From Zealotry to Practice to the Love of Wisdom – The Lesser Mysteries
The Necronomicon is a book that is not meant to be read and understood in isolation. To make good use of it for both ourselves and others, we must avoid the pitfalls involved with both idolatry and fanaticism. The early tests and lessons of the Lesser Mysteries help an initiate to recognize the need for independent evaluation and research, and to develop their mental faculties and discipline in such a way as to accomplish and carry out these important tasks whenever needed. From there, they can proceed to explore and enjoy the sensual world and its pleasures without becoming caught up or attached in its webs.
In our author’s account, his first initiation into the Mysteries concludes with the reception of a silver amulet, and this indicates his right and ability to journey into the nightside realms under the protection and watchful eye of Nanna and the Moon. But his confirmation of experience with the “Scribe and emissary of the Elder Gods”, just like the Jewish and Catholic ceremonies, seals him or her as a serious and trained student of the Mysteries who has grown beyond the immature whims of early spiritual childhood. From there, he is eventually wed to the Queen of Heaven as a Lover of Wisdom for Life. The first three degrees are also the three fundamental degrees of both Freemasonry and Wicca, “and many go no further”. These mysteries formed the Outer Order of the Golden Dawn, and only through their mastery could initiates progress to the Intermediate Mysteries of the Inner Order of the Ruby Rose and Golden Cross.
To explain some of the experiences and pitfalls of the Lesser Mysteries, this article examines their role in our sister traditions of Judaism and Christianity. I have chosen exegesis of these traditions not only because they are so linked to our own Sumerian tradition, but also because they are such bogeymen for pagans and receive a lot of hatred and fear from otherwise “tolerant” polytheists. Gatewalkers must be willing to seek wisdom wherever it can be found, and so I present this information for both edification and to encourage initiates to overcome their hostilities towards the monotheistic traditions.
The Arbatel of Magic states that “The lesser secrets are seven:
1. The first is, to do a thing diligently, and to gather together much money.
2. The second is, to ascend from a mean state to dignities and honours, and to establish a newer family, which may be illustrious and do great things.
3. The third is, to excel in military affairs, and happily to achieve to great things, and to be a head of the head of Kings and Princes.
4. To be a good house-keeper both in the Country and City.
5. The fifth is, to be an industrious and fortunate Merchant.
6. To be a Philosopher, Mathematician, and Physician, according to Aristotle, Plato, Ptolomy, Euclides, Hippocrates, and Galen.
7. To be a Divine according to the Bible and [Schools\, which all writers of divinity both old and new have taught.”
We can see from this list that the Lesser Mysteries are essentially what is promoted today as “New Age literature”. These are simple, but important and fundamental lessons in living and conducting one’s affairs in order to be successful in life. Much of this involves adopting new attitudes and learning discipline, as well as a lot of medical, correspondence, and historical information. There is nothing especially “supernatural” about these lessons, but they are essential to everything that follows.
The lunar degree of the sephira/sphere of Yesod – the Foundation – is called the Zealot degree. This is a fitting title, because an initiate at this stage is full of initial enthusiasm and a sense of membership in both Tradition and the Cosmos. Zealots, however, are famous for being narrow-minded and, in their simple excitement, tend to fear and condemn anything that might challenge the integrity and validity of their chosen path and tradition. There is a dangerous kind of bipolar thinking that occurs in this stage, in which people believe that different beliefs, paths, and approaches are mutually incompatible. Perceptions of the rightness of one’s path seems to declare the paths of others false, and conversely, a fear exists that if others find fulfillment through different means, it indicates wrongness or deficiency on the Zealots’ part. Zealots are also known as Lunatics because they are primarily under lunar influences, and they often create a lot of bad press for their traditions by striving to promote and defend them in a primarily visceral and irrational way.
The Christian tradition, which was once a great mystery school, fell prey to a high degree of lunacy with the growth of gentile, or non-Jewish, churches, under the ministry of Saint Paul of Tarsus, a hellenized Jew who came from a very different cultural background than the Galilean apostles of Christ. This introduction of non-Jews was highly controversial to the church, in that while it promoted catholicism – ie, a universal appeal – it brought in a huge number of people who did not grow up with the cultural background necessary to understand the Jewish tradition on which Christianity was based. This led to a lot of spiritual immaturity on the part of new Christians who had not been confirmed into the full breadth of their tradition, who began issuing binding proclamations on subjects on which they were not qualified to make judgment. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, which I highly recommend for students of our tradition to read, is a rebuttal against this kind of childishness. In it, Paul argues against sectarian attitudes and promotes love and acceptance as well as a kind of spiritul freedom that has confounded Christians for centuries. The crux of the letter is that while Paul introduced Christ and his mysteries universally through what he called “the milk of the gospel”, he longed for initiates to grow beyond the first stages so that he could share with them the “meat” of adults, which scholar author Elaine Pagels correctly deduced was Gnostic in nature.
Rabbinical Judaism is a highly intellectual tradition that was founded primarily by scribes, rather than priests, and thus for the most part Jews have not been subject to the same degree of “born-again” zealotry as Christians since they days when the Temple stood. Paul himself stated that he was from the tribe of Benjamin, not Judah, from whom also came his namesake Saul – the first king of Israel before he was replaced by Judean David at the urge of the navi Samuel. Benjamin and Joseph were the sons of Jacob’s favored wife, Rachel, and their stories reflect that they were keepers of the “Silver” traditions of Israel. This explains why the Samaritans, who were the product of intermarriage between the remnants of the Joseph tribes and the forcefully imported Cuthans, retain so much esoteric lore. There is actually a story in the Ezra-Nehemiah narrative in which lions trouble the Cuthans until they make peace with Israel’s god. This is very interesting, because the Cuthans were devotees of the “Great Lamp” – Nergal – who often appeared in the form of a lion. The lion was also the totem and symbol of Judah and its kings. The two main sources of the Jewish Bible are the traditions of Northern Israel, dominated by Ephraim, and of Southern Israel, dominated by Judah. They are the Sun and Moon, the Gold and Silver, of Israeli tradition. Since the Assyrian conquest of Northern Israel, the 10 “lost” tribes have been scattered throughout the East and Judah has been cut off from both the Divine Feminine and the Silver/Lunar half of its tradition, which called God Elohim as opposed to Yhwh. The Priory of Sion maintains that the Merovingian Kings from which they claim descent were themselves descendents of intermarriage between the tribe of Benjamin and of a European tribe that was devoted to the lunar goddess Diana.
To correct the pitfalls of either/or fallacies and move towards a richer and more secure understanding of tradition and one’s place in it, initiates must move to the sphere of Mercury and Nebo, where they learn to use critical thinking and the mental faculties of research and study to enrich and empower their practice and their faith. The Hebrew word for prophet – Navi – comes from the same root as Nebo, the mercurial god of scholarship. It was from Mt. Nebo that the Israelim surveyed their promised land and Moses bade them farewell. We can see from these stories that there is a kind of “honeymoon period” that occurs with the Mysteries, and which Lord Nebo and his spirits bring to a conclusion. Initiates will be tested by his sphere, and will generally face one of three fates. They may lose heart at this point and retreat from their practice and tradition, perhaps to go shopping for another one in the false idea that a different path will be easier. They may remain stuck in lunatic zealotry for an extended period and fixate on the fundamentals of their faith, cursed to become “fundamentalists” obsessed with converting others (and in truth, themselves) until they are ready to grow up. Or, hopefully, they will mature enough to realize that the tradition and its practices are not so cut-and-dried. They will groan briefly with the realization of how much real work and mastery lies before and beyond them, but if they embrace their destinies, they will take up their crosses and proceed to the unglamorous but very real and rewarding work of spiritual growth.
A very interest insight comes when Paul references in his Corinthian epistle certain mysteries that were learned in the third heaven and which he was unable to speak of casually. Paul’s home city of Tarsus, and the surrounding Taurus mountain range, are themselves evocative of the astrological sign of the Bull, which was the astrological age during which both Egypt and Sumer were at their height economically and spiritually, and the sign of Ishtar’s fallen beloved, the Bull of Heaven (Gugalanna). The third heaven is that of Venus and Ishtar, which indicates that these mysteries were of a sensual and tantric nature, and would have likely been found incredibly offensive by “newbie” Christians. Aware of the power of both sexuality and the tantric rites, Paul sought and admonished sexual purity for his students, so that they could “wed” Christ and his spirit as “virgins”. Paul knew that once Inanna took a man for husband, he could really have no other lover. Ishtar’s degree is thus called “Philosopher” – “Lover of Sophia” – Lady Wisdom. The Necronomicon itself is not always in favor of sexual expression and tantric sex – it specifically requires sexual purity in the beginning when walking the planetary gates, and says that worshipping at the Temple of Ishtar is allowed but requires that one not lose their essence, “and this is a great secret.” Crowley explored the paradox of this Virgo/Porno dichotomy in his work, and showed how the Virgin and the Harlot were in fact one figure, but revealed themselves differently depending on the person and where they were at in their work.
Paul tried to steer the church in the right direction, but eventually, thanks to the political intervention of the Roman Empire and its Emperors, the zealots actually took control of the entire church and exiled their own spiritual elders, and sought to destroy these mysteries as threats to their “faith”. They went to the extent of writing fake letters in Paul’s name, in which women are subjugated, sexuality is decried, and obedience to church and state is promoted. These “pastoral epistles” that precede the final “Revelation” of the New Testament were long ago found out by scholars using textual and linguistic analysis techniques to be of a fundamentally different language, style, cadence, and even time-period than the apostle Paul. But as so many of the biblical texts reveal through their outcries, they show that many groups of the time who called themselves “Christian” were engaged in mystical practices that utilized sexuality for gnosis. The Revelation of John the Divine can be read as a historical document outlining the apocalypse that came about for early Christians as they faced up to their fears both inner and outer, being orchestrated both by degeneration within the church and the Roman Empire as a whole.
The Christians recognized their primary adversary (and thus their primary initiator) through the number of 666 and the name of “the Beast”. 666, numerologically, is equivalent to “Nero Caesar”, who mercilessly persecuted the Christians and often killed them by throwing them to Lions – the Beasts of Ishtar and Nergal – the royal defenders of sacred sexuality who will tolerate neither demonization nor deification. The Soul of the Beast 666 came not once, but actually three times. Cardinally, he was Nero Caesar who played the fiddle while Rome burned. In fixed position, he was Rodrigo Borgia – Pope Alexander VI, the Great Black Magician of Mosaic and Faustian magic who exulted in the worst abuses at the height of the church’s power and who raised the ire of Martin Luther to begin the Protestant Reformation. And in the mutable role, he was Aleister Crowley, who declared an end to the “Age of Osir” and the puritan ethics of limitation, and who served “the Goddess 15”: Ishtar, the Scarlet Lady of Babylon, Mother of all the Harlots and of the “abominations” of the Earth.
The Elder Gods, essentially, are the religious teachings of our upbringing and our native cultures, the “Faith of our Fathers”. Their religion must be studied and understood before it can be transcended. Ignorance can only be combatted through knowledge and experience, and personal demons lose their power as the Light of Day shines upon them and reveals them exactly as they are. The Necronomicon, essentially, presents the two great divisions of magic – theurgic invocation, via the gatewalking process, and thaumaturgic evocation, via the books of calling. Nebo, as the “emissary of the Elder Gods”, represents the traditions of those who have come before us, and teaches us the ways of our fathers, including their beliefs about good versus evil. But when we progress far enough that we have outgrown such limitations, Ninib appears to explain the ways of the Ancient Ones and conduct our trial by fire before “Saturn swallows his children whole” and we become forever trapped in the mindset of our Elders.
David S. – “Optimystic”