Central to the Gnostic understanding of humanity is the belief that it is possible for man to become part of the God-Family (Elohim). While mankind as a whole may seem to be in a pretty dismal state at present, the Gnostics have always taught that it is possible for the "particles of light" to be redeemed, and for those who seek, to find the Treasury of Light. This doctrine of Theosis or deification has been a major part of the Mystery tradition since the earliest days and has survived, albeit, in modified form, to the present in both the exoteric and esoteric traditions.
The concept of deification is found in the earliest religious systems, the rites of Kingship in both Sumeria and Egypt centred on the king being initiated through a secret rite of death and rebirth so that he could become a mediator between his people and God. As the mediator he was considered divine and was imputed with the symbols of divinity. In these early periods the way in which humanity contacted the higher worlds was through the Priest/King, in these theocracies individuals could not be deified in their own right, but achieved the power to develop and grow through the mediatorship of the divine Priest/King. While certainly the morality of these kings varied and so did the focus of their mediatoship (Archon and Aenonic), the principle remained, nevertheless, the same and the tradition continued. As the ages rolled on, mankind's interaction with the spiritual worlds changed, rather than theocracies non-theistic political systems developed and the role of mediator was replaced by the priest, shaman or wiseperson. Through death and rebirth rites the priest achieved a state of power whereby s/he was able to mediate between the spiritual and physical worlds. At this stage we can see that individual Theosis was still far in the future, mediatorship was embodied in the Prophet, Priest, Shaman or wiseperson. The rites of Kingship and priesthood were kept secret and at first only passed via brotherhoods, cults and orders, however later they were also transmitted to individual priests and shamans who qualified but were outside the "monastic" system. Theosis at these early stages involved collective as well as individual gnosis, the land and the king, for example, in the Celtic tradition were intricately connected. In ancient Israel the people could only be cleansed by the Priest entering the Holy of Holies once a year and undertaking secret rites on behalf of his people.
A natural development after the mediating priest was the achievement of the individual right to deification. However, this involved spiritual as well as psychological changes. Man could not just develop the right to be deified, the Lord of Wisdom had to reach into the lower worlds and change the nature of the mystical path. Through the work of Jesus and James the Just, a religious transformation occurred and mankind was given the right to enter the Kingdom of Light. In the past some individuals had been able to achieve Theosis (Enoch walked with God and was not), but these were unique cases and were above and beyond the norm. In preparation for the work of Jesus and James, the Qumran community (the Essenes) had been formed, the teacher of righteousness began to outline the requirements for individual Theosis and this became the Mystery teachings of the Essenes. Other mystery cults undertook similar preparation. In terms of Israel, the older Covenant between Yahweh and his people had developed from divine Kigship through a period of prophets and mediators to the individual mystical training required for personal Theosis.
The Essenes rejecting the apostate forms of Talmudic Judaism, separated themselves into the deserts and began preparation for the great change which was to occur. They understood that there were to be two Messiahs, a King (Davidic) and a Priestly. Today these two Messiahs have been misunderstood and the concept of Messiah or Christ has been distorted. In ancient Israel the Christ or Messiah was not one individual, it was a state of consciousness, a role and a task. The Davidic Messiah was the King who was expected to liberate Israel from its prison, while the Priestly Messiah was to give Israel a new spiritual impetus.
These two roles need to be carefully considered. In present scholarship there is a tendency to confuse Edomite/Talmudic forms of Judaism with the Ariosophic forms of the Israelite Mysteries. Accordingly, the King Messiah tends to be seen in purely political and revolutionary terms, while certainly there is a political element to the message of the Davidic Messiah we must realise that since matter is fallen, for the Messiah to save Israel as a whole (as a collective of particles of light), the physical world must be destroyed ! This is why there is such an apocalyptic emphasis in Essene and Gnostic literature, for the Davidic Messiah to complete his task all matter must be annihilated. Accordingly, the role of the Davidic Messiah was to prepare Israel for a new interpretation of the Kingdom of God, Jesus as the Davidic Messiah illustrated how individual Theosis was possible. For through individual Theosis the particles of light may be liberated and at the Omega Day all light retrieved from matter. By his deat and resurrection (whether literal or as a Mystery enactment) he embodied the old rites of Kingship and taught how individuals through death and rebirth could become deified.
During the life of Jesus, he prepared his disciples for this change in spiritual technology. He taught how they could come into contact with their Light selves but that only after his death could they receive the holy spirit (the power of Yahweh). It was only after he had conquered death that a path to individual Theosis became available and the task of his brother, James the Just was to teach this.
James the Just was the Priestly Messiah, he taught that Jesus had imparted the secret of the Mysteries and that now initiated individuals could become part of the divine family. This divine twinship, these two Messiahs are found throughout the Old testament and are mentioned in an unusual record in the New. We have the strange record of a supposed Roman celebration where one criminal is released each year, this is certainly strange as there is no other record of this supposed Roman ceremony. The people are asked to choose, do they want Jesus or Barrabas. The code here is in the name Barrabas, Barrabas means "Son of God", in earlier translations of the New testament we find Barrabas was called Jesus Barrabas, in other words, Jesus, Son of God ! Are there two Jesus', the answer is yes ! Jesus the King who is crucified (Jesus Christ, King of the Jews ) and James the Just, the second Jesus Son of God who is let free !
The new teachings as revealed by Jesus and James has two distinct aspects, the first is that of individual self discovery. This is the path of the Dove known to the Gnostics as the Psychic Path. It is the path outlined by Jesus. After the death of Jesus and outpouring of Sophia at Pentecost, James the Just revealed a second path, the path of the Serpent or the Pneumatic Path. This is the path of Theosis or deification. The concept of Theosis is found in the writings of many Church Fathers and is embodied in the initiations described in the Secret Gospel of Mark (refer works of Morton Smith). The path of the Serpent involved secret training, occult techniques and death and rebirth rites, it was both a way of life and a ritualised process. (As it is today).
After the death of James the Just, things became difficult. St.Paul, though knowledgeable in some aspects of the Mysteries, was not an initiated Essene or Gnostic. Accordingly, his writings are a muddle of Qumran Essene Mysticism and Talmudic traditions. There is certainly documentation to suggest a division between the Jerusalem Church of James the Just (the rightful heir to the Essenes) and the new form of Christianity taught by Paul. Paul certainly knew of the doctrine of Theosis but had little knowledge of its technology and relevance. After James died, Paul wrangled control of much of the Church and created a distorted form of Christianity, while in the end this resulted in the "Secret Way" going underground. The writings of St.Paul were always viewed with some ambivalence by the Gnostic Church. The Secret Way has survived in various Gnostic cults and was rejected as the Church became the political-religious complex we know as Catholicism.
There were two paths of survival for the doctrine of Theosis. As the Gnostic cults came and went the doctrine was passed from one to another and flowered in the Cathars and Knight Templars. From the Knight Templars the doctrine passed to various esoteric orders and was transmitted via Freemasonry and occult traditions. This form of the doctrine of deification sustained the technology and science, but lost most of the ethical and religious teachings associated with it.
On the other hand, the doctrine was also passed from the Gnostic cults to various Monastic orders within the Orthodox Church. Here the doctrine took root and became an accepted teaching within the Orthodox traditions. It is still taught today within most Orthodox communions, however, over the centuries it has lost it context, esotericism and technology and in such an exoteric form exists as little more than a name. We also know that the esoteric form of Theosis was taught to Gurdjieff by various esoteric Christian bodies and made its way into modern Fourth Way Schools. A prime example is in the work of Boris Mouravieff (Praxis Institute) who combines Orthodoxy with Fourth Way traditions. Once again, however, we have a distortion, the moralism and puritanical nature of some of the modern Orthodox-fourth way schools shows how far they have travelled from the original Jerusalem Church wisdom.
Theosis or deification is central to the Gnostic tradition. It represents the natural development of the Covenant process of Ancient Israel. We can see how Yahweh revealed knowledge to man first through Kingship in a theocracy, then through the Prophets and Shamans and finally directly to the human soul through initiation and Transfiguration. The essence of the Transfiguration process is the ability of an individual to enter the path of rebirth and escape the coils of the World of the Archons to return home as a immortal member of the God-family.
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