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Central to the Western path of spirituality is the Grail
Quest, derived from the Celtic myth of the Goddess
and the magical cauldron. In some versions, Parsifal
is the knight who wins the Grail. In a lesser-known
narrative, Parsifal's son, Lohengrin,becomes the
"Knight of the Swan," a motif that indicates future
permutations of the Grail mythos.
(Lohengrin, by Ernst Fuchs)


Gaia-Sophia: Compound term suggested for the divine source of the wisdom innate to the human species, literally "Earth-Goddess-Wisdom". See Insane and Inhumane.

The term Sophia, "Wisdom," comes directly from Gnostic cosmology, redeveloped in the Gaia Mythos. Sophia is the name of an Aeon in the Pleroma, the company of divine powers at the galactic center, who plunges beyond the boundaries of the god-realm and becomes "materialized" as a planet, the Earth. Gnostic cosmology is unique (as far as I know) in providing background on the identity of the earth goddess, Gaia, previous to her terrestrial embodiment.

Gaia-Sophia Principle The primary assumption (belief, if you will) of Metahistory Quest.

Essentially, this principle states that the human species receives from the intelligence of the Earth a special dose of self-corrective savvy (sapience). The wisdom endowment (as it may be called) is the source of our instinctual capacities as well as our ethical sense. This precious endowment, called nous by Gnostics, must be cultivated in order for us to realize it. Failing to cultivate it, we risk becoming something less than human. Unlike other species, who are more closely bound to their instinctual patterns, we have huge latitude to wander and err, but this also allows us to explore, invent, imagine. We learn by making errors and correcting them, thanks to the self-correcting element in nous, our self-monitoring onetic faculty.

The Gaia-Sophia Principle assumes that human intelligence, being rooted in the Gaia habitat, will evolve into the fullness of spiritual wisdom (Sophia) by interacting with nature and other species. Our dependence of animal and plants powers, widely attested in indigenous traditions, is therefore essential to our sanity and evolution. Hence, the G-S Principle is closely aligned with the entheogenic theory of religion. It also resonate with the view of Deep Ecology, especially the assumption stated by Arne Naess (cited under Pagan Ethics) that humans will act morally, doing good by nature, as long as they remain faithful to nature .

Gaia-Sophia Navigator

gender love Coming soon to a torso near you.

Girardian theory A brilliant theory of social behavior proposed by cultural anthropologist Renee Girard, consisting of two key ideas: mimetic desire and the mechanism of unanimity.

In develoment...

Gnosticism: is notoriously difficult to define. In 1966 an entire conference was convened in Messina, Italy, solely for that purpose, but it produced no lasting result. Having catalogued no less then twenty-seven definitions of Gnosis, and added eight or ten of my own, I can attest that no single definition is adequate, for it takes a range of approaches to understand this unique religious system.

For a concise initial definition of Gnostic spirituality, I propose: the way of knowing God through the divine intelligence endowed in humanity by God. The famous counsel of the Pythian oracle at Delphi, "Know Thyself" might be expanded into a formula for Gnosis: "Know that within thyself which is divine, and through it, come to know Divinity". The full array of notions associated with Gnosticism requires a term-by-term analysis of seven definitions that run into each other:

   GNOSIS. The word means simply "knowledge", but of a special kind. It derives from the root gno-, "to know, cognize, discern". This Greek verb-root matches the Sanskrit jna-, which carries the same meaning. In Buddhism prajna is the "supreme discernment" of the true nature of reality. Likewise, Gnosis is the knowing of what is true and real in the ultimate sense. Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary (1965) gives: "immediate knowledge of spiritual truth", contrasted to mere belief, unquestioning faith, and blind acceptance of doctrines prescribed by authorities. In short, Gnostic spirituality is an anti-authoritarian path based on first-hand experience of Divinity. It encourages an intuitive, i.e., direct, experiential, approach to God. It assumes the possibility of revelations from beyond the human realm, but it requires cognitive training to assess these revelations. Gnosis is the yoga of intellect that unifies far-seeing mental-mystical vision with the wisdom of the body. Developing the hidden powers of the mind/body link to reach beyond the preset limits of human knowing is the predilection of the

   GNOSTICISM. This is a term in use only since around 1750. The -ism indicates a label invented by scholars. Gnosticism in this sense is the historical profile of the Pagan religious movement, and Gnosis for the method that uniquely distinguishes the members of that movement. Gnosis is both a methodical discipline and the superior insight acquired through that discipline. Gnosticism is known through writings produced in the period when it clashed with Christianity, so there was initially a tendency to assume that Gnosis (the method) did not exist before that time. Most scholars now reject this view, although no scholar has identified with confidence the remote pre-Christian origins of

   GNOSTIC RELIGION. This is what Gnosticism really was in its own time, on its own terms: a Pagan religious movement of deep and ancient origins. Its connection to the Mystery Religions known to have existed for thousands of years all over the ancient world will be demonstrated in several chapters. Testimony from early Christians who opposed Gnostic religion, as well as from Pagan philosophers and historians who were sympathetic to it, indicates that its ultimate origins were Asian. Close and vivid parallels between Gnosticism and Buddhism seem to converge in Bon Po, an Asian wisdom tradition dating to 18,000 BCE according to a recently revealed secret oral tradition. Thus, Gnostic religion may have existed for millennia before it was turned into

   GNOSTIC HERESY, as Gnostic teachings were called by those who opposed them. Heresy if about having options. Gnosticism was made into a heresy -- i.e., something to be rejected as false or perverted -- because it presented a set of clear options to the belief template of Christianity. In the literal sense, to be heretical means "able to choose for oneself". The first proponents of Christianity wanted to impose their view unilaterally on the entire world, so they could not tolerate any competition. Gnosticism challenged emergent Christian doctrines with a range of opposing views. For instance, Gnosticism took ignorance, rather than sin, to be the fundamental problem facing humanity. In large measure, the persuasion of Christian ideology depends on the sense of being a sinner, someone who needs to be saved. Had the teachings of Gnostic heresy become widely known and accepted, the Christian plan for salvation might have collapsed before it got to square one. There was another threat, as well, for Gnosticism did not merely contradict and invalidate Christian doctrines, point blank. In some cases, it offered a different way of stating those doctrines. Most importantly, it presented an alternative view of salvation that came to be formulated in what may be called

   GNOSTIC CHRISTIANITY. This is the set of views found in some Gnostic texts from Nag Hammadi that present other ways to state Christian doctrines, rather than flat-out refutations of those doctrines. Gnostic religion existed for millennia, but Gnostic Christianity arose between 200 BC and 400 AD in response to the heady brew of messianic and apocalyptic impulses that were fermenting in Asia Minor, Egypt and Palestine. In the melee of the times, attempts were made to reconcile or even merge Gnosis with Judaeo-Christian doctrines. Some texts from Nag Hammadi were written with the intent to portray the Christian savior, Jesus Christ, as a Gnostic master, an illuminated sage, but other texts are clearly non-Christian and even blatantly anti-Christian.

The "soft view" of Gnostic heresy highlights the former documents, sometimes called "Gnostic Gospels" to conflate them with the New Testament. It favors reconciling Gnostic views with Christian orthodoxy, thus producing a better, kinder, more enlightened, planet-friendly and feminist-slanted version of Christianity. In the "hard view" Gnosis cannot and ought not be reconciled with Christian faith. Essentially and originally, Gnosis is Pagan. Gnostic Christianity is Pagan religion adapted to an alien or extraneous scheme. Scholars meticulously distinguish between pre-Christian, anti-Christian, non-Christian and Christianized texts in the complete inventory of surviving Gnostic literature known to scholars as the

   GNOSTIC COPTIC LIBRARY. This consists of the thirteen Nag Hammadi Codices (NHC), comprising fifty-odd documents, and three preceding independent finds: the Berlin, Bruce and Askew Codices. Few of these texts are complete but there is, amazingly, enough extant first-hand material to reconstruct the essential Gnostic philosophy. For reasons no scholar can explain, all of this literature appears in Coptic translations of lost Greek originals. Coptic is a made-up language that emerged in the first centuries of the Christian Era in Egypt. Used primarily for monastic libraries, it draws upon the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs and Greek loan-words. Unlike Greek, a language whose grammatical structure permits elaborate phrasing, Coptic is elementary to the point of bluntness, yet it is not without subtleties, either. Both Greek and Coptic terms figure in the special terminology used by Gnostics to explain error, ignorance, deception and the problem of guidance.


golden rule: formula for social morality proposed independently in China and Palestine and recorded in texts dating from circa 600 BCE.

The rabbi Hillel was quoted by Jesus, but the advice he gave was inverted to a positive form that came to be uniquely attributed to Jesus: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” The phrasing of the rule by Hillel is negative: “Do not do unto others what you don’t want done to you.”

The inversion attributed to Jesus presents an utterly different message: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” carries the obligation to act toward others, rather than the admonition to refrain from acting. It also implies the belief that if I do unto others as I would have them do unto me, they will in turn do unto me as I like. The message here is spun two ways at once: the obligation to act in a certain way toward others is imposed, but with it comes the assumption that others who follow this rule will act toward me as I would like them to do. In the assumed reciprocity of these two actions, self-seeking concern is factored into the moral equation.

Hillel’s pre-Christian ethic recalls the daimonic voice that counseled Socrates, always speaking in the negative, telling him when not to act but not telling him when and how to act.

Grail Quest. Forthcoming.

guidance One of the great enigmas of human experience and a central issue of metahistory. May be conceived as the equivalent in the human species to navigational instinct in other species.

In The Territorial Imperative, Robert Ardrey described the research of zoologist Archie Carr who tagged thousands of green-backed turtles on a beach in Costa Rica where they nested in shallow coastal waters, and tracked many of them to far-off feeding haunts on the coast of Venezuela. In both locales, the turtles returned to exactly the same beaches and nesting coves. To do so they had to navigate over thousands of miles of open, often tumultuous ocean and arrive with pin-point precision. Ardrey comments that Carr’s finding, published in 1965, “may be regarded as science’s last word ­ or dying gasp ­ on the homing of animals.” (135)

Although better known for his sensational thesis on the origins of human aggression, developed in African Genesis and The Hunting Hypothesis, Ardrey would better be remembered for his poetic and technically skillful writing on the homing instincts of dozens of animals, birds and fishes. His testament to the navigational faculties inborn to many species leads directly to the question: Is there an equivalent navigational instinct in homo sapiens? For his own part, Ardrey would say no: “Man is one species brilliantly equipped ty nature to get himself hopelessly lost.” (134)

Or perhaps not. It could be that the navigational instinct in the human species does exist, but needs to be triggered in a certain manner, the way instinctual programs in other species are triggered by what ethologist, Konrad Lorenz, called the IRM, Innate Releaser Mechanism. John Bleibtreu explains:

Since Lorenz’s original experiments, IRM’s have been discovered operative in numbers of bird and mammalian behavior sequences. For example, a stick pointed at a nestful of fledglings will release the gaping, chirping, food-soliciting behavior of the chicks. Or, if a kite in the shape of a hawk’s silhouette is flown head-first over a group of young birds, it will release fright and escape behaviors. That this is both innate and highly specific has been proven in various controlled experiments. The specificity of the releaser is incredible ­ for if the kite it hauled tail-first instead of head-first over the chicks, they will not respond with the appropriate behavior. (264)

Bleibtreu comments that in the human species, due to the way “humans developed their capacity to allow part of an abstraction to represent the whole,” symbols and even single words can operate as IRM’s. Citing the example of the crucifix, he says “this single visual object has come to represent an intricately complex constellation of abstractions, which includes doctrine, history, philosophy; an entire way of life.” (Ibid.) A good many other examples could be cited to demonstrate how in the human species a symbol, a word or even a mental abstraction can trigger a “mammalian behavior sequence.” As in the animal kingdom, “the specificity of the releaser is incredible.” The hammer and sickle (Soviet flag) triggers a different response from a star and sickle-shaped moon (Islamic flag).

It could be argued that these examples do not correlate to a “navigational instinct” in homo sapiens, but they might point in the direction of such a faculty. The power of belief seems to be the operative factor in human nature, “innate and highly specific,” that causes human beings to act in a certain way, but the dynamics of belief do not entirely account for our sense of moral direction. Is this a placebo effect: I act as if I am guided simply because I believe myself (imagine myself) to be guided? If so, the sense of guidance derived from the Bible and other traditional sources of religious could be purely illusory. The enigma remains unsolved. See also ideology.