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In this series Book 9. Book 1. In truth, Christianity in its original state was composed of a vast multiplicity of forms and, in this sense, was formless. It was a great movement of spirituality and enlightenment. While there were, indeed, some forms that resembled what would later become orthodox belief that held to the outer teachings alone, there were many currents of mystical and Gnostic Christianity that included inner and secret teachings.

The term Christian Gnosticism, in general, indicates all mystical and Gnostic currents within early Christianity and all Christian Mystery schools that arose founded upon inner and secret teachings of Jesus, or, gnosis of Christ consciousness.

GNOSIS - The Esoteric Christianity

At the outset, Christianity was a completely oral tradition, passed down from the apostles to their disciples. It existed in many and diverse forms, depending upon the knowledge and experience of each apostle and the capacity of the disciples to receive their teachings. There was no single canon of doctrine or creed, nor was there any fixed canon of Holy Scripture.

Rather, the whole movement was founded upon a living transmission of spiritual teachings and practices, at the heart of which was direct and personal experience of the Christ presence. Each reflected different views and experiences of Jesus and, more specifically, different visions and experiences of Christ. Essentially, original Christianity was a living experience of the Christos light-presence , Logos word , and Sophia wisdom and, in this sense, represented a living enlightenment experience.

In time, the oral traditions began to be written down. In this process, quite naturally, the original diversity began to diminish. The translation of an oral tradition into written form involves a process of selecting the version to be told.

Living Gnosis : A Practical Guide to Gnostic Christianity

The version would be based upon what the writer considers most important, the audience to which it is written, and the degree to which the chosen audience will be able to relate to and understand what is written. It also leaves those who cannot read or write almost entirely out of the process, thus in the translation from an oral to a written tradition, the views and experiences that are expressed narrow significantly.

Nevertheless, even with the transition from an exclusively oral tradition towards written tradition, in the first several hundred years of Christianity there were literally hundreds of different lines of teachings and practices, and the oral traditions continued alongside the written traditions. The vast majority of these oral and written traditions were mystical and Gnostic in nature. Christianity, in the forms that are typically known today, is but a dim reflection of original Christianity, lacking its true spiritual and mystical content. Basically, Christianity as it has come to be known did not appear until the time of the Roman emperor Constantine.

During his reign, the Roman Empire was disintegrating due to fighting between the various religious sects.

Living Gnosis: A Practical Guide to Gnostic Christianity

In the ancient world, politics and religion were completely inseparable. Consequently, the emperor Constantine underwent a supposed spiritual experience, which lead to his conversion to a specific sect of Christianity.

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Essentially, Constantine ordered them to develop a state religion that would be suited to serve as his socio-political vehicle, through which he might impose his rule throughout the whole empire. Obviously, under pressure to produce a new version of Christian religion swiftly and to carve out a clear dogmatic doctrine and creed, compromises were made and the judgment of the emperor was strongly considered. After all, what an emperor wants, an emperor gets; likewise, those who provide it are richly rewarded. Mystical and Gnostic elements had to be stripped away, for people could not be subjected to Roman rule and authority by empowering individuals or placing value on their spiritual experiences.

Thus, in this environment of personal ambition, the doctrine and creed of the Roman Church arose, which in turn has become the largest single influence in the development of Western civilization and the history of Western culture. This eventually developed into the persecution, oppression, torture, and murder of millions and millions of people whose beliefs and practices differed from the established orthodox dogma and creed, long before the later period of the Office of the Inquisition and its atrocities.

Anything seen to threaten or contradict the authority of the emperor, and by extension the Roman Church, was put down and destroyed over the course of the next several hundred years, and long into the future. Most mystical and Gnostic currents of Christianity were annihilated, save for a relative few that went underground and formed themselves into secret societies.

Thus, the awesome and wonderful beauty of diversity which formed original Christianity was all but destroyed, and mystics and Gnostics among Christians were branded heretics. Gnostic Christianity, therefore, represents a more esoteric and secret side of Christianity—an inner and mystical tradition, the teachings and practices of which typically having little, if anything, to do with orthodox forms of Christianity.

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Essentially, Christian Gnosticism represents enlightenment teachings of living wisdom in the West that have survived under the shadow of persecution for thousands of years. Today, once again, mystical and Gnostic currents of Christianity are appearing openly—some having existed all the while in secret, and others newly inspired by the movement of the Spirit and serendipitous events. In the words of St. John, The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. Over the course of the past three hundred years there have been numerous finds of ancient sacred literature.

In Vajrayana Buddhism, it is believed that enlightened masters of the past buried and hid special wisdom teachings for future generations. When it is time for a terma to be found, enlightened beings and intuition guide a holy person to discover a terma and to receive and transmit the wisdom it contains.

After all, it is only now in our modern era that the stranglehold of orthodox Christianity has been broken, to allow such ancient sacred texts to see the light of day without being hidden away in some secret vault of the Vatican or destroyed altogether. Likewise, it is now, with our general standard of education higher than ever before, that these sacred texts can benefit more individuals. Also, if at any time we have needed an extension of light and truth and a restoration of true spirituality and enlightenment in Western culture, it is now as we face what may well be our greatest evolutionary challenge: with growing psychic tension due to an acceleration of consciousness, access to increasingly greater technology and power, environmental issues and development towards global culture, all of which must be managed and integrated, we are in need of spiritual wisdom.

Considering the significant role of the West in this inevitable process, the timing of these discoveries could not be more perfect than the present. The two most significant finds, without a doubt, were the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Nag Hammadi library. The Dead Sea Scrolls themselves are not directly Gnostic, but they represent the library of a Jewish Essene community that very likely existed during the life of Jesus of Nazareth.

Gnosticism itself represents a mystical and magical form of spirituality, and in general, Christian Gnosticism views Jesus as a mystic and magician who taught a mystical path to higher consciousness and self-realization. Evidence of diverse mystical trends of thought among Jewish peoples lends great support to this view. Such teachings and practices would not at all have been strange or out of place in the lifetime of Jesus. The Nag Hammadi library, however, is beyond any doubt the most significant find in the context of Gnosticism and insight into original Christianity, for among the many different sacred texts it contains are holy books of pagan Gnosticism, such as those of the Greek-Egyptian magical tradition of Hermes Trismegistus, along with many mystical writings of Jewish Christian and Gnostic Christian origin.

Essentially, there are numerous traditions of mystical and Gnostic Christianity represented in the Nag Hammadi library. It is seems safe to say that the Nag Hammadi library is a great wisdom treasury of Western spirituality and enlightenment. Some of the texts in the Nag Hammadi directly support and prove relevant to these older Gnostic Christian traditions.


The Nag Hammadi, as a whole, supports and celebrates a diversity of views on the Christ event and is useful in this way. However, for lineages pre-existing the Nag Hammadi, having their own foundation of living tradition, much of the Nag Hammadi library is spiritually and practically irrelevant and is not used. Only selected works from the Nag Hammadi are absorbed into their teachings. This is not the case for most newer currents of Gnosticism, for most of them have arisen since the publication of the Nag Hammadi and rely more heavily upon the sacred texts of the various traditions that appear in the library.

In general, from a Gnostic Christian perspective, each current or tradition draws what is useful to it from the Nag Hammadi library, whether the older or newer Gnostic schools. This, in itself, reflects the classical Gnostic approach in which the knowledge and experience of each individual is more valued than any fixed view of dogmatic doctrine and creed. To both old and new schools of Christian Gnosticism, the Nag Hammadi is certainly part of the inspiration to teach and initiate openly, and it has, in effect, sparked a Gnostic revival in the West.

The Sophian tradition of Gnostic Christianity is among the lineages that existed prior to the discovery of the Nag Hammadi library; hence it is a pre-Nag Hammadi tradition of Christian Gnosticism. Its known history goes back to the late seventeenth century Europe, when it is said to have existed in Germany, France, Great Britain, Spain, and Italy.

Its known history emerges with the dawn of the Rosicrucian enlightenment in Europe, which Gnosticism has been said to significantly influence. However, according to stories told in the tradition, Sophian Gnosticism traces itself back to St. Mary Magdalene and to the Order of St. Michael, which is said to have formed around her and her son.

Essentially, the foundation of the Sophian tradition is a Christian Kabbalah; it represents a form of Gnostic Christianity with strong roots in Jewish mysticism. As I have pointed out in previous books, Jesus was a Jewish teacher and principally taught Jewish disciples.

Thus, from a Sophian perspective, if Jesus was a mystic and magician, then the foundation of his teachings would be Jewish mysticism, or what has come to be known as the Holy Kabbalah. Many forms of Christian mysticism and Gnosticism are founded upon the Kabbalah. What is distinct to the Sophian tradition, as implied in its tracing its origin back to St. Mary Magdalene, are its teachings regarding St. Mary Magdalene. Not only do Sophians believe that Jesus was an enlightened being, they believe that Mary Magdalene was also an enlightened person.

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  6. Basically, according to Sophian teachings, Mary Magdalene was the consort and wife of the Master, was coequal and coenlightened with him, and was co-preacher of the Gospel with him. Obviously, the inclusion of St.