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The Hymn of the robe of glory is also known as the Hymn of the pearl and belongs to the Acts of Thomas, which were written in Edessa around The hymn narrates how a prince encounters the 'robe' which he had left behind 'at home' in heaven: At once, as soon as I saw it,The Glory looked like my own self. The idea of the mirror image as a spiritual double can also be found in Mani, and in the Gospel of Thomas logos 84 , part of the Nag Hammadi discovery of When you see your likeness you rejoice.

But when you see your i Mystic and Occultism Category 2: George Robert Stowe Mead Format: At once, as soon as I saw it, The Glory looked like my own self. But when you see your images which came into being before you, and which neither die nor become manifest, how much you will have to bear! Echoes from the Gnosis is a series of monographs under the title Echoes from the Gnosis recently republished in a centennial edition summarizing his insights into the formation of the Gnostic world-view. By this time Mead had published eight works on various aspects of the early Christian world and on "The Theosophy of the Greeks.

Mead was the first modern scholar of Gnostic tradition. A century later, the corpus of his work remains unequaled in breadth and insight. George Robert Stowe Mead was an author, editor, translator, esotericist, and an influential member of the Theosophical Society as well as the founder of the Quest Society. Eventually shifting his education towards the study of Classics he gained much knowledge of both Greek and Latin. There is thus little doubt that in Gnostic circles, both pre-Christian and Christian, there was a clear tradition of Two Sons, one who remained, and one who went forth; and the one who went forth or returned was the Christ.

Our Poem is therefore a Song of the Christ-Mystery. It is to be noted that there are two Vestures: Now in the canonical scriptures John xix. The fourth Gospel xix. The writer of the fourth Gospel was a Mystic, and doubtless meant to convey an under-meaning to those who had "ears to hear. As the "Garments" were divided into four among the "four soldiers," can it be that he intended to convey the idea of a Cloak of the four elements, and a Vesture of the one element, or quintessence, the complement of the four?

At any rate this would be in keeping with the mystery-teaching concerning the "perfect body" or "body of resurrection," as may be seen from the Mithriac Ritual. Whether or not he had any such intentions, and whether or not he had further the same ground-ideas in mind as those set forth by the Gnostic poet in our beautiful Hymn, must be left to the opinion of the reader according to his knowledge or ignorance.

The difference between the under-garment and mantle may be seen in many a Mithriac monument; while in the Mithriac Ritual we read p. Paul was well versed in Gnostic nomenclature; and the extended meaning of the Robe of Glory, as it was understood by the Mystics, may be grasped by the present-day Mystic who reads the following passages from one of the inspired outbursts of the beautiful Untitled. He limned the Universe in His [ sci. He weareth them like these garments, and putteth them on like these vestures, and wrappeth Himself with creation as with a mantle.

If we were to set down all the passages in Gnostic and allied literature connected with the mystery of the Robe of Glory, the Wedding Garment, and the rest of the Light-Vestures of the Soul, we should speedily exhaust the space of this little volume and of several other volumes. We must, however, find room for a brief notice of the magnificent description of the Descent of the Vesture of Light on the Master, the Gnostic Transfiguration, in the Pistis Sophia P. They saw the Light only, sending forth a host of light-rays.

The Light was of various kinds, and it was of various types, from below above, each ray being more admirable than its fellow. The first was more admirable than the rest [? This is the whole Out-going and the whole Up-going, which hath emanated all Emanations and all that is therein, because of which all Mysteries exist and all their Regions. Thou art the First Mystery which hath existed from the beginning in the Ineffable before it came forth, and the Name thereof is all of us. For we all draw nigh unto Thee to clothe Thee with the First Mystery and all His Glory, by Commandment of the same; in that the First Mystery hath given us it, consisting of two Vestures, besides the one that we have sent Thee, for Thou art worthy of them; for in sooth Thou art prior to us and came into being before us.

For we draw nigh unto Thee, in order to clothe Thee with thy Two Vestures, which have been for Thee from the beginning with the First Mystery, until the time appointed by the Ineffable should be fulfilled. For yet a little while, a very little while, and Thou shalt come to us and leave the world.


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This gives us all the light we need to throw on the inner meaning of our Poem; it is the inner tradition intended for the initiated, whereas our Poem was intended to be circulated among the people. If the former, then we have found a terminus for the dating, if not of the Pistis Sophia as a whole, then of one of its "sources," and the date must be pushed back into the second century.

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But before we leave the Pistis Sophia there is another instructive passage that is reminiscent of the same ideas which underlie the words: It is an otherwise unknown Story of the Infancy and runs as follows P. Where is Jesus my Brother, that I may go to meet Him? Where is He that I may see Him? Otherwise I await Him in this place. And we gazed on Thee and Him, and found Thee like unto Him.

Once I gave a lecture in which I endeavoured to suggest what the nature of its under-meaning may have been, but it is too long to set down here. It is apparently from another "source" of the P. The Two Couriers also pertain to the mystery hidden under the symbolism of the Twins which meets us everywhere in the ancient myths and legends of initiation; in reversed reflection they would be the Two Thieves crucified with Him. In the Transfiguration-scene in the canonical Gospels, when the Master is clothed with Light, the Two are taken by the unknowing Disciples for Moses and Elias.

In The Gospel of Peter, in the story of the Mystery of the Resurrection, they are seen as Two Men, of the appearance of Light, whose heads reach unto heaven. They lead "the Light-stream into Chaos and bring it forth again" P. In the Book of Enoch lxxi. In Hellenic mythology and Hellenistic mystagogy it is Hermes who is the psychagogue and psychopomp, and he bears in his hand a Rod twined about with the Serpent Twins.

The geography of the way down from Hyrcania to Egypt, and back again, is consistent with itself , , but puzzling in some of its details. Hyrcania was the mountainous region on the southern shores of the Caspian Sea. Messene was in all probability the chief emporium of the sea-borne commerce of Babylonia and the West with India, and lay slightly to the south of the present-day Basra. The best solution seems to be that it stands for the City of Babylon itself.

But it may also preserve for us a hint of how the geography was allegorized by the Gnostic exegetes; for "The Labyrinth". She enters in her wandering the Labyrinth of ills. The Way of the Soul, he says, leads from 1 Heaven as the God-realm, through 2 the Firmament, to 3 the Earth--corresponding with the three natures of man: This seems to me a somewhat too elaborate scheme; but if it can stand, it strengthens the case for priority of the scheme underlying the Pistis Sophia to our Poem.

These are presumably the states of the Middle Distance--that is, Hades; for in l. These are presumably under the rule of the Prince of the Powers of the Lower Air. The rest of our space may now be devoted to a few notes of detail, and to an endeavour to suggest some considerations of a mystical nature that may be of interest to those who delight in such studies, on the ground that the whole Poem is concerned with the mystery of the Light-spark, or Spiritual Man, or Son-ship, or Christ-nature.

To aid our dim intuition it may be regarded as "born" onto the plane of the spirit from the ever-divine states of the Fatherhood and Motherhood, of Divine Light and Life. It is characterized by purity, innocence harmlessness , spiritual instinct not mind in its ratiocinative mode , childlikeness. In our Poem, however, it is not the man who is speaking, but the Spark or Son-ship.

The Nurturers, as Nurses of the Divine Infant, might be perhaps more appropriately characterized by "fulness" and "richness. But in the text it does not seem to be used in such a precise sense. There was a certain "binding up" of it; this suggests the first defining of space or limitation of the Spirit. It was "large" and "light," spacious but as yet not heavy or possessed of gravity, that is tension or relation to personal environment. Bevan, however, prefers "land of the upper ones," and the Greek has it also.

They would thus suggest a pure vesture of a formal nature, corresponding with the mineral kingdom, with which the soul or self is equipped or furnished. The Greek glosses the Robe as "of gold tissue with jewels incrusted. It is of "Gold" and "Silver"; that is, has "Sun" and "Moon" powers. All this is "bound" to the spiritual man by the power of the hardest of all the precious stones.

He is "armed" with it, according to the Greek. Whether or not there is in the term "Adamant" Diamond a play on the Adamus Adam, the Primal Man of the Mysteries, must be left to the decision of the reader. It is of interest, however, in this connection to set down a passage from the Naassene Document. Referring to the allegorical "Rock" to which the souls cling in the Odyssey, the Jewish commentator writes: See The Gnostic Crucifixion, p.

It is the Spiritual Mind of man, his inner steadfastness and stability, and his own measurement and monument. It was written "in the heart" cf. This means, mystically, written in the spiritual "blood" of the man, in the life-substance of him, in the very atoms of his substance.


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It was not engraved on the mind, but written deep down in the heart, so that it should not be forgotten. Memory is connected with past, present, and future; but this record could not be really wiped out even when time should be no more. But why should these living ideas be symbolized by a "pearl"--a precious thing, yet the product of disease? If we may be permitted to speculate on the further meaning of a physical fact not known to the ancient Gnostics, we might suggest that Living Gnosis cannot be gained without the help of the Opposing Powers, the mystical Adversary.

Gnosis from one point of view is the union of the spiritual and personal man. When the spiritual self would attain to Divine consummation, there must be a descent into the spheres of personality, where people and things live, so to speak, within "shells. This mystery may also be called a "pearl" because, on the substance side of things, the man in whom Gnosis is born, or who is born in Gnosis, is for ever. The oyster, or "jelly fish" or plasm, is the "shell" of personality, is the man of "flesh," or unevolved buddhic substance.

The Greek has "the Serpent the Swallower," and Hoffmann has "poison-breathed. The Christ descends and carries off or saves the Pearl, thus attaching Himself to the Pure Essence, purified by suffering, born of the energy of the Opposer within form, and so wins the way back to the Kingdom. The Opposer is Next-in-rank to God. It has been suggested that because of this "twin" idea our Poem has been very appropriately inserted into the Acts of Judas Thomas, that is, of Judas the Twin of Jesus; and certainly this hidden mysticism of Judas the Twin and Judas the Betrayer was highly elaborated by.

In our Poem, however, there is a descent through planes or states. Thereon comes the plunge into the physical body Egypt , when the direct guidance of the Twin-Ray ceases for a time. Compare A Mithriac Ritual p. The "lodging" is, literally, a "lodging-place for travellers"--that is to say, an inn, or caravanserai.

The Greek has simply "den" or "hole. This is the body in Egypt, or the hylic world or cosmos of gross matter. As the original Jewish writer of the canonical Apocalypse tells us Rev. The reader, however, may be reminded of the supposition in the Preamble p. Preuschen interprets it in terms of the Gospel-story; the Son being the Christ, and the noble youth Jesus. But this does not work out. Before the true reunion can take place, not only must the "evil one" be "saved," but the "saviour" must be "lost," and dealt with "treacherously"; the Christ must be "betrayed. It is the formal mind that betrays.

The "food" is the "food of the world" of P. With the forgetfulness, or oblivion,. The "draught of oblivion," or forgetfulness, is also described at length in the Pistis Sophia see, for instance, pp. The spiritual germ has now become embedded in man and is fast asleep in substance; and a great impulse, an earthquake, is required to arouse it and awake it from the dead.

For "And this is the counsel they came to," Bevan gives: If "plan" is the key-word, then, taking it in conjunction with the idea of the Letter to which every Prince, or Noble, set his Name, we may hazard the conjecture that, in one sense, it may be taken as referring to the mystery of re-incarnation; it suggests the weaving, out of all previous lives, some sort of a plan or destiny, stamped with the Name of every Prince.

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They would thus stand for not all the prior existences of the man, but rather such lives as had been able to manifest some portion of that Spiritual Mind. The Letter might thus be said to be woven out of the "substance" of previous lives, to which each proper person or facet of the spiritual Wholeness supplies its due share. This immediately attracts the soul in its last incarnation, for it is itself. It would naturally have a tendency to be scattered; its substance would naturally remain on the plane of substance, its mind-tendencies on the plane of mind; but that would be to be no more.

It is a sort of germ of wholeness. King of kings and Lord of lords. Every man has his "book" and there is a Great Book. See A Mithriac Ritual p. The Eagle-letter--which may be paralleled with the Descent of the Dove in the Baptism-Mystery--flew in the air. The "sound of its winging," or "the sound of its rustling," suggest another great symbol: Thereby the two united; the "seal" which held it together as a wholeness was "loosed," and there was union.

The Plan and Heart united, atom matched atom in "Mind" and "Blood. They are the bodies of "dross. Its Voice or Life is its feminine power that awakens and brings to birth; its Light is its masculine potency that guides, controls, orders--the mode that happens after the awakening or resurrection. It is the life and journey of a Spark and not of any man-neophyte; though of course the life and journey of any initiate would have many things in common.

This is the same idea as that which underlies the mirror-play of Iacchos, the Young Bacchus of the Mysteries.

Echoes From The Gnosis Vol X The Hymn Of The Robe Of Glory by George Robert Stowe Mead

This is a great danger for many. The Robe is as it were the one uniting. It is the self talking to the self by means of action. Only three lines are preserved; one is untranslatable, the second is utterly unmetrical, and the third--which appears to be the concluding line of the Poem--contains a very doubtful word. Probably the copy used by the editor who inserted the Hymn in The Acts of Thomas was badly damaged at the end. The fragments, thus completed, seem to be genuine, for we almost require some mention of the Pearl at the end of the Poem.

I cannot attempt to venture the two missing lines, but the general sense appears to be as follows: And with my Pearl appear before them at His side. Whatever may be its precise interpretation--and the Mystic at any rate knows that in vital things there cannot possibly be one formal interpretation only--there will be few who will not admit that this ancient Poem of the Gnosis is beautiful.

For ourselves, we end with the hope that, when it is better known, no few may find it inspiring and illuminating also. And in the wealth and the glories Of my Up-bringers I was delighting,. From the East, our Home, my Parents Forth-sent me with journey-provision. Indeed from the wealth of our Treasure, They bound up for me a load. Large was it, yet was it so light That all alone I could bear it.

Chalcedonies of India, Iris-hued [ Opals? They girt me with Adamant [ also ] That hath power to cut even iron. My Glorious Robe they took off me Which in their love they had wrought me,. And my Purple Mantle [ also ] Which was woven to match with my stature. And with me They [ then ] made a compact; In my heart wrote it, not to forget it: I left the East and went down With two Couriers [ with me ];. For the way was hard and dangerous, For I was young to tread it. Down further I went into Egypt; And from me parted my escorts.

Straightway I went to the Serpent; Near to his lodging I settled,. To take away my Pearl While he should sleep and should slumber. Lone was I there, yea, all lonely; To my fellow-lodgers a stranger.

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However I saw there a noble, From out of the Dawn-land my kinsman,. A young man fair and well favoured, Son of Grandees; he came and he joined me.

I made him my chosen companion, A comrade, for sharing my wares with. For I had clothed me as they were, That they might not guess I had come. From afar to take off the Pearl, And so rouse the Serpent against me. But from some occasion or other They learned I was not of their country.

With their wiles they made my acquaintance; Yea, they gave me their victuals to eat. I forgot all concerning the Pearl For which my Parents had sent me;. And from the weight of their victuals I sank down into a deep sleep. All this that now was befalling, My Parents perceived and were anxious. It was then proclaimed in our Kingdom, That all should speed to our Gate And this is the counsel they came to: And for me they wrote out a Letter; And to it each Noble his Name set: Bethink thyself of the Pearl For which thou didst journey to Egypt. It flew in the form of the Eagle, Of all the winged tribes the king-bird;.

It flew and alighted beside me, And turned into speech altogether. At its voice and the sound of its winging, I waked and arose from my deep sleep. Unto me I took it and kissed it; I loosed its seal and I read it. I bethought me again of the Pearl, For which I was sent down to Egypt. And I began [ then ] to charm him, The terrible loud-breathing Serpent. Their filthy and unclean garments I stripped off and left in their country. On the road I found [ there ] before me, My Letter that had aroused me As with its voice it had roused me, So now with its light it did lead me On fabric of silk, in letter of red [?

Encouraging me with its guidance, With its love it was drawing me onward. By the hands of their Treasure-dispensers Who trustworthy were with it trusted. Without my recalling its fashion,-- In the House of my Father my childhood had left it, At once, as soon as I saw it, The Glory looked like my own self. I saw it in all of me, And saw me all in [ all of ] it, That we were twain in distinction, And yet again one in one likeness. I saw, too, the Treasurers also, Who unto me had down-brought it,. Were twain [ and yet ] of one likeness; For one Sign of the King was upon them Who through them restored me the Glory, The Pledge of my Kingship [?

The Glorious Robe all-bespangled With sparkling splendour of colours: With Gold and also with Beryls, Chalcedonies, iris-hued [ Opals? With Sards of varying colours. With adamantine jewels All of its seams were off-fastened. And as with Sapphires above Was it wrought in a motley of colour. I saw it further was making Ready as though for to speak. I heard the sound of its Music Which it whispered as it descended [?

And [ now ] with its Kingly motions Was it pouring itself out towards me,. And made haste in the hands of its Givers, That I might [ take and ] receive it.