[NB] Of Planets, Trees, and Metals

I have been working my way through a translation of Diwan Malkuta Laita (Scroll of Exalted Kingship) that Jorunn Jacobsen Buckley published. The scroll is a liturgical guide to the consecration of new priests among the Mandaeans and is full of tightly-packed nuggets of their particular Gnostic cosmo-ontology. Considering it as a well-preserved piece of a dialogue with other Gnostic practices from antiquity has been very rewarding.

(I’m not saying it is just a well-preserved bit of dialogue, for it is part of a living Mandaean practice, too. I am, however, outside of that living practice, so for me it is most readily accessible as evidence rather than as testimony.)

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[NB] Mandaean Eschatology

It is going to be quiet here for a little while yet. The narrative cosmogram that I have been working on is proceeding exactly according to its own pace, which is an interesting experience, but not one that can be easily shared before it is further along.

Here, though, is a little excerpt from a scholar’s meeting with a Mandaean sheikh in the 1970s:

“Sheikh Abdullah showed us his ring and explained that the four animals depicted on the seal—the lion, the wasp, the scorpion, and the encircling snake—were ‘the elements of life’….Cosmological and mythical topis came up. What will happen to us at the end of the world?…the Mandaeans will go to the Lightworld, the heavenly world. Paradise lies beyond the gate at the North Pole, ours is just one of 365 universes, and the earth is flat and stands still. And it will soon end. Such were the sheikh’s words.”—The Mandaeans: Ancient Texts and Modern People, Jorunn Jacobsen Buckley (ix)

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