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: