Inspirationals for the Goddess News Spiritual Blog by Dr Joanna Kujawa
Please welcome our first guest to the Inspirationals – the new feature at the Goddess News Spiritual Blog. Our first guest is no one else but Miguel Conner of Chicago, the Gnostic Supreme of the postmodern age, unapologetically curious Seeker and self-proclaimed heretic.
Miguel runs a popular Gnostic podcast the Aeon Byte Gnostic Radio on which I had a great pleasure to be interviewed. He is an author of several books and most notably the bestselling Voices of Gnosticism and the newly released Other Voices of Gnosticism – which I highly recommend if you are interested in Gnostic ideas or alternative interpretations of Christianity. And remember, you do not have to agree with everything to appreciate another Seeker’s passionate journey 🙂
- Miguel, tell us something about yourself and what triggered your
interest in the Gnostics?
I wish it had been a road to Damascus Experience like with Paul, but it was more of a fumbling towards freedom. Like the Gnostics of antiquity, I felt most of my life alienated from the world and suspicious of the realities around me. I thought I had been born in the wrong time and place, but realized I had just been cast in the wrong story. I searched for answers in different movements, but they all seemed to lack the courage and audacity to take a stand against the rulers of this age and their constructs in the material world.
The Gnostics didn’t reject the world, as many have written, but were the ones to fully embrace the world in all its horrors and deficiencies, and try to do something about instead of selling out to “make the best of it” attitude or bowing down to vagaries of fate. Why we are fallen beings is not our fault, the Gnostics would say, but it is our responsibility. As they say, the first step of an alcoholic joining recovery is to admit how bad things are. Most of humanity is drunk on its ignorance and high on the narcotic of matter.
Beyond that, Gnosticism answered a lot of suspicions that enabled me to exorcise my orthodox Christian upbringing: the stark reality of the God of the Old Testament; the missing Divine Feminine in Judeo-Christian mythology; the idea of Jesus being a force of higher reason and not necessarily a historical figure.
2. What is the most interesting or inspiring element of Gnostic
teachings for you?
I started to answer that, I think, and probably got carried away.
To me, it was that the Gnostics didn’t see reality as an illusion but propaganda. In this era of social media tsunamis, fake news barrages, banker and corporate puppet masters, it seems the Gnostic sensibility makes the most sense. Reality seems to have become a very malleable thing, but the truth is that it probably always was. Humanity is now just understanding this “reality.”
The Gnostics weren’t trying to save the world (like Gaia needs saving) but were trying to save their sanity in a Roman Empire with eerie parallels to our times. Today that might be our best hope, and gaining soundness of thought in a din of disinformation might be the ultimate victory. Carl Jung said the Gnostics were history’s first depth psychologists, and I feel he was right. The Gnostics wanted to take an inner journey to find the lost Godhead buried under layers of programming—as well as take outer journeys to decipher the psychology of angels, gods, and demons that mismanaged the universe. They wanted soundness of thought to instill clarity of heart, for everyone.
3. Do you have a favourite Gnostic teacher?
I’m a big Simon Magus fanboy, not the orthodox version but the Gnostic version that scared the frocks off the church fathers. Simon is dubbed the Father of Gnosticism and the Father of All Heresies. He might have been the first figure in western culture who declared that each of us shared in the essence of the Godhead; and each of us could unleash our divine fire to transform the very cosmos. In his trinity, there was God in the seed, God in the becoming, and God in the fullness, and each person was at one of those stages. We were higher than the gods, or at least more talented. Isn’t that what the Buddha echoed as well? That humans had a better chance of gaining enlightenment than the gods because we understood suffering? We had a better view of the stars from our vantage point in the gutter (I’m borrowing from Oscar Wilde)?
I also love Philip K. Dick, who I see a modern prophet and whose Gnostic ideas are truly unique and relevant for the present. In his writings, he danced on that fine line between insanity and soundness of thought and asked us to take that journey with him.
4. How do you think Gnostics and Gnostic teachers can be relevant to
Gnosticism is not a do-it-yourself project, as Stephan Hoeller once said. We are fallen, as mentioned, and some of us have started to awake after taking the Red Pill. But we cannot do it alone. We need wisdom (Sophia) from above as much as we need each other.
When the Gnostics wrote—whether it was Simon Magus, Carl Jung or Philip K. Dick—they were sharing powerful experiences siphoned directly from the realms of archetypes and symbols. They drew these energies down and presented them in their own artistic writings to us – not telling us what to do but urging us to find our own our own story, kindle our own divine fire.
Never take anything a Gnostic writes literally (even this interview). It’s all about what ignites an experience or reminds you of how beautiful you were before they made you forget. I like this quote from William T. Vollmann in The New York Times, describing the Gnostic Gospels:
“As a corpus, the scriptures are nearly incoherent, like a crowd of sages, mystics and madmen all speaking at once. But always they call upon us to know ourselves.”
From Clement of Alexandria to Rumi, and beyond, it has been said that to know yourself intimately is to know God. That is a central axiom of Gnosis.
5. You often refer to Gnostic connections in sci-fi, do you feel that
this genre in particular applies Gnosis to its narratives?
I certainly do. Sci-fi is about daring possible realities and final frontiers, and Gnosticism is all about that. The Gnostics championed traveling to distant dimensions, both outer and inner. And then going on that journey again and finding different scenarios and outcomes. The Gnostic texts talk about alien gods, universes of light, and parallel dimensions populated by incredible beings. Also, sci-fi promotes questioning the nature of reality and those who oversee it. I contend we need that more than ever. That’s why such Gnostic-themed films like The Matrix, Blade Runner, Inception, and The Lego Movie remain so popular and relevant.
Ray Bradbury once said he wrote sci-fi not to predict the future but to avoid it. The Gnostics did the same, but you could also include avoiding the past. As mentioned, they were depth psychologists. They felt every person, animal…hell, every rock and plant…was in a state of crisis due to past trauma in many rebirths. Gnostic writings dealing with the creation of the world or the deeds of religious exemplars like Jesus seems to be almost a form of therapy. If you could find out how God went mad, as scholar Stevan Davies said in my book Voice of Gnosticism, then you could possibly reverse the effects, heal the neurosis of the universe.
In Gnosticism, it’s a simple formula: What information (Gnosis) will you fight for today in order to be free, truly yourself, madly in love with everyone, and completely authentic. Some would call that being godlike.
Just don’t take anything I wrote literally. It’s just a story.
Miguel’s Books Recommended Books by Joanna:
Great read. Thank you Joanna & Miguel. More grist for the mill.
Thank you Goddess! I am so glad you connected to this. Yes, ‘more grist for the mill’ 🙂 And in so many ways, similar to what we have learned from Kashmir Shaivism. Wisdom/Sophia is truly universal xxx
Miguel, thank you for this interview and your insights. I highlighted what I loved most and what I believe Goddess News readers will relate to but, of course, there is much more. Personally, I believe in the historical existence of Yeshua/Jesus (in the same way that I beleive that Buddha existed) but the biblical narrative does make sense to me. That is why I am fascinated by the independent thought of the Gnostics and their quest for Gnosis. I am also very deeply interested in esoteric Hinduism (Kashmir Shaivism) and Kundalini Yoga – and these both traditions like the Gnostics focus on knowledge but also experience of the divine and even more so give us tools to achieve this experience. In my studies of orthodox Christianity, I did not find this kind of tools, only the dogma and infantile stories I could not believe anymore (that is why my book ‘Jerusalem Diary’ trying to make sense of it all). Frankly, the ‘obey and fear’ has the opposite effect on me and makes me only to desire to find true answers beyond this threat. So I really appreciate your insight. I believe that Gnosis, Buddhahood and Christ Consciousness are one and the same – the next step of our spiritual evolution beyond traditional stories unless the traditions choose to evolve. I love how you modernise the Gnostics and make their passionate search for Gnosis relevant for today’s seekers. That is truly amazing.
Thank you Miguel. Very interesting and informative. I particularly like your comment “most of humanity is drunk on its ignorance and high on the narcotic of matter”, So many live in the illusion that THIS is it. That provided I wish it, it will be so. And although that is true, the expression what you resist persists. If we resist what we judge to be bad, we issue an invite to all that is to have more. Far better to be the witness and simply watch, without judgement without making our experience wrong. Thank you for your insight. Stay well and be happy.
I so enjoyed this interview with Miguel, especially when noting how I also felt as he did when I was just a teen, about there being a Something Wrong in the world and how I just naturally felt different from the mainstream and felt a deep longing to discover a first, meaning path. I also objected at this early age the concept of sin. if others felt they were born in sin then so be it. I felt I was not!
I actually came across Gnosticism as an early possible step to take but, sadly I did come against the ‘Gnostic rejection’ interpretation so put it on the backburner. Maybe I was meant to at that time, because when I finally, some years later, was recommended Aeon Byte Radio by a friend and came across Miguel and his most enlightening style and interviews, well, Gnosticism then began to make an amazing sense in a way it never did before.
Miguel certainly has a great gift of communicating Gnosticism in a way that, for myself anyway, touches the Root of the Matter of the Gnostics, well, one that makes a great sense to me. His path to the Now and my own seem very similar though my own has taken me somewhat longer, in this Now life anyway. It makes such a difference to know there are many of similar minds because when there was just the single media of TPTB, as when I was a teen, well, it can be pretty tough and frustrating and scarey too. Now we have the WWW and Aeon Byte and many a veil has been lifted!
The Lego Movie is Gnostic-themed? That floored me (kinda). Just goes to show one never knows where Gnosis may come from next. Have added that movie to my list to view. Smile.
Thank you to both Joanna and Miguel. Your writings and interviews mean a lot to me and a very much appreciated.
“Be Still and Know that I AM Goddess.”
Ah, Jackie, what a great comment! Thank you! Yes, Miguel is quite a treasure box of Gnosticism. I love his style too. And so giving. Sharing Knowledge. A true Rebel Gnostic. I am not sure how you feel about past lives but I am pretty sure we all met in ancient Alexandria and swapped the secret papyri rolls in the greatest library of all times! I am sure I was there and so were you and Miguel and many others. Believe it, when I met my first husband what first truly moved my heart toward him was that he made a beautiful design for an architectural competition to rebuild the library of Alexandria. Alas, some other guy has won and the building is not as beautiful as it deserves. But here we are again. The old souls on the same journey, goddess. May Sophia, bless you! And Inanna and Mary Magdalene. From one goddess to another, let’s travel well and feel the truth. Much love, Joanna
Miguel is such an amazing individual, his wisdom regarding gnosis, and Gnostics is just as great as the wise professors he often interviews. The information he retrieves from some of the greatest minds in these Gnostic times, is just absolutely magnificent! If you have not purchased a book written by Miguel Conner, then my friend you simply have not yet lived life to the fullest.
Thank you, Matthew, for your supportive comment. I also loved Miguel’s book the ‘Voices of Gnosticism’ based on his interviews with Gnostic scholars. This is, how, I believe I have connected with him and the group. It was fantastic because in one reading one gets the entire overview of most Gnostic groups. I used it in preparation for my talks along with Stephen Heller’s work and many others. All great minds. And he is doing it all for free and with a great sense of humour and bohemian personality. It also encourages me to be 100% authentic as I sometimes feel I wear my academic masks. Thank you, once ? xxx.