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sacramentalism Literally, "mindfulness of the sacred." The practice of ecstatic cognition in direct communication with Gaia, the living planet.

According to the Wasson thesis, sacramentalist ritual with psychoactive plants (entheogens) such as the mushroom Amanita muscaria, is the origin of all genuine religious experience, as distinguished from religious doctrines and institutions which restrict and repress such experience. According to Carlos Castaneda, spiritual discipline is "the art of feeling awe." (In conversation with Michael Ventura.) The term "ecstatic cognition" is used by Eric Davis in TechGnosis,, while Mircea Eliade famously proposed "archaic techniques of ecstasy" for the body of shamanic practices now known to be of millennial duration and global extent.

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Primary religious experience without doctrines or formal assemblies, mental and spiritual discipline including fasting, mudra and mantra, and methods of mind-control, surrender to awe, cognition in ecstatic states, trance and dance, and the adaptation of archaic techniques such as divination — all these elements converge in sacramentalist practice.

Psychosomatic illumination is the rather weighty term that might be proposed for the sacramentalism of the Mystery in Pagan Europa.

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sacred biology Forthcoming

In Gnostic materials, including the polemics, the imaginal language of the Sophia Mythos relies heavily on analogies to embryonic development. The Greek word hystera, "womb", is close to hysterema, "deficiency," a term frequently applied to the worlds outside the Pleroma. The boundary wall of the central bulge of the galaxy features crucially in the Gaia Mythos (Episodes ), consistent with Gnostic vision. "It is called the Boundary because it bounds off the deficiency (hysterema) from the perfection (pleroma)." (Hippolytus, cited in Mead, Fragments of a Faith Forgotten, p. 343) To paraphrase: "The bounding wall of the central bulge separates the incomplete worlds below from the completion of the core." The lower worlds (in the galactic limbs) are "deficient" because they are not self-sustaining and self-propagating like the Aeons in the Pleroma. The realm of deficiency (hysterema) is the womb (hystera) of Becoming, but the Pleroma is the seed-bed of Becoming, comparable to the seed-producing organs in male and female anatomy. Sacred biology>

As ovum is to placenta, core is to limbs. This analogy seems to have been well-nigh universal in antiquity. The very same imagery occurs lavishly in the mythic language of the cult of Hathor, the Egyptian birth-goddess. Hathor's main temple is located on the West bank of the Nile, about ten miles from Nag Hammadi. In the astronomical chamber on the roof, the body of the Goddess Nut is curved into an oval and inscribed with the constellations. Evidently, the Egyptians saw Nut as the "cosmic womb," the extra-Pleromic matrix of the galactic limbs. Next to the astronomical chambers detailed bas-reliefs showing the resurrection of Osiris.

Sacred Nature is the mysterious source of humanity. In the remote past, long before events were recorded in historical scripts, the human species lived its stories in direct interaction with its habitat. All ancient traditions saw in the bond between nature and humanity a parent-child relationship with nature as the sacred, life-supporting factor. The motifs and mythemes comprised by this category are universally oriented toward a supreme feminine divinity, the Goddess, who embodies both the natural world and the supernatural dimension of that world. Before theology and religion of any kind asserted beliefs about a male Creator God, the Great Mother was the focal point of human spirituality. Our relation to nature was directly reflected in reverence for the Goddess, and so our attitudes toward the sacredness of nature changed as human attitudes toward the Goddess shifted.

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sacrifice: literally, “empowerment.” The Sanskrit root sak- “to be powerful.”

Innumerable beliefs attach themselves to this word. For instance, it is believed that parents are obliged to sacrifice themselves to provide a good life for their children. Later in life when the children have become independent adults, the issue of sacrifice is used to make them feel indebted toward their parents. Many family scripts incorporate this binding formula of sacrifice ­ debt.

All religious narratives are permeated with the notion of sacrifice. The belief that the gods sacrifice themselves so that the manifest universe can arise is scripted in Hinduism. The most famous sacrifice is the one nearly performed by Abraham, the Biblical patriarch who was commanded by Yahweh to sacrifice his first born son, Isaac, to prove his total obedience to the deity. At the last moment, Yahweh provided an acceptable substitute in the form of a ram whose horns were caught in a tree. This plot-twist exemplifies the mytheme of the scapegoat. Among the ancient Jews, the practice was established of conferring the sins of the community onto a goat that was then driven into the wilderness, thus absolving the community.


salvationism Proposed term in metahistorical discourse for belief-systems that place the responsibility for the fulfillment of humanity outside itself, usually in the hands of a superhuman creator deity, such as the Father God of the Abrahamic faiths.

All three religions that trace their origins to the Biblical Patriarch Abraham present salvationist programs, with slight variations: Judaism, Christianity (Catholic, Protestant, Greek Orthodox, and more), and Islam. For a concise evaluation of this schema, see the four concerns.

Every religion consists of four components: a narrative, a set of rites, ethics, and ideology. For instance, the religion of the ancient Hebrews consists of the "sacred narrative" in the Old Testament (recounted in the Torah, the first five books of the Bible), the rites practiced by the adherents, the ethics proposed by the spiritual leaders or authorities (such as the Ten Commandments, said to be dictated to Moses by Jehovah), and the ideology implied in or attached to all the preceding.

Any theme or mytheme that forms part of the structure of a religion will find experssion in some or all of these modes. For example, the theme of atonement. The OT narrative tells the story of the atonement of the Jews in various episodes, most notably the atonement that followed their escape from Egypt. This episode, taken for an actual historical event, becomes the basis of rites of atonement to be periodically practiced. The episode (which is exemplary or paradigmatic, in the sense that Mircea Eliade applied to myths) presents the model for rites and also the framework for ethical practices. Finally, an ideology is contained in or attached to the ensemble of narrative, rites, and ethics. Usually, the ideological component consists of a set of beliefs relating to supernatural things, to God or the "Divine Plan," and to other notions which, because they are not normally subject to verification by direct personal experience, are taken as a matter of belief. For instance, the belief that God protects those who practice rites of atonement is an ideological premise.

Salvationism, the dominant religious belief-system on the planet, consists of all four components, but the innermost, driving dynamic of salvationist doctrines resides primarily in the ideology, the unverifiable beliefs attached to the system. As noted in this site, Gnostics who observed the rise of the Christian salvationist program out of Jewish sectarian ideology (primarily, the cult of the Zaddakim) and protested against what they saw as erroneous beliefs, did not attack anyone who held beliefs those beliefs, but they attacked the beliefs that were held. In turn, Gnostics themselves were physically attacked, and the Mystery Schools where they preserved a millennial tradition of initiatory teaching were destroyed. The destruction took centuries, beginning in the time of the adoption of Christian as the state religion of the Roman Empire, and continuing into the Middle Ages.

I point all this out, once again, at the risk of becoming tedious, not only to signal your attention to the greatest untold story of Western civilization — i.e., the destruction of the Mysteries and the sacred heritage of Europan indigenous wisdom, of which the Mysteries were the finest flowering — but also, and even more pointedly, to indicate that

Salvationist religion cannot, and did not, succeed in prevailing on the planet by peaceful conversion or by the persuasion of its intrinsic and irresistable truth.

Constantine, who made Christianity the state religion of the Roman Empire, was no fool, nor was he a devout Christian. Even his biographer, Eusebius, clearly fudges the account of Constantine's "conversion," attributed to a vision of the Cross in the skies. (Once again, this incident has been interpreted as an ET/UFO sighting, thus linking salvationism to the perennial presence of alien entities on Earth, and suggesting their possible intervention in human religious experience.) It was politically expedient to make Christianity the state religion, because the new faith conferred supernatural authority on the governing powers. We see the clear and consistent extension of this political ploy in the arrogant religious fascism of the American government under presidents Bush, although the root of this tyranny may be traced back to antecedent sources.

In short, I am saying that salvationist religion is not a religion in any true sense of the word: it is political ideology in the disguise of religion. Christianity was nothing but this from its conception. It did not become perverted into mystico-fascism, for it was originally conceived as such. Salvationism prevails in world events, and tyrannizes the minds of millions of people today, as it has through the last twenty centuries, because it has the ideological components of a totalitarian control system in which the ultimate source of control is unquestionable and beyond accountability. Beyond human conscience and correction.

The main ideological components of Judeo-Christian-Islamic salvationism are:

  • Creation as the handiwork of a male deity, the Father God, rather than as an ever-ongoing process involving divinities of both genders.
  • The supremacy of the male Father God who is also conceived as a judge and lawgiver.
  • The derivation of moral codes by God's dictation to chosen messengers — who are always men, of course (Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Jesus, Mohammed). This masculine bias is the signature of "revealed religion," the academic-theological term for salvationism.
  • The repression of the Feminine, evident not only in the elimination of Pagan Goddesses from the Old Testament, but also in the mysogyny of the New Testament, promulgated by Saint Paul, and the sexual apartheid of Islam.
  • Dominion of humanity over the Earth, declared by the Father God who creates the human species "in His image." This ideological issue sets up a social control system defined by the mandate to consume and ravage the Earth. In effect, global consumerism is totally consistent with the Biblical ideology of human supremacy.
  • The dogma of the Fall, sin and redemption.
  • The inarnation of divinity in human form—affirmed in Christianity, denied in mainstream Judaism but not in the apocalyptic ideology of the Zaddikim, and denied again in Islam which, however, ascibes to a single holy book, the Koran, the status attributed to Jesus Christ by Christians.
  • The corrupt nature of sexuality and the natural world — an attitude falsely attributed to Gnostics by early Christian ideologues, in a clever and largely successful attempt to disquise their own sex-hating and world-rejecting tendencies by attributing them to the diabolized Other.
  • The Divine Redeemer complex, common to all three variants.
  • The physical resurrection of the body, in the special case of Jesus Christ, and in the general case of the resurrection of humanity in the end time.
  • Eternal punishment and damnation for sinners and infidels.
  • Divine retribution, the apocalypse at the end of history.
  • The efficacy of vicarious rites of atonement (Jewish festivals, the Catholic Mass, the Islamic Haj, etc)

Take all this away and what do you have? Not much, for there is not much to salvationist religion when the ideological dynamic is removed.

But it might be protested, Is any form of genuine religion possible without these elements? Certainly. Genuine religion devoid of salvationist elements existed widely in the Pagan cultures of Europa, and it was demonstrated, and still just barely is, in the indigenous spiritual wisdom of native peoples such as the Australian aborigines, and native-mind cultures in the Americas, the Artic, and Polynesia. To some extent, but not completely, Asian metaphysical systems such as Dzogchen and Vedanta are free of salvationist elements. Gnosis, the path of direct knowing of divine matters, was a method of illuminism, contrasting in a profound way to salvationism by its emphasis on experience over authority, learning over doctrine.

In Gnosis no doctrines were sacred or beyond question, nor should anything presented in the form of Gnostic teachings today be so taken. The knowledge cultivated in the Mysteries was testable by direct experience, and indeed, the initiators insisted that neophytes learn for themselves the basics of experimenal mysticism. Each generation of mystai extended the process of ongoing revelation and elaborated on the wisdom developed by those who had preceded them. Gnostics were prolific writers, and although they did not hold anything produced by an individual author to be sacred, for them treaching and learning were a sacred commitment. "God is discourse" says a Gnostic saying. The discourse they pursued was open-ended, innovative, expansive.

All the elements of the above list depend on enforcement by authorities, such as Pope and President, who present themselves to be the representatives of the supernatural powers who underwrite the salvationist program. In the Gnosis of the Mysteries, there were no such intermediaries between the initate and the supreme experience of initiation: encountering the Gods and exploring the wonders of this world, Earth, and the cosmos beyond. The purpose of the Mysteries was to teach how to know Gaia and co-evolve in Her purposes.

The purpose of salvationist religion is social control.

ET/UFO interventionist scenarios represent a special class of salvationism. In the narratives recorded on cuneiform, Sumerian scribes produced the earliest surviving record of a salvationist program in which ET-like entities, the Annunaki, intervene in human evolution. However, not everything written on clay tablets needs to be taken for true, does it?

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Samantabhadra The mothering force of primal mind, matrix of satori, sudden enlightenment, spontaneous awakening. Like waking in a dream, knowing that you are dreaming.



sapience: moral and practical application of the wisdom inborn to the human species. This is an English word, but rarely used, so it may qualify as a neologism in metahistorical jargon.

In classical European learning, the Greek sophia, “wisdom,” was routinely translated by the Latin sapientia, related to sapidus, “pleasant to the taste, LL prudent, wise, itself from sapere, (of thing) to have a pleasant taste, hence (of persons) to have good taste or judgement.” (Partridge, 581) Apparently, sapience has a savor (flavor) and gives a nice flavor to those who ingest it.


satire: according to British poet, Humphrey Noyes, the best tool humanity has to oppose evil. It is unclear if he meant that satire can actually work against evil, or if it merely works to allow us to ward off evil, i.e., whether it is a weapon or a shield.

Scholars dispute the derivation of satire from Gk satyr, “goat-man,” thus relating it to Greek tragedy, or from L satura, “replete, sated,” related to satira, “a macedoine of fruits of vegetables, or a composite dish of meats, hence a mixed literary composition.” (Partridge, 580) To combine both roots it might be said that satire mixes up subject-matter of different values to produce an impression of tragic absurdity that can dispel the power of evil. “The flag of satire is not parti-colored, white on one side and black on the other. It is polychromatic. Satura is variety... In a single book, even in a single page, we can see the multiple emotions of a satirist struggling against one another for mastery; and ultimately it is this ferment of repulsion and attraction, disgust and delight, love and loathing, which is the secret of his mastery and his power.” (Highet, A History of Satire, p. 238)

Certain passages in the Gnostic texts from Nag Hammadi contain vicious satires of Abraham, Moses and the Jewish patriarchs. Mark Twain satirized the Old Testament in Letters from the Earth, a rare example of satire directed against religious authority. Charlie Chaplin satirized Hitler in The Little Dictator and Stanley Kubrick satirized Western Cold War leaders such as Henry Kissinger in Dr. Strangelove. In a devastating satire of British mores, The Ruling Class, Peter O’Toole played a lord who initially believed himself to be Jesus Christ, and acted accordingly. Cured by psychoanalysis and shock therapy, he came to believe instead that he was Jack the Ripper, and acted accordingly.

Social satires are more frequent than religious ones. One winces to imagine a satirical account of the Holocaust, but it has been attempted in Lina Wertmuller’s film, Seven Beauties. To some degree Martin Amis did the same in Time’s Arrow, a novel that recounts the life of a Nazi war criminal, told backwards. This technique, which Amis executes brilliantly, contains a powerful indictment: it implies how we are tempted to tell history backwards (i.e., to confound cause and effect at the moral level) in order to rationalize and legitimate the unacceptable. Amis describes the Nazi’s memory of Jews descending in ashen streams from heaven and climbing reborn out of the furnaces, then herded into showers and dressed up before being sent on their way by the trainload to prosperous lives all over Europe.

Perhaps the absurdity of good satire can arouse moral outrage more effectively than literal accounts of horror that tend to wear thin in the mind. This may be what Noyes was suggesting, but that still leaves us wondering about the corrective value of satire. Gilbert Highet suggests that this may be its primary impact, assuming that we believe that “folly and evil are not innate to humanity, or, if they are, that they are eradicable.” If so, “warning examples” may help people see the error of their beliefs and views. “If we show our fellow-men the painful and absurd consequences of certain types of conduct, personified in Lady Slop and Lord Belial, no doubt these two specimens will suffer when they are pinned down and dissected, but others will be cured; and most people can be cured.” And he adds: “This view can be traced back to Socrates,” because Socrates seems to have believed that people only need to be shown they are in error and exposed to the True and Good, and they will embrace it (p. 236). Some classical satirists, like Horace, believe this. Highet calls them the optimistic type of satirists. Other satirists, like George Orwell who wrote Animal Farm, believe otherwise.

Satire, we may conclude, is no trivial subject. It is rather like the litmus test for the belief in the capacity for self-correction in homo sapiens.


scale: perhaps the single most important component in human self-regulation, the factor that would insure the alignment of humanity’s purposes to a sane and supportable way of life; hence, the prerequisite for fulfilling Moral Design.


science: by derivation from Latin scire, “to know,” hence science is “a way of knowing.”

The relation of science to Technology is a matter of much confusion. One belief attached to science is that it represents in the ideal sense a noble and disinterested quest to discover the secrets of nature, but at the same time, the pursuit of science is linked with utility*, application, tools and technology. How reliable is this link?

None of the great discoveries of “pure science” in the 20th century have led to clear and reliable technological advances, and some have led to no technological innovation at all. The relativity theories (Special and General) of Einstein and quantum theory of Planck, for instance, have yielded nothing at all in the realm of technological applications that affect the realm of daily life. Relativity and quantum mechanics have no practical applications.

IT, informational technology, has been born out of arcane mathematics applied to electrical engineering, and insofar as mathematics can be considered to be a form of pure science, this development attests to theoretical advance that generates technological change. Here again, however, it is not the discoveries or novel theories of pure science that support technology, but the exploitation of arcane math associated with pure science.

It could be argued that genetics demonstrates a straightforward application of pure science to technological advance. The discovery of the structure of DNA by Watson and Crick in 1952 is an outstanding example of the ideal of pure science. We now live in a world where the prospects of biotechnology loom large. It looks as if there is an indisputable example of how science is converted into technology that can shape the face of society and perhaps even alter the evolutionary profile of the species.


script: the record of human experience in a written story or narrative informed with certain beliefs about the meaning or purpose of the story.

The term script came into parlance in the USA in the 1970s with transactional analysis. Claud Steiner writes:

A script is a life plan, containing within its lines what of significance will happen to the person; a plan not decided upon by the gods, but finding its origin early in life, in a premature decision by the youngster.. The script decision is made when the youngster, applying all her adaptive resources, modifies her expectations to align them with the realityies of the home situation. (Scripts People Live, p. 62, 82.)

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self-concern Proposed term for human narcissism, borrowed from Castaneda who called it"self-reflection." In The Power of Silence, don Juan describes a shift of the assemblage point that applied for the entire human species, resulting in a movement away from silent knowledge toward self-concern.

Silent knowledge is the generic human capacity for knowing the world via our deep intutive link to the cosmos, but self-concern short-circuits this link. Self-concern may be equated with the rise of narcissism during the Arien Age. In one of his more striking observations, Rudolf Steiner said that human forebrain circuits matured in the 6th century BCE. The result was, Greek rationalism, but a side effect of the rational emphasis is intensification of self-consciousness. Why? Because rationalization is an abstractive process, a mental act that puts us at a distance from what we are thinking about. Applied to nature, this faculty distances us from the external world and erodes the sense of participation. We are onlookers to nature, rather than involved with it. Applied to human nature, this faculty tends to produce an infinite regress: the self observing the self observing the self observing the self... There is really only one level, one permutation, of self observing itself, but there appears to be infinite nested levels of self-observing. Narcissism is a black hole of regressive self-concern.

The true avatar of the Piscean Age (begins 120 BCE) is not Christ but Narcissus. Or perhaps Christ is Narcissus?

From Castaneda we learn that ancient humanity could master many forms of magic and technology through silent knowledge. This involves selfless communion with the cosmos, by which we come to understand directly how it works, and then, later, we work out mentally how it works. Greek rationalism reversed this activity, so that we began work out how things work before we knew, in silent knowledge, how they work. This shift lead to a brief flare of heightened mental achievement, the Golden Age in Greece and globally, the Age of the "Masterminds" such as Gotama, Mahariva, Kung Fu Tze, Pythagoras, and others— but the flare quickly faded. Try to think of anything significant that happened in Greece after 300 BCE. Do you detect a void?

Unfortunately, Hellenistic philosophy, an outgrowth of the rationalist emphasis, helped to build up the Christian redeemer, and so Jesus Christ became the focal point of human self-concern. Humanity is encouraged to see Christ as if viewing itself in a mirror, but we are really the tormented Narcissus contemplating his own reflection. The Christic reflection is deviant and inauthentic, as I have argued elsewhere.

"As the feeling of the individual self became stronger, man lost his natural connection to silent knowledge. Modern man, being heir to that development, therefore finds himself so hopelessly removed from the source of everything that all he can do is express his despair in violent and cynical acts of self-destruction." The Power of Silence, p. 169ff.

War, for the spiritual warrior, is the struggle against the overweening power of self-concern. "Self-pity is the real enemy and the source of man's misery. Without a degree of self-pity for himself, man could not be as self-important as he is... Once the force of self-importance is engaged, it develops its own momentum. It is this seemingly independent nature of self-importance that gives us a false sense of worth." Ibid., p. 171

"The position of self-reflection forces the assemblage point to assemble a world of sham compassion, but of very real cruelty and self-centeredness. In that world the only real feelings are those convenient for the one who feel them." Ibid., p. 174

"It was self-reflection that disconnected mankind from the spirit in the first place." Ibid., p 179.

Although don Juan does not comment in an historical vein, I would situate the shift to self-reflection — which I am calling self-concern — in the 6th century BCE. See the Socrates essay for further reflections on this problem.

self-liberation Core teaching of Asian psycho-philosophy, stating that the true, unconditioned nature of the mind continually liberates itself from all conditions that arise within it.

The term is somewhat misleading, because it suggests the liberation of self or a self, but there is no self to liberate. The awareness of a self is part of the conditioning which the mind continually and instantaneously overcomes. In Asian mysticism, the self is not released to a better or more realy world, but the mind is released from the limits of self-reflection. Liberation from the sense of self, not liberation for the self. This distinction is crucial for any orientation to sacramental practice, consistent with the Wasson Thesis . See also transcendence.

Some primary teachings on self-liberation can be found in Self-Liberation Through Seeing with Naked Awareness (J. M. Reynolds), "The Jewel Ship' of Long Chen Pa (You Are the Eyes of the World, Lipman and Peterson), The Tibetan Book of the Great Liberation (Evans-Wentz), The Life and Teachings of Yeshe Tsogyel (Keith Dowman), and the testament of Garab Dorje ( The Golden Letters, J. M. Reynolds).

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servation: suggested term for the action performed by a god or supernatural ancestor who brings a gift to humanity, or to a specific tribal group.

The term is awkward but it highlights the nature of divine aid and contrasts it to current notions of “service” in which compensation always plays a central role. In modern life, one pays for services and one expects to be paid for services rendered. The notion that service can be rendered gratis and without expectation of payment is almost inconceivable. Upon the death of the Queen Mother of Great Britain in 2001, the word service was endlessly evoked to describe her remarkable centenarian life. One of the great act of her service to the people was to remain in London during the blitz. That the Queen Mother was lavishly compensated for her life of selfless service, which ended with a debt of millions in the public coffer, went unmentioned.

The example is perhaps grotesque but it illustrates the beliefs carried by the corrupted sense of the word “service” in our time. The ancient paradigm of servation was another matter. Prometheus who brought the gift of fire to humanity thereby performed servation for which he was punished by the other Gods, but he was not compensated by his beneficiaries of his act, nor did he expect to be. In Native American tradition, White Buffalo Woman brings the gift of the sacred pipe to the people of the Indian nations. This is an act of divine service that requires nothing in return except, perhaps, the willingness to recognize and respect the endowment and use it with sacred intention.


slave motif: a theme that emerges prominently in Levantive mythology, asserting that the human species was created to serve the creator god.

Curiously, belief in the slave status of humanity seems to have arisen in a time and cultural setting that saw human society being initially defined on its own terms, distinct from interdependence with other species in the natural world. Alienation from Sacred Nature may be closely allied to what Joseph Campbell called mythic dissociation, a disorientation that introduces a sharp and unbridgeable difference between spirit and matter. This makes sense in terms of the argument proposed by some revisionists of prehistory: namely, that the introduction of agriculture in the Neolithic Age initiated a trend toward enslavement. It is now known that in hunting and gathering cultures people work far less hours, and far less intensively, than they do in agricultural societies. That independence from Nature would produce an inordinate dependence upon human labor is a trick that seems to have been missed by the leading minds of the earliest urban agricultural centers in the Fertile Crescent.

Or perhaps cleverly exploited. In the great urban centers of Mesopotamia, whose wealth and organization depended upon mass-scale agriculture, the priest class was closely allied to the merchant class. In fact, these two elite groups, the priesthood and the “management” for mercantile affairs, formed the two grounding points of the base line of a pyramid with theocracy at the apex. Among the tens of thousands of cuneiform tablets found in Mesopotamia, the vast majority record financial transactions, inventories, legal contracts. Religious documents written at the same time and in the same manner may well have reflected the ideology of social control enacted in Mesopotamian politics under the absolute rule of theocrats, the presumed children of the gods. Texts that designate the King of Ur or Nippur as the agent and descendent of the Annunaki, the Sumerian sky-gods, were written by a male priesthood at the behest of the theocrats, in order to legitimate their divine status and their mundane power.

If scripting formulas used by the priest-scribes allowed them to cast humanity in the role of slaves, it would have served the theocrats nicely. A populace averse to accept the slavish routines of large-scale agriculture could have been persuaded to accept the work if they were made to believe that the slave status was divinely ordained.

Sophia Greek "wisdom," the term specifically used in Gnostic texts for the cosmic intelligence that indwells the earth and supports all organic and inorganic life in the biosphere. Pronounced So-FI-uh. Adjective, Sophianic, So-FEE-AN-ik.

Combined with Gaia, this term denotes the primary assumption of Metahistory, outlined in the orientation essay, Insane and Inhumane: namely, that the cosmic intelligence operating throughout the biosphere is evidence of a super-earthly power, Sophia, manifesting within the boundaries of terrestrial life, Gaia. In Gnostic cosmology, Sophia is the name of an Aeon, a cosmic deity of female gender, who is initially seen in the company of the Pleroma, the gods of the galactic center. As such she is called the Aeon (pronounced A-on) Sophia.

Sophia Mythos The story of Sophia's plunge from the galactic core into the outer limbs is told in the Gaia Mythos, a reworking of the Gnostic creation-myth. This myth is unique in the way it accounts for the evolution of the solar system, the anomaly of the planet earth, the emergence of humanity in two biological genders at conflict with each other, the influence of predatory extrahuman forces on the human species, and the identity of Sophia with Gaia, the Magna Mater of the Mystery Schoos. See also Earth Goddess.

Sophianic principle, also called the Gaia-Sophia Principle. This principle asserts that the same intelligence that works in human instincts and supports our survival skills also enables us to act morally, to perform compassionate actions based on clear intentions. If our ethical and survival instincts are complementary, any division between them will threaten our survival and produce immoral (i.e., insane) behavior. Deep ecology, as formulated by Arne Naess and others, assumes the integrity of survival and ethical capacities, as does the ecological philosophy of Edward Goldsmith (The Way). Metahistory goes deeper into this issue by its challenge to beliefs and belief-systems (ideologies). It proposes that beliefs alienate us from their own experience, corrupt our sense of humanity, and undermine human potential. Because beliefs are the single most dangerous element in human reality, belief-change is the most radical strategy for personal liberation from social conditioning, and, by extension, large-scale improvement of social conditions.

Gaia-Sophia Navigator

sorcery From Latin, sors, "fate, alloted experience." Related to the French sortir, "to leave, go out, depart," and sortilege, "divination, casting of spells"

Widely believed to be the practice of "black magic," sorcery can be viewed in a more enlightened way as a path that involves the practitioner in a magical view of the world. With the mixed implications of "fate" (Latin root) and "departure" (French verb), sorcery could be defined as the way to depart from fate, or change fate. This definition depends, of course, on the beliefs we attach to the obscure notion of fate. Let's just say, for argument, that fate implies finding oneself in a fixed frame of circumstances, a situation not of one's own intending. Some people believe that we are all born into such a situation, a life we did not choose in advance because we did not pre-exist it. Others believe that we all choose the specific circumstances of life: e.g., to be born at a certain time and place, with certain parents, with particular gifts and handicaps. For those who hold this belief, there is no fate, there is only destiny: a prearranged pattern of experience.

Let's assume, however, that we believe in fate, not destiny. According to this belief, we assume that we did not choose beforehand to come into life, to have blue eyes, to have certain parents, to be musically gifted, etc. In this view, to live means to find oneself in a set of conditions not of one's own choosing. To alter these conditions, or escape from them entirely, would then be the defined aim of sorcery, according to what I will call the revised definition. The subtance and general outlines of this definition can be found in the works of Carlos Castaneda. (Some people believe that Castaneda's works are fictional, purely invented, while others insist they relate facts, things that acrually happened. The argument is futile, since neither belief can be definitively proven. In any case, if Castaneda did invent his stories, this does not prevent the message and teachings conveyed in those stories from being true. The Catcher in the Rye is a work of fiction, a novel, yet its message is profoundly true. The same can be said of Castaneda's opus.)

Spiritual Masters

Perhaps there is no idea in the entire range of New Age interests that has had so powerful an impact on Western thinking as that of spiritual masters. The willingness to believe in such masters and the eagerness to revere them can be viewed as a response to Nietzsche's gloomy announcement that "God is dead." This news, delivered at the end of the last century at the very moment the first migration of Indian masters was hitting Western shores, has been overthrown today by the testimony of many people who believe there are those among us who have actually "realized God," or who embody divinity on Earth—the widest and loosest definition of a spiritual master.


The prototype of a master is the Avatar, a divine being who appears widely in worldwide mythology, and specifically in the Hindu myth of the Ten Avatars of Vishnu. The Avatar is a world-savior, a definitely superhuman being who descends into embodiment on Earth to perform a deed of service or salvation. In the mythology of the Mayan Indians, for instance, Hunab Ku is the divinity, the actual God, who assumes embodiment in the high priest Kinebahan, who founds the lineage of the Ah Kin, the Solar Priesthood. Similar examples abound all through world myth, though the distinction between the actual God and the human Avatar of the God is not always so clear.


With the Avatar, there is certainly a God in the works, a superhuman entity who assumes human form. But with spiritual masters as they have become known in the West in the last hundred years, the distinction is often blurred. Yet a "God- realized" person is not to be confused with a God: It is a human being who has achieved an exceptional relationship to God, to the Divine Being—someone above and beyond the usual run of people.

Traditionally, spiritual masters always come out of a specific lineage. This goes back to times before history, to the scenario of the ancient priesthoods and holy sages. Most of the Eastern mythologies describe human beings of high spiritual attainment, like the Rishis of ancient India, or the Imams of Arabia. Then, coming down into the time of historical records, there is evidence of many spiritual lineages that claim these mythical figures as their founding fathers. Thus the lineage of the Rishis, at first purely mythical, carries through into the time of the first historical sages and from there right down into the modern sages who appear in the West—though the continuity is purely hypothetical and cannot in any case be fully proven.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of Transcendental Meditation, for instance, claimed to represent a line of descent going back directly to the Indian sage Shankaracharya, who lived either in the ninth or the second century a.d. (scholars disagree), and from him all the way back to the legendary prehistorical Rishis. By this he implied a direct, oral, person-to-person continuity for the lineage—a high claim of authenticity. The same thing is frequently cited in the traditions of Zen: direct oral transmission from one master to another, down the centuries. Another well-known lineage is the special case of the tulkus, the reincarnating lamas of Tibetan Buddhism.

While the idea of a timeless spiritual lineage is impressive to many Westerners, it does not figure largely in the most recent crop of masters to attract wide followings: Muktananda, Sai Baba, Sri Chinmoy, Raj-neesh. In their cases, popular appeal depends upon the master being viewed as a special God-realized person, regardless of how one got to be that way. In rare cases, a master may be a Westerner whose attainment is believed to equal that of the Eastern prototypes: Da Free John (previously Baba Free John, born Franklin Jones). Far less known, and difficult to assess, is the question of purely Western masters, initiates who direct their own rebirths and appear in successive historical periods, sometimes as famous figures but more often as obscure agents working behind the scenes. In this curious area, claims of who-was-who are often incredible, historical conundrums and conspiracies loom large, and the problem of how to track serial reincarnations remains unsolved.

The issue of spiritual masters is—or ought to be—deeply problematic for the Western mind, because in the case of the Eastern masters it involves the tremendous question of how we imagine divinity on Earth, God in human form. How does God make an "in-person" appearance in our midst? This remains a great challenge for the modern seeker, though all too often the naive and uncritical acceptance of masters by Westerners has left us, for the most part, quite blind to the exciting possibilities of the question.