Tag Archives: gnosticism

We’re Moving to a New URL!

Time to move away from the lovely WordPress.com free service– which I heartily recommend to anyone and everyone interested in free blogging. But now we are four (or something), and it’s time to move house.

From this point forward, this site will be found at: http://www.strangeanimal.net/thisway/

moving

Please change your bookmarks and update your etceteras. I do hope you’ll come along!

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Interview on Aeon Byte Rebroadcast this Weekend!

The lovely and talented (not to mention extremely good-looking) Miguel Conner will be rebroadcasting an interview with yours truly all weekend long!

http://www.aeonbytegnosticradio.com/2013/01/teaser-for-gnosis-without-gnosticism.html

We’ll be talking about “Gnosis Without Gnosticism,” the concept behind This Way, which can be found– along with a bevy of other instruments of literary pleasure– in the This Way Bookstore.

Mine’s an ‘umble offering; he’s got a whole slew of amazing conversations to download on his site. If you’re not a regular listener to Aeon Byte— the *original* online Gnostic media– what are you waiting for?

Turn On, Tune In, Wake Up!

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Christmas is About Presents!

nativity-coloring-pages-5Now that Christmas has begun (12 days, people!), I thought it might be interesting to talk about “the meaning of Christmas.” I was listening to NPR the other day, and a caller asked what seems like a really reasonable question: why Christmas, and not Easter? I mean, Easter is the BIG day, right? It’s the holiest of holidays on the Christian calendar, symbolizes the return of God to Earth, etc.– so why don’t we have months of Easter commercials and Easter lights and Easter carols and specials and movies about people finding love on Easter underneath the Easter tree?

The hosts answered with some rather underwhelming thoughts about how we all have birthdays and everybody thinks babies are cute and what a good story, but underlined that the history of the celebration as we know it is fairly complex. I think the reason is a little simpler, and a little more primal. I think that Christmas is about how awesome it is to get presents. 

 

Now wait, before you get all “yikes! Materialism, commercialism, Linus’s speech, you fiend!” let me explain what I mean.  Think about your best Christmas memories, and how amazing Christmas can be, and you’ll likely include at least a couple of things you remember from childhood. I remember, for instance, the old steamer trunk we used to store our decorations, and how exciting it would be to open it on the day the tree arrived, and the books it contained that only came out once a year. I remember caroling and driving around looking at lights. But, in a large way, I really remember the anticipation of waking up on Christmas morning and running out to the living room to see what was left under the tree.

That sense of anticipation, the sense of hope, was always sweeter than the actual revelation of the contents of the wrapped boxes and packages strewn across the living room floor.  And this is what I mean by Christmas is about how awesome it is to get presents. It’s about the entire season, the journey that begins on Thanksgiving and ends when the last present is opened. It’s about looking forward to a delightful dinner and a day off of work. It’s about having to wait without knowing *exactly* what you’ll get. Will it be disappointing? Will it be awesome? EEEE, I can’t sleep!!!

Because, you see, this is the message of the original Christmas story: a couple in the ancient Near East wander around because they’re ordered to by the government, and even though she’s pregnant, they keep getting turned away from inn to inn (what a nifty metaphor for life in the World of Forms!). Eventually, they find a place to stay, and it’s a place that’s pretty dirty, a stinky old stable full of animals (no matter what the current jerk of a pope says, there most certainly were donkeys and cows and camels and such), and then Mary gives birth to a tiny baby who will eventually… wait for it… WAIT FOR IT… SAVE THE WHOLE WORLD! Yow!

See, it’s all about anticipation! It’s all about hope! It’s intended to tell us that no matter how shitty things get down here in the World of Forms, no matter how long we have to wait, the True God has a plan. It may take some time, and it may not turn out exactly the way we expected it to, but for those of us in the know (wink wink I’m looking at you!), the sweetness of anticipation and the hope of the redemption of the World of Forms makes putting up with all of these Archons totally worthwhile.

Obvs people think that the three kings (who really should be called ‘the group of astrologers’) brought the first Christmas gifts– all that gold and incense (say, what happened to all of that stuff, anyhow? Wouldn’t that have been useful to a carpenter’s family in ancient Palestine? Did Joseph maybe keep it for himself, use it to supplement the family’s income for a while? Er, sorry, losing track here…)– all that gold and incense weren’t the first gift. The first Christmas present was the promise represented by that little baby resting in the animal’s food, the promise that even though his power is limited here in this realm of imperfection, he’s got a plan, and it just might work, so we have something to hope for.

So don’t get all uppity with kids who are really excited about getting stuff for Christmas. It’s okay to hope that something terrific is under the tree, wrapped in paper– in fact, that’s what it’s all about. 

Now get out there and enjoy the rest of your Christmas!

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A Curse

This is, of course, one of the main reasons I’m a Gnostic, because I know that the True God is GOOD, but can’t always come through because the God of This World is the Demiurge.

It’s because this jackass Mike Huckabee says a school shooting happened because we don’t pray in school. WHAT A RIGHTEOUS GUY, AMIRIGHT?

It’s because this sick bastard Bryan Fischer  says “God doesn’t go where he’s not wanted,” and so he let all those kids– LITTLE KINDERGARTENERS– die in TERROR because we don’t pray in school.

It’s because so many ADOLESCENT FUCKS can’t be bothered to talk about gun control because they don’t want to piss off a bunch of INDUSTRY SHITHEADS who give them money.

It’s because ACTUAL LAWMAKERS who purport to be THINKING, REASONING INDIVIDUALS, pass laws that GIVE PEOPLE THE RIGHT TO CARRY CONCEALED WEAPONS IN ***FUCKING DAYCARES!!!!*** 

PEOPLE, DON’T BE MISTAKEN: Huckabee and Fischer and mainstream Democrats and Rightwing Politicians and Gun Nuts *DO* worship the God of this World, but the only way this makes ANY sense, the only way in which these MOTHERFUCKERS can get away with this kind of ABJECT EVIL and have SO MANY PEOPLE AGREE WITH THEM is that the God of this World is ONE SICK PUPPY.  And, as a Gnostic, I know that the God of this World is the DEMIURGE.

It’s the DEMIURGE who speaks through these individuals, not the True God. The DEMIURGE is the one who won’t help little kids because we don’t pray in school, who giggles at the idea of HIDDEN WEAPONS IN PRESCHOOLS, who turns the HOUSE OF PRAYER into a DEN OF ROBBERS.  And these SHIT-EATING JACKANAPES who blame the DEAD KINDERGARTENERS for not PRAYING, and their allies, the SLIME-COVERED SPEWERS of PUS who whinge and moan about how we can’t POLITICIZE the fact that we CAN’T BE BOTHERED TO TALK ABOUT HOW MAYBE THE CLINICALLY ILL SHOULDN’T HAVE ACCESS TO THINGS SOLDIERS CARRY, these PACKS OF SCOUNDRELS are the DEMIURGE’S LAP-DOGS, the FILTH-EATING GHOULS who merrily lap the BLOOD out of his SKULL-CHALICE.

The TRUE GOD, the God of the Christos and Sophia, the Limitless Light, he doesn’t pull this kind of horse-shit. Here’s the thing about the True God: you’ve been LIED to about the True God. You’ve been told he’s all-powerful– “omnipotent”– but he’s not. He does what he can, but he’s pretty limited down here in this World of Forms where old Nobodaddy dances the jig on so many bodies and in so many minds. He knows about the pain we experience down here, but he needs our help to help rescue us. We’re like drowning people — if we struggle like crazy and bleed all over the water, the SHARKS ARE GOING TO BITE US. We need to CALM DOWN, BREATHE and THINK and let the lifeguard do his thing. The True God is our PARTNER, not our RULER, and can’t do everything in the Demiurge’s house FOR US. We can’t just sit around and tread water and WAIT FOR A YACHT when there’s a PERFECTLY GOOD DINGHY passing by.

So that’s why when it comes to addressing a situation like this, where PEOPLE CAN WALK INTO A PLACE AND KILL LOTS OF PEOPLE, we have a little RESPONSIBILITY. MAYBE, JUST MAYBE, the True God might find it IMPRESSIVE if we sat down and THOUGHT for a minute about what we could REALISTICALLY DO about a situation like this.

Look, people– GOD WANTS US TO BE REASONABLE. He wants us to say, “Hey, you know what? Maybe we can come to a compromise so that people who hunt can have reasonable gun rights so they can hunt, and people who we are not 99.9% SURE ABOUT CAN’T HAVE DEVICES THAT ARE DEADLY.” 

(And while I’m at it? FUCK the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution. It’s OUTDATED and BACKWARDS and since we RETHOUGHT THE MAGNA CARTA we can probably RETHINK THAT ARCHAIC  NONSENSE, TOO. 2nd Amendment? DEMIURGE.)

Here’s the thing: I’m PRETTY SURE the True God is Just, and what that means? It means that YOU ASSHATS who value your right to own AK-47s over the RIGHTS OF 20 LITTLE KIDS TO NOT DIE are CURSED. You’re CURSED to BE those little kids, and ALL of the little kids and innocent people who die so YOU can own a MAGIC FIRE-STICK. Mike Huckabee? Bryan Fischer? YOU are going to BE inside every single innocent victim, inside the crushed and broken souls of their friends and families. ALL OF THEM. You’re going to live their lives, experience what they go through, and at some point, right before the end that YOU helped endorse, you’re going to KNOW what you did. THAT is your curse: the CURSE OF KNOWLEDGE.

So enjoy your time in the spotlight. Enjoy the thrill of blaming little kids for their own deaths. Enjoy spreading the word of your Demiurgic philosophies, where the rights of projectile-tossing tube aficionados are more important than the rights of people who don’t like the idea of people getting shot. Enjoy your pancake breakfast with the Archons. But know this: even if you deny it, even if you’ll never hear from people like me, with the influence of a sea urchin and an audience of tens, you’re going to get what you deserve. It’s a guarantee, bitches.

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Filed under Essays, Gnostic Philosophy, Gnostic Stuff

Infuriating

ImageSometimes it’s infuriating how much garbage is out there that claims “Gnosticism” as a source. There’s this ridiculous amount of junk that’s just too overwhelming to refute. All you can do is point it out and say, PROCEED WITH CAUTION.

I highly regard “work” by the following individuals as completely suspect and recommend readers avoid them at all costs. It’s difficult to find much criticism of them, probably because nobody *really* cares, but I care enough that I’d at least like to increase the chance that maybe, just maybe, somebody looking into one of them will find this post on Google and rethink their involvement with these characters.

So without further ado, here’s an initial, official list of BLEH:

  • Sylvia Browne – The Gnostics were Goddess-worshippers and I can speak to your dead grandmother. Give me money!
  • William Henry – The Gnostics were describing a LITERAL “Body of Light” and something something STARGATE. I am going to build one. Give me $25,000.00!
  • J.J. and Deseree Hurtak – The Gnostics were– wait for it– UFO aliens! We wrote our own Keys of Enoch. Pay some money to see us speak!
  • John Lash – The Gnostics were UFO aliens. References in the Nag Hammadi Library to “The Outer Darkness” were LITERALLY describing outer space. Sophia is Gaia????.
  • “Tau Malachi” – I’m all part of a Secret Lineage of Gnosticism that I can’t tell you anything about. Aren’t I handsome? Did I mention my lineage is SECRET?
  • Samael Aun Weor (Victor Rodriguez) – The Gnostics were UFO aliens. Good ol’ SEX MAGIC is all about HOLDING IT IN, BABY! Oh, and homosexuals are evil and deviant.

And this is just scratching the surface….

The connecting problem seems to be a complete disdain for historical accuracy, and an inability to admit when something is their own creation versus the creation of the Gnostics. Oh, and a hearty love of ridiculous self-promotion and head-shots. Their books and whatnot are very shiny, and they tend to attract followers via expensive seminars and product pitches.

The craziest thing is how popular and successful a lot of these characters are. Dang, I can barely afford to fill my gas tank with my book royalties. I’m often amazed by how much money I could be making if I didn’t have any scruples or a sense of decency. Sheesh. Well now, I guess that’s not terribly crazy. In fact, it makes a whole lot of sense if you think about it.

Oh, well. Nice thing about having a blog is it gives you a delightful way to let off steam. Steam, begone!

And while I’m at it, GET OFF MY LAWN, YOU DANGED KIDS!

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Gnostic Christian Thylacine Veneration

Given all of the hullaballoo in the press lately about the fragment of parchment in which Jesus has a wife, I thought it might be a good time to dust off this old paper of mine on an equally plausible– and equally mysterious– early Christian mystery.

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In the field of cryptozoology, there is ever increasing speculation on the possible survival of the thylacine, or Tasmanian Tiger, currently considered “extinct.” Although the last known living specimen of this creature died in 1933 in the Hobart Zoo in Tasmania, many new sightings have come to light recently in both Australia and Tasmania. Although the Australian and Tasmanian scientific communities will no doubt continue to deny the existence of this elusive creature until a live specimen leaps onto their desks and licks their faces, we are more concerned with recent sightings not in the South Pacific, but in the catacombs of ancient Egypt.

A description of this animal may be in order before proceeding, so that the reader will be able to formulate a picture of the animal in question. Thylacinus cynocephalus (Latin, “pouched dog with a wolf’s head”), a distant relative of the opossum, was a wolf-sized creature resembling a mixture of a wolf, a dog, and a hyena. Especially notable for its dispropotionately large powerful jaws, this shy but ferocious carnivore has a series of stripes running along the back part of its body and a pouch which opens backwards. It was thought to have resided in Australia until around 10,000 years ago, at which point it migrated to Tasmania. Whereas no one has ever come across a thylacine outside of these regions, it is quite possible that the creature played a small symbolic part in the lives of Christian Gnostic sects in First Century Alexandria.

Many original Gnostic Alexandrian Christian texts mention a strange creature known only by its Greek name, the Λυκοσπιρα, or lykospira, a loose translation of which is “pouched wolf.” Mentioned predominantly in the Ophitic text, “The Secret Book of Judas [1],”  the lykospira is used to symbolize a saviour figure, typically Jesus, and is commonly employed as such a symbol in a number of other texts, including “The Passerby,” a second century Valentinian Text located in the Papyrus Berolinensis 8514 (Akhmim Codex),  and one can even find a correlative mention in one of the Pnakotic Fragments currently in the archives of the Coptic Museum in Cairo [2].

The “Secret Book of Judas,” written most likely by members of an Ophitic sect, who saw in Judas Iscariot the redeemer who betrayed Jesus in order to facilitate mankind’s salvation, mentions the lykospira a total of three times.  “And as the lykospira generates its young in its stomach and fills them until they can emerge into the daylight,” reads one passage, “so does the Lord keep us and release us into the Immeasurable Light when we are healthy enough to leave his refuge” [3].

“The Passerby” contains a similar reference; the tale is similar to the “penny dreadful” novel popular in the Roman Empire at the time and best displayed in works such as “The Golden Ass” of Lucius Apuleius and “The Book of Acts.” In the text, “the passerby” himself, never mentioned by name but representative of the human soul, travels along the road of the righteous and encounters a veritable menagerie of animals, each symbolic of one of the “Secret Virtues” and holy names that the gnostic would need to rise past the Rulers of This World and into Heaven. In “The Passerby,” the main character speaks: “At that point, I came upon a pocketed wolf with the stripes of a tiger, from whose abdomen were springing forth babes of its own kind” [4]. This text is thought to be the forerunner of similar Alchemical Texts from the Middle Ages, which also employ animals as symbols for spiritual virtues [5].

Although the primary sources give a good indication of just how important this symbol was to the Gnostic sects that utilized it, perhaps the most vivid description of the veneration of this creature comes from the Fifth Century theologian, John of Pannonia, in his Against Heresies (ironically, John himself was burned as a heretic eight years after the following excerpt was written):

And there are those in Alexandria who worship a certain wolf, which they claim keeps its young in its stomach, regurgitating them again after they are fully grown. They claim that this wolf symbolizes Our Saviour, and we are its children, kept in Darkness within the Body of Our Lord until we are mature enough to emerge into the light of the world, at which point we must take others into our own pouches, and that this wolf, just as Christ did, dies and is reborn. Surely this abominable practice reeks of the work of the Pagan Egyptians, who also venerated a god with the head of a wolf. . . . [6]

It is not difficult for the student of Gnosticism to see how well this creature, strange as though it may seem, could fit into the mythosymbolic epistemology of the Gnostic cults of the First and Second Centuries, which often feature bizarre and animalistic iconography [7]. The lykospira can be seen as an especially good illustration of Christ as the Father/Mother — aggressive, yet protective. The pouch or pocket in which the creature keeps its young could represent the darkness of the physical world, and we the babes kept warm by the Saviour until we are ready to emerge out of the Realms of Darkness and into the Light, as it were.

Although for years scholars have considered the lykospira a purely imaginary and symbolic creature, similar to the “Seth-beast” of Egyptian Mythology [8], recent evidence now points to the fact that this creature may indeed be a Thylacine, somehow known to Gnostics in the Roman Empire despite the fact that it was thought to have exclusively inhabited Australia and Tasmania.

While excavating a Roman-era private residence in 1996, Eric Salingk, a graduate student at Columbia University, uncovered the remains of a textless First Century C.E. potsherd with a picture of what he at first thought to be a wolf. Upon showing the potsherd to renowned archaeologist Jean Yves Empereur, uncoverer of the great– and once lost– Pharos of Alexandria, Salingk noticed that the creature was vaguely wolf-ish, but was not, after all, a wolf. As mentioned in his “Decorative Symbolism in the Harbor District of Roman Era Alexandria,” “It had a larger jaw, and its back was striped in an odd fashion, as if someone had decided that only the rear half of the animal had been painted. The tail was long and pointed. This was an animal unlike any of the other wolf-like creatures I had come across in Alexandrian and Egyptian decorative or religious art” [9].

The Egyptians and the Romans indeed both had a veritible menagerie of wolf-like animals in their aesthetic ouvres. Many Egyptian deities, such as Anubis and Apuat, were illustrated as having the heads of jackals or dogs, and the Romans were so enamoured of the wolf that their mythical founders, Romulus and Remus, were suckled by a she-wolf as children. The idea that this creature could be a thylacine had not crossed anyone’s mind, including Salingk, who claims that the creature is purely a work of imagination. In fact, Salingk did not identify the creature from the potsherd as a thylacine or as the lykospira, but as an imaginative work of decoration in the submerged house of an Alexandrian Gnostic.

Salingk and others found more examples of this creature at the site, which are not currently on display as artifacts from these excavations are being held by the Egyptian Government before being released to American and French researchers late next year [10]. However, pictures of these artifacts are available in Salingk’s work and the library at Bogota College, Bogota, Alabama, which had sponsored some of the archaeological work [11].

The author happened to be reading Salingk’s paper one afternoon when joined by a colleague who specializes in marsupial biology at the University of Washington. This colleague, who wishes to remain nameless as he is in somewhat of a public position, upon seeing the illustration of the original potsherd, exclaimed “why, that’s a thylacine!” The author asked what he meant, and we visited the University, where we perused photographs and drawings of this creature, and they were all almost identical to the creature from the First Century fragment. Locating the other evidence of this creature collected at the site, we came to the conclusion that somehow, the mysterious lykospira was indeed the Tasmanian Tiger. We scanned both a photo of a thylacine and an image of the lykospira for computer analysis, and found an amazing 86% anatomical match between the two. Although certainly not conclusive, we feel that the results point to a strong possibility that the thylacine was known in Alexandria in the First Century, and may have ended up in a select few Gnostic texts.

How did this creature, this marsupial from the southern hemisphere, end up in Alexandria during the First Century? We pondered this question for quite some time, and have still not been able to come up with a reasonable explaination. We have arrived at the following possibilites:

A) At one time, the thylacine or a close relative lived in Africa. Tales and pictures made their way to Alexandria, where they were incorporated into Gnostic Mythology.

B) Well known for its Asiatic trade routes, perhaps the Roman Empire stretched farther than we realize. A Roman ship sailed into the Indian Ocean and returned with a thylacine or tales thereof.

C) Descriptions of the creature were brought from Australia to Asia by natives of the Pacific and Indian Ocean; these tales found their way to Egypt by way of land routes.

It is important to remember that Alexandria had been trading with western Asia as early as the time of Alexander the Great. During that time, is it not conceivable that some South Seas Islanders, notorious for their seamanship, brought tales of this creature to Asia, and by the time of the Roman Empire they were known in Europe? If so, why are the descriptions of the thylacine so vivid in the gnostic texts? Why haven’t they been eroded by time?

Although these are questions for a future essay, perhaps they are not meant to be answered. The Universe is imperfect, according to the Gnostics, and perhaps this is simply another of those imperfections. One thing is certain, however. The thylacine, seen more and more frequently despite its supposed extinction, may be, as did Jesus himself, returning from death and coming into life.

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NOTES:

[1] This is different from the Gospel of Judas found in the Tchacos Codex, published in various editions in 2007.

[2] Unfortunately, since the time this paper was composed, the Coptic Museum was looted during the “Arab Spring,” and the location of the Pnakotic Fragments is currently unknown.

[3] Hurtfeld, Gertrude. The Secret Book of Judas: a Fourth Century Ophitic Initiation (LT 456:2). Journal of Near Eastern Religion Vol 5, pp 65-84. Banagher 2004.

[4] Mead, G.R.S. Light of the East. Suffolk 1934.

[5] See, for instance, Dr. R. B. Baker’s introduction to The Chemickal Cryptogram of Johann of Hasselt.

[6] John of Pannonia, Adversus haereses. Jerster, G. trans.  Grains of Wheat, Grains of Sand: Lesser Known Church Fathers of Roman Egypt. Princeton 1968.

[7] Vide the descriptions of the Archons in the “Secret Book of John.”

[8] Hurtfeld, G. Op cit. p 72.

[9] Salingk, E. “Decorative Symbolism in the Harbor District of Roman Era Alexandria.” Journal of Architecture in Antiquity Vol 8.6 55-59. June 1998.

[10] Recent events in Egypt and the Middle East have postponed the release of these artifacts indefinitely.

[11]  Reprint rights for the pictures were granted, but depend upon publication of this article in a peer-reviewed journal.

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Premiseless Imperative: Letters, We Get Letters

Taking a temporary break from the action to answer some questions I’ve been sent. They’re best encapsulated in a correspondence I’ve been having with Turmarion, who has graciously agreed to allow me to post his queries and my replies. So, without further ado, here’s his first communique:

 My first question, which is all I’ll ask for now (I don’t want to clutter things up too much) is in regard to the names and practice in the Kimetikos.  In some respects it reminds me of yogic clearing of chakras; in others, it is reminiscent of Jon Kabat-Zinn’s body scan technique.   I realize that despite similarities, you say it’s best to look at the practice in itself.

So, just to clarify:  what exactly is the idea?  I’ve read the articles and have the basic idea, but I’m not completely clear.  Are the Archons being invoked or evoked?  Or exorcised?  Or is the intonation more mantric (as in the association of mantras with specific chakras)?  Obviously one is going to use prayers of protection afterwards (and maybe before); but I just don’t want any unsavory critters getting into the mix unnecessarily!

Great questions!

The goal of the whole Premiseless Imperative process is gnosis, which is ‘knowledge’ based on an awakening experience, plus the application of wisdom, plus a context into which both can be placed. What I’m trying to do is to map out a reasonable context (with a foundation of Gnostic philosophy), and provide some pointers regarding what I consider wise ways to explore self-knowledge, with some suggestions on how people have become ‘awakened’ in the past.

Regarding Kimetikos, I think one can look at the practice on two different levels (which I’ve touched upon briefly before). One way to view it would be psychologically. In this POV, the archons of the body are focal points, and doing the intonations/movements allows you to really get a concentrated self-knowledge of your physiology– similar to the ‘body scan’ technique, but within the context of the myth in the Secret Book of John. The names, in this case, could be seen as mantric; they give you an additional reference point for that particular place in your corpus, and an additional way in which you can become aware of it.

Or, one can look at it “hypostatically,” more literally, in which case we see the named archons as the literal “rulers” of the body. I wouldn’t consider them like “body thetans” or whatever– invisible beings who live in your body– but more like astrological decans; cosmological powers that exist within the scheme of the World of
Forms. You’re not invoking, evoking or summoning them, but basically notifying that you know that they exist, and you’re aware of their influence over the energy and material of your body, and you’re exercising as much control as you can over them, because you know their names. You can’t escape them completely, here in the World of Forms, but you can at least send up a few warning shots, letting them know you’re in on the joke.

Thing is, either approach works just as well; the wisdom comes in deciding which way you’re going to look at it (or even whether you consider your approach a combination of both). This is why I don’t make suggestions either way — it’s something each practitioner needs to decide for him/herself.
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Boy howdy, do I loves me some questions!  Path of Radical Inquiry and such….  Please send along any questions you have, at any time, via the contact page!

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