There is no doubt that the intelligence of the heart, which we call “faith,” is an essential key to any authentic spiritual development, yet, quite clearly, these verses speak of something more than faith – they speak of direct spiritual and mystical experience of Christ, and they point to Divine Gnosis, a state of Divine Illumination. This defines “salvation” or “redemption” as understood by Gnostic Christians – it is an enlightenment experience that liberates the soul, and the evolution of the soul to Christ Consciousness. We are set upon the Gnostic Path by faith: faith in the Divine Incarnation and the Great Mystery revealed in the events of the Gospel, and by faith in the Light-indweller (Christ in us). Yet, ultimately, it is through Divine Gnosis that we experience “salvation” – hence, through Self-realization in Christ. When we study and contemplate the Holy Gospel we see an allegory of the development and evolution of the soul to Supernal or Messianic Consciousness. Though from the very outset of the Gospel, at the baptism of the Master in the Sacred Jordan by John the Baptist, Lord Yeshua embodies the Spirit of the Messiah – Supernal Being; nevertheless he enacts a Mystery Drama with his disciples, revealing the cycles of Initiation in the Path to Self-realization. According to the masters of the Tradition, the Divine Incarnation served a twofold purpose: Firstly, to embody the Supernal Light-presence (Christos) in the material dimension, and to manifest the Gnostic and Light Transmission (hence, the Gnostic Apostolic Succession); and secondly, to teach the Path to Self-realization in Christ, opening the Way to Supernal or Messianic Consciousness. Thus, the purpose of the Divine Incarnation was Spiritual Initiation through which Christ Consciousness might be manifest in the human life-wave on earth. The Gnostic Path, in essence, is this Path of Initiation; the Way to Christ Consciousness.
The Eightfold Path of Christian Initiation:
In the Holy Gospel of the Messiah we find Eight Cycles of Initiation:
This corresponds to the element of earth and the root star in the subtle body. Our spiritual birth on the most fundamental level is the dawn of faith, and faith represents the very first gradation of the enlightenment experience, for it is an intuition of the Truth and Light, which invokes the experience of the Truth and Light, and it is the sense of the Mystery the leads us in our Sacred Quest. Faith, itself, is a great mystery, for no one can say why one person has faith and another does not; yet, apart from faith in some form, no one can truly enter the Path to Self-realization. It is akin to our birth in this world in that it comes by way of Divine Providence and is a gift of the Holy Spirit, just as is our birth and life in this world. In the Holy Gospel we are told that Lord Yeshua was born of the Virgin Mother through Immaculate Conception – which is a metaphor of Spiritual Awakening. The dawn of faith is like a Holy Seed of Light implanted in the womb of the Virgin of Light – our own personality and life-display, and our very bodies, being her womb in which the Light-indweller (Christ) is conceived, gestated and born. From this Immaculate Conception by way of the Mother Spirit all of the cycles of Christian Initiation unfold and we are destined to evolve into the Divine Fullness of Christ as sons and daughters of the Great Seth, the True Light. (On another level the story of the Virgin Birth is meant to convey that the soul incarnate as Lord Yeshua was Christed before incarnation in this world, and thus points to the mystery of the Order of Melchizedek – the Universal Order of Enlightenment. Here we may say: Divine Wisdom is the Mother of all Enlightened Ones; hence the Gnosis of the Cosmic Christ.)
This corresponds to the element of water and to the navel star in the subtle body. In the Sophian lineage of Gnostic Christianity there is one single Initiation, which assumes an outer and inner form. The outer form, which corresponds to the Exterior Church, is composed of baptism, chrism (anointing) and the wedding feast (holy eucharist). The inner form, which corresponds to the Interior Church, is communicated by living word, radiant holy breath and the laying on of hands. Essentially, the inner form of the Initiation is meant to draw out the energetic dimension of the outer form, and though occurring at two different points in space-time, it is one and the same movement of Divine Grace from the perspective of the eternal realm or Risen Messiah; hence, on single Initiation. This describes the Initiation of the esoteric Gnostic Apostolic Succession, which is the foundation of the Sophian Tradition of Gnostic Christianity – a vehicle of the Gnostic and Light Transmission that opens the way to direct spiritual and mystical experience of the Living Yeshua, the Risen Savior, and the evolution of the soul to Supernal or Messianic Consciousness. Yet, the nature of the Initiation transcends the external forms that may be used to facilitate it, and may occur apart from anything external. In essence, the True Initiation, represented by “baptism,” from a Gnostic perspective, is the reception of the Light from above and the awakening of the Serpent Power (called “Kundalini” in the East). Thus, in the Holy Gospel we hear of a threefold baptism, of water, fire and Spirit; water represents the reception of the Light from above, fire represents the activation of the Serpent Power (“Fire Snake”), and the Spirit represents the potential state of Divine Illumination (Divine Gnosis) that may transpire when the Serpent Power is integrated, uplifted and redeemed (brought into repose or cessation). At the outset of the Gnostic Path we seek to consciously open ourselves to the Mother’s Force – the Anointed and Holy Spirit; specifically, we wish to open ourselves to the Light from above, and to welcome and invite the Light-presence (Christ) and Light-power (Holy Spirit) into us and into our lives. We do nothing to force an awaking of the Serpent Power, but rather we learn to wait upon the Spirit of Messiah, and let Divine Grace awaken, uplift and redeem the Serpent Power in due season. Typically speaking, to the extent we open and become sensitive to the Light-presence, and surrender to the Light-presence, the Light-power moves with, in and through us, and the Serpent Power is awakened. There is a natural Ordeal of Initiation that comes with this Gnostic Baptism – the Temptation. You may recall, following the reception of the Spirit of Messiah, “the Light from above,” Lord Yeshua was driven out into the wilderness of the desert by the Holy Spirit to be tempted by Satan (the Opponent). This represents the spiritual labor to integrate and uplift the Serpent Power and the First Dark Night of the Soul that naturally occurs in this process – quite literally, one undergoes a mystical death and rebirth. Not only is there a temptation to go back to the old and unenlightened life, as though to go back to sleep, but there is also the temptation towards a misuse of psychic and spiritual power for self-gratification and self-aggrandizement, as one experiences an influx of extreme levels of desire-energy and the full power of the soul comes into being. The awakening of the Serpent Power is not enlightenment and liberation itself, but rather the Fiery Intelligence must be sublimated, and consciously directed inward and upward – Godward.
This corresponds to the element of fire and to the solar plexus star in the subtle body. The transfiguration represents the integration of our personality and life-display to the Light-presence, and the full movement and integration of the Serpent Power; hence the actual opening of consciousness to new dimensions and the attainment of various grades of higher vital and mental consciousness, along with the corresponding levels of Divine Gnosis. In essence, the transfiguration is composed of many different grades of the enlightenment experience (Mochin Gadlut – Big Mind) on the level of our vital and mental being, yet it is not the actual enlightenment and liberation of the soul, nor is it the actual attainment of Supernal or Messianic Consciousness. This is the realm of Gnostic Initiates, for it brings intimate knowledge of the Risen Messiah; and it is the realm of the Zaken (Elder) or Adept, for when the Light-presence is embodied and the Serpent Power is awakened and integrated, it is possible for a person to serve as a vehicle of the Gnostic and Light Transmission to others or to facilitate something of the Gnostic experience with others.
Crucifixion – This corresponds to the element of air and to the heart star in the subtle body. The transfiguration represents higher gradations of mental and vital consciousness spanning from the ordinary mental and vital consciousness to cosmic consciousness – the peak of mental and vital being. Yet, in order to experience the breakthrough to Supernal or Messianic Consciousness, which is Supramental, the vital and mental consciousness must be brought into complete cessation – the Serpent Power must be brought into repose in the crown star of the subtle body. This represents another mystical death and rebirth, and is the Second Dark Night of the Soul, for the delights of the Gnosis and Communion of the Adept must be sacrificed in order to pass into Supernal or Messianic Consciousness; hence, the Passion and Crucifixion. Relatively speaking, for most of us in this life, our spiritual labor remains in the realm of Initiation between Birth and Crucifixion, for very few of us are ready and willing to pass through the cycle of Initiation represented by the Passion and Crucifixion – but those who pass through this cycle of Initiation into the Resurrection enter into the realm of the Sacred Tau, and embody something of the Supernal Light-presence, the Supernal Consciousness-Force, and are rightly called “Spiritual Masters.
This corresponds to the element of spirit-space and to the throat star in the subtle body. The resurrection represents the actual dawn of Supernal or Messianic Consciousness, and the influx of the Supernal Light-presence, which can potentially transform all levels of consciousness – mental, vital and physical, including the substance of matter itself, as we see in the Risen Savior. It is the full development of consciousness beyond the body, and at the same time a full infusion of the body with Higher Consciousness – it opens the way to conscious unification with God and Godhead. (This is the initial generation of the Threefold Body of Melchizedek.)
This corresponds to the white father seed and to the brow star in the subtle body. The ascension is akin to the transfiguration on another level, for it represents the progressive infusion and integration of the Supernal Light-force into the mental, vital and physical levels of consciousness; hence, the actual transformation of all levels of consciousness, and complete generation of the Threefold Body of Melchizedek.
This corresponds to the red mother seed and to the crown star on the head of the subtle body. This represents a conscious unification with God and Godhead – Christhood. One who attains this Mystical Union fully embodies the Holy Shekinah of Messiah.
This corresponds to the Clear Light Essence and the Transcendent Star.transformation In truth, nothing can be spoken of this Holy Attainment; it represents the Enlightened Ones who abide perpetually in the Body of Truth.
This represents the cycles of Initiation in the Gnostic Path, the Path to Christ Consciousness; hence, they are stages in the Self-realization process taught by Yeshua Messiah as revealed in the Gospel. It is an adventure in consciousness that continues to occur in the experience of Gnostic initiates to this very day and which is the foundation of the more esoteric lineage of the Gnostic Apostolic Succession represented by the Sophian Tradition (a lineage the traces itself in legend to St. Mary Magdalene). The actual manifestation of the Gnostic Path is unique with every individual sojourner, but these cycles are universal in the experience of Gnostic Christian initiates. In any provisional explanation of these cycles they can only seem very linear, as we express one after another in an orderly fashion, yet in our actual experience of Initiation and the Self-realization process they are not linear at all. Initiates experience a wave-like motion of progress and regress through these cycles, and often experience more than one cycle occurring simultaneously; likewise, we may seem to leap into a more advanced cycle, and experience what seems to be an earlier cycle later. Teachings on the Eightfold Path of Christian Initiation merely serve to give some insight and as a ground for instruction in the Self-realization process taught in the Holy Gospel – our own Western Spiritual Tradition. Here we have given a very brief overview of the Eightfold Path, but significantly greater detail is found in the inner teachings given within Sophian circles. Essentially, the Eightfold Path describes what is called the Gnostic and Light Transmission that is typically facilitated by an Elder or Tau of the Tradition – a Holy Apostle who embodies something of the Light-presence and Light-power. Rather than through a linear system of initiatory degrees or grades, Sophian Elders and Tau teach and initiate in the Way of Wild Gnosis or Crazy Wisdom – in a freestyle method that is natural and spontaneous, and that completely interweaves sacred and mundane moments. They may well use sacred discourse, prayer and mediation, and sacred ritual as vehicles of the Light Transmission. Yet, just as often, it may transpire through more casual moments, such as in the midst of a friendly conversation after a meal or other seemingly ordinary circumstances. Anytime the conditions necessary for Divine Grace to act it seems that the Light-presence and Light-power communicates itself, and the Gnostic and Light Transmission happens in our experience. As we see in the Sacred Circle spoken about in the Gospel, which formed around Lord Yeshua and St. Mary Magdalene, the Light Transmission is most often founded upon an actual discipleship – which is to say a sacred friendship an Apostle of Light and their spiritual companions. This sacred friendship is founded upon a deep inner and spiritual connection and serves to create the psychic and spiritual resonance through which an actual Initiation or Transmission can happen – an exchange of sparks that can only occurs when close spiritual friends join together with open minds and hearts, empowered by faith and bound together by the love of the Christ. It is not that an Elder or Tau is an intermediary between ourselves and God, as would be the claim of the gurus of the East, but rather that they serve as a midwife to the Divine Mother giving birth to the Light-indweller or Christ in us. Yet we can say that we receive substantial and helpful transmissions of spiritual energy from a Holy Apostle along the way – blessings and empowerments; and we can say that in the instant of Initiation, it is as though a candle that is lit touches one that is unlit, so that when they part both are on fire and are self-radiant with the glory of the Indweller of Light. It would be rather unusual for a mother at the time of giving birth not to desire the support of a midwife, or a physician as necessary, just as it is odd for a human being not to desire the support of friends in life – it is much the same among sincere spiritual practitioners, most understand the value of an experiences teacher and guide, and the value of spiritual community. In fact, virtually all authentic wisdom traditions that teach the Path to Enlightenment encourage the sacred friendship between a spiritual teacher and student, and encourage the spiritual fellowship provided by community. In this regard the Sophian Tradition of Gnostic Christianity is no different – holy company is naturally uplifting and empowering. The Initiation of which we are speaking – the Gnostic and Light Transmission, and the direct spiritual and mystical experience of the Risen Christ, is not isolate to the sacred friendship with a living Apostle or Tzaddik and Spiritual Community, however; but whether through a living Apostle and Spiritual Community or apart from them, the Initiation transpires through Divine Grace – the Risen Messiah and Holy Spirit. Thus, whenever and wherever and with whoever the necessary conditions are present, the Gnostic and Light Transmission can and does transpire; it is simply an issue of an open mind and heart in faith, and the desire to receive and to share. This is well illustrated by the story of the spiritual conversion of Saul of Tarsus in the Book of Acts, who becomes St. Paul – though an active opponent of Christ and the Original Messianic Movement, nevertheless, through a direct spiritual and mystical experience of the Risen Savior he became a Holy Apostle, one in whom the Light-presence and Light-power is embodied. It is said that St. Paul was the disciple of a noted Jewish sage and master of the Kabbalah, contemporary to Lord Yeshua, and thus we may assume the St. Paul, as “Saul of Tarsus,” was faithful and deeply immersed in the spiritual life and practice, though initially an opponent of the Messianic Current. This reflects the most essential key to the creation of the conditions necessary for the movement of Divine Grace and the Initiation – the daily spiritual life and practice. A Gnostic teacher and Gnostic circle (or Gnostic Church) serves to encourage and support the spiritual life and practice of the aspirant, and from our participation in a living tradition we receive teachings on the spiritual life and instructions in spiritual practice – the entire aim of Christian Gnosticism, or any authentic wisdom tradition, is the spiritual life and practice; for this of the true foundation of an genuine spirituality and any real progress in the evolution of the soul to Higher Consciousness and Self-realization. Thus, our spiritual life and practice is the essential vehicle of Gnostic Christian Initiation – the Gnostic and Light Transmission that flows from the Risen Messiah. If in faith we take up the spiritual life and practice, there is no doubt that through the Grace of the Risen Messiah we will experience something of the Truth and Light, and to some degree Divine Gnosis will be made manifest.
Blessings & shalom!