AN ECLECTIC GNOSTIC CALENDAR
Holy Days and Commemorations
Here below you will find suggestions for a Gnostic calendar of yearly celebrations and commemorations. Included here are Christian dates that were likely to have been celebrated by most ancient Gnostics alongside a selection of dates from kindred traditions and some modern commemorations.
Epiphany, January 6th
The day of Epiphany celebrates the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptizer and the descent of the 'holy spirit' upon him. In the earlier centuries of Christianity, Epiphany was considered to be more important than Christmas. Considered by many ancient Gnostics to be the event in which that the Christ aeon descended into Jesus the man, making him 'Jesus Christ 'from that time onward. Epiphany was an important holy day to early Christians, especially Gnostics, who were said to have spent the night before engaged in the reading of sacred texts.
Montsegur Day, March 16th
Montségur Day is the remembrance of the 13th century French Cathars. The followers of this Gnostic influenced faith were the first victims of the Inquisition and were persecuted greatly for their beliefs. The Cathars made their final stand inside the mountain castle of Montségur where more than 300 people were burned at the stake on March 16, 1244. Historians estimate that at least 250,000 Cathars died over the course of the persecutions.
Martyrdom of Constant Chevillon, March 23rd
Commemoration of of Constant Chevillon. Gunned down by the Milice (Vichy French colaborationist militia) in 1944 on orders from the Gestapo. Constant was a Patriarch of the French Gnostic Church and a Grand Master of Freemasonry (Memphis-Misraïm). Known for his saintly behaviour and dedication to his personal motto: 'Renounce thyself while serving others'. Sometimes refered to as the Last Martyr of Gnosis.
The period of Lent commemorates the period Jesus spent fasting in the Judean desert following his baptism by John, coming to terms with his nature as the Christ (the 'anointed') and being tempted by the Devil, a Gnostic interpretation of the latter could see the 'Devil' or 'adversary' as the demiurge or a representative thereof.
Easter, Resurrection Sunday
Marks the day of the resurrection of the Christ, generally speaking this resurrection is seen as a spiritual resurrection rather than a bodily one by Gnostics. The spirit, or pure aeonic form, of the Christ returned to the disciples both to show his true divine nature and to impart further mysteries and teachings. Many surviving Gnostic texts centre around a post-resurrection dialogue between one or more disciples and a returned Christ who reveals his aeonic nature, including the Letter from Peter to Phillip, The Sophia of Jesus Christ, the Gospel of Mary, and the Apocryphon of John (see the Ancient Gnostic Scriptures page)
Commemoration of the Prophet Mani, April 25th
Celebrated April 25th, this day commemorates the birth of the Prophet Mani in Persia around the third century, a prophet who taught a unique 'religion of light' blending Gnostic beliefs with Zoroastrianism and Buddhism. Eventually arrested and martyred by Persian authorities, during the heyday of the Manichaean Church his followers could be found from western Europe to China in the east.
Forty days after Easter is the traditional Christian date for the Ascension, though many Gnostic texts differ on this, teaching that the resurrected Christ stayed teaching among the disciples for considerably longer periods of time. Having experienced life and death in the material world and imparted his teachings, both exoteric and esoteric, the Saviour now rises up to the heavenly realms of the Pleroma, the divine Fullness. On this date think of a Christ that has now overcome the negative aspects of both the material world and the human condition, heralding a return to the Pleroma for all.
The Platoneia, May 21st
A day for the celebration and commemoration of the 'divine' Plato, a towering figure who's works form the foundations of so much of the philosophical and esoteric worlds and who's thought was a major influence on the classic Gnostics of the ancient world. Use this day for contemplation and intellectual pursuits, or for the reading of his works and the 'Platonising' Gnostic texts.
Vesak, May 26th (movable)
A traditional Buddhist celebration commemorating the birth, enlightenment, and death of Prince Siddhartha Guatama, who goes on to become Guatama Buddha. There are many commonalities between the basic teachings of Buddhism and the Gnostic traditions, while the Buddha himself was venerated as a prophet (along with Zoroaster, Jesus, and Mani himself) by the Manichaeans, providing reason enough for this day to be marked by an eclectic Gnostic. Bring happiness to others and ease the suffering present in the world on this day.
Dehwa Daimana – Commemoration of John the Baptist, end of May/start of June (Movable, 1st day of Hetia)
Mandaean holy day celebrating the birth of the prophet John, 'the Baptist'. A day of baptisms and initiations. To Christian Gnostics it was John who baptised Jesus as the holy spirit of the Christ aeon descended upon him, while to Mandaeans John himself was the true prophet. The teachings of John and his early followers are also a possible source for several Gnostic groups who may have preserved elements of his teachings.
Day of Mary the Magdalene, July 22nd
Contrary to early Church propaganda Mary Magdalene was no prostitute, and was instead likely a senior disciple and recipient of Jesus' inner teachings as well as a possible consort. In the Gnostic Gospel of Mary she recounts a portion of these teachings to the other disciples after the crucifixion. In one scene she is disparaged and disbelieved by Peter due to her status as a woman, perhaps as a foretaste of things to come. Use this day to read the Gospel of Mary and remember the essential Christian teachings of love, forgiveness, and equality, and reject legalistic interpretations.
Luria Day, August 5th
This day marks the birth of Rabbi and visionary Kabbalist Isaac Luria. His revelatory exposition of Jewish Kabbalah has many striking similarities with Gnostic teachings and would go on to deeply influence subsequent Kabbalists both within Judaism and the Kabbalah adapted by various streams of the Western Esoteric Tradition. While some modern conservative Kabbalists forbid its teaching to any under the age of 40, Isaac Luria had mastered and revolutionised the Kabbalah by the age of 35 before dying at the young age of 37. Use this day to think on the complexity of creation and take actions to improve the world around you.
Day of the Transfiguration, August 6th
Commemorates the day when Jesus Christ is said to have revealed a part of his inner divine nature to the disciples John, James, and Peter on an unnamed mountain top in the Holy Land. His countenance and form are said to have shone with white light, revealing the aeon within as a voice from the heavens proclaimed Jesus to be 'the Son'. The stunned disciples are then reassured by Jesus before being told not to reveal what they had seen until the Son of man had risen from the dead.
Martydom of Priscillian, end of Summer
This marks the death of Priscillian Bishop of Avila and first person known to have been executed for 'heresy' at the behest of the nascent Church. Priscillian founded a Christian Gnostic community and in 4th century Spain incorporating Manichaean influences and ascetic practice that continued to spread through Spain and southern France for at least two centuries after his death.
The Day of Gnosis Restored, September 21st
On this day in 1890 Jules Doinel founded the 'Gnostic Church' (Église Gnostique ) in France and declared 'The era of Gnosis restored'. This would be the first Gnostic Church or self-identifying Gnostic group to verifiably exist since the twilight of the ancient Gnostics themselves millennia ago. As such, whether or not one follows the modern French Gnostic path it is worthy of commemoration as this was the day when the ideas of Gnosis were rekindled in the modern world.
Day of Salome, October 22nd
A day for the commemoration of Salome, another female disciple of Jesus Christ who's role has been obscured and de-emphasised by orthodox Christianity. Her presence at several key events indicates she may have been among Jesus' closest followers, and the fact that the Carpocratian Gnostics claimed a transmission of sacred wisdom from her opens the possibility that she may have been a recipient of his inner teachings.
Day of the Codices, December 1st
In December1945 a large sealed clay jar was discovered in the Egyptian desert by a local man named Muhammad Ali at the base of the Jabal al-Tarīf on the east bank of the Nile, across the river from the town of Nag Hammadi. The Nag Hammadi 'Library' is thought to have been buried around 467 AD, this day marks the rediscovery of the majority of Gnostic texts that we know today and their re-emergence into the world.
P.K.D Day, December 15th
A commemoration of noted author Philip K. Dick. Whether you consider him a modern day Gnostic visionary or simply a ground-breaking writer of science fiction that touched on Gnostic themes, use this day (otherwise known as, ahem, Dick Day) to meditate on your own dreams/visions of perhaps read some of P.K.D's work.
Day of the Thomas the Apostle, December 21st
On this day the Apostle Thomas is commemorated. Thomasine Christianity represented a unique path in the early Christian milieu, much more mystical and inward looking than the rest of Apostolic Christianity at the time, yet more monistic than the Gnostic traditions. The Gospel of Thomas, is also a uniquely important text. Not only is it among the oldest known Christian texts, possibly even predating some of the 'canonical' Gospels, but its profound nature was such that for a time it may well have been valued and read by Gnostics and orthodox Christians alike. As recipient of Jesus' inner teachings Thomas is honoured on this day.
Christmas, December 25th (or January 7th)
The Mass of Christmas is traditionally observed in the West as a midnight mass on December 24th. It marks the birth of Jesus the man to his parents Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem, Judea. In the Gnostic Christian view Jesus was a child born with a special destiny, who would one day bear the spirit of the Christ and reveal a message of universal salvation and hidden gnosis to his followers and the world at large. Gnostics can, and should, give gifts on this day and try to enjoy themselves just like everyone else.
Day of John the Apostle, December 27st
On this day the Apostle John is commemorated. The fourth of the 'cannonical' Gospels is atributed to him, while John was also said to have been a witnesses to the the Transfiguration. Johannine Christianity may well have been a distinct tradition in the very earliest days of Christianity, going on to influence both orthodox Apostolic Christianity as well as Sethian, or 'Classic', Gnosticism. In the Apocryphon ('Secret Book') of John the resurrected Christ appears to a despairing John in the wilderness and reveals the fullness of of gnosis and his inner teachings, answering the questions of the apostle and explaining both the true nature of the spiritual universe and of man's place in it. The Apocryphon is perhaps the oldest and most foundational Gnostic text that we possess as a primary source and as such it is hard to overestimate its influence. Use this day to read the 'Secret Book', or Gospel, attributed to John.