"For these are
"There Being Nothing Really Evil by Nature"
Carpocrates, lived in Alexandria during the reign of Hadrian and into the reign of Antoninus Pius. The date of his birth is uncertain, some sources say that he was born in the year 130 when Antinous died, others say that his teachings began in 130, and others that his teachings did not come to prominence until 150, but Kurt Rudolph, in his book ?Gnosis? writes that Carpocrates lived during Hadrian?s reign and that his movement, headed by successors gained notoriety during the reign of Antoninus Pius. My conclusion is that he was born sometime before 130, and emerged as a teacher in the years following the death of Antinous, but did not gain world-wide fame until after the death of Hadrian. He was in my opinion nearly the same age as Antinous or somewhat older, being perhaps more closely related in age to Aelius Caesar. According to Epiphanius of Salamis, Carpocrates was born in Asia Minor, and is said to have been a student of Saturninus in Antioch and then later of Basilides in Alexandria, where he later founded his own school. Saturninus and Basilides were prominent Gnostic teachers who had emerged from the school of Menander, who in turn was of the school Simon Magus, the Father of Gnosticism and contemporary of Jesus. Carpocrates had one son that history records, named Epiphanes (not to be confused with Epiphanius the anti-heretic bishop) who carried on his father's work, but died when he was seventeen. Like Antinous, the birth and death of Carpocrates are unrecorded, and though his influence has been both subtle and powerful, only a few lines of his own writing remain, recorded by his enemies the Fathers of the Catholic Church. What is important is that Carpocrates may have lived during the life of Antinous, he might even have been a contemporary. It is within the realm of possibility that he was present during the visitation of Hadrian and Antinous to Alexandria. Without question, his doctrine and the ancient religion of Antinous were contemporary faiths, born almost simultaneously, and doomed to the same fate, growing, flourishing, fading, and dieing in the same place at the same time.
Carpocrates was a native of Asia Minor, where Antinous was born, and from where Dionysus spread his religion, the land of Magna Mater and her bloody, transsexual lover Attis. There may be a connection between Carpocrates and the River Carpos in Phrygia. In the ?Dionysiaca?, the poet Nonnos relates the story of how the river Carpus fell in love with a boy named Calamus, and that while they were swimming together, Calamus was overtaken by the current and drowned. The River god was so overcome with grief that he immortalized Calamus by turning him into the reed plant that bears his name. The Calamus plant was used as an early symbol for homosexuality by Walt Whitman and others, and so we are immediately inclined to see the connection between Carpocrates and the homosexual river Carpos, and the immortal youth Calamus, who bears so much in common with our own Antinous.
The followers of Carpocrates presented a formidable threat to the unity of the Catholic Church, a threat that was growing in strength. With the Antonine Philosopher-Emperors in power, the greatest threat to the survival of Christianity came from within its own (still) diverse teaching. The religious tolerance of Hadrian and his successors favored the rise of wide speculation and the proliferation of ideologies, and the Catholic Church could do nothing about it but talk. St. Irenaeus of Lyons (130-202) was a Doctor of Catholic theology that labored extensively in defense the Catholic Church, his treatise, "Against all Heresies" is a work that both explains and condemns every mode of theology but the ONE that would eventually win by fire and sword. Carpocrates is given a small but significant chapter. From this work, and from another recently discovered text, most of what is know about the Carpocratians and their mysterious Patriarch is derived. Irenaeus only intended to slander and defame Carpocrates, his words are meant only to shock and dismay delicate souls into submission to the Church, but we find that like so much that is written about Antinous, the calumny about Carpocrates presents us with a brief glimpse into the revolutionary doctrine of the great prophet of Freedom. My intent is to offer a speculative theory of what the Doctrine of Carpocrates might have held, based primarily on what Irenaeus suggests, and supported by other anti-heretics, to ultimately show that the Doctrine of Carpocrates and the Religion of Antinous had a relationship, despite their obvious differences. So I begin with an examination of Irenaeus of Lyons.
Carpocrates venerated Jesus, but he also believed that the philosophers Plato, Pythagoras, Aristotle and others were gods. He believed that Jesus was just another man, like any of us, upon whom an extraordinary recollection descended. Carpocrates seems to have placed no faith in anything like the Immaculate Conception, or the virgin birth, but blatantly states that Jesus was the son of Joseph. Essentially what he means is that there is no way to know anything more than what seems obvious. One has to remember that in his time, the Gospels had only recently been written, or were still in the process of revision. There was indeed a sense that these writings were sacred, but they had not yet won the unquestioning faith of later centuries. The Gnostics, being closer to the event, were less trusting that what the four gospels contained was the untainted word of Christ. The possibility that Jesus was human, like anyone, did not disturb Carpocrates because he saw that the wisdom of Jesus had elevated him to godliness, which was therefore a possibility for anyone who emulated him. Carpocrates did not believe that salvation could be obtained only by following Jesus, but that one had to Become Jesus in order to find salvation.
"They also hold that Jesus was the son of Joseph, and was just like other men, with the exception that he differed from them in this respect, that inasmuch as his soul was steadfast and pure, he perfectly remembered those things which he had witnessed within the sphere of the Unbegotten God?
The soul, therefore, which
is like that of Christ can despise those rulers who were the creators
of the world, and, in like manner, receives power for accomplishing
the same results. This idea has raised them to such a pitch of pride,
that some of them declare themselves similar to Jesus; while others,
still more mighty, maintain that they are superior to his disciples,
such as Peter and Paul, and the rest of the apostles, whom they consider
to be in no respect inferior to Jesus. For their souls, descending from
the same sphere as his, and therefore despising in like manner the creators
of the world, are deemed worthy of the same power, and again depart
to the same place. But if any one shall have despised the things in
this world more than he did, he thus proves himself superior to him."
The recollection of Jesus is the memory that dwells within us all, that we were once part of the Unbegotten, unmentionable being who dwells entirely beyond our cosmos, that as Plato says, we once circled the heavens in union with the origin of truth and witnessed the essence from which the forms, and archetypes of our reality are composed, we were all once witnesses of the truth and more than that, we are the truth that underlies all creation. Our human consciousness, and our eternal spirit is a descended spark that fell into the darkness of chaos from the place of light, what the Gnostics called the Pleroma, the fullness, where the Uncreated Being reposes and gazes down upon our abyss. Total recollection brings unity and power that transcends this world in all ways and gives the beholder the same power and brilliant light that we are all made of, but that is deeply hidden within our mortal flesh, beneath the layers of our soul, far away from the false light of the sun that is perceived by the eyes of the mind. Union with the unknown, divine fire within us is the very basis of this doctrine. Though it is 1,900 years old, it remains as unprecedented and controversial now as it was then. One does not need to wait until death to know the great mystery of the cosmos, by then it will be too late, but rather, in this life, here and now, we are all capable of exposing the flames that burn inside us in their totality.
Carpocrates recommended that we struggle to live life vigorously, that we experience the summits and the depths of living. The meaning of "steadfast and pure" being the conditions of recollection do not mean what they seem to Carpocrates. The only goal is to free what lies within us and by living, to remember our origin. Just as Jesus could not differentiate himself from the Heavenly Father, so too does Carpocrates say that we must assume our own Godliness and identify ourselves with the one true fire. Jesus took fisherman, shepards, tax collectors, and prostitutes and made them into Gods.
Carpocrates showed us how to love the world and how to free ourselves from loving it. The world is not God but his shadow. What our reasoning mind tells us is beautiful and sublime in its complexity is nothing when compared to the splendor of the light that casts this shadow. One is always reminded of Plato's allegory of the Cave. Our universe is a cavern separated from the divine fire by death and corruption. All that we know and love in the world is slowly dying, passing away and fading under the influence of time. Even that which is newly born, or is renewed, has already begun its journey towards death and finality.
The way to salvation is self-deification. Carpocrates showed us that within us is the might and power of the Unbegotten fire, the authority (that has no authority) of the Unknown God, if we take hold of it. The angels, powers, and gods that created the world cannot resist or control this power, they cannot lay their judgment upon what is beyond all apprehension. However, when one attempts to throw off these shackles, all force is brought to bear against him, so that life falls into darkness and is wracked with misfortune and inner turmoil. This period of examination is a never-ending test of steadfastness, faith and Love. This world belongs to the natural forces under the Law, every aspect is under their control, including the body and the mind of a living man. Freedom comes with the most severe penalties, including total loss and total destruction.
Freedom is obtained when one, by force of will, remembers our divine origin and remains steadfast in a state which can only be described as ?between the worlds.? Carpocrates recommends that one know life in all its eccentricities. When one comes to understand Everything, and has gained experience of the All, only then can the spark break free and become a consuming fire that burns away the iron bars and stone walls of our imprisonment?a painful, and torturous experience, a self-inflicted sacrifice for Love and Freedom.
"So unbridled is
their madness, that they declare they have in their power all things
which are irreligious and impious, and are at liberty to practice them;
for they maintain that things are evil or good, simply in virtue of
human opinion. They deem it necessary, therefore, that by means of transmigration
from body to body, souls should have experience of every kind of life
as well as every kind of action (unless, indeed, by a single incarnation,
one may be able to prevent any need for others, by once and for all,
and with equal completeness, doing all those things which we dare not
either speak or hear of, nay, which we must not even conceive in our
thoughts, nor think credible, if any such thing is mooted among those
persons who are our fellow-citizens), in order that, as their writings
express it, their souls, having made trial of every kind of life, may,
at their departure, not be wanting in any particular. It is necessary
to insist upon this, lest, on account of some one thing being still
wanting to their deliverance, they should be compelled once more to
become incarnate. They affirm that for this reason Jesus spoke the following
parable: -- "Whilst thou art with thine adversary in the way, give
all diligence, that thou mayest be delivered from him, lest he give
thee up to the judge, and the judge surrender thee to the officer, and
he cast thee into prison. Verily, I say unto thee, thou shalt not go
out thence until thou pay the very last mite."
What Irenaeus and the Catholic Fathers as a whole refuse to see is that not only does Carpocrates free us from the control that error and death have over us, but he also frees us from the restraint of what is considered to be virtuous. The Church fathers are shocked by the indulgence that Carpocrates encouraged his followers to enjoin, but one must understand that Carpocrates said that they make a "trial of every kind of life," which must include a virtuous life as well. Not only must one know every sin, every lust, every horror, but if the spirit is to be awakened and freed, so too must every virtue, every abstinence, and every joy be known. If one fails to accomplish this total freedom, the penalty is that the soul will return to pay the very last mite.
This is where the direction of "steadfast and pure" takes its turn, and departs from the apparent meaning of the phrase, in that one must by experience set themselves free from all judgment of right and wrong, not by abstinence and denial, but through the process of virtuous and non-virtuous experimentation.
The result of such a vigorous will is not only the freedom of the spirit, but while still living, the enlightenment and understanding of one who has experienced all, and become less and less ignorant, adding layers of broad perspective upon a rapidly expanding horizon of the soul. This is the road towards freedom, where along the way, enlightenment and deification are discovered long before we reach the all-concealing grave.
Does this mean that we are free to cause pain and suffering, does it mean that we are free to murder, or commit any number of crimes? No, because we have already committed these crimes in the past, as animals, or as ignorant human beings. When we feel aversion to a certain act it is because the memory of having already committed such a deed is with us, and needs no repetition. It is those actions that we are drawn to that demand experience. Only the moral code of society, shame, fear, guilt, and all the precepts of the nature law restrain us. But this law is the creation of "those rulers who were the creators of the world." The ten commandments and their million clauses are the bars of our confinement, used against us at the dissolution of the soul in order to re-imprison us within new bodies, as part of the natural order and progress of the world.
'Jesus said, "Whoever
has come to know the world has discovered a carcass, and whoever has
discovered a carcass, of that person the world is not worthy."
Our bodies are a prison, and the world is a place where darkness detains the immortal spark in a divided state, spread throughout the cosmos. Socrates, the greatest of all homosexual prophets, held this belief. Freedom from the constancy of death that surrounds us, the corruption and decay, is within us all when we understand that we are innocent of the accusations that are to be laid against us after death. The Archons pronounce sentence upon our souls according to their law. We have been taught all our lives, mostly through punishment, intimidation and threat, to humble ourselves before the cosmos, which is so much grander than we are, whose scientific and moral laws cannot be violated without risk to ourselves and those we care for. The Hindus called this law Karma, while the Egyptians represented judgment as a scale upon which our heart is weighed against the feather of Maat. Should the heart be out of balance with Maat, it was consumed by the beast. Our heart is portrayed as clump of bleeding muscle, obviously heavier than the delicate feather of the Archonic Law, what they would have us believe is the image of Justice. We are presumed Guilty before ever approaching the scale, and only a miracle can save us from our deserved fate. But what this symbol also illustrates, unintentionally, is that we are far more powerful than the frail law of the world. If we stand up against it, within ourselves, our hearts can smash the scales and transcend their indictments, and become unjudge-able. He who obeys the Law of the world has abdicated his authority. This is not a license for chaos and mayhem. Carpocrates presents us with a far more difficult balance upon which to weigh our salvation. Evil, hatred, jealousy, greed, and anything within us that causes injury are to be despised as much as anything else, as part of the order of the world, in full cooperation with the forces of domination and control.
"They also declare
the "adversary" is one of those angels who are in the world,
whom they call the Devil, maintaining that he was formed for this purpose,
that he might lead those souls which have perished from the world to
the Supreme Ruler. They describe him also as being chief among the makers
of the world, and maintain that he delivers such souls [as have been
mentioned] to another angel, who ministers to him, that he may shut
them up in other bodies; for they declare that the body is "the
The Devil (called Abolus, by Epiphanes, the son of Carpocrates,) was an entity acknowledged by Carpocrates, and proclaimed to be in league with the ruler of the World, his double agent carrying on the dark, cruel aspect of control, that which the Ruler and his Angels do not want to seem to be responsible for. Carpocrates says that it is the Devil who carries out the punishment by imprisoning the innocent soul into a new body because it has been foolish enough in life to submit to their authority. The Devil seals the tomb, compelling the soul to undergo another life of pain, suffering, poverty and death, interspersed with periods of happiness and contentment. We are taught to offer up our thankful gratitude to this God for the joys of our lives, when all along we recognize that He is the primary cause for all our misfortune, it is he who holds the Devils leash. The ruler, what most religions refer to as God, is one and the same as the Devil. The creator of the world is beyond good and evil, having accomplished what Carpocrates suggests to the fullest, having become un-judgable. It was this being, the Sky Father, the God of Israel, Zeus, Amun-Ra, whatever name you choose, who created life, and has protected life, and made it beautiful and splendorous, but only at the price of pain and Death. There can be no Life without Death, no pleasure without pain. The All-Father is Life and Death made indistinguishable, but necessary through a system of ordered laws.
The Unknowable Being, the god of the Gnostics, is neither Life nor Death, having nothing to do with our existence, blamelessly distant, and yet intimately close.
Reincarnation, also known as metempsychosis, is present in the Doctrine of Carpocrates, but it is viewed as the work of the Devil, to undergo reincarnation is to suffer the worst form of cruelty and punishment. In the Gnostic view, Hell is essentially the place where the soul is melted down for recycling. The wisdom of Carpocrates was meant to break free from reincarnation, here and now, by fore of will alone. Irenaeus misinterprets the Doctrine of Carpocrates in book II of ?Against all Heresies? where he recapitulates his arguments against the Carpocratians. He wrongly interprets that Carpocrates was in favor of reincarnation from the fact that he believed in it. Carpocrates we are told, incidentally, did not believe in the resurrection of the Body on the Day of Judgment. What Carpocrates simply meant was that reincarnation is the fate of the immortal spirit, but in conforming to it and in looking upon it as a favorable thing, in the manner of the Hindus, we are giving ourselves over to the Justice of the creators of the world. We are sentencing our holy and immortal spirit to imprisonment in yet another body where it must undergo another lifetime of pain and suffering intermingled with periods of happiness and contentment. Carpocrates, in keeping with the words of Jesus, says that we have in our power, at every moment, the ability to change our immortal destiny, to save ourselves?if only we have a mustard seed of faith in our own power. We may find that we are not strong enough to break free from cosmic destiny, but we must always try even at the risk of condemning our souls to the eternal flames of error?because we are already doomed. Only those souls who willfully end their imprisonment are free to truly know heaven, not to look upon god from a distance, but to become god and see from within.
"The Angels that
created the world established 'just actions' to lead men by such precepts
Carpocrates gave us the secret of this Freedom from the law, freedom from life and the ever-present penalty of repeated death. He taught us that freedom is in defiance, and enslavement is obedience. If we are to be free, we must defy the Law of the Creator and his agents by making ourselves unjudge-able. To do this we must commit every crime and sin, and then proceed to undermine our trespasses by acts of every virtue and goodness. We must look within ourselves and find the emanation of Light and the source of darkness, we must transform our meager spark into an inferno of Godliness, and destroy the worldly law that restrains us with its rewards and punishments. We must not seek to be rewarded for our good deeds, and not avail ourselves to the greatest of all punishments, death. We must become living gods, equal to Jesus and the Apostles.
In this way, we must become Antinous the Hero, who likewise transcended this law, defied the precepts of the creators by becoming an immortal. Like Antinous, our divinity will be incomprehensible to those who remain within the control of the Angels of the world.
'Jesus said, "Whoever
drinks from my mouth will become like me; I myself shall become that
person, and the hidden things will be revealed to him."
But how can a life of iniquity and indulgence bring salvation? We are told that sin and desire are what imprison and enslave the soul, how then can it lead to freedom? The answer is that only one who has sinned can repent, only one who knows can understand. When after committing a terrible deed we are able to look within ourselves and confess, without shame, to the secret priest found deep within the hidden chamber of our heart, only then can we know regret. Only when such a confession is made to the self, as priest, and ear of the One Unknown Goodness, which transcends our judgment of right and wrong, only then are we free and absolved. Irenaeus describes the teaching of Carpocrates on this power of self-absolution in this way:
"Men cannot be saved until they have gone through all kinds of experience. An angel, they maintain, attends them in every one of their sinful and abominable actions, and urges them to venture on audacity and incur pollution. Whatever may be the nature of the action, they declare that they do it in the name of the angel, saying, "O thou angel, I use thy work; O thou power, I accomplish thy operation !" And they maintain that this is "perfect knowledge," without shrinking to rush into such actions as it is not lawful even to name.
And thus, if ungodly,
unlawful, and forbidden actions are committed among them, I can no longer
find ground for believing them to be such. And in their writings we
read as follows, the interpretation which they give [of their views],
declaring that Jesus spoke in a mystery to His disciples and apostles
privately, and that they requested and obtained permission to hand down
the things thus taught them, to others who should be worthy and believing.
We are saved, indeed, by means of faith and love; but all other things,
while in their nature indifferent, are reckoned by the opinion of men
-some good and some evil, there being nothing really evil by nature."
There is no way to define that which is good from that which is bad, without accepting what laws, morals and the circumstance of society dictate. But these interpretations are based simply on human opinion which is subject to error and removed from the eternal unity and multiplicity of the Monad.
...We are saved, indeed, by means of faith and love...Alone.
Faith and Love are all that is needed, and this is the foundation of all libertine and Antinomian philosophy. Only one who is saved can differentiate within himself (and only within himself) when he is in error. Salvation, the memory of our origin and its inflammatory manifestation in our spirit, removes us from the confines of the laws. Our souls become as pure as the original fire of the stars. Like gold, no matter into what filth and depravity we may be plunged, our essence remains unchanged, and emerges as brilliant and splendid as before it fell, because it never falls, but only seems to fall in the opinions of men. This is the secret teaching of Jesus that is not offered to the world at large because the world cannot harbor so much freedom without falling into total anarchy. With Faith and Love in your heart, Virtue enters of its own accord, the struggle is not to be virtuous, but to be free which can be tremendously more difficult if approached through Faith and Love. This is how Carpocrates explained his own teaching.
Like Antinous, Carpocrates was just a man, who found the Divine Fire that burns within us all, and set it free to consume his own life, and to infect the world with a viral spark that destroys the encasement of the immortal Pneuma, the Holy Spirit, the reflection of Narcissus gazing down upon himself in the darkness of our world. He found what Jesus found, and what he saw was truth and glory and splendor, the Highest Beauty that lies dormant within all creatures. Jesus was indeed part God, and part Human, but so are we. When we remember our origin, and unite ourselves with the One, we rise above the world and its creators becoming their equals in body alone, but their masters in spirit. We gain authority over the forces of life and death. We need only a mustard seed of faith in who we are to accomplish these wonders. The Catholic interpretation of the words of Jesus was to worship him as the only manifestation of God, and that only by submitting ourselves to him can salvation be obtained. This is servitude, a sublime insertion of domination planted by the Archons to turn our attention away from our own godliness and toward theirs. Jesus did not ask that his followers worship him as God, but to become as he was.
With this in mind, Carpocrates gave authority over the gods and angels of the world to his followers. Anyone who becomes One with the Unknown has the same power as Jesus and all the saviors of the world. We must first save ourselves, and then turn this power toward saving the world, we must become the Savior in order to be Saved.
This concept is mirrored in the portrayal of Antinous as the savior gods, Dionysus and Osiris and so many others. Antinous became these gods, in a consubstantial manner. One who believes in Antinous, and believes that he obtained unity with the Saviors, though he was a human, like any one of us, must wonder if the same is not possible for everyone. Failure to believe in our own divinity, that we can become "in no respect inferior to Jesus [or Antinous]? verges on a lack of faith that Antinous was ever truly a God.
"They practice also
magical arts and incantations; philters, also, and love-potions; and
have recourse to familiar spirits, dream-sending demons, and other abominations,
declaring that they possess power to rule over, even now, the princes
and formers of this world; and not only them, but also all things that
are in it."
The Carpocratians believed in the use of Magic, using their transcendent knowledge of self-godliness as source of power and authority to command the spirits of the world. They were perhaps part of the movement that included the Theurgists of Marcus Aurelius?s reign, including Julianus, who revealed the Chaldean Oracles, which are essentially Hermetic-Gnosticism attributed to Zoroaster. Ceremonial magic was coming into prominence among the Neo-Platonists culminating with the work of Iamblicus. Theurgists believed in what they called ?god-work? where they strove to manipulate the Demons and Demi-gods to serve their ends, through the authority of the Heavenly gods. The Carpocratians, however, practiced the same form of Demonic manipulation, only that they believed themselves to be the source of all-powerful authority.
Magic was also part of the religion of Antinous, as suggested by the spell which Pancrates, the Prophet of Heliopolis, demonstrated for Hadrian, and shown by the love spell cast by a man called Sarapaman, in which he calls upon Antinous, ?the name at whose sound the demons tremble in fear,? to compel a certain women to submit to his lust. We are told by Origen that magic and conjury were a central part of the Religion of Antinous, which is yet another aspect in common with the Doctrine of Carpocrates. The basic premise of magic and the manipulation of demi-gods can be explained in this way:
The guardian of the gate of the underworld is a dog. It knows who has passed, and who should pass. Any soul that it does not recognize is cause for alarm, it barks and bears it?s teeth, it attacks when unknown strangers pass the boundary. This is why Cerberus has three heads, he knows who has passed, who is passing, and who will pass from this world to the next. Cerberus is among the most knowledgeable forces in the cosmos, his wisdom, cruelty and merciful silence is as vast and as knowing as the Creator himself. Cerberus knows the saved from the damned, he is not their judge, but their recollector. He who knows Cerberus is his master. The Dog does not bark at his Master, the Dog is a creature of the absolute justice of the Archons, the Dog never defies the law, unless his master should command him to do so. The Dog has no will of his own, but obeys the will of the Light with all his courage and submission. When a person, through the Gnosis, becomes the Light of the Unknown God, he becomes the Master of the Keeper of the Gate of the Underworld. They who become the Dogs of Antinous are recognized and loved by the Dog who guards the passageway between the worlds. This is a simple explanation of the manipulation of the demons.
Carpocrates teaches us that we are the Master, we are the emanations of the light that cannot be judged. Even the Dog falls silent at our approach. But this power and authority is not only given to us when we have died, but is ours here and now. We are the masters of the world when we remember our origin, and become what we are.
?Others of them employ
outward marks, branding their disciples inside the lobe of the right
ear. From among these also arose Marcellina, who came to Rome under
[the episcopate of] Anicetus (154 to 167.), and, holding these doctrines,
she led multitudes astray. They style themselves Gnostics. They also
possess images, some of them painted, and others formed from different
kinds of material; while they maintain that a likeness of Christ was
made by Pilate at that time when Jesus lived among them. They crown
these images, and set them up along with the images of the philosophers
of the world that is to say, with the images of Pythagoras, and Plato,
and Aristotle, and the rest. They have also other modes of honouring
these images, after the same manner of the Gentiles.?
Irenaeus of Lyons, ends his report with the above statement that shows us several more aspects of the teachings of Carpocrates in condensed form. The first, that they seemed to have believed that entry into their faith was as permanent as the brand which they used as sign to others and as a reminder to the self. And from the statement ?others of them? seems to indicate that there were diversified groups of Carpocratians that acted in an independent manner. Then there is the issue of the Women Marcellina who journeyed to Rome to teacher the Doctrine of Carpocrates, or to lead multitudes astray, as Irenaeus says. Either Carpocrates or his successors show their utter disregard for matters of gender by sending a woman to represent them in the capitol, where her work would fall under the scrutiny of the anti-heretical Pope Anicetus. There is much more to be said about Marcellina, but we shall save that for later.
The closing paragraph then says that the Carpocratians were the first to ?style? themselves Gnostics, which is a very important distinction. Though the name is used as a general description for many hundreds of groups with widely varied, mixed-matched or entirely contradictory philosophies, with enough general similarity to earn the name, the Carpocratians are the originators or inseminators of what Gnosticism might really have meant.
Irenaeus also states that they possessed images, from which we can guess that they were practitioners of some form of idolatry, but the most important statement is that they claimed to have had in their possession a depiction of Jesus which was supposed to have been commissioned by Pontius Pilate, and was therefore the oldest, and the most accurate. From "They crown these images, and set them up..." we can suppose that the Likeness of Jesus was in the form of a statue. Here we have an immediate similarity to the Religion of Antinous which was based on the adoration of likenesses that were perfect representations of the young god while he "lived among them." The Carpocratians were worshippers of the human spirit, so therefore, it would have been tremendously important to them to know and confront the true face of Christ, and not leave such an important matter up to the vague imagination of faith. Whether the likeness was really commissioned by Pilate, and how Carpocrates came to possess it is less important than the fact that they believed that it was real, and that it was so important for them to have the real face of Jesus Christ as an object to place their faith in. This is definitely a trait of our Antinous religion, from it?s conception till now, and if it is true, then they are one of the only other religions to place so much faith and importance on the purely human, physical appearance of their god.
The paragraph demonstrates that the Doctrine of Carpocrates involved gratitude and recognition of wisdom in other free souls. They worshipped men who had obtained the knowledge that brings freedom and eternal life as though they were gods, "after the same manner of the Gentiles," which means as Pagans. This is a pure form of idolatry, the kind that is not impressed so much by the tenuous, abstract, mythological gods of pagan culture, but sees the greatest manifestation of godliness in the wisdom of human beings. This spirit is again brought to light in the worship of Antinous, who might have found a place for his image beside the great philosophers that Carpocrates worshipped as Gods. The message is that like these men who had become gods, we too are capable of igniting the same fire in the chamber of Our Holy Spirit.
This Doctrine of the Libertines, as the followers of Carpocrates are often called, cannot be accomplished in solitude and isolation. The aesthetic that shuts himself away, distaining the influence of a beautiful, corrupt, ordered, natural, lawful and unjust world, cannot find the manifestation of the light until he emerges from his cave, and throws himself into the sea of passions. If he has found salvation then he will rise, if he has not, then he will sink, but mostly he will feel the ebb of an inner tide, because only by testing the power and the conviction of his divinity can he destroy the chains of life and death. We have only one body, turn against it and you turn against yourself?you turn against your only God. Rather live your life as though this is the only life you intend to live, as though this is the only body that you will ever inhabit. Reject reincarnation as an evil doctrine of perpetual imprisonment. Deviate from self-love and fall into self-hatred, because only by loving the world and the body can we free ourselves from its control. Through the statement, "there being nothing really evil by nature" Carpocrates has nullified Evil, abolishing the work of the Adversary, making all things Good.
Carpocrates had a son named Epiphanes, a perfect name, meaning Divine Manifestation. Epiphanes died when he was seventeen, very near the same age as Antinous. Perhaps Carpocrates, if he was still alive, (there are those who say that he also died at seventeen) felt so much closer to Hadrian and his beloved Antinous, at the death of his beloved son. But there is another strange connection between the two young gods. Epiphanes was active in the School of Carpocrates, teaching the doctrine in the name of his father. He wrote a treatise called "Concerning Righteousness," that was preserved by Clement of Alexandria, strangely enough. Here is the majority of what Clement quotes?the full text can be found on the link at the end of this document.
"But the followers of Carpocrates and Epiphanes think that wives should be common property. Through them the worst calumny has become current against the Christian name. This fellow Epiphanes, whose writings I have at hand, was a son of Carpocrates and his mother was named Alexandria. On his father's side he was an Alexandrine, on his mother's a Cephallenian. He lived in all only seventeen years, and at Same in Cephallenia was honoured as a god. There a temple of vast blocks of stone was erected and dedicated to him, with altars, sacred precincts, and a "museum." The Cephallenians gather at the temple every new moon and celebrate with sacrifices the day when Epiphanes became a god as his birthday; they pour libations to him, feast in his honour, and sing his praises. He was educated by his father in the general education and in Platonism, and he was instructed in the knowledge of the Monad, which is the root-origin of the Carpocratians' heresy.
This is what he says, then, in the book Concerning Righteousness: "The righteousness of God is a kind of universal fairness and equality. There is equality in the heaven which is stretched out in all directions and contains the entire earth in its circle. The night reveals equally all the stars. The light of the sun, which is the cause of the daytime and the father of light, God pours out from above upon the earth in equal measure on all who have power to see. For all see alike. There is no distinction between rich and poor, people and governor, stupid and clever, female and male, free men and slaves. Even the irrational animals are not accorded any different treatment; but in just the same way God pours out from above sunlight equally upon all the animals. He establishes his righteousness to both good and bad by seeing that none is able to get more than his share and to deprive his neighbour, so that he has twice the light his neighbour has?.
?He did not make a distinction between female and male, rational and irrational, nor between anything and anything else at all; rather he shared out sight equally and universally. It was given to all alike by a single command. As the laws (he says) could not punish men who were ignorant of them, they taught men that they were transgressors. But the laws, by pre-supposing the existence of private property, cut up and destroyed the universal equality decreed by the divine law." As he does not understand the words of the apostle where he says "Through the law I knew sin," he says that the idea of Mine and Thine came into existence through the laws so that the earth and money were no longer put to common use. And so also with marriage. "For God has made vines for all to use in common, since they are not protected against sparrows and a thief; and similarly corn and the other fruits. But the abolition, contrary to divine law, of community of use and equality begat the thief of domestic animals and fruits.
He brought female to be with male and in the same way united all animals. He thus showed righteousness to be a universal fairness and equality .But those who have been born in this way have denied the universality which is the corollary of their birth and say, 'Let him who has taken one woman keep her,' whereas all alike can have her, just as the other animals do."
? Carpocrates fights against God, and Epiphanes does likewise. The latter in the same notorious book, I mean Concerning Righteousness, writes in one passage as follows: "Consequently one must understand the saying 'Thou shalt not covet' as if the lawgiver was making a jest, to which he added the even more comic words 'thy neighbour's goods'. For he himself who gave the desire to sustain the race orders that it is to be suppressed, though he removes it from no other animals. And by the words 'thy neighbour's wife' he says something even more ludicrous, since he forces what should be common property to be treated as a private possession."
These then are the doctrines
of the excellent Carpocratians. These, so they say, and certain other
enthusiasts for the same wickednesses, gather together for feasts (I
would not call their meeting an Agape), men and women together. After
they have sated their appetites (" on repletion Cypris, the goddess
of love, enters,"21 as it is said), then they overturn the lamps
and so extinguish the light that the shame of their adulterous "righteousness"
is hidden, and they have intercourse where they will and with whom they
will.23 After they have practiced community of use in this love-feast,
they demand by daylight of whatever women they wish that they will be
obedient to the law of Carpocrates-it would not be right to say the
law of God. Such, I think, is the law that Carpocrates must have given
for the copulations of dogs and pigs and goats. He seems to me to have
misunderstood the saying of Plato in the Republic24 that the women of
all are to be common. Plato means that the unmarried are common for
those who wish to ask them, as also the theatre is open to the public
for all who wish to see, but that when each one has chosen his wife,
then the married woman is no longer common to all."
The first paragraph of Clement?s summary of the work of Ephiphanes offers intimate parallels between the Carpocratian school of Gnosticism and its contemporary, the Religion of Antinous. The son of Carpocrates died when he was only seventeen, but was wonderfully educated by his father, who imparted so much brilliance that although he was very young, his ideas were quoted and discussed by one of the foremost theologists of the time.
We are told that when Epiphanes died his followers worshipped him as a god, and that a temple was built for him in his maternal-ancestral home, the city of Same, or Zamhe on the Greek island now known as Kefallinia, which is north of the Pelopenesus. The statement that Epiphanes was worshipped as a god is startling, though it conforms to what is known of the Carpocratian theology, that they worshipped philosophers, and were more concerned with human deities than with natural forces, and that they believed themselves capable of self-deification. The worship of the seventeen-year-old philosopher makes a sudden parallel to the religion of Antinous. What is more, some writers believe that Epiphanes was worshipped as a Moon god, whose religion operated on a monthly cycle, with the darkest night being the most holy. And further, the religion of Epiphanes, like that of Antinous was not confined to Egypt, but spread across the sea to Greece, to an ancestral corner, not all that far (necessarily) from Mantineia, the ancestral homeland of Antinous, and then spread around the world. We are confronted with two religions, with founders that are part Phrygian, part Greek, whose cults originate in Egypt, spreading throughout the world, with a second home in Greece, whose central figures are teenage boys, whose lives are sexually liberal, and who were worshipped as Moon Gods.
We must therefore suppose that Carpocrates, the founder of the school, was also revered as a god.
Though Carpocrates and Epiphanes are considered Gnostic Christians, heretics from the Church, it becomes apparent through their doctrine and their practice that they were almost completely Pagan in their beliefs and were only Christian to a superficial extent. It has been said of Carpocrates that he was a Platonist who incorporated the teachings of Jesus (and not the other way around.) His doctrine is not derived from Christ and the Apostles, but from Simon Magus and his successors, who were Samaritans. Carpocrates is also said to be the originator of the word Gnostic, which was then taken up and applied to all the various forms of the wide-spread and much varied philosophy. Carpocrates and Epiphanes must have been Hellenic Alexandrians, which is yet another close connection to the Religion of Antinous, which might have favored Greek ancestry, and certainly promoted Greek ideals in the middle of the Egyptian desert. The veneration of Epiphanes as a god leads one to believe that though on the surface, Christianity had entered into the Platonic-Libertine vision of Carpocrates, the meetings in the Temple on the new-moon, the blood sacrifices and the pouring of libations are all part of the Roman Religion, which Christianity expressly forbade. In short, every sign seems to indicate that the Carpocratians were Pagans first and Christians second, but they were a somewhat new form of Paganism, one that preferred the divinity of human beings, especially philosophers, to the gods of nature and myth. They had a parallel in the Cult of the Emperors, but differed in that that they did not recognize Kingship as a sign of divinity, but worshipped wisdom and those who demonstrated it as their gods. Here we see another possible affinity to the religion of Antinous.
The quotations that Clement of Alexandria makes should not be understood as the limit and extent of what Epiphanes and the Carpocratians believed. This is only a portion of Clements?s chapter on Marriage, in which he uses the extreme position of the Carpocratians to illustrate what he believes to be wrong. All we have is a small part of a larger book written by Epiphanes, of which only the part useful to Clement?s argument remain. There was so much more, but we have to make do with what remains.
Epiphanes cannot be more clear when he compares the light of the sun to the love and grace of god, how it shines everywhere and is equally divided, and that it is we who have imposed divisions of Right and Wrong, Mine and Yours, Clean and Unclean, Lawful and Unlawful upon what is undifferentiated and all-encompassing. His ideas are ultimately a hint of the modern view of globalism, total freedom, and equality. The quite revolutionary view that all things are sacred, all are equal, that nothing is evil, impure or unnatural, by a simple extension of reason, might have led to the position of the Carpocratians on the nature of homosexuality, that like all other things, homosexuality was blessed by the presence of god. They viewed all forms of sexuality as pure and sacred, and though they are denounced as sexual extremists, they were probably more restrained than what is told, since abstinence, monogamy and child-raising were certainly thought to be just as pure and acceptable as any other form of sexuality. It is only because they likewise gave their benediction and encouragement to obscure forms of sexual expression that they were ultimately denounced.
Epiphanes demonstrates that the Carpocratians were not entirely like later Gnostic schools, such as the Marcionites, Phibionites and the later Cathars, who despised worldly existence and therefore encouraged homosexuality as a sacred form of sexuality that did not add souls to the enslavement of mankind. Rather the position of Epiphanes is that the world, and existence in it, like everything else is full of the divine grace, and that nothing should be frowned upon as unholy, as not partaking of the Light of God. We must rid ourselves of the notion of evil, and replace it with a knowledge of absolute good, even though the two are indivisible. Other Gnostic schools, influenced by Zoroastrianism, such as the Hermits of Egypt, the Valentinians, and the later Manichaens, held that the Earth and Life were created by evil and were themselves therefore evil, and so the only way to become pure was to abstain from all desire, to drop out of the world and wait patiently and purely for death. But Carpocrates said that it is only through experience of all things that we can differentiate, according to our taste, between what brings pleasure and what brings pain. The pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain are the ultimate goal for a good life, but not until such time as the nature of these (difficult to discern) principles are investigated can we ever know for ourselves where the source of this secret divine knowledge dwells.
Law is a human invention, a limitation on nature, believed in and upheld as though it were primordial and absolute, that there are certain truths that cannot be violated without the entire universe collapsing into chaos. But these truths are an illusion, because they are violated at every moment, everywhere in the cosmos simultaneously. Our perception gives us the impression that what we see, what we understand is absolute reality. This is the ?Jest? that Epiphanes tells us the ?Lawgiver? made when he gave us to believe that we could imprison the undifferentiated nature of the cosmos by imposing our concept of laws upon it. Essentially the basis of the Carpocratian Doctrine, as Clement says, is derived from the Monad, the ?One?, the unity of the cosmos, which is described and revered as an Unknowable God who exists beyond our cosmos of ?the Many,? where Law exist.
The Platonists called our universe of perception, the Nous, the Mind, the origin of ideal, archetypical, Form. Most religions, science and general human opinion are concerned only with the Nous, the measurable, imaginable, provable, mentally conceivable existence that can be duplicated in the laboratory, but the Gnostics had taken notice of something beyond the describable, the un-absolute truth from which the Nous and all reality is descended. They called it the Unknown, or Unbegotten Being, the Abyss or the Monad. It is everywhere and it is nowhere all at once. It is the sum total of time, space, matter, and energy, but it is simultaneously ?everything? that our universe is NOT. (This is the essence of the concept of Anti-Nous.)
Awareness of the Monad is salvation, and one who is saved can never be lost again. Therefore, no law applies, and the Saved can take part in whatever sin or virtue he may choose without risk to the soul because all things are perfectly natural to one who obtains the Gnosis of all that is, and all that is Not. When one is aware of the unity, it becomes impossible to view any particular concept as good or bad. This is the purity that the Carpocratians speak of, the state of being unaffected, of understanding the multiplicity of things, the contradictory paradox of looking over the world with and without the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Even the pain and punishment that comes a consequence is perfectly natural and part of the goodness of all things. Carpocrates calls this a recollection of the sphere of the Unbegotten God, meaning that it is within us all, but we have only forgotten the full implications of what we already know. Even a taste of this recollection is godliness, and we are all capable of such a miracle at any moment we desire. We are already participating in our divinity fully and completely, and it is only our opinion of what godliness should be that makes us blind.
A late manifestation of Carpocratianism occurred among the followers of Martin Luther at the beginning of the Protestant Reformation. Rebelling against the legalization and imposition of precise doctrine that the Catholic Church made on the nature of Salvation, certain Protestants took the position that those who are saved are free from the restrictions of the Ten Commandments, because Salvation through Jesus Christ was total, everlasting and inviolable. Salvation was obtained through Grace and through Grace alone. These were the first Protestant Heretics, who were expelled because of their extreme Libertine views. They were called Antinomians, ?Those against the Law,? by Martin Luther, a name which strangely resonates with Antinous.
The undifferentiated state of Divine Grace is specifically addressed to sexual relationships by Epiphanes. Whether this is because the Carpocratians were particularly obsessed with sexuality or because their critics were primarily obsessed with their views on the subject, we cannot know, but sexuality always seems to take precedence. Their views on sexual liberty are modern in scope, and like all things too far ahead of their time, they were misunderstood and suppressed. But though our society still struggles with the legacy of imposed shame, jealousy and guilt that Christianity has left us, we are becoming more aware that human nature makes way for a much more varied array of sexual and loving relationships. The Carpocratians are a brilliant examination of how openness in love can bring peace and happiness through the elimination primarily of Jealousy, which is a poison of the soul more closely related to hatred than to Love. And of course the description of the Carpocratian Lovefeast calls to mind the Sacred Nights of Antinous.
? These men, while they
boast of Jesus as being their Master, do in fact emulate the philosophy
of Epicurus and the indifference of the Cynics?
The Doctrine of Carpocrates and his son, Epiphanes, was indeed Epicurean in this respect and in many others. The sexual license of the Carpocratians was an extension of the basic belief that one who is free can do as he chooses, and that pleasure and happiness were the goal of existence. Sensuality being pleasurable and deeply connected to Love was the primary concern of the Carpocratians?Love is the only reason to exist in the world at all.
Irenaeus later points out that the Carpocratian philosophy advises us to have experience of every kind of work and conduct, and that to do this would require one to achieve every form of academic learning, every form of art, every form of technical skill, and to gain experience in every career known to man, but that the Carpocratians only seem to be interested in various forms of sexual expression. This might be an accurate indictment against the basic premise of ?Righteousness,? but we must also consider that the experiences listed by Irenaeus are all in some way useful to society, whereas the sexual license of the Carpocratians is beneficial only to the participants.
Gnosis is self-recollection, the deep knowledge of who you are and what you want, without the limitations of what you ?should be,? and without the shame of being what you ?should not? be. We know what we want to do, what we need to do, what we have already done, and what we must never do. Experience of every kind of life as well as every kind of action is an entirely personal matter that cannot be formalized like a checklist of requirements, like a spiritual scavenger hunt. Only the individual can plot the route towards their own Salvation and if that road does not include the whole of science, art and crafts, and is preoccupied with sexuality, then so be it?this would be the meaning of total freedom.
This is the defining matter between the Carpocratians and most other religions. Except for the Carpocratians and their descendants, all other theologies present spirituality as a system of bi-laws, of delineations between right and wrong, from which they extend their belief in reward and punishment. Carpocrates was among the first to do away with these theories, following after the example of Epicurus, by applying the profundity of doubt and the pursuit of pleasure to a transcendent faith.
The treatise, ?Concerning Righteousness?, is a fragment and relic of the wisdom of the great of Carpocrates, and Epiphanes, and is so much in keeping with our modern view of love and freedom that we are astonished to hear that a seventeen year old boy almost two thousand years ago could have had such perfect knowledge. He shows us that the Carpocratians understood that humanity was just another animal of the earth, not something more than the rest of creation, a notion that Darwin would expose and that even now troubles the minds of Biblical adherents. The Carpocratians are shown through Epiphanes to be preoccupied with sexual freedom above all else. When they speak of Liberty and freedom, they are predominantly referring to the freedom to Love as we are inclined to experience it, in defiance of the moral code. Love is their foremost concern, and they have little to say on other matters because nothing else had for them as much importance, and as much sacredness.
In 1958, a scholar named Morton Smith, while examining the contents of a Greek Orthodox Monastery , called Mar Saba, near Jerusalem, found what is believed to be a letter written by Clement of Alexandria to a priest who was troubled by a confrontation he had with the followers of Carpocrates. The Carpocratians had disturbingly revealed to the priest that the wisdom of their founder was based on the words of Jesus as preserved in "The Secret Gospel of Mark," a rough draft so to speak, of the final version of the Gospel of Mark contained in the Bible. Clement explains briefly to the priest that this secret book existed and was kept hidden by the Church of Alexandria, "where it even yet is most carefully guarded, being read only to those who are being initiated into the great mysteries" of whom Clement claims to be among the only such privileged. He goes on to say that Carpocrates used magic to enslave a Priest and thereby obtain a copy of the text, upon which his doctrine was based. The complete letter from Clement is as follows:
You did well in silencing the unspeakable teachings of the Carpocratians. For these are "wandering stars" referred to in the prophecy, who wander from the narrow road of the commandments into a boundless abyss of the carnal and bodily sins. For, priding themselves in knowledge, as they say, "of the deep things of Satan, they do not know that they are casting themselves away into "the netherworld of the darkness" of falseness, and boasting that they are free, they have become slaves of servile desires. Such men are to be opposed in all ways and altogether. For, even if they should say something true, one who loves the truth should not, even so, agree with them. For not all true things are the truth, nor should that truth which merely seems true according to human opinions be preferred to the true truth, that according to the faith.
Now of the things they keep saying about the divinely inspired Gospel according to Mark, some are altogether falsifications, and others, even if they do contain some true elements, nevertheless are not reported truly. For the true things being mixed with inventions, are falsified, so that, as the saying goes, even the salt loses its savor.
As for Mark, then, during Peter?s stay in Rome he wrote an account of the Lord?s doings, not, however, declaring all of them, nor yet hinting at the secret ones, but selecting what he thought most useful for increasing the faith of those who were being instructed. But when Peter died a martyr, Mark came over to Alexandria, bringing both his own notes and those of Peter, from which he transferred to his former books the things suitable to whatever makes for progress toward knowledge. Thus he composed a more spiritual Gospel for the use of those who were being perfected. Nevertheless, he yet did not divulge the things not to be uttered, nor did he write down the hierophantic teaching of the Lord, but to the stories already written he added yet others and, moreover, brought in certain sayings of which he knew the interpretation would, as a mystagogue , lead the hearers into the innermost sanctuary of truth hidden by seven veils. Thus, in sum, he prepared matters, neither grudgingly nor incautionously, in my opinion, and, dying, he left his composition to the church in Alexandria, where it even yet is most carefully guarded, being read only to those who are being initiated into the great mysteries.
But since the foul demons are always devising destruction for the race of men, Carpocrates, instructed by them and using deceitful arts, so enslaved a certain presbyter of the church in Alexandria that he got from him a copy of the secret Gospel, which he both interpreted according to his blasphemous and carnal doctrine and, moreover, polluted, mixing with the spotless and holy words utterly shameless lies. From this mixture is withdrawn off the teaching of the Carpocratians.
To them, therefore, as I said above, one must never give way ; nor, when they put forward their falsifications, should one concede that the secret Gospel is by Mark, but should even deny it on oath. For, "For not all true things are to be said to all men". For this reason the Wisdom of God, through Solomon, advises, "Answer the fool with his folly," , teaching that the light of the truth should be hidden from those who are mentally blind. Again it says, "From him who has not shall be taken away" and "Let the fool walk in darkness". But we are "children of Light" having been illuminated by "the dayspring" of the spirit of the Lord "from on high", and "Where the Spirit of the Lord is" , it says, "there is liberty", for "All things are pure to the pure".
To you, therefore, I shall not hesitate to answer the questions you have asked, refuting the falsifications by the very words of the Gospel. For example, after "And they were in the road going up to Jerusalem" and what follows, until "After three days he shall arise", the secret Gospel brings the following material word for word:
"And they come into Bethany. And a certain woman whose brother had died was there. And, coming, she prostrated herself before Jesus and says to him, "Son of David, have mercy on me". But the disciples rebuked her. And Jesus, being angered , went off with her into the garden where the tomb was, and straightway, going in where the youth was, he stretched forth his hand and raised him, seizing his hand. But the youth, looking upon him, loved him and began to beseech him that he might be with him. And going out of the tomb they came into the house of the youth, for he was rich. And after six days Jesus told him what to do and in the evening the youth comes to him, wearing a linen cloth over his naked body. And he remained with him that night, for Jesus taught him the mystery of the Kingdom of God. And thence, arising, he returned to the other side of the Jordan."
And these words follow the text, "And James and John come to him" and all that section. But "naked man with naked man" and the other things about which you wrote, are not found.
And after the words, ?And
he comes into Jericho," the secret Gospel adds only, "And
the sister of the youth whom Jesus loved and his mother and Salome were
there, and Jesus did not receive them." But many other things about
which you wrote both seem to be and are falsifications."
The extraordinary statement, ?For, even if they should say something true, one who loves the truth should not, even so, agree with them,? acknowledges the existence and validity of the Secret Gospel that was acquired by Carpocrates, and in advising Theodore to deny its existence, even under oath, demonstrates the magnitude of what it must have contained. We can suppose that many of the Gnostic fathers began their career as Orthodox believers, but something caused a change in their spirit, some wisdom was passed before their eyes that broke them away from the Orthodox creed. Because so many of them were from Alexandria, one is led to believe that perhaps this Secret Gospel of Mark, may have been singularly influential in their transformation. But why is it not mentioned elsewhere, why was it so repressed that only Clement of Alexandria has revealed its existence, and at that only partially. In later years Clement would himself fall under criticism for incorporating Gnostic views into his teachings. What ever he might have read in this hidden book, may have changed him forever, and he was both terrified to reveal it, and yet bursting at the seams with the joy that he had found. He could not resist the opportunity to hint at its contents to this Theodore, but by his cryptic words "For not all true things are to be said to all men," we can be sure that he is only telling half the story.
No one can know what occurred between Jesus and the boy, but the Church Fathers had their suspicions, and this is why it was silenced, repressed, and omitted from the final version of the Bible; not because of what it says, but because of what it implies. Whether Jesus loved the boy carnally or not, we do not know, but there is indication that the Boy loved Jesus, with all his soul and with all his body, and begged that he might ?be? with Him, to which Jesus responded by staying six days in his house, demonstrating the Kingdom of Heaven in a manner found nowhere else in the Bible. Of course we must keep in mind that according to the story, Jesus first raised the boy from the dead. How could such a one not love his Savior with all his heart, and with all his body, who had so recently been dead? This boy had experienced life in the world, the pain and darkness of death, the judgment of the soul, and all the truths that we can never know, and had been raised from the Dead, how can we begin to understand what passed between Jesus and a boy such as this? With a linen cloth over his naked body, the boy was taught the mystery of the Kingdom of God, however sexual this might at first sound, we must remember that it is also an image of one who is laying in his tomb?the way that Jesus found him ?with a ?Shroud? over his Naked Body.? Why Mark should mention that the boy was Naked is strange, and might betray what Mark felt about the situation, the disturbed impression that the unusual miracle and sacrament of Jesus had upon him and the other Apostles. The circumstances of the story, that it was in Bethany, and that the sister of the boy begged Jesus to intervene suggest that it might be a reflection of Lazarus, similar but only coincidentally, or there might have been more to the Lazarus story than what we are told.
Whether Jesus had sex with the boy or not is irrelevant, what matters is that Mark believed that something unmentionable had occurred, and the Church Fathers (the privileged few) who read the passage seem to have agreed, because they completely omitted the passage from the final version of the Bible. The statement of Clement of Alexandria that "Not all true things are to be said to all men" is an indication that he might indeed have believed that something occurred between Jesus and the Boy that should not be revealed. Carpocrates seems to have taken what we immediately suspect as the real Gospel Truth. Clement accuses Carpocrates of stealing the document by witchcraft and then inserting his own falsifications. What those falsifications were we cannot know, but the small quotation that Clement makes ?Naked Man against Naked Man? is enough to give us a hint.
The effect that these words, hidden away in the Secret Gospel, had on the Gnostics and the possible theories of homosexual sanctity that extend from them are perhaps visible by comparing the implications of the Secret Gospel fragment to later Gnostic cults believed to be descended from the teachings of Carpocrates. Bishop Epiphanius of Salamis, 310-402 AD (not to be confused with the son of Carpocrates) wrote a long treatise against Heresy called the Panarion. He explains that he nearly became a Gnostic, but was saved from error by some miracle, but most importantly he claims to have personally witnessed one of the most extraordinary manifestations of Libertinism anywhere told. This would of course be a very late period cult, as Epiphanius would have been writing well into the middle of the 4th century, some two-hundred years after Carpocrates, Hadrian and Antinous lived. Epiphanius calls this sect the Phibionites, but has several others names for other variations including Borborites, Barbelites, Stratiotici and Coddians. He says that they are descended from the Sethian-Ophites, who were a Gnostic sect that venerated snakes and claimed to have obtained their knowledge from a mythical being called Seth, who is alternatively the , the descended Savior, or the Son of Adam and Eve (ancestor of Jesus) or the Set of Egyptian mythology. Several texts of Sethian origin are found among the Nag Hammadi texts.
The Phibionites believed that the Logos, or the Divine Substance was spread throughout the cosmos, and was highly concentrated in the flesh of living things. Like the Dionysian mystery cults, Orphics, Pythagoreans, Platonists, Hermetics and Gnostics, they believed that the world was a prison, and that the Divine Substance was trapped within the life force of all creatures. The purpose of their faith was to bring an end to the continued dispersal of the divided sparks, and to draw them together. They believed that the Divine substance was passed from one life to the next through sexual intercourse, and that it was contained in the Sperm and Menstrual fluid, and in foods that perpetuated life, particularly meat. They believed that life was the creation of evil, and that it was for those who understood the true nature of the immortal spirit to partake in the joys of life, without perpetuating it?s dispersal through childbirth. Epiphanius describes that they celebrated lovefeasts where wives were exchanged, and that they held up their hands, smeared with semen and menstrual blood to the 365 Archons as a sign of sacrifice.
The High Priests, called Levites, openly devoted themselves to homosexuality, abstaining from female contact, and having frequent sex among themselves, so as to not perpetuate human enslavement in the world. Homosexuality was the highest and purest state in their religion.
Should a female member of the cult become pregnant by accident, the foetus was aborted and ritually consumed by the entire congregation, so as to prevent the dispersal of the Divine Substance trapped within it?s flesh.
The most sacred element of their bizarre ritual was the elevation and consumption of the Divine Substance in the form of the Sperm of the Levites in a manner equivalent to the Holy Eucharist. In other words, the Sperm of the homosexual high priests was considered to be the seed of the divine light in it?s purest form.
?Jesus himself, they said,
was the first teacher of these practices. He took Mary Magdalene to
a mountain, took a woman out of his side and had sex with her, then
drank his own sperm saying: ?Thus we ought to do, that we may live.?
They even claim that when Jesus at the Last Supper spoke of eating his
flesh and drinking his blood, he was referring to this practice.?
The woman taken from his side, was the mirror-self, the shadow of Jesus, from whose embrace he took his body and blood and then consumed it, just as the titans had consumed the limbs of Dionysus. This may be a trace of what Carpocrates discovered in the Secret Gospel of Mark, passed down over the centuries and taken to its most vivid extreme.
Whether all of this is true we cannot be sure. The cannibalization of aborted foetuses seems like propaganda, meant simply to eradicate public support for the group?but one can never be sure. The same arguments have been used for centuries against every obscure cult from the Dionysians, heretics, witches, Satanists, and in the early days even against the Christians themselves. Epiphanius was writing well into the reign of Constantine, and perhaps even during or shortly after the controversy of Julian the Apostate. It is simply inflammatory, but strangely enough, it is in perfect keeping with what Carpocratian-Gnosticism might have become in later years. If it was true, then the memory of it, might have either been passed down secretly, or was maintained by literate Catholics who accidentally brought the terror of it back to life again during the Inquisition.
The importance of the Phibionites to the Secret Gospel of Mark lies in the possibility of a sexual sacrament, a Bridal Chamber through which the Logos might be passed, or gathered together, through the Sperm, and that this sacrament was not invented by the heretics, but might have a basis in the Secret Gospel of Mark, and in whatever other hidden words of Jesus might have been floating around.
Carpocrates, contemporary of Hadrian and Antinous, witness of the rise of a Homosexual mystery religion devoted to the beautiful boy Antinous, was the origin of all of this, the one who stole the Secret Gospel from the Church of Alexandria, by seducing a trusted priest. It only seems logical that Carpocrates would have been deeply moved by the Religion of Antinous, since both were from Asia Minor, and both had found their deification in Egypt. If there was indeed Libertinism in the Religion of Antinous, then Carpocrates would have been even more attracted. Whether Carpocrates initiated the full theology of the Spermo-Gnostic Phibionites we cannot know, and whether this had any influence on, or from the Religion of Antinous we cannot know either, but a single line from one of the few actual texts of the religion of Antinous lends a veiled clue.
?Once He has accomplished
His works among the living,
With the Secret Gospel in hand, Carpocrates set forth his doctrine, which we can reasonably suppose included the sanctification of homosexuality based on what occurred between Jesus and the boy. This was a doctrine of Homosexual Liberation through which the Kingdom of Heaven was revealed. This is a portrayal of the Sacrament of the Bridal Chamber, which was part of the creed of other Gnostic Fathers such as Valentinus, where the Spirit and the Lover-within are united Spiritually. In this sense, we might say that Jesus first raised the boy from the dead, and then penetrated his Labyrinth, the twisted and tormented maze of the intestine, through the gateway of the anus, and there deposited the mystery of the Holy Spirit. The intestine is where death exits the body; it is like the underworld within our bodies. Jesus enters like a thief, and brings the Logos, the Divine Substance of ever-lasting life. It is in this Labyrinth that we absorb nourishment and reject waste, like an internal place of judgment. It is where life and death exist side by side through the process of osmosis. Carpocrates implies that Jesus straightened the crooked road, and placed life where death emerged, reversing the flow of matter, and confounding the Laws of Nature, which is what was to occur on the night of his own resurrection. Sodomizing the boy, therefore, surpasses his elevation from the dead by revealing the Kingdom of Heaven through the mystery of Spermo-Gnosticism (just a speculation.)
"Naked man with Naked man"
Clement denies that these words are mentioned in the Secret Gospel of Mark, they seem to have been quoted by Theodore from the words of the Carpocratians, and might therefore be the interpretation that Carpocrates himself put forth. Not only was the boy naked, but Jesus was as well, according to Carpocrates. But Theodore seems to have brought up far more questions than Clement was willing to answer, which Clement dismisses by saying that Carpocrates added his own interpretation to the words of Jesus. What that interpretation was we can only imagine. The letter is lost, and Clement only says that, "But many other things about which you wrote both seem to be and are falsifications." We can only wonder.
We are left astonished to discover that what we know of Jesus may not be the full story, that once during this great period of spiritual enlightenment that we know of as the age of Heresiarchs, there were many other interpretations of the Gospel that have been entirely suppressed and destroyed. Modern scholars seem to be largely against the validity of the Secret Gospel, those who are uncomfortable with the implications are convinced that it is a forgery or a fraud, whether ancient or modern makes no difference. Because it confounds and destroys the image that we are given to understand Jesus, it has even now been given over to absolute silence. Very few people today know that it exists, because it goes unmentioned by popular commentary. Those who believe do so in silence, and those who reject it never even mention that it was ever found.
Carpocrates was for centuries just an obscure heretic mentioned briefly by Irenaeus and Hippolytus, barely remembered by the world, until he was rediscovered in 1958, and found to be surprisingly central to this extraordinary document known as the Secret Gospel of Mark, and what it implies in the question of Homosexuality and the Bible. One begins to wonder how much of what Carpocrates taught was based on this lost book, how much was his own innovation, and how much of it may have been the true teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.
Aside from homosexual sanctity, can it be that the basic concept of self-deification was not also set forth by the lost Gospel? We can at least be sure that the words of Jesus, here contained, were the prized possession of the Carpocratians, and the perhaps the origin of a great deal of their wisdom?the key that set them free from the world.
Clement of Alexandria validates the existence of the book, and acknowledges that it came into the possession of Carpocrates. He says that the priest who gave him the copy was enslaved by magic, but we can be sure that Carpocrates used nothing more than persuasion. The priest who handed over the carefully guarded book was not possessed, but must have been convinced of the nobility of Carpocrates to have betrayed to him the secret treasure of the Church of Alexandria. It is this unnamed priest whom we must thank, for his courage and the trust that he had in our Saint Carpocrates.
For homosexuals in these changing days of modern sexual philosophy, the School of Carpocrates takes on a new significance beyond the other Gnostic teachers, and perhaps even beyond all ancient teachers of Theology. He brings into question the position of the Church against homosexuality, and casts grave doubt on the validity of the Canonical Bible, which for so many centuries has been held against the sacredness of homosexuality. With the Secret Gospel in hand, Carpocrates almost assumes Apostolic authority because he revealed what the Church had made secret and destroyed. His teaching suddenly takes on the Sacred Word of Jesus, and stands in profound and liberating contradiction to the accusations that have been leveled against homosexuality for so many centuries, and that are at the center of our modern controversy. In his hand, the Secret Gospel of Mark is an indictment against by the Church for the injustice that has been perpetrated against homosexuals, and which continues to this day, in total defiance of the words and actions of Jesus, to this day.
The Reign of Hadrian is the most likely time when Carpocrates lived and taught, and though Carpocrates is regarded as a Christian and therefore outside of the Romano-Hellenic world view that Hadrian promoted, we must remember that Carpocrates was a Platonist first and a Christian second. Through Platonism, which was rapidly developing into Neo-Platonism, the formidable last stand of the Pagans against the growing influence of Christianity theology, we are connected to the vast, wide-spread and interconnected teachings that extend through the Gnostics and Hermetics and Platonists, to the Pythagoreans, and Orphics that preceded them. Antinous is intimately part of this Pagan revival that Hadrian promoted and encouraged. Gnosticism came into being at this time because it was part of the greater Hellenistic atmosphere of syncretism. The Gnostic view seemed novel and absurd, but it rested on the solid foundation of mystery religions, it was no more than a new variation on an old theme, as was Antinous.
There are many reasons to argue against the similarity of the Doctrine of Carpocrates to the Religion of Antinous, but time frame is not one of these reasons. The two religions were contemporary, indeed very few, if any other religions can claim such a coincidence, and even fewer ancient religions had as much to say about the sacredness of homosexuality. The veneration of Idols, the preference for human gods over vague, mythological beings, the glorification of beauty and sensuality as expressed by the statues, and all the rumors and sneers that were held against the priests of Antinous are common to both religions. Antinous and Carpocrates are a case of cross-contamination, or of mutually-inclusive differentiation.
The Osirian aspect of Antinous, prevalent at Antinoopolis, the place of his death and transfiguration, is however in many ways the antithesis of Carpocratianism, and of the Gnostic as a whole. It is within the cosmology of Osiris that the judgment of the dead is set forth most prominently, and Antinous is indivisibly part of the Osiris, as set forth by so many documents and by so much of his iconography. What this means is that though there is similarity between the libertinism of Carpocrates, and the Religion of Antinous in its later form, there also exists within Antinous, the direct opposite of all that Carpocrates stood for. Antinous is a many-faceted, multi-layered, diversely-arrayed spectrum of a god, who represents a whole constellation of semblances, all them galaxies-within-galaxies of meaning. The original intention of Hadrian, when he deified his beloved companion was to dispense the splendor and beauty of Antinous across the whole face of the world, in all languages, and in all forms and open to every interpretation. Thus we find the truth of Antinous reflected in more than one mirror.
Antinous was held to be the Genius, or guardian spirit, of the Golden Age of Rome, her protector, and the upholder of peace through order. His depiction as a boy holding garlands of flowers, delicate wands (never a weapon) and crowned with ivy was held to be the new spirit of the Empire. Through Him the Law was founded on Love and protection, and human dignity. He was a new, civilized, graceful Apollonian-Dionysus, a different kind of savior. In this sense he seems to be Anti-Carpocrates. But Antinous is not portrayed as an enforcer, a conqueror, or a subjugator, he is a peace-bringing savior, a new Eros, which is in no way a contradiction of Carpocrates.
Carpocrates taught a doctrine of Love, and absolute Freedom. He did not encourage his followers to commit harmful crimes against humanity, there is no indication in any of the criticism of the Church Fathers to show that he influenced his followers to rape, murder, injure, lie, steal (well maybe Secret Gospels from a Church that conceals them, but where?s the crime in that!) Carpocrates does not encourage us to commit any other form of injustice against our fellow living creatures, which are subject to the same imprisonment in the world as we are. His words, as Irenaeus and Clement unwittingly confirm, are in perfect keeping with the teachings of Jesus, Plato, Hadrian and Antinous.
He indicates that we must free ourselves from the laws of the world, within ourselves, as we alone interpret it. Not for the purpose of bringing chaos and mayhem, or to harm anyone, but to find our source of light and darkness, and to bring an end to the cycles of life and death, simply by knowing ourselves. The Law is to be understood, it does not need to be blatantly violated, but can be obeyed, without the risk of perjury or betrayal because there is no such thing as blasphemy. The Law is not to control us, but for us to simply understand and move through like a vapor. This law includes the restrictions of religion, the moral code of society, and even the natural laws of life on Earth. Carpocrates set us free from judgment and placed the authority of the Word upon our own shoulders, making us our own lords, by the revelation of what I call the ?Man-key,? the spark that flew down from the place of light to dwell in darkness, within our souls. The words of Carpocrates are the Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of [both] Good and Evil, eating this flesh, and drinking this juice defies death and causes us to become Gods, without changing us at all, because we have always been gods, just as we are.
Irenaeus of Lyons, did his best to stamp out the teachings of St. Carpocrates, but for centuries, his words preserved the memory of this visionary. The doctrines themselves were long ago destroyed. Carpocrates seemed to vanish from the Earth, his followers and their ideologies were persecuted until no trace remained. His influence was demonstrated in the allegations brought against the Cathars, the Knights Templar, and the Heretics of Medieval Europe in general, giving the impression that they had survived in the East and were brought back with the returning crusaders. But the Unholy Inquisition butchered and burned all traces of it in the Heretics, or so they believed. Carpocratian-like Libertinism and the remaining Pagan cult of Dionysus, which was still adhered to by the Witches and healers of the countryside, were perceived as a united threat against Christendom and were equated with a vast Satanic plot to bring chaos to the world, as foretold in Revelation. From this point onward, in the Christian mind and even in the minds of many Libertines themselves, the basic Doctrine of Carpocrates became the foundation and inspiration for Satanism and the occult in general.
Simultaneously, however, during the Protestant Reformation, some of the immediate followers of Martin Luther took up the notion that Grace alone, not good works, or sacraments, or adherence to the Ten Commandments was necessary for Salvation. One who was Saved, could not be un-Saved, and was therefore free from concern with worldly laws. Martin Luther called these men Antinomians, which has since been the name used for Christian Libertinism.
This was by coincidence the time when a revival of interest in Antinous was underway, when so many of his statues were discovered and scholarly works on his life and the implications of his religion first emerged after so many centuries of silence. Here we find our Saint Cardinal Allesandro Albani, who led a life of libertine indulgence, having never actually been a priest, but was made a Cardinal by special dispensation from his uncle the Pope, and then made the unofficial, secret, head of espionage against the English Protestants, employing ever form of dark and questionable means to obtain his information. Cardinal Albani may never have been a true believing Antinomian, but his life and work demonstrate that he was certainly no Catholic. It was he who funded much of the excavation of Pompeii by our Saint Johann Joachim Winckelmann, who dutifully and scientifically studied and reported the proliferation of images of the Phallus found everywhere in Pompeii, used in the same manner as the crucifix. Winckelmann also lived with Cardinal Albani for a time, and wrote extensively about the Cardinal?s collection of Antinous statues, and it is rumored that they, together with other known homosexual artists and writers, formed the first cult devoted to Antinous and Priapus since ancient times. We can see in them a clear indication of secret Libertinism, right under the Nose of the Pope in Rome. Cardinal Albani united in one person, the Church of Rome, the new theories of Christian Antinomianism, and the Cult of Antinous.
Carpocratian-Libertine-Antinomianism rose again during the French Revolution, and reached its most debased pinnacle in the voluptuous catalogues of perversity glorified by the Marquis de Sade in his novels. One of his masterpieces is the book ?120 Days of Sodom? which is an extreme and depraved depiction of Phibionite Carpocratianism set to beautiful prose, in which the lead characters are explicitly referred to as Libertines. They undergo a systematic and thorough exploration of the Philosophy of Libertinism, committing every sin in increments that descend steadily towards worse and more disgusting forms of Lust and Horror. One of the characters is given the name of Antinous, designated as a ?fucker? because of his huge penis. He serves as one of several Priapus figures, and was named Antinous because his penis, ass and face are equally beautiful, which according to the Marquis de Sade is an extreme rarity, reminiscent of ?Hadrian?s favorite.? But of course the book was written while the Marquis de Sade was imprisoned in the Bastille and is only fiction. It was lost during the Revolution and only found a few decades ago, hidden away in a bed frame. One can only imagine the impact it might have had on history were it to have been published 200 years ago.
Nietzsche is said to have had leanings towards Libertinism, and the work of Epiphanes, ?Concerning Righteousness? is said to have either had an influence on the early communists, or is just a reflection of like-mindedness. ?The Communist Manifesto? in any case states many of the same basic tenets as Epiphanes such as the sharing of wives and property in general.
The philosophy of Libertinism had not died but was growing in strength, due to the failure of the Christian faith to keep pace with a rapidly changing world. World War I was essentially the breaking point. The survivors turned to the joys of life, having seen too much of the horrors, and Libertinism became a popular pursuit for the first time.
The teachings of Carpocrates himself were simultaneously resurrected by Aleister Crowley, and his associates, who used them as a source for their own Antinomian philosophy, which permeates Thelemic belief and the ritual of the Order Templis Orientalis. Many of these rituals are based on the Carpocratian-Phibionite model as related by Epiphanius in the Panarion. Crowley and his associates re-instituted the theory of Spermo-Gnosticism, which basically held that the Logos was contained in the sperm, which could be used to confer benediction, wisdom and power. The consumption of sperm mixed with menstrual fluid was tantamount to the Holy Eucharist. Aspects of these beliefs have found their way into every level of New Age, Neo-Pagan, and ?Modern? Satanic philosophy. The Carpocratian creed was interpreted, quite accurately by Crowley as:
"Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law."
Only in recent years has these ideas become part of general social consciousness. The teachings of Carpocrates are utterly modern in their wisdom, and we are only now beginning to understand what he so long ago discovered, and labored in vain to reveal to the world.
It is no coincidence that Carpocrates lived and taught during the life and reign of Hadrian and Antinous. Only under the enlightened rule of one such as Hadrian could these ideas come forth and survive into maturity. The peaceful, intellectual, artistic and religious freedom, protected by the Antonines almost caused the Catholic Church to fall apart. Another of Carpocrates Gnostic contemporaries, the famous Valentinus, tried to change the world by working within the Catholic system, he struggled to maintain a balance between apostolic authority and speculative (Gnostic) philosophy, because he did not, like so many other Gnostics, see the world-church as an enemy to be opposed, but sincerely believed that the Gnostic view could be assimilated into the Orthodox faith. During the reign of Antoninus Pius, Valentinus was almost made Pope of Rome, and only lost by a narrow margin. Carpocrates seems to have known that the Gnostic Succession and the Catholic Church could never merge, and that their differences would eventually lead to all out war, and he must have also known that Gnosticism would not survive the conflagration because it has always been a faith comprehensible only to a few, and so he advised his followers to live in the world, but not conform to it. Yet the Carpocratian view spread around the Empire and seems to have outlived its master and his son and to have taken on a life of its own. It was based in Alexandria, had a second home on the island of Cephallenia, and sent a representative to Rome, and what an interesting and important person he chose. We must now turn our attention to that representative, because of all the similarities that abound between the Carpocratians, and the Religion of Antinous, it is what was said of her that is the most crucial and defining evidence of this treatise. The last paragraph of Irenaeus?s chapter on the Carpocratians tells us that:
?From among these also
arose Marcellina, who came to Rome under [the episcopate of] Anicetus
(154-167), and, holding these doctrines, she led multitudes astray.?
During the reign of Antoninus Pius, perhaps inspired by the success of Valentinus, Carpocrates (or more likely his son Epiphanes) if he was still alive, sent a female "Bishop" of his church to Rome named Marcellina. The Doctrine of the Libertines was not male oriented, but all encompassing, as this single line from Irenaeus shows. Carpocrates sent a woman to Rome to represent him and free the people at a time when the eternal city was at its height of power, luxury, and over flowing with ideologies. Marcellina was apparently successful in her charge, and might have confronted and earned the condemnation of the Anti-heretical Pope Anicetus, who was the first to take action against the heretics by expressly forbidding them from participation in the Church, which was believed to be the equivalent of abandoning their souls to Hell. Marcellina must have caused an great upheaval to gain the recognition of Irenaeus, and to be mentioned in such close proximity to her beloved Heresiarch.
Marcellina is said to be the founder of her own school by Origen in his work entitled "Against Celsus" which was a defense of the Christian religion against a Pagan philosopher named Celsus, who had written a book against the Christian religion. This book has been lost (or was burned) but is partially preserved in paraphrase by Origen, in his long refutation. Origen first shows that Marcellina was a famous Gnostic teacher known to the Pagan Celsus and to himself, and then he gives her role a particular and unexpected turn of sacredness in the paragraph that follows, which makes an extraordinary comparison.
"Celsus knows, moreover, certain Marcellians, so called from Marcellina, and Harpocratians from Salome, and others who derive their name from Mariamme, and others again from Martha...
In the next place, that
he may have the appearance of knowing still more than he has yet mentioned,
he says, agreeably to his usual custom, that "there are others
who have wickedly invented some being as their teacher and demon, and
who wallow about in a great darkness, more unholy and accursed than
that of the companions of the Egyptian Antinous." And he seems
to me, indeed, in touching on these matters, to say with a certain degree
of truth, that there are certain others who have wickedly invented another
demon, and who have found him to be their lord, as they wallow about
in the great darkness of their ignorance. With respect, however, to
Antinous, who is compared with our Jesus, we shall not repeat what we
have already said in the preceding pages."
Marcellina and her followers, the ?Harpocratians? and the whole of the Libertine Gnostic movement, is explicitly compared to the religion of Antinous. It is Celsus who first makes the accusation (a Pagan comparing the Gnostics to the Religion of Antinous!) but Origen expressly agrees with him, on this at least, if nowhere else. Celsus intended to degrade Christianity as a whole by saying that they were Even more Accursed than the ?Companions of the Egyptian Antinous? but Origen, wishing to differentiate the Catholic faith from the Gnostics, explains how it is only certain heretical groups, including the followers of Marcellina and the ?Harpocratians?, who are comparable to Antinous. This comparison, for anyone who believes in Antinous and in Carpocratian Gnosticism, and in the possibility that the two faiths are interrelated, is a miraculous passage that brings together the opinion of a Pagan and a Christian, that there is indeed a relationship!
The brief and puzzling word "Harpocratians" has led some to believe that Origen was actually referring to Carpocrates, but whether his name was erroneously misspelled by Origen or the copyist, is unknown. Some have stated that there might have been a connection between Carpocrates and the Hellenic-Egyptian god Harpocrates, son of Osiris and Isis, whose name has been interpreted as Horus the Young, the silent god depicted as a young boy with his finger over his mouth. Origen suggests that the god and the teacher were enshrouded in an intermingled mystery by their followers, much like Antinous.
Origen also states that the Marcellians and the "Harpocratians" claimed to derive their teachings from Mariamme (the Virgin Mary) Salome and Martha, which is beyond the scope of this subject. But as one of the few female Gnostic teachers to make a name for herself, it seems reasonable to believe that Marcellina would take inspiration from the female Apostles whose Gospels are lost, with the exception of the Gospel of Mary, found among the newly discovered and highly controversial Gnostic books of Nag Hammadi. The female perspective of the Doctrine of Carpocrates, through Marcellina, takes on importance from these few lines, and adds more depth to the comparison between the Carpocratians and the Religion of Antinous, who is closely united to Diana.
In regard to the statement that the "Harpocratians" were led or, founded by Salome, Clement of Alexandria at the end of the Secret Gospel Text, says:
"And after the words, "And he comes into Jericho," the secret Gospel adds only, "And the sister of the youth whom Jesus loved and his mother and Salome were there, and Jesus did not receive them."
We find here a strange connection between Carpocrates, Salome, "the youth whom Jesus loved" and the Virgin Mary, from whom the ?Harpocratians? claim to derive their teachings, found in three separate sources, Celsus, Origen and Clement of Alexandria. What this might mean is the tenuous suspicion that Carpocrates based his theology on the Secret Gospel of Mark may have more truth to it than at first appears, since centuries after the book was supposedly acquired by him, allusions and hints to the fragment of the Secret Gospel are still found among his philosophical descendants. And furthermore, the mysterious "youth whom Jesus loved" a phrase that has remained part of the Canonical Bible as the ?Apostle whom Jesus loved?, interpreted as meaning St. John, may actually suggest that the Boy from the Secret Gospel, and not John, was the unnamed Apostle who rested his head on Our Lord at the crucial moment of the Last Supper. This wild possibility leads to the question of whether the bizarre practice of the Phibionites, consuming sperm as the body and blood of Christ, might have some truth and substance to it after all. But the most important aspect of all this speculation is that these descendants of Carpocrates, now supported by an allusion to the Secret Gospel are accused of wallowing in darkness "More unholy and accursed than that of the companions of the Egyptian Antinous."
We can be reasonably sure then, that Carpocrates has a connection to the Religion of Antinous, that in his youth or at the beginning of his career as a mystic, Carpocrates might have even looked upon the living Antinous in Alexandria in the summer of the 130, only months before the imperial procession set forth on its journey up the Nile towards the future site of Antinoopolis, where Antinous died. The Deification of Antinous by Hadrian must have deeply affected, or intrigued Carpocrates, who would have understood its implications perfectly. Whether the Deification of Antinous came after the Doctrine of Carpocrates, or whether Carpocrates was influenced by what was promoted in Antinoopolis one can never know, but the two faiths were born as twin brothers. We must remember that for the first time in history, a world leader had publicly demonstrated and acknowledged his Homosexuality for the whole world to see, making the object of his affection into an official part of the world-wide religion of Rome, or at least the Greek-speaking half, which effectively made homosexuality a legally and religiously recognized and sanctified public institution, with deep, mystical undercurrents. Carpocrates must have been affected by such an extraordinary proclamation. Scholars seem to have paid too little attention to the possibility that the Deification of Antinous, and the proliferation of Gnostic Homosexual cults might be interrelated. When Hadrian, the Emperor of Rome at its greatest height, gave his approval to Homosexuality, the whole world changed. Carpocrates took inspiration from what Hadrian did, and unprecedented numbers of people were willing to listen.
It may be that the followers of Carpocrates became Companions of Antinous, or that through Antinous, believers were led to Carpocrates, but surely the two religions were in contact, and were influenced by one another in some way. The city of Antinoopolis in later years was a haven for all manner of eccentric doctrines. And the priests there are said (by Origen) to have indulged in Libertine feasts on the Sacred Nights, much like the Carpocratians. Both were in keeping with the wild orgies of the late Dionysian cult. As the power of the Orthodox fathers of the Church grew in Alexandria, and the protection of the Antonine Emperors waned, Antinoopolis became an island of safety for free thinkers and feelers in a world that was growing ever more dangerous and intolerant. Antinoopolis, might have become a home for Carpocratians when Alexandria became hostile, especially under its great Bishop Athanasius, who would later author the Nicene Creed, which categorically defined the theological position of the Catholic Faith, and was simultaneously a pledge of allegiance and a declaration of war against the non-conformity of the Heretics.
Carpocrates is a vivid symbol of the atmosphere of freedom that blossomed for a few hundred years in the city of Antinoopolis. The Catholics established their own Church there in order to battle the heretics, and because of its importance, the city became the seat of a Catholic Bishop. But these Catholic Bishops were largely ineffective, except as spies and monitors, while the true representatives of Christ were perhaps the Gnostics in Antinoopolis with their deep connection to Greek philosophy, of whom Carpocrates was the most brilliant and bizarre. Although he never claimed the title, and perhaps never entered the city, which was only then under construction, Carpocrates or his representative, was the true Archbishop of Antinoopolis, a mirror of the religion of Antinous for semi-Christians. It might even be the Carpocratian influence in Antinoopolis that led to the comparison of Antinous to Jesus which was so distasteful to Celsus and Origen, and which continues to puzzle and disturb the concept of Antinous as a purely Pagan god today. Only the Carpocratians, it seems, could have really bridged such a gap of ideology, as it was already central to their idolatry to crown images of Jesus alongside the Philosophers. Antinous, being contemporary, and such an important new example of godliness, and above all a Homosexual Savior, would have found his place without any issue. The Antinoopolitan priesthood, seeing the veneration of their beloved Antinous by Christian-Gnostics, might have opened their arms to the Carpocratians...and their souls also.
The notion of self-deification was held by the Carpocratians and perhaps even by the priests of Antinous. There is little direct evidence to show that the priests of Antinous believed in this difficult to comprehend doctrine, but the strongest example is of course the apotheosis of Hadrian and Antinous themselves, which demonstrate that the idea had some place in their understanding of the Human spirit, though it might have been limited to the Imperial Family in their minds?but Antinous was never officially part of the Imperial Family. And so by an extension of reasoning, if it was possible for Antinous, the "Companion of Hadrian," to be deified, why could the same not be true for one who was the "Companion of Antinous?" The statues of Antinous, dressed in the likeness of so many gods also leads one to contemplate the existence of self-deification in the religion of Antinous. For just as Antinous took on the form and power of the Gods, does it not follow that a believer, by spiritually adorning himself as Antinous, could likewise take on His form and His power? And lastly, Hadrian the Founder, believed that he was a god, and openly accepted the divine titles that were offered up to him. He did not shy away from portraying himself as the Father, nor did he act in any way less than as an all-powerful God should?according to his own laws, his own judgment of right and wrong. His magnificent, and heroic effort towards furthering civilization and the quality of life in the world is godly in character. And he had every confidence in his power to raise his beloved Antinous up to eternal life. His pretensions of Godliness were the basis of criticism laid upon him by the Jews, as detailed in the Midrash. Their condemnation of Hadrian was extracted from the Law of Moses. This Law is precisely what Jesus, Carpocrates, and Hadrian defied in assuming Godliness? The commandments tell us that we should not ?Take the Name of God in Vain,? and yet Hadrian freely accepted the divine titles heaped upon him by the Greeks, and even demonstrated his divine power by declaring Antinous a God. Jesus did not deny that he was God-made-flesh, and instructed his disciples on how they too could become what he was. For this he was crucified, in accordance with the Law of Moses, and for this same transgression, Carpocrates was condemned and his followers persecuted. Jesus, Carpocrates, and Hadrian defied the Law of Moses, and took the Name of God in Vain...are we expected to do anything less?
Hadrian certainly was never an Antinomian (One without Law) and would not have tolerated any such belief in his presence for long, and he certainly instituted no such philosophy in the Religion of Antinous. The religion, however, outlasted him and underwent changes, as some of the papyrus fragments suggest.
The sculptures of Antinous predominantly compare him to Dionysus, which leads us to believe that Hadrian, who knew Antinous best, and who initiated the religion of Antinous, intended for posterity to equate the ancient religion of Dionysus with the new belief in Antinous. Dionysus, the Liberator, freed men from their troubles with the gift of wine, he was the god of intoxication and ecstasy, whose nocturnal rites are the epitome of an Orgy, and were the inspiration for all forms of Libertinism thereafter. The Dionysian cult was Antinomian, and Libertine and was the inspiration for Epicurus. Though it is in all ways closely connected to the Olympian gods, it also represents their undoing, as it is in the multiple births, the rages of jealousy and persecution, and the transcendent faith of the god who was torn asunder, driven to madness, and resurrected, that the true nature of the Olympian Gods is revealed. Dionysus, in the Orphic theogony, is a being beyond the Celestial Gods, he precedes them and is not subject to the vicissitudes of their favor and distain. Dionysus is all-powerful Love, Eros himself, who extends beyond the notion of good and evil, and therefore can never be destroyed and is able to confound every law and is able to confer his immunity upon those whom he chooses, upon those who do not resist him. The followers of Dionysus are divided into two basic categories, the Bacchants, and the Orphics. Simply put, the Bacchants indulged, and the Orphics refrained, but they shared the same Gnosis of human nature, that our spirit is the divided Light of Dionysus, imprisoned in the flesh of Titans. This flesh and the world surrounding it, belongs to the Titans. The Bacchant was free to indulge in all pleasures, since restriction belonged to the province of the Titans, while the Orphics abstained from contact with the pollutions of the world for the same reason, to break away from the prison of flesh. Both held firmly to the belief that union with Bacchus was possible for any man, or women who did not ?resist? Him. Resistance against Dionysus was always based on moral grounds, which originated with Hera. The Followers of Dionysus, like the Carpocratians, and the Companions of Antinous, were in the habit of turning their liberation towards sexual expression. The entourage of Dionysus included demi-gods whose very nature was sexual and orgiastic, such as Pan, the Satyrs, Priapus, the Maenads, Ariadne, and the wise, drunkard, Silenus. Homosexuality was a vibrant part of the Dionysian cult, and was initiated by Orpheus as a sacred state, a priest of Dionysus, who turned away from women when he failed to bring his wife Euridice back from the dead. Through Dionysus we are exposed to deeper layers of the Mysteries of Eleusis, since Persephone is said to have been his first Divine Mother, when he first descended to reign among the Olympians as the Son of Zeus. Persephone was raped by Hades with the consent of Zeus and made the Queen of the underworld, by force. What we find in the Orphic theology is essentially a secret rebellion against Zeus and Hades by Dionysus and his Mother Persephone to free the immortal souls of humanity from enslavement and reincarnation, restoring to them their true divine nature by the several methods of becoming Bacchus common to the Orphics, Mystery Cults, Platonic Philosophers, Mithraics, Hermetics, and Gnostics.
Orphism was an initiatory philosophy devoted to Dionysus, but it was not purely Dionysian. It was deeply influenced by Apollo and Artemis, from whom extend the principles of moral aesthetics and purification. But within Apollo and Artemis is likewise the Homosexual message, which we find expressed by Socrates, through Plato, who proclaimed Apollo to be ?The God,? from whom all Wisdom, all Purity, and all Light radiate. Apollo and Dionysus shared the shrine of Delphi, they were as closely connected as twin brothers, with female counterparts in the aspect of Artemis and Persephone. The mystery cults are intricately and deeply related, and Antinous and Carpocrates are found right in the center all their subterfuge, radiance, and sexual license.
The Orphics (in the form of their Neo-Platonic descendants) and the Carpocratians both agreed that the soul, or more appropriately the immortal spirit-essence, was imprisoned in the carnal world of illusory forms, and that it is the goal of all introspective and cosmically aware men to liberate our Divine Substance and return to our super-celestial source. The only difference between the two philosophies is the way to do so. One advises purity, while the other advises indulgence, yet they are as different and as similar, as contradictory and as mystically united as Apollo and Dionysus. Antinous is clothed in both forms, leaving us to decide from which to choose, but neither have precedence, both co-habituate upon his flesh.
The Religion of Antinous, under Hadrian?s directive, may not have included the full weight of Antinomian implication, but Hadrian favored Dionysian artists, whose religion had been previously outlawed for licentious practices during the Republican period. We know little about the private life of Hadrian, but there is always the possibility, as his sexual and artistic interests suggest, that there was more of a Dionysian in him than we imagine, given the full extent of his complex character. Now just to show that he was not entirely unfavorable to Antinomianism under certain circumstances, there is a short document found by Phillupus, the Doctor of Ecclesia Antinoi, and from it, by an extension of logic, we might suppose that the same license was granted to the Priests of Antinous.
...Extract from an edict of deified Hadrian concerning the gifts granted to the society of the Dionysian Artists:
to front seats, freedom from military service, immunity from public
liturgies, to keep without tax whatever they procure for sacred use
or the contests and to use it as they see fit, the right not to present
guarantors of their immunity from taxation, the right to meet together
for sacrifice, the right not to be compelled to accommodate strangers
with billets, freedom from imprisonment or any other form of detention...death
Perhaps these gifts did not extend to the Cult of Bacchus as a whole, but only to a particular society, but one is immediately impressed by the resemblance of these gifts to the basic Doctrine of Libertinism. The words Freedom and immunity occur throughout, lending an Antinomian interpretation. The Dionysian Artists are given exemption from every level of the law, and what makes it especially interesting and appealing is that these same privileges might have also been given to the priests of Antinous, meaning that they too were beyond the law. Through the close relationship of the Carpocratians and the Companions of Antinous (which I suggest) perhaps the Carpocratians of Antinoopolis, who took up the religion of Antinous and fused it with their own system, were also given the same privileges. They would have surely sought them out and given the evidence, it might not have been an easy task to sort the Carpocratians from the traditional Antinoeans. By far the most profound statement made in this Edict of the Deified Hadrian, what would have resonated most deeply in the soul of a Carpocratian is the last line:
Freedom from imprisonment or any other form of detention, [Freedom from the]?death penalty.?
The Religion of Antinous did not remain pure to the initial directives of Hadrian, whatever those may have been. It took on the good and bad qualities of influential and contemporary faiths, such as Christianity, as both Celsus and Origen (a Pagan and a Christian) confirm that Antinous was compared to Jesus by his followers. Origen lived from 185- 254 AD, almost forty years after the death of Hadrian, and his book ?Against Celsus? was probably written well past the death of Commodus, 180-192 AD. The silence of Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius on the subject is a vague indication that the Religion of Antinous began to change immediately after the death of Hadrian, simply from a lack of interest by the only authority that could realistically prevent nontraditional influences from infiltrating the Doxology of Antinoopolis. The Religion of Antinous was obviously still strong enough, two or three generations after its foundation, to gain so much attention, but something about its form during the time of Celsus and Origen reminded them both of the Carpocratians. Aspects of Christianity had affected the priests of Antinous, and their practices took on similarities, and Celsus and Origen both agreed that it was not the general form of Christianity that they resembled, but the peculiarities of certain heretical sects, including the Marcellians who were direct descendants of the Doctrine of Carpocrates. In other words, despite Hadrian?s original plan and intentions, the Religion of Antinous had become Antinomian. Of course we have precious little evidence to say what Hadrian?s original directives were, we base our presumptions primarily on Hadrian?s personality, and the Obelisk, and only vaguely on Antinous himself, who is a completely hidden mystery. But Compare these two excepts, one about the Priests of Antinous specifically, the other directed against the Gnostics, by Clement and Origen, contemporaries, who viewed the Religion of Antinous as being almost indistinguishable from the Gnostics of the school of Carpocrates.
"?For lust is not
easily restrained, destitute as it is of fear; and men now observe the
Sacred Nights of Antinous, the shameful character of which the lover
who spent them with Him knew well."
"There are others
who have wickedly invented some being as their teacher and demon, and
who wallow about in a great darkness, more unholy and accursed than
that of the companions of the Egyptian Antinous."
On the subject of the Religion of Antinous becoming Antinomian, let us examine the word used. Anti-nomian means ?against law,? and was the term used by Martin Luther to describe those who had taken his words to what he considered an unpleasant extreme. ?Nomos? is the Greek word for Law, and in Hellenistic Egypt it was employed in the world to designate a political jurisdiction, a Politikos Nomos, or a Nome, which was essentially like a modern-day county. Antinoopolis was the capitol of the surrounding region, responsible for the administration of the nearby villages and towns. It was a Nomiarchy with a governor, a tax collector and a military commander responsible for the area. The prominence of the Religion of Antinous also made it the spiritual capitol, so that the High Priest of Antinous was a religious authority well beyond the doors of the Temple and outside the border of city. The Catholic Church appointed a Bishop, so that the Nomiarchy of Antinoopolis was also a Diocese of the Church. There are many ways to interpret this conjunction of terms, but I would like to offer the most apparent and the most in keeping with what I am attempting to say about this particular aspect of the Religion of Antinous. The name and the word, Antinous and Antinomian, are so surprisingly similar that they bleed into one another, so that Antinous and ?Anti-Nomos? if that is the correct way of putting it, become one and the same. Although the High Priest of Antinous was the spiritual Nomiarch of Antinoopolis, his god was ?Against the Law? or perhaps against the Diocesan authority of the Bishops who represented the Law of Moses. This particular interpretation of the term might have been favorable to the Carpocratians who resided within the city, who were against the steadily increasing authority of the Church. The Priests of Antinous were the Spiritual Nomiarchs of Antinoopolis while Hadrian lived, but as time went on their power declined, and after the Emperor Theodosius made all forms of Paganism illegal in 388 AD, the remaining priests of Antinous were compelled to embrace Antinomianism or abandon their religion, and the evidence shows that a small number chose to defy the new law for at least another hundred years if not longer. Antinous was expressly condemned as a Demon (in the satanic sense) as was Carpocrates, and yet their believers continued to worship them?voluntarily becoming devil worshippers. The words of Celsus and Origen, however, show that many who believed in Antinous had embraced aspects of Carpocratian-like Antinomianism within the first few decades of the religion, long before the decree of Theodosius. Whether this Antinomianism was based on the Dionysian or the Carpocratian influence is a matter of personal taste, but in any case, the Religion of Antinous was ultimately forced to become ?Anti-Nomian? when the law turned against them, and they chose to continue in their faith anyway.
The fate of the religion of Antinous and of Carpocrates suffered the same end. They were both targeted as Satanic distortions of the ?true? faith, and of subverting the authority of the Church and were therefore persecuted to the point of extinction. With the conversion of Constantine, the heretics were outlawed and persecuted as criminals. Theodosius closed all pagan shrines, and the last publicly open Priests of Antinous, and the last Gnostics were together put to death, their believers scattered, their books burned and their message destroyed. Almost simultaneously, the city of Antinoopolis went into decline and was ultimately abandoned, forgotten and buried in the sand. But the teachings of Carpocrates, like the statues of Antinous, did not die but lived on, preserved by the Catholic Church herself, because of their astonishingly sensual and highly disturbing beauty.
The controversial discovery of the Secret Gospel of Mark, gives Carpocrates new significance for homosexuals in the modern world. He took direct interest in our emancipation and expression of love. He encouraged his followers to experience homosexuality, and he freed his homosexual adherents to live their lives fully and in the truth of their love-desire, without fear and without shame. Going so far as to (perhaps) say that through the sacrament of Jesus and the Boy, ?Naked man with Naked man,? homosexuality is sacred, and might even have been part of the hidden teachings of Jesus. The Secret Gospel even suggests, though it does not explicitly state, the possibility that Jesus might have been open to homosexuality, an astonishing revelation, one that could change the world as we know it. Carpocrates is the first Christian philosopher to take homosexuality with the same depth of seriousness and honor that the ancient Greek philosophers knew it to hold, probably because he was not really Christian, but more of a follower of Socrates. In everyway, the sexual revolution that Carpocrates started mirrors what we claim to be our modern enlightenment. It was not until the courageous spirit of ?Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law? came into Gay Consciousness that the Stonewall Riot occurred as a rebellion against the Laws against Sodomy. The truth is that Carpocrates knew all this long ago, and saw that homosexuality is a noble height of human love (Aphrodite Uranos) and even the Savior Jesus Christ was not ashamed or hesitant to experience Same-Love, or to be perceived as having experienced it in front of his shocked disciples. Never once does Jesus mention homosexuality as a sin, and now given the brief glimpse that the Secret Gospel presents, of Jesus initiating a naked boy into the sacramental mysteries of ?Naked Man against Naked Man? we can be relatively sure that the Doctrine of Carpocrates was in harmony with this aspect of the truth of Jesus Christ. Carpocrates had indeed recalled his origin and was like unto Jesus, their words of love and salvation are parallel rays from the Unknowable Being to our world. In the Secret Gospel it is as though Carpocrates was the boy, raised from the dead by the Savior. He took the love that Jesus revealed to him on that night, what the Church of Alexandria kept hidden away, and inseminated the world with it, and that power has been resurrected in our time, and this religion of Antinous is an extension of his theology.
Now we are uncovering what was buried, and revealing the light that Carpocrates set free. For his loving-kindness, and the for the valor of his courage against the forces that rule over us, Carpocrates is the Patriarch of Libertinism, a Patron Saint of Homosexuality and a Divinized Mortal in the Religion of Antinous. His connection to the faith of Antinous and the expansion of his unprecedented doctrine are what make him sacred, venerable and blessed to our Beloved God. Antinous died and was raised from the dead and became God. Carpocrates took this phenomenal power, which he witnessed at the Deification of Antinous, a potential latent within our soul, and showed us how to become Gods?in this life. He showed us how to overpower the agents of the Cosmocrater through love, and free our spirit from domination, by steadfast faith in who we are. We are beholden only to ourselves and to the Unknown, Divine Substance?the seed of the Monad.
In freeing ourselves from the chains of cosmic fate, we become..."Wandering Stars." Referred to in the prophecy of the Secret Gospel.
Despite all the slander that is heaped upon his name, we see that Carpocrates never strayed from the path of Love, no matter how scandalous he may have been. His Doctrine was not preoccupied with sexual freedom, but was all-pervasive, and applicable to every aspects of human existence. The sexual freedom of libertinism has gained the most attention because it is so shocking and so disturbing to those who remain bound by shame. Time has proven the Doctrine of Carpocrates to be right and true, though tremendously difficult to maintain, requiring extraordinary ?steadfastness and purity? of faith in absolute freedom in the face of the apparent realities of the world, but his words and the blood of the Carpocratian Martyrs are vindicated by the our modern understanding of the human condition of Love on Earth.
Only the concept of self-deification, total union with the Monad, remains incomprehensible and explosive in its connotations. But if anyone is to touch the fire of the divine light, then they must become that fire in order know it. God is only self-conceivable, to know him, one must become him. And it is into this Cloud of Unknowing that anyone who dares to follow in the footsteps of Carpocrates must subject themselves, for better or for worse. In the end there will be no discernable difference between good and evil, and the true forms of all things will be revealed.
We must become Anti-Nous if we are to glimpse the true image of Inner Man, the most beautiful, perfect being, the boy Narcissus, gazing down into the pool of our drowning soul, imprisoned here in the abyss. To know Eros we must become Anteros, we must fall into the Nile, just as Narcissus gave himself to Styx, and Calamus to Carpos, so too must we give ourselves to Nous.
The Doctrine of Carpocrates is not for everyone..."For not all true things are to be said to all men." They are dangerous and have the capacity to destroy anyone who takes them on, and so they should only be approached with extreme caution, like the Mysteries of Narcissus. Or they should only be approached by one who is prepared to lose everything.
Carpocrates did not teach us how to break the law and get away with it, nor did he condemn us to a life of self-degradation without scruple. His advice that ?souls should have experience of every kind of life? includes the knowledge of virtue, beauty and an appreciation of the law of the world. He recommends that we Despise everything and Love everything simultaneously, that we drive ourselves to the point of madness so as to open the doors of undifferentiated truth. We should therefore despise all laws and respect them for what they are?multifaceted, paradoxical, concrete and illusionary manifestations of Truth, of which we can only perceive a sperm cell of what the absolutely Hideous-Beauty might actually be, if it is anything at all.
Do as you will, and let others do as they will...shall be the whole of the law.
Like Antinous who fell into the Nile, we are suffocating here in darkness, having plunged into the cycles of birth and death, having held our breath under the black water of chaos for as many lives as time and the Archons have sentenced us to suffer. Now the call from Above and Below is becoming irresistible, and like drowning men, we are born desperate to rise and leave this place of death and decay behind, because for the first time in millions of years, we understand that we are not from this place of darkness and we cannot resist the urge to break through the surface, because we are only visitors here?who must breath Light to survive.
But it is we who sacrificed our former godliness...Once. We are the sparks of the god who jumped into the abyss of this world as an act of Suicide?cutting away our splendor and falling into mortal flesh. We have no one to blame for our misfortune but ourselves, because it is we who have brought about our own misery. If the world is a place of death and suffering, it is only because we have made it so. If we wish to change the world, and our condition in it?we have the capacity to do so, because we are personally responsible for, and afflicted with, every horror the world over. And likewise we are personally adorned with and able to kiss everything beautiful with our true lips...Because we are God!
Here in the grip of the Archons we are ever-changing, passing from birth to death, knowing pain and suffering, feeling hunger and satiation, prisoners of Lust, Lechery and Loathing, and all the storms of quietude, desire and hatred that rage over our heart. But within us is the constant fire, which is not moved nor swayed by the fluctuations of matter, having no opinion and making no judgment, but is drawn towards every want without discrimination. It is a strength that is never worn down by time because it is not born, and it never dies. It a feeling that has no joy, no pain, accepts nothing, rejects nothing, and is never pleased nor dismayed because it is all-joy, all-pain, all-agreement, all-disappointment, all-sorrow, and all-hope?a feeling without beginning or end. It does nothing and leaves nothing undone. It is a presence in all things, and a void composed of nothing at all. It has absolutely nothing to do with this Universe in which we exist at all, though it is spread out evenly (like sunlight) righteously upon all things and within all things. It is everything Else, and everything Same and the simplest knowledge, the gnosis, within ourselves is all that is required to make union, through memory, through our capacity of Nous and Anti-Nous, and our affection for Sophia, Our Lady Wisdom, who is called a Whore because we are all pervaded indiscriminately by All The Suitors, and are at every moment depraved and full of every lust, though we are every moment made perfect, brilliantly pure, and completely as-one with total Goodness, and Godliness, just as we are now?without any miracle, and with miracles, like galaxies of stars, in every drop of our virgin blood. This Gnosis is the only salvation that we can ever accomplish, it is the only Freedom that we can achieve and all (g)notion of good and bad, of mine and thine crumbles in the face of such a state of wonder and unity as this.
The Hope and the Faith of Carpocrates, is that the power of human opinion is the Omnipotent will of God, which has no boundary, making no distinction between any extreme, participating fully without participating in anything particular, Loving all, and Despising everything...faithfully.
This principle is carved into the graceful images of Antinous, who is portrayed as so many gods...But is none of them at all. We know nothing about the Real Antinous, except that he was just a Boy?who became a God.
'Jesus said, "Those
who seek should not stop seeking until they find. When they find, they
will be disturbed. When they are disturbed, they will marvel, and will
reign over all. [And after they have reigned they will rest.]"
Antonius Nikias Subia