Gnostic Christianity

Thanks to the Gnostic branch of Christianity, a deep stream of knowledge eventually reached Britain via a different route to the Roman Mithraic one. This surfaced and resurfaced many times over the centuries, in different guises and places such as the Coptic and Celtic Churches, and most recently in psychology. To appreciate its significance, we need to go back to the beginning.

Who are the Gnostics?

Though no one knows for sure where the early Gnostics originated, they show up in history around the time of Christ. They were writing and teaching in Samaria, Syria, and Alexandria, where some say they were the expression of an older lineage. There are similarities between the Gnostics and the earlier Platonic and Pythagorean schools of thought. ... The Gnostics were a learned people who drew from many sources for their spiritual teachings, including the Jesus story. They, and their followers through the years, were called Gnostics because the core of their teachings was in gnosis—a direct experience of the divine or a direct knowledge of the heart. Two thousand years before Carl Jung and depth psychology, the Gnostics were practicing techniques for consciously connecting to the divine through inner symbolic experiences.

The first missionaries in Britain?

Opposition from the African bishops and Emperor Honorius forced Zosimus to condemn and excommunicate Celestius and Pelagius in 418. Death and later. ... After his condemnation, Pelagius was expelled from Jerusalem, and Saint Cyril of Alexandria allowed him to settle in Egypt.

As we already know, Alexandria was for centuries a centre of learning, with a famous library infamously burnt by Roman troops. It was also a centre of Coptic Christianity in Egypt. We're told:

The Catechetical School of Alexandria is the oldest catechetical school in the world.

With a long history of differences and dissent with the Roman point of view. Worthy of note is that the Coptic Church of Alexandria is still sending missionaries to Ireland and Wales.

The Theological college of the catechetical school was re-established in 1893. The new school currently has campuses in Ireland, Cairo, New Jersey, and Los Angeles, where Coptic priests-to-be and other qualified men and women are taught among other subjects Christian theology,

A recent Gnostic - Carl Jung

His journey into his subconscious had striking parallels to the experiences of direct encounters with the divine that were in the Gnostic literature. Jung had an ongoing interest in Gnosticism from at least 1912, when he wrote enthusiastically about the topic in a letter to Freud. During and after his encounter with the unconscious, he found further support in Gnosticism and also in alchemy, which he saw as a continuation of Gnostic thought, and, of which, more source material was available. In his study of the Gnostics, Jung collaborated with GRS Mead, an influential member of the Theosophical Society and made use of Mead’s writings on Gnosticism.

The relevance of Carl Jung to the Gnostic tradition is profound.

All through Jung's long life (July 26, 1875 to June 6, 1961) people were puzzled by the curiously esoteric and magical overtones of his work. Here was a phenomenon hitherto unheard of in the world of the intelligentsia since the era of the Enlightenment. Symbols and images of dark and ancient power were resuscitated from the dust of their millennial tombs. Heretics and alchemists, mystics and magicians, Taoist sages and Tibetan lamas lent the treasures of their arcane quests to the wizardry of the modern Swiss Hermes. Gone were the mundane, personalistic preoccupations of the earlier psychoanalysis with its childhood traumas and infantile vagaries, and the gods and heroes of old were no longer regarded as the glorified masks of childish lusts and terrors. Like Venus arising from the foam of the sea, or Athena springing from the brow of Zeus, the archetypes arose from the prima materia of the collective unconscious; the Gods once again walked with men. Above these primeval creative waters of the psyche moved the spirit of one man, the genius of Jung. Well could the learned wonder and the wise be astonished, for a new era of the mind had come.

One of Jung's books Septem Sermones ad Mortuos is subtitled: "Seven exhortations to the dead, written by Basilides in Alexandria, the city where East and West meet."

Jung was instrumental in calling attention to the Nag Hammadi library of Gnostic writings in the 1950's because he perceived the outstanding psychological relevance of Gnostic insights. The noted scholar of Gnosticism, G. Filoramo, wrote: "Jung's reflections had long been immersed in the thought of the ancient Gnostics to such an extent that he considered them the virtual discoverers of 'depth psychology' . . . ancient Gnosis, albeit in its form of universal religion, in a certain sense prefigured, and at the same time helped to clarify, the nature of Jungian spiritual therapy." In the light of such recognitions one may ask: "Is Gnosticism a religion or a psychology?" The answer is that it may very-well be both.

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