I’ve talked about the snake thing before. It’s a through line for me and I continue to marvel at its vivacity. Refutation of All Heresies* devotes the entirety of Book 5 to different expressions of serpentine gnosis. It’s not a small section of the Refutation, coming to some 80 pages of translated material. The text is divided between four main sects identified as Naassenes, Peratai, Sethians (not the same gnostic group identified by many contemporary scholars as Sethian), and the followers of Justin.
I spend a fair bit of my time trying to parse out the Neoplatonic inflections from the Kabbalistic material I am studying, but it’s worth keeping in mind the antiquity of the interactions between the two streams of thought. In part, that is just being intellectually honest. In part, though, it is also because there may be useful Kabbalistic insights entangled in more syncretic models. So, two texts to share and briefly comment on, one from the medieval period, the other from antiquity.
I really love diasporas. It was probably the African diasporas in the Americas that first drew my attention to the importance of the phenomenon, but once you adjust to seeing the world in movement, they show up everywhere. Stable borders dissolve in the churning of peoples.
I don’t often pay much attention to the influence of diasporic movements on Europe much beyond the vital Jewish and Islamic ones, but they are there, of course. I’ve been thinking about that more lately as I look at the diasporas centered in the Near East. Especially if I keep running with Gobekli Tepe as a key node in a very ancient diaspora, it makes sense to look not just at the diaspora southward, but also northward.
I picked up a copy of David Gordon White’s The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali: A Biography on Friday for the bus ride home. As I have read through his introduction to the sutra’s context, I have been surprised how familiar it is. White’s contention is that the sutra is much less significant in appreciating yoga’s history even though it has become a vitally important text in its present. In making that claim, he notes that most of the talk about the eight-fold path in yogic literature favors the account of it in the Mahabharata, not Patanjali’s.