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Is Democracy Under Threat?
 By Victoria LePage

Copyright Victoria LePage 2007

         Christianity today is a democratic institution.  The Christian baptism is for all, the Christian body of doctrine is for all, laity and priesthood alike. The lowliest member can be assured that no arcana exist in the Christian faith, no occult secrets to which he is forbidden, no hidden cabal to which he is denied access; all is open to the light of day. Comfortingly, his religion is a perfect expression of  Western egalitarianism, Western democracy – to which indeed it is the time-honoured parent. But is time incubating a revolution in this ideological Eden?

      In a rural area of England a group of charismatic Anglican communicants have for the past thirty or so years been quietly effecting a revival of the three-tiered power structure of the first Gnostic Christian communities. It was a ranking system consisting of  laity, priests and prophets, three categories once known as hylics (the laity), psychics and pneumatics.[1] Today the members of this very private Anglican group have in effect constituted themselves, with ecclesiastical consent, the top rung of a distinctly elitist ladder of spiritual rank formed along ancient lines. They are prophets, or pneumatics, the highest grade below that of the divine king, Jesus Christ himself.

       The members of this group are recruited only by invitation and initiation. Priests, be they archbishops or even higher, are not permitted entrance to their meetings; as healers, clairvoyants, exorcists and psychospiritual counsellors, women take leading parts equally with the men in their ritual proceedings and affairs. Services culminate in a social mingling devoted to spirited philosophic and metaphysical debate. There is no authority in charge; the members in turn officiate at the meetings, which are never made public and are held in separate premises from the church. Released from the shackles of ecclesiastical dogma, the climate is one of extraordinary zest, creativity and personal liberty – liberty of both spirit and intellect.

      These people regard themselves as constituting a very undemocratic Christian brotherhood: an elite, a prophetic elite that stands above and apart from the priesthood, even though it practices a wholesale democracy in its internal affairs and relinquishes all governing status in service to those below it. The basis of this radical return to the political structure of early Gnostic Christianity, unfamiliar to most Christians today, is initiation, a process of transformation of consciousness whereby every Christian prepared to undergo the necessary study and purification can ascend by a number of stages the entire ranking system up to prophethood.

       In 1946 the Gnostic Gospel of Philip, thought to have been written in the late first century, was discovered among the Nag Hammadi codices and became a radical new source of insight into primitive Christianity and its triune hieratic structure. After nineteen centuries of suppression, the Gospel discloses that originally there were five ascending degrees of Christian initiation. The Lord, said Philip,

has done everything in a Mystery, a baptism and an anointing [a chrism], and a eucharist and a redemption and a marriage-chamber. (Philip 68).

      The prophetic rank was associated with the sacrament of chrism. This was a preliminary anointing with oil on the forehead known as baptism by fire, but requiring the final sacraments of redemption and the bridechamber for a complete rebirth in Christ. The mysterious fire of the spirit associated with chrism and with spiritual light was prefigured in the Pentecostal visitation of the Paraclete after Christ’s resurrection, a theophany in which tongues of fire alighted on the heads of those present, bestowing on them the supernatural gifts of the spirit.

Soul and spirit are constituted of water and fire… Fire is chrism, light is fire – I do not mean worldly fire, which has no form, but another kind of fire, whose appearance is white, which is beautifully luminous, and which bestows beauty. (Philip 58)

      Chrism is today a ritual that is, relatively speaking, little more than a formality.  But when Gnosticism was suppressed around the third century CE so was the sacrament’s true meaning as an initiation that opens the third eye in the forehead, so bestowing the many psychospiritual gifts of the spirit; clairvoyance and clairaudience, telepathy and healing powers as well as wisdom, spiritual knowledge and preternatural sagacity. These gifts were once what distinguished the prophet from the priest, whose office was of a lower administrative order, concerned primarily with ecclesiastical law, liturgy and ritual. Chrism’s central importance in Gnosticism as an initiation of Higher Mind is revealed when we understand the Christological meaning the Qabalah gives to the quality of beauty, which stands at the central Christ station on the Qabalistic Tree of Life and is a primary attribute of the Christ. When the Gospel of Philip speaks of chrism bestowing beauty, he is therefore conveying “to those with ears to hear” its power to achieve a cognitive union with the Christ Spirit.

        There has been much controversy over how and when these Gnostic teachings came about which so incensed the heresiologists of the young Church, but a very good case exists for them having been derived from the beginning from the Mandaeans, a Gnostic sect contemporaneous with that of the infant Jesus movement. Although this is strongly disputed in many quarters, the renowned Scandinavian scholar Geo Widengren argues convincingly that the second-century Mandaean records are probably a reliable index of the past.[2] The Mandaeans still exist in the Middle East and have recently migrated to America. Once known as Nazareans, they claim that both Jesus and John the Baptist were prophets initiated into their ancient organization. To this day the sect’s initiatory structure is triune, consisting of the laity (mandayi), then the cult priests (tarmidi) and finally, at the apex of the three grades, the prophets or magi (nasoraiyi), the high rank to which both Jesus and John were reputed to belong. (Dr. Kurt Rudolph, a noted German scholar, says that the Mandaeans on all occasions telescoped the first three sacraments into one, so that there were essentially but three sacraments corresponding to the three levels of rank. This arrangement may also have prevailed in early Christianity.) Although he defected from their sect, Jesus was therefore a Nasurai – that is, a Nazarean prophet, say the Mandaeans.[3]

     The early Christians identified Jesus with the prophet Enoch. And according to the testimony of Clement of Alexandria, the sect of Ebionites taught that Jesus, a human being like any other, was a prophet on whom the Christ Spirit, an Archangelic being of the highest hierarchy of Angels, descended at the time of Jesus’ baptism, anointing him a Son of God. The Ebionites believed in reincarnation and revered Jesus as the legendary True Prophet, an incarnation of the ancient Iranian prophet Zarathustra. It was only in Zarathustra’s final embodiment as Jesus the Hebrew, so these sectarians believed, that the great seer received the full revelation of the Divine.

Since the creation of the world, the True Prophet hastens through the centuries, changing his name and form of appearance. He incarnates himself again and again… Jesus is the true incarnation of this Prophet.[4]

      According to this belief, Jesus was thus empowered to initiate his inner circle into a high state of consciousness similar to his own. Through a secret baptismal initiation they too became prophets. It was through such men that a tradition of self-knowledge and internalising of moral authority was seeded in the young Christian movement; they became a force for personal freedom of thought and conscience that neutralized to a degree the heavy legalism of the clergy.  Indeed, for the first time, Christian prophets declared, an initiation existed that was independent of any outer authority, enabling a direct personal connection to be made with the divine throne, one that was energetically potent enough to tap the psychospiritual resources of love and wisdom that poured forth from the divine monarch, Jesus Christ himself. Above all, these neo-prophets encouraged the development of the Higher Mind by the exercise of creative, independent thought, thus liberating a sense of autonomous selfhood among Christians unknown to the general mill of the Roman proletariat.

The physicist Amit Goswani offers a definition of Higher Mind when he speaks of a “supramental intellect” or “theme
body”, a body of archetypal themes that shape and unify the movements of the lower physical, vital and mental bodies[5] - in other words, it correlates with the “causal body” of the classical Hindu lexicon. This supramental or intuitive intellect was the distinguishing feature of the Gnostic prophets, conferring on them the power to illumine consciousness in such a way as to manifest the love, wisdom and clairvoyant “gifts of the spirit” that are now so signally absent from mainstream Christianity. 

     The leading lights within the Anglican group of which I am now speaking have won such cognitive gifts in abundance. They can rightfully be called sages or prophets. They have no governing function in the church, but work solely in conjunction with the ecclesiastical taskforce on the next lower rung, placing their formidable charismatic gifts at the service of the parish priests’ pastoral work.

       I have witnessed their participation in an exorcism and have been amazed at the quiet skill and assurance with which three of these people, working together, controlled the successful course of the healing. Here one finds none of the emotionalism that characterizes nearly all the Christian evangelical and charismatic sects: in the work of the spirit these Anglican initiates are true professionals, working at a level beyond that of the emotions. A similar but even more radical experiment is underway in the Reformed Lutheran church in Java, and there may well be other such cases of quiet revision to be found in the Christian world. In Indonesia, a Javanese bishop known for his ecumenical activities has been permitted to retain his initiate connection with a mystical Javanese school with a Hindu-Buddhist background, thus enabling him to bring to the Church the clairvoyant powers that still flourish in the Javanese non-Christian schools. It is one example of the tolerance that may be slowly developing in the Church abroad for other religions – a tolerance that was once the special mark of the prophets.

      Can this return to the ranking system of early Gnostic Christianity, covert though it is at present, be a sign of things to come? Can it be one of the first harbingers of a revolution that will affect the egalitarian standing not merely of the Christian Church but of the sociopolitical world beyond it? The hierarchical or prophetic ideal has lived on in the underground occult schools, and today it shows many signs of a renaissance in the growing New Age movements constellating around the cult of the Nine Unknowns. Mysterious in outline, secretive in propogation, the theocratic paradigm proposed by the Nine has evolutionary law behind it, but is generally very little understood, even by its most ardent proponents.

     It has often been remarked, and with good reason, that beyond the sixth century BCE the religious past is almost a closed book. Up until that fateful century, the masses, the ordinary people everywhere on earth, possessed no organized religion that we would recognize as such. They had only a simple moral code and an annual round of agricultural festivals, the meaning of which was mythically expressed in terms of gods and goddesses of the natural elements. True religion, wrapped in secrecy, was a spiritual privilege confined to the upper classes of temple and court, since its pursuit was understood to demand a high degree of educated intelligence as well as moral integrity. Secrecy was maintained because religion at that time bestowed great psychic  powers on those who pursued it, and those powers were always in danger of being abused in the hands of the ignorant masses. To a great degree that secrecy has continued to the present day, as we shall see.

      Beyond the fact that privileged religion was basically a practical science involving a wealth of natural and sacred knowledge, and was constituted of three ascending ranks, that of priest, prophet and divine king – or four ranks if we include the common folk at the bottom - we still know very little about it before the sixth century BCE. Our religious history really begins after that with the advent of the popular religions that arose outside of the temples, a revolution that brought Zoroastrianism to Persia, Reformed Judaism to Judaea, Brahminism and Hinayana Buddhism to India, Confucianism to China and probably Shinto to Japan, opening up a new ceremonial religious world attuned to the common people. Christianity and Islam, which appeared later, belonged of course to this popular category. The teachings and practices that evolved in this simplified and legalistic type of religion, centered as it was on a list of moral proscriptions, Hammurabi’s Commandments, are really all we know with any clarity about our spiritual past. 

      Nevertheless, a pattern is emerging from the shadows that veil the Bronze age and even earlier eras from the gaze of historians. It is a pattern throughout the world of a steady deterioration of the theocratic paradigm that once prevailed throughout human society. From Neolithic times and from the top down, the baton of socio-political dominance has passed inexorably from one rank to the next until we arrive at the theoretically classless democracy of today. And this caste-free condition does not apply only to the Western world. To a greater or lesser degree, the living hierarchic tradition in its entirety is not to be found in any of the world religions or major political systems today.

      We have learned from the ancient Egyptian Pyramid texts, believed to be the oldest religious texts in the world, that in times long gone, when the legendary Horus-kings reigned over pre-dynastic Egypt, the divine initiate-king was the absolute centre of authority and power in the state; every rank, including the prophets, bowed to his wisdom and his numinosity. And they did so because in the primordial beginnings of time the king was seen as literally a god or a Son of a God sent to earth to reign as the proxy of the Supreme Deity. He was literally Rex Mundi, King or God of this World.

      It was essentially a unifying vision. The rancorous distinctions between different religions and their different divine rulers – Christ for Christianity, Allah for Islam, Yahweh for Judaism and so on – did not then exist; such distinctions belong to our modern thought world. Only one religion operated across most of the earth, whatever temple celebrated it. The divine King might have different names and even promulgate different laws and doctrines in different localities, but in the unified imaginative consciousness of early peoples divinity was identified with a great celestial body such as the constellation Draco, the polar deity, or later the Sun deity, and was therefore always One, and His Sons were always One.

       Below the divine king were the high initiates who mediated his sciences and philosophy to the priestly class below them, while the priests administered these in more ritualistic ways to the fourth or lowest class. The prophets also applied the sacred knowledge they received from the holy Source in all the arts and sciences that furthered civilization, and constituted a more or less single brotherhood across the earth. No matter where a prophet operated, he could be in touch, telepathically or literally, with his brothers in other lands, thus tending to foster universal peace.

      But in times beyond our direct recall – times we regard as mythic, possibly as early as 11,000 BCE, which the Egyptians called the First Time, “thousands of years before the generally accepted genesis of civilization”[6]  - this direct flow of power from the top downward began a process of devolution. Although the Horus kings were mortal, hawk-headed Horus himself is credited with being one of the oldest gods of Egypt, older even than the Great Ennead, a Neolithic prince, the Son of the great god Atum. Horus was identified with the Sun god Re and regarded as the Lord of this natural world even as his father Atum was the Lord of the divine realm.[7] Shamanic in nature, Horus’s divine rule was followed, however, by a lower, more ceremonial one, that of the nine Great Ennead. This pantheon, composed of five gods and four goddesses, was followed by a Lesser Ennead, and then a lesser lineage still of demi-gods -  that of the Divine Souls, the Shemsu-hor, and finally by the fully mortal Horus-kings who reigned from Heliopolis from about 3,100 BCE. Thus the gradual decline in quality, from purely divine to purely mortal, began many millennia before Egyptian history officially began. The acclaimed author and historical researcher, Andrew Collins. believes the beginning of the decline can be traced back to the Neolithic era.[8]

       Later still, in the carved iconography of the Old Kingdom the serpent emergent from the king’s forehead tells us that baptism by the fire of Higher Mind was still alive and well and at one time authorized the crown to rule over the nation in absolute sovereignty. However, temple  annals reveal that during the New Kingdom many centuries later the prophets of Thebes, centre of the worship of the god Amun, gained enormous power at the expense of the crown. They took over all state affairs and the rituals of kingship, and the Heliopolitan king became little more than a figurehead.[9]

       The monotheistic pharaoh Akhenaton, who ascended to the throne around 1367 BCE, struggled to reverse this trend and win back the original divine puissance of the monarchy, but his failure to do so is a telling reminder of the steady downward thrust of religious power towards the end of the Bronze age. Akhenaton’s reign in his new city of Armana as a genuinely divine priest-king, as once the Horus-kings had been, lasted only fourteen years, after which he was ruthlessly excised from history at the hands of the mighty prophets of Amun.[10] Thereafter, his royal successors were reduced to figureheads again under the sages they had once ruled. This same process was happening all over the world; and with the onset of the next epoch, the Iron age, we see a further devaluation of religious authority – and of the serpent  power that symbolized it.

      With the opening of the sixth century BCE, a bitter power-struggle arises in the Solar temples everywhere between the prophets, now strongly entrenched in their acquired power, and the priestly rank below them. It is a time of enormous turmoil, with warring factions created in society by a newly emerging people’s power. With the rise of popular religion, moral issues become central for the first time. For the priests and their countless peasant charges spiritual knowledge is unimportant, the primordial Gnosis is sidelined; the conquest of good over evil is  the main religious criterion and the primary concern of the faithful.

       Thus in India the legalistic Brahmin priests succeed in supplanting the asmanas, the superior prophetic caste whose members flee into the Himalayas to become the Forest Sages of the Upanishads. In Persia the Zervanite prophets are likewise demoted and the moral struggle is defined by priests in terms of the Good God Ahura Mazdao as opposed to the evil Ahriman, the Spirit of the Lie; and in Judaea the Levitical priesthood also seizes power from the rank above, establishing a dualistic theology modelled on Zoroastrianism and its abiding moral warfare.[11] The Levites disavow the ancient Judaic mysteries based on the Egyptian religion and exile the Zadokite prophets to the Syrian and Damascene wildernesses, forbidding them under pain of death to teach under the name of any prophet later than Ezra.[12] At the same time the serpent, once kundalini’s potent symbol of wisdom and sovereignty, becomes in the new dispensation in Jerusalem the outright enemy of God and is seen no more as the sacred symbol of Higher Mind.

      Today, the last act in this great devolutionary drama is being played out as the secular Western world seeks to dethrone and emasculate the last vestiges of religious power, now concentrated in priesthood. The initiate-king has gone, the prophet has gone; their ancient reign has been forgotten. Now the priest is the final target in a campaign against religion itself, led by a growing number of sceptical scientists and philosophers like the renowned atheist Professor Richard Dawkins.[13] The democracy of the masses has finally triumphed; like all our “elites”, priests are a threatened species. The Church, whose sole concern for many centuries has been to police the morals of its flock, is in steep decline, its authority eroded in the politics of secular majority rule.

       It might be objected that religious fundamentalism is actually on the rise, but fundamentalism is essentially a phenomenon of the people, heavily laden with home-made dogmas and frequently led by lay preachers rather than ordained priests. It is par excellence the ultimate symptom of democracy run riot, of rule by those on the last rung left on the hierarchical ladder. The overall picture, even in the more traditional countries, is one of deep religious malaise in a populace that is turning away from the faith institutions at a very decisive level indeed in favour of the autonomy of each individual for himself.

       With a high standard of education up to the tertiary level now available to all, and with the physical sciences in the ascendancy, the Western mass-mind has in a sense come to maturity. It is its own priest. It prizes its independent judgment, its capacity to form its own value systems and standards of behaviour, its own version of spirituality. It has achieved a sense of selfhood. And  this autonomous condition, which is true today of all the populations of earth to a greater or lesser degree, is precisely the condition that once distinguished the privileged few in the temples and royal courts from the peasantry in the fields. We are probably seeing the end of a devolutionary process in which, for the first time in human history, the entire human species has become qualified, however untutored as yet, to enter the privileged spiritual stream once accessible only to a small fraction of the population. Whether we are therefore at the turning point in a great cycle due to ascend once more to its beginning in another era of divine kingship, as the cult of the Nine suggests, is a possibility only, yet  one that cannot be ignored.  

     As the great Western democratic ideal inherited from ancient Greece finds itself increasingly embattled today by forces of erosion – the whittling away of civil liberties and rights by laws against terrorism, the rising political power of nations which are not and never have been democratic, the imperialistic ambitions of global corporations – the whole controversial issue of government either by democratic principles or by a ruling hierarchy is beginning to loom on the horizon. Perhaps as yet no bigger than a man’s hand, this cloud is nevertheless destined to darken the terminal struggles of Western civilization as we know it today and to overshadow for good or ill its shaping in the days to come. 

      In our two-tiered society the cult of democratic rule has attained the sanctity of a religion. Yet ever since Plato condemned it, the value of democracy as a political form of government has been questioned by some. The German philosopher Herbert Marcuse, writing soon after the Second World War, called our industrial civilization a “totalitarian democracy” that has hypnotized us into forfeiting our own best interests and robbed us of our freedom of thought.

The union of growing productivity and growing destruction; the brinkmanship of annihilation; the surrender of thought, hope, and fear to the decisions of the powers that be; the preservation of misery in the face of unprecedented wealth constitute the most impartial indictment…of this society.[14]

 And in 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl, the author Daniel Pinchbeck rails against the unquestioning glorification of American democracy, the “sleep-inducing force of indoctrination” that seems to render the democratic concept the only possible one for sane people.[15] Hidden behind the scenes, the esoteric schools have always subscribed to a hierarchical structure of government in their own case and recommended it sotto voce for society at large.[16] Indeed, in 530 BCE Pythagoras launched it as a great social experiment in the Italian city of Crotone, where he and his brotherhood of fellow initiates guided the prevailing government for some years. In  this way they curtailed the unlimited bureaucratic powers that can tyrannize a society where no limiting office exists above that of the politicians. (However, it must be noted that as a consequence of this wise intervention, it is believed that Pythagoras and his fellow philosophers were eventually murdered by the exasperated rulers below them.)

      The Platonic view has always been a subtle one. It contends that the freedoms of democracy are mythic, illusory, leading inevitably to a tyranny of the lowest common denominator and total corruption by the forces of greed. Government by an elite, however, is paradoxically based on a true philosophy of freedom. How can this be? From such a perspective, elitism is not a function of birth, wealth, learning, fame or military power; no one can bestow it and no one can take it away, for it is a function of the sanctified spirit alone, which has no external cause. It is given by God alone. Ideally, elitism governs even as the pharaoh Akhenaton claimed to govern, by the spirit of  Maat – an important Egyptian goddess personifying a principle whose primary role is to establish cosmic order by divine rule. Maat is the spirit of pure rectitude, pure justice realized as a state of the soul. By the purity of this inner state it establishes harmonious social conditions; by its spirit of equity it does justice to every soul in its mandate and blesses all.[17] By “living in Maat” the divine king mediates between Heaven and Earth, uniting all those levels below him in his cosmic amplitude. “The king performs the function of ‘centering the world’, maintaining order from his palace at the centre of the cosmic axis.”[18]

      The Tzaddick, the righteous one of eighteenth-century Jewish Qabalah and a composite of divine king and prophet, is another example of such a divine mediator. Quoting the Jewish philosopher Gershom Scholem, Pinchbeck says:

When God created the Earth – our ‘abysmal world of shards’ – he shattered the vessel of higher mind, sprinkling fragments of lost wisdom across the globe… The Tzaddick performs the ‘gathering up of the shards, finding the hidden keys to spiritual knowledge to establish shalom, peace and harmony on earth.[19]

      But the Tzaddik and his mystical status was not officially accepted by the rabbis and was soon swept back into the shadows of speculative Qabalism, discredited by a tide of Jewish rationalism known ironically as the Haskala or Jewish Enlightenment.

      Like the Tzaddick, Plato too regarded true freedom as flowing only from the monarchic summit rather than the base of a governing hierarchy, issuing from the apex alone where wisdom and right action are enthroned and greed has been conquered. Indeed, in remote times the legitimacy of divine kingship was so central to the welfare of the kingdom that it was ensured by divine means. In Persian  myth the first Iranian god-kings were said to bear a facial countenance known as farr, or Divine Glory, a sign of divinity shared by many of the biblical patriarchs.

Without this sign of divinity a king could not rule, and if he were to misappropriate this sacred power during his reign then the farr would leave him in the form of a bird, never to return.[20]

        Leavened by the teachings of the forest yogis of India, the renewed hierarchical ideal of government was the gift that Alexander the Great brought to Egypt during his conquest of that land in the fourth century BCE, and was one taken up by many of the Jewish immigrants who came to live in the Delta city of Alexandria thereafter. It recalled to them the outlawed Solomonic ideal of government that they claimed had once made Israel great. The esoteric school of Therapeutae in Alexandria was based on its gender-equality[21], the dissident Jewish Essenes took it up for its freedom from ethnicity,[22] and it became the controversial Gnostic ideal over which the earliest Christians wrestled, argued and broke heads over, leading to a major schism in their ranks from which we are still suffering.

      Like the Pharaoh Akhenaton’s reformation in the Egyptian New Kingdom, Jesus’ new movement too aimed at reinstating the reign of the divine king, the Hebrews’ Davidic Messiah, and was similarly doomed to failure. The four-runged initiatory ladder of early Christianity was dismantled when the Christian bishops gained enough power towards the end of the second century to suppress the grade of prophets above them. Thereafter charismatic prophecy was once again forced into exile in the Syrian and Egyptian deserts, and it has remained an underground and unacknowledged force in our civilization to the present day. Indeed, considering that for nearly eighteen hundred years the freedom-loving independence and wisdom of Higher Mind and the paranormal cognitive powers of the prophetic office have been excised from the mainstream Christian church, as also from official Judaism and Islam, to religion’s great loss, it is perhaps surprising that the rising modern atheism is not a great deal more vociferous than it is. It has much to rail against.

      Yet while Christian theocracy lived it inspired irreversible changes in human society. By virtue of the creative energies drawn down from the divine level above, the prophets were able to articulate the structural verities of the new faith in living lineaments of light.  As a consequence, for at least two, perhaps three centuries, the Christian religion, clad in its ancient hierarchic vestments, shed a wonderful radiance over the Roman world. The wisdom, poetry and spiritual idealism of “pneumatics” like Marcion, Basilides, Valentinus, Bardesanes of Edessa and many others, leading intellectuals of their time, illumined the infancy of a grand New Age that was set to revolutionize society. And even much later the lingering afterglow from this divine birthing lit in a kind of glory the Desert Fathers of Egypt and Cappadocia and the brilliant Celtic Church of Ireland. But essentially the Christian prophets had been banished – excommunicated, murdered in the Roman circuses or exiled - by the middle of the third century.

      Were the Church Fathers aware that history was repeating itself? – that again and again throughout the story of civilization this defeat of the higher creative energies, the banishment of the higher mind, had been accomplished by lower orders like themselves? Did they understand that Christ had given them the opportunity to participate in an ancient, archetypal, irreducible organ of divine transmission no part of which could be amputated without destroying the whole? Indeed, were the Church Fathers ever aware at all that however much they gathered priestly titles like archbishop, cardinal and pope, they could not fill the amputated prophetic role because they had not been empowered to do so – had not been initiated into that transcendental office?

      As I have already suggested, there are many subterranean signs today that the theocratic archetype is once again pressing to manifest itself, to take over and audaciously remodel on a planetary scale democratic government as we know it. One such sign, though minor of course, is the curious eruption of Gnostic procedures in an Anglican See in rural England and another in the Javanese Reformed Lutheran Church - a duplication that may hint at many other such hidden hierarchic revivals in the official Christian scene. But the most important and thought-provoking sign by far is that of the cult of the Nine Unknowns, which has been gaining ground within New Age communities from as far back as the early twentieth century and is now well-established in the Western counter-culture. It is here that we find incontrovertible evidence of a well-organized programme to bring about what amounts to a new World Order and a new global religion to underpin it.

      As early as 1932, Reuben Swindburne Clymer, the head of American Rosicrucianism, claimed that his society, the Fraternitas Rosae Crucis, was directed from a secret order in France called the Council of Nine, whose doctrines Clymer taught. A letter from this secret body proclaimed:

This is the New Dispensation, and the work of the Spiritual and Mystical Fraternities must be re-established throughout the world, so that all peoples may be taught the Law and thereby enabled to apply it towards universal improvement as the only means of saving mankind… We, the Council of Nine, have selected your organization…to help in this work.[23]

      Clymer’s group professed to “embrace the esoteric side of all religions.”[24] This unification of  the religions of the world by absorbing their main underlying tenets in one grand esoteric system has been at all times the basis of the Nine’s teachings. In the beginning, God, they declare, had given out one primordial Gnosis for  this planet, which over time has differentiated into a variety of religions; but the time has come for these different local versions again to coalesce as one under the control of the Great White Brotherhood, or the Hierarchy or Hidden Directorate, as it is also known. Such a unification of our fragmented race would transform the collective consciousness, releasing its full genetic potential to a degree barely imaginable today. This crossing of a great transformational threshhold may be imminent, stresses the Nine. It will usher us into a new galactic universe wherein other human races are pursuing their transcendental destinies. Empowered to co-create a new vision of planetary harmony, which has long been the ideal of esoteric schools around the globe, we will flower gloriously into what has been called  “a bodhisattvic race.”

      Can it happen, or is it a fevered delusion? It should be born in mind that a strict correlation exists between the structural and the psychological processes of the theocratic gradient. When the top rank disappears, fragmentation appears inevitably in society and in the individuals that compose it. When the second rank also disappears, the transcendental, cosmic powers of Higher Mind disappear as well from society and individuals, and the arts and sciences give way to mere technologies. And when the third rank disappears we must expect lawlessness and depravity to be added to the previous losses in society and its individuals. Conversely, what has been lost may be regained by reversing the flow of power – and only thus. Therefore when the lowest point of the cycle is reached, the privilege and the burden of self-responsibility rests with the people alone; only the people can decide the future. At that point the true meaning of free-will is disclosed and with it the inner divinity. The appearance of the Nine Unknowns among us may then be seen as the inevitable concomitant of such a moment of self-revelation, when all else has been stripped away. The Nine become an inner archetype pointing the way insistently, inner gods needing to be heard at a point of crisis, of ultimate choice.

     The outer manifestation of the Nine is as ambiguous as its inner meaning. It is extremely difficult to pinpoint the phenomenon, since the Nine have been channelled in a number of different guises by a wide variety of high-profile psychics, some of whom, confusingly, appear to bear no relationship to each other. Sometimes the Nine are referred to as extraterrestrial Intelligences, sometimes rather as indigenous deities or discarnate Masters. They act as a hierarchy of Intelligences that rule the universe, intervening in human evolution at critical times throughout the Earth’s history. The Nine speak of themselves in deific terms in their channelled communications  – “ God is nobody else than we together, the Nine Principles of God. There is no God other than what we are together.”[25] But this statement need not be taken too literally: the convention of spokespersons speaking in the name of a higher power is commonplace. Elsewhere, the Nine are evoked in an invitation by one of their followers to another well-known psychic researcher “to join a new psychic group designed to change the destinies of the world by occult means.”[26] Here the Nine are rendered by implication in far more human terms and placed explicitly at the hub of an occult world-revolution to come.

      Various prominent esoteric organizations have been named as possible messengers of the  Nine – among them the worldwide Sons of Light of the Order of Melchizedek or Alice Bailey’s equally worldwide school that spun off from Helena Blavatsky’s Theosophical Society, featuring the Master Koot Hoomi and the Tibetan – but the identity of the messenger group remains obscure. What is, however, evident is that its character is prophetic: the advanced telepathic skills and the authority of its teachings distinguish the group as something genuinely new and mystical to enter the public arena. We must assume therefore that what is being proposed - yet again - is a global return to the kind of theocratic system that once included the prophets in a leading role, under the ultimate authority of an Avatar. It is in many ways the Gnostic system in another guise.

       For a great many people subconciously attuned to this covert event alarm bells are already ringing. Intimations of an organized resistance to the perceived threat to our freedoms are already with us; the enormous popularity of Richard Dawkins’ latest work to target religion is only one instance of a spreading unease. There are many others.  Alerted, science is beginning to marshal laboratory research programmes in neurotheology, a branch of neuroscience devoted to uncovering the brain processes that happen during religious, spiritual and mysical experiences, and which warn that these activities may engender a form of illness called psychic dissociation.[27] Fundamentalist groups of every stripe are also ratcheting up their war on elites; politicians as well as church leaders are stressing their populist, democratic credentials. Sufis in Islam and Qabalists in Judaism are confronting greater opposition than ever as a spontaneous polarization develops in the religious field, mirroring that of geopolitics. The polarization declares that the people’s freedoms have been won at great cost; they are not to be lightly forfeited. 

      Yet it should be born in mind that almost all we know of the theocratic system is from the rule of  the pulpit and that of kings divine only in name, many of them autocratic and cruel. A true, full-flowering theocracy has hardly been known for something like three thousand years, perhaps longer. Since the sixth century BCE the prophets have not moved among us except briefly or without office: the Biblical prophets, the mahatmas and Jains of India; the Gnostic initiates of early Christianity; the Kabbalists of Judaism and the Sufi initiates of early Islam; the Taoist Mountain-men of China. All these have passed enigmatically through the portals of history and have been seen no more, though they wait still in the shadows. How they would help to govern remains an unknown, although historians tells us that in ancient Egypt during the Bronze age, when prophecy was at its height, there is evidence that the society was a peaceful and highly creative one and the people enjoyed many freedoms. 

      In the meantime the Council of Nine is not likely to be more than a long-range preparatory programme, perhaps destined to undergo numerous changes as it continues to develop its primary theme: that of the imminent reign of superior Intelligences or Ascended Masters over human affairs. The most immediate obstacle to the Council’s success is its difficulty in promoting a picture of global integration while so many of the races and religions of the world are locked in intractable enmities, loyal to many different deities, worldviews and value systems. The Nine also have internal flaws that have not gone unnoticed - racist and overbearing attitudes that militate against their success in gaining disciples. Does their greatest value, then, lie in simply being a marketing ploy, a wakeup call alerting us all to the need for another evolutionary step - a preparation, in other words, for the return of a divine king whose self-evident powers of wisdom and calm majesty will bring unity to all the peoples of Earth?

       It is noteworthy that today millions of people worldwide and of many races are awaiting the imminent coming of the next Light-Bearer, the fifth Buddha, Maitreya.

[1]    Kurt Rudolph, Gnosis, T. & T. Clark, Edinburgh, 1976, 321.

 [2]    Geo Widengren, Mani and Manichaeism, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 1965, 20.

[3]    E.S. Drower, The Mandaeans of Iran and Iraq, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1937, 100.

[4]    Oscar Cullman, The Christology of the New Testament, London, 1975, 40.

[5]    Amit Goswami, Physics of the Soul, Hampton Roads, London, 2001.

[6]    Andrew Collins, The Gods of Eden, Headline, London, 1998, 188.

[7]    Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince, The Stargate Conspiracy, Berkley Publishing Group, New York, 1999, 8.

[8]    Collins, op. cit., 27.

[9]    Collins, op. cit., 132.

[10]    Ibid., 132.

[11]    Gaalyah Cornfeld, The Archaeology of the Bible, Book by Book, Harper & Row, New York, 1976, 141.

[12]    Charles Potter, The Lost Years of Jesus Revealed, Ballantyne Books, New York, 1962, 27.

[13]    Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, Bantom Press, New York, 2006.

[14]    Herbert Marcuse, One-Dimensional Man, Beacon Press, 1964. 

[15]    Daniel Pinchbeck, 2012: The Return of Questzalcoatl, Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin, New York, 2006, 74.

[16]    William Kennedy, The King of the World as Archetype, New Dawn magazine, July, 2002.

[17]    Collins, op. cit., 145.

[18]    Pinchbeck, op. cit., 273.

[19]     Ibid., 230.

[20]    Collins, op. cit., 189.

[21]    Marvin Myer, The Gospels of Mary, HarperSanFrancisco, New York, 2004, 77.

[22]     Edmund Wilson, The Scrolls from the Dead Sea, W.H. Allen, London,  1955, 43.

[23]    Christina Stoddard, The Trail of the Serpent, Inquire Within, Boswell Publishing Co., London, 1936, 297 – 8.

[24]    Ibid., 297.

[25]    Andrija Puharich, Uri: The Original and Authorized Biography of Uri Geller, Futura, London, 1974, 14 – 15.

[26]    Jacques Vallće, Messengers of Deception, UFO Contacts and Cults, And/Or Press, Berkeley, 1979, 133.

[27]    Sharon Begley, Your Brain or Religion: Mystic visions or brain circuits at work? Newsweek, Copyright May 7, 2001.