|Edition description:||First Edition|
|Product dimensions:||5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.80(d)|
About the Author
Philip Gardiner is the best-selling author of The Serpent Grail and The Shining Ones. He has been called "the next Graham Hancock." He is seen on TV, in magazines, and has done many hundreds of radio interviews.
Read an Excerpt
In order to fully comprehend what gnosis is, we must first understand the background and history of this hidden world. We must come to an understanding of the idea that our present orthodox history is basically incorrect. Over the last few centuries there has been an ongoing revision of history by those people in power, both ecclesiastical and political. As any good historian will tell you, the history of the world has been written by the victors. The victory could be a military conquest, a political campaign, or a religious movement — either way, the losers are generally silenced and eradicated from the history books. Sometimes they are made to look foolish, or even vilified.
When we are told by the history books that "the war was won by the glorious and good," we must be wary. The story has usually been exaggerated out of proportion by the victorious, and is no longer an accurate version of the truth. This is especially true concerning the victories of Christianity. For instance, it is commonly reported that Patrick went to Ireland and defeated the serpents, eradicating the island of all indigenous snakes. This is blatantly untrue, as Ireland has never had any snakes. The facts in this case have been hidden from us by those in authority — namely the Roman Catholic Church. What is occurring is a multilayered symbolic statement. This story is actually an allegory, meaning that Patrick eradicated Ireland of all devil worshippers. (The snake or serpent was commonly associated with pagan worshippers.) This story proves the existence of a serpent-worshipping cult in Ireland, which was replaced by the new cult of Christianity, and is linked to the worship of what we shall discover to be the wisdom of the serpent. It also refers to the fact that Patrick overcame the power of the serpent, and thereafter mastered it.
As I revealed in my previous book, The Serpent Grail, the serpent cult was prevalent across the globe in ancient times. The snake often has a wonderful and physical Elixir of Life in its venom. This venom is packed with proteins that have scientifically proven beneficial properties, which actually aid the extension of life and improve health. I showed how the ancients understood this, utilized it, and included numerous references to it in their texts, art, and structures. Eventually the mixing of blood and venom from the snake in a ritualized bowl gave rise to the holy mixing bowl we know today as the Holy Grail. The serpent symbolizes wisdom — often called ultimate wisdom. Why would a slithering snake, which moves across the ground, eats its victims, and casts off its skin, be seen as a symbol for the ultimate knowledge?
In The Serpent Grail, I claimed that serpent worship was prevalent around the world in ancient times and actually gave rise to the many disparate religions and cultures of humanity. In the following passages, I will very briefly remind you of a few elements I believe to be relevant from the history of serpent worship and mythology. I will not, as yet, explain the reasoning behind each and every strange occurrence or text, as this is a simple but often slow process of trickling information into the mind, allowing the retained memories to jump out occasionally once new insights are gained. Think of them as small sparks of enlightenment, and you will be close to the truth. In essence, we shall be moving through the various stages as if we were initiates in the mysteries of gnosticism.
The worship of the serpent goes back in history to Greek, Roman, Egyptian, and even Sumerian times. Snake worship can be found as far apart as Australia, Europe, South America, and the African Continent. Serpent worship is involved at almost every level of any given culture.
In Africa, the snake was often pinned to a cross or tree as a sacrificial offering, just as Jesus was pinned to the cross in the New Testament. Moses also lifted and pinned the Brazen Serpent, which was thought to have been on a Tau-cross. The Tau-cross eventually came to signify hidden treasure, and as we continue our initiate journey, we shall come to the realization that this symbolism is due to the hidden knowledge manifested in the symbol of the upwardly moving serpent on the cross.
In a state census taken in 1896, it was remarked that more than 25,000 different forms of the Naga snake (the Indian mythical Cobra) were prevalent in the northwest province of India, and many experts believe that snake worship can be traced back through India to Persia and Babylon, as well as various other early civilizations.
The snake is intricately linked with magic and mythology in almost every culture. It is seen as the personification of wisdom and goodness, and alternatively as the personification of evil — thus revealing the duality that is implicit to it's nature. This also implicates the duality of the energy serpents known as Ida and Pingala, which traverse the spine in the Hindu tradition known as the Kundalini. The Kundalini is commonly seen as one of the paths to true wisdom.
Disagreement exists regarding the sexual symbolism of the snake. Some people believe that snakes are masculine, because when a serpent stands upright when threatened, it is phallic in nature. At the same time, when snakes are associated with water, they are often given a female connotation. I disagree with much of what is assumed in this area. Natural things cannot always be attributed or related to human sexuality, although there are definitely instances of serpent/god/phallus relations. Some of these are historically proven, but have more to do with the union of opposites within ourselves rather than a sexual union between male and female. This internal union has been depicted throughout history as a sexual union, even though it is not implicitly sexual in nature. It is often represented as the Hermaphrodite or Androgyny figure. However, it is important to remember that, just because there is one association of the phallus with a serpent god, not all snakes are associated in that way. It may well be that the phallus is just a symbol of the power and fertility of the snake. I believe that this means the snake itself (whether the real physical snake or the energy serpent of Hinduism and others) was a carrier of fertility, rather than just being a symbol of fertility.
Some experts believe that the ancients considered caves, wells, and other such openings in the earth to be entrances to the womb of the Goddess, from which all life erupted and into which all things were laid at death. The snake is said to live within the earth, which is often symbolized as the body of the Goddess. In this way, the snake is aware of all her secrets and wisdom, including those of life, death, and rebirth. This is an indication of why the serpent was seen as the phallus and an allusion to the sexual potency of the male, as well as the feminine watery serpentine spirit of wisdom. It is the union of power and wisdom.
Water has been regarded as sacred by many cultures, and shrines were often created at water sites. Eventually, these places evolved into all manner of churches, temples, and mosques, being commandeered by various organized religions. Many serpent or dragon-related myths have remained associated with these sacred places over time, including the stories surrounding the Sinclair family, now commonly associated with their ownership of Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland.
The Sinclair family (who are intrinsically involved in the Templar Grail myths) have their familial origins in Scandinavia. This northern region cannot escape its serpent past. Whether Vandals or Lombards, they were all "addicted to the worship of the serpent. "Olaus Magnus, a Swedish ecclesiastic writer and historian, informs us that snakes ate, slept, and played with ordinary people in their own houses. This serpent worship becomes obvious when looking at the dragon standards of the Danes and Vikings. These dragons were later brought to Wales and into Arthurian legend by Norse invaders. In The Worship of the Serpent, John Bathurst Deane lets us in on the secret behind the Danish sacred vessel and its primitive idolatry. The relic is a "celebrated horn found by a female peasant, near Tundera in Denmark, in the year 1639." The vessel is said to be of gold and embossed in parallel circles, seven in number. In circle one, there is a naked woman kneeling with extended arms — on each side, the figures of serpents. Circle two has the figure in prayer to the serpent; while in circle three she is in conversation with the snake. This has to be a grail, a horn of plenty, a horn of offering and receiving from the sacred snake.
It is said that the women of the Vandals (who worshipped the flying dragon) kept snakes in hollowed oak trees and made them offerings of milk. The women prayed to the snakes for the health of their family. Keeping them imprisoned, feeding them, and then requiring healing from them may be an indication of how deeply the Vandal society was entrenched in serpent worship. Deane claims that the Lombards similarly worshipped both a golden viper and a tree on which the skin of the "wild beast was hung." In approximately A.D. 682, the Bishop of Benevento suppressed this belief by cutting down the tree and melting the golden viper into a sacramental chalice.
The Normans were descended from Vikings and considered the yggdrassil tree important, with the serpent as the Ouroboros around the heavens. They incised dragons and snakes on their sword hilts and shields. This was most often with the symbol of the Tau-cross (before they were Christianized).
The crest of Henry St. Clare (the first Earl of Orkney) from the 14th century uses the head of a great serpent. The engrailed cross (seen at Rosslyn Chapel) also has some remarkable connotations. The engrailed cross is now a Sinclair symbol, but the original definition of engrail implies generation. The Sinclair family — the Holy Light — was the Holy Generation, the keepers or protectors of the Grail. At the center of the engrailed cross is the Templar cross. Although the Sinclair family denies the connection, the element of the Templar cross is there. The Templar cross begins the outward journey from the center in horseshoe-like curves, and so becomes symbolic of immortality.
The tomb of Sir William Sinclair, which sits inside Rosslyn Chapel, depicts a chalice and octagonal cross, as well as a rose. The chalice is the Grail, the cross is the number eight for immortality, and the rose is the blood of the serpent (Christ) and symbolic of the mother goddess Ishtar and her hidden wisdom.
Because the movements of a snake are typically sinuous and wavelike, similar to the course of a river, three letters are attributed to the snake — M, W, and S. The use of these letters has to be closely watched, especially when they are used in conjunction with snake mythology or Alchemy (such as Mary or Mare for water, Water itself, and Serpent). The snake is not implied every time these letters are used, just when in association with other snake symbolism.
Many cultures around the globe believe that water contains a spirit-serpent, which in these cultures is linked implicitly with water cults. Serpents are often seen as the resident guardians of a pool, pond, or well. This is particularly true in Celtic culture, where they are depicted with gods and goddesses. For example, Brighid is associated with many serpent deities, such as Neit. These watery serpents were guardians of the Wisdom associated with Water. There is a Well, situated in Pembrokeshire, England, which is said to have contained a golden torque (said by some to be symbolic of the snake), guarded by a hand-biting serpent. At the Maiden's Well in Aberdeenshire in Scotland, there was reputed to be a winged serpent present.
Some experts believe that the snake was originally a symbol of the virgin goddess giving birth to the cosmos, unaided by any male principle, almost an androgynous element of creation. In some early myths, the goddess gives birth to the universe, and afterwards the original singularity of the goddess split into the separate form of god and goddess. It was from their sexual union that creation was thought to arise. It is, therefore, the re-union of these opposites that is required for true wisdom and creativity.
The Pelasgian Creation Myth By Dr. James Luchte Adapted from Robert Graves's The Greek Myths
In the beginning, Eurynome,
The Goddess of All Things,
Rose naked from Chaos.
She found nothing upon Which to rest her feet, and thus,
She divided the sea from the sky.
She danced lonely upon The waves of the sea.
She danced towards the South, and The Wind set in motion behind her Seemed something new and strange With which to begin a work of creation.
Wheeling about, she caught hold of This North wind, rubbed it between Her hands, and behold!
The great serpent Ophion.
Eurynome danced to warm herself, wildly And more wildly, until Ophion, enchanted,
Coiled about her divine limbs Becoming one with her.
As she lay with the Ophion,
Eurynome was got with child.
Eurynome assumed the form of a dove,
Brooding upon the waves and with time,
She laid the Universal Egg.
At her bidding, Ophion coiled seven times About this egg, until it hatched and split into two.
Out tumbled all things that exist, her children:
Sun, moon, planets, stars, Earth with her mountains Rivers, trees, herbs, and all living creatures.
Eurynome and Ophion made their home upon Mount Olympus where he vexed her by Claiming to be the author of the Universe.
Forthwith, she bruised his head with her heel,
Kicked out his teeth, and banished him to the Dark caves below the Earth.
Eurynome opened her gaze and her arms to her Children, giving each its name which she read Off its own singular power and being.
She named the sun, moon, planets, stars and The Earth with her mountains and rivers, trees,
Herbs and living creatures.
She took joy in her creation, but soon found Herself alone desiring the face, voice,
ear and warmth of another of her own.
Eurynome stood up and once again Began to dance alone upon the waves.
In the Pelasgian creation myth, the goddess created the first living creature from air — the giant serpent Ophion — and became a female serpent to mate with it, giving birth to the World Egg. She then became a dove (which later became a symbol for the spirit of god or Holy Spirit) and floated on the primordial ocean, while Ophion coiled around the egg seven times until it hatched and created the heavens, the earth, and the underworld.
Lightning was known as the sky-serpent or lightningsnake. The thunderstorm was believed to be the mating of the Sky Father and the Earth Mother, bringing the fertilizing rain. The lightning strike itself was a masculine thrusting and fertilizing power.
The Greeks believed that the mushroom was the result of the mating of the God and Goddess, the lightning snake, and the earth. Many have pointed towards this mushroom as being the Elixir of Life. If this mushroom is an elixir, then it was created symbolically by the snake. According to John Bathurst Deane in The Worship of the Serpent, the site of a lightning strike was once considered to be a place so full of power that it was designated an abaton (abyss) or forbidden place of the serpent (ab). This itself links the serpent with the electrical or electromagnetic energy of the Earth, as it is commonly seen in the Chinese Dragon Paths and the Serpent Ways or Ley Lines of Europe.
In the Dionysian mysteries, a serpent representing the god was carried in a box called a cista on a bed of vine leaves. It is believed that this may be the infamous cista mentioned by the early writer Clement of Alexandria, which was exhibited as containing the phallus of Dionysus. The cista mentioned in the mysteries of Isis is also said to have held a serpent, also known as the missing phallus of Osiris. Again, according to Deane, the fertility festival of the women of Arretophoria included cereal paste images "of serpents and forms of men," revealing the dual aspects of female wisdom and male power.
A serpent is said to have been found beside the sleeping Olympias, mother of Alexander the Great. Philip of Macedon, the husband of Olympias, is reputed never to have coupled with the Bride of the Serpent again. Alexander is sometimes connected with the images of the horned serpent, which is a symbol used for the enlightenment experience. Alexander, the great general and war hero, claimed his authority through the prevalent serpent power of his day.
The Greek and Roman god of healing, Aesculapius, is also said to have fathered a son by a woman who is depicted in the temple at Sicyon as sitting on a serpent. This clearly means that Aesculapius was seen as the serpent, making the connection even stronger. Barren women often sought help at the temples of Aesculapius to sleep in the precincts of the abaton.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Gnosis"
Copyright © 2006 Philip Gardiner.
Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: The Serpent,
Chapter 2: The Kundalini,
Chapter 3: The Shining,
Chapter 4: The Void,
Chapter 5: The Hidden Bible,
Chapter 6: Ancient Religious Texts,
Chapter 7: The Goddess in the Temple,
Chapter 8: The Temple and the Templars,
Chapter 9: Solomon's Secrets,
Chapter 10: Mystics, Alchemists, and Gnostics,
Appendix A: The Knowledge Dictionary,
Appendix B: Timeline of Serpent Worship,
About the Author,