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 Sufis and The Nine Unknowns

Copyright Victoria LePage 2007

      Renć Gućnon (1886 – 1951), the renowned French esotericist who converted to Islam in 1912, was a committed Traditionalist and a Sufi. He believed Western civilization was on a precipitous downward course, and that its only hope was to  return to the traditional ideal of government by a spiritual elite. For Gućnon, society should be a reflection of the initiatory hierarchy with the initiate-king at the apex, preserving in his own sanctified state the spiritual ideals and aspirations of his subjects and radiating out to them the social harmony and order inherent in his office. The Italian alchemist Julius Evola (1898 – 1974) was another Traditionalist who, like Gućnon and his contemporary, the Sufi Frithjof Schuon, mourned the departure of the hierarchical mode of government that had given such incomparable vitality, rigour and meaning to the civilizations of antiquity. Evola, however, was sceptical that government by a spiritual elite could possibly manifest in our time, given the profound loss of soul in present human affairs.[1]

     But some observers have noted that in the past few decades a new political edge, a new realism, has sharpened the Traditionalist debate. Something unprecedented has entered the scene. Can a covert operation be in progress aimed at regime change for the world? – a return to the reign of the philosopher-king, or perhaps more exactly, of a Council of Sages? It seems an impossible idea in this staunchly democratic civilization, yet the return of the Masters has long been predicted in occult circles. Could such a return already be being secretly set in train?

      In 1999 Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince published The Stargate Conspiracy. The authors, who are renowned for their dispassionate and penetrating researches into arcane material, release evidence in their book of an astonishingly powerful cult that has been hidden in the New Age movement for over fifty years. They show that since 1952, or even earlier, there has been a  hugely influential secret movement within the American ruling class – among high-level Freemasons and politicians, as well as “top industrialists, cutting-edge scientists, popular entertainers, radical parapsychologists and key figures in military and intelligence circles,” and even at the threshold of the White House itself[2]– that claims direct, telepathic contact with a cabal of  advanced spiritual Intelligences from another star system.

       According to some schools of thought, these beings from outer space are returning to our planet in spaceships after a long absence, and are preparing to make a mass landing in order to assist humanity once more to a higher level of consciousness. In other cases, the extraterrestrial factor is played down or is not present. All cult followers, however, stress the divine nature of these beings, who are most often known today as the Council of Nine or the Nine Unknowns, or simply “the Nine.” The Nine are widely believed to have long ago governed the civilization of Atlantis, and to have been drawn back to Earth, or to the material plane, by the sufferings of our species.

      Much has been left unspoken and indeed deliberately hidden. What Picknett and Prince are at pains to reveal is that from mysterious beginnings there has coalesced a widespread movement of devotion, even worship, of the Nine that presently dominates much of the New Age communities in America and Europe . Many of the members of the secretive core group that channels the teachings of the Nine are now famous guru figures in the West’s alternative literature. They believe the Nine Principles are the nine ancient Egyptian gods, the Ennead, the Elder Gods who once presided over the great religious centre in Heliopolis on the Nile . Together, the Ennead represented the nine different facets of the One God, Atum, the Egyptian God of gods: the entirety being namely, Atum, Shu and Tefnet, Geb and Nut, Osiris and Isis , and Set and Nephthys.  Today, the “Nine in One” have returned, so it is claimed, to help in humanity’s next evolutionary stage.

      The connection to ancient Egypt is strong. It has been pointed out that while the Nine ruled that land Egypt remained unique in the history of civilizations for its incomparable achievements in architecture, its long ages of peaceful prosperity, its luminous arts and the wisdom sciences which we are only now beginning to understand. What was the secret of its cultural superiority? It is no coincidence that many of today’s counter-cultural gurus are dedicated proponents of the archaeological explorations being carried out, apparently for obscure occult reasons, on the Giza plateau in Egypt . Drawn by the magic of Egypt , other aficionados searching for its secrets are leaders of Christian evangelism, prominent American scientists and philosophers, famous authors; some, like the Israeli Uri Geller, are well-known psychics. Dedication to the Egyptian Nine, although clandestine, runs deep.

      The Nine themselves, or rather their channelled emissaries and spokesmen,  explain that they are “directly related to Man’s concept of God… God is nobody else than we together, the Nine Principles of God. There is no God other than what we are together.”[3] But they also say that “the controllers of the universe operate under the direction of the Nine.” And below the controllers are the messengers, who say they mediate between the controllers and all the myriad planetary civilizations that make up the universe.  So, as in ancient Egypt , there is evidently a hierarchy involved in which the Nine entities being channelled are the lowest rung in a ladder leading to far higher advanced beings.

     The Pyramid texts found in the burial chamber of the pyramid of Unas, an Egyptian pharaoh who reigned from 2356 to2323 BCE, reveal a similar hierarchical structure in the government of the land of ancient Egypt . The texts indicate that below the Greater Ennead was a bevy of demi-gods, lesser divinities known as the Lesser Ennead. The Lesser Ennead included such gods as Thoth, the god of learning who was also the scribe to the Greater Ennead, and Anubis, the jackal-headed god who guarded the gate to the underworld. Below the Lesser Ennead was yet another level, the immensely powerful temple priesthood that mediated the will of the gods to the common people.

       The Elder gods, however, seem to have been remote from the affairs of Earth. The active god of our mundane world, and the link between the Greater and Lesser Ennead was Horus, the hawk-headed posthumous son of Osiris and Isis. Horus, the Falcon Prince, was actually far older than Osiris, who had came late to the Greater Ennead. In the oldest Egyptian pantheon, Horus, in the company of his consort Hathor, the goddess of love, stood in effect as a lesser analogue of Atum, the One Supreme God who ruled over the spiritual world that existed before the material world of time and space was born. As Atum ruled the spiritual universe, so too did Horus rule the material realm in a long line of Horus-kings.

      The followers of the Falcon Prince were known as the Heru Shemsu, the illustrious Companions or Initiates of Horus who with benevolence and wisdom governed pre-dynastic Egypt as initiate-kings for thousands of years.[4] According to tradition, these demi-gods were a race from the stars, taller and with a larger skull than the folk along the Nile , and were possessed of secret knowledge and great magical skills. Yet great though the Heru Shemsu were, they were but lower reflections of the Greater Ennead, the nine Gods in One, the true and sole rulers of the land.

      In the same way, the channelled entities who today call themselves the Nine or the Council of Nine are implicitly no more than instruments - members of some esoteric circle skilled in telepathy - who transmit the will of the Nine from the highest level of the hierarchy down to the thousands of receptive New Age acolytes. Certain cult members have disclosed that, as a consequence of having access to “confidential and secret information”, they are aware that the highly evolved Entities known as the Nine, working through their chosen emissaries, aim to indoctrinate humanity in what amounts to a new global religion. This involves the purging or final showdown of the forces of good and evil. Something has gone wrong with humanity’s genetic programming, they say, and the Nine have had to re-enter our polluted world with the aim of putting things right and setting us on a new and more spiritually oriented course. This aim, say Picknett and Prince, is nothing less than the creation of a New World Order based on theocratic rather than democratic principles, with the Council of Nine itself in control.

       James J. Hurtak, a New Age mystic and author who in 1977 channelled The Keys of Enoch, is a well-known cult figure who has confessed to being personally in telepathic contact with the Council of Nine. He has alleged that, as he was driving through the Californian desert one night, a brilliant beam of light descended and hovered over his car, programming him with the “Keys” which form the basis of his spiritual teachings. In his book, Hurtak claims that some races are degenerate, having fallen morally so low that the righteous must be quarantined from them; and he warns the world in highly-charged biblical and apocalyptic language that this problem is now critical. A final Battle of Armageddon is imminent. A mysterious Stargate between heaven and earth has been opened, as a result of which we are rushing towards a worldwide war between the forces of Light and Darkness which will precede the coming rule of the Brotherhood of Light, a body which he identifies with the Council of Nine.

      As has been said, at first Hurtak and others aware of these events warned that very shortly there would be mass landings of the extraterrestrials’ spacecraft on Earth. This benign invasion was due to take place in 1978, with much interference with radio and television transmissions in order that the Nine might communicate directly with the people of Earth and prepare them for the great global upheaval that was to follow. But, as we know, this did not occur, and after the millennium eve passed without incident talk of an intergalactic invasion waned. Hurtak explained that according to a message from the Nine “it was no longer necessary.” The Nine, who, as we have seen,  at first identified themselves as divine Beings or aspects of God rather than as extraterrestrials, are no longer necessarily aliens from outer space in the minds of their devotees. There appears to have been a shift towards the concept of a circle of Masters or Avatars who together express the will of a still higher single Authority, the Great White Brotherhood of Theosophical fame.

      Since 1978, a programme of indoctrination has continued which, according to Picknett and Prince, has changed the worldview of millions of ordinary people as well as that of talented scientists and  thinkers of worldwide stature. The message the Nine give out is that there is to be a “galactic war and housecleaning that is being completed throughout the universe,”[5] with a golden age to come in which a new form of world government will emerge. According to the Hurtak vision, the new “Spiritual Administration” is to be centred in the U.S.A. , a nation he seems to see as a reincarnation of Atlantis, with Israel a vital partner in its hegemony.

      There are various versions of this scenario within the seminal circle Picknett and Prince are targeting. The late Dr. Andrija Puharich’s interest, shared with America ’s surveillance agencies and the Atomic Energy Commission in which Puharich worked  for a time, was primarily in gleaning knowledge of “remote viewing” and other shamanic techniques for altering states of consciousness and thus controlling the mass mind.  Some archaeological buffs emphasize the role that Egypt and the pyramids of Giza are still playing in the return of the Atlanteans; others, such as the Londoner Benjamin Crème, a guru of the Alice Bailey school, stress the hoped-for Second Coming of Christ; for some Theosophists the theme of the extraterrestrial Guardians and the coming of the “Time of Awakening,” when Atlantis will rise from the sea, has been woven into a mystical cult called the Abbey of the Seven Rays.[6] But all without exception are concerned with a new World Order already germinating, already active at the cutting-edge of developments in physics, parapsychology, genetics and other fields under the aegis of a divine Council of Nine.

       The Nine were first channelled in the U.S. in1952 by an Indian spiritual medium, Dr. D.G. Vinod, who  was participating in a paranormal research centre in Glen Cove , Maine , run by Puharich and funded by the CIA. But Picknett and Prince show that from as far back as the 1930’s various esoteric schools, such as those of Alistair Crowley, Alice Bailey and American Freemasonry, were claiming to have telepathic links to a brotherhood or hierarchy of spiritual adepts akin to the Council of Nine. Indeed, such claims were being made by occultists even as early as the middle of the nineteenth century and arose in conjunction with the legend of Shambhala, the sacred centre in High Asia popularised by the Theosophical Society.

      The French diplomat Louis Jacolliot (1837 – 90) first alerted the West to the legend of the Nine Unknowns, according to which Asoka, the third century BCE Buddhist emperor of India, formed a secret council of nine wise men in an attempt to  encapsulate all human knowledge of the time, and to make sure it was guarded and dispensed justly without the possibility of corruption. Jacolliot claimed these unknown adepts were still alive and that he was in touch with them. But another French mystic, Saint-Ives d’Alvedre (1824 – 1909), claimed that the legend was far older. He said that the Nine Unknowns were beings from the star Sirius who came originally to the Tarim Basin in Central Asia in 34,000 BCE and there established their Shambhalic headquarters. Their sojourn in Atlantis came much later.

     Indeed it is not likely that the Indian emperor Asoka originated this majestic legend in 273 BCE: it is far older. According to recent research, the Heliopolitan priesthood inherited the myth of the Elder Gods, half of them male and half female, from the pre-dynastic half-mythic depths of Nilotic history, when the Nile Valley was still sparsely populated by hunters and food-gatherers. However, what emerges from the present study is that the Nine Unknowns cannot be confined to ancient Egyptian history.  As immensely tall, regal, high-skulled beings from the stars, they are credited with guiding towards a civilized state the first faltering steps of agricultural peoples in regions well beyond Egypt . There are tales of their ubiquitous presence in every part of the earth, and even on other planets. 

      Again,  R.A. Schwaller de Lubicz, a modern father of occultism who died in 1961, spoke of the Nine Principles. In 1913 he wrote concerning the number 10: “As number it is 10, containing and surrounded by the nine principles, the irreducible One, the eternal fecundator.”[7] The nine principles are to be found in the nine structural archetypes of the Qabalistic Tree of Life, in the nine levels of mythic Mt. Meru , the nine angelic hierarchies and many other cosmological schemes. Other mystical societies speak of the “Nine Elect” or the “Hidden Masters” who continue to be active in the interests of humanity.  Louis Pauwels and Jacques Bergier in The Dawn of Magic  say:

Looking down from the watchtower of their hidden glory, the Nine Unknowns watched civilization being born, destroyed and born again, tolerant rather than indifferent – and ready to come to the rescue – but always observing that rule of silence which is the mark of human greatness.[8]

       Thus Pauwels and Bergier were two authors who regarded the Nine as a universal phenomenon, a guiding Presence that arbitrated impartially above all civilizations, East or West, offering special succour to none. And it is here we run up against a very strange anomaly, and one that Picknett and Prince find sinister. Ostensibly, Hurtak’s Council of Nine is working for the whole of humanity through its devoted followers; but according to these two researchers what seems to be nearer to the reality is a marked bias towards the interests of the U.S.-led, right-wing Christian conclave of Western nations. Ominously, nearly all the followers of the Nine seem to be in some way connected to U.S. or European governmental military and surveillance agencies, frequently through funding, and to be working towards a broadly Euro-centred Western-style outcome, with the war against terrorism high on the agenda.

       Picknett and Prince note with asperity that the cult of the Nine Unknowns seems to be far more about Western power than world peace. They point out that although the multinational elite that is fighting terrorism embraces nearly all the religions of the world there are notable exceptions. “It does not include a major religion of the African-Americans or of the Arab world. Muslims are not invited.”[9] Neither are the black races.

       The Muslim races are obliquely characterized as “Children of Darkness” who are presumably contending against the “Children of Light.” Hurtak talks about the “anti-universe” or “the violation of the Living Light exemplified in the Kaaba, the Black Cube in Mecca .”[10] He claims it represents “’the anti-power of life’ and, most tellingly, ‘the anti-Christos.’”[11]

      Again, Hurtak refers to the Black Cube as functioning “with Alpha Draconis…for the Children of Darkness.”[12]

The righteous must clearly see the spiritual dialectic taking place between those who choose the Pyramid of Light as the touchtone for evolution into the higher spiral of Light as opposed to those who choose the Black Cube.”[13]

      In such discriminatory terms does Hurtak discuss the galactic wars that are to be waged between the Sons of Light and the Sons of Darkness.  In fact, there is marked Christian-fundamentalist and anti-Islamic propoganda concealed within the Nine’s overt messages of universal peace and goodwill…at least as these messages are being relayed by the Christian faithful. Even the Jews, though regarded as an especially holy people, “the saviours of the earth”, do not altogether escape censure for their rejection of Jesus as the Messiah. Yet despite these negative omens, Picknett and Prince, originally somewhat sceptical, admit the Nine give every evidence of authenticity on all other counts. They are not fakes.

       So what is going on in the Western corridors of power? Can it be that, regardless of the true source of the Nine’s transmissions, many of those purporting to channel them are actually bending the teachings to their own patriotic and geopolitical agenda? If so, considerable ignorance is being displayed by those who claim to be the West’s spiritual leaders, for the legend of the Nine Unknowns is just as prevalent in the Islamic world as it is in the West. Pauwels and Bergier are right. Sufism, Islam’s mystical path, has long laid claim to this same legend, which it asserts is to be found in all religions, Eastern and Western, appearing in the sacred records of peoples from all over the world and from times immemorial. Even in Mexico , the Mayan Creation God, Bolon Yodke, was one of the Nine Lords of the Night (the Underworld). The Mayans believe that Bolon Yokte was present in 3114 BCE in the creation of a new World Age, and will be present again in 2012 CE at the beginning of the next World Age.[14]

      Sufis attribute great mystical significance to their tradition of the Nine Unknown Masters as it is expressed in the No-Koonja, the nine-pointed Sufi diagram also known as the Naqsh or Seal. They say that this metaphysical glyph “reaches for the innermost secrets of man”; and the Sufi writer Ernest Scott in his classic The People of the Secret implies that it stands for one of the highest and most authoritative echelons in the Sufi hierarchy. Accordingly, there seems little political reality in any New Age dream of a partisan clique of Nine Unknowns ruling a white-supremacist empire that excludes Islam. No such outcome is ever likely to happen if the Nine Unknowns being channelled by Western psychics today are genuinely who they purport to be.

      The misunderstanding inherent in the fundamentalist Christian stance – and here we must include modern American Freemasonry and other such occult movements of the New Age variety as the Alice Bailey and Rosicrucian schools - is in fact understandable. For the Sufi path, an ancient and very secret tradition that pre-dates its affiliation with Islam, has been almost unknown and unexamined in the West until the past few decades. Various Sufi monasteries and landmarks can be reliably dated to periods prior to the birth of Muhammad, Islam’s founder, and are therefore signs of Sufism’s secret creative presence in the Near East long before the rise of the Arabian religion in the seventh century CE; while even afterwards the Sufi brotherhood’s crucial part in the development and spread of Islam has remained a hidden element in that event. But that is fast changing. Robert James Buratti, a Sydney-based researcher and teacher of Literature and Philosophy, says of the Sufi tradition today that

Information previously hidden from view has gradually made its way into mainstream consciousness. The level of secrecy surrounding the information, and the fact that it has remained virtually impenetrable for millennia, suggests the information has not ‘leaked’, but has been carefully released. [15]

      And of course the modern media has helped this outing process. The appearance of various articles and books on the subject of the “Hidden Sufi Directorate” from 1960 onward, written by eminent Sufi authors such as the Afghan teacher Idries Shah, has meant that an awareness of and interest in Sufism has been growing within the modern Western mind, gradually dispelling its ignorance. “When the countless and seemingly insignificant instances are assembled,” says Buratti, “they point to a very real indication that the secret group many have long suspected may be slowly rising to the surface in the 21st century.” And with that surfacing has come confirmation that the Nine Unknowns are a universal phenomenon common to all of humanity, including Muslims, black, brown or white.

      In Indonesia , which covers all the islands of the Sunda Strait , Sufic Islam has dominated the culture since the fourteenth century CE. For seven centuries – that is, until the twentieth century and the rise of Modernist Islam – the dominant religion has been a syncretic blend of Sufic Islam, Hindu-Buddhism, Tao and animism, with an increasing infusion of Christian and Theosophical elements. Thus it has been a mix of beliefs from virtually all the religions known to man, and many more so old they are unknown. The Indonesians are a deeply spiritual people, and in the largest island, that of Java, the Nine Unknowns are a household word, an integral part of the rich mythological fare that sustains the whole society.

       A story circulates widely in Javanese esoteric schools that in the early part of the twentieth century the circle of Nine Unknown Sages met in Java to bring a new spiritual practice into the world. For this purpose they formed a closed meditative circuit that generated powerful cosmic energies. They knew that humanity was on the threshold of a higher stage in consciousness involving the awakening of the Spiritual Soul, an organ still relatively dormant in most people on earth today; and the Nine elected to become a spearhead into that future. There are three soul centres – animal, human and spiritual - in each individual, with the last-named, the Spiritual Soul, under the governance and direction of the divine Will. When awakened in the course of evolution, the Spiritual Soul profoundly energizes and unifies the various lower instruments that normally compete and jostle within human consciousness. The animal and human souls then come under its dominance, and the union of the three  under divine Command immeasurably elevates and spiritualizes the individual’s state of being. To aid in this evolutionary process the Nine Masters sought to lay down a path capable of stimulating in men and women a greater consciousness and control of the love/wisdom powers of the Spiritual Soul.

       The result of the Nine’s meditations was that one night a brilliant beam of light descended from the sky onto a young Javanese Muslim called Muhammad Subuh who was returning home from a Sufi Nachshbandi meeting. The beam of light “programmed” him (just as it would “programme” James Hurtak in the West), thus opening the way to a spiritual revelation. This seed-revelation developed into a new practice and teaching called Subud that would presently be taken to the West.

      One of the Javanese sects that indirectly emerged as a result of this event was Sumarah, “the Way of Surrender” - surrender being the essential meaning of the word Islam.[16] Sumarah has become a large-scale movement in Indonesia . It has not come officially to the West, but is spreading its message informally across the Pacific to California and the New Age movements. It teaches that all the world religions have their roots in the same esoteric source. The same truth underlies them all. All have germinated from a divine seed that lies deep in the Soul of humanity and share equally in its grace. Sumarah’s method therefore calls for universal peace between religions. It raises consciousness from the ordinary mind, whose dualistic and divisive nature breeds images of evil, warfare and religious conflict, to an intuitive state beyond divisions. In that unified state the enlightened mind pursues visions of  inwardness, of oneness, of spiritual redemption, of a peaceful coexistence of the family of religions. Sumarah’s message is therefore the very antithesis of that disseminated by James Hurtak in the Christian West, yet seems to come from the same high source.

      Picknett and Prince are justified in their dismay at the call to holy war that is being secretly broadcast on the American Freemasonic and New Age thought waves, a message that in essence pursues power and hegemony through religious conflict. It would seem that many Western ideologues, even those in the highest positions of political or scientific power, have seriously misunderstood the meaning of their dialogue with the Council of Nine. They would appear to have misconstrued  the true nature of this group and to have appropriated to themselves an influence that should be global and pan-religious, one that embraces the faith of Islam and the black races equally with that of the Christian West.

      A number of derivations have been proposed for the term Sufi, perhaps the most likely being the Persian word saf, meaning ‘pure’; but the Brotherhood has gone under many names since its inception. Believed by some to have originated in the Caucasus Mountains 20,000 years ago, Sufism is essentially a search for gnosis, which it defines as illumination in union with God – an ultimate state of perfection towards which the race as a whole is striving. Technically, Sufis are those who have arrived at this goal of mystical union, but in practice the term also applies to the many dervishes and other aspirants who are on the Sufi path seeking esoteric knowledge,  but who are still far from being “perfected ones.” The latter, the true Sufis, through the special esoteric techniques they practice are thought to be in possession of a wide range of psychospiritual powers and exalted states of consciousness unknown to the common man; so much so that legend has referred to them as the Secret People, a hidden hierarchy of Masters who are guides and mentors of ordinary humanity, a “Hidden Directorate” of the race. It is to this concept of a Hidden Directorate that Scott relates the Nine Unknowns.

      The mural art on the walls of ancient Egyptian monuments and temples, showing figures in the totemic masks of animals, birds and fish, makes clear the shamanic origins of the Egyptian culture. If Sufism is 20,000 years old, it began with shaman masters who, as explained by the Greek-Armenian  Sufi teacher George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff, were at a far more advanced cultural level than the ordinary food-gathering and nomadic tribes.[17] Living in taboo isolation, the Masters were already settled in villages and raising cattle, probably also experimenting with crops. They were regarded as revered and feared demi-gods by the tribesmen, who were led by a cabal of these superior sages. Such a group of advanced human individuals Buratti regards as the reality behind all legends of “masters” and “initiates” from earliest historical times to the present.

       In Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson, Gurdjieff speaks of Seven Sages rather than Nine. But, like Saint-Ives d’Alvedre, he speaks of them as a group of beings like the Nine Unknowns, men of great wisdom who long ago came to ancient Egypt and founded the society that built the great temples there. The Sages had arrived on a solar barq from the sunken continent of Atlantis. So similar in every particular is this story to that of Saint-Ives related above that it may well be merely another version, but an earlier one, of the legend of the Nine Unknowns. Gurdjieff’s Seven would, however, point to a cosmic connection with the Pleiades, the home of the Seven Shamanic Blacksmiths, rather than with Sirius.[18] This is a point of great interest which space precludes us from pursuing here.

      The Egyptian Edfu texts, the most ancient hieroglyphic texts known, also speak of the Shebtui or Ogdoad, the eight primeval Builder gods who presided over the Nile valley in an age long before dynastic Egypt came into being. These gods are credited by Andrew Collins, the well-known author and independent researcher, with seeding a Neolithic culture in Anatolia and along the Euphrates as early as 9500 BCE.[19] The Ogdoad too may be another earlier version of the Nine. It well may be that the progression from seven to nine parallels an evolution of the Ennead over the millennia from shamanism to yoga to ceremonial religion.

       In his memoirs recorded in Meetings With Remarkable Men, Gurdjieff recounts how he and a few comrades, the so-called Seekers of Truth who travelled with him in a search for the lost Wisdom of antiquity, learned of the story of the Seven Sages from the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs they managed to decipher among the ruins of Giza , Thebes and Edfu. But Gurdjieff also claims to have remembered historical allusions to these gods from the recitatives of his father, a professional bard whose songs had been passed down orally and with amazing fidelity through generations of trained Armenian bards. From this priceless repertoire the son derived a knowledge of the folklore of Old Europe going back into the immemorial mists of time and spurring him to visit Crete .

      Seven thousand years before Noah’s Flood, Gurdjieff said, a great civilization had  flourished on Haninn, an island corresponding to Crete in the approximate vicinity of Greece . Haninn had been guided by “the Imastun Brotherhood”, a caste of wise men “who occupied themselves with astrology and telepathy.” These sages, then, who featured in the first volume of Gurdjieff’s masterwork, the memoirs of Beelzebub, may also correspond to the Nine Sages of Atlantis – and to early Sufis.

       In the Gilgamesh epic there are similar stories of the arrival of emissaries of an ancient spiritual culture who guided an infant humanity in its evolution,[20] and who later, when Atlantis was lost beneath the sea, settled for a time in Old Europe and gave it the arts and sciences of civilization. In the mythologies of various peoples there is considerable corroborating evidence that Egyptian civilization among others was seeded in this way, suddenly and in a near-perfected state by an advanced race from elsewhere, rather than evolving gradually from scratch as academia asserts.

      Gurdjieff believed that we should understand the past as fully as possible in order to lay a sound foundation for the future. In Meetings With Remarkable Men, he states that around 2500 BCE the Masters held a great conference of wise men in Babylon; and there they founded the famous Sarmoun Society, which would act as a guardian of the primordial tradition of wisdom and powers held by Sufis and potentially available to the rest of humanity.[21] This secret Sufi Wisdom school would function  as a preparation for the great Zoroastrian epoch to come.  (And it is worth noting here that according to James Buratti sarmoun is the name for the spiritual energy commonly associated with a blessing or baraka from the great Sufi teacher, Bahauddin Naqshband – and no doubt analogous to the baraka that fell from the sky one night onto a favoured Sufi pupil in Java, resulting in a new spiritual movement.)

       In the centuries that followed, the Sarmoun Society, so it is believed, secretly fed much esoteric knowledge into the Chaldaean culture, into the migrating Abrahamic people who passed through the Middle East into Egypt, and, two thousand years later, into the Jewish people exiled in Babylon. Idries Shah says that alchemy came to the Jews via this Sufi route. Many of the exiles never returned to Judaea ; others returned bearing with them a new world philosophy, a new spiritual vision acquired in the Chaldaean city. The Sarmoun connection to ancient Judaism and to the Jewish Diaspora has been further uncovered by the researches of the late Jewish author Dr. Hugh Schonfield. Schonfield notes that even before the fall of Jerusalem, Jewish sectaries such as the Essenes and Therapeutae, as well as Judaeo-Christians, were fleeing Palestine and Egypt for Arabia, the Middle East, Persia, India and even farther East again for Afghanistan; and in these lands, especially in the cities of Mosul and Basra in the Middle East, they joined forces again with the ancient Sufi stream. Schonfield says of these massive eastward-bound migrations:

The variety of Jewish and Judaeo-Christian sects flourishing in the Middle East was evidently very extensive and considerably interrelated. We meet not only with the familiar Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes and Nazoreans [early Christians], but with Elchesaites, Sampseans, Ebionites, Hemerobaptists, Dositheans etc. etc.[22]

      In fact, the doctrines, rites and general worldview of the migrating sects also infused the Sufi stream in a mutual enrichment, for they had brought with them to  Persia all the advanced new Greco-Egyptian learning and wisdom acquired in Alexandria , at that time the world-centre of the arts and sciences of civilization. The ancient connection of Sufism with the religion of the Hebraic people was thus reinforced and deepened by new infusions. From then on, the Persian Sufis continued to develop the oral beginnings of the Jewish Qabalah, suppressed by the rabbis, to such good effect that the modern Jewish Encyclopaedia declares that one of the treatises in the Sufi Encyclopaedia of the Faithful Brethren, published in 980 CE in Basra, was the first written transmission of the Qabalah to enter Europe.[23]

       Buratti takes the view that Sufism, as the hidden taproot of all spiritual teaching, has moulded the development of many of the world religions, among them Christianity as well as Judaism. “There is evidence,” he observes, “that at the deepest levels of Sufi secrecy there is a mutual communication with the mystics of the Christian West.”[24] Ernest Scott traces the illuminism of Sufism hidden in early Christianity in the inspired teachings  of the Celtic Church , so different from that of Rome , and in the medieval Troubadour movement. “Illuminism”, says Scott, was injected into the European consciousness from the school of Ibn Masarra (883 – 931).

Ripples from this school were to coalesce in the allegories of Dante, the works of the Augustinian scholastics, the theology of Duns Scotia, the science of Roger Bacon and the… [theology] of the Blessed Raymond Lully.[25]

      Despite the ever-present threat of the Inquisition, many scholars and saints of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance who have been thought of as solely Christian have been strongly influenced by the hidden Sarmoun stream; men of great spirituality and knowledge such as Paracelsis, Thomas Aquinas and Michel de Notredame. The latter, Nostradamus as he was known, was a doctor of letters born of a Jewish family forcibly converted to Christianity, who remained a Jew, a Christian and a closet Sufi to the end of his days. And it is known that the brilliant Pope Gerbert d’Aurillac, born in 940, withdrew from his monastery of Fleury in Burgundy and spent some years in a Sufi school at Cordoba or Toledo .[26] Thus Christian contemplatives were using Sufi books, Sufi methods and sciences and Sufi terminology, even becoming secret Sufis themselves, from medieval times.

      With the widespread emergence in Europe of an interest in the occult in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, has come a recognition that Sufism and the Rosicrucian orders are also very closely linked. Tradition has it that this movement was founded by a German professor, Christian Rosencreutz, who was initiated in Palestine by an Arab group, presumably a Sufi one.[27] But perhaps even closer is the connection between Sufism and Freemasonry. The Bektashi Sufis in the Balkans, Buratti points out, claim they are Freemasons, and are known to have a strong connection to the legendary powerhouses of the Hidden Directorate. He adds that it is also known that many of these secret Bektashi groups have refused initiation to any Westerner unless he is already a Master Mason.

      According to Idries Shah, Freemasons have frequently been called Coalmen or charcoal burners in some Arabic dictionaries. A Sufi circle that traced its origins to Bayazid of Bistam also called its members Coalmen and bequeathed its tradition to an Italian society that to this day is known as the Carbonari, a “deteriorated” movement first mystical, then ethical and finally political. Idries Shah says that 12,000 Freemasons joined the Carbonari in Paris in the early years of the nineteenth century, thus greatly infusing Freemasonic political aspirations with the Sufi social and elitist ideals.[28] Since Sufism is the only truly global religious philosophy that exists, it is probably no coincidence that the United States of America , virtually founded by Freemasons, has introduced corporate globalism to the world and is now seeking to impose political globalism as well.

       Gurdjieff is only one of the many recent initiates who remind us of the company of illuminated Sufi adepts who have through the centuries and the millennia thus enriched the world with their wisdom, often anonymously. How is it, one must ask, that the Sufi vehicle of the Primordial Gnosis has survived for so long, millennium after millennium, in undiminished strength? There is no doubt that its gift of adaptability is the secret of Sufism’s immemorial vitality, its ascendancy over the remorseless attrition of time. It is friendly to the new; it absorbs, owns and reinvents every influence that impinges on it, whether favourable or hostile. It yields in order to command. It denies the existence of enemies, and so conquers all. It is the antithesis of Christianity’s Will to Power.

       Within a short time of the emergence of Islam, Sufis were following the Saracen armies into Spain and mingling accommodatingly with Christians and Jews in the West. There they created a rich new medieval culture of love and chivalry that crossed all religious boundaries, as well as accompanying traders on the ancient Silk Road to the great Hindu-Buddhist and Taoist centres of the Far East . And wherever they went they took with them their inner science of Light, their pacific philosophy, their religious globalism and the legend of the Nine Unknowns.

     So who are the Nine, really? A dense veil falls over these mysterious Beings the more we seek to penetrate it. Many of the current myths about them can be discounted. The truth is that we know almost nothing about these shadowy Guides of humanity. They remain a mystery, an X factor in the story of human evolution, an elusive presence that Sufis call the Hidden Directorate, but about whose hierarchy – or even existence – we can only speculate.

     Is the presence of their emissaries among us a harbinger of things to come? – of a return to Traditionalism? Does it presage some kind of revolutionary change in the political structure of Western society – perhaps not a return to the reign of the initiate-king, but a change that allows for a democratic institution guided from above by a council of wise spiritual overseers? It would seem impossible. Yet democracy on its own has proved hollow. In this violent and unstable transitional period which is steadily moving us into a new World Age many things are possible that would once have seemed beyond the farthest limits of the imagination.

       Might not an elitist political philosophy prove to be more beneficial than our present system? Democracy has permitted all of us an unprecedented awareness of the Self-principle at the core of consciousness: might we not find, then, that a realignment with the sacred perhaps better reflects the verities of the Self, and therefore a greater creativity? True, the Sufi ideal of a political paradigm that includes guidance by a spiritual elite is one extremely difficult of acceptance by most Western people. Yet it may well be in our stars.

        However, an obstacle to any realization of such a form of government, one based on spirit, is the fact that the further the message of the Nine travels down the hierarchic levels between us and them the more it is contaminated by the sea of negativity that surrounds the planet at present. The Will to Power lodged in the Western psyche has become lethal and even the very human emissaries of the Nine are clearly not free of this defect. Unlike the Greater Ennead of ancient Egypt , they are all-male and tend to be patriarchal, racist and warmongering. This contamination, we are told, has happened many times before in our history: in Atlantis and again in Egypt . It is an old story, and we may expect much purging before the present situation is likely to change. But the history of human evolution indicates that always the divine Will, when it announces itself, is ultimately stronger than the human. Ultimately, we submit to it or perish.

[1]     Julius Evola, The Hermetic Tradition, Inner Traditions International, Rochester , Vermont , 1995, 11.

[2]    Lynn Picknett & Clive Prince, The Stargate Conspiracy, Berkley , New York , 1999, 162.

[3]     Ibid., 168.

[4]     A.E. Wallis Budge, The Gods of the Egyptians, Vol. 1, Methuan & Co., London , 1904, 84, 161.

[5]    Ibid., 196.

[6]    Ibid., 225.

[7]   R.A. Schwaller de Lubiez, The Egyptian Miracle: An Introduction to the Wisdom of the Temple, Inner Traditions, Rochester , 1985, 87.

[8]   Ernest Scott, The People of the Secret, Octagon Press, London , 1983, 154.

[9]   Picknett & Prince, op. cit., 329.

[10]    James J. Hurtak, The Book of Knowledge: The Keys of Enoch, Academy for Future Sciences, Los Gatos , 1977,  85.

[11]    Picknett & Prince,  op. cit.,  325.

[12]    Ibid., 325.

[13]    J.J. Hurtak, op. cit., 258.

[14]    John Major Jenkins, The Mayan Lord of Creation and 2012, New Dawn magazine, 2006, 71.

[15]    Robert Buratti, from an article in the New Dawn magazine, Portland , Australia .

[16]  Paul Denison Stange, The Sumarah Movement in Javanese Mysticism, A Masters Thesis published by UMI, the University of Wisconsin , Michigan .

[17]   J.G. Bennett, The Masters of Wisdom, Turnstone Books, London, 1977, 37 – 39, and The Dramatic Universe, Vol. 1V, Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1961. 250 and 395.

[18]     G.I. Gurdjieff, Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson, Routledge, London , 1950.

[19]     Andrew Collins, The Gods of Eden , Headline, 1998, 267.

[20]    James Moore, Gurdjieff, Element Books, Dorset , U.K. , 1991.

[21]    J.G. Bennett, Gurdjieff: Making a New World, Turnstone Books, London , 1973, 62.

[22]     H. Schonfield, The Essene Odyssey, Element Books, Dorset , U.K. , 1984, 87.

[23]    Scott, op. cit., 76.

[24]    Buratti, op. cit., New Dawn magazine.

[25]    Scott, op. cit., 60.

[26]    Ibid., 60.

[27]    Ibid., 176.

[28]    Idries Shah, The Sufis, Octagon Press, London , 1964, 178.

Copyright Victoria LePage 2007