Eros & Gnosis: A Gnostic Study of Human Sexuality

July 8, 2010 By davidjones

By Dr. STEPHAN A. HOELLER
Human beings are not only the funniest monkeys: they are the sexiest ones as well. In many ways we are a species singularly devoted to sex. We talk, write, read, joke and argue about it; we dress and undress for it, and, given favourable circumstances, we perform it regularly. More importantly, and sometimes lamentably, we have innumerable laws and commandments to organise, punish, curb, repress and otherwise influence sexual actions and feelings and have devised psychological penances of guilt and shame which we come to attach to our sexuality. Because of these and related circumstances, most people are confused and bewildered about sex much of the time, and those who profess not to be thus flummoxed tend to take umbrage under clichés and half truths which they have consciously accepted, but which are not in harmony with either their instinctual or their spiritual natures. It goes without saying that if the Gnostic worldview is any kind of a worldview at all, it must be able to address itself meaningfully to this predicament and thus to suggest spiritually sound ways in which men and women might successfully extricate themselves from the same. The present

” Both of these are vitally important to any useful consideration of sexuality. and it is this feeling that prevents them from living their lives with the intensity it demands if it is to be enjoyed to the full.” (Analytical Psychology and Weltanschauung). Let us then proceed with our exploration. there exists a creative tensional relationship of opposites. Psychoanalyst Edward Glover once suggested that writing on psychologically charged subjects should be classified as a dangerous occupation. the left and the right. The reconciling agent of all such opposites is meaning. The psychologically exposed individuals frequently relieve their anxiety by attacking the writer who has presumed to disturb their precarious and cherished peace of mind.essay is an attempt to suggest some Gnostic ways of viewing and dealing with sexuality. of the fullness (Pleroma) extolled by the Gnostics. the inner and the outer. The human is the sexiest animal on earth. unexplored would be a grave omission indeed. Sexuality is one of the most important tensional relationships of the opposites in life. . No other sexually reproducing species makes love with such frequency. they are the words “consciousness” and “meaning. to the experience of the fullness of being. but unrelated to the enhancement of life. As it is useful in such cases. it does have. When in the course of such writing one happens to expose the unconscious motives of some persons. Martyrdom is surely not an uncommon experience to the Gnostic. human beings “have the feeling that they are haphazard creatures without meaning. between our personal and mundane experiences and the realm which transcends the tangible world. always comes to us to make the two into one. on the other hand. as it were. To leave such a rich mine of meaning.G. of Gnosis. Between the reality of our lives lived in time and the quality of life’s timelessness. the author is not unmindful of certain hazards. reminds us that the saving. pandemonium is certain to follow. and in offering it to the reader. Jung has expressed it. including the sexual ones. great meaning. With the coming of consciousness. the tension between the poles of existence is lacking. The Gnosis of Biology The human species is a unique one in many ways. or Christ principle. sexuality is a mere expression of instinct: Useful in its domain. The Apostle Thomas. When. to unite the above and the below. Life becomes stale and is no longer the exponent of the complete human being. so meaning brings us the experience of totality. and consequently. sexually toned behaviour saturates a large portion of the individual and social life of every man and woman. as C. Without consciousness. we shall proceed from the ground upwards. the risk will hopefully have been worth taking! The ancient term “Gnosis” has two very useful modern analogues. As consciousness adds a greatly needed component to experience. reporting the words of Jesus. all experiences. and the male and the female into a single one. acquire meaning. and begin with the evidence of the physical aspect of humankind by reviewing the evidence of biology. then. and not the least claim to such uniqueness is to be found in the sexual sphere. in the psychological sense. It is therefore evident that it must have. and if some form of it befall the author.

but their sexual activities at “unusual” times are minimal when compared to the human. Fisher writes: “With the stimulus of constantly available sex.) Unlike humans. She is biologically capable of copulating every single day of her adult life. love. Protohominid females who delivered their young in a relatively immature state had a better chance of surviving childbirth. Men and women became aware of each other emotionally. neither the females nor the males of the species engage regularly in sex. now forced to care for their children for a long period. as one may among free chimps and orangutans. creating a never abating forcefield of dynamic tension between them.. and eventually mentally and intuitively as the result of the sexual force which tied them together. She tells us that the genetic evolutionary process which led to the present condition of humanity in regards to sex began about 8 million years ago. developed infants hazardous. human mothers are capable of resuming their ovulation about six weeks after delivering a child. 1982) traces the evolutionary development of the unique human sexual situation. alone of all other females. they do not initiate sex during pregnancy. Thus our present patterns of biologically unlimited sexual intercourse came into being. Animals are far less sexy than humans. The mothers. for the human female. From purely biological data we may thus infer with some justification that the coming of unlimited sexual expression became the fountain and origin . her fertility is never dramatically announced as it is among the animals. it made them divide their labours. developed as the result of walking. All female animals have a period of heat (the estrus) during which they copulate. Similarly. Unlike the female of every other species. In order to insure the conception of offspring. in her book The Sex Contract (William Morrow and Co. and when this period is over. when humans became accustomed to walking upright. because the smaller birth canal. were more prone to engage in sex outside of their limited periods of fertility than they were wont to do earlier in their evolution. even past the time when conception has occurred. In fact. humans thus must make love regularly. Due to the so-called “silent ovulation” (the absence of the signs of heat) of the human female. There seems to be an unmistakable conspiracy of nature directed toward motivating human beings to make love daily. consciousness. made the delivery of large. protohominids had begun the most fundamental exchange the human race would ever make. The bond of constant sexual interest kept them together in each other’s company. she can engage in sex whenever she pleases. especially where breast-feeding is not prolonged. Helen Fisher. and they do not resume their menstrual cycle before their young are weaned. Since the most popular females were fed and protected most adequately. Dr.” The fundamental exchange consisted in bringing males and females more closely together than hitherto would have been possible. relatedness. to share the daily work and joys of living.There is a biological reason for this. is uniquely designed to do so! Anthropologist Dr. (Among caged baboons and chimpanzees one may observe some sexual activity outside of the period of heat. She can make love during pregnancy. they tended to survive in greater numbers and thus passed on their genetic traits to more offspring. The result is that human couples do not know when a woman is ready to conceive. to exchange food. female animals do not accept males while menstruating. and above all. the human female is capable of constant sexual arousal. and she can become sexually active shortly after having a child. Sex has become the progenitor of affection.

Rattray Taylor (Sex in History). The first of these is matter. When we apply this Gnostic idea to the matter of human sexuality we may find some useful insights. The Gnosis of Psychohistory Human biology has its history. singular distinction belongs to G. but the seat of their principal identity is located within one only. the second mind. whose theories contain elements relevant to the concerns of sexuality. present and future are large indeed. while among C. Among those inspired by Freud. and should be apparent to all. There is. first of all. we might say that persons in this stage of development are not participating in a sexual act. and women look upon men . and originally even quite unaware of the possible results of copulation in reproduction. Thus. and the third spirit (pneuma). The protopsychology of the ancient Gnostics (as well as of others in the Hellenistic culture) perceived three main divisions of the human person. The implications of this insight for past. while others function chiefly from a centre of consciousness lodged in their mind. as evidenced by works of much primitive art. Hyletic sexuality in its later stages also becomes involved in the idea of offspring. the importance of sexuality and of its influence on various aspects of human life are very much part of this history of the mind.of vast achievements of human consciousness which otherwise could and would not have come to pass. there are people whose outstanding concerns are invariably material. are numerous. Men thus come to look upon their mates not as persons but as the potential or actual mothers of their children. or soul (psyche). where men and women are represented with disproportionately large sexual organs. Psychohistorians. soul and spirit in some measure. The existential point of gravity of a person’s life moves according to certain patterns from one of these three to the others. while yet others look at all things from a point of view that is primarily of a character that we might call spiritual. but rather of a transformational growth and development or consciousness. they are not persons. Men are merely phallus bearers and women vaginacarriers. and an individual’s type (today called psychological type) would be determined by which one of these three principles acts as the primary focus of his or her consciousness. Similarly one may note the use of words denoting sexual organs when describing an individual in the idiom of obscene slang. and so does the human mind. Its Source and Goal. or body (hyle. All of these are evidences of the identification of the entire person with sex. Jung’s followers one needs to refer to Erich Neumann (The Great Mother and The Origin and History of Consciousness) as well as to Esther Harding (Psychic Energy.) The considerations which are to follow here utilise the theories of these authors. or psyche. but they are identified with it. To persons of this type sexuality is primarily a bodily urge. which begins with the material plane and rises eventually to the spiritual. An interesting phenomenon connected with this is the identification of persons with their sexual organs.G. As one might expect. and amplify their views by way of certain insights of the ancient Gnostics. soma). what we might call a hyletic (matter oriented) type of sexuality. but embodiments of their sexuality. largely unrelated to any feeling or regard for the partner in sex. In a sense. All people are capable of experiences of body. The presence of any individual within one or the other of these three categories is not a matter of accident.

” It is obvious that the dominant cultural influences of Western society are predominantly of this variety. There is little doubt.” The third. Jungian psychology calls this the “patriarchal phase” while Freudian writers refer to it as “patrist” or father-identifying. or pneumatic. In the next stage of development. Islam and non-Gnostic Christianity. but rather by the internal command of the indwelling divine spirit. “he is doomed to freedom. the more recent discoveries of Gnostic writings indicate that the Gnostics were intent upon a mysterious pneumaticisation of sexuality. phase is the most difficult to discuss. and that most of these influences stem from religious roots within the semitic religiosity of Judaism. Jung also envisioned a condition within the individuation process where in the moral laws of society and church are relativated and indeed . The term “oral” is applied to its quality by Freudian writers.D. This is the greatest period of sexual repression and the phase when issues of law and commandment take on a great importance. The principle is compatible both with the ethics of existential philosophy and with Jungian psychology. and thus we find that psychic humanity tends to be patriarchal and masculine in its orientation and consequently a negative view of femininity and of female sexuality predominates.” by identifying it with the archaic domination of children by the Mother. rather than by any rational considerations. as instinctual creatures who have to be subdued and controlled. One of the chief results of the pneumatic state of Gnosis is the ability of the Gnostic to rise above the law (antinomianism) and to be motivated no longer by the external commandment of so-called revelation. The notion that the desire for children is somehow more moral and refined than the desire for sex is nonsense!) Freudian psychohistorians tend to call the hyletic phase of sexuality “matrist. and leads to the formation of “shame cultures” and the development of the incest taboo. or mind) becomes dominant. envisioned this spiritual condition as a union of the masculine and feminine aspects of the human being with a consequent androgynation. most notably Valentinus. Men in their desire for impulse control begin to view women as temptresses. and its predominant tendency is said to be “anal. Mythologically and symbolically this ego or mind is frequently connected with the masculine principle. consciousness now wishes to subdue the unconscious and thus develops numerous devices for the control of impulse. (It needs to be recognised that the urge to have offspring is just as primitive and unconscious an urge as the one moving to sexual intercourse. inspired by intuition. for it is here that the mind-emotion complex called “psyche” (soul. This phase of the development of consciousness is greatly attached to the institution of marriage. Matrist sexuality is quite permissive.” C. which undoubtedly would have its reflection in the sexual sphere also. however. In Sartre’ swords. which process was embodied in the Valentinian sacrament of the bridal chamber. The Gnostic terminology calls this phase the psychic. and its chief taboos are against adultery and homosexuality. Its result is the so-called “guilt culture. even promiscuous and polymorphous.as beings capable of giving them children. The pneumatic Gnostic can no longer rely on any external commandment but must live by the existential courage of daily moral decisions. a manifestation of hyletic or biological urges. In each case we are dealing with a primitive phenomenon. sexuality becomes linked with emotion and thinking. This might be envisioned as the highest form of situation ethics.G. that several ancient Gnostic teachers. because it denotes a form or state of consciousness that is as rare today as it was in the second and third centuries A. While the anti-Gnostic church fathers with fierce inconsistency accused the Gnostics of excessive asceticism and licentiousness in the same breath. Egodevelopment having taken place.

and for the middle-aged person to achieve a matter-of-fact and liberated attitude toward sexuality. in short. and usually hidden away in the secret corners of contemporary life. .” and its characteristics are to some extent identical with what Freudian psychologists envision as “genital” sexuality. all persons possess hyletic. It is thus evident that most persons. Hypolitus and others is thus revealed as the sort of misunderstanding the contemporary Gnostic might face also. The accusation of libertinism hurled against the Gnostics by Irenaeus. rather than standards derived from a code delivered by god or by society. the gender of the beloved or the permanence or impermanence of the love relationship. it might be helpful to present here a few brief guidelines for all three types regarding sexuality. at other times they may be attached to attitudes that are predominantly psychic and in some instances they may be capable of behaviour that may be properly recognised as pneumatic. The intuitive morality of the pneumatic can be readily confused by the uncomprehending with hyletic. an attitude that approximates that of the pneumatic. immorality and amorality. Are all Gnostics obliged to follow the pneumatic ethic at all times? Is psychic morality. Most people may also go through these phases in their own lifetimes.rendered meaningless by the spiritual growth of the individual. incidentally. The spirit bloweth where it listeth. while it is nothing of the sort. and it goes without saying that this love will have sexual expressions as well. human institutions and earthly considerations must pale before the pneumatic love. Neither will the expressions of this love be in any way limited by human institutions and prejudices whether they concern marital status. and pneumatic components in their character. but which is in practice more often than not composed of persons whose character is hyletic. Right and wrong become a matter of personal choice based on spiritual insight. Different Strokes for Different Gnostic Folks The above noted psychohistorical considerations raise important issues which might be of concern to contemporary Gnostics. psychic. especially in the sexual area. without serious inhibitions and guilts. all the hallmarks of what Erich Neumann called the “integrative phase. including Gnostics. Moreover. for young adulthood to be involved in the marital and societal ambiance of a psychic sexual morality. still relevant to the Gnostic? Have we all successfully outgrown hyletic modes of behaviour? And how are the answers to these questions likely to affect the sexual behaviour of the contemporary Gnostic? Our situation might be summed up as follows: We live in a culture which ostensibly follows a psychic system of morality in sexual matters. With the fusion of the masculine and feminine attitudes in the psyche. Pneumatics are far and in between. as it were). The pneumatic phase bears. with one or the other predominating. will express their sexuality sometimes in ways that are hyletic. Since it would be reasonable to say that modern Gnostics may thus find persons of all three orientations in their midst. Love becomes the fulfilling of the law. It is by no means unusual for early youth to be sexually quite hyletic (a sort of adolescent sexuality. a fully mature sexuality may be expected to arise. The sexual implications of the pneumatic phase of the growth of consciousness are considerable.

One person may be far more authentic and conscious while associating with multiple sexual partners than another locked into a rigid psychic cage of so-called monogamy. they are a mess. In short. but they have no right to bad manners. When following rules after the fashion of the psychic we but see through a glass darkly. it has been the blight of our culture. We may not always be ready to outgrow them yet. Ill advised action inevitably creates reaction. Unlike the happy-go-lucky hyletics. While we must be careful not to judge the hyletic. no one can be equally conscious of all aspects of life at all times. including their own. It must be recognised and its suggestion rejected at all times. The humourous adage often attributed to the British aristocracy of some time ago may be remembered here: “Do what you wish. Pneumatics have a divine right to their freedom. but the desirability of the prospect must always be kept in mind. Indiscriminate sexual behaviour is characterised by unconsciousness and this is a condition one ought to outgrow. Persons who flaunt their sexual unconventionality and wish to force everyone to bear their sexual foibles without complaint are usually hyletics putting on the mask of pneumatics. or at least they appear as such. especially their sexual shadows on others. Wholeness. The key concept must always be authenticity. is never enough. Pneumatics need not be apologetic about their liberated state. Still. At the same time they must extend to the unliberated the same freedoms they demand for themselves. including their sexual freedom. it is still limiting and limited. There should be no judging of anyone for his or her sexual mores. while hyletic sexuality is no more sinful or less virtuous than any other kind. Striving for consciousness will inevitably bring its own reward and is far more useful than blind obedience to external rules. The harsher our own standards of judgement the greater will be our own guilt and spiritual impotence and the more our potential for liberation will diminish. Jung was fond of saying in truly Gnostic fashion: “It is only the fullness of being that counts. and we should aspire to the clear vision face to face with authentic reality. must above all. and a relatively high level of consciousness in one area may be accompanied by a relatively low level in another. and they need not dissimulate or be guilty of hypocrisy. intolerant and self-righteous. this should be enough. . such as we have experienced in the era of the various liberation movements often comes under the heading of bad manners. Rigid psychics will not be converted to a pneumatic point of view by being confronted with sexual behaviour inappropriate to their level of consciousness. Psychics ought to remember that goodness.The hyletic needs to be reminded that. They tend to be judgmental. The psychic person may prove more troublesome within a Gnostic context than either the hyletic or the pneumatic. Psychics may also be reminded that it is the psychic law alone that creates sin. the stifler of creativity and the enemy of Gnosis. psychics tend to be rigid personalities with a strong proclivity for projecting their own shadows. If our behaviour has adduced to it as much consciousness as we could muster under the circumstances. not goodness.” Rules exist in order to be outgrown. Authenticity by nature is a highly personal issue. The spiritual nobility of the world must maintain decorum and discretion while exercising its prerogatives. “By their manners and their discretion ye shall know them” could be said of the true pneumatics. That rare bird known as the pneumatic. is the objective of the Gnostic life. we must often dissuade the psychic from judging everyone.” Politicised sexuality. be discreet. by anyone’s standards. “I had not known sin but by the law” said a Hebrew prophet. Sexual guilt has been the greatest single curse the demiurge and his minions have hurled against humanity. but don’t do it in the road and frighten the horses.

and so forth. concerned. Clichés. The development of a conscious personality is one of the great achievements of Western spirituality. the church initially left purely to the state. There is every indication that sex is good for you physically. compatible partners are no doubt better than others. Sex in general. particularly those attached to the teachings of Valentinus. Sexually active persons are healthier. sexual practices play some part. Such magicosexual practices as one finds in the Hindu Tantras. however. knew only one true marriage: the heavenly marriage of the personality to the spirit. symbolising the union of the lower personality with the heavenly pneuma. the West came to espouse love-magic as against mere sex magic. a mere shadow of the mystery of . it did not come to be generally used in the church for hundreds of years. such as those among loving. There is no doubt that the magic of the sexes needs to be re-incorporated into religion. and in the sex magic of the late Aleister Crowley. along with the Valentinians. The Christian sacrament of matrimony was the last to be formally accepted. inheritance. Sex and the Sacred. and generally more pleasant members of society then the sexually inactive. The contractual relationship of two earthly personalities within the context of property. Only when the Church allowed itself to become an agent of the secular power did she uniformly come to practice marriage as a sacrament. While there is nothing inherently wrong with the notion that sexual acts and religious acts can converge. although some kinds of sex. psychologically and spiritually. psychology and Gnosticism indicate that sex is a beneficent.Conclusions for Daily – and Nightly – Life It is a cliché that we live in an era of great sexual confusion. In many religions. are not usually untrue. Persons love. all suffer from the shortcoming that they tend to depersonalise the individuals who participate in them. one must exercise considerable care when trying to apply such principles within a contemporary context. Marriage. All sex that is not injurious to anyone and does not violate the sovereignty of any person is good. Joseph Campbell in his splendid book Myths To Live By has pointed out that beginning with the mysticism of the Troubadours. in the “great rite” of the witches. C. Biology.G. Both actions are magical. practiced a supreme rite of pneumatic union. The Gnostic tradition indicates that the early communities of knowers. The reason for this may be found in the unacknowledged fact that the early Church. unconscious beings merely copulate. both pre-Christian and contemporary. more balanced. sometimes called the “mystery of the bridal chamber” which may have served as the prototype of many later rites of love-magic. but the former is preferable to the latter. Can the Gnostic point of view bring some clarity into this confusion? Can the contemporary Gnostic offer meaningful suggestions on the sexual topics and perplexities of our times? We shall answer such questions by stating our Gnostic position regarding individual issues of sexual significance. they have merely become clichés by excessive repetition. consciousness-enhancing factor in human life. Jung’s commentaries on the Rosarium Philosophorum indicate that a similar principle of love-magic was present in the system of Alchemy. Thus the present practice of the sacrament of marriage is a deficient sacrament. but we must take care that in attempting to do this we will not resort to archaic practices which were useful in periods of history when consciousness and personality were minimal compared to contemporary conditions. which may be envisioned as being of a contrasexual nature (female for men and male for women).

Even today it may have merit for some. The theological justification brought forth in support of the position of these religions is more or less to the effect that the prevention of birth is a contravention of the will of God. Birth control and abortion. As consciousness expands. There is no reason why the church. as is customary among the clergy of the Roman Catholic Church. but our total nature within which all dualities exist. The notion that sexual congress without the benefit of such a contractual relationship is sinful cannot be accepted within a Gnostic context. That people simply ought to become sexually inactive when not desiring offspring is a notion that is as silly as it is unrealistic. or the other true mysteries. Monogamy. It may be counterproductive to be attached to rigid ideas of monogamy in such instances. like all theological notions. Anthropologists have noted that agricultural societies tend to be opposed to the limiting of births. should not bless the contractual relationships of men and women when asked to do so. for our nature is not merely physical nature. Jung merely said: “Well. all persons are striving toward a spiritual androgyny.G. the affectionate and emotional needs widen also. Monogamy denotes sexual exclusiveness in favour of only one partner.” The attraction of persons of the same gender toward each other meets with the most powerful taboos of the patriarchal-psychic phases of cultural development and is therefore encumbered by many unnecessary ideas and apprehensions. while nomadic-pastoral societies encourage the same. such as our gender. celibacy. Gnostics make no rules about whether their clergy ought to marry or not. Chastity . or Holy Orders. In the hyletic phase of development this often manifests as polymorphous bisexuality. it is an idea that acquired much importance in the psychic phase of psychohistory. None of these are sinful or should be condemned in Gnostic thinking. but it must be kept in mind that this is not a mystery of the same order as the Eucharist.the bridal-chamber. It is obvious that the more conscious humanity becomes. even the Gnostic church. Celibacy is the unmarried state. and in the pneumatic phase it moves increasingly into the area of a spiritually based androgyny. these three terms have very distinct meanings. people are not limited to their bodily gender. The idea of a “crime against nature” is meaningless to the Gnostic. not subject to any evidence. When asked about homosexuality. so that the male will not be male and the female not be female. they are the only people who are trying doing something against over-population. The Gnostic traditions hold that the soul’s connection with the foetus is minimal until the seventh month of pregnancy. and androgyny. in the psychic phase as homosexuality. This idea is highly speculative and. and chastity. The obsessive fury of various religionists in our days against both birth control and abortion ought to elicit no sympathy from Gnostics.” We may take this to mean that in order to attain to the Wholeness of the Pleroma. the more it will exercise conscious control over the size of families and the less it will be inclined to place innumerable offspring heedlessly onto an overpopulated earth. and thus the issue of celibacy is of no great import for us. Many religions believe that a distinct soul is attached to every foetus at conception and that therefore the destruction of the foetus is murder. Homosexuality. It is generally understood that at the non-physical level. bisexuality. Jesus declared in the Gnostic scriptures that he “came to make the male and the female into a single one. While often confused. but it ought not be advocated or enforced generally. Many great religions came to adopt the mythos of the agricultural societies and have proscribed birth control and abortion. the great modern Gnostic C.

modern urban societies are moving more and more in a direction where the family loses its hold over individuals who thus need to develop their own lives and resources. In the time of Jesus or even in that of Louis XIV the concept of family differed radically from the one of today. Children require “parenting” for only a certain period of their lives. unrealistic. To go along with the moral reactionaries of our time and to hold up the nuclear family of recent vintage as the divinely decreed paragon of all virtue and goodness and the best possible cornerstone of society is. One of the great tasks of modern Gnosticism is to restore the dignity and importance of the feminine within a spiritual context and this task includes liberating the feminine from such confining expressions as “mother” and “virgin” (not to speak of the biological absurdity of “virgin mother. the feminine ideal in Christendom became the mother. affection. existential psychiatrist. if any. we must possess an elastic vision regarding its future contours and character. Whenever this term is used today. While some sort of family structure is likely to continue to exist in humanity.”) As motherhood and fatherhood are but one of the possible by-products of human sexuality. a phenomenon of the last hundred years. Sex. Monkish prudery being unable to accept the feminine in any other aspect but the maternal. and while starring in this role. spiritual bonding. Women. the importance of ties and roots based purely in blood and soil tend to diminish. and when parents fail to recognise this. and spiritually. relatedness. 1971) has built a convincing case for the need to develop alternatives to the nuclear family of conventional society. the Gnostic cannot endorse the teaching that sex exists purely for the purpose of procreation. Dr.implies abstention from sexual activity of any kind. Laing. Love. to say the least. really. A family ought to act as a springboard to life and to people and not as a fortress wherein a small nucleus of persons shuts itself in. which condition in turn limited and constricted the psychic and physical lives of women. it tends to denote the nuclear family unit of industrial society. even though held by theologians. For practical purposes it may be noted that the less closed off.D. on the other hand. all of these are facilitated and enhanced by sex. Sex and the procreation of offspring. Family. As one may deduce from various foregoing statements. the less likely it is to destroy the sexual and social independence of the individual. Procreation. while shutting the greater world out. David Cooper. is beneficial to humanity physically. is utterly un-spiritual and smacks of the worst kind of materialistic myopia. Gnostics ought to add their urgent voice to the ever . is assuredly not always beneficial to the human race. so it is obvious that sexuality has far more and vaster functions in life than merely serving as a vehicle for procreation. psychologically. In contrast with this. we need to state again. traditional societies are often so constructed that the individual is tyrannised and dwarfed by the family. in his fine work The Death of the Family (Penguin Books. Some modern research indicates that radical changes in the present family image would be highly beneficial to the psychological well-being of people in our society. have been shunted by culture and religion into the over sentimentalised and inflated role of motherhood. which means. and it ought not to obtain ascendancy over all others. Relatively primitive. have often forgotten how to be women. particularly. By this we mean that parenthood is but one of life’s functions. the less insular and nuclear the family is. untold unhappiness may result. Such a view. it is a practice that puts a very heavy strain on the psyches of persons. and its benefits are minimal. Once again it must be remembered that as human consciousness grows. and associate of R.

is the love of servant for the master. This fivefold system of varieties of love shows not only an increase of intensity from stage to stage. Sexual relations which do not harm or injure anyone should be of no concern to legislation and to the police. the second of comrade for comrade. including in that of India. which has as its central theme the liberation of the incarcerated divine spirit from all bonds imposed upon it by the false cosmos of the demiurge. Basilides. and masquerading as statements about the “public good” and the “moral health” of the body politic ought never to serve as the basis for laws and ordinances. Augustine’s adage: “Love God and then do as you please” indicate that the Christian message was intended to replace the law of Jehovah.swelling chorus calling for effective programs and concentrated action against the population explosion. The first degree of love. so are their sexual lives. The available documents authored by or attributed to such lights of the Gnosis as Valentinus. even when not manifestly of the Gnostic fold. rather we strive to retranslate the available elements of Gnostic wisdom into forms appropriate for the present. have often echoed the libertarian expressions of the Gnostic attitude. with the sovereignty of the individual soul restored by the new covenant of love. Vague conjectures. an increase of freedom. for· better or for worse. St. Even as we may rightfully assume that the Gnostic mystery of the bridal . Carpocrates. that is. Your life is your personal affair. based on private prejudice.” (A Libertarian’s Platform by James C. the third that of parent for child. What began as servitude ends in total freedom. or highest degree. economic. Sexual Libertarianism Modern Gnostics are not antiquarians. and the fifth. Marcion. Early Christian leaders. and religious lives of people are their personal affair.” as well as St. or rather reality. but also. is not unknown in Western mysticism. All of these Gnostic teachers and leaders would have no difficulty in agreeing with the following example of libertarian reasoning: “You as a person are better able to control your life than I am. Even as the political. It is obvious that what the world needs is not less sex but less offspring. The talons of the authoritarian demiurges of this world must be made to retract from the bedrooms of free men and women. No person nor set of persons on this earth has any logical right to interfere with you except as you may do injury to them. One of the most relevant features of ancient Gnosticism is what might be called the libertarianism of the Gnostics. the force of love increases. except as in the living of your life you may impair or endanger the life and livelihood of others. the fourth that of spouses for each other. we are told. The relationship between freedom and love has been noted by many wise souls in many traditions. Now this concept. a love totally unrestrained by any limitation whatsoever. is defined as passionate and illicit. where we find a formulation of the five degrees of love through which the worshipper receives increase in what in our own tradition we might call Gnosis. not sanctioned by any rule of society or of reason. Paul the Apostle’s bold statement: “All things are permissible unto me. Epiphanes and others are all thoroughly libertarian in spirit. It must be kept in mind that Gnostic libertarianism is not a mere matter of political or economic expediency. It is not our purpose to try to resurrect the Gnostic tradition in its ancient form. Ingebretsen). As restraint gives way to freedom. and most importantly. until it becomes the supreme liberating influence of being. In reality this libertarianism is rooted in the most fundamental features of the Gnostic mythos.

a leap of liberty of unbelievable power. This whole. Therefore we must be free: Free to live intellectually. or by the troubadours in medieval France has as its objective to “make the two into one” by uniting eros with agape and replacing both with the higher synthesis. is none other than the terrestrial epiphany of the Pleroma. neither sensual nor spiritual. to fail and to succeed. Today as ever the words of Goethe remind us of the Gnostic truth: “Mann und Weib.” (Man and Woman. disunity and torment prevail. which yet was not without the physically sexual concomitant. Sexual and non-sexual love combine to bring forth the ineffable greatness in human life. to be perplexed and to be enlightened. true liberation and joy manifest. but to be free. the great dénouement of the age long process has come. In stating this we are not proclaiming a novelty. Here then is to be found the royal secret of sexuality. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. not by man alone or by woman by herself but by both in unison.chamber was a spiritual rite. When both are united in freedom. The voice of awakening is at least in part a sexual voice.” The great and terrible truth is: That we must be free. and guilts inculcated by society and exoteric religion. Sex is important because it liberates.) . and with it from the taboos. As a Gnostic hymn put it: “Ours is the voice of awakening in the eternal night. or sexual love) and agape (spiritual love. Woman and Man. We were not born to abide by the dark laws. or charity). called by troubadours amor. but men hold some things wrong and some right. The day of the old law of restriction must be declared defunct and the dawn of the new law of freedom must be ushered in. We must be free to experiment. We have the words of St. emotionally. but by two. whether expressed by Valentinus in Alexandria.” Due to the design of heaven this voice is uttered not by one. The Gnostic tradition. the hymn is not merely one of praise but of passion. or rather wholeness. fears.” Jesus said: “Judge not that you may not be judged. yea. so we know that from a certain time onward the alternative mystical tradition of the West came to abrogate the dualism of orthodox Christianity regarding love. even before the creator of this world came to be. Humans are sexual and spiritual beings at once. The sexual libertarianism of the Gnostic has now born its aeonial fruit. that he may show his mercy to all. When one or the other of these dualities is repressed or neglected. Paul to the Romans saying: “God has consigned all men to disobedience. lest we perish. but partaking of both qualities represents a totally new quality. that we are condemned to freedom. and indeed sexually. As consciousness frees itself of the thraldom of the unconscious. the liberating force of eros joins the inspiring energy of agape. This mystic union then produces an explosion of freedom. Amor is neither fleshly nor ghostly. liberated consciously divine children of the light. Medieval Christian orthodoxy insisted on the duality of eros (fleshly. Good and evil are one. Together they reach Divinity. Reichenandie Gottheit an. Weib und Mann. and in order to liberate sexuality itself must possess an optimum degree of freedom. and to wear the blackened chains of the rulers of this world. and came to replace it with a unitary experience which was at once spiritual and physical. that the undying obligation of self-liberation has been imposed upon us before the world began.” And Heraclitus the Greek sage wrote: “To God all things are fair and good and right.

His works include Gnosticism: New Light on the Ancient Tradition of Inner Knowing and Freedom: Alchemy for a Voluntary Society (both published by Quest Books).The above essay first appeared in Abraxas 84.gnosis. He is also presiding bishop of Ecclesia Gnostica (www.. Hoeller’s lectures are also available for download from www. If you appreciated this article.com. please consider a digital subscription to New Dawn. California.bcrecordings. Ph. 121 (July-August 2010). The above article appeared in New Dawn No. Theosophy. and other esoteric subjects. published by Ecclesia Gnostica.D. Jungian psychology. Dr.org) and director of studies of the Gnostic Society in Hollywood. 1984. HOELLER. STEPHAN A. . and is reprinted here by permission of the author. is an author and lecturer on Gnosticism.