Gnosticism and the Abjads

The science of letters is a fairly obscure element to many contemporary folks who are interested in gnosticism, but it forms an essential aspect of it. Gnosticism is born alongside the alphabet, most specifically with the abjads, and its relationship to knowledge and understanding is shaped by it. The alphabet also anchors gnosticism in a cultural time and space, distinguishing it from a family of spiritual and linguistic practices that take other forms of writing as their point of departure.

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Sacrifice and cultus vs. private devotion

Okay, so let me preface this with the fact that I wasn’t going to write this. Then, as I was writing the first draft of this, I wasn’t going to post this. I’m hardly the expert here. Then, well, fuck, people, sometimes you just need to post, because it seems like I may have more to say than some.

There is an important caveat: I use ‘you’ frequently in this post. That ‘you’ isn’t meant to refer to every potential reader. It’s a hybrid phrasing, because I am caught between referring to people in the conversation I’m referencing and to myself. This ‘you’ can be substituted with an ‘I’ in many cases, because much of this comes out of distinguishing my personal practice from various cultic ones. I guess I could say ‘we,’ but that invokes too much intimacy. So, the uncomfortable ‘you’ it is.

Okay, so apparently talking about sacrifice is a bit of a thing in one of the super-tiny microworlds to which I pay some attention. I have taken a look around following some of the links in that original post and some of the websites of the conversants I didn’t recognize in the thread that follows. The overall content of the original post? Eh, it’s alright. The degree of casual racism and classism that structures some of it…well, ignorant folks be ignorant. Folks have tried to educate them about that and they have only retrenched in their ignorance, so I won’t wast anyone’s time with that here. All I can say, is if you can’t spot it, you should spend some time examining your vision.

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Witches and Markets

When I talked about the world as a marketplace, I was leaning heavily on a Yoruba conception. I want to keep leaning on that and start talking about an important aspect of the spiritual world in the marketplace: witches. The Yoruba imaginary associates witches with the marketplace and moreover with the women who circulate through it. The more esteem and authority a woman possesses within the market, the more likely it is that she will accrue a reputation for witchcraft. Some of this has to do with a simple distrust of excessive accumulation–they who have much are suspected of having supernatural power that makes their success possible (compare this with the Kongo conception of ndoki). I don’t think this exhausts the issue, though.

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The World Really Matters

Okay, so you make the tree of life a coil, big deal. What does that entail? For one, it means reapprasing talk about ‘spiritual’ realities and truths distinct from mundane ones. If the tree becomes a coil, the so-called mundane is not just the source of our spiritual work, it is also its destination. The tree lets us talk about transcending ourselves and our world, reaching a height that carries us beyond this world. The coil does no such thing; the highest point is just the charge at its most pure before it is returned to the ‘outside’ world. From this perspective, efforts to escape the world are often just an exercise in blockage.

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