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mandate culture Term suggested by French anthropologist Robert Caillois for “high cultures” of the past in which a supreme authority in invested in a male-dominated theocracy on the claim that the ruling parties are empowered by male sky-gods. Examples are the Ah Kin, “Sun Priests” of the Maya, the Emperors of Japan and the Shahs of Persia, the Pharaohs of Egypt. In every case, the theocrat is believed to hold a mandate, a sovereign right to rule, given by a supreme, superhuman entity. Mandate culture notion survived in Europe in the notion of “divine right of kings.” Contrast with endowed culture.

McKenna thesis Variation and extension of the Wasson thesis on the origins of religion through the use of psychoactive plants including fungi ( mushrooms).

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.

In development...

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Mesotes Literally, "medium, intermediary." Also spelled "mijotes," meaning "half-united." A strange term found only a couple of times in the Gnostic materials, NHC and elsewhere, referring to the intrapsychic capacity of humans being to follow their hearts and find their way in life by reliance on interior guidance.

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 Mesotes is the innate capacity that enables us to direct our personal lives toward goals that transcend mere personal limits. As such, it is closely connected with the heart-felt intuition that humanity lives in kinship with all species. It is through the inter-species link, at least in part, that we as individuals realize our true path in life. In other words, the inner guiding function allows us to realize a transpersonal focus, but obliges us to develop it within a cross-species or inter-species perspective.

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 the "transcendent 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 Christ." Many 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.

Also, most modern interpretations of the inner guiding presence assume that it directs people toward personal fulfillment, rather than towards transpersonal aims. There is a strong narcissistic slant here, typical of the self-concern of the Piscean Age. Jesus, the primary mythological figure of the Age, is identified with the inner presence and regarded as an indwelling spiritual entity who personally guides and protects each individual. The Mesotes is nothing like this. The essential guiding function of the Mesotes becomes hopelessly deviated when such doctrinal concepts and narcissistic expectations are projected upon it. Consider this analogy:

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 as a mysterious 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 encounter was always a spontaneous development, a mystery to be explored and unfolded through every day of one's life, never a doctrinal or conclusive statement.

The Christos Intercession

Mystery teachings describe in mythical language the moment when the Mesotes was "installed" in the human psyche, but it is impossible to understand this event without making a rigorous distinction between the Gnostic Christos and "the Christ," the divine savior of Christian doctrine.

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 living Jesus," the intrapsychic guiding function, from the man Jesus, variously alleged to be the Messiah (for Jews) and the Incarnation (Christians). Some modern-day Christians also observe this distinction, insisting that they experience Jesus/Christ as an indwelling presence, a soul guide, and dismissing the doctrinal fixations attached 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, so that the nature of the Mesotes can be rigorously and accurately discerned.

The Cursor

For Gnostics, as well as for some modern-day mystics who have encountered the Etheric Christ, the Mesotes is clearly a function and not an entity — or one could say, it is function that looks and acts like an entity! Much depends on how we understand this mysterious factor. Perhaps language borrowed from the realm of computer sciences can describe the Mesotes in a way that helps set it apart from association with the historical and doctrinal Jesus.

By way of analogy to computer operations, I propose to call the Mesotes "the cursor." The cursor on the computer screen has no content or intelligence of its own, yet it functions as a master mechanism in two ways: it leads and locates text, and calls up specific applications. This is exactly how "the living Jesus" functions intrapsychically, yet nothing it does can be attributed to an indwelling entity as such. Imagine if I were to suppose that the cursor that leads and locates each line of text I write here were writing the text, or providing me with the ideas to be expressed in the text. The cursor does nothing of the sort. It is merely a dynamic index. It is void of content. It merely enables me to organize and express what I myself contain, internally.

When I point the cursor to an icon or item on a pull-down menu, and click, it gives me an application, a program to run, yet it is not the cursor itself that runs the application or supports the program. The application is "installed," and the cursor merely accesses it. Additional to acting as a dynamic index for writing text or calculating, the cursor functions as an accessing device. Here the analogy has to be slightly adjusted, because Gnostic cosmology states that the Aeon Christos deliberately configured some aspects of terrestrial species intelligence. The myth describes how Christos made order among the installations (instincts), although Christos does not run the installations: they run all by themselves. Similarly, the installations I access by the cursor on my computer screen were designed and installed by technicians, a team of code-writers, but I do not require the presence of the team or any member of it to run the programs. Likewise, I do not require the presence of the Aeon Christos, here on Earth in human form or even in psychic form, to access the Mesotes — yet I sense the Mesotes as an inner presence! Once the installations have been installed by Christos, the Mesotes persists in my own capacity for accessing and activating them. It acts exactly like a cursor.

What are these automatic installations in the human psyche? These are human instincts, including love. The Second Treatise of the Great Seth declares:

    Before the foundation of the world, when the company of Aeons focussed in the Eight [where Sophia resides, outside the Pleroma], and when they had conferred on how to unite with Her, the answer was perfected in the ineffable realms by a living word, so that the impeccable uniting could be consummated by the Mesotes of Jesus, who inhabits them all [living species], and possesses them all, and who abides in the undivided power of love. (65:30 - 66:10)

What is called here "the living word" is comparable to the genetic code, or, to refer to the above analogy, the blackscreen code in 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 the code 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 works upon us from a transmundane realm.

Recognition of the inner teacher does not oblige anyone to enter institutional religion, adopt religious doctrines, admit the uniqueness and superiority of the historical Jesus as the Incarnation, or embrace the message of the Gospels. For the initiates of the Mysteries, the operations of the Mesotes were both rational and super-rational, not beyond rationality but in a higher octave or extension of it. When our instincts kick in, we can operate on a level of rationality superior to ordinary reason. The Mesotes "agreed with Nous [divine intelligence, the basis of our reasoning powers], which extends and always will extend into joyous unity, trustworthy, faithful in listening. .. It is rational wisdom, [the] spirit of truth in every mind." (66: 30 - 67:5)

Turbulent Mirror

[Note added July 17, 2005] As noted above, in the Mesotes we encounter a kind of afterimage, such as we see when we look into a bright light and then turn away. Significantly, such the after-image appears whether our eyes are open or closed. Likewise, it is impossible to say if the Mesotes afterimage is within the psyche or outside it. There is some ground, however, for assuming that the Mesotes is the after-image of the Aeon Christos persisting in the biosphere. To describe it dynamically, this afterimage would appear to be a bioatmospheric cluster of Benard cells. This would account for the widely reported impression of a many-facted jewel or honeycomb associated with the Etheric Christ.

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 theory.

The "ever-living Iasius” is an afterimage in the biosphere, and not just a passive register. Try to imagine that you gaze at an object in bright light — say, an apple tree bare of branches, etched against the pellucid winter sky. Turning away, you see the perfect afterimage of the tree, whether your eyes are open or closed. Now imagine that the afterimage grows like a living tree. It buds, flower, fruits, dies back and does it all again. The afterimage is as alive as the original object. Just so, the Mesotes is alive in the biosphere, externally, although it is most often perceived as an intra-psychic phantom. Gnostics who encountered this phenomenon in mystic trance were able to connect it consciously with the Christos intercession in nature, and hence comprehend its origin. With trained spiritual insight, they were able to determine its operation in human terms, and its inherent psychological dynamics. We today can do the same.

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 ever assumed human form — radical Gnostic teaching denies this. In keeping with the selfless manifestation of the Aeons, Christos (regarded as a male-gendered Aeon in Gnostic myth) perpetually imparts his effect to us through the Mesotes, and the effect thus imparted arises in our own image, not his. Hence, many people encounter the divinity of the Christos as a luminous phantom 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 of man.”

We see ourselves in the turbulent mirror of the Benard cells, and so the Mesotes, assumed to be a human form because it mirrors us to ourselves, is also assumed to be the supreme human entity, the Christ — if that is what you are predisposed to believe.

For my part, I would prefer the response of don Juan who playfully chides his apprentice Castaneda for his inveterate narcissism.

metacritique The process of looking into the dynamic of believing, rather than merely debating beliefs. Roughly comparable to being flayed alive.

metahistory Proposed term for a story that serves as a guiding narrative for human potential, rather than an interpreted account of events.

We have all kinds of histories. presenting various versions of events that happened in the past, and interpreting those events, but we do not as yet have a metastory for the human species. History is a record of the past, hence it looks backward, but the metastory of human experience is the overarching view of past, present, and future.

The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Current English (1982) defines history as:

    n. continuous methodical record of important or public events; study of past events, esp. human affairs; aggregate of past events, course of human affairs; whole train of events connected with nation, person, thing, etc.; eventful past careeer (this knife has a history); systematic account of natural phenomena, etc. (Natural history); historical play; ancient history; case history [Me, f. L. f. Gk historia finding out, narrative. history (histor learned, wise man, cong. w. wit.)]

What's most needed in this definition is what it leaves out: how we participate in the histories we make.

Metahistory is a path toward participation in a story that leads beyond history, a mythos to guide the species.

As suggested in Sharing the Gaia Mythos, the purpose of humanity in Gaia's life-process may rest on our capacity to remember Her Story.

Mircea Eliade has explained that overcoming time - that is, going beyond the conditioning effects of the history that unfolds in linear time - depends on remembering what happened in the mythical beginning. The origin of our world "must not only be known, it must be continually recollected." In this sense, memory is superior to knowledge. "Knowledge of the origin and the exemplary history of things confers a sort of magical mastery over them. "In the archaic and paleo-Oriental cultures the reiteration of the cosmic myth had as its purpose abolishing past Time and beginning a new life with all vital forces intact." (Myth and Reality, p. 88 ff.)

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.

We constantly hear that moderate Muslims condemn the terrorist attacks of fundamentalists who cite the Koran as the authority for their actions, as if taking this stand absolves the moderates of being implicated in those actions. But the mere fact of sharing the same beliefs involves moderates in the action of fanatics. Moderates may protest fanatical enactment of beliefs, but what do they do about it, actually?

Moral Design is one of the five master themes of metahistory.

Moral design is the imperative for acting truthfully in the situations posed by complex historical developments. It determines the way we define the purpose of the human adventure. Initial attempts to define purpose emerge in the context of another master theme, Eternal Conflict, because conflict demands moral judgments and forces black-and-white choices. Yet the sense of morality does not come into full operation until humanity is able to conceive a design, a pattern of overall and pervasive intention in the cosmos. In great measure, the record of history shows how humankind has interpreted the course of human events with the aim of understanding how everything that happens might fit into a master scheme.

What morality might have been when we lived in nature, before history, is uncertain, but within the flow of history morality is continually tested. Civilization is possible, we believe, because we have codified moral principles through the great religions. The three monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, can be defined as world-scale belief-systems because they have impacted world history more powerfully than any other religious or philosophical systems. All three assert that the ultimate form of moral design is a contract between humanity and a creator god. This belief contrasts with spiritual philosophies such as Buddhism and Taoism, which do not posit the existence of a creator god, as well as with the sacred traditions of indigenous people who find moral design in contact with nature and communion with non-human species. The course of history has largely been shaped by the dominance of the three world religions which all assert the superiority of the human species in the eyes of a single male creator god. The search for Moral Design outside the monotheistic paradigm represents one of the foremost challenges of metahistory.

Mysteries, Mystery Schools The mosaic system of initiatory cults of pre-Christian antiquity, each cult adapted to its region but all cults equally dedicated to the Magna Mater, the Great Goddess or Earth Mother. The fomer term is used for the initiatory system proper, and the latter for the university system of schools in which the initiates (telestes) taught.

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:

    A persistent tradition in connection with all the great Mystery-institutions was that their several founders were the introducers of all the arts of civilization; They were either themselves gods or instructed in them bythe gods. They were the teachers of the infant races. They taught the arts, the nature of the gods, the unseen worlds, cosmology, anthropology, etc. ...We find the ancient world honey-combed with these institutions....The Mysteries were committed to the care of the most advanced pupils of humanity.(p. 46)

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.

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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,

    When the roman Empire was at its height, law and order, education, and the arts were widely distributed and almost universally respected. In the first centuries of the Christian era there was almost too much literature: and so many inscriptions survive, from so many towns and villages in so many provinces, that we can be sure that many, if not most of the population could read and write... It iis not always understood nowadays how noble and wide-spread Greco-Roman civilization was, how it kept Europe, the Middle East, and northern Africe peaceful, cultured, prosperous, and happy for centuries, and how much was lost... It was, in many respects, a better thing than our civilization until a few generation ago, and it may well prove to have been a better thing all in all. (The Classical Tradition, p. 3)

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.

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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.

In development...

mythic dissociation: term proposed by Joseph Campbell for the split in human imagination due to which the divine or spiritual comes to be absolutely separated from the realm of Nature:

At that time [c. 2400 BCE] Mesopotamian myths began to appear of men created by gods to be their slaves. Men had become the mere servants; the gods, absolute masters. Man was no longer in any sense an incarnation of divine life, but of another nature entirely, an earthly, mortal nature. And the earth itself was now clay. Matter and spirit had begun to separate. I call this condition, “mythic dissociation,” and I find it to be characteristic mainly of the later religions of the Levant, of which the most important today are, of course, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. (L 74-5)


mythopoesis Literally, "myth-making." The act of story-telling or narration, by which human beings "track" their experience and orient themselves to the cosmos at large.

Throughout Metahistory.org I develop the idea that mythopoesis is the natural expression of the visionary wisdom inborn to the human species. This entry is in development...