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A little bit of gnosis goes a long way...

A Gnostic FAQ: Welcome

I'm new to Gnosticism, where should I start?

This site is probably a good place for that! 

What is the Gnostic view of Satan?

The concept of 'Satan' does not feature prominently in ancient Gnosticism, and in many traditions did not feature at all. The Demiurge fulfils a very different cosmic function and has an entirely different background, with perhaps an adversarial nature being the main element the two figures have in common - though different ancient Gnostic traditions did take differing and some times nuanced views on this.

What is the Gnostic View of Homosexuality?

Fisrtly it should be noted that modern Gnostic Churches universally accept people of any sexual orientation or gender without discrimination. Understandably given their focus on the spiritual rather than the material, for the most part this issue seems to have been of very little concern for the ancient Gnostics and goes entirely unmentioned in the vast majority of surviving Gnostic literature. While it is possible that some ancient Gnostic groups actually had a positive view of homosexuality, there are negative mentions of male homosexuality in the latter part of the Pistis Sophia (a section not part of the original core text), and a passing mention in the Gospel of Judas.

What is the Gnostic View of 'The Bible'?

The answer to this varies considerably depending on the Gnostic tradition in question. Many ancient Gnostic groups used the texts of what we now call the canonical 'Bible', but radically reinterpreted certain parts of them to reveal hidden meanings (for example the Valentinians et al.), while others seem to have rejected the canonical scriptures and mainstream Apostolic tradition outright in favour of their own purely Gnostic parralel texts - perhaps alongside other apocrypha (see Sethianism).

Is Gnosticism Against Science?

It certainly doesn't have to be - as they speak almost exclusively of spiritual matters, there is nothing in the Gnostic texts that is against material science in any way - though of course this may also depend on how literally one choses to read things. Bear in mind the direct Gnostic engagement with the Platonic Academy, which was essentially the most advanced center of learning, reason and science in their part of the world at the time, and their willingness to adapt their system to Platonic thinking - or to at least to frame it in Platonic terms. If, for example, the Sethian Gnostics had survived uninterrupted into to the modern day, there's every chance they wouldn't see the Earth as being 6000 years old, but they may see the Demiurge as being 13.77 billion years old.

Is Judas the Hero of The Gospel of Judas?

No. This is a common misconception stemming from the original (non-peer-reviewed) translation by the NatGeo team - the Gospel of Judas was subsequently re-translated by Prof April Deconick and published in her book The Thirteenth Apostle: What the Gospel of Judas Really Says - with her amendments being accepted by the majority of the academic community. What the newer translation shows is that not only is Judas emphatically not a heroic figure, but that he is infact an embodiement or avatar of the Demiurge himself - who goes on to do exactly what you would expect such a figure to do.

Is Thelema 'Gnostic'?

Not in the classical sense of the word, no. Though it does have its own concept of 'Gnosis', Thelema is a pro-cosmic estoteric spiritual tradition who's roots lie more in Qabalah, the personal revelations of Alistair Crowley, and the Western Esoteric Tradition in genral than in ancient Gnosticism itself. For more on this issue see this article by Stephan Hoeller.

Can I still go to an ordinary Church, Mosque, or Synagogue if I also hold Gnostic beliefs?

Is the 'God' of the Old Testament 'The Demiurge'?

Is Gnosticism anti-Jewish?

No! Not at all. In fact the first Gnostics were doubtless Jews themselves, albeit ones that rejected what they saw the overbearing cult of Yahweh in favour of a markedly different worldview, and a much more esoteric and nuanced view of the divine. They were spiritual rebels to an extent and were no more 'anti-Jewish' that later gentile Christian Gnostics were 'anti-Christian'.

Should I knowlingly pray to the Demiurge?

Within a Gnostic context there is no rationale for this, prayers should instead be directed to the salvific powers above him such as the Father or the aeons (such as Christ, Sophia, Barbelo, etc...)

Is it OK to have Children if you're Gnostic?

While a certain degree of anti-natalism is implied in some surviving Gnostic texts  it is doubftull that this was strictly enforced or widely followed outside of certain elects (such as within Manichaeism), while some Gnostic traditions valued marriage and procreation (such as the Valentinians) and other Gnostic teachers (such as Carpocrates) are even known to have had children that followed in their footsteps.

Should I be Vegetarian if I'm Gnostic?

Were there pre-Christian Gnostics?

The jury is still out on this one, and the scholarly community very much divided - with good arguments on both sides both for and against. Barring new disciveries the answer may never be truly known, but Gnostic texts sometimes taken to have been pre-Christian (or at least pre-Christianisation) or based on pre-Christian originals include: The Apocryphon of John, The Apocalypse of Adam, The Trimorphic Protennoia, Eugnostos The Blessed, and Thunder Perfect Mind. That said, it must also be noted that no Gnostic texts dates from before the time of Chris or can be definitively traced to before that time.

Was Marcion Gnostic?

No, not as the term is understood by scholarship today. While Marcion was a Biblical dualist, absent in his school of thought are any other definitively Gnostic features, or even the concept of gnosis itself.

What is the Gnostic View of the 'Virgin Mary'?

Do Gnostics Hate the World?

No, Gnostics were/are not 'world-haters' - this was a carricature first perpetuated by othodox Christian heresiologists back in the early days of the Church. The ancient Gnostics, much like Buddhists, did however see the material world as something close to a prison for the human spirit. They also saw the suffering endemic to life as unecessary and unjust - the result of a flawed creation by a creative force largely ignorant of what was above/beyond it.

Do Gnostics have to be ascetic?

Is Gnosticism pro-Suicide?

Not at all. As much as transcending the world may be a goal in the Gnostic traditions, suicide to a Gnostic makes no more sense that it does to a Buddhist - such an action would only plunge one's self back into the cycle of incarnation once again, and thus back into the material world. Suicide does not equal enlightenment or gnosis.

Is there a 'Gnostic Canon'?

Are 'the Archons' secretly Controlling World Governments from Behind the Scenes?

Are 'the Archons' Aliens?

LOL, no. There is no real connection between Gnosticism and modern Ufology or extra-terrestrial speculation whatsoever. Regardless of one's opinion on the latter, it is best to keep these two seperate.

Is Gnosticism Polytheistic?

Is Gnosticism more Feminist that mainstream Christianity?

Does being a Gnostic mean that I should be Ascetic or libertine?

Did the ancient Gnostics use Magic?

Can Gnosticism be compatible with other religions?

What is the Gnostic view of the afterlife/reincarnation?

Should the myths in Gnostic texts be taken literally?

A Gnostic FAQ: About
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