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  An Article From:

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Spring 2000, Vol. 75, Number 2

Christianity — Religious Orthodoxy or Secret Path
of Initiation?
by Rev. Dr. Russ Durocher

WHAT has come to be known by the world as “Christianity” is an orthodoxy which developed into its present form directly due to the 4th century Roman emperor Constantine's successful efforts to gather together, codify and dogmatize the philosophy, teachings, writings and legends which surrounded a certain 1st century Hebrew rabbi and prophet, Joshua bar Joseph ish Nazareth (Jesus, son of Joseph, of Nazareth), and to turn this compilation into the new state religion of the Roman Empire.

Prior to this successful political victory (which was primarily intended to unify the empire), there were various “gnostic” sects which viewed the Nazarene as Hierophant (imparter of “mysteries”), initiatic teacher, magician, and symbol of the Solar Deity (Constantine himself had been a devotee of the Solar Cult, prior to the creation of the Christian orthodox form under his auspices).

The result of Constantine’s political coup was that the original esoteric and “mystery initiation” basis of what became “Christianity” was gradually, suppressed and driven underground, because it refused to be brought under the authority and control of the rapidly unfolding theocracy of the new Roman state religion. This original Gnostic Christianity viewed itself as standing in direct lineage with all earlier forms of mystery school initiation and training, including the Greek and Egyptian Hermetic Traditions. The only clear difference was that the esoteric path of the Gnostic Christ Mysteries was open to all who cared to search for it and find it, whereas in the older mystery schools, this inner path was jealously guarded and reserved for only those few who were specially selected for instruction. The hidden, inner teachings of the Gnostic mysteries derive directly from Jesus himself, and the following passages from the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 13, will demonstrate how it was understood in Jesus’ day: The disciples had asked, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” Parables were understood to be fables or stories with a hidden meaning. And Jesus replied,

“To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.” (Matthew 13: 10-11)

In the Gospel of Mark, Chapter 4, when Jesus had been speaking to the people in a number of parables we find the remark: “With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples.” (Mark 4: 33-34)

Later, in the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 8, Jesus is again found teaching in parables, and explaining the inner meaning of his teachings to the disciples. Two specific points emerge from these passages: First, that there was an inner teaching, and that Jesus himself taught both exoterically and esoterically Second, that the inner teaching was available to anyone who “had the ears to hear.” It was reserved for such individuals, because without such “ears” there was no power to understand it, but, given the ability to understand, the Mysteries were open to all.

Passing now from the time of Jesus to the time of the apostles, we find continued evidence of an inner teaching. The apostle Paul himself, an educated man, a Roman citizen, and an influential Hebrew from Tarsus, was soaked in it. It sprang from the Greek world, and it had to do with the way of attainment by knowledge; (“Gnosis” derives from the Greek word meaning “to know.”) The Gnani Yoga of India also teaches the way of attainment by knowledge, as does the Jewish mystical system of the Kabbalah. The Christian Gnostics of the earliest days tried to show that the inner teaching of their path was linked to both Greek philosophy and Hindu metaphysics, and that it contained within it the truths of the Egyptian mysteries. Not that it was these things, but that its inner teachings included the truths these earlier paths contained. Apparently, the great Gnostics of the early Christian era wished to preserve an esoteric tradition and historical form of mystery initiation — a tradition and form now veiled and obscured by the orthodox attitudes and doctrines of mainstream Christianity.

In considering the four Gospels, it is interesting to note the symbolism attached to them —the human (or angel) represented by Matthew (the astrological Sign Aquarius); the lion, depicted by Mark (the astrological Sign Leo) the bull, embodied in Luke (the astrological Sign Taurus) and the eagle, by John (the astrological Sign Scorpio)..

As just mentioend, astrologically, John is Scorpio, which combines the symbols of the eagle and the serpent. John is the eagle (the higher wisdom) which destroys the serpent (domination by selfish desire).

In John’s gospel is found, as the symbols would lead the seeker to expect, a different picture and a marked difference of conception from that of the other three. John writes in terms of the wisdom, of gnosis — and his account of Jesus, his life and his teaching, is in direct line of descent from the teachings of the ancient Egypt and Hermetic wisdom. There is no reference to genealogy, no account of the birth or childhood of Jesus, no personal touch of any kind, simply: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”(John 1: 1) The ancient Egyptian formula says: “God spoke and the worlds became.”

Both John and ancient Egypt understood and taught esoterically, the creative power of sound. Through the Word, all things came into being. In humanity also, the higher creative power resides in the larynx (which is under the rulership of the Sign Taurus, the Sign opposite Scorpio) if, and when, human beings become aware that this higher creative power can be lifted up to that center -- the larynx -- (the widespread popularity of spoken affirmations could be seen as a correct step in this direction) then true individual creative power is available.

“All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.”(John 1: 3-4)

The word “Light” should be noted. It is a definite symbol in all mystery teaching, and it refers to mental understanding. Again, in the ancient Egyptian Mysteries is found, “let the Light shine forth,” which refers to the opening of understanding, so that the Light of the Word might be seen.

“The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it.”(John 1:5)

Today, as then, those treading the path know how challenging it is, how the darkness of lack of knowledge clouds everything, and creates difficulties in all fields of action. “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.” (referring to John, the Baptizer, who is seen in some Gnostic traditions as representing the purified intellect).

“He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him.” (John 1: 6-11)

At the level of consciousness present in the vast majority of human beings, the darkness of lack of knowledge obscures spiritual light. “He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him.” (John 1: 11) The light of understanding is available, but most people fail to recognize it.

“But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God.” (John 1: 12)

Esoteric teachings give much emphasis to the power that is behind the giving of a name, and how important it is. When a name is received, a sound-form is received. The person named is then called by the designation of a special inner power. As God’s Name has a divine power, so those who “believe in His Name” put themselves in line with His sound-form and Its mighty living power, and are enabled to become “children of God.”

These verses of John’s gospel are its keynote and the keynote of the Gnostic mysteries. They show that this gospel is immediately related to the understanding and knowledge side of the spiritual path. It also might be said that one who grasps these verses will understand the rest of the gospel — and the essence of the Gnostic mysteries, in which things stand as symbols of the real; the symbols representing inner truths -- the secret tradition (and spiritual initiation)

John writes in terms of the wisdom, of gnosis — and his account of Jesus, his life and his teaching, is in direct line of descent from the teachings of the ancient Egyptian Hermetic Wisdom. The wisdom.offered by this path is based on the reality represented by the symbols.

And so, John tries to show us in symbol the Reality, the Living Truth behind the appearance. He portrays Jesus, as Hierophant —an imparter of mysteries and representative of an Initiatic Path of Light and Truth. This then is John’s conception of the level of consciousness known as Christ Consciousness. A Light shining in the darkness of human ignorance and egotism, for the most part uncomprehended and unknown, but when recognized and believed in, lighting the Way to the sonship of God.

From the Apostle Paul we get yet another picture which is linked up with a definite idea current in Greece and Egypt at the time — the concept of the Christ as the archetypal man, the Divine Man in whose image all individuals are Christs in-the-making. That was Paul’s fundamental conception, and it can be seen that, in its essence, it is closely related to John’s Gnostic ideas.

From this foundation, established by the Disciple John and the Apostle Paul, (a foundation steeped in symbol and metaphor, rather than in “biblical literalism”) was erected the entire framework of the secret teachings of the original Gnostic Christians — followers of the way presented by the Hebrew Prophet, Hierophant, Master Magician, and Teacher, whose name has come down to us, via the Greek, as “Jesus” of Nazareth — a framework based on a path of personal spiritual initiation, not on organized “religious” orthodoxy.

Rev. Dr. Russ Durocher was clergy-trained in the Anglo-Catholic (High Episcopal) Church. After much independent occult and astrological study, he left mainstream religion, joined The Church of Light in 1981, and has pursued an indpendent ministry (he is an ordained priest and duly consecrated bishop in the Apostolic succession) in the Gnostic, Sacramental and Ceremonial Magical Tradition, together with an active Teaching Ministry and Professional Counseling Practice in which he uses the tools of Hermetic Astrology. He is founder and facilitator of Universal Life Fellowship of the Inner Light, and Officiant at the Gnostic Oratory of Holy Raphael and All Angels, where the Supreme Rites of Gnostic Christian Alchemy are regularly celebrated, as well as a Healing Service in which the Archangels are invoked for all in need. Names are received from around the world for inclusion in the Services. Reports of healings and blessings due to the help of the Archangels are frequent and often quite “miraculous.” We are happy to receive names for inclusion in the Services. You may email your requests to Rev. Dr. Russ Durocher at bishopruss7@aol.com

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