20th June 10:11
Subject: Hidden Wisdom. Part 6, Oct. 30, 2005
Now we come to a part of the discussion that deals with some people
for whom I have great respect. These are Osiris and Isis. They are
two of the good type people who have tried to make this World a better
After the death of Basilides, Valentinus became the leading
inspiration of the Gnostic movement. He still further complicated the
system of Gnostic philosophy by adding infinitely to the details. He
increased the number of emanations from the Great One (the Abyss) to
fif**** pairs and also laid much emphasis on the Virgin Sophia, or
Wisdom. In the Books of the Savior, parts of which are commonly known
as the Pistis Sophia, may be found much material concerning this
strange doctrine of Ãons and their strange inhabitants. James Freeman
Clarke, in speaking of the doctrines of the Gnostics, says: "These
doctrines, strange as they seem to us, had a wide influence in the
Chr-stian Chu-ch." Many of the theories of the ancient Gnostics,
especially those concerning scientific subjects, have been
substantiated by modern research.
Several sects branched off from the main stem of Gnosticism, such as
the Valentinians, the Ophites (serpent worshipers), and the Adamites.
After the third century their power waned, and the Gnostics practically
vanished from the philosophic world. An effort was made during the
Middle Ages to resurrect the principles of Gnosticism, but owing to the
destruction of their records the material necessary was not available.
Even today there are evidences of Gnostic philosophy in the modern
world, but they bear other names and their true origin is not
Many of the Gnostic concepts have actually been incorporated into the
dogmas of the Chr-stian Ch-rch, and our newer interpretations of
Chr-stianity are often along the lines of Gnostic emanationism.
The identity of the Greco-Egyptian Serapis (known to the Greeks as
Serapis and the Egyptians as Asar-Hapi is shrouded by an impenetrable
veil of mystery. While this deity was a familiar figure among the
symbols of the sec-et Egyptian initiatory rites, his arcane nature
was revealed only to those who had fulfilled the requirements of the
Therefore, in all probability, excepting the initiated priests,
the Egyptians themselves were ignorant of his true character. So far
as known, there exists no authentic account of the rites of Serapis,
but an ****ysis of the de-ty and his accompanying symbols reveals
their salient points. In an oracle delivered to the King of Cyprus,
Serapis described himself thus:
''A g-d I am such as I show to thee, The Starry Hea -ens are my
head, my trunk the sea, Earth forms my feet, mine ears the air
supplies, The Sun's far-darting, brilliant rays, mine eyes."
Several unsatisfactory attempts have been made to etymologize the
word Serapis. Godfrey Higgins notes that Soros was the name given by
the Egyptians to a stone coffin, and Apis was Osiris incarnate in the
sacred bull. These two words combined result in Soros-Apis or
Sor-Apis, "the tomb of the bull." But it is improbable that the
Egyptians would worship a coffin in the form of a man.
Several ancient authors, including Macrobius, have affirmed that
Serapis was a name for the Sun, because his image so often had a
halo of light about its head. In his Oration Upon the Sovereign Sun,
Julian speaks of the dei-y in these words: "One Jove, one Pluto, one
Sun is Serapis." In Hebrew, Serapis is Saraph, meaning "to blaze out"
or "to blaze up." For this reason the J-ws designated one of their
hierarchies of spir-tual beings, Seraphim.
The most common theory, however, regarding the origin of the name
Serapis is that which traces its derivation from the compound
Osiris-Apis. At one time the Egyptians believed that the dead were
absorbed into the nature of Osiris, the -od of the dead. While marked
similarity exists between Osiris-Apis and Serapis, the theory advanced
by Egyptologists that Serapis is merely a name given to the dead Apis,
or sacred bull of Egypt, is untenable in view of the transcendent
wisdom possessed by the Egyptian priestcraft, who, in all probability,
used the g-d to symbolize the s-ul of the world (anima mundi). The
material body of Nature was called Apis; the so-l which escaped from
the body at death but was enmeshed with the form during physical life
was designated Serapis.
C. W. King believes Serapis to be a deity of Brahmanic extraction,
his name being the Grecianized form of Ser-adah or Sri-pa, two titles
ascribed to Yama, the Hindu god of death. This appears reasonable,
especially since there is a legend to the effect that Serapis, in the
form of a bull, was driven by Bacchus from India to Egypt. The priority
of the Hindu Mysteries would further substantiate such a theory.
Among other meanings suggested for the word Serapis are: "The Sacred
Bull," "The Sun in Taurus," "The Sou- of Osiris," "The Sacred Serpent,"
and "The Retiring of the Bull." The last appellation has reference to
the ceremony of drowning the sacred Apis in the waters of the Nile
every twenty-five years.
"THE LION-FACED LIGHT-POWER."
From Montfaucon's Antiquities.
This Gnostic gem represents by its serpentine body the pathway of the
Sun and by its lion head the exaltation of the solar in the
constellation of Leo.
"A SYMBOLIC LABYRINTH."
From Montfaucon's Antiquities.
Labyrinths and mazes were favored places of initiation among many
ancient cults. Remains of these mystic mazes have been found among the
American Indians, Hindus, Persians, Egyptians, and Greeks. Some of
these mazes are merely involved pathways lined with stones; others are
literally miles of gloomy caverns under temples or hollowed from the
sides of mountains. The famous labyrinth of Crete, in which roamed the
bull-headed Minotaur, was unquestionably a place of initiation into the
There is considerable evidence that the famous statue of Serapis in
the Se****um at Alexandria was originally worshiped under another name
at Sinope, from which it was brought to Alexandria. There is also a
legend which tells that Serapis was a very early king of the Egyptians,
to whom they owed the foundation of their philosophical and scientific
power. After his death this king was elevated to the estate of a g-d.
Phylarchus declared that the word Serapis means "the power that
disposed the universe into its present beautiful order."
In his Isis and Osiris, Plutarch gives the following account of the
origin of the magnificent statue of Serapis which stood in the
Se****um at Alexa Alexandria:
While he was Pharaoh of Egypt, Ptolemy Soter had a strange dream in
which he beheld a tremendous statue, which came to life and ordered the
Pharaoh to bring it to Alexandria with all possible speed. Ptolemy
Soter, not knowing the whereabouts of the statue, was sorely perplexed
as to how he could discover it.
While the Pharaoh was relating his dream, a great traveler by the
name of Sosibius, coming forward, declared that he had seen such an
image at Sinope. The Pharaoh immediately dispatched Soteles and
Dionysius to negotiate for the removal of the figure to Alexandria.
Three years elapsed before the image was finally obtained, the
representatives of the Pharaoh finally stealing it and concealing the
theft by spreading a story that the statue had come to life and,
walking down the street leading from its temple, had boarded the ship
prepared for its transportation to Alexandria. Upon its arrival in
Egypt, the figure was brought into the presence of two Egyptian
Initiates--the Eumolpid Timotheus and Manetho the Sebennite--who,
immediately pronounced it to be Serapis. The priests then declared that
it was equipollent to Pluto. This was a masterly stroke, for in
Serapis the Greeks and Egyptians found a de-ty in common and thus
rel-gious unity was consummated between the two nations.
Several figures of Serapis that stood in his various temples in Egypt
and Rome have been described by early authors. Nearly all these showed
Grecian rather than Egyptian influence. In some the body of the go- was
encircled by the coils of a great serpent. Others showed him as a
composite of Osiris and Apis.
A description of the g-d that in all probability is reasonably
accurate is that which represents him as a tall, powerful figure,
conveying the twofold impression of manly strength and womanly grace.
His face portrayed a deeply pensive mood, the expression inclining
toward sadness. His hair was long and arranged in a somewhat feminine
manner, resting in curls upon his bre-st and shoulders. The face, save
for its heavy beard, was also decidedly feminine. The figure of Serapis
was usually robed from head to foot in heavy d****ries, believed by
initiates to conceal the fact that his body was androgynous.
Various substances were used in making the statues of Serapis. Some
undoubtedly were carved from stone or marble by skilled craftsmen;
others may have been cast from base or precious metals. One colossus
of Serapis was composed of plates of various metals fitted together.
In a labyrinth sacred to Serapis stood a thir****-foot statue of him
reputed to have been made from a single emerald. Modern writers,
discussing this image, state that it was made of green glass poured
into a mold. According to the Egyptians, however, it withstood all the
tests of an actual emerald.
John Winston. email@example.com