Tag Archives: Gnosticism

The Way of the Heart and the Way of the Cup

Handed down from master to disciple in an unbroken chain of succession, the prayer of the heart as a spiritual discipline was fixed in writing by the eleventh century Byzantine, hesychast monk Symeon the New Theologian who taught that humanity could and should directly experience theoria, or direct contemplation of the experience of Godhead. In the Orthodox tradition, the preparation for vision of God takes place in two stages: purification, and illumination of the mental faculties. Without this it is impossible for man’s selfish love to be transformed into selfless love and unceasing prayer, as praised by the Apostle Paul who exhorts us in Thessalonians to, “Pray without ceasing.”

Though never achieving much currency in the West, the way of the heart as an esoteric discipline would become a central principal in the writings of the French philosopher, Louis Claude de Saint-Martin who, in his Theosophic Correspondences shares with us, “The inward or centre is the principle of everything; so long as this centre is not open, the greatest external wonders may seduce without advancing us; and, if I may venture to say so, it is our inward which ought to be the true thermometer, the true touchstone, of what passes without. If our heart is in God, if it is really become divine, by love, faith, and ardent prayer, no illusion can surprise us.” In Saint-Martin’s teachings, through similar meditation on God, one may undergo a spiritual process of reintegration with the Divine.

The way of the heart, in both hesychast and esoteric doctrines, is ultimately a form of theurgy. For Neoplatonists such as Iamblichus, the goal is henosis, or unity with God; in the Orthodox East, it is theosis, or the absorption into a divine way of life. I would posit, similarly, that in the esoteric doctrine of the West and the principals of the teachings of Saint-Martin, the achievement of reintegration is a form of spiritual and evangelical salvation of the soul at home with the universal Mind which, after its descent into the innermost core of being, must spread outward in all directions in a like manner as Christ, having experienced at a pivotal point in time descended into Hades and, upon ascent, drew them likewise out of the depths and later, again, spread outward in the form of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost imbuing the Apostles with the same knowledge of doing the same.

Although penitential in tonality, the way of the heart does not contradict Iamblichean principals of theurgy, but indeed does “[enlarge] very greatly our soul’s receptivity to the gods… and accustoms [our] eyes to the brightness of divine light, and gradually brings to perfection the capacity of our faculties for contact with the gods.” (De Mysteriis 5.26.18-40) Similarly, Saint Martin writes: “I think they would do better to call it the sentiment of the presence of intermediate agents doing the will of God. I believe we always perceive this reaction of the Virtues whenever we seek the Verb, not outside of us, but within, looking with intelligence at the temple in which He dwells.” My personal preference for keeping Saint-Martin’s usage of the ‘Verb’ adequately presents the activity of the divine as opposed to the rather abstract and now poorly understood Word, or Logos.

It occurred to me recently that this process is a form of eternal liturgy resulting in the fractio of our limited selves into the chalice representing the fullness of both our hearts and minds. Joining together these two species into one sacrament and consuming it, we experience joy of heaven on earth and partake of the ecstatic ‘Verb’ or action of Godhead. Far from the melancholy, the way of the heart teaches us to live in accordance with our intellect in the very real here and now instead of trying to escape to some indeterminate eschatological future. This bliss and this ecstasy, open to all, brings us not only contemplatively closer to Godhead, but is a challenge and affirmation of our own divinity and active co-participation in the Creation of a redeemed Humanity.

Sacred Heart doves Chalice

Wild Gnosis

In ancient Greece and in the Hellenic world, the operative title for most magicians would have been pharmakós, literally ‘one who delivers (drugs)’. At the time of the classical pharmakoi, the differentiation between medical practice and magic was not as clearly defined as it would become in the modern world. The role of the pharmakós would be to divine, diagnose and treat the various psychological, physical and spiritual ailments of their clients or members of a particular cult.

As we read in many of the anti-heresiological writings and can confirm in the magical papyri, it’s very clear from an early period that many of those who would eventually come to be called gnostikoi were also pharmakoi involved with the same practices as their pagan counterparts, practicing in a very similar methodological framework. We can surmise, similarly, that they also had a similar cosmology and anthrosophy of spirit, especially when it came to the use and distribution of various herbal, mineral and animal curatives. Essentially, a pan-psychical understanding of pneumatology where the spirits or essences of these things, in sympathy, could help cure or create illnesses.

Flashing forward some 1,700 years, modern gnostics – indeed, modern occultists in general – could learn to benefit from understanding the psycho-spiritual relationships between the materials we continue to use and benefit greatly from the “synergy of shamanry“, as my friend and co-blogger at Bioregional Animism so eloquently phrased the dynamic. In the wake of the European Enlightenment, although many esotericists have no qualms about the ‘doctrine of signatures’ and ‘correspondence’, there is a fundamental disconnect between the urbane occultist and the natural world that I think should be reexamined.

Inspired by a series of questions on a group that I’m a member of on Facebook regarding the correspondences of various New World plants, it donned on me to engage in a series of experiments that I used when undergoing my apprenticeship in incense making. In my usual practice, when compounding incenses for various needs, I keep a large brazier with fresh coals burning in order to add a bit of plant material so I can smell it individually and separately from my intended compound. It occurred to me, in addition to this, why not evoke the spirit of the plant by praying to it, invoking it in the smoke and tasting it in the form of a tisane or tincture to fully experience what it has to offer.

My initial experiments have opened up a whole new understanding of the shamanic and animistic nature of the natural world and have given my practice the boost I needed and, instead of relying on ‘dead matter’ with some arbitrary correspondence, I learned that speaking with the spirit of the plants is something that Western Esotericism is profoundly missing in many regards but, perhaps more distressing, is the profound disconnect between many occultists and their own native bioregions.

For a few years now I’ve been following the writings of Sarah Anne Lawless, a Pacific Northwest traditional witch and fellow bioregional animist. Her writings on connecting with the local land-spirits is something that I admired but never felt the need to explore until quite recently. Reading the writings of my friend and co-religionist P. Sufenas Virius Lupus on the topic of local spiritual topography, I decided to explore more of the urban spirits of the place in which I live and, similarly, received remarkably interesting results.

Last week, while on a date of sorts with a friend, we decided to venture into a local park and invoke the spirits of the place. I filled by messenger bag with simply my wand, a censer, some incense provided by Rosarium Blends, and my memorized general invocation of spirits. After walking around avoiding some college students who were engaged in some experiments of their own, we managed to find the right location and performed our evocation. After three recitations, we both experienced some very clear and congruent communications with one of the spirits of the park in addition to the larger spirits (goddess to some) who provided some fascinating insight into the locality and provided me with a sigil – a pleasure to my ceremonialist heart.

In the days that followed, I ended up returning to the park, drawing the sigil in the ground and repeating the process and received similar results and confirmation of the spirits. At one point, when I felt like my operation may be being overlooked, I asked the spirit to peaceably remove the distractions that were impacting my practice and within a few moments the entire park was once again quiet – quieter than even before.

The point of this relation is not to mark myself as a great occultist – I’m not any better or worse than anyone – rather it is to challenge and encourage my peers to look a little deeper into where they live, the environments of where they practice and return – or at the very least, experience – the power that resides in their locations. While one may and should experience the divine in the varieties that do exist, sometimes it’s better to work with what you have and where you are rather than immediately looking toward one of the many sources of power that come from a time and a place much more removed from our own immediate experience.


An End to the Crisis of God

Jesus is gone.

Forty four days ago we all conspired to shed his blood and put him to death. Some of us conspired through betrayal, some through denial, and others through inaction, false witness, and a myriad of other ways. We denied his humanity, we desecrated his divinity, we tied him up, led him in chains, affixed him to a beam of wood, nailed him to the cross, pierced his side and turned our backs even as he cried to the heavens and released his soul unto death.

Forty days ago he returned from death and nobody who saw him recognized his face even though he had only been in the tomb for three days. Not even his closest companions recognized him. He came back and found us all drunk and stupefied, forgetful of everything he shared with us for the years that we followed him around pretending to learn eagerly at his feet and seeing our distress, stayed with us for another forty days to assuage our grief, to instruct us of the mysteries which lie beyond and then, like the putting out of a candle, his light was absorbed into heaven and once again, Jesus was gone.We were left without him.

But he left a promise.


A Vigil Rite in Times of Disaster

Following the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings I, like many people around the world, was filled with a sudden sadness and loss of words (and thoughts!) about the immensity of the event. Words do not adequately lend themselves to these types of situations and, after reading all sorts of news articles on the events and reading increasingly sophistic writings about it on Facebook, I grew more sad and a little bit jaded about this event like many who are exposed on a constant level to the horrors that surround us. Each of us comes to terms with these things in different ways: some through song, some through talking and writing, others through crying, and others – such as myself – through prayer.

In the days immediately following the event, I wrote the following brief service based on my own religious tradition. It is not an official AJC ceremony by any means – I’m the only one whose prayed it before –  but I present it that it may be used, and modified, by those in my community or who are otherwise genuinely interested and wanting to contribute prayerfully in the wake of this most recent tragedy at the Boston Marathon.


The Signum


Celebrant:          O Heavenly King, the Paraclete, the Spirit of Truth, who are present everywhere, emanating from the supreme source and filling all things, Treasury of Endless Good and Giver of Life, come and dwell in us, cleanse us from every stain, and heal our infirmities, O Good one.

Celebrant:          Holy are You, O Creator of the Universe. Holy are You, O God, Whose Will is perfected by its own Powers. Holy are You, O God, who desires to be known and are known by your own.

 All:                         +Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy Immortal One. Have mercy on us.

 Celebrant:          Holy are You, who by the Eternal Word did make all to be as it is. Holy are you, who made Nature to have an image. Holy are you, who are uncreated in Image.

 All:                         +Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy Immortal One. Have mercy on us.

Celebrant:          Holy are you, more powerful than All Power. Holy are you, transcending all preeminence. Holy are you, better than all praise.

 All:                         +Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy Immortal One. Have mercy on us.

 Celebrant:          Holy God, One in Three and Three in One, have mercy on us, forgive us our sins and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.

Celebrant:          God, come to my assistance.

All:                         Lord, make haste to help me.

 All bow

Celebrant:          Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

All rise

All:                         As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be unto the Æons of Æons. Amen.

Optional, invocation of the holy archangels may take place here:

Invocation of the Archangels


Celebrant:          Hail Raphael, Ruler of Air, Divine Physician. As the breath of the Divine moves over the face of the Deep, so do we call upon you to move over the sanctuary of our being, giving voice to our prayer and strength to our journey.

All:                         Lord of Wind and Storm, we invoke thee!


Celebrant:          Hail Michael, Ruler of Fire, Divine Guardian. As our spiritual ancestors travelled through the darkness by a pillar of fire, so do we call upon you as pilgrims to light our path through the wilderness of ignorance into the Kingdom of Heaven.

All:                         Lord of Flame and Prince of the Seraphim, we invoke thee!

Celebrant:          Hail Gabriel, Ruler of Water, Divine Messenger. As the Incarnation of the Logos was foretold to our Mother by your                 presence, so do we call upon you that we may truly know ourselves as children of the Divine Beloved.

All:                         Lady of Stream and Ocean, we invoke thee!

Celebrant:          Hail Uriel, Ruler of Earth, Divine Companion. As you stand guarding the gates of paradise, so do we call upon you to lead us at our last through the portal of that undiscovered territory, from which no traveller returns.

All:                         Lady of Stone and Vale, we invoke thee!

Invitatory Prayer

Celebrant:          We gather together and are one of purpose as fellow citizens with the saints and of the household of God, who love the good land God has given us; who cherish the freedoms we enjoy, and who lament our innocence lost. With anger we come, and with sorrow;

with confusion and concern. O Lord, look with the eyes of your love upon our confusion and distress, grant that our vision may be made clear and that we not falter in loving one another as you had taught.

All:                         Amen.

Psalm 37, An Exhortation to Patience and Trust

Reader:               Do not fret because of the wicked;

do not be envious of wrongdoers,

for they will soon fade like the grass,

and wither like the green herb.


All:                         Trust in the Lord, and do good;

so you will live in the land, and enjoy security.

Take delight in the Lord,

and he will give you the desires of your heart.


Commit your way to the Lord;

trust in him, and he will act.

He will make your vindication shine like the light,

and the justice of your cause like the noonday.


Reader:                                Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him;

do not fret over those who prosper in their way,

over those who carry out evil devices.


All:                         Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath.

Do not fret—it leads only to evil.

For the wicked shall be cut off,

but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.


Yet a little while, and the wicked will be no more;

though you look diligently for their place, they will not be there.

But the meek shall inherit the land,

and delight themselves in abundant prosperity.


Reader                 The wicked plot against the righteous,

and gnash their teeth at them;

but the Lord laughs at the wicked,

for he sees that their day is coming.


All:                         The wicked draw the sword and bend their bows

to bring down the poor and needy,

to kill those who walk uprightly;

their sword shall enter their own heart,

and their bows shall be broken.


Better is a little that the righteous person has

than the abundance of many wicked.

For the arms of the wicked shall be broken,

but the Lord upholds the righteous.


Reader:                                The Lord knows the days of the blameless,

and their heritage will abide forever;

they are not put to shame in evil times,

in the days of famine they have abundance.


All:                         But the wicked perish,

and the enemies of the Lord are like the glory of the pastures;

they vanish—like smoke they vanish away.


The wicked borrow, and do not pay back,

but the righteous are generous and keep giving;

for those blessed by the Lord shall inherit the land,

but those cursed by him shall be cut off.


Reader:                                Our steps are made firm by the Lord,

when he delights in our way;

though we stumble, we shall not fall headlong,

for the Lord holds us by the hand.


All:                         I have been young, and now am old,

yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken

or their children begging bread.

They are ever giving liberally and lending,

and their children become a blessing.


Depart from evil, and do good;

so you shall abide forever.

For the Lord loves justice;

he will not forsake his faithful ones.


Reader:                                The righteous shall be kept safe forever,

but the children of the wicked shall be cut off.

The righteous shall inherit the land,

and live in it forever.


All:                         The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom,

and their tongues speak justice.

The law of their God is in their hearts;

their steps do not slip.


The wicked watch for the righteous,

and seek to kill them.

The Lord will not abandon them to their power,

or let them be condemned when they are brought to trial.


Reader:                                Wait for the Lord, and keep to his way,

and he will exalt you to inherit the land;

you will look on the destruction of the wicked.


All:                         I have seen the wicked oppressing,

and towering like a cedar of Lebanon.

Again I passed by, and they were no more;

though I sought them, they could not be found.


Mark the blameless, and behold the upright,

for there is posterity for the peaceable.

But transgressors shall be altogether destroyed;

the posterity of the wicked shall be cut off.


Reader:                                The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord;

He is their refuge in the time of trouble.

The Lord helps them and rescues them;

he rescues them from the wicked, and saves them,

because they take refuge in him.


Standing Prayers


All stand.

Celebrant:          Glory to Thee, Our God, Glory to Thee.

All:                         Glory to Thee, our God, Glory to Thee. O Heavenly Queen, Comforter, the Spirit of Truth,

Who is everywhere present and permeates all things, the Treasury of all good things and the Giver of life: Come, and abide in us, and cleanse us from every stain, and save our souls, O Pure One.

Celebrant:          Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy Immortal One: have mercy on us.

All:                         Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy Immortal One: have mercy on us.

Celebrant:          All Holy, All Mighty, Everlasting Trinity, have mercy on us; cleanse us from our sins, pardon all our iniquities, visit and heal us from our infirmities for Your Name’s sake.

All:                         Kyrie eleison, kyrie eleison, kyrie eleison.

Christi eleison, Christi eleison, Christi eleison.

Kyrie eleison, kyrie eleison, kyrie eleison.

Celebrant:           Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

All:                          As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, forever and ever. Amen.

The Lucernarium

The Celebrant pour oil in the lamp and seven members of the community come forth and place a single tear of frankincense into the oil. If alone or with less people, the tears may be divided up accordingly.

Celebrant:           O Logos who dwells on high, we praise the glory of Your majesty Whose light is the light of the luminaries, Who sends forth light from heaven over all the world of humankind

Through You we have the sun to light the day and moon and stars to light the night-time. Through you we have the Lamp to drive back shadow. You are light laudable, holy and primal light. From You does darkness and evil flee.

O Christos, send forth Your healing light into our hearts. Restore us to the glory of the Fullness within and without. Comfort our minds, bodies and spirits, and wipe away every tear from our eyes. Blessed is the Name of Your holy glory and to You we sing a hymn of praise and glory. To the Fullness, to the Word and to Wisdom.

The Celebrant or youngest person present comes forth to light the candle.

Celebrant:          As you illumine this lamp, O Lord

All:                         So illumine our dark places

Celebrant:          The Light shines in the darkness and the darkness does                 not overcome it.

O Gracious Light (Phos hilaron)

All:                         O gracious Light,

pure brightness of the ever-living Father in heaven,

O Lord, the Christ, holy and blessed!

Now as we come to the setting of the sun,

and our eyes behold the vesper light,

we sing your praises, O God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

You are worthy at all times to be praised by happy voices,

O Son of God, O Giver of life,

and to be glorified through all the worlds.


All:                         We give thanks unto you, O Light, in whom darkness dwells not.

The Universal Prayer

Celebrant:          Having set this vigil light, let us pray to receive and foster the Divine Light which enlightens the world, that within all of us the Sacred Flame may grow ever stronger and we all grow in love and understanding.

Silence or brief meditation as members come up to light their own candles from the lucernarium.

All:                         Amen.


Reader:                For our reigning Sovereign Pontiff __________, and presiding Bishop __________, and all bishops of the Apostolic Johannite Church, bishops in amity, and leaders of faith throughout the world, we pray to the Lord.


For the leaders of our respective communities of faith, wherein we find our connection to the Sacred Flame, especially __________…

All:                         Lord, hear our prayer.


Reader:                For our President __________, our Governor __________,  and all members of local and regional government and all who give their lives in tireless service to the common good, may they be guided by the Sacred Flame and create the foundations for a holy society, free from tyranny and oppression.

All:                         Lord, hear our prayer.


Reader:                For those who give their lives in service to the poor, the needy, the marginalized and imprisoned as well as those in need and from want, suffering ostracism and imprisonment; may they all be preserved bodily, mentally and spiritually.

All:                         Lord, hear our prayer.


Reader:                For our church and faith communities throughout the world; especially __________,  our (mission, narthex, parish, etc.), that they be beacons of light in the sea of existence and guide people to You, in the myriad of ways you provide.

All:                         Lord, hear our prayer.


Reader:                For our friends and family and all those suffering illness, especially __________, may you renew them bodily, mentally, and spiritually that they may remain with us presently and in future joy.

All:                         Lord, hear our prayer.


Reader:                For those who have left this world and have gone onward to that other shore from which no one returns, especially __________,  may they be rightly guided by the lights you have set for them and may they be uplifted and encouraged by our prayers.

All:                         Lord, hear our prayer.


Reader:                                For our own personal needs at this time…


All may state their petitions out loud or silently at this time.


All:         Lord, hear our prayer.


Celebrant:          O Lord, You make all things new. As these prayers are lifted up toward you, renew the world and all those for whom we have prayed that they may abide forever under the providence of your divine light. May all those, especially the victims of [name or location of tragedy] find speedy healing and protection under your wings and may the wings of Holy Wisdom brush gently at our hearts, removing from us the defilements of anger, hatred and confusion.


Celebrant:          The Lord be with you.

All:                         And also with you.

Celebrant:          The Lord bless us, and bring us to wholeness, compassion and understanding. The Lord enlighten our minds, comfort our hearts and sustain our bodies. May all those in suffering soon find healing, comfort and aid and may we all do what is meet and right in our ways as members of your body, O Lord, to commit ourselves to repair of the world.

All:                         Amen.

Optional, dismissal of the archangels.

 Dismissal of the Archangels


Celebrant:           Hail, mighty Raphael, Archangel of the Air, Healer and Guardian of Wind and Tempest. We thank thee for thine attendance and protection here, and before thou departest for thine airy realms, we bid Thee hail and farewell.

All:                          Hail and farewell.

Celebrant:           Hail, mighty Michael, the Defender, Lord of Fire and Prince of the Legions of Heaven. We thank thee for thine attendance and protection here, and before thou departest for thine fiery realms, we bid Thee hail and farewell.

All:                          Hail and farewell.


Celebrant:           Hail, mighty Gabriel, Lady of Water, Heavenly Herald, who didst bring glad tidings to Our Blessed Mother. We thank thee for thine attendance and protection here, and before thou departest for thine watery realms, we bid Thee hail and farewell.

All:                          Hail and farewell.

Celebrant:           Hail, mighty Uriel, Dark Lady of Earth, who bringest all at last unto the Nether Shore, Companion of all who offer up their lives in the defense of others. We thank thee for thine attendance and protection here, and before thou departest for thine earthy realms, we bid Thee hail and farewell.

All:                          Hail and farewell.

Good Friday

Waiting is painful. Forgetting is painful. But not knowing which to do is the worse kind of suffering.
– Paulo Coelho


ILLE mi par esse deo uidetur, ille, si fas est, superare diuos,qui sedens aduersus identidem te spectat et audit dulce ridentem, misero quod omnis eripit sensus mihi: nam simul te.
-Catullus, Carmina 51


“This is what is signified by the words Ana l-haqq, “I am God.” People imagine that it is a presumptuous claim, whereas it is really a presumptuous claim to say Ana ‘l-‘abd, “I am the slave of God”; and Ana l-haqq, “I am God” is an expression of great humility. The man who says Ana ‘l-‘abd, “I am the servant of God” affirms two existences, his own and God’s, but he that says Ana l-haqq, “I am God” has made himself non-existent and has given himself up and says “I am God”, that is, “I am naught, He is all; there is no being but God’s.” This is the extreme of humility and self-abasement.”
– Jalal al-Din Muhammad Rumi, commentary on Mansur Al-Hallaj


“So you see, Good and Evil have the same face; it all depends on when they cross the path of each individual human being.”
-Paulo Coelho, The Devil and Miss Prynn

carrying the cross

Thou hast conquered, O pale Galilean; the world has grown grey from thy breath;
We have drunken of things Lethean, and fed on the fullness of death.
Laurel is green for a season, and love is sweet for a day;
But love grows bitter with treason, and laurel outlives not May.
– Charles Algernon Swinburne


Cum ergo accepisset Jesus acetum, dixit: Consummatum est. Et inclinato capite tradidit spiritum.


Thursday of Mysteries

“When the glorious disciples were enlightened at the washing of their feet before the supper, the impious Judas was darkened by the disease of avarice, and to the lawless judges he betrayed You, the Righteous Judge. Behold, this man because of avarice hanged himself. Flee from the insatiable desire which dared such things against the Master! O Lord Who deals righteously with all, glory to You!”
– Troparion (Plagal Fourth Tone) of Holy Thursday



“Knowing that Judas was reflecting upon something that was exalted, Jesus said to him, “Step away from the others and I shall tell you the mysteries of the kingdom. It is possible for you to reach it, but you will grieve a great deal. For someone else will replace you, in order that the twelve may again come to completion with their god.”
– Gospel of Judas


“It is not permitted to hold love, as they are called, in the, or Churches, nor to eat and to spread couches in the house of God.”
– Canon XXVIII, Council of Laodicea


“Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old; you shall take it from the sheep or from the goats.”
-Exodus 12:5

john the beloved


“Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos”



This past Saturday I woke up early after a peculiarly restless sleep anxious about the day ahead. Every first and third Friday the Seattle Johannite community, Holy Paraclete, meets at a local esoteric bookstore for communal prayer and, occasionally, participation in the Eucharist through our friend, Monsignor Scott Rassbach+, of Rose Cross Community in Portland. This time, however, was different and unique. Although the monsignor couldn’t make it to the service, I decided as the narthex leader to try something different from our usual vespers service on account of a special guest coming from out of town and offer them, as a gesture of friendship between our different communities.

Friendship and mutual support is important. Regardless of traditions, we are all being led by the Sacred Flame toward the Godhead in whatever way we imagine it and are all fellow travelers on the spiritual path. I met Pater Craig Williams a number of years ago at the Esoteric Book Conference ,where he was interviewed last year by Occult of Personality. A priest of Ecclesia Gnostica Æterna and adept in Ayurveda and Eastern spirituality, I’ve enjoyed my conversations with him and acknowledge him as a friend and exemplar of what it means to be a modern gnostic. Another guest, friend and soon-to-be deacon of Ecclesia Gnostica was also present, as well as others from different traditions. To say I felt overwhelmed at first would be a gross understatement.

The entire morning I traveled here and there across town to get the things I needed for the ceremony in-between making lunch for my partner and me, ironing the clothes I was going to wear, and packing up my travel bag that I use to bring what I needed to the location. I decided that I would arrive a few hours earlier to clean up the space with my partner, set up what was needed, and then grab a quick drink at a local pub to calm my nerves about an hour and half before Holy Paraclete’s first Agapé Meal.

The Agapé Meal is a ceremony dating back to the earliest ages of the Christian movement and although the Council of Laeodicea effectively marked the end of the practice of the agapé feasts in the transition of Christian worship from home to the adapted Hellenic temples and other buildings granted to Christians for worship and congregation some fifty years earlier by the Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus Augustus by declaring, “no one holding any office in the Church, be he cleric or layman, who are invited to an agapé feast, may take away their portions, for this is to cast reproach on the ecclesiastical order[1].” Although it can be certain many still met in the context of their own families and extended friends, this development also marked the codification – or rather separation – between clergy and the laity.

Although eucharistic in appearance, the agapé is principally communal in nature, best described by His Grace, +Mar Timotheos of New South Wales: “[The Agape Meal] a prayerful feast shared in community.. [and] a time for a whole household to come together and give thanks… you can think of [it] as a bridge. It bridges the domestic, mundane reality of the meal with the sacred time of liturgy – so it has a flavour that is somewhat liturgical and somewhat casual. As the liturgy proclaims: there is no separation between these things – but it’s easy to think of sacredness as only being at church or in meditation. Agape is a way to remind ourselves that truly ‘there is nothing mundane in the holy’.”

The above description is precisely what I felt last Saturday in the presence of good friends and spiritual partners. In spite of our many different backgrounds, experiences and even personal practices, we were able to come together, sit at the same table, pray and enjoy our company in a mindful manner. The conversations were delightful and I was overjoyed by the entirety of the experience in spite of my initial anxieties. Waking up the next morning, I felt inspired – the first time in a number of weeks due to personal life stressors – and motivated to move past the things I’ve been letting hold me back to some degree and try out new things.


[1] Canon 27, Laeodicea


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