The Seventeenth Sunday After Trinity
Intent: Spiritual progress
“Then Jesus said… ‘Send me forth, O Father, therefore, and I, bearing the seal shall descend and wander all Aeons through, all mysteries reveal. I shall manifest the forms of the gods and teach them the secrets of the holy way which I call Gnosis.’”
- Psalm attributed to the Nasseene Gnostics.
A basic theme of gnostic thought is that the cosmos is divided into a series of domains or spheres referred to as “worlds” (for the Mandeans) or “aeons” (in Hellenistic Gnosticism). This theme communicates the idea that there are many degrees of separation between man and God, and vast distances through which the soul must pass in its liberation from matter and return to its Divine home.
The ancient Ptolomeic systems, which place the Earth at the center of concentric spheres, represent this idea. We see it also in the seven rungs of Jacob’s ladder, and in the seven spheres of the New Testament Revelation. In Babylonia the goddess Ishtar descends through seven gates. Mohammed climbed through seven heavens. In the mysteries of Mithras there are seven steps. In the ancient Mystery religions, disciples sought knowledge through a structure of rites, or tests, called initiations. In most cases these initiations were seven in number, and the initiate passed through the degrees by overcoming the negative attributes of each of the seven planets. Everywhere we find this seven-fold pathway for spiritual progress.
What does it mean to climb this ladder, to pass through the aeons, or to overcome the influences of the planets? For the Gnostic, spiritual progress is a process of overcoming the forces (such as ignorance and illusion) that obstruct our way and keep us imprisoned in the spheres of matter. This is accomplished by the unfolding of the indwelling Christ principle. We pass through the worlds and aeons as we shift the leadership of our lives from the ego to the divine principle within ourselves. Thus we pray at the conclusion of our Gnostic Holy Eucharist that we may behold the Indwelling and Cosmic Christ, that we may walk the earth illumined by the Divine Light, and that in our lives we may manifest the Light within.
“So let the Light of the Divine Soul illumine us.” Amen.