Commemoration of the Beheading of Saint John the Baptist
The Gnostic Church commemorates the beheading of Saint-John the Baptist.
The depth of symbolism of this commemoration is astonishing. Putting aside historical debates, for the Gnostic Church, St-John the Baptist symbolically represents the living link between Gnosticism and the Jewish-Essenian esoteric teachings. He is also understood as being Jesus’ principal teacher in the Sacred Mysteries and also the facilitator of his Great Initiation into the Spirit when Jesus became the Christ. The modern Gnostic Church has therefore aptly called itself Johannite putting emphasis on this pre-Christian link to the ancient esoteric past. His head is therefore the symbol of the passing of Wisdom and the Light of the Gnosis through the Initatic Chain of Union and is a strong reminder that the Gnostic Mysteries have existed since time immemorial and our not the single property of the Christian movement. His central importance to Gnosticism is seen by the fact that the last living ancient Gnostic Religion, the Mandeans, hold him as their most important Prophet. We are also reminded that Saint-John was the patron of the Knights Templars along with the Virgin Mother and that they worshipped a “Head of Wisdom.”
The head has been associated to the Spirit for thousands of years. Esoterically it was a symbol of the Sun and of the Light, as the saying goes “there is fire in the mind.” As the Feast of Saint-John the Baptist (June 24) is close to the Summer Solstice he is a fitting representation of the fullness of the Prophetic past but also of the Old Law waning in strength. As he diminishes, the New King, the Indwelling Christic Spirit replaces him. The cutting of the head of a solar figure at the time of the harvest (on August 29) is a powerful symbol of this changing of spiritual paradigms.
But Saint-John the Baptist is also a fundamentally an Essenian Gnostic Martyr and a victim of a state opposed to a freer and more just social order. One that prefers to kill its Prophets than listen to them. As the collect for today states: “Blessed are those who have been persecuted in their heart; these are they who have known the Father in truth.”
Let us therefore pray, as one Gnostic Community, that the Eternal Justice of the Lord may be heard by all persons in high places with openness and tolerance, and that its Light may shine forth eternally on us and within us like an unconquerable Sun. Amen.
- Reverend Mr. Mathieu Ravignat
"From Adam until John the Baptist there is among those who are born of women none higher than John the Baptist, so that his eyes will not be broken. But I have said that whoever among you becomes as a little child shall know the kingdom and he shall become higher than John. Jesus said: Blessed are those who have been persecuted in their heart; these are they who have known the Father in Truth." (From the Gospel according to St. Thomas.)