was
told by don Juan that it
is merely the “mold
The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Current English (1982) defines history as:
Metahistory is a path toward participation in a story that
leads beyond history, a mythos to guide the species.
moderate belief is
not open to question, but it is not imposed in a fanatical manner.
Spectator belief. Moderates stand by and watch the fanatics act
out their beliefs.
To understand life in Pagan times, it is useful to ask: How were people educated? The answer may be surprizing, because it closely links Pagan religion with secular education, a combination difficult for us to appreciate.Consider the Roman Empire in the times before the Christian Era, around 250 CE, for instance. The Empire stretched all across Europa and extended as well into the Mediterranean regions, including the Levant and North Africa. Ruins of the Greco-Roman era are found today in Libya, Italy, Turkey, the Balkans, Iberia, Ireland, and the British Isles as far north as the Orkney Islands. This vast array of archeological sites is evidence of the network of the Mystery cults. In each place where ruins are now found, regional cults flourished. At the same time, the infrastructure of the Mysteries was integral, common to all regions. Druids from Scotland could have conversed with Etruscan seers from Italy and Egyptian priests at Luxor, as well as with Indian Brahmins and Buddhist monks, known to have been present in Alexandria in the 3rd Century BCE. To those who carried out its program, the Mystery Experience was stated and sustained in universal terms.
Having grasped this picture, we can add another dimension to it. The seers and adepts of the Mysteries did not merely initiate, they also educated. Part of their mission was directed inward, focussed on maintaining the sacred rites and inducting new generations of mystes, but another part was directed outward to the secular world. In Fragments of A Faith Forgotten, G. R. S. Mead wrote:
The last sentence is particularly telling. It indicates that
in order to be the teachers of humanity, the initiates had to
be good pupils. To be qualified for the extraordinary mission
of guiding humanity, they had to be able to learn at genius level.
To some extend what they learned they kept within the inner circles,
sharing it exclusively with neophytes and fellow initiates. But
to a great extent they imparted what they learned to the outside
world. They set up educational guilds and developed an agenda
based on the ninefold principle of the Muses. All throughout
the classical world they taught arts and crafts. They wrote prolifically,
and by the Christian era libraries existed in all the cult centers.
Some of the larger libraries, such as that of Biblos in Lebanon
and Alexandria in Egypt, held hundreds of thousands of texts.
Almost all this literature was destroyed during the rise of Christianity,
and later, the rise of Islam.
Knowing little or nothing of the situation in ancient Europa, modern people tend to assume that there could not have been much real education in antiquity. Nothing could be further from the truth. According to Gilbert Highet,
If it is really true that the world of Pagan antiquity was educated and cultivated to a high degree and a wise extent, we must wonder, Who were the educators? Scholars of religion who pronounce on the Mysteries do not consider this question because the problem of education in antiquity does not fall into their sandbox. Consequently it never occurs to them to associate the Mystery Schools with education.
The extraordinary nexus between education and spirituality in antiquity might be understood by comparison to the monastic system of the European Middle Ages. It is well known that a network of monasteries existed across Europe, and the purpose of the network was twofold: to induct and train monks for the service of the Church, and to preserve manuscripts. Through the Dark Ages, books were preserved in the scriptoria of the monasteries and the monks themselves sometimes assumed the role of educators in the secular zone, although in a limited way. All in all, monastically centered education was a paltry affair compared to the grand scale of education in the Mystery Schools. And monastic literacy was largely confined to dogmatic and doctrinal texts, a far cry from the eclecticism of Pagan learning. Finally, the monastic system was men-only club, an extension of the patriarchal dominator program run by the Catholic Church. The Mysteries, by contrast, were completely egalitarian. Both sexes were initiated and both men and women taught in the guilds and schools associated with the regional cults. In fact, the last of the known Mystery School teachers was a woman, Hypatia of Alexandria, whose murder by Christian fanatics in 415 CD is often taken to mark the onset of the Dark Ages.
So much for the educational aspect of the Mysteries. As for the initiatory dimension itself, I propose another entry:
The Mystery Experience My proposed term for what the initiates of the Mysteries actually underwent in the process of initiation, including the specific method used to attain illumination, the results or effects of this sublime experience, and, last but not least, the aim or purpose to which initiates were consecrated by the high privilege of participation in the ancient rites.
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