Author Topic: "Gnostic Secrets of the Naassenes" and "High Strangeness"  (Read 5653 times)

Offline dbhayes

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"Gnostic Secrets of the Naassenes" and "High Strangeness"
« on: April 04, 2010, 07:49:29 PM »
"Gnostic Secrets of the Naassenes"

I recently read Mark Gaffney's "Gnostic Secrets of the Naassenes" nearly in tandem with reading Laura's "High Strangeness" and though the two books might seem odd reading companions, I kept stumbling across weird correlations between themes of the books.  Though "Gnostic Secrets of the Naassenes" doesn't examine ET abductions, UFO's or multi-dimensional influences, it does examine reptilian powers, non-duality (Being/Non-Being), and spiritual ascension.  Additionally "Gnostic Secrets of the Naassenes" goes deep into an examination of the Grail, a theme I've greatly appreciated in Laura's investigations.

"Gnostic Secrets of the Naassenes" provides an elucidation on the "Naassene Sermon".  Technically the Naassene Sermon is Book 5 of "A Refutation of all Heresies" written by Bishop Hippolytus during the third century C.E.  Hippolytus wrote "A Refutation of all Heresies" in condemnation of a particularly outstanding group of Gnostics that came to be known as the Naassenes.  None of the original writings of the Naassenes survived, however Book 5 of "A Refutation of all Heresies" contains a long rambling discourse of the Naassenes that Hippolytus preserved in the course of refuting it.  "A Refutation..." was actually lost as well, but was rediscovered in the middle of the 1800's and started gaining special recognition in the middle of the 1900's.

Mark Gaffney highlights how the Naassenes were not ordinary Gnostics in that they didn't deny the humanity of Jesus, they didn't reject the Old Testament, they weren't nihilistic pleasure seekers, and neither were they world denying pessimists.  Rather it seems the Naassenes originated close to the center of Judaism but came into possession of higher teachings that made the sect particularly potent and raised them to a level of prominence that compelled Hippolytus to target them.  Gaffney exposes how the spiritual system the Naassenes developed sprung not only from the new covenant Jesus brought with Jewish beliefs intact but also from a comprehensive incorporation of pagan insights.
Quote from: Mark Gaffney, Gnostic Secrets of the Naassenes pp 6
"[...]one of the Gnostic communities stood out: the Naassenes, so named, according to Hippolytus because they "presumed to celebrate a serpent".  The bishop derived the name from naas, which, he tells us, is the Hebrew word for "snake" or "serpent."  This was an error on his part.  The actual Hebrew word for snake is nahash.  The Naassenes were more generally known as Ophites, from ophis, the Greek word for "serpent".

The reference to the Ophites is of particular relevance.  Gaffney draws on significant works of the Jungian school to build his case on how the Naassene Sermon provides secret insight into "the omnipresence of the primal [divine] essence in matter."  C.G. Jung actually studied the Naassene Sermon and wrote about it in "Aion".  This makes for some fascinating reading of "Gnostic Secrets of the Naassenes" as Gaffney deftly steps around Jung's somewhat pedantic symbolic interpretation to bring out dimensions of the Naassene Sermon that wouldn't have been readily evident during Jung's time (without the benefit of the Nag Hammadi scriptures we have today, though the Jung institute was instrumental in preserving the Nag Hammadi writings).  But rather than refuting Jung, Gaffney draws on Jung's insights referencing "Answer to Job", and drawing on "The Grail Legend" (by Emma Jung and Marie-Louise von Franz) in which the Ophite Bowl is examined in "The Grail As Vessel" chapter.

Gaffney reaches well beyond analytical psychology to crack the secrets of the Naassenes.  In the course of his examination he references and unravels numerous influences on Gnostics in general while highlighting how comprehensive the Naassene perspective was.  For instance, the impact the Greeks had on the Gnostics is well known, but Gaffney distinguishes where the Greeks pulled up short in applying the concept of soul only to living things and denying any relevance to inanimate objects.  The idea of divine presence permeating all forms of matter Gaffney refers to as "immanence" and he demonstrates how this Hindu teaching likely found its way into the Naassene world view (and for me resonates well with the understandings of "Density" Laura and the C's expose).
Quote from: Mark Gaffney, "Gnostic Secrets of the Naassenes" pp 64
While it is true that Hindus believe the Godhead is present in physical matter, they do not equate God with matter because the physical world in all of its diversity of forms is itself but a veil of appearances concealing the deeper reality.  In this sense matter is illusory, just as the Vedas have proclaimed for thousands of years.  God dwells in matter, but matter is not God.  It is more accurate to say that God and matter are coextensive.  The distinction is also illustrated by another Hindu expression with the same meaning as "Thou art that": "Neti, neti," meaning, "Not this, not this."  In this simple phrase the disciple is encouraged to seek God through a relentless process of elimination.  Penetrate matter, go deep within, overturn the world of outward appearances, move beyond duality - pursue this investigation far enough and at some point the divine light will spontaneously manifest.  God is what remains when we have ruled out every "thing": the deeper unity beyond duality, the underlying matrix in a universe of shifting appearances.  For this reason every detail of physical reality, down to the smallest jot, cannot help but reflect the reality of immanence, which only our mental blinders prevent us from experiencing directly.

Gaffney doesn't pursue the multi-dimensional implications of this 'world of appearances' and how forces existing on different planes could come to bear on the world we're living in.  However he does traverse many avenues of investigation that I've come across in reading Laura's works.  Gaffney demonstrates how ancient Egyptian, Sumerian and Indian myths all came to play a role in the discourse of the Naassene scribes.   Additionally he delves into a competent investigation of "spiritual malfeasance" and scripture tampering committed by the Christian church. 

Although Gaffney touches on natural cataclysms he does so only cursorily with a look at how they've shaped religion and goes nowhere near the immediate relevance Laura spells out with "High Strangeness".  Likewise he goes nowhere near an investigation of the multi-dimensional forces shaping those religions and/or the STS/STO compulsions involved (he does hint at it though in relentlessly exposing the churches bias in severing the divine Mother). 

The subtitle to "Gnostic Secrets of the Naassenes" is "The Initiatory Teachings of the Last Supper".  Using the Naassene Sermon as the fundamental reference, Gaffney starts with an examination of Old Testament tales about 'parting waters' and then weaves his way through ancient mystery traditions examining sources of water, water containers, and forces that bear on water flow.  This examination of mythological water themes progresses into a survey of noteworthy entities that emerged from the primordial sea including sea serpents and primal man and the subsequent battles that ensue.  In the course of exposing how these ancient myths came to inform Hebrew myth, Gaffney lays out the pieces that likely came to form the puzzle of the Last Supper and the special insights the Naassenes derived by acknowledging truth beyond their immediate reality.

Although "High Strangeness" and "Gnostic Secrets of the Naassenes" may seem odd compliments to one another on the outside, on the inside they share some fundamental themes and common paths of investigation that have kept my head spinning.  Both books wrap up with an examination of gnosis.  Along the way both books examine Being/Not Being and both focus on the importance of correlating behavior with the immutable heart center.  In this context I find the crux of the synchronization between the two books that resonates most with me and I'll leave it to Gaffney to conclude:

Quote from: Mark Gaffney, "Gnostic Secrets of the Naassenes" pp 159
The Naasene scribe's familiarity with this Eastern concept ["hrit" the Upanishad concept for the Aristotelian "the seat of human consciousness lies not in the brain, but in the heart"] suggests that our investigation might benefit from a closer look at Eastern scriptures, and, as we shall now see, this is indeed the case.  The Vedas of India - so ancient that no one knows when they were first written down - hold the missing piece of the puzzle uniting all of the impoortant elements and symbols in the Naassene Sermon:  the cup, the gate, the river, and the reversal of the flow.  The Vedas not only confirm the medieval artists' intuitive leap in associating the Grail with the heart of Jesus, but they also describe with great technical precision how the awakening of the spiritual heart center brings about the opening of the "gate of heaven."  It is no coincidence that the root of the word veda is vid, which means "to know" - thus, veda is synonymous with gnosis!
When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace. - Jimi Hendrix

Offline Laura

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Re: "Gnostic Secrets of the Naassenes" and "High Strangeness"
« Reply #1 on: April 04, 2010, 08:07:37 PM »
Sounds very interesting.  I'll have to add it to my list!  Meanwhile, you might want to read "Lost Christianity" by Needleman as a complement.
He who learns must suffer
And even in our sleep pain that cannot forget
Falls drop by drop upon the heart,
And in our own despair, against our will,
Comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God.
Agamemnon, Aeschylus

Offline dbhayes

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Re: "Gnostic Secrets of the Naassenes" and "High Strangeness"
« Reply #2 on: April 05, 2010, 04:51:21 AM »
Sounds very interesting.  I'll have to add it to my list!  Meanwhile, you might want to read "Lost Christianity" by Needleman as a complement.

Both "High Strangeness" and "Gnostic Secrets of the Naassenes" exceeded my expectations in more ways than I can describe, and I feel like I provide a crude attempt to spell out the parallels.  The correlations that emerged to me are beyond me (likewise representing a convergence of learning and experience that wouldn't be apparent without your works Laura) so I'm eager to corroborate my findings with any who find the exploration interesting.

And yes I've meant to say thanks for calling out "Lost Christianity".  It's been fascinating to read about and has become forefront on my reading list.
When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace. - Jimi Hendrix