I. Of the One, or God

  1. What is God?

The principle beyond all being, beyond all participation, totally imparticipable and transcendent, beyond all knowledge, unmoved in the singularity of its own unity, is the always ineffable One, which is also the Good. Laying in ultimate repose, all things exist because of the ineffable One, though that One is beyond all things.

  1. Is God one or many?

God, the One, although singular, may be understood, so far as it can be understood, triadically, all contained within itself transcendentally and immanently throughout the realms and cosmos. The entirely ineffable One (Gk: pantelos arrheton) beyond all being is also expressed as the simply One (Gk: ho haplos hen), that which is before duality (Gk: pro tos duados). The simply One is active where the ineffable exists in its own repose. Finally the One exists as the One-Existent or One-Being (Gk: to hen on). Here the One in all its ways exists beyond being, beyond life and beyond mind. All these come from the One but the One is beyond them. As the senses of the physical body cannot grasp nor even perceive the realities of the mind, as image cannot take hold in what is absolutely simple and shapeless, and as the bodily cannot approach the incorporeal so too is the mind incapable of gazing upon that which is beyond intellect and beings are to be found inferior to that which is infinitely prior to being.

  1. Can there be more than one God?

If God is the ultimate and true reality, participating in nothing, prior and superior to everything else, then the answer is “No.” That other, emanated and posterior intelligibles, participating in the One may also be called gods then the answer is “Yes.” Also, the three-fold Demiurgos may also be called god, though it is lesser than the One.

  1. Is the One male or female?

The One, is neither male nor female, masculine nor feminine. The ineffable One and the simply One exist being multiplicity, symbolized by the dyad called Limit and Unlimited or One and Many. Though the One-Existent manifests after the dyad it is still beyond being, essence, duality, and the Forms from which male and female take their shape.

  1. If the One is beyond sex and gender, what language may be used to describe It?

Though the One is beyond such distinctions, frequently our human languages are not. As such, where the Divine has revealed itself through the Demiurgos, deities, daimons, and other spiritual beings, humans have taken up language appropriate to their understanding of those revelations. Such language, gendered as it may be, can be used to discuss God, knowing that it reflects a human understanding of the One. As the One manifests itself in different ways in different cultures God may be spoken of using gendered and non-gendered terminology.

  1. How else may the One be discussed?

While the One may be spoken of in a positive manner, that is to say “the One is this,” the One may also be spoken of in an apophatic or negative manner, as taught by the writer known as Dionysius the Areopagite. Apophatic theology recognizes that the One is beyond all things and so positive descriptive language fails to fully describe the One. Ultimately, we can say nothing about the One; it is neither “this” nor “not this” nor “not not this.”

  1. If the One may be spoken of apophatically, why use positive language at all?

It is through a combination of positive and negative language that the entirety of the One may be understood, so far as the One as possible, for the One encompasses and exists in all things and is beyond all things.

  1. Is this the only reason?

No. Because the One has manifested itself through various cultures and given itself Names according to the understanding of those cultures, divine Names are symbols or tokens of divine reality and are not simply subjective terms for a limited human understanding of God. As such, those Names contain noetic power capable of raising human souls beyond their current state. This practice is part of what known as theourgia, “theurgy,” or “god-working.”

II. Of the Spiritual Realms and their Inhabitants

  1. Besides the fullness of the One beyond being, what other realms exist?

Reality consists of the Triadic Pre-Essential One that is God, three primary hypostases or underlying states; the realm (Gk: kosmos) of the divine mind, called the intellectual or noetic realm, the intellective or noeric realm, and the realm of the divine soul, called the psychic realm; and finally the perpetual cosmos. There is also a noetic-noeric realm in between the first two hypostases.

  1. How are these realms formed?

Each realm is emanated from the One. As God expresses itself in three ways, each realm consists of three “moments,” ways in which the divine reality at that level is expressed. The first moment is the hypostasis in its purest form, existing as itself. The second as that hypostasis is participated by beings of a lower level. The third as that hypostasis is reflected in those lower beings. These three levels are called “unparticipated” (Gk: amethektos), “participated” (Gk: metachomenos) and “in participation” (Gk: kata methexin), respectively.

  1. What is the noetic realm?

The noetic, or intellectual, realm is the first hypostasis after the One. At its height is the pre-essential Demiurge. The noetic realm consists of three “intellectual triads,” from which extend the principles of being, life and mind.

  1. What does the first intellectual triad contain?

The first consists of the the pre-essential Demiurge, also called Aion or Eternity, from which, as a reflection of the One-Existant into the noetic realm, comes the primary quality of Being. Being gives the desire to participate in causes. Life grants us movement towards more excellent natures. Mind is a conscious perception of the goodness of causes. Before this triad there is no being, life or mind in which lower entities may participate.

  1. What does the second intellectual triad contain?

The second intelligible triad, in the noetic-noeric realm, consists of the primary quality of Life.

  1. What does the third intellectual triad contain?

The final triad, in the noeric realm, contains the primary quality of Mind.

  1. Do all things have Being, Life, and Mind?

No. Being is the most basic quality, and all thing which exist have being. However, not all thing that exist live, and not all living things have reason, the primary quality of mind.

  1. What is the noeric realm?

The noeric or intellective realm is sometimes considered a lower portion of the noeric cosmos and sometimes as a cosmos in its own right. It is in this cosmos the Demiurge, or celestial Craftsman, known as Nous or Mind, is active.

  1. What does “intelligible” and “intellective” mean?

Intelligible refers to that which can be apprehended by the intellective mind. The intellective can be understood as the activity of the mind which grasps or apprehend the intelligables, the pure divine thoughts, of the noetic realm.

  1. What is the psychic realm?

The psychic realm is cosmos of the divine soul, just as the noeric realm is the cosmos of the divine mind and the noetic realm the cosmos of the gods or divine beings.

  1. What does the psychic realm contain?

At the highest level of the psychic realm resides the participated intellectual Mind, Nous itself, in the form of the Whole or Hypercosmic Soul. This is followed by the participated encosmic or World Soul and finally Souls in participation, individual souls, which connect the psychic realm with the natural cosmos within which reside physical beings. Souls in participation, in the perpetual cosmos, manifest as individual souls.

  1. From where did these souls originate?

The Whole Soul is a reflection of the celestial Demiurge into the psychic realm. The World Soul was created by the Demiurge in the psychic realm. Individual rational souls were likewise created by the Demiurge while irrational souls were created by divinities posterior to the Demiurge, under His guidance.

III. On the Generative Cosmos and Evil

  1. How did the natural cosmos come into being?

Like all things and beings, the natural cosmos was emanated by the One.

  1. Does this mean the cosmos is the One?

No. Instead the cosmos, through the psychic, noeric, and noetic realms, participates in God.

  1. Is the One in the cosmos?

Yes, the power and activity of all superior beings extends to the depths of creation. Therefore the One is in the cosmos, though it is also beyond the cosmos.

  1. What is the nature of the cosmos?

In that the cosmos always subsists in some manner and is connected to the past, present and future, and participates its eternal creator, is perpetual and eternal. In that the One, which is the Good, extends into all things, the cosmos is itself good.

  1. 25. Of what is the cosmos composed?

The cosmos consists of matter (Gk: hule), a word that originally meant “wood” or “timber.”

  1. What is the nature of mater?

Hulē is not matter as commonly understood, i.e. physical material with shape. Instead it is analogous to Plato’s chora, the receptive space of the Timaeus. This means that hule is not shaped material but the receptacle for the divine Forms that give matter its shape.

  1. If the cosmos is good and the Good extends to all beings, why is there evil in the world?

Because the Good is in all things and because the Demiurgos, the fashioner of the cosmos, desires good for all within its preview, evil cannot be understood as a positive thing, something with being, life or mind. Instead evil is a lack of good, just as darkness is a lack of light.

  1. If the Good extends to all things, and Being, Life and Mind move us towards that which is best, how can any being do evil?

Because evil is not a positive thing, but negative, people do not do evil for evil’s sake. Instead evil is done in an attempt to achieve some good. Because all beings participate in the Good to varying degrees and not uniformly, we may err about the Good and so do evil in place of good.

  1. Are there other causes of evil?

A being’s separation from their monad, their “leader god,” can lead to error due to lack of perfection. Thus individual souls are more likely to err than daimons, which are much closer to their monad, the gods and divine intelligibles. The divine intelligible are monads, and therefore free from error as is the pre-essential Demiurgos. Mistaking a particular good for the Good can also lead to error.

IV. Of Spiritual Beings, or the Greater Kinds

  1. What are “spiritual beings”?

Spiritual beings are those that have their origins in the noetic realm. They are above the realm of generation and so are never born and never die.

  1. Do all spiritual beings have Being, Life and Mind?

No. Some exist prior to Being, such as the pre-essential Demiurgos. Some have Being but exist prior to Life and Mind, such as the gods or divine intelligibles. Some have Being and Life but exist prior to Mind, such as the angels and archangels. Others, such as human souls, have Being, Life and Mind. That such beings are called “beings” is a matter of convenience of the language and does not necessarily indicate the presence of Being.

  1. How many spiritual beings are there?

The number of spiritual beings, though finite, is beyond measure. They form a chain of being from the deepest depths of the cosmos to the highest heights of the noetic realm, linking everything from the One to matter.

  1. What are the spiritual beings called?

The pagan Neoplatonists called the first of the spiritual being beneath the One the pre-essential Demiurgos, the great craftsman. Next are the gods or divine intelligibles. The divine intelligibles are divided into multiple species, all sharing a single essence. These species include the noetic, noetic-noeric, and noetic gods as well as hypercosmic gods, the encosmic gods and the liberated gods in between, as well as sub-lunar deities. The complete chain of divine beings, the gods and the greater kinds, are: deities, archangels, angels, daimons, heroes, and pure rational souls. Further, there is a celestial Demiurgos and a sub-lunar Demiurgos.

  1. Hyper- and encosmic gods? Does that mean these deities exist in the realm of generation?

No. The essences of the gods are noetic and that is the place of their being. These terms instead refer to the place of their divine activity rather than existence.

  1. Have the spiritual beings been called anything else?

Yes, pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite uses the language of angels to refer to divine beings. The noetic and noeric gods may have been understood by the Gnostics as the Aeons. The hypercosmic gods are understood to be the fiery seraphim, the liberated gods the wise kerubim, the encosmic gods the stable thrones and the sub-lunar gods the dominions. The archangels are the heavenly powers, the angels the authorities, and the daimons to the angelic principalities. Heroes are discussed as the angelic choir known as archangels, and pure souls as the choir of angels.

  1. Do the spiritual beings exist within a hierarchy?

Yes. They gods and greater kinds, or angelic choirs, belong to hierarchies based on their ontologies activities, functions, and genegogic or anagogic activities.

  1. What is their ontological hierarchy?

Their ontological hierarchy is as follows:

  • Hypercosmic Gods / Seraphim
  • Liberated Gods / Kerubim
  • Encosmic Gods / Thrones
  • Sub-lunar Gods / Dominions
  • Archangels / Dominions
  • Angels / Authorities
  • Daimons / Principalities
  • Heroes / Archangels
  • Purified Souls / Angels

 

  1. What is their hierarchy based on function?

Their hierarchy based on function is as follows:

  • Hypercosmic Gods / Seraphim / Perfection
  • Liberated Gods / Kerubim / Illumination
  • Encosmic Gods / Thrones / Purification

 

  • Archangels / Dominions / Perfection
  • Angels / Authorities / Illumination
  • Daimons / Principalities / Purification

 

  • Sub-lunar Gods / Dominions / Perfection
  • Heroes / Archangels / Illumination
  • Purified Souls / Angels / Purification

 

  1. What is the function of this hierarchy?

In each triad, the role of the superior entities’ is perfection, the role of the median entities’ is illumination and the role of the inferior entities’ is purification, all leading towards union, as much as possible, with the Demiurgos

  1. What is their hierarchy based on activity?

Their hierarchy based on activity is as follows:

  • Hypercosmic Gods
  • Encosmic Gods                       Anagogic
  • Archangels
  • Angels

 

  • Sub-lunar Gods
  • Daimons                                  Genegogic
  • Heroes
  • Purified Souls

 

  1. What are the roles of the anagogic and genegogic hierarchies?

Anagogy means to raise something up. The anagogic hierarchy’s function is to raise souls upwards towards participating the divine Mind, divinization, and divine union. The genegogic hierarchy’s function is to incline souls towards the generative or physical cosmos.

  1. How are the hierarchies related?

The hierarchies consist of the same spiritual beings and reflect both our understanding of their essences and of their activities.

  1. Can spiritual beings perform evil acts?

In that some spiritual beings participate in the Good less than others, it is possible for them to do evil while attempting to do good. Some, such as the gods and the pre-essential and heavenly Demiurges, participate fully in the Good and are incapable of evil, even in the subsequent consequences of their activities: all they do, and the effects of what they do, are always good. Further, not all activities that have an adverse effect on humans are necessarily evil. Some daimons have the duty of administering punishment for evil human activities while sometimes what is good for the cosmos is not good for individual humans.

V. Of the Three-Fold Demiurge

  1. What is the Demiurge or Craftsman?

The Demiurge (Gk: Demiurgos, “Craftsman,” or “Public Worker”) is first mentioned in Plato’s Timaeus. It is sometimes seen as the second god after the One.

  1. Is there only one Demiurgos?

Though Neoplatonists have varied on this, our tradition tells us there are three Demiurgoi. The pre-essential (proousios) Demiurgos, a heavenly or celestial Demiurgos associated with Nous, the Divine Mind, and a sub-lunar Demiurgos.

  1. What is the nature and role of the pre-essential Demiurgos?

The pre-essential Demiurgos exists beyond Being and envelops the whole of the noetic realm, containing within itself all the powers of the divine mind. This Demiurgos, who may be also called Eternity, Paradigm, Eheieh, Heka Pronoia, and Autogenes, amongst others, is the True and Invisible Sun, which is the symbol of the Demiurgos as the voice of the Good. This primary Demiurgos is also called “anterior father,” “cause of the intelligibles,” and “god of gods.” The Demiurgos’ role is to organize the noetic world and all its inhabitants according to the impulses given by the One.

  1. What is the nature and role of the heavenly Demiurgos?

The secondary Demiurgos is Nous, the divine mind in participation and is thus the most posterior aspect of the noetic realm and, as the Whole Soul, the most anterior aspect of the noeric realm. This Demiurge has been associated with the gods Zeus, Helios, Horus, Amoun, the Tetragrammaton or Havayah, and the Epinoia of Light associated with the Gnostic Aeon Zoe, amongst others. The role of the secondary Demiurge is to reveal the intelligible divine minds in the psychic and cosmic realms as well as to set these realms in order.

  1. What is the nature and role of the sub-lunar Demiurgos?

The tertiary Demiurgos rules over the sublunary world of generation and matter. It is called Ptah, Hephestaeus, Asklepos, Hades, Osiris, Dionysius, and Adonai or the Christ of the Gospel of John. Though not creator of matter or the generative cosmos, this Demiurgos takes the reason-principles (Gk: logoi) or eternal guiding principles of the intelligible Forms that descend through the primary and secondary Demiurgoi, and organizes them to give shape to the hulic matter of the cosmos. The sub-lunar Demiurgos is also the ruler of all master daimons and it is through Him that daimon is known.

  1. Is the Demiurgos evil?

No. The Demiurgoi fully participate the Good and are incapable of evil.

VI. Of the Human Being, the Soul and the Personal Daimon

  1. What is a human being?

A human being is a composite of a rational soul descended into generation and a physical body. It is, through the rational soul, endowed with free will and encompassed by fate and providence.

  1. What kinds of human beings exist?

Human beings are generally divided into three groups, the general mass of humanity, the rare purified theurgic sage, and a median group in between.

  1. What is the nature of those called the mass of humanity?

The mass of humanity are those whose lives are centered completely in the generative cosmos, their souls still dazed and confused from incarnation. They worship in a way suited to nature and its trappings.

  1. What is the nature of purified theurgic sage?

The purified theurgist, or theourgos, fully participates the work of the gods and the celestial Demiurgos, called demiurgy. Having cleansed themselves of the accretions of matter and an inclination towards generation they never again are lost in incarnation and are engaged in demiurgy. They work and worship according to the laws of theurgy and the intellect.

  1. What is the nature of the median class?

The nature of the median class of humanity is three-fold: those who go back and forth between the material cosmos and the noetic realm, those who blend matter and intellect, and those who are transferring their attention away from matter towards the intellectual realm. As novice and intermediary theurgists, they participate in both modes of worship, withdrawing themselves from material worship or use the lower to reach the higher.

  1. Are there non-human souls?

Yes. “Human” souls are rational souls. Humans also have non-rational souls, connecting them to the generative cosmos and non-human animals. Non-human animals also possess non-rational souls.

  1. What is the nature of the body?

A body is composed of hulic matter, shaped by the sub-lunar Demiurgos, and motivated by a soul.

  1. How did rational souls come into being?

Rational souls were created from the divine Mind, Nous itself.

  1. What is the nature of the rational soul?

Unique as a median between the natural cosmos and the superior spiritual realms, the rational soul is dual-essential. On the one hand it is a rational soul, an immortal creation from the divine Mind, and inclines towards the noetic realm, and on the other hand it contains a worldly essence and so inclines towards the generated cosmos.

  1. Why does the rational soul fall into generation?

Souls initially descend for the purpose of completing the universe. Further, once purified, they continue to descend as a demonstration of divine life. Thus, the dual nature of the rational soul is that it must descend into a body but must also rise again into the spiritual realms, either at death or through theurgy.

  1. Do all human souls descend into generation for the same reason?

No, after the primary descent, human souls may descend either voluntarily or involuntarily.

  1. For what reason does a rational soul voluntarily descend?

Those rare purified souls participating fully in their divine leader and the celestial Demiurgos is engaged in divine work and understand its own dual nature. It voluntarily descends in order to help less pure souls align themselves with the divine will.

  1. For what reason does a rational soul involuntarily descend?

Rational souls involuntarily descend into generation for two reasons. First, they may have begun to align themselves with will of their divine leader, but have no done so fully, and so still fall into error and unintentionally perform evil acts. These souls descend for the correction and purification of character. Alternatively, impure souls may be forced into generation for punishment and judgment of their evil acts. This, in turn, may ultimately lead to purification and a purposeful turning towards the Good.

  1. Is incarnation in the generated world evil?

As it is the very essence of the rational soul to incarnate in the natural cosmos, falling into generation, in and of itself, is not evil is for a great and good purpose.

  1. For what reasons do rational souls need to be purified?

When falling into generation for the first time, human souls become confused, having no familiarity with the natural cosmos, and so, mixed with a body, forget themselves. Having forgotten themselves they cease, to varying degrees, to participate in the divine and gain accretions of matter that bind them to generation and obscure their divine light and the light of other spiritual beings. Purification removes these accretions and the passions of the hulic cosmos.

  1. What is the means through which purification can occur?

Purification of the soul comes through personal engagement with the hieratic and theurgic rites.

  1. What is the personal daimon?

The personal daimon, sometimes called the good daimon (Gk: eudiamon) or guardian angel, is the spirit that watches over the rational soul, guiding it towards its divine leader, the celestial Demiurgos, and Good, and so away from error.

  1. Does every human have a personal daimon?

The Neoplatonists taught that all humans have such a daimon, allotted to each by their divine leader. It is possible that, as each person progresses spiritually, a new guardian, such as an angel or archangel, will take over the work of the personal daimon, until the soul is completely purified and walks in the train of the gods. This is found only in the most pure and illuminated of souls.

  1. How can we know our personal daimon?

We can contact the personal daimon through theurgic rites related to the sub-lunar Demiurgos.

VII. Of Theurgy, Gnosis, and Demiurgy

  1. What is theurgy?

Theurgy, (Gk: theourgia, literally “god-working”) is the companion to, and completion of, philosophy (Gk: philosophia, the love of wisdom), and theology (Gk: theologia, speaking or reasoning about God/the gods). Whereas philosophy allows us to hone our reason and establish a moral life, and theology allows us to understand the divine through discursive reasoning, theurgy allows us to experience the divine directly and engage in its creation work.

  1. What is the end result of theurgy?

The final goal of theurgy is union (Gk: henosis) with the divine intelligibles, and possibly with the One, so far as possible, and direct or intuitive knowledge (Gk: noera gnosis) of the intelligible realm. It is also demiurgy, participation in the divine work of the Demiurgos and other spiritual beings. Through theurgy we rise to the level of our supplication and so gradually take on a divine perfection.

  1. Is there more than one kind of theurgy?

There are three general kinds of theurgic worship. These have been designated by Iamblichus as material, immaterial, and a median class that uses both.

  1. What is the nature and purpose of material theurgy?

Material worship involves the use of material or physical tokens (Gk: sunthemata) and symbols to raise ourselves to the encosmic divine intelligible and tertiary causes, such as archons and daimons. This is the kind of theurgy most commonly practiced.

  1. What is nature and purpose of immaterial the theurgy theurgy?

Immaterial worship involves the use of purely spiritual tokens without recourse to physical symbols or ritual. The purpose of immaterial theurgy is to unite ourselves with the immaterial gods. This form of theurgy is rarely practiced and only by the most advanced souls, the theurgic sages.

  1. What is the nature and purpose of the median class of theurgy?

The median class of worship employs both physical and immaterial tokens to unite ourselves with the the liberated divine intelligibles. This form of theourgia is more rarely practiced and only by those who are beginning to move beyond the need for material worship. The Ekklesia’s Mystery of Synaxis makes use of this kind of theourgia.

  1. What are the tokens?

Tokens can be likened to the thoughts of the divine intelligibles and the Demiurgoi made manifest in material and supra-material ways. Natural objects, animals, the planets and stars, and symbols from sacred scripture all contain divine tokens.

  1. Are tokens subjective or objective?

Tokens are objective manifestations of the divine and not subjective, human created symbols. As such a token always embodies, to varying degrees, the divine Form and thought at its essence. Where a human-created symbol is a subjective image that must be intellectually understood in order to be fully effective, participation in divine tokens requires the proper assimilation of the soul to the higher principles.

  1. Is theurgy the same as magic?

No. Though theurgy can bring about material results that is not its primary purpose. Theurgy should be differentiated from sorcery, which brings about disharmony in the world by separating parts of the hulic cosmos for individual power by reuniting them under human rather than divinely created hierarchy.

  1. Is theurgic invocation the same as common magical invocation?

No. Despite the apparent meaning of the word, theurgic invocation raises the practitioner to the level of the invoked, as far as possible.

  1. Should commands or orders be included in theurgic worship?

No commands or orders should ever be included in theurgic invocation. First, the need for command demonstrates that the soul has not been assimilated to the higher principles as such commands require the commander and the commanded, whereas the purified soul is one with its object of worship. Second, souls cannot command the beings ontologically prior to themselves..

  1. Is there more than one kind of gnosis?

Yes, in that one can attain gnosis of many different things and beings and of the different realms. Gnosis is not a single experience or understanding but a continuum stretching from the depths of the natural cosmos to the One itself.

  1. Is henosis acquired solely by the techniques of theurgy?

Neither gnosis nor henosis can be acquired solely through esoteric techniques. Instead henosis is only gained through the extending upwards of the theurgist’s soul in participation with higher beings. If not properly experienced, and without a corresponding movement of divine beings to lift up the heart and mind of the theurgist, the noetic rites are little more than play acting.

  1. Is gnosis acquired or given?

Both, in that the theurgist must make real changes in themselves in order to become more like the divine and that the divine is an active participant in the receiving of gnosis.

  1. What is demiurgy?

Demiurgy is the active participation in the divine work of the celestial Demiurgos through the noetic rites and the personal/universal processes of purification (Gk: katharsis), illumination (Gk: phôtisma) and perfection (Gk: teleiôsis).

  1. Is gnosis the same as demiurgy?

Though related to, and necessary for, demiurgy, gnosis and participation in the divine work are not identical.

  1. Is there a concept of salvation within the Ekklesia?

In the sense that henosis, union with the divine, can be accomplished not simply through the hieratic rites but through divine involvement, it could be said that the Ekklesia Neoplatonismos Theourgia recognizes a kind of salvation.

  1. What is the nature of theurgic salvation?

Henosis is a participation, as much as possible, in the higher causal principles and is achieved through gradual assimilation into the divine, especially through purification. Theurgic salvation can also be understood as the soul knowing itself and participating the divine intelligibles.

  1. Does theurgic salvation mean freedom from incarnation?

Yes and no. The purified soul does rise to the noetic realm and the circle of angels, liberation from incarnation is a lesser and non-permanent goal of theurgy.

  1. What are some of the more important goals of theurgy?

According to the divine Iamblichus, these are more important goals than liberation from the material world: 1. Withdrawal from alien things. 2. Restoration of one’s own essence. 3. Perfection. 4. Fullness. 5. Independence of will. 6. Ascent to and unification with the creative cause. 7. The demiurgic activity of conjoining of parts with wholes. 8. Contribution from the wholes to the parts of power, life and activity.

VIII. Of Free Will, Fate, and Providence

  1. What is free will?

Free will or (Gk: prohairesis, literally “before choosing”) is the deliberate consideration before choosing what action, if any, to take in a given situation. Free will is part of the essence of the soul, and so expressed through its power and activity.

  1. Do the consequences of our free choices effect the soul?

Because human beings have a descended soul our ethical decisions effect not only our physical lives but our psychic lives as well.

  1. Is our ability to choose freely absolute?

The ability for all but the most purified of souls to choose freely is not absolute because there are things beyond most of our abilities to control, such as fate. This is because free will exists in the rational soul and so depends on the individual’s spiritual knowledge of their own soul. Those who identify entirely with their soul, rather than the material world, are freed from fate by having aligned themselves with providence.

  1. What is the nature of our free will?

The free will of most people is variable and can be over ridden by influences by the sense-world because the soul is still in a state of confusion and separated from its true nature.

  1. What is the nature of the will of a purified soul?

The free will of a purified theurgist becomes “fixed” in that the soul no longer needs to deliberate through discursive reasoning what actions to take, proper moral activity is known intuitively through gnosis.

  1. What is the relationship between free will and the soul’s descent into matter?

Those souls who incarnate for the purpose of further purification are brought into generation by their personal daimons. However, purified souls, having aligned their wills with the gods and Demiurgos, understandsthe necessity of their work and the illumination of all souls and therefore willfully and freely descends into matter.

  1. What is fate?

Fate (Gk: Hiemarmene) is the nature of the world in that it is the inherent movement of the material world towards its divine ends and the necessities of nature.

  1. What is subject to Fate?

All things inclined towards generation are subject to fate in as much as they are inclined towards generation.

  1. Is the rational soul subject to fate?

The rational soul is subject to fate only in as much as it has given itself to the realm of generation. To the degree that the soul remembers itself and inclines towards the noetic realm it is given over to its own self-authority, freedom and life. The soul fully centered on its noetic life is free from fate.

  1. What is providence?

Providence (Gk: Pronoia, literally “before intellect”) is the universal cause of being and well-being.

  1. Are providence and fate related?

Yes. Fate and providence are the same thing, viewed from different perspective. A soul in need of purification, and so, to various degrees, not recognizing its own divine purpose, works against itself and see what happens to it as fate. The soul aligned with its divine purpose see the divine movement in natural actions, and so recognizes all things as providence. To quote Iamblichus: “In accord with this same essence, then, fate is interwoven with providence and, in reality, fate is providence, is established from it and around it” (Stob. II, 173).

  1. If fate and providence are identical, and providence is the source of well-being, for what reason are people “ill fated”?

The soul’s relationship to matter determines whether one’s life is ruled by fate or participates in providence. This is directly related to the soul’s capacity to receive from above and the degree to which it has been purified and has assimilated itself to the divine. Those soul inclined away from the divine, and therefore fighting against the divine movements of the heavens and earth, experience providence as fate.

  1. Is providence or fate necessary to attain to union with divine?

Fate, or the perception of fate, is a barrier, as much as it is present within the life of an individual, to divine union. It is instead necessary to experience divine providence as a sign of participation in the higher activities of the divine hierarcy and movement towards union.

IX. Of the Ekklesia Neoplatonismos Theourgia

  1. What is the Ekklesia Neoplatonismos Theourgia?

Ekklesia, through typically translated as “church,” refers to a gathering of people who have been called together. The Ekklesia Neoplatismos Theourgia is an assembly of people, gathered together to follow the same Neoplatonic tradition, mysteries, and sacred rites.

  1. Is the Ekklesia Neoplatismos Theourgia a religion?

The English word “religion” comes from the Latin religonem, meaning respect for what is sacred or the Latin religio, an obligation or bond between humanity and the divine. In that the Ekklesia both respects the sacred and both recognizes and celebrates the bond between the One and humanity, the Ekklesia Neoplatismos Theourgia represents a religion tradition

  1. To what religious denomination does the Ekklesia Neoplatismos Theourgia belong?

The Ekklesia Neoplatonismos Theurgia is ecumenical in nature, as befitting the hermeneutical approach of Platonists across many religions and times. As such, the Ekklesia may be said to belong to all denominations or be seen as a religion in its own right that accepts within its assembly the practitioners of other religions.

  1. Is this broadness of religious inclusivity too broad for a religious organization?

No. Many different religions over nearly the last two millennia have engaged with Neoplatonism, it’s cosmology, theology, and theurgy, incorporating it into themselves and participating fully in its exegetical traditions. Thus, there is a long tradition of people from various religions engaging in Neoplatonism. The goal of the Ekkleisa is to bring together those engaged in Neoplatonism, especially of the sort developed by the divine Iamblichus, and so better the involvement of all.

  1. Is the Ekklesia Neoplatonismos Theourgia ancient or new?

The Platonic Academy was founded over 2500 years ago and existed in some form until at least the 7th century CE, having incorporated many of the theurgic practices of Iamblichus. Platonism and Neoplatonism have continued to influence many cultures, both Eastern and Western, until the present. In that the Ekkleisa partakes of this current of thought, belief and practice it is ancient. However, the body of the Ekklesia is a modern development, even if it has roots in ancient times.

  1. What are the main influences on the Ekklesia Neoplatonismos Theourgia’s beliefs and practices?

Though the Ekklesia draws from many currents of inspiration, its primary sources are the Platonic dialogues, the extant writings of Iamblichus, and the works of the 6th century writer known as Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite.

  1. I am a member of X religion, can I also be a member of the Ekklesia Neoplatonismos Theourgia?

All those wishing to engage in the theurgy and worship of the Ekklesia, and are willing to view and participate in the divine, the cosmos, and the hieratic rites in a manner in keeping with the Ekklesia, may find a home there.

  1. Are there other means to achieve gnosis and participate in the divine creative work other than the Ekklesia Neoplatonismos Theourgia?

In that the divine manifests itself in a multitude of ways, sewing tokens throughout the world, it is only natural that different vehicles of a kindred spirit have engaged in gnosis and demiurgy.

  1. How is the Ekklesia Neoplatonismos Theourgia able to lead souls to divine union and demiurgy?

The Ekklesia provides a community of sacred and hieratic practice through which the presence of the divine intelligibles and the holy Demiurgos are made manifest, through the divine hierarchy, to and within its members and through them the rest of the world.

X. Of the Mysteries or Ekklesiastic Hieratic Rites

  1. To what does “mystery” refer?

The English word “mystery” is derived from the Greek word “musterion” (plural: musteria). The Ekklesia’s use of the word refers to one of its sacred rites. In English these would be commonly referred to sacraments. They are also referred to as rites (Gk: teletai).

  1. Why not call them sacraments?

The word sacrament comes from the Latin sacramentum, a sign and what is seen. Mustērion refers to something hidden and stresses the power of the Good as made manifest in an unseen way through the holy rites. Also, though there are many similarities between the Christian sacraments and the Ekklesia’s mysteries they are not identical and using a different term helps alleviate confusion.

  1. To what does “hieratic” refer?

The term “hieratic” was applied by the divine Iamblichus to the theurgic rites. It is a two-fold allusion, first to that which is sacred and priestly and second to ancient Egyptian sacred writings.

  1. What is a mystery?

A mystery is a sacred rite that has hidden within it the power and providence of the One. The rites of the Ekkelisa are both mysterious and hieratic, containing the sacred and hidden powers of the unseen world.

  1. Is a mystery always effective?

If performed by a fully purified and illuminated soul a mystery always produces the desired result. However, those souls being few and far between, it is possible for one of the mysteries to fail depending on the state of the soul performing it and the capacity of the soul receiving it. If both souls are in a properly prepared state a mystery will always be successful, to varying degrees, depending on the differing states of those involved.

  1. Are there preparations necessary for the giving of a mystery?

Yes. The giver of a mystery must enter into a proper spiritual state for the noetic rite to be successful. In order to accomplish this, various spiritual preparations, such as contemplation and purification, must be undertaken.

  1. Are there preparations necessary for the reception of a mystery?

Yes. The receiver of a mystery must also enter into a proper spiritual state for the noetic rite to be successful. In order to accomplish this, various spiritual preparations, such as contemplation and purification, must be undertaken.

  1. Does the efficacy of the mystery depend on the merit of the person administering them?

Yes. The person administering a mystery is not merely a conduit for divine power but a participant in that power. Without proper participation a mystery can only be performed in its outer form, its inner power being absent.

  1. What is happens if the mysteries are given or received in an unprepared state?

At best, nothing. At worst, the mystery may have the opposite of its intended result, moving the soul farther away from the Good through antipathy.

  1. Who instituted the mysteries?

Tradition holds that the hieratic rites were originally instituted by Julian the Chaldean and Julian the Theurgist. As theurgic rites, however, they have their origins in the One, the Demiurgoi, and the divine intelligibles. They were fully brought into by the divine Iamblichus. They have been a part of Neoplatonism ever since. The mysteries, in the form and manner they in which they exist today, were instituted by the Ekklesia, under the guidance of the Good and the Demiurgos.

  1. How many mysteries are there?

There are nine mysteries; four related to the common life, one related to the communal life, and four related to the hieratic life. Of these, there are three mysteries of purification, three of illumination and three of perfection.

  1. What are the four mysteries of common life?

The three mysteries of the common life those of Divine Birth (Gk: Theogenesia), Affirmation (Gk: Epivevaiosi) and Divine Union (Gk:Hieri Henosis), and What is Performed over those Fallen Asleep (Gk: Epi Tois Kekoimemenois Teloumenon).

  1. What is the mystery of communal life?

The mystery of communal life is that of Assembly (Gk: Synaxis).

  1. What are the four mysteries of hieratic life?

The four mysteries of the hieratic rite are the rite of the sacred vows of the secular monastic Order of Hagia Hupatia, initiation into the Order of Hierokeruxes, into the order of Hiereis, and into the Order of Hierarches.

  1. What are the mysteries of purification?

The mysteries of purification are the Divine Birth, the sacred vows of the Order of Hagia Hupatia, and initiation into the Order of Hierokeruxes. They are called this because of the cathartic effect they have upon the soul by which hulic accretions are removed according to the mystery undertaken. However, the mystery of the Divine Birth also partakes of illumination and perfection.

  1. What are the mysteries of illumination?

The mysteries of illumination are the rite of Affirmation and initiation into the Order of Hiereis. They are called this because, having some of the hulic accretions surrounding the soul removed, they bring an influx of divine brilliance to the receiver/s, leaning them towards gnosis.

  1. What are the mysteries of perfection?

The mysteries of perfection are those of Divine Union, Assembly, and initiation into the Order of Hierarches. They are called this because they lead the receivers from gnosis to union. However, the mystery of Assembly also partakes of purification and illumination.

  1. Which mysteries may usually be received only once?

The initiatory mysteries of consecration into holy Orders, the Divine Birth and Affirmation are generally only received once. The exception to this may be if it is believed the mysteries were administered in a deficient manner.

  1. What are the general effects of all mysteries?

The effects of the mysteries are to lead the practitioner from a state of ignorance and occlusion to gnosis and henosis through the measured steps appropriate to each soul. It is through the mysteries the human soul is able to escape the confines of fate and more fully participate in God’s providence. Likewise, it is through the mysteries that the One makes itself known to the cosmos through the soul of humanity.

XI. Of the Mysteries of the Common Life

  1. What is the first mystery of common life?

The first mystery of the common life is the rite of Divine Birth. This is a ritual of immersion in water that has correlates in Judaism, Christianity and several forms of pre-Christian Mediterranean, near and middle-eastern religions.

  1. At what age should one receive the rite of Divine Birth?

As theurgic rites involves the understanding and active will of the receiver as well as the clergy, the rite of divine birth should be administered only to one who has reached the age of reason. Those beneath the age of majority must have the permission of their parents or guardians, as well as that of the Ekklesia.

 

132. What is the nature of the mystery of the Divine Birth?

The mystery of Divine Birth is a rite of spiritual purification. As a mystery of the common life, it is available to any who devoutly wish to tread upon the path of gnosis and henosis under the aegis of the Ekklesia.

  1. What are the effects of the mystery of Divine Birth?

The mystery of the Divine Birth acts to cleanse the soul and its vehicle of the hule that interferes with the reception of divine illumination and the logoi inappropriate to the life of the receiver’s soul. Through participation in the Divine Birth the recipient may more easily regain the illuminated path and move away from the ignorance of the Good that we call evil.

  1. Who can administer the mystery of the Divine Birth?

As a mystery of the common life, the mystery of the Divine Birth is especially given to the Order of Hierokeruxes. However, any ordained clergy can perform the mystery of the Divine Birth. In cases of extreme need, a properly trained Brother or Sister of the Order of Hagia Hupatia may also perform the rite.

  1. What is a person to do after receiving the mystery of Divine Birth?

A Divinely Born person should participate in the mysteries, especially the mystery of Synaxis. Such a person should also participate in the study of the literature of Plato, Neoplatonism, and gnosis in general.

  1. What is the second mystery of common life?

The second mystery of the common life is that of Affirmation. This rite confirms the dedicant’s commitment to, and participation of, the hieratic life, as well as to the Ekklesia. This mystery is typically given immediately after that of Divine Birth.

  1. At what age should one receive the mystery of Affirmation?

Not before the age of adolescences and not before having received the mystery of Divine Birth. This may be performed concurrent to the mystery of the Divine Birth. Those beneath the age of majority must have the permission of their parents or guardians, as well as that of the Ekklesia.

  1. What is the nature of the mystery of Affirmation?

The mystery of Affirmation is a rite of spiritual illumination, the full effects of which are only possible after having received the Divine Birth.

  1. What are the effects of the mystery of Affirmation?

The mystery of Affirmation acts of open the dedicant to the light of the divine intelligibles which bring humanity gnosis.

  1. Who can administer the mystery of Affirmation?

As a mystery of the common life, the mystery of Affirmation is especially given to the Order of Hierokeruxes. However, the holy oil used in the rite must be consecrated by Hierarch of the Ekklesia.

  1. What is the third mystery of common life?

The third mystery of the common life is that of Divine Union or marriage.

  1. What is the nature of the mystery of Divine Union?

The mystery of Divine Union is one of perfection, the bringing together of the particular into the universal or the many into the one.

  1. What are the effects of the mystery of Divine Union?

The mystery of Divine Union serves to bind two lives as one. This act of union below causes, through harmony and divine sympathy, the yearning of the soul for a higher union. Through this sympathy the light of perfection may enter the souls so brought together in the generative world. It is an act of the divine marriage that perfects earthly love with divine love.

  1. Are there any preparations necessary to receive the mystery of Divine Union?

Yes. Those seeking to receive the mystery of Union should prepare themselves separately through theurgic prayer and at least one must have received the mysteries of the Divine Birth and Affirmation.

  1. Are there any other requirements to receive this mystery?

Yes. As with all the theurgic mysteries, sympathy between above and below is an important element in this mystery. As union is perfected through love (Gk: eros), those seeking to receive and participate in this mystery must assure themselves that their love is not merely physical but spiritual. Physical love may beget physical union, but only spiritual love can beget the higher union and move the soul towards the One.

  1. Who can administer the mystery of the Union?

As a mystery of the common life, the mystery of Affirmation is especially given to the Order of Hierokeruxes. However, if the mystery of Assembly is also performed with the rite, a Hieras or Hiereia, or a Hierarch, must also be present.

XII. Of the Mysteries of the Communal Life

  1. What is the mystery of the communal life?

The Mystery of communal life is that of Synaxis. This is also known as the Consumption of the Divine Life because to consume something is to take it into one’s self in an act of assimilation. The mystery of Synaxis consists of three parts: Reversion, the Liturgy of the Intelligibles, and Synaxis proper.

  1. Who may administer the mystery of Synaxis?

As a mystery of communal life, the mystery of Synaxis is especially given to the Order of Hieres.

  1. What is the nature of Reversion?

Reversion is a rite of purification in which the community participates simultaneously as individuals and as a whole, or as both particulars and the universal. It is a cathartic ritual of individual and communal oblation and offering.

  1. What is the effect of Reversion?

Reversion is the process of returning to one’s origins. Reversion, or Self-Reversion, brings the souls of the participants knowledge of their essences, and thus the ability preserve the self-identity of the soul through the shedding of hulic accretions and participation in the divine intelligible.

  1. What is the nature of the mystery of the Liturgy of the Intelligibles?

The Intellitible Liturgy is a communal practice of contemplatively reading sacred scripture, also known as lectio divina, which literally means “sacred reading.” Through the reading and contemplation of sacred scriptures the practitioners can gain a gnostic illumination.

  1. What is the nature of the mystery of the Consumption of the Divine Life?

The mystery of Assembly is a rite of perfection. Through the consumption of theourgic symbols the divine in manifestation those partaking in the mystery of Assembly participate in unity with the divine.

  1. Who can lead the mystery of the Demiurgic Liturgy?

As a mystery of the communal life, the mystery of the Liturgy of the Demiurgos is especially given to the Order of Hieres.

XIII. Of the Mysteries of the Hieratic Life

  1. What are the mysteries of the hieratic life?

These rites represent the ordination and consecration, or initiation, into monastic and sacred orders of clergy within the Ekklesia Neoplatonismos Theourgia.

  1. By what other term has the Neoplatonic Ekklesia sometimes referred to those initiated into the sacred orders of clergy?

As the telestikoi and hieratikoi, or Workers of the Sacred Rites.

  1. How many offices of hieratikoi are there?

There are three, namely: Hierokerux or Sacred Herald, Hieras and Hiereia or Priest and Priestess, and that of Hierarch, the Sacred Governor of the Mysteries.

  1. What are the duties of a Hierokerux?

The Hierokerux is responsible for performance the mysteries of the common and as well as the general instruction of the laity. They are further responsible for assisting the Hiereis/Hiereies and Hierarches in the higher mysteries, along with the leitourgoi or ritual assistants.

  1. What are the duties of a Hieras or Hiereia?

The Hiereis/Hiereies are responsible for the overseeing of the performance of the works of the Order of Hierokeruxes and for the working of the mysteries communal life. As a Hieras/Hiereia also holds the office of Hierokerux, they are trained and endowed with the capability of performing all the duties of that office.

  1. What are the duties of a Hierarch?

The Hierarches is responsible for the overseeing of the work of the Hiereis/Hiereies and for the working of the mysteries of the hieratic life and to oversee the spiritual life of the Ekklesia. As a Hierarch also holds the offices of Hierokerux and Hieras/Hiereia, they are trained and endowed with the capability of performing all the duties of those offices.

  1. What are some of the requirements for a person to worthily receive Sacred Orders?

To worthily receive Sacred Orders it is necessary: 1) that one be of good character and in a state receptive to divine illumination and gnosis; 2) that one be informed of the Platonic Mythoi and hermeneutic; 3) that one have the intention of devoting one’s life to the sacred rites and those who would benefit from them; 4) that one be determined to teach and perform the hieratic rites, and the gnosis and henosis that stem from them, according to the teachings, practices and spirit of the Neoplatonic Ekklesia; and 5) that one should have the inward call from one’s spirit and the outward call from one’s Hierarches.

  1. Is anything else contained within these mysteries?

Yes. The giving of vows to a member of the Order of Hagia Hypatia, a secular monastic order open to both the laity and those within the sacred orders is included in these mysteries.

  1. What is the work of the Order of Hagia Hypatia?

Brothers and Sisters of the Order of Hagia Hypatia dedicate themselves to works of personal contemplation and theourgia.

  1. Who may receive vows into the Order of Hagia Hypatia?

Any woman or man who has undertaken the mysteries of Divine Birth and Affirmation and wishes to devote their lives to the work of the Order, philosophical and moral education, gnosis, and henosis.

Bibliography

Finamore, John F. Iamblichus and the Theory of the Vehicle of the Soul. Chico, CA: Scholars Press, 1985.

Greenlees, Duncan. “A Brief Hermetic Catechism.” In The Gospel of Hermes, translated by Duncan Greenlees. Adyar, India: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1949.

Hoeller, Stephan A. “The Gnostic Catechism.” Accessed 3 January, 2012. http://www.gnosis.org/ecclesia/catechism.htm.

Iamblichus. De Anima. Translated by John F. Finamore and John M. Dillon. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2002.

Iamblichus. De mysteriis. Translated by Emma C. Clarke, John M. Dillon and Jackson P. Hershbell. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2003.

Iamblichus. In Platonis Dialogos Commentariorum Fragmenta. Translated by John M. Dillon. Wiltshire, UK: The Prometheus Trust, 2009.

Kupperman, Jeffrey S. Living Theurgy: A Course in Iamblichus’ Philosophy, Theology, and Theurgy. Glastonbury: Avalonia Books, 2015.

Luibheid, Colm, trans. Pseudo-Dionysius: The Complete Works. NY: Paulist Press, 1987.

Plato. The Collected Dialogues. Edited by Edith Hamilton and Huntington Cairns. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1961.

Proclus. Elements of Theology. Translated by E. R. Dodds. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1963.

Shaw, Gregory. Theurgy and the Soul. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1995.