PART

-LJ.JL.

ABRAXAS, ABRAXASTER, AND ABRAXOID GEMS.

GNOSTICS AND ' ' E R REMAINS. IHI

215

T H E AGATIIOD^EMON W O R S H I P
" T H E R E was a time " (says M . Mlatter with much force) " when it was from Judaism, especially from the Kabbala, and the system of Philo, that people sought to derive the great transition of the human mind from the ancient into the modern world : a revolution 111 which so important a part is played by Gnosticism. far as regards the explanation of the writings and the understanding of the views given by Origen, Irenajus, and the other -bathers upon (gnosticism, the Jewish element still retains its ancient pre-eminence; but in the case of the tangible monuments come down to us from the Gnostics themselves, w e ought henceforth to be fully convinced that it is in the antiquities of Eyypt w e must look for our chief information : and if the ideas, terminology, and symbols of Judaism (that is, of the Kabbala) have lent certain cloctrmos to tins system, yet it is J^ijijptian art that has furnished it with the greatest part of its s y m b o l s . " This grand development of the old Wisdom of Egypt m a new phase is the most conspicuously exhibited m that very numerous class of engraved gems popularly and indiscriminately called Abraxas, Basilidan, and Gnostic stones, almost the sole production of the expiring Glyptic Art during the last two centuries of the Western Emiire. But, contrary to the generally received notion concerning their nature, a carefu, study of their numerous subdivisions has fully convinced m e that only a very small minority amidst their multitude present any traces of the influence of Christian doctrines ; being for the most part the fruit of religious ideas which had nourished long before the first dawn of Christianity. more connexion with Magic A n important portion, any mcieea., ori & matm & in tiie primuive iJ0\ptian IUJ tnoiogy, have and Medicine than with religious object; and their employment as talismans establishes So

Zl6

THE GNOSTICS AND THEIK REMAINS.

for them a higher antiquity than belongs to the real " Abraxas " gems, the date of whose origin is historically ascertained. The y jpiOtioneu. by 1 ' ermg m the nrst place the Agathodajmon, Chnuphis, or i Chneph figures, often named " D r a c o n t i a , " and erroneously attributed to the Ophites and such-like semi-Christian sects, as their actual inventors. It cannot however ho denied, that although these last-named sectary did not^ invent this emblem, yet that they generally adopted it for their distinguishing badge or, to use their technical word, seal. And tins circumstance leads to a remark which, applying to all talismans alike, m a y aptly serve for preface to the following dissertation upon their several classes. In the p >ai e-worsmp 01 t n o vjiti w o i l d all religion consisted m the deification of the great visible Powers of the Universe* The Supremo B e m g s therefore belonged to the present "World, consequently all the blessings they could confer were limited to this life. alone The means, of whatever kind, supposed to secure the goodwill of these Powers had for object tangible blessings wealth, peace, long life, posterity—in fact all those The rewards promised by Moses to the obedient Israelites.

engraved stones under consuleration, being legacies of this older religion, were designed to secure temporal not spiritual benefits to the wearers. The latter were not even dreamed of ' mors ultima Imea rerum est.' prescribed by On by people holding the belief

-this fact explains w h y so many of the Gnostic gems are in reality no more than medicinal agents, and physicians, Heathen and Christian alike, in their regular

practice, from JScchepsos down to Alexander Trallianus.

the other hand the true Gnottics, whose sole profession was the knowledge of the other world, w h e n they applied to the doctrines of the ancient religion the same method of interpretation that the Kaobalists had used for Moses and the Prophets (of which the Pistw-Sophia has left us such ingenious specimens), subjected all the productions of the former creed to the same Procrustean torture, and consequently availed themselves of these same symbols nay, more, continued to manufacture them m their own sense of their import.

THE GNOSTICS AND THEIR REMAINS.

217

10 Jigainotivemon Oood N o n i u s whose very n a m e furnishes the reason w h y lie should be chosen to figure on an ornament intended to defend its wearer from all disease and mischance, is depicted as a huge serpent having the head of a lion, surrounded b y a crown of seven or twelve rays—components conspicuously announcing that he is the embodiment of the idea of the Sun-god. This figure is usually accompanied, either on obverse or reverse, with its proper title, written variously XNOTBIX, XNOT<Pli, and X N O T M I Z , accordingly as the engraver fancied ho could best master that difficulty to the Greek mouth, the true sound of our letter B . This n a m e Salmasius* considers as a rendering of the Coptic X N O T B , gold; and hence explains another title which sometimes takes its place, X O A X N , -"-^"o^ a t i ' Jauioiisivy, howevei,derives the "word more plausibly from X N O T M , good, and 12, spirit, and thus makes ' Agothodamion to be the literal translation of the n a m c t This last had become in the third century the popular n a m e for the hooded snake of Egypt. Lampridius has " Ileliogabulus ^Egyptios dracunculos Romae habuit, quos illi Agathodxmonas vocant.' This kind w a s the Uraeus, to be seen commonly on Egyptian monuments, whore it is the badge of royalty placed upon the head of the sovereign. It is the liadji hasher of the modern Arabs, the cobra di capello of the Hindoos. I have met with a large sard engraved in the late Roman-Egyptian style, with two imperial busts regardant; reverse, the Chnuphis Serpent, with the legend m Roman letters A G A T H O D A E M O N , the sole instance k n o w n to m e of such an amulet with a Latin inscription: but which goes far to confirm Jablonsky's interpretation of the Coptic title. In classical Greek the original Chneph becomes Canopus ; hence the Canopic vase often appears between t w o serpents for heraldic supporters. B u t in those lower times, so fruitful m the Chnuphis talismans, no more L/anopic vases appear on gems. * H e has treated the subject at some length in that learned miscellany of his, Hie treatise * De Anno Climacterico.' t The prototype appears to have been that ancient figure of Atiuon (the Sun) designated as H F E " T h e Serpent " par eminence, and winch was a winged serpent having human arms and feet. He is thus painted on mummy-eases as guardian of the inmate.

218

THE GNOSTICS AND THEIR REMAINS.

The ancient Agathodajmon, in the form of his congener the Cobra, still haunts the precincts of the Hindoo temples, as of old the shrines of Isis; and issues from his hole at the sound of a n t c to accept trie oblation of milk from the attendant priest. As with the ancients so with the Hindoos, he is the special keeper of concealed treasure; and when a zemindar deposits his hoard in the prepared hiding-place, he, to make assurance doubly sure, builds up a serpent therewith, to watch over the gold. Suetonius records that Tiberius had a most appropriate pet m a " serpens draco " ; but having found it one day devoured by a swarm of ants, the suspicious Cffisar took warning from its fate to beware of the force of a multitude of feeble individuals; and consequently secured his person against all danger of popular outbreaJv by shutting lnnisclf up m tiic inaccessible fastness of Capri. But to return to the type of the Agatkodromon upon our gems. Over the seven rays of the lion's crown, and corresponding to tlioir points, stand often the seven vowels of the Greek alphabet, A E H I O T Q , testifying the Seven Heavens; a mystery whereof notice shall be taken in the fitting place. The reverse of such gems is invariably occupied by a special symbol resembling the letter S, or Z, thrice repeated, or the convolutions of a spiral cord, and traversed by a straight rod through their middle; a symbol for which m a n y and the most whimsical explanations have been proposed. traversing the spine Of these the most ingenious, but also the most fanciful, makes it represent the spinal marrow certainly an apt device for a medicinal talisman. But whatever its primary meaning it was probably imported m its present shape from India (that true fountainhead of Gnostic iconography). It is to be seen in two varieties, upon series t o and 17 in Plate V l i . of hi. Thomas admirable l'jssay on the Primitive Coinage of India, amongst the punchmarks.
T H E C H N U P H I S SERPENT.

A Limoges enamelled plaque of the twelfth century (in the collection of Mr. Octavius Morgan) represents on its one half " Moyses lifting up the Brazen Serpent to the " Filii I s r a e l . " is seen inscribing with a O n the other half, " similis Aaron

GNOSTICS AND THEIR REMAINS.

219

reocl pen the mystic T.au Cross upon t o o foreheads of the elect. JLnc nrst of these tableaux oners the most extraordinary feature in its representation of the serpent, depicted here with lion's head and mane : the veritable Agathodaemon Chnuphis of our Alexandrian talismans. The preservation of this form to so late a period fills one with surprise : it indicates a traditionary belief that the symbol was the giver Oi life and health. The belief must have come d o w n from the times w h e n the Egyptian talisman was commonly worn, m the w a y Galen mentions, as a protection to the chest. T h e Brazen Serpent of Moses and the Plasma Agathoasemon of iving iNechepsos n a a m a n probaDiiiiy one and the same origin, giving currency to those little ingots •which formed the sole money of the l l m A o o s before the establishment of the Macedonians m Bactria. But the most probable solution of the question is that the symbol stealthily represents the serpent-entwmed club of Aesculapius (itself so hard to account for), or the w a n d similarly encircled, which was the Egyptian priesthood. A n d what renders this conjecture o f m m o almost a certainty is an as of the gens Acilia, bearing for obverse the head of Aesculapius, for reverse a wcincl (not the usual club) placed vertically and encircled by his serpent in three convolutions. This type, if slightly defaced by wear, would become identical in appearance with the Chnuphis symbol. T h e spiral frequently takes the form of the letters S S S disconnected, traversed b y a straight line. T h e curative virtue ascribed to the sigil, again, tends to indicate its derivation from the proper badge of the god of the healing art. For the eminent physician Marcellus Empiricus (who flourished at Bordeaux m Theodosius' reign) promises wonderful effects m the cure of pleurisy from the wearing of tins very ngure engraved upon a cerulean Scythian jasper. Whether this promise be true or not, marvellous has been the vitality of the symbol itself; for reduced to a double S S upon a bar, it became a favourite device in the times of chivalry, being taken as the rebus upon the word Fermesse* (SS fermees) and the emblem of constancy. Hence comes it that this ancient Egyptian symbol n o w adorns * This sigla iu its simplest form, j$, makes i s appearance in prot fusion over nil the buildings of Henri IV., where i is popularly ext

22\j

THE GNOSTICS AND THEIR REMAINS.

the Collar of the Garter, formerly known as the " Collars of HS." lYIeyrick s derivation of the name from the initial of " Souver a y n e , " motto of Henry IV. when Earl of Derby (and on whoso effigy the Collar first appears), is of little weight; for that king was long posterior to the institution of the Order and its insignia. Jijven more preposterous is Camden s idea that the name originated m the initials of Sanctus Simo Simplicius, a famous Koman lawyer ; and therefore was taken for badge by his profession—a theory which assuredly does not account for Henry's queen, Joan of ISavarre, being similarly decorated with her husband upon their monument. That the Agathodaemon sigil was not only pre-Christian, but ascended to the remotest antiquity in its use as a talisman, plainly appears from Galen's notice thereof (De Simp. Sled. 6 ix.). Some indeed assert that a virtue of this kind is inherent m certain stones, such as it is certain is possessed by the green jasper, which benefits the chest and mouth of the stomach, when tied upon them. Some indeed set the stone in a ring, and engrave C I this upon i a serpent with head crowned with rays, according to the t ctiiections of i v m g iSccnepsos m his thirteenth book. material I have had m u c h experience, having made a necklace out of stones of the kind, and hung it about the patient's neck, descending low enough to touch the mouth of the stomach, and they proved to be of no less benefit than if they had been engraved in the manner laid down by King X e c h e p s o s . " use of Magicians, for Ausomus mentions its author as ymque magos docuit mystena vana Aechepsi. ' " Aeehepsos, teacher of vain Magic's lore."
plained as relating to braorielle d'Estrees, a rebus in its sound, S pcrce d un trctit. l i n t i-jongperier has shown that the same figure is to be found on the medals of Henri's mother and sister, and even upon articles made for A n n e of Austria; e acquiesces in i n c explanation given in the text, which is taken from an old book, ' Lcs 13igarrures,' chap. " D e s Rebus de la P i c a r d i e , " I... -Liiicime TUI™....„*, oieur aes ivc oy Ln;^,,..,! l a o o u i e c c;„.,„ A ,. A cords—(' Revue Nurnismatique' for 1856, p. 276j. L I'triiuxse, dout 1 A m o u r point uu Chiffre d amour C o m m u n e en 1 ecriture, mais rare dans le coeur, dans le coeur, -Mais amsi que la lorme est a un arc mis en deux Lc- desir inc0nstant froiase et brise tes uceuds, Ce pendant quo les mains ta Jirmesse ngurent.^ IJOVS PaPon, loth century-

This

ti'eatise by Nechepsos must have been a regular Manual for the

GNOSTICS ANT) THEIR REMAINS.

2ZL

The book, perhaps the foundation of the pretended Evax, was t n c first source of the notions concerning the virtues of signs and gems preserved to us m the mediaaval " L a p i d a n a . " Pliny (vn. 50) quotes him along with hi& countryman Petosiris as an astrological authority, according to whose rule of the " Tetartomorion" (or law deduced from the position of three signs, Trine) the possible duration of human life m the region of Italy extended to 124 years. A n d before dismissing Noehcpsos and his book it m a y be as •well to add here—for the fact will be of service m a further stage of this inquiry—that Pliny mentions (xxx. 2) a second school of Magic, " but more recent by m a n y thousand years than Zoroaster s, and founded by the Jews, The first of the trio m a y be t u o IMoses, lannes and Jotapes.

Talmudist to whose " secret volume " Juvenal alludes— Tradidit arcane quacumque volumime Moses. Although the Apostle couples lannes along with lambrcs

amongst the Egyptian opponents of the Hebrew legislator, Juvenal also informs us that the nation retained even m his times their ancient fame of veracious interpreters of dreams; nay, more, grown them to order— QualiacuncRie voles Juda?i somnia mittunt. Hie Jew, f r money, sends what dreams you cliooso. o llippolytus in the following century remarks that the " Samaritans, or " S i m o m a u s , founded by the first preacher of the Gnosis, Simon Magus himself, availed themselves of this power in order to plague their adversaries, " s e n d i n g the dreamproducing demons to trouble whomsoever they please." " Pierres d ' I s r a e l , The mcuicLval name 101 engravuu O oins regaicied as talismans, viz., is better founded than is generally supposedThe obvious difficulty that graven figures—nay, more, idols— could not have been the work of Jews, is answered by the Kabbinical gloss upon the Second Commandment, which allows the wearing of any sort of design cut in intaglio, though prohibiting anything of the sort m relief. wiser than D a n i e l , they even produced

2ZZ

THE GNOSTICS AND THEIIt REMAINS.

T h e choice of the green jasper (now called plasmw*) for the Agathodasmon signs was probably dictated by the resemblance of its colour to that of the sacred Asp—green banded with brown. A s for the figure itself, a very ancient testimony as to its nature and signification is anorded by the tradition Eusebius p \ ): e boipe t, u leok mjured by violence, never dies naturally, for which reason the Phoemcians have given it the name of the ' Good Genius, Agatliodsemon. For the same cause the Egyptians have called it ' Cneph, and given to it the head of a hawk, because of the especial swiftness of that b i r d . " T h e priest of Epeae, entitled " Head-interpreter of sacred things and S c r i b e , " had expounded the allegory thus : The most divine .Nature of all was one Serpent having the face of a hawk, and most delightful in aspect, for w h e n he opened his eyes he filled all the places of his native region with light; but w h e n he closed them, darkness immediately ensued. J. he serpent on our gems, however, does not appear invested with a h a w k s head, but with a lion s ; for which reason this legend applies better to the A.braxas-god, occasionally equipped with a hawk's or lion's head, in place of his proper one, that of a cock. Jjut the idea is certainly embodied m that c o m m o n design upon the Mithraic gems, a m a n grasping a serpent, of which the radiated head points at his eyes and seems to supply them with light. Furthermore, the meaning of the figure of the Agathodasmon is clearly denoted by the Chaldco legend i i e c p i e n t l y accompanying it. C 6 M G C 6 I A A M , " lhe Everlasting S u n , " which is sometimes followed by Y G , probably used as sacred numerals, for they have the power in Greek arithmetic of 705. This same legend is attached to a classical hgure of Phcobus (such as he appears on the coins with the legend SOLI INVICTO C O M I T I ) engraved upon a yellow jasper in the Marlborough Cabinet—a fact sufficiently attesting the accuracy of the interpretation here given to the Chaldee
1 [ I b ^ i 1|J hlljll.

Astrology likewise lent its aid to accrediting the virtnos of tiio The green jasper of the moderns as opaque, dark-green, and specially was the molocliites or moloeuas of used for amulets, the ancients, for Phuy describes it

THE GNOSTICS AND THEIR REMAINS

ZZ3

5 . t, ho y Hepiidestion (quoiJGQ by Salmasius, i.e.) observes that X N O T M I C is the name of one of the Decani, or three chief stars in Cancer; whilst another astrologer laid down that the star so called was set in the breast of Leo, anuy 01 mat reason was efficacious for the cure of all diseases m the chest of man. A n d m fact w e find this latter dictum confirmed by the prayer 4>TAACCe TTIH C T O M A X O N H P O K A O T , " Keep m good health the chest of T r o c l u s , " engraved upon the back of one of these very Chnuphis gems. Others of the same land are again surrounded by a long Coptic legend often arranged in the outline of a serpent, varying in words, but always terminating m the epithet n r A N T U P H K T A or nAIKTA, .breaker or " Mocker of the Giants—that is, of the evil and rebellious Angels; for the Grecian fable of the W a r of the Giants against Jove had then revived, a Zoroastrian interpretation being applied to the rebellion of Ahriman and his demons < Jrmuzcl and the Ministers of Good. & The method of employing a talisman is thus prescribed m the Magic Papyrus, s 9 : " A Spell of Alloius Cra-onins,
J1' Xr //xaX a > rovvovpai xprj /xtAAov SepKvoiv (roxrta (naiat, Thou that sliakest va lao <jovjx\f/rj(^uTow upvfMj/rjvK

the world! Enter, and deliver an oracle concerning such
and such a matter. vyoto KOTOU <p6ov<bvovv voveBovY] €7rTO.G"7raxaTov.

i n e engraved stone (A.y.) Serapis seated in front, having the Egyptian crown (/WiA?^) f|, and upon his sceptre an ibis, on the back of the stone the N a m e ; and lock it up and keep it for use. Hold in thy left, hand the ring, and in thy right a branch of olive and of bay-tree, waving them over the lamp, repeating all the while the spells even times. A n d having drawn the ring upon the proper finger of thy left hand, facing and being inwards (the engraving), stick the g e m against thy left ear, and go to sleep, without returning answer to any o n e . " The object of this charm was (although not so stated) to p ocure prophetic dreams, winch, are actually enumerated amongst the effects to follow from the use of the one that stands next m the M S . Althoiigh the original intention of these Chnuphis sigils was unquestionably the one pointed out in the preceding pages, yet

224

THE GNOSTICS AND TIIEIR REMAINS.

there is every probability from the nature of the case that the same were adopted and interpreted in a spiritual sense by the numerous and mnuential sect that nrst assumed the title of vrnostics. They haci an aii-suincient reason for so doing, m The well-informed the fundamental doctrine of their creed

and temperate Hippolytus, writing at the most flourishing period of these transitional theosophies, thus opens his actual Refutation of all Heresies description and his r lfth Book with the of that sect which hath dared to boast the Serpent O n this account

as the author of their religion, as they prove by certain arguments wherewith he hath inspired them. the apostles and priests of this creed have boon styled ' Naaseni,' from < Naas,' the Hebrew word for serpent: but subsequently they entitled themselves ' The Gnostics,' because they alone understood the deep things of religion. Out of this sect sprung m a n y other teachers, w h o by diversifying the original doctrines through inventions of their o w n became the founders of n e w systems." Further on he has a passage bearing immediately upon this subject. " This Naas is the only thing they worship, for which reason they are called ' Naaseni' (i.e. Ophites, or Serpent-worshippers). From this same word Naas they pretend that all the temples (vaoi) under Heaven derive the name. A n d unto this Naas are dedicated every rite, ceremony, mystery, that is; m short, not one rite can be found under Heaven into which this Naas doth not enter. For they say the Serpent signifies the element \v ater; and with Thales of Miletus contend that nothing in the Universe can subsist without it, whether of things mortal or immortal, animate or inanimate. All things are subject unto him ; and he is good, and hath all good things within himself as in the horn of a unicorn, so that he imparts beauty and perfection unto all that is, inasmuch as he pervades all things, as nowing out of Eiden, and likewise the ' living water divided into four Unto heads. . . . This Naas is the ' water above the firmament,' and spoken of by the Saviour. this Water all Nature is drawn, and attracts out of the same whatever is analogous to its o w n nature, each thing after its o w n kind, Avith more avidity than the loadstone draws the iron, Hie ray of the sea-hawk gold, or amber straws. Then they go

THE GNOSTICS AND THEIR REMAINS.

09;

on to boast: W o are the Spiritual, who have drawn our o w n portion out of the living water of the Euphrates that flows through the midst of Babylon ; and w h o have entered in through the True Gate, the which is Jesus the JJfosscd. A n d w e of all m e n are the only Christians, in the Third Gate celebrating the JYIystery, being anointed with the meltable ointment out 01 the horn like David, not out 01 the earthen vessel like Saul w h o conversed with the Evil Spirit of carnal concupiscence." Euphrates, a more recent teacher of the sect, w h o founded the branch calling themselves " F e r a t a i , passage that indicates the sense m have accepted these Chnuphis gems. or Fatalists, has a which his followers m a y " To them therefore of whosoever

the Children of Israel w h o were bitten m the Wilderness Ptoses showed the True and Perfect Serpent; in w h o m trusteth he shall not be bitten by the serpents of the Wifderness, that is, shall not be hurt by the Powers. iSo one therefore is able to heal and to save them that be gone forth out of .Lgypt, that is, out of the body and out of the world, save that Perfect, Full of all fulness, Serpent. In H i m whosoever putteth his trust, that m a n perisheth not by the serpents of the Wilderness, that is, by the gods of the n a t i v i t y . These last Powers, w h o m riAipmates (a pure asuologer) 111 another place calls the " gods of d e a t h , " are the stars of the horoscope, " which impose upon all that be born the fatal yoko of the changeful n a t i v i t y , " that is, the necessity of death, the necessary consequence of birth, a doctrine that clearly leads to the efficacy of the Serpent sigil as a talisman to protect the wearer against the malign influence of the astral genii. The Ophites, in fact, were the legitimate descendants of the Bacchic Mystae, whose religion during the two centuries preceding o u r era must have been the predominant one in the great cities of Asia Minor. A n argument derived from JSumismttics establishes the common fact—the coinage of the chief Apamea, Pergamus, was issued chiefly m the form of Cistophon, having for obverse the Bacchic Serpent raising himself out of the sacred coffer; for reverse, two serpents entwined round torches.
Q

22b

THE GNOSTICS AND TITEIB REMAINS.

T H E ABKAXAS.
I. ABRAXASTER, OR B O R R O W E D TYPES.

l>ellermann m

his lucid little treatise,

Drei Programmen

iiber die Abraxas-gemmen,'* has divided his subject into three parts—the true Abraxas, all of which bear the Pantheon commonly so entitled, whose creation is assigned to Basilides himself ; the Abraxaster, or types borrowed from the old religions, but adapted by the Gnostic semi-Christians to the expression of their o w n n e w ideas; and Abraxoid, which, though vulgarly accounted Basihdan gems, have no connection at all with Basilides' o w n doctrines, but owe their origin entirely to the astrologers of lus or anterior times. The Alraxaster gems, therefore, on account of this priority of their first creation, have by right the first claim to be considered ; and this mode of treating the subject possesses the additional advantage of elucidating the sources of m a n y ideas that strike us as so extraordinary m the Gnostic creed. The strangely heterogeneous mixture of creeds that prevailed over the h u m a n Empire during the two centuries between the reigns of Trojan and Constantino is exemplified by numerous allusions in the * Historia Augusta, equally with their tangible monuments, which are the subject of this inquiry. W h a t vast encouragement ( l t l enough needed, 01 a truth) must have ^ite been given to the talisman-makers by the accession to imperial power of the Syrian priest Heliogabalus! " H e used to sacrifice human victims, selecting for the purpose, tnioughout an Italy, boys of noble birth and conspicuous beauty, having both parents living, in order that both parties might feel the keener anguish. In fact Magicians of every sort attended upon him and practised their arts every day, whilst he gave them every encouragement, and returned thanks to the gods for his having met with their especial favourites, at the same time that he was prying into the entrails of the sacrificed children, and torturing the victims to death, after the rules of his national r e l i g i o n . —(Lampridms.) A n d yet the same amusing chronicler puts it
Berlin, 1820.

T H E GNOSTICS A N D THEIR REMAINS.

2.Z t

d o w n amongst tlio accomplishments of his model Emperor, Severus Alexander, cousin-german to the monster he has previously portrayed—"that he w a s a great proficient inJudicial Astrology (jiiatiiesis), so tiiat n o gave permissio to a*> o o ^ o s p and teach that science publicly at R o m e . l i e w a s moreover very well skilled in divination b y victims (Jiaruspicina); also an excollcnt diviner b y birds (orniihoscopos), so far as even to surpass the A u g u r s of Spain and P a n n o n i a . " This same " every w a y accomplished gentleman' (to use the Elizabethan phrase) set u p the statues of A b r a h a m and Christ side by side with Orpheus and Alexander in his private chapel (Sacrarium) ; whilst his m a d predecessor had conceived the grand notion of founding one universal syncretistic religion; for having conveyed to R o m e his E m e s e n e god (the aerolite), he built for h i m a temple on the Palatine, whither he transferred the Palladium, Vesta s fire, the Aniilia, the Cybele in short, whatever object of worship w a s most sacred to the R o m a n s . -Nay, m o r e — h e talked of drawing into the same centre the " religions of the J e w s and Samaritans and the devotion of the Christians, in order that his deity, Jilagabal, might possess the mystery 01 every other O f the Abraxaster class the figures are for the most part d r a w n from the ancient iconography of the Egyptian religion; but they were adopted in a more spiritual sense b y the newlyarisen sects, holding the doctrines of Christianity strangely amalgamated with the old teachings of the Mytteries.* O f all these borrowed types the most frequent and most important is the Jackal-headed Anubis (sometimes double-headed, the h u m a n being superadded to his o w n ) , and bearing the caduceus of H e r m e s to denote his othce of conducting souls, not as of yore through the shades of the lower world,f but along the planetary path to their final rest m the Pleroma. Thus the Gnostic * Many of the actual types the mummffied erect Osiris, the reclining Isis, the Nile, the Horus on the lotusflower, tho Anubis, &c. occur on the contemporary Alexandrian coins; they therefore can only be accounted Gnostic productions when their Hebrew inscriptions certify their authorship. t In t' l c paintings on the mummycase of Petemeuopt (or Ammonius), Osiris trie uccuiental, invoked m tho papyrus ritual inclosed with the corpse, is scon seated on his throne ; Q 2

22b

GNOSTICS AND THEIR REMAINS. (§ 20), describing the Saviour after re-

Gospel, " Pistis-Sophia

ceiving his luminous vestment, inscribed, with the Jbive words of power and with the names of all the Domination to be encountered m his Ascension, makes him come hrst to the Gate of the firmament, then to the God of the sphere, then to the Spheie of Fate, and lastly to the Twelve great yEons : all which Powers when they beheld their o w n names written upon his vesture "were smitten with fear and began to sing hymns unto him. This Anubis-Hermes appears sometimes waving a palm-branch, to proclaim his victory over the Powers of Evil; or presiding at thepsijchostasia " w e i g h i n g of the soul," the scene commonly pictured m the Egyptian liitual of the Dead. In the latter character he stands here for Christ, the Judge of the quick and the dead ; but his successor m mediaeval art is the Archangel Michael, w h o holds the scales. In the old Greek gems Hermes is often represented as bending forward, caduceus m hand, and by its mystic virtue assisting a soul to emerge from the depths of the earth—a strange coincidence in form, probably too in origin, with the miedian-al picture of the Saviour lifting souls out of Purgatory. The Zoroastrian Hell, a burning lake of molten metal, into which, on the Judgment-Day, Ahriinan with his followers were to be cast, had for object the ultimate purification and restoration to their pristine state of the condemned—a merciful doctrine, held by Origen, and partly allowed by Jerome. Hermes in this particular character of Psychopompos was made great use of by the Naaseni (Ophites) as the prophetic representative of the Saviour m interpreted his grandest office. They through darkness into Hermes' leading souls

Elysium as Christ's guiding the minds of the enlightened out of Ignorance into Knowledge, in their special sense of the words. As m a y well be supposed, they descanted largely upon that
at his side, his wito and sister, Isis. In front stands an altar, loaded with flowers, fruits, and libations. Anubis, recognisable by his jackal's head crowned with the psclient (tall cap), because, like the llermes of the LTreelrs, he discjiitiQes important functions equally in the supernal and infernal regions (the place of the Four Amonti), presents to his sire the defunct Petenienopt, swathed in his sepulchral bandages, and holding u p his hands in the attitude of supplicauon.

THE GNOSTICS AND THEIR REMAINS.

22i)

peculiar symbol, under which form Hermes, surnamed Cyllenius, was worshipped. Amongst their mystical expositions of the object one curious fact appears, that its popular name was aya6<>4><)f>ov, " bringer of good l u c k , " for which cause it was set up at cross-roads, and upon house-tops. ijut as regards t n o ancient religion, since it is thus made out that this attribute, later modified into a x lllar, stood for Cyllenms, guide of epario d buuio (exacwy as m e o* }-, e, t? ju , ICpresenib Siva, Ljord of the dead m modern Hinduism), the reason becomes obvious w h y its sculptured representations should have been the earliest form of m o n u m e n t placed over the departed. J. he monuments secured for t n o dweller m the grave the perpetual protection of the Guide and Shepherd of souls ; a colossal phallus crowns to tins day the summit of the oldest tomb, the date of which is historically certain, the tumulus of the Lydia king, Alyattes. Tno Asiatic colonists carried with them into Italy the same belief m the protective virtues of the symbol ; carved m stone it regularly surmounted the door of the sepulchre. One lately came into m y possession, inscribed around with the name and patronymic of the deceased Etruscan, whose repose it had so long guarded, SVSES F E L V S FENTV, " Suses, son of l l i m t a s . This double character of Anubis is very curiously expressed by the figure upon a sard belonging to myself, which to the casual observer presents that most orthodox of types, the Good bnepherd, carrying a lamb upon his shoulders, leaning upon his staff, his loins bound with a girdle having long and waving ends. But upon closer examination this so innocent personage resolves himself into the double-headed god of -t^gypt, the lamb's head doing duty for the jackal's, springing from the same shoulders with that of the man, whilst the floating end of the girdle is turned into the bushy tail of the wolfish beast, and the " latrator Anubis " bursts upon our astonished eyes. This identification of character m Anubis and Christ enables us rightly to understand that drawing, the discovery of which created such a sensation at lxome a few years back, scratched (graffito) roughly on the plaster of a room in a house buried (in ancient times) under the extended buildings of the Palatine.

ZOO

THE GNOSTICS AND THEIE REMAINS.

It represents this same jackal-headed m a n holding in front of him a Latin Cross with his outstretched hands, and standing on a pedestal, in front of his worshipper, w h o makes the customary form of adoration by raising his hand to his lips, and w h o has expressed the object of his handiwork by the inscription A A E Z A M E N O C C e B G T E 0/EON. In reality the production of some devout, but illiterate Gnostic, it is construed by its present owners into a shocking heathen blasphemy, and a jibe upon the good Christian Alexamenos, because they mistake the jackal's head for that of an ass, and consequently imagine an intentional caricature of their o w n Crucifix. T h e discovery of this picture clearly illustrates a passage of Tertullian (Apol. xvi.) where he says to his opponents : " Like m a n y others you have dreamed that an Ass s Head is our god. L n t a n e w version of our god has lately been made public at Itome, ever since a certain hireling convict of a bullfighter put forth a picture with some such inscription as this, ' the god of tho Christians ONOKOIHTHZ.' H e was depicted thus—with the ears of an ass, and with one of his feet hoofed, holding in his hand a book, and clothed in the t o g a . " A n exact description this of the Anubis figured by Matter ( F l . ii. c. .No. 1.), save that instead of a book the god carries a cadceus and palmbranch. T h o same calumny was somewhat later transferred by the Christians themselves to the account of the Onsstics. Not being acquainted with tho Egyptian beast, they mistook (perhaps intentionally) the head of the jackal for that of the ass, which in truth it strongly resembles in the rude drawing of our gems. Thus w efind,at the close of the fourth century, Epiphanius asserting "that the Gnostic Sabaoth has, according to some, the face of an Ass, according to others, that of a H o g ; on which latter account H e hath forbidden the Jews to eat swine's flesh." This second notion was a very ancient one, being alluded to by Petronnis m * Judaeus licet et porcinum n u m e n a d o r o t . " N o w Sabaoth being held by the Gnostics as the national god of the Jews, it scorns probable that this same confusion of one beast with the other was the real source of
* Having been cut from the wall aud deposited in the museum 01 the Collegio Romano.

GNOSTICS AND TIIEIIi REMAINS.

Zol

the opinion so prevalent amongst the ancients, and quoted by Tacitus (Hist. v. 4). " T h e sacred object so zealously guarded from profane eyes within the Sanctuary at Jerusalem was the figure- of the wild, ass by whoso guidance tlioy had relieved, their thirst and their distress, JVloses liavmg, through the observation of the movements of a troop of these animals, discovered the spring, the waters of winch saved his followers from perishing m the d e s e r t , J his legend was furthermore connected with L For this dedication Pliny finds the belief that the real god of the Jews was 13acchus, for the ass was sacred to the god of wine. '.i singular reason m the fact that the ass was fond of fennel, a j poison LU all oi> er qudu upeds, but d, pidiii. specially consecrated to Bacchus (xxxv. 1). Again, the spurious gospel ' The Genealogy of Mary ' assigns for the cause of the death of Zacharias, son of Barachias, that once entering the Temple he beheld standing within, the Sanctuary a m a n with the face of an ass, and when he was rushing out to cry unto the people, W o e unto you ! W h o m do ye worship ? he was smitten with dumbness by the apparition. But afterwards, when he had recovered his speech, and revealed what he had seen unto the Jews, they slew him for a blasphemer. A n d this they gave as a reason wherefore the High x nest had bells fastened around the h e m of his garment, m order that this monstrous deity might by their tinkling be warned of the approach of man, and so have the time to conceal himself. This wild story is preserved by .Lpiphanms alone, for the original work is entirely lost. It was ascribed to St. lnatthew, and was taken for their special textbook by the Collyridians, w h o got their name from their custom of sacrificing cakes to the Virgin Mary, w h o m they pretended was also born of a virgin. Faustus, bishop of luez, cites this same gospel concerning the parentage of Mary. But the apocryphal gospel, l The Birth of Mary, still extant, is of a totally different character, being a mere monkish invention of the most orthodox stupidity; and which, coupled with the * Protevangelion,' became the source of all the niedia3val pictures and sculptures that set forth the history of the Madonna. T o the same Egyptian family likewito belongs the boy Jlarpocratcs or Horus (the vernal Sun), having the symbol of

232

THE GNOSTICS AND THEIR . REMAINS ty monstrously exaggerated and seated upon the lotus,

which expressed the same idea by its abundant seeds; and also Perfection because for its newer, fruit, bulb, all exhibit the form of the circle, as lamblichus observes. Macrobius too remarks that Ilorus is the Egyptian equivalent for Apollo, w h o gave his name to the twenty-four hours of day and night: and this acceptation of his character is recorded by the Alexandrian plasma (Vienna Cabmet, I. 39) which identines him with the Grecian Sun god: M E f A C OOPOC AI""IOAAU)N A P H O K P A T H C H e often appears accompanied by Again, Ilorus is 6TIAATOCTU)*OP0TNTI.

Anubis in the character-of his messenger. consecrated to Luna.

seen adored by the kneeling Cynocephalus baboon, the animal This last curious animal also belonged to Thoth, scribe of the gods, and makes a favourite Gnostic' device performing his devotions before a pillar covered all over with inscriptions and supporting a triangle, symbol of the Moon whose influence was supposed singularly to affect his constitution. This pillar clearly enough denotes those " Pillars of by means of which lamblichus solved all the quesHermes,

10ns propounded to him by Porphynus (Jam. De Mysterieis, II.). To make the allusion more certain, these beings are even designated m the spoils by their proper name of " T i t a n s . " Kicoroni has given m his Formse JSO. 4 a mould for casting the reverse of a medalet, of the 315 size, bearing the Dioscuri facing each othoi, holding their spears point downwards, m token of amity, m their left hands each a situla. Behind, vertically CABAOJT m two lines : in the exergue TITAN, space not admitting the remainder of the title—too well-known besides to require more than such a reminiscence. Ilorus is often figured sailing through the heavens in the sacred boat, the Bans steered by two hawks ; solar emblems, with sun and moon overhead, and taking the same titles IAfi, ABAANA0ANAABA, persomncations. & c , as the great Abiaxas-god himself, and with reason, the same idea being couched in the two ilorus, as lleliodorus records (/Eth. IX. 22), was also apphod to the Nile, whose Greek name NaAos also contained the mystic solar number 365; this voyager in the bans is analogous to the Hindoo Noryaim, the child floating

REMAINS.

Zoo

in his argah leaf upon the face of the waters having his whole -body coloured blue (nila). To complete the resemblance the situla regularly carried from a cord m the hand of Anubis is the very lotah, brass drinking cup, of the modern Brahmins. Those common emblems, the bans and the coiled serpent, have their Gnostic meaning fully explained by a remarkable passage in the Pistis-Sophia (§ 359). " A n d the disk of the sun was a Great Dragon whose tail was in his mouth, w h o went up into the Seven Powers on the left hand, being drawn by four Powers having the similitude of white horses. r5ut the going of the Moon was in the shape of a boat, the rudder whereof showed a male and female dragon with two white cows drawing the same, and thefigureof a child on the stern guiding the dragons, w h o drew away the light from the Rulers (the regular synonym m the book fur the rebellious xenons, lords of the ZiOdiac), and in front of the child was the similitude of a cat. The Regeneration of the " Spiritual M a n " occasionally decorates these talismans, being symbolised in the most materialistic manner by the Solar Lion impregnating a naked woman, the recognised emblem of the soul, who, ' quadrupeduin r i t u , submits with joy to the vivifying operation. A n d the spiritual m a n thus regenerate is again depicted under the form of a human outline holding up by the neck a huge serpent, both of them entirely filled up with inscribed letters, amongst w h i c h the mystic Seven Vowels largely predominate. Scaliger, however, as cited by Salmasius in the above-quoted work, takes thisfigureto be the representative of the combined 365 JEons, all whose names are supposed to be condensed within his outline—in short he is the emblem of the Pleroma, and stands for the " A d a m - K a d m o n " of the Kabbalists, the Primal Man, the Ophite Adamas, after whose image the second A d a m was made. Or again, this same combination m a y have been intended to display the Seven Vowlls, with their forty and nine Powers, the virtues whereof are so wondrously exalted by the inspired writer of the Pistis-Sophia (§ 378), whose words are cited in another place. 15ut as the fact bears directly upon the
terminating m several vowel-cornbmatious, these directions for pro-

* Goodwin s Magic Papyrus, gives, at the end of a spell (No. 1)

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THE GNOSTICS AND THEIR REMAINS.

S l g l l before US, it m a y be m o u u u u B a u.oie mat biio same gubpel sigu b8I0T0 us, it m a y uo mentioned liere that the same gospel

(358) makes the Saviour open his " P r a y o r " with the ejaculation, AEHIOTfllAflQA 1C0IA ; which, as enveloping the mystic N a m e of God, were the most obvious spell to be selected to n i l u p so important a talisman. Neither is it out of place to conclude this inquiry with the notice that the motto of the niediusval House of Hapsburgh was the Latin vowels A.E.I.O.V. -these enigmatical letters were interpreted by the arrogance of succeeding generations, pu eci up n n je y, 0 the initials of the prophecy Austriae est imperare orbi uniBut I more than suspect that taofive .Latin letters were adopted by some illuminato amongst the ancient Dukes (perhaps acquired during his alchemical studies) as containing the same transcendental virtues with the Gnostic seven of the Gieek
a 1

The winged goddesses Athor and Sate, representing the E o m a n Venus and Juno, sometimes are found accompanied with such legends as makes it evident they too had been pressed into the Gnostic service, as representatives of certain amongst the feminine .ZEons. But another shape repeatedly presents his monstrosity to our astonished gaze, whose true character almost sets conjecture at denance, but OAidently the onsprm 0 of very diverse ideas most strangely commingled. l i e is an aged m a n , Priapean, four-winged, with four hands grasping as many sceptres ; he has likewise the spreading tail of the vulture and stands in the bans, or upon the coiled serpent, or on a treetrunk, horizontal, whence project five lopped off branches. Some potent saviour must ho be, for he is addressed, like Abraxas himself, by the title A B A A N A O A N A A B A ! But the most prominent symbol in the monstrous collocation suggests an explanation of its i i i a a e n meaning, supplied u j the foiiowmg
uounciug each— " A, with the mouth opened, rolled about like a wave. O, m a short manner for spiritual tlireuleniugs. A O , unto Earth, Air, Heaven. E, after the fashion of the cynocep
"*

O, in the same manner as above said, H, with gentleness aspiraitci. T, unto the k_lieplicrd ^licrmes), as if it were long. Valeutinus made his ylLous m pairs, male and female.

THEIR

2oo

exposition of Justmus, that wildest teacher m all the Gnosis. For this cause said he unto Eden, Mother, behold thy son! meaning his animal and carnal body. u p unto the G o o d O n e . H e himself, however, having c o m m e n d e d his spirit into the Father s hands, ascended N o w this G o o d O n e is Priapus, H e that O n this account he is called all things (cTrpiaTrwtrc).* For created before anything existed. P n a p u s because h e first made

this reason is he set u p in every temple, being honoured b y all Nature, and likewise in the roadways, having the fruits of Autumn h u n g about him, that is, the fruits of the Creation whereof he is the author, inasmuch as he first m a d e the Creation which before w a s n o t . T h a t very frequent type, a m u m m y swathed m the coils of a vast serpent, is easily explained as an allusion to the protection in the next world of the ancient a g a t h o - d e m o n . f spiritual Isaas of the m o r e recent Ophites. or the T h e s a m e belief

also generated that m o r e graceful allegory, the w o m a n enthroned on the back of the same reptile, like the Atergatis of P ncemcia. Interesting above the rest for the part it played m mediroval superstition is the Osiris, or old man, with radiated head, a terminal figure always s h o w n in front face with arms crossed on the breast, the true Bapliomet of the Temllars. streams pour forth from his sides. Sometimes he two been is borne aloft u p o n the heads of four Angels, u p o n w h o m This group has

explained as O r m u z d borne u p b y the Four Elements; although it m a y possibly refer to the notion the prophet E n o c h mentions (xvin. 3) " I also beheld the Four earth and the firmament of h e a v e n . Winds which bear u p the Jl he idea m truth has

rather an Assyrian than Egyptian cast, for in Assyrian works Athor (Mylitta) often appears pouring out from her extended arms the Waters of Life; and again the Persian female Ized Ardui&her is b y interpretation " T h e giver of A curious specimen of ancient form, borrowed in a m o r e J At Tarsus (1SG3) was discovered in company with aurei of Sev. Alexander and Gordian III., a talisman thus described by Longpcriur : " Amulet formed of lapis-lazuli, set

* That is, the proper symbol of Priapus, either the phallus or the Egyptian Tau. f The H F E painted on the mummy cases in that very capacity.

ZS6

THE GNOSTICS AND THEIR

spmiual sense, is furnished by a pretty sard, found in tho njdD ^iviajor Pearse), engraved with two figures of the E o m a n Providentia facing each other, in the field between them, the heads of Sol and Luna, and below XAIA, the Hebrew for Life. The c o m m o n figure 0 m a y be explained by Eusebius's deption of the i^gyptian hieroglyph for the world, as a circle coloured sky-blue and besprinkled with flames, in the centre an extended serpent; the whole being carelessly imitated by the letter 0 m the Diagramma of the Ophites. A n armed m a n , the Mithraic soldier, one of the figures lcgulany set up in tlie mystic Cave of the Solar god, often decorates a talisman, holding a spear tipped with tho head of a cock, a mark of honour granted by the Persian kings to distinguished valour (as by Artaxerxes to the Carian w h o slew Cyrus the Younger) ; or else grasping a serpent in each hand. A sect that sprung up in Egypt, the Phibionites, took the title M L ui , *4T[)fXTL(i>TLK0L. /inotntr nguic, the three-headed^ throe-bodied god, who, standing like Priapus, grasped with one hand the symbols of fecundity, with the other, asps and scorpions, must be the visible embodiment of the Great TpiSwa/ms, w h o hgure so prominently in the celestial hierarchy of the Pistis-Sophia. The Trees sometimes enlisted in the Talismanic corps m a y find their motive in the " Almond-tree " of the P niygian Mytteries, m w l n c l i the JSaaseni discovered the n a m e of the Great Creator of All; or else to the " M y s t e r y of the Five T r e e s , " mentioned in that oft-quoted revelation, on whose true nature light is thrown by Justinus' exposition making out
in ti gold frame of rude workmansmp, with a ring for suspension. The two faces are engraved in intaglio, and represent an ^jijnn with four wings and bird's tan, holding two spears; and with a Venusand the inscription (not reversed) ArCOrl 'PrALdC, some letters of which are concealed by the setting. Length, 0-0034; weight, 5'20 grammes ( = J o grs. troy)." T h e same legend acconipauiLS a Venus ^vna'ioomene upon a large haematite (Praun) now in the British Museum. Montfaucon, pi. clxi. has a Venus unveiling inscribed APGUPI U r A O l U , the Vision of Arori;' andanother with APPCUPI<1> IAC1C, and on thefieldC A N K T A for the owner s name. It was under such a form as this that the Supreme Tetrad brought down Truth from Heaven to display her beauty to Marcus as he d* scribes in his ' Keveuniou (see p. i l o ) .

GNOSTICS AND TTTEIlt REMAINS.

4-61

the XTCGS of Paradise to bo the Angels generated between the D e m m r g u s Elohim and his daughter Eden.* There is a sigil of this class, that from its frequency must have been considered of peculiar virtue. It represents a nsh with immense head and shoulders, but diminutive body, as i f soon froim above ; the reverse of the stone thus inscribed— XOCHO MB£Y One of the three sacred fish of the .Nile mustfigurehere ; and m this talismaii IC character passed, with an appropriate mystic interpretation, into the symbolism of the Alexandrine Christians.

II. A B R A X O I D S , O R G E M S C O N F O U N D E D W I T H T H E T R U E GNOSTIC.

Our invaluable and most charming guide, Hippolytus, when describing the Astrotlteoscopi, " Seekers of God m the s t a r s , " begins with a simile more apposite than complimentary to the fashion which then prevailed for combining astrology with every species of religion. l i e compares these inquirers to that silly fowl the bustard, which suiters itself to be caught by the following device. " W h e n a m a n discovers a flock he begins to dance The birds stand motionless In the same and make grimaces m front of them,

staring at him in wonderment until his confederate steals up to them from behind and knocks them on the head. w a y (adds the good Saint, evidently much refreshed by his joke) do the people seduced by such teachers stare up at the stars, until at last they find themselves hopelessly caught m the snare of the h e r e s y . " As an example of this most curious system of " (Jphiuchus represents theology it will suffice to quote their exposition of the doctrine conveyed by one constellation out of many. with his stars a m a n on his knees, in appearance oppressed with * A n authentic description of the Tree of Knowledge will doubtless be acceptable to- m y readers. The Tree of Knowledge also was there, of which if any eats he becomes endowed with great wisdom. It was like a species of the tamarind-tree, bearing fruit which resembled grapes extremely nne; and its fragrance extended to a considerable distance. I exclaimed: H o w beautiful is tins tree, and h o w delightful is its appearance ! (Book of Enoch, xxxi. <i—i).

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THE GNOSTICS AND THEIR REMAINS.

fatigue, a posture for which that great authority in Astrology, Aratas, is at a loss to account. But rightly understood, he is Adam engaged in watching the Dragon's head underneath him, winch is biting his heel. Over his head are seen the Lyre, and the Crown. The l^yre was the invention 01 the infant Hermes, w h o is m reality the W o r d of G o d : their position therefore announces that whosoever gives heed unto the Word, he shall obtain the Crown; but if he refuses to hearken unto the Word, he shall be cast down below with the D r a g o n , In another place iiippolytus observes : The doctrine of the Chaldaians o cer m g trines, quadrates, benignant anci malign stars, Euphrates the Peratist applies to Christianity, by changing the concord and discord of the stars into the constitution of the /hons, the transition of Good Powers into Evil ones, and the harmony of their respective particles. From the same source he gets his " Toparchs and " P r e s i d e n t s , and all the other magery 01 the astrologers. fouch being the nature of the actual foundations of Gnosticism, no wonder that it should so frequently be impossible to decide whether a talismanic sigil be the expression of some semiOhnstian tenet, or merely the imagined similitude of some astral Power whose influence was thus secured for the wearer's protection. For the gods of Magianism, the religion that has so deeply tinged all Gnostic doctrines, were no other than these starry Powers. T h e Agathodamion himself gave his name to one of the three Decani of Cancer, as Hephaestion hath already informed us. T h e very title, " D e c a n u s , " Salmasius with some reason derives from the Chaldee Delcan, " i n s p e c t o r , " and thereby makes it equivalent to the Greek " Iloroscopos," " T h e god that looks down upon the n a t i v i t y . " The common Latin derivation, m its military sense of " s e r g e a n t , ' Salmasius rejects as foreign to the idea conveyed. Again, Charchnumis is named as the First Decanus m Leo, and this title actually appears around a serpent with h u m a n and radiated head, figured by Salmasius m the same chapter. jLhis name is sometimes written XOAXNOTBI2, which the same authority explains as The All-golden u n e . A Greek astrologer quoted without name by Salmasius gives

THE GNOSTICS AND THEIR REMAINS.

2.39

this curious piece of information : " There are appointed m each one of the Signs, three Decani of different forms ; one holding an axe, the others represented variously. inese ngures eng avc As Teucer asserts, in rings are amulets against all m i s c h a n c e .

with other great astrologers of his times: " This, alas! too scanty notice of their attributes shows at least one of their number to be the old Babylonian god described by the prophet Raruch ('Epistle 13, 1 4 ) — * H e hath a sceptre m his hand like a man, Hke a judge of the kingdom—ho hath in his hand a sword and an axe.' " But not merely the Decani of the Signs were thus worn in rings, but equally so the signs themselves, and the stars rising together with them, technically called ot xaparcAAoi'Tes. Such images were termed o-roix^a, whence those w h o made a business of engraving then got the name o-Toix£»>/x<XT"<ot. They performed their work with m a n y ceremomes, antt always under the inspection of the particular Decanus, or star, whose sigil they were embodying, O n this account Epiphamus speaks of the sun, moon, and planets as oTot^m, Tjcrmm & fioptpweis figures of the constellations formed by the imaginary collocation of the stars. The same writer uses the expression, " 1 ho stars that be vainly imagined in the shape of figures, which are called Signs of the Z o d i a c . ' to our " constellation. man-makerst As Diodorus distinguishes between planets and crroixeia, it follows that the term was equivalent All this evinces that the Arabian writers were correct in translating o-Totxaofj-ariKot by "talisH o w these later astrologers thought proper to Tabio of the portray the Ascendants of each Sign m their mans. A curious Praun gem represents Mercury enthroned and

Myriogeneses" will be described in m y chapter upon Talis-

bearing the attributes of Jupiter, with the strange legend E n n T A (sic) XPTZOZ, which has been absurd]}' interpreted as referring to his seven-stringed lyre. More probably was the gem the signet of some " Hebdomadarian " or votary of the Number Seven ; a sect of sufficient importance to get from Hippolytus a separate section for themselves m his great work. The identification of Hermes with the Christian Logos was one grand feature in the doctrine of the r>aasem, so lucidly set forth by that learned

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THE GNOSTICS AND THEIR REMAINS.

-b ather. H o was of opinion that this Hebdomadarian doctrine ( onved from ancient Egyptian philosophy) was the true source of every form of Gnosticism. This potent Numeral is illustrated by another device of frequent occurrence in cameo, the Delphic e crowned with afillet,and below, the legend XPTZOTThis can be no other than that most holy of Numerals the p c 01 _r wcf on the mystery whereof Plutarch has left a very curious dissertation ; and it represents the goldenfigureof that same numeral dedicated by Livia Augusta at the shrine of her husband's peculiar patron. A n d similarly the gem above referred to exhibits Hermes invested with supreme dominion, and accompanied by his own special number, " testudo resonare septem* callida nervis "—the Magian method for symbolizing the different Powers of Heaven, which shall be explained in its due place, when w e come to treat of the " Seven Voices." The oddest adaptations of the imagery of the old religions mark the earliest preaching of the Gnosis. its first apostle, Sinion Magus, w h o passed himself off upon the Samaritans as the third manifestation of the Christ, was worshipped as late as l u p p o i y t u s tunes, m statues made in the form of Jupiter. His famous concubine Helena (in w h o m Simon has discovered the Lost Sheep ^of the parable whilst carrying on her profession in a brothel at Tyre) was similarly adored under the forms of Minerva and the Moon (Hipp. vi. 19). The main doctrines of the Naaseni were supported by ingenious applications of the syiiiuoiism employed in the JMeusiman, P Jirygian, and Samothracian Mytteries, of which Ilyppolytus lias given a full and vei^ m i c i e s t m g account. j . iiccmcKX, again, furnished our talisman-makers with a copious repertory m the exaggerated symbolism of the figures whereby tlieir priesthood had expressed their notions of the Divine Power. Taut, the great god of the Phoenicians" (says Samomathon), " m orderto express the character of Kronos, made his image with four eyes—two in front, two behind, open and closed; also with four wings—two expanded upwards, two folded downwards. The eyes denoted that the godhead sees T lie compound ETnaxpvaos i s Eirraxa^Kos, the place in the wall of made a t r the same rule as the Athens where Sulla took the city. fe

REMAINS.

.241

when sleeping, and sleeps when waking; the attitude of his wings, that hefliesin resting, and rests in flying. Upon his head are two wings, denoting Reason and t n o bouses. further description of the famous Kronos, Melcartk, than the brief remark that it held the hands it is very provoking that Diodorus (xx. 19) should have given no of (_ arthago open, palm

upwards, but sloping downwards, so that t n o cniid sacnnced, when laid upon them, should roll on into a pit of nre at t n o foot.* W h e n Agathocles was pressing hard the siege, and hope was almost lost, no fewer that three hundred children of the nobles were offered to Melcarth at one and the same time. Inasmuch as the genius of the planet Saturn, or Kronos, was held by the Talmudists to be good and pure, contrary to those of the other planets, the Four-wmged image, so common upon Gnostic gems, m a y reasonably be considered as a copy from the ancient original, devised by Taut. of the Alexandrine l v a b b a l i s t s . Saturn, the solo inspirer of the L a w and the Prophets, had special claims to the veneration A n d this belief explains wherefor the abode of fore Valentinus nxecl upon this planet Wilderness. It sounds like a paradox to assert that our its strictest sense, the thing is perfectly true. Gnostic gems are not the work of the Gnostics; but taking that appellation m J. he talismans w e are considering never exhibit any traces of that admixture of Christian and Pagan doctrines which properly constitutes the Gnosis, that subject of the descriptions and the attacks of the .b athers of the Church. Their elements are drawn from the The " Gnostic stones are ancient religions of Babylon and Egypt, mixed at times with t n o formulae of the Jewish Ivabbala. (charm-doctors m in reality the paraphernalia of magicians and dealers in charms modern phrase), and only belong to the Ophites, Valentimans, and other subdivisions of the Christian Gnosis, in so far as those theosophists were especially given to This t a i i n was venlied by burnt human bones. The discovery rdto .IN. Davis, who in excavating the rums is well described in his section " M o of the temple found, at a great depth, loch and his V i c t i m s . " a thick layer of ashes mingled with

Ildabaoth, the Criver of the J jaw to the Children of Israel m the

242

THE GNOSTICS AND THEIR REMAINS.

the cultivation of the Black Art; as the notices above cited abundantly declare. This delusive study prevailed at the period of the grand development of Gnosticism to an extent which no one can credit w h o has not studied the historians 01 the Later Emiire. against w h o m The accusation of " magical practices proved a ready weapon for destroying an obnoxious individual no tangible crime could be charged: what ^ The stronger proof 01 this tlian its being enectuaiiy employe Athanasius, from the patriarchal throne of Alexandria ? establish this capital charge 11 the suspected perso

Animian tells us) to expel that pattern of orthodoxy, the great same historian notices that under the timid Valens it suihced to been seen walking at night-time in the neighbourhood of any cemetery, where he might possibly have gone to hold conference with the demons of the dead. But to exhibit the true source and nature of these to which I shall have occasion frequently to refer. the old unmixed (gnostic The author inscriptions I shall transcribe a spell from the " Magic 1 a p y r u s , of this wondrous Manual of -Necromancy was unmistakably 01 Eigyptian religion, and very probauiy a ^ priest of Isis. JNevertlilless, lie not merely employs the arrangement of them.

words found on our talismans, but even the same peculiar A n y one desirous of preserving so valuable a charm in a more durable material than papyrus or lead, had only to order a lapidary to copy it for him upon a jasper, and a regular " Gnostic " monument would have been bequeathed to our times. The maker having carolully specified the virtues of composition, gives us to understand the value of similar forms still existing on stones : VII. " Take a sheet of hieratic paper, or a leaden plate, and an iron link of a chain (K/MKOO, and place the link upon the paper, and mark both inside and out with a pen the form of the link. Then having described the circular outline of the link, write upon the same outline, inscribing upon the paper the name and the characters on the outside, and inside the thing which you wish not to happen, or that a man's mind m a y be bound so as not to do such and such a thing. Then placing the link upon its outline which you have made, and taking up the parts outside the

THE GNOSTICS AND THEIR REMAINS.

-i43

^ sew >

up the link with thread so as to completely conceal

,piercing through the characters with the pen; and when you
wish to bend, say I bend such a one not to speak to such a one, let iiini not resist, lot him not contradict, let him not be able to look m e into the face, or to answer me, but let him be subject unto m e so long as this link is buried. A n d again I bind his m m d , his senses, his desires, his actions, that he m a y sluggisli towards all men, m case (a certain w o m a n ) marries such a one, or else, ' m order that she m a y not marry such and such a one.' C o m m o n (i.e., to be said in Greek). " Then taking it to the grave- of one untimely deceased, dig four fingers deep, and put it in and say—' 0 departed Spirit, whosoever thou art, thou art this; I deliver unto thee such a one, that he may not do such and such a thing.' Then cover it up and depart. A n d you will do this best when the moon is on the wane. The words to be written within the circle are these : A P O A M A 0 P A 6 P 6 C : KITAAAX • 6ZANTA • IAPOTNH • AKH • lAU) • AAPTNKCO • MANIHA • M H n P A X G H T O ) T O $ (Setva) n P A T M A € 0 ' O C O N X P O N O N K6XOJCTAI O KPIKOC O T T O C ('Let not such and such a thing be done for so long a time as this Unit is buried '). Bind it with knots, making a twist of them, and t'puhit it. j. no lime m a y also be cast into a disused well, or into the grave of one dead before his time. A n d after the characters, write also these words below the link as a plinth (or a ..quare) : A P X O O A AAIAAM C(EM£CIAAM<J> AMMO«t>OPICx)N ICUAH 4>eOT© 6CO<t>PH O M E L I C T O C AAlMCjUN IAOJ CABAOJO A P B A 0 lAU) AAIAAM OCOPNO*PI 6 M O P H <}>PH <t>©A XP0OI0O lAOJ BABO T P H 0 I M A M 6 N <t>PH B€ NOTCI CABAOO0 BAPBA0IACO QAXPA O T X 6 6 0 eCOPNU)<t>PI, and the inscription at the top of the page, which also you must place within it.
T c " ' ' ^ ' "*r MA I f U INM* ) U
ivi v. m1 p *t^t\ LJ/A \AJ t r t I.

(inis spell is repeated at the foot of the page, inscribed in one continuous circle, to show that it reads either way. It occurs also on a gem (Brit. Mus.) followed by AOTAI XAPIN ifcruJNIMA n P O C nANTAC, (jive to liieromma favour in the sight of all men " : and also on another,figuredby Monlfaucon, II. pi. 164—a proof of the importance attached to it at the time.)
R '1

.244

THE GNOSTICS AND THEIR REMAINS.

" And the same arrangement m a y be written upon a leaden plate; and having put the link within it, fold it over and seal with gypsum, and afterwards the base beneath, upon w m o IAeU) as before directed, and also these words: BAKAZTXTX M6N6BA IXTX ABPACAZ AT, " Prevent such and such a t h i n g . But in the original the Names are found as follows : AM4>OOA AAIAAM CeMeCIAAM IAGOJ AOBAKAZIXTX APACAZAT A P X U M 6AAX M6NGCIAAM IA€tx> OTU) BAKAZIXTX APACA^QJT, " 1 rovent such and such a t h i n g . KICNVB
BIENVBnp>Hrnf>Dnp>HIXNDVEICNAAE;

On the reverse of a Lnnuphis plasma ^IJOW jj KICNVOaml NABIC (prophet) occur, as also on the Bosanquet gem. The last words m a y be corrupt Greek, " R e s t o r e the the object of the talisman. JT<

r i n . 10.

GNOSTICS AND THEIIt REMAINS.

24i)

11I. T H E T R U E A B R A X A S G E M S .

Having m tlio preceding sections cleared the ground of the innumerable usurpers of tlio title "Abraxas gems, w e can conveniently proceed to consider the wondrous Sigil, the invention wlicrcof is universally ascribed to i»asili(lcs himiself. Aiul lur this asuinption there are very good grounds, for it is certain that such a Sigil never occurs executed in a style that bespeaks a date anterior to tlio grand licresiarcli s, the hrst years of the second century. This figure, which has given its name to the whole family, is designed to represent the god " A b r a x a s , for so his name is written invariably on the gems, although the Latm Fathers to suit the genius of their own language have transposed the final letters. tiiey contain. The purpose of the composition was to express visibly, and at once, the 365 TEons, emanations from the First Cause, whose number was probably hrst suggested by its o w n numerical signification, and consequently the ngure m a y be taken as a speaking type of the Pleroma, the one embracing all within itself, an idea fittingly embodied in a name containing the sum of all its component powers. To shadow forth therefore tins 1 antlious, or comgrand doctimo, tiie image m question is a Tno etymology and value of t i name require a le whole section to themselves, so deep are tlio mysteries that

bination of m a n y discordant attributes expressing the amalgamation of m a n y different ideas m one and the same ngure. Hence he is depicted with the head of a cock, sacred to Phoebus, or else of a Lion, symbol of Mithras and Belus; his body, human and clad in armour, indicates his guardian power, for he is a "Virtue Militant " p u t t i n g on the whole armour of G o d " ; his legs are tlio sacred asj>s, types of the Agathodamion, likewise indicatingi>iLiftnei>b ; for in tins A\ay, sa^ys j . ausanias, "was l^oreas pictured upon the Coffer of Cypselus: in his right hand ho brandishes a scourge, the Egyptian badge of sovereignty; on

246

THE GNOSTICS AND THEIR REMAINS.

his left arm a shield, usually emblazoned with some word of power, declaring his perpetual warfare against the rebellious Angels, the " Gods of d e a t h . " Bellermann has proposed with m u c h ingenuity an interpretation of this Pantheus in the more spiritual sense better consonant with the esoteric teaching 01 its inventor. According to him, the whole represents the Thus, from the Supreme Being, with his Five great Emanations, each one pointed out by means of an expressive emblem. human body, the usual form assigned to the Deity, forasmuch as it is written that (jod created m a n in his o w n image, issue the two supporters, Nous and Logos, symbols of the inner sense anci xno quiLKcmij & unucibLtinuui^, tits typified uj t e »^ p s, for the same reason that had induced the old Greeks to assign this reptile for an attribute to P alias. ldis head—a cock s— represents Phroncms, the fowl being emblemttical of foresight and vigilance. His two hands bear the badges of Sophia and Dynamis, the shield of Wisdom, and the scourge of Power. This Pantheus is invariably inscribed with his proper name, IAO, and his epithets, ABPAZAZ and Z A B A Q 0 , and often accompanied with invocations such as, Z E M E Z EIAAM, " the Internal Sun'; ABAANAOANAABA, " 1 hou art our r a t h e r ways); or AAONAI, The -Lord. Phoebus, as the god of day, (sometimes curtailed, but generally so arranged as to read the same both ]n all tins a further relationship to the ancient idea of the Sun-god is readily to be discovered. is similarly furnished with a whip, and the serpent, according to the Egyptians, hieroglyphically expressed his tortuous course through the Zodiac. " Adonai was the Syrian title of the Sun, whence Adouts or ThciYinnuz denoted that luminary at the winter solstice. Moreover, the Gnostic epithets above are the very words composing that "short p r a y e r , " from the use of which at all sacrifices Jlacrobius (I. 23) makes out that the influence of the Sun is the Power supreme over all: " 0 Sun, Father of All, Spirit of the world, Strength of the world, Light of the world ! But the God adored under the name of
Abraxas figure (John Evans) has over his head B I C T Y C , below his feet GICIT-

* Besides these regular titles, others are oeeasioii'illy used, of u n known import. Thus a well-engraved

THE GNOSTICS AND THEIR REMAINS. " Abrasax is clearly shown by the iiosanquet jasp c

-'1/ (

particularly described elsewhere), exhibiting the Fantheus in the very car, and attitude of 1'hcebus, and by the Alexandrian com of Hadrian presenting Serapis similarly ci
D n

the latter was the Solar deity, all mytnoiogists were a n ee ; and this identity of action would lead one to suspect that " Abrasax " was no more than the mystic name of tlio tutelary god of Alexandria. The older Chnuphis was occasionally (though o y)

with Abraxas on the same talisman; an exuinple of which is offered in one of the most remarkable of the class ever brought under m y notice. It was brought from lionibay by a Jew (1o t -t), and sold to M . Gaston Feuardent, whence it came into the possession of the Rev. S. S. Lewis. ^ lied jasper of fine quality, lfjxli inch, w a n gure Abraxas, holding whip and shield, engraved m unusual y good stylo upon the convex face. Round the edge, begi tilling over the head, runs contin u y, ffiANA#3A AVAAIffi AEIVA Y#AVIAHAI at the back of the head, P ; under beak, I ; over right shoulder, RA (probably nexus of ABAAN) ; across the held, each side of waist, DAI/HHI IHl-NAD A^ain, across field on a level with his loins, on each side, DV3 (perhaps Eoia, i n o oorpent, €VQ m oj a )•

Between the serpent legs,

Ail VMMHV
On the other side, which is almost flat, is the Chnuphis Serpent, erect, with the Seven Vowels inserted between the rays of his head. Across the middle of the held,

Over his head, three scarabei in a row; to the right, throo goats and three crocodiles above each other; to the left, as many ibises and serpents so arranged.

.248

THE GNOSTICS AND THEIR REMAINS.

GNOSTIC PLAQUE. The most remarkable specimen of the class known to m e was obtained (Jan. 1876) from Sambon, a noted antiqua y Naples.

at

It is a circular bronze disc, 2J inches (the ancient The surface of the obverse bears a genuine

X>almus) in diameter, with a small projection to top, perforated for suspension. patina, and the characters of the legend have the true antique formation ; but, for reasons hereafter to be stated, trie reverse strikes me as an addition of later times not, indeed, a forgery to but something intended m all good eiixidp m c «i L i| good 1 , faith to augment the virtues of the U l i g l l l d l talisman. original jrht, T lie Abraxas-goci, acivancing to m c ri , with arms extended o crucifix fashion, holding sword and shield, above his head and arms, IA0 IAU) AAGJN COH .

O n each side of figure— HOJ

MA
MCO
(JL)N

BAA OA
BAA# C© GP

o 2 Ml TT z 5

#


N

c
The whole inclosed within a coned serpent. lieverse: King with hand on breast, seated on throne, seen in front-face. Over i n s head, C4>PAriC CAAO MCONOC O n each side of the figure— enHNA CVMAHA OCAAAM AZABA M6AZA

ABO VAC
MOTHE N6T6 K6N6

X OYC

HH6 AAB A

AND THEIR REMAINS.

Z'lJ

Under the footstool, similarly surrounded by the coiled serpent,

zz z
This Solomon is a truly mediaeval piece 01 drawing ; i n c ICLLC
OJ

too, evidently differs from that 01 the obvers-'e; and as tlie surface of the plate is fresher on this side, it is probable that the whole has been added upon the empty back of the original plate. Some legends, following the rule of the famous ABAA0ANAABA, read indifferently from either end.
Jjuna.

A good example occurs on

the reverse of a serapis, carried in the laris between Sol and

ALW
D n M ' i l—. IVI EL

MOYNO0IAP
IKPOKM6V6AI
YUlvlteNfcr*JJM

BOGAII (Sard, from collection of Mr. W e b b Ware, i_>oriv.j Ilorus seated m the bans; on prow and poop are pciclied t n o sacred birds; neatly engraved on dark-& coi Molochites). O n the reverse— XABPAX <1>MXMEMX Amongst the various contents of a tomb at Saintes, discovered in 1885, was a metal ring set with a heliotrope engraved with the Agathodsemon, furnished with a human trunk, standing. O n the reverse a novel formula— XAXXA XIOVXIPO VXAHA Buchael, " Spirit of God," is known as the name of an angel; but the other words defy interpretation. The best executed of such talismans known to me, belongs to Mr. W e b b Ware, of Cork. It is an elliptical sard, about inches long and wide ; engraved very neatly, w u n Scrap j &j e y

ZDU

THE GNOSTICS AND THEIR REMAINS.

seated on the Bans, busts of Osiris and Isis on prow and poop ; above, AAAA ; below, BAIN. O n the reverse,finelycut—
A€0O

MOYNO0IAAP
I i\r I U ^ W I n t u t A I *+* a r M r r t I N w U I N I \J IVi t IN t r * P A

KO6AI There is no distinction between A and A in the original, but I have made it where clearly required. occurrence m other gems. The AAAA is a novelty; but many words in the long formula are of common

IV.

THE

G O D A B R A X A S A S DESCRIBED B Y T H E CHRISTIAN F A T H E R S .

That the Pantheus upon our gems was really intended to picture forth the deity styled " Abraxas by the indirect evidence of m a n y can be established contemporary writers.

Irenaeus remarks of the Basilidans, that " they use images, incantations, and all other things pertaining unto M a g i c . " Further on (xxiii.) he adds their custom of giving names to their images of pretended angels. And, what bears more directly on the subject, Tertullian (Apol. xvi.), after laughing at the god of the heretics as " biforme numen " (evidently in roierence to t n c serpent legs, biiormes being the classical synonym for the Giants similarly equipped), then goes on to say, " They have taken unto themselves gods with wings, or with heads of dogs or lions, or else serpents from the legs cloicnwards. Here w e have unmistakeable reference to the Magian, Egyptian, an(^ Mithraic idols so common upon these talismans, and in the last words to the serpent-legged and veritable

Lastly, Epiphanms, after stating that Basilides had taught that the Supreme Being—out of w h o m proceeded Mind, Intelligence, Providence, Strength, and Wisdom—was named Abraxas, proceeds to describe m what manner the idea was embodied by

THE GNOSTICS AND THEIR REMAINS.

2Ox

the heresiarch : " Having taken their v a m speculations, he and his followers have converted them into a'peculiarand defimte form, as a foundation for their own erroneous idolatrous and fictitious doctrines. Further on he adds: With respect to their Ivavlacav, wliat person ivith any understanum & would not laugh at their converting a Hebrew word into a lodily shape in order to represent their idol; at their personified Principalities ; in a word, at their fondness for images; whilst through these fancies they sow error in the minds of the ignorant for the furtherance of their disgraceful and lying trade ? " Then proceeding, it would appear, to the analysis of thefigureitself, he exclaims : " It is a Spirit of deceit, which, like the playing upon a pipe, leads the ignorant into m a n y sins against the Truth. Yea, even his legs are an imitation of the Serpent through w h o m the Evil One spake and deceived Eve. For after the pattern of thatfigurehath theflutebeen invented for the deceiving of mankind. Observe the figure that the player makes in blowing his flute. Doth he not bend himself up and down to the right and to the left, like unto it (the serpent)? These forms hath the Devil used to support his blasphemy against heavenly things, to destroy with destruction things upon earth, to encompass the whole world, taking captive right and left all such as lend an ear to ins seductions.

V. " ABRAXAS "—ETYMOLOGY OF. Of this "Great .Name, many etymologies have been proposed. Of all these the most satisfactory is perhaps the one offered by Eabbi Abraham Geiger, making it the Grecised form of lla-Bracliali, " The Blessing." For there is good reason for believing that the IE had the sound of SH, which explains the strange metamorphoris of the Persian " Artashir" into " A r t a x e r x e s . " By the same rule the Kabbi interprets the talismanic EAZAI as representing iiil-Chai, l l i e .Living ijod. The same interpretation is again confirmed by the true solution (so long sought in vain, and now suggested by Mr. W . A. Wright) of the mighty spell abracadabra, which receives a

252

GNOSTICS AND THEIR REMAINS. rendered by Ha-Brachah-dabarah,

most fitting sense when

"Pronounce the B l e s s i n g , " where "Blessing" stands for the name of the Blessed One, that most potent of exorcisms. Another derivation, extremely acute, but probaoiy untenable, had been previously offered by Bellermann m the Coptic compound signifying " The Blessed N a m e , " made of the word ab or

o/, " let i be, Halt, " adore, and Sax for Sadsh, " name.' t
formula would agree m a remarkable manner with the regular

This

Jewish synonym for the Ineffable N a m e Jehovah, viz., sliem Hamepltorash, " The Holy W o r d " ; which the Rabbins compress into JLJie JName or d n e Word. It is, besides, a singular coincidence that the Egyptian word Abrak should be used by Moses (don. xli. 43), where Pharaoh commands that Joseph shall ride m his o w n chariot, and that tiiey shall cry before him Abrak, " kneel down ! " where the Coptic word is actually retained m the Hebrew text, and not rendered by an equivalent m that language.* A precedent for expressing a sacred title m an unknown tongue is furnished by St. John (Rev. xix. 12) : " His eyes were as a name of fire, and upon Ins head were m a n y crowns, and he had a name written (^upon them) that no man Jcnew but himself: and he was clothed m a vesture dipped m blood, and his name was called The W o r d of G o d . " And again (iii. 12) : " H e that overcometh will I make a pillar in the Temple of m y God, and he shall go no more out, and I will write upon him the name of m y God, and the name of the City of m y Vjoo.. All this supplies a reason for the occurrence of the word cibra m so m a n y sacred titles. A very remarkable instance is to be seen m the wall-painting of the tomb of V mcentius and \ lbia, in the Catacomb of Praitextatus at Jxome. JNow tins V mcentius is described m his epitaph as priest of Sabazius, a title connected with the lao-worship; and the name Abracuva, is inscribed over the head of the consort of Dispater, the two fiulers of the fohades into whose presence \ lbia s soul is ushered by Hermes. In the first title, cura is plainly the Latinised Kovprj Virgin,
* Sharpe, however, makes Abrasax deity represented on the gem.— u pure ±jg\piitUJ pnitibc, bij^iiiijinj, ( j j 0 j p i . i i j uiui* p. XLI.) _ l t Hurt m e not, as atluressed to the

TIIE GNOSTICS AND TIIEIR REMAINS.

Zoo

the regular synonym for Proserpine, whilst Abra seems to have the same deeper meaning in which it was employed by tJie talisman-makers. The efficacy of a Mystic N a m e is set forth in the Book of Enoch (Ixviii. 19): " This is the Number of the Kesbal, the principal part of tlio oath which the Most High dwelling m glory revealed unto the holy ones. Its name is Beka: H e spoke to holy Michael to deliver to them the Secret Jyame, that they niight understand that secret name and thus remember the oath ; and that those w h o pointed out every secret thing to the children of m e n might tremble at that N a m e and oath. This is the power of that oath, for powerful is it and strong.^ A n d he established the oath of Abrac by the instrumentanty of t e holy Michael. These are the secrets of this oath, and L>y it Heaven was suspended by it before B y it has the earth been framed were they confirmed.

the world was made for ever.

upon the flood, whilst from the concealed parts of the lulls t n o agitated waters proceed forth from the creation unto the end of the world. B y this oath the sea has boon formed and the foundation of it. . . . B y this oath the sun and moon complete their progress, never swerving from the command given to them for ever and ever. r>y this oath the stars complete then prOj., o A n d when their names are called they return an answer for ever and ever . . . A n d with them he establishes this oath by winch their paths are preserved, nor does t n o n pro0iess p t s . (jrreat was their joy.

VI. A B R A X A S — I T S N U M E R I C A L _ ORCE. b

To find out some deep mystery expressed by the numerical value of the letters in a name is the grand foundation of the famous science of the Kabbala. Although the Jewish Talmudists now engross all the honour of the discovery, it is but consistent with the known character of that very unmventive race to suspect that they borrowed the first notion from a foreign source—Chaldaja, the real fountain-head of all their spiritual knowledge. The earliest instance that can be quoted

254

GNOSTICS

of this way of expressing a name is St. John's so much discussed " Number of the Beast, employed to screen from What though its vulgar curiosity some dangerous secret.

analysis lias supplied good Protestants like Bishop Newton with a deadly weapon ( m their o w n eyes) against the Pope, after the sum total has been reduced into its integrals Aareivos; yet a prosaic non-controversialist will be more inclined to suspect that the Ivabbalistic number shrouds the name of some potentate of the times w h o had happened to make himself especially formidable to the beholder of the Vision. But the titles lao, A.0TO.XQ.S, and the like, instead of being recent Gnostic inventions, were m all likelihood recognised " Holy N a m e s , " and borrowed from the most ancient religions of the East. Pliny must be alluding to something of the sort when he mentions witli a sneer the miraculous powers ascribed by the JVLagi to amethysts engraved "with ihenames of the Sun and Moon—names certainly from the nationality of his authorities not inscribed m either the Greek or the Latin tongue. rjilam, Adonai, Abraxas In the " Shemesh of these talismans w e m a y rea-

sonably recognise the words of power referred to by the great naturalist. The Alexandrine Greeks, proceeding upon the axiom that " things equal to the same thing are equal to one a n o t h e r , " spied out the sacred number 365 in m a n y Holy Names, and thus proved the identity of the several personages, so denominated, with one another. To give a few examples: the same sum is obtained by adding up the numerals m M«(?pas and in A[3pacra£ ; and whether w e interpret the latter as " Blessing " or " Holy W o r d , " both are equally applicable to the Persian god. Again, the -Egyptians, says lleliodorus (zhth. IX. 22), discovered the same value in NaAos, appellation of that earliest god and father of their land, entitled m their hymns Horus also, properly the name of the Sun.j In the new-coined religions of Egypt, other and stranger mysteries were extracted out of
v\ lio expressly tells us that " his number is the number of a m a n ; that is, the sum of the numerical letters in the name of a certain person. The Hebrew characters representing " Caesar Nero' produce by addition the required sum. f Amongst the many points of

GNOSTICS AND THEIR REMAINS. sacred names by following the old process.

J.D5

Kircher publishes

a gem inscribed X N O Y M I Z • PI, and supposes, with much apparent reason, the last syllable to be added in order to make up a sum equivalent to X/HO-TOS = 1480. That most ingenious of the Gnsstics, Marcus, based his whole system upon these numerical deductions. According to him, the Saviour calls himself A and 12, because these letters stand for 801, which is the sum of those m TrepKTTtpa, the Dove, assumed m virtue thereof for the vehicle of the Holy Ghost. But the profoundest mystery that rewarded his researches is the fact, certainly a very curious coincidence, that all the 24 letters of the Greek alphabet added together yield the exact " number of the N a m e " Ir/a-ovs = 888. But his own words well deserve to be quoted (Hip. vi. 50) : " N o w Jesus had tins meltable origin. From the Mother of all things the First Tetrad, proceeded another Tetrad, and there icas an Ogdoad, whence proceeded the Decad, so there were E i g h t e e n . " it had decoupled the same, produced the number Eighty. The And JJecad therefore having come together with the Ogdoad, after that again after that it had decoupled the Eighty it begot the number which is Eight hundred, so that the whole number of the letters proceeding from the Ogdoad according to the Decad is eight hundred and eighty and eight—the same is Jesus. For the ISame I^CTOUs by the value of its letters is the number 888. And, verily, the alphabet of the Greeks has eight monads, and eiglit decads, and eight hundreds, producmg the number 888, which is made up by all the numbers, the same is Jesus. generation from t n o i\.ii. For this cause doth xio call himself A and fi, to set forth his ivt first sight it will strike the reader, accustomed only to Arabic numrrals, as a work of incredible laboriousness to discover numerical values, so aptly tallying in different words, of totally different components. But the difficulty was in truth much less than it appears. The Greek, accustomed perpetually to use the letters of his alphabet

close connexion between Hindoo and s i m i l i s , " observes Pliny (xxxv. 36), Egyptian Mythology is the name of speaking of a picture by Nealces of a the sacred river, so nearly re- naval battle upon that river. T h e sembling the Sanscrit nil, " b l u e , " Arabs still distinguish its upper conreferrmg to the remarkable colour of fluents as the Blue and the TFAtVe its waters. "In Nilo cujus aquanMi-i Nile.

256

T H E GNOSTICS A N D THEIR REMAINS.

indifferently as symbols of number and of sounds, perceived the t w o forces at the same glance in every word that caught his eye, and easily estimated the total value of each proper n a m e , more especially w h e n he m a d e it his business to attend to such coincidences. T h e same operation would be equally familiar to ourselves were our " Arabic ' numerals exchanged for the first ten letters of the E o m a n alphabet, instead of being w h a t they are, the ancient Palmyrene s o m e w h a t modified by the wear of ages and a long course of travel. T h e use of the Numerical Value of N a m e s is remarkably exemplified by a Midrash, which m a k e s the 318 m e n of Abraham's housenoiu, with w h o m he defeated the Five Kings, to be no more than his one servant, Eliezer, the numeral letters in whose n a m e exactly m a k e u p that s u m — a coincidence, though acci
1

,

y

bionishing ! great eilect in that most mystical

at genuine (jnostic, JJante, employs with tins numerical expression of a N a m e prophecy with which his ' Purgatorio ' closes :—

vLonio ( x i i a i n u u e , e peio 11 Hill K , nauo A dame tempo gia stelle propinque, ^ Sicuro d' ojmi mtoppo e d' ogni sbarro,
I 1 L L liqUc,

Messo di n.} iiiiciQGrii In fuiEi, E quel gigante che con l i delinque." e
^VjdJlLJ AAAlli. IV—'±0.)

The interpretation whereof is found in the w o r d D V X formed out of the E o m a n letters, of the (jhibelhne League, from w h o m such expecteci by the poet for the chastisement of the Papacy and the restoration of the Imperial power.

FIG. 11.

THE GNOSTICS AND THEIR REMAIN'S.

2-ii

T H E A B R A X A S RELIGION. That most philosophic of the Fathers, Hippolytus, commences
his account of the systems of Basilides and his successors with mis ingenious and appropriate simile: "It behoves all their Jieaieis, as they see that tlio doctrines of these heretics are like unto a sea tossed into waves by tho fury of the winds, to sail bv thorn without heeding them, and to look out for the tranquil harbour for themselves. For that sea of theirs is both full of monsters, ancl difficult to traverse, and m a y be likened unto the Sicilian wherein are the fabled Cyclops, Charybdis and Scylla • . . and the rock of the Syrens which the Grecian poets tell h o w Ulysses sailed it past when he craftily baffled the cruelty of those inhospitable monsters. For the Syrens singing clear and musically used to beguile all sailing by, through the sweetness of their voice seducing them to come to land. Ulysses learning this is said to have stopped with wax the ears of his crew, and liavmg tied himself fast to the mast in this "way sailed past the Syrens and overheard all their song. Which same thing it is m y advice that all w h o fall in with these seducers should do, and either to stop his ears, on account of his own weakness, so to sail by unheeded the doctrines of heresies, without even listening to things too easily capable of seducing him by their sweetness, like the melodious Syrens' song, or else faithfully binding himself fast to the Tree of Christ to listen to them without bemg shalcen, putting his trust in that whereunto he hath been tied, and stand fast without w a v e r i n c . " The Abraxas Deity, his titles, nature ancl form already having been discussed, it remains now to give a sketch of his great Apostle and his doctrines. To begin with the earliest notice of tnom— Clemens Alexandrinus lived in the same city, and in the same century, with uasilides, tlie reputed founder of the Abraxas religion. During some years of that period they were contemporaries, and it is more than probable that Clemens was personally acquainted with liasihdes—he being a very remarkable personage of his times. O n this account Clemens'

2oo

THE GNOSTICS AND THEIR REMAINS.

testimony to the character of the Basihdaii doctrine deserves infinitely more reliance than the statements of the later
ClOUS, Fathers; whilst at the same time he passes a more judnuous,

and also a more favourable judgment upon its nature.

lie

describes the system as consisting in a constant attention to the soul, and intercourse with the Deity considered as the fountain of universal Love. In his o w n 'words, " The Basilidan doctrine consists of two parts; the first part busies itself with divine things, and considers what is the First Cause through which all, and without which nothing is made; of what constitution are the things that pervade, or include, each other: the forces which exist in jSature, and unto what they tend. The other part relates to things human, as to what is M a n ; what things be consistent or inconsistent with his Nature, what he has to do and to suffer. In this department Basilides includes Virtue and Vice; what is trood, what is HJVII, and what is i n d i t t e r e n t . In short w e are here reminded of a description of a Buddhist missionary. The amiable but fanciful Clemens, whose own Christianity was no more than a graft upon the congenial stock of his original Platonism, could see very little to blame in the transcendental speculations of Basilides. In his eyes the latter was not a heretic, that is, an innovator upon the accepted doctrines of tlie Catholic Church, but only a tlieosopliic speculator w h o sought to express old truths by n e w formula}, and perhaps to combine the same with the n e w faith, the divine authority of which he was able to admit without renouncing his own creed—precisely as is the case with the learned Hindoos of our own day. But far different is the picture of Basilides, as drawn by the pen of bigoted orthodoxy in the two next centuries, after his doctrines had been taken up and carried out to monstrous precision by the swarms of semi-Christian sects that sprung up in the very bosom of the Church. These notices are subjoined in Hippolytus has left an chronological order, for they give in a few words the grand features of the perfected system. excellent analysis of the Basilidan doctrine, well deserving of caceful study, although it is hard to see h o w it bears out the assertion at the opening, that this heretic took his entire system

GNOSTICS AND TIIEIR REMAINS.

2i'ov

ready made from Aristotle, with his genus, species and individual, but pretendcu to have received the same from St. Matthew, w h o had communicated to him the esoteric doctrines which he alone had received from Christ when on earth. The philosophic But Jjishop, however, is mild in censure; nay, seems rather captivated by the ingenuity of the Alexandrine myttic. Tertulhan, with no sense of the beauty of a clover piece of sophistry, launches out like a true African barrister: "After this, 15asilides the heretic broke loose. l i e asserted that there was a Supreme God named Abraxas, by w h o m was created M m d w h o m the Greeks call Nous. From Mind proceeded the Word, from the Word, Providence; from Providence, Virtue and Wisdom; from these two again, Virtues, Principalities and Powers were made; from these infinite productions and emissions of Anglls. B y these Angels the 365 heavens were created. Amongst the lowest Anglls, indeed, and those who made this world, he sets last of all the god of the Jews, w h o m he denies to be God, affiiming that he is one of the A n g e l s . " Similarly the still later Jerome has (Amos III.) : " So Basilides, w h o called mighty " ° u by t n c portentous name of Abraxas, saying that the same word according to Greek numrration, and the sum of his annual revolution, are contained m the circle of the Sim, w h o m the heathen taking the same amount but expressed in different numerical letters call Mithras; him w h o m the simple Iberians worship under the names of Balsamus (Baal-samen, " Lord of h e a v e n ) and Barbelus ( " Son of Baal"). A n d that this wondrous title Abraxas had long before been applied to the Sun-god in the formulae of The Mysteries m a y be inferred from various incidental allusions of ancient writers. Thus Theosebius the philosopher (says Photius, in his ' Life of Isidorus ) drove a devil out of a w o m a n by merely invoking over her "the Eays of the Sun, and the N a m e of the God of the Jlobrews. The same explanation is much supported bj- the For this words of Augustine: " Basilidesasserted the number of heavens to be oQo, the number of the days m the year. reason he used to glorify a Holy Name, as it were, that is the word Abraxas, the letters m which, taken according to the Greek method of computation, make up this n u m b e r . s 2

260

THE GNOSTICS AND THEIR REMAINS.

The Basilidan doctrine of " Emanation " was greatly refined upon by Valentinus, whose muster-roll of the celestial hierarchy shall be given in its proper place. Suffice it here to observe that the entire theory resembles the Brahminical; for in that theogony each Manifestation of the One [supreme J5emg, regarded by the vulgar as a separate sen-existing deity, has a ji p exact counterpart of liimself, through w h o m , as throu^n a instrument, he exerts his power—to express which doctrine this other han is styled his Durga, Active vntue. m i s id..t name, " V i r t u e , " actually figures in all the Gnostic lists of Emanations; and the great ihon, Pistis-Sophia, in nor second " Confession perpetually upbraids herself for having qui td e m her male S w i ^ s , partner, in her proper habitation, to go quest of the Supernal Light: whilst she equally reproaches liim for not descending into Chaos to her aid. The system of D lualism, in fact, pervades the whole of that wondrous revelation. Brahminical inspiration is possible m m a n y other points of the doctrine of l>asilides, as will appear by the foiiowm r t extrac s from Ironanis—whoso judgment was not warped, like that of Hippolytus, by the mania for deriving his system from the Aristotelian. Basilides (according to him) lived at Alexandria an under Trajan and Hadrian (the first half of the second century), and commenced life as a student of the Oriental ijiwsis epithet sufficiently indicating the source of that philosophy. Being converted to Christianity he attempted, like m a n y others, to combine his n e w faith with his old, for the explanation of things both spiritual and natural. T o do this he invented a terminology and symbolism of his own. In the promulgation of his peculiar notions concerning God and the Divine attributes — the Word, the Creation, the Emanation of spirits and worlds, the Architect of the universe, and the multifarious forces of Nature—he took the same road with his contemporary Saturninus in Syria. His system was a combination of Christian, Jewish, Persian and Egyptian notions, but the entire composition was moulded by the spirit of the Oriental Gnosis. These tenets their author zealously promulgated. For m y years he taught in the school of Alexandria; he was also a most prolific writer. Clemens says he published twenty-four

1IIK GNOSTICS AND THEIR REMAINS.

zGl

•volumes of " interpretations upon the G o s p e l s , " besides " Odes " am (spipitual b o n g s ; all of which have perished. T h e doctrines he thus disseminated his contemporary Irenams represents m the following manner :— "Basilides in order to invent something more refined and p ausib e in the Gnostic speculative philosophy pushed his estigations even into tJie Infinite. H e asserted that God, the uncreated eternal Father, first brought forth Nous or Mind ; and Mind, the Logos, Word ; this in turn, Phronssis, Intelligence ; whence came forth Sophia,^ Wisdom, and Dynamis, S t r e n g t h . " IreiuBiis understands Basilides as making a Quiutemion of J i c m g s ui Personal Intelligences external to the Godhead: but Bellermann with more reason takes them as signifying personified attributes of the Supreme forms of his working internally a K externally. According to tins explanation fjasuides would only liave borrowed his system from the Kabbala ; it is however equally likely that he drew the whole from a much more distant source, and that his " Uncreated " and " Quinterniou " stand in truth for the M trst Buddha and the successive Five. W h e n the uncreated eternal Father beheld the corruption of mankind, lie sent Ins Firstborn, JNous, into the world in the loini of Otirist, for the redeeming of all that believe m liini out of the power of those w h o fabricated the world—namely, the Deruiurgus and his Six sons, the planetary Genii. Nous appeared amongst m e n as the M a n Jesus, and wrought miracles. This Christ did not die in person, but Simon the Cyrenian, to w h o m lie lent his bodily form, suffered m his stead ; inasmuch as the Divine Power, the JSous of the Internal Father, is not corporeal, and therefore cannot die. W h o s o therefore maintains that Christ has died is still the bondman of Iijnorance, but whoso denies the same, he is a freeman, and hath understood the purpose of the r a t h e r . From this tenet the Basiiidans got the opprobrious title of " Docetae " (Illusionists). Similarly the pious Brahmins explain away all such of their legends as are inconsistent with our notions of divine dignity by making them all " M a y a " (illusion). The same is also the doctrine of the Koran (Cap. iv.) upon this point: " A n d for that they have not believed upon Jesus, and have spoken against Mary a

2(J2

THE GNOSTICS AND THEIR REMAINS.

grievous calumny, and have said, Verily w e have slain Christ Jesus, the Son of Mary, the apostle of God ; yet they slew him not, neither crucified him, but he was represented by one m his likeness ; and verily they were disagreed concerning him, were in a doubt as to this matter, and had no true knowledge thereof, but followed only an uncertain opinion. They did not really kill him, but God took him up unto himself, and God is mighty

and wise.
The system just described coincides to a remarkable a c g r e o with the Brahinimcal, where the First Prmciple p succession the Five Powers—Mahasiva, Sadasiva, l i u u r a , Vishnu and B r a h m a — w h o are held by some for mere attributes of the Godhead ; by others are taken in a materialistic sense for .Ether, Air, Fire, Wtter, Earth. But possibly, as Mosheiin so long ago maintained, the whole Gnostic system is derived, not from the Kabbala, nor from the Greek philosophy, but from the theosophy of the Brahmins. Another circumstance in the Basilidan practice, mentioned by Ivenaeus, will receive abundant illustration from the study of these talismans. " Furthermore the sect have invented proper names for these Angels, and class them under thefirst,second, third heavens, and so on. Besides this, they endeavour to explain the names, origin, powers, and^Eons of their pretended oOo heavens—similarly they give its o w n name to the terrestrial sphere, which they say the saviour (whom they call Kavlacav) has visited, and then abandoned. Who understands this rightly and knows the ^Eons with their respective names, the same shall be invisible unto, and beyond the power 01, zEons, in the same manner as the Saviour Kavlacav himself was. As the Son of God remained unknown m the \v orid, so must also the disciple of Basilides remain unknown to the rest of mankind, as they know all this, and nevertheless must live amongst strangers, therefore must they conduct themselves towards the rest of the world as beings invisible and unknown. Hence their motto, 'Learn to know all, but keep thyself unknown,'—and for this cause they are accustomed to deny the fact of their being Basilidans. Neither can they be detected as Christian heretics, because they assimilate themselves to all

THE GNOSTICS A N D THEIR ItEMAINS.

2013

sects. i neir secret constitution however is k n o w n to but a few, peinaps to one in a thousand or two in ten thousand. T h e local situation of their 365 heavens they parcel out just like d-t- uveyors. llieir doctrine is contained m a sacred book, and likewise m Symbolic Figures. T h e Supreme Lord, the H e a d of all things, they call Abrasax, which n a m e contains the number 365o" So m u c h virtue being involved in a perfect knowledge of the names of the Mons, it would be unpardonable not to subjoin them, as ar as tliey can possibly be procured at present and, the following m a y be taken for their most authoritative roll-call, having been drawn u p b y Valentinus himself, the profoundest doctor of the Gnosis, and w h o had elaborated to the highest degree the systemfirstsketched out by liasilides. H e arranges them m pairs, male and female, in the order of their successive emanation from Bythos, the pre-existing, eternal Principle. J.lie n u m b e r of pairs is fifteen, or the sacred number Five three times repeated. Their names, it will be seen, are H e b r e w words, the va preceding some of the female powers being merely the copulative ana. Matter supposes Valentmus to have been of Jewish origin, although born at Alexandria. Tertullian states that he w a sfirstof all a Platonist, then a convert to J ty, but h a v m g been disappointed m I n s aspirations to a bishopric he founded a religion of his o w n . 1. Amssiu, Ouraan = Depth, buence. 2. liucua, Thurtun = Mind, Truth. 3. u Ducua, Inardedia = Refuson, Lale. Metaxas, Artababa — Man, Church. taxas, | Udiua, Casten Comiorter, Faith. u 1 TT in v ™ c+rt n = ^omiorter, Faith. y uou, \ acastcne = 6. Ampman, r.,ssumen = Fatherly, Hope. 7. Vaimanin, Lamer = Motherly, Charity. 8. Tame, Athames = Eternal, Intelligence. 9. Susua, Allora = Light, Beatitude. 10. Bucidia, Damadarah = Eucharistic, Wisdom. -i 1. A V I I U I I I , D a m m o = Profundity, Mixture. 12. Oren, Lamaspechs = Unfading, Union.
lpnipnui., jjiiipiisuosnoaud Seii-bom, lcmpeiance.

14. Assiouaelie, Belin = Only begotten, Unity. 1.o. IJexariche, Massemo = Immovable, Pleasure. Eipipiianms lias evidently copied one pair (5_) twice over*

204

THE GNOSTICS AND THEIR REMAINS.

misled by a slight difference of spoiling, and thus adds one pair to tlie proper niteen. It will be very instructive to compare this Valentiman system of Emanation, which makes all to proceed m pairs, male and female, out of the i! irst Cause, with that Indian theosopliy which this very feature indicates as its real source, m trie latter, every Principle is divided into a male and female Energy, each exactly alike the other—" the same, distinguished by their sex alone." " vehicle, Each deity exerts his power through the agency that is an instrument or attribute, which is nxed Of the Persons in the are :— of his female Principle or Sacti, which in turn possesses a Vahan and represented in a material form.

Supreme Triad thefeactisand their Vahans

1. Of Brahma, Saraswati, goddess of harmony and thearts (tnc Jewish Wisdom) ; her vahan is a swan, or goose. (Hence Juno s Capitoline bird, afterwards explained by an historical fiction.) 2. Of "Vishnu, Lakshmi, goddess of Prosperity, she has the title of Ivamlla, eagle. lotus-bearer; her vahan is traruda, tJie manand Vishnu in one Avatar takes the name " V a r a h a , in which case her vahan is a buffalo.

his consort " V a r a h i ,

3. Of Siva, the Changer or Destroyer, the Sacti is Bhavam, goddess of fecundity, and consequently of death, for thefirstimplies the second ' Aascentes m o n m u r , hmsque ab origme p e n d e t . Nothing perishes, things only take a new form called by the ignorant Death. (Compare the title "Gods of d e a t h , " which the Ophites were so fond of giving to the "Gods of the N a t i v i t y , " the astral genii ruling the horoscope). Bhavam's_ appropriate vehicles are the Bull, emblem of generation, and the Tiger, of destruction. A n d before going further I cannot resist observing how these names and symbols manifest the far-spreading influence of the nations they embody. The Sassaman queens in their gem
Elders had their prototypes in the Saints to the same number of the Buddhist theology; the " sea of glass or crystal is the vast crystal DIOCK suspended in the highest heaven, the shrine of the feupreme i > e m g ; aD~ sjrption into w h o m is the true object of the believer.

* It might even be suggested that Indian influence shines through the whole Apocalypse. T h e Four ±>casts (borrowed it is true from the First "Vision of Ezekiel) are these \ anans, ministers of the -Divine \V lll. Later times assigned each to an evangelist. T h e Foui-and-twenty

TUP,

GNOSTICS AND THETR REMAINS.

265

portraits generally bear the lotus in the hand,* " Varanes " is a c o m m o n n a m e for the kings of that line, and the Brahminic j b u l , the commonest of all signet devices with their subjects. B u t as the dominions of the later Persian kings extended as far as the Indus, Hindoo princesses doubtless entered their harems and communicated their o w n religion to their children. A g a i n , m a n y of these Sanscrit titles bear a resemblance, ma resemblance » , certainly not accidental, to words frequently occurring m the Gnostic inscriptions. Thus, " S u m i t r i , wife of Vishnu in his seventh Avatar m a y explain ^ovp.apra ; and A a t h a , a title of Vishnu and Crishna, the equally c o m m o n Navrn™; " I s a , " lord, femimne, i s i , lau,y, is peinaps e\cn the origin of Isis ; and " N i l a , " dark-blue, and epithet of Parvati, is more appropriately transferred to Father Nilus. Vishnu in infancy as Narayana floating in his " V a t , ' leaf boat over the face of the waters, and coloured all over bine, m a y be compared to the child Horns wafted m the bans. The m*>st ancient of all creeds having, as above shown, m a d e the lotus the symbol of Plenty, the reason becomes obvious for the introduction of its seed-vessels, always mistaken for poppyheads, amongst the wheatears in the cornucopia of Ceres. T h e above quoted S i u / i a p r a seems to have been applied b y the Gnostics to the Sun-god, for MLontfancon gives ( 1 1 . lot) a figure of b i d so inscribed, with y^puvpi on the reverse, a manliest invocation to all the angelic host. A n d as the protection of this celestial hierarchy is so perpetuaiiy sought by our talisman-makers in tlieir voluntary humility and worshipping of a n g e l s , " I subjoin the names of the Hindoo Guardians of the " J o h a b s , quarters of the world, which m a y perhaps lurk in their Grecised form amongst these interminable strings of titles. -bj. Indra. iN.W. Vayu. S.TC. Agni. N. Kuvera. S. Yama. IS .E. Jsaiia. S.W. Xirriti. Above. l>rahma. \\ . Varuna. lielow. JS a^a. Of tiie centre, Kudira. In the character of Ivam da, as tuo later vrreeli, aud the Itoinan ladies in time of Isis.

2to6

GNOSTICS AND TIIEIE, KEMAINS.

T H E INEFFABLE N A M E IN T H E HINDOO FOEM.
W e have already »cen liow inportant a part the notion of an "Ineffable N a m e , " denoting the inconceivable Supreme, plays m the machinery of the Gnosis, and here again the original idea is to be found fully developed in the practice of the Brahmins. 1 Ins awful name emblazoned m three Sanscrit letters within a cartouche formed by a coiled serpent (that normal mclosure for a Holy N a m e in Gnostic art)* is fittingly borne up by the elephant headed Ganesa, god of Wisdom. The word being triliteral is rattier A U M than O M , as usually written m rLiiglish. It is never to be uttered aloud, but only mentally by the devout. I)1 the characters, A signifies the Creator, U the Preserver, M tlie .Destroyer; tliat is, the Triad l>rahma-Y lshnu-Siva. by a country parish clerk. 'If pronounced aloud, tlie sound much resembles Amen as drawled out In fact it is used for " A n g i e k a r , " So Le it! in token of approbation ("Moor, Hindoo Pantheon).f A n d here a very curious analogy is to be pointed out in the assertion of the Talmudists that the word Amen if shouted aloud is of power to open the gates of Heaven. In the Pistis-Sophia the " Three A m e n , " and again the " Four A m e n , " are repeatedly mentioned amongst the other Mysteries revealed by the Saviour in his esoteric teaching. O n this account the word m a y be
a m i that the whole life of m a n is not sufficient to measure its depth and extent. K n o x ( Overland through ' Asia ) describes tlie ruined " jMonastery of Internal R e p o s e , " built at the junction of the Augoou with the A m o o r by an emperor of the Yuen dynasty to commemorate his visit to tliat region. O n the summit of the cliff are three columns, 5 to 8 feet high of marble granite, and porphyry and granite, bearing inscriptions commemorating tliis foundation, and also this formula m Chinese, M o n golian and Thibetan,

A s the Pistis-fSophia informs us, "the disk of the s u n was a great dragon having his tail in Irs m o u t h , " the meaning of tins hgure whereon the sacred word is emblazoned beconies suiheicntly obvious. tOMMANIPADHVM '* Glorification e i the U e i t y , is the Thibetian Confession of Faith, engraved on stone tablets set up everywhere over the country; and everlastingly chanted by the L a m a s as tliey tell their beads. (Cooper's ' Travels of a Pioneer, p. 208). H u e mentions that tho llamns assert that tlie doctrine contained in these words id immense,

GNOSTICS AND THEIR REMAINS.

2(J7

suspected to have some connexion with the Hindoo Sacred N a m e , unless indeed Valentinus had got it nearer home, from the four " A m o n t i , " guardians of the dead, and sons of Osiris. The common explanation that " A m e n " signifies Truth in some Eastern dialect, does not seem to rest on good foundation. AMv, The Kabbalist Marcus discovered a great mystery m taken numerically, the number Ninety-nine became

formed by the union of the Eleven and the A mo and therefore set forth by the parables of the piece of silver, and the ninety and nine sheep, " which is the reason w h y w e use ' amen in

prayers."
Other Hindoo titles of the Deity are and Sate, Truths. Tat and Sat = Virtue. These are recognisable in the Egyptian gods Tat or Hermes, It is likewise more than probable that the mighty A U M itself often lies enshrouded amidst the lines of vowels filling our talismans. Certainly the Praun calcedony (No. 517) bearing on one side the Holphic Apollo m a good style of art, or the other (by a later hand) a m a n dancing with his apronfilledwith fruits, presents m its legend -n-vpir^aiow OLOVJX oAet, the Sanscrit triliteral m the only form in which Greek characters could express the sound. The origin of this Inerrable iSame is thus related (4 Inst. jVloiui. ii. 370) Brahma milked out as it were from the three Vedas the letter A, the letter U, and the letter M ; together with the three

mysterious words
and Heaven.

.unur,

ima\an,

owar,

or l^arth, oKy

Froni the three Vedas also the .Lord of Creation, Tat,

incomprehensibly exalted successively milked out the three .treasures 01 the ineitable text, beginning with the word and entitled the " S a v a t r i , " or Gayatri. A priest w h o shall know

the Veda, and pronounce to himself both morning and evening that syllable and that holy text preceded by the Three words shall attain that sanctity which the Veda confers : and a " twice born" m a n w h o shall a thousand times repeat those Three apart from the multitude, shall be released m a month even from a great offence, as a snake from its slough. immutable words preceded by The Three great the Triliteral syllabic and In

followed by the Gayatri which consists of three measures, must be considered as the mouth, or principal part of tlie \ eda.

2OO

THE GNOSTICS AND THEIK REMAINS.

this doctrine lies the very origin of all talismanic inscriptions, for their essence is the stringing together of sacred names. Nay more, the actual Three words, disguised by Coptic pronunciation, or purposely sealed from profane eyes by a duplication of vowels, very probably exist m the midst of certain Gnostic formula;. In the spell of iiattus, hereafter to be quoted, words of the same soiihe as the Hindoo Three do in reality occur. The Gayatn or holiest verse of the Vedas is : " Let us adore the supremacy of the Divine Sun, the Godhead, w h o illuminates all, w h o recreates all, from w h o m all proceed, unto w h o m all must return, w h o m we invoke to direct our progress aright in our progress towards the Holy S e a t . " Another is; " Earth, Sky, Heaven; Let us meditate upon that most excellent Light and Power, of that most generous, sportive, and resplendent Sun, that it m a y guide our m l e l l e e t s . In all this there is something that irresistibly reveals the Gnostic invocations whenever they can be interpreted, and the " Divine Sun " finds its counterpart in the " Shemesh Eilam " so perpetually repeated. l i i i s Lrjvy Rtri is contained 111 the confession of faith of the Brahmin. "This new and excellent praise of thee O, splendid playful Sun (Pushan) is offered by us to thee. l i e gratified by this m y speech: approach this craving mind as a fond m a n seeks a woman. May that Sun w h o contemplates and looks into all worlds be our Protector! Let us meditate on the adorable light of the Divine Kuler (Savitri); m a y it guide our intellects. Desirous of food w e solicit the gift of the splendid Sun, who should be studiou.-ly worshipped. oblations and p r a i s e . Moor hereupon makes the very pertinent remark: -'It is difficult to conjecture w h y this text should be so studiously kept secret, for its exposition, unconnected with any idea of mystery, and affectation of profundity, does not appear likely to have the effect so dreaded by all priests of guiding the intellect of mankind to the discovery of t r u t h . As already remarked our Gnostic formulae when expressed in Greek have a spirit and a rhythm that strikes the ear as the echo of these primitive invocations; witness the legend upon the Venerable men, guided by the understanding, salute ihee, Divme Sun, with

THE GNOSTICS AND TITEIR REMAINS.

Au.)

plasma described by Creuzor (Archool. in. last plate). Within t n o serpent-formed cartouche is an inscription of m a n y lines, the first half an lmdecypherable medley of letters, which like Marcus' j y ap j- auon of xno Supreme icxrad, must e x p i c s s the name of the U n k n o w n God, w h o in the following portion is invoked as: " The Primal Father, incorporeal, pervading all things, self-existing, the seal of Solomon : ' then c c i i e more
yi-1 c ep 11 ois en iiii^, \v lth lioii-ncadou, evidently trie

JMithi'Hic figure of that kind. The declaration that the unknown legend is the " Seal of Solomon " is extremely interesting, as showing the early date of the celebrity attained by that most famous of talismans ; which, be it remembered, was reported to derive its virtue from the mighty throne of God engraven on the gem. M a n j ' further analogies between the two theosophies m a y be detected in the Hindoo forms of worship published by Moor. Of the Persons in the Supreme Triad, B r a h m a represents the Creator, Vishnu the Preserver, and Siva the Destroyer. But the last is more truly the Changer, all death being only change. Siva therefore in one of Jus characters becomes identified witti Yama, god of the Shades. N o w , seeing that the first two Persons are symbolised by the elements Fire and Wtter, the analogy of the Hellenic Triad, Zeus, Poseidon, Hades, becomes at once apparent. Here also w e find the originals of the " Great T/nSwa/ias," w h o hold so high a place in the hierarchy of the
1

The famous Inscription of Buddha-Gaya, Bengal, dated the year 1005 of the era of Yikramaditya (B.C. 57) contains this remarkable passage : " Amaradiva [son of Sandracottus] having heard this voice caused an image of the Supreme Spirit, Buddha, to be m a d e ; and he worshipped it, according to the law, with perfumes, meense, and the like, and he thus admired [magnified] the N a m e of that Supreme Being, an Incarnation of a portion of Vishnu. Eeverence be unto thee in the form of Buddha ; reverence be unto thee, Lord of the Earth! Reverence be unto thee an Incarnation of the Deity, and the Eternal O n e ; lioverence be unto thee 0 God, m the form of the God of Mercy, the Dispeller of pain and trouble, the Lord of all things, the

270

THE GNOSTICS AND THEIR REMAINS.

Deity w h o overcomes the sins of the Kali yug (Iron Age), the Guardian of the universe, the emblem of Mercy towards all them that sue thee—OM, the Possessor 01 all things m vital form, Thou art Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesa (Siva); Thou art the Lord of the universe ; Thou art the proper form of all things, moveable and immovaable, the Possessor of the whole. And thus I adore thee. Eeverence be unto thee the Bestower of Salvation ; Eeverence be unto thee the Destroyer of the l i i ivl Spirit, Kesi; f 0 Damadara shew m e favour! the serpent Sesha. Thou art lie w h o resteth upon the face of the Milky Ocean, and w h o lieth upon Thou art Trivikrama, w h o at three strides encompasseth the earth ; I adore thee, w h o art celebrated by a thousand names, and under various forms, in the shape of Buddha, the God of Mercy ; be propitious, 0 thou Most High ! Having thus worshipped the Guardian of mankind, he became like one of the just. H e joyfully caused a holy temple to be built of a wonderful construction, and therein were set up the Divine Feet of Vishnu, for ever Purincr of the sins of mankind ; the images of the Pandus, and the Descents of Vishnu (Avatars) ; and in like manner of Brahma and the rest of the d i v i n i t i e s .
^ 1 1 1 1U. P d l . p. 2 .)

It m a y here be observed h o w extensively this symbol of the Divine Foot has pervaded the religions of the West. Feet either in relief or in cavo, cut in stone, are common about Hindoo temples ; according to tradition they are memrrials of suttees, the self-sacrificing widow having mounted from that stone upon the pyre. This usage supplies the connection of the symbol Compare the with Serapis, the translated Yama, god of Hades.

colossal Foot dedicated to the oorapis of Alexandria, as his special attribute, and recently exhumed from the ruins of his temple.J It is richly sandalled, and on the top sits enthroned the god himself, with his attendants Cerberus and the Serpent, Tricasa
* Meaning the pre-existing Type, the Platonic Idea, the Persian Ferouher, the Rabbinical A d a m - K a d mon—all springing from this source. f This explains the title of the deity so often put on our talismans,
T'i'y<xifTop7jKT7]'i.

% The religious importance of t i c s> mbol is attested by an Alexandrian coin of C o m m o d u s , having for reverse this same Foot, with the bust of Serapis placed on the section of the leg. (_Feuaruoni, rj^ypie A n cienne, pi. xxiii.y-

THE GNOSTICS AND THEIR REMAINS.

271

and Sesha in Grecian disguise. T h e same Foot, winged and girt with the Serpent placed between two seated lions, is cut on the altar inscribed " Deo Sarapi M . Vibius Onesimus ex visu " (1 lontfaucon, pi. 122). The same idea produced in Ceylon the print of Adam's foot upon the summit of the Peak, bearing his name, whence lie had ascended to his Creator, and equally, ery metropolis of Onristianity, that of Christ himself stamped in the basalt paving-stone of the Via Appia, still worshipped m the church and entitled, " Domino quo vadis1" A n ancient silver plate, found in a pit at Islamabad, at the northern end of the Bay of Bengal, records the hallowing of the site of a projected temple there in the deposit in that pit of 120 small bronze images called « T a h i m u l a s , " twenty of larger size,
&
L

">

& ° J i l sLUJic,

Jjan&uaagarit

and a brass

vessel containing two of the bones of " Thhacur." This last title, ' ic0ular sivle of a god, or a deincd mortal. In medieval ecclesiastical usage (which probably still continues) it was indispensable for the consecration of any altar in a church that a relic (bone) of some Saint should have been deposited under its base. The same silver plate contains this account of the birth and infancy of Buddha. This coincidence, if accidental is very curious. " W h e n Buddha Avatar descended from the region of souls, and entered the body of Mahamaya, the wife of Soontala Danna, Raja of Kailas, her w o m b suddenlyassumed the appearance of clear transparent crystal in which Buddha appeared, beautiful as a flower, kneeling, and reclining on his hands. W h e n born he had on his head two feet, and on his hands the marks of wheels. Brahma & at the birth received the infant in a golden vessel, and delivered him
unto -Lnura,

This intimate connection of the theosophies of India and Greece was originally (before the period of direct commerce) kept up through the medium of the Persian Magi, as the classical writers themselves show by casual but trustworthy allusions. Their notices were till lately reckoned, amongst the other fictions of " Graecia M e n d a x , " but better acquaintance with Sanscnt and Pehlevi records have revealed their truth.
ijXEicnj (INSWennj^ to inc (iTicioiit JHvus, tlic CatlioJic t^aint.

272

REMAINS.

For it is n o w accepted as certainly proved by the oldest portions of the Zendavesta (the " G a t h a s , " or hymns) that the primitive religion of the whole Aryan race, previous to the great division, was a simple worship of the Powers of Nature. This religion was reformed by Zoroaster, w h o retained the old names for his Angels, but superadded the idea of the One Sup A m m i a n in his account of Julian s Persian expedition, gives the following curious, though oddly blundered, details upon this subject (xxin. to). In these tracts are situated the fertile lands of the Magi [in Mledia], concerning whose profession and pursuits, since w e have come upon them, it will be ntting to give here some brief information. Plato, that greatest authority upon celebrated doctrines, states tliat the Magian religion, known by this mystic name of ' Machagestia,' is the most uncorrupted form of worship m things divme. To the philosophy of this religion, Z.oroastres, a J_>actrian, m primitive times, made m a n y additions drawn from the Mysteries of the Chahhuans, as did still later Uystaspes, a very learned prince, father of Darius. This King ITystaspes, when he was boldly penetrating into the unknown regions of Upper India, had come upon a certain wooded solitude, the tranquil silence of which is occupied by those incomparable) sages, the Brachmans. Instructed bj- their teaching in the science of the motions of the world and heavenly bodies, and also in pure religious rites as far as he was able to gather them—of the notions thus acquired he transfused a certain proportion into the creed of the Magi. The latter coupling these doctrines with their own peculiar science of foretelling the future, have handed down the whole through their descendants to succeeding ages. Thenceforth, m the course of m a n y generations to the present time, a multitude, sprung from one and the same stock, dedicates itself to sacred offices. It is . a d they preserve unextinguished the Sacred «i Fire which hrst of all fell down from heaven, a portion \\nereof used always to be carried before the kings of Asia as a good omen. The number of persons so descended was at the first but small, and they were exclusively employed by the Persian kings for the performance of religious services. It was con-

THE GNOSTICS AND THEIIt REMAINS.

273

sidered a great offence to approach the altar, or to touch the sacrifice, before a Magus, after reciting the appointed prayers, had poured upon it the preliminary libation. But through gradual increase they are grown into the name and dimensions of a distinct people, and inhabit villages unprotected by walls, being allowed to follow their o w n laws, being respected on account of tlieir religious character. It was from this race of men that the seven, as ancient history records, usurped the Persian throne upon the death of Cambyses, and were crushed by the conspiracy of that Darius w h o gamed the kingdom through the neighing of his horse. The worthy, but pedantic old soldier, The father of in his anxiety to show off his historical reading, has committed certain very ludicrous blunders m this account. p MC Darius was no "ancient king of P e r s i a , " but merely governor of ^£7r<xpxo5j under Cainbyses (Her. in. 70). His name, derived from " G u s h t a s p , " the planet Venus, was doubtless common enough wherever Magisni was the established religion. And yet more ludicrously does A m m i a n convert the one Magian usurper,femerdis,into seven, the actual number of the Persian nobles w h o put him down. Neverthlless, the tradition has great value, as proving the previous existence of the Magi in a community of diviners and seers (like the ancient Jewish
11 ci LCI iities,

" Sons of the P r o p h e t s , " ) and the subsequent modi-

fication of their doctrines by the importation of Brahminical ideas, followmg upon the conquest of Indian provinces. Such being the case, one need not be surprised atfindingSasmnian kings named after Hindoo deities, like the numerous Varaues (Horn V arani, Vishnu s title) just as others of their line assume that of the proper Persian god, Ormuzd, in the form of that favourite royal appellation, Ilormisdas (Ahoromasdi).

T

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