SOPHIA OF WISDOM III - BESSETTE
SOPHIA OF WISDOM III - YEAR OF BARBELO 2003
DECEMBER 9, 2006
LIBRARY OF SOPHIA OF WISDOM III
SOPHIA OF ALL SOPHIA
CAROLINE E. KENNEDY______________________________________
The Counterfactual... Year
of Barbelo 2003...
Preface, I'm not a particularly brilliant creative writer
so I'm going to suggest something and then retire away relatively gracefully to see what people make of it. This particularly
interested me because my recent reintroduction to the Gnostic Barbelites reminded me of all the inherently Christian bits
of ideology that still exist in my morals and preconceptions even as a staunch atheist. So this is an attempt at getting people
to think differently in terms of alternate histories - ways the world could have gone - with the objective of helping us to
realise the contingency of our own world, it's value systems and beliefs...
Year of Barbelo 196 AD:
century Barbelite Christians believed that human bodies were vessels for fallen fragments of divine higher powers. Believing
that reproduction only drove the cycle of imprisonment, they ritually consumed semen (and menses, according
to some sources); they believed that the life energy bound therein would be bound to the soul of the one who
consumed them, and be able to escape this world with the eater's soul upon death. If the eater had not
gained enough energy and wisdom, he would be trapped by the Rulers and reincarnated again on Earth. The Barbelites used sexual fluids as the sacraments of the Eucharist. The suffering of Christ
was re-enacted whenever a new being was born. The Barbelites used non-reproductive sex to re-enact the
descent of spirit into matter without actually trapping the spirit in physical form. The
Barbelites, believing Yaldabaoth (Yahweh [YHWH]) was the vile bastard son of Barbelo, the pure reflection
of the true God's conscious, felt that, by the desist of humanity, they would transfer Barbelo's stolen
energy back to her, weakening the mad, tyrranical Yaldabaoth. Needless to say, the Barbelites were none too
beloved by less eccentric religious groups. They were wiped out en masse, courtesy the Christians.
But what if they weren't wiped out. What if - instead - Barbelite
Gnosticism became the major faith of the Western World - eventually taken up by Emperor Constantine to reinspire his empire.
What if Barbelite Gnosticism was a state religion...
Year of Barbelo 2003:
kind of world could have made the Barbelites 'win'. What kind of world would exist today if they had become the major religion
of the Western world....
00:11 / 06.09.03
Well, Tom, before we
can really get rolling, we'd have to take into account the mystes of the Druidic Boibel-Loth, which (reputedly) contained
encoded instructions on all manner of statecraft pertinent to Celtic affairs, and its impact on orthodox Barbelist thought.
19:24 / 06.09.03
Well a fairly inescapable suggestion is gonna be;
A sect which
exists in direct opposition to the idea of reproductive sex becomes the dominant religious force in the Western world?
..there aren't gonna be many caucasians around in 2003..
Well Christianity is pretty against people having sex outside wedlock, but all the evidence is that people have
been doing it pretty much since the beginning of time. You might use as a basis for any counterfactual thinking that Catholic
priests are supposed to be celibate and married to Christ - it could be that in order for the cult to have 'won' it would
have to split into a priest class and a follower class, where the priests tried to persuade people to have as much non-reproductive
sex as possible, lowering birth rates dramatically but far from totally - people having ten children - four of which died
- now have four - one of whom dies.
Discrimination on grounds of sexual act would be dramatically lower initially at least and indeed
in a subsequent renaissance that might happen again. The Church might have remained in the hands of the people rather than
become institutionalised to the same extent or it might not.
STDs would be much higher, but prostate cancer much lower. The status of women could have been dramatically
higher earlier, both because of the mother goddess and because of the celebration of less invasive penetrative sex... So with
those things in your head, WHAT COMES NEXT?
22:40 / 06.09.03
PS. Also "Caucasian"? If you're
talking in the colloquial "white" sense of the word, then I'm not sure that the middle eastern population we're starting with
fall under that classification - and if you're talking about the stricter now-out-of-use scientific classification, then you're
also talking about people who came to undertake many other religions including but not limited to some of the peoples of India,
many muslims and peoples of North Africa.
00:14 / 07.09.03
Fair point. Poor choice of words.
I guess maybe "European" is closer to what I meant.
I still think though that, since according to the Barbelite cosmology
childbirth isn't just frowned upon - it's actually ultimate sin which the whole religion is organised in opposition to - it
would be pretty difficult for the leaders of the religion to tolerate any births within the ranks of the faithful..
i.maybe people who had children would be banished from the religious community, creating parallel religious and secular
societies. I suppose the Barbelite ideology would have to be persuasive enough to convince a certain percentage of the secular
offspring to take it up again, thus ensuring that it doesn't die out..
ii.maybe, as a more extreme version of what
you've suggested, an extremely small carefully monitored birth rate would be permitted in the name of self-preservation and
perpetuating the religion..
(I know I'm maybe going off on the wrong tack on this, but it's fun trying to get my head
around how a sect that prohibits breeding could succeed in becoming a dominant world religion..)
So try to think about some of the shifts they'd have had to make to keep the core message intactish while permitting
them to become the dominant religion...
23:05 / 08.09.03
I can easily picture a world where STDs
bear the taint of sin.
What would be interesting, however, would be the institution of marriage, which is seen as
the cornerstone of society. Human emotions being what they are, I imagine serial monogamy might become the norm -- and/or
massive orgies, probably during major carnivals, like Mardi Gras.
Also, for the Barbelo-gnostics to be in a position
of authority, the Bible as we know it would not exist. Significant portions of the New Testament would be different, primarly
the omission Paul's writings. These are the ones that set up the prohibitions surrounding marriage, but also have something
to say about homosexuality, as well as setting out some of what we know about the Trinity, and the rule of celibate priesthood.
John would stay -- weird visions of the End Times. The Whore of Babylon, however, would
have a whole different vibe.
I think in this world, prominent citizens might be required to "make face" by having
a same-sex consort.
Prostitutes would probably be mainstream working class, if not considered elite professionals.
I imagine there'd also be a substantial historical precedent for sex-slavery. Like, maybe not in 2003, but up to the 1800s
at least and probably much later.
Racial boundaries, as a result, might be a lot harder to police. This may have an
opposite effect from what you'd expect -- ideas of racial supremacy might be even stronger, especially with the "no children"
meme adding to the opprobrium heaped on the offspring of slave-master unions. So possibly a minority snow-white sex-worker/priest
class, with a lot of mixed race middle class folks.
I'm not sure if democracy would catch on in quite the same way,
but I imagine queens would be far more common, and women would never have had to march to get the vote.
would definitely be smaller. I wonder... Christianity might have spread a lot faster, if the sexuality was attached to the
idea of eternal salvation and a single, omnipotent, loving God. Hmm.
The current debate on abortion would be almost
identical, only with scientists & "rationalists" taking a minority "pro-life" view, and fundamentalist Christians taking
the close majority "pro-choice" view.
The relationship between the Church and scientific rationalism would also be
somewhat different, probably, since gnosticism in all forms is based on personal revelation, not authoritative truth. Galileo
might never have been persecuted. Hard to say, though, since we monkeys seem to like authorities.
I wonder, also,
what urges would be repressed -- y'know, Freud's big thing was, "Hey, sex - it's pretty important! And we don't like to admit
we're thinking about it!"
What would the Barbelo-Freud discover?
16:49 / 09.09.03
if Emperor Constantine took up Barbelite Gnosticism, it would find a way to become authoritarian pretty darn quickly.
of the authoritarianism in the early church can be traced to him, the first Christian emperor. (Or, more properly, "Christian").
16:03 / 15.09.03
Is Gnosticism the source of the
quote that "copulation and mirrors are both abominable, because they increase the number of men?"
But I think an anti-reproductive religion would have been self-limiting.
(SEE MOTHER ANN LEE)
in the northern US of the 1700s, were also against sex, and are pretty much extinct.
If Constantine had championed it, it would probably have been a religion practiced publicly and in the Emperor's court, while
people practiced their real religion privately, and it would have died with him, as did Ikhnaton's solar monotheism and Julian's
But since preference for barbelite Christianity would have come at the cost of the "our" Christianity,
then the latter might not have gotten the critical boost it needed to become one of the Big Three monotheisms. There's an
excellent book by Karen Armstrong called something like the History of God, supposing Islam, Judaism
and Christianity arose and consolidated their hold in the Axial Age, about 400BC-600AD, when general historical
conditions favored it. That also suggests a niche existed and that a later Emperor might have seen which way the wind was
blowing and championed regular Christianity with roughly similar results.
So the world would have been very different,
but still not very barbelithic, except that that religion would probably have about as many adherents as Jehovah's Witnesses.
I like this, I just wish I knew enough about Gnosticism to imagine the alternate world instead of just playing, er,
21:04 / 15.09.03
"Gnosticism" is a single label for a bunch of different strands
of belief -- Barbelite Gnosticism being just one of 'em.
is on personal knowledge (gnosis) of the divine as opposed to scripture and traditional/authoritative sources of revelation.
There *is* a tradition (a set of beliefs) within these
gnostic strains, elements of which were accepted or rejected by various groups throughout history. So that set of beliefs
is by no means uniform from group to group.
The main thing all the gnostics have in common is that
they lost out to orthodox Christianity (as political entities) at about the same time Constantine adopted the faith.
wonder if the Barbelites would have been more plural and less monolithic than the version of Christianity that came to the
fore in the 300s -- less apt to condemn heretics, laying the foundation for
a far broader church.
00:53 / 16.09.03
Thanks! I'd picked up a few strands from
reading tons of Borges' stories; last week I was amazed to see Gnostic themes in Orson Welles' version of Kafka's "The Trial." Anyway...
probably right about a kinder, gentler Christianity resulting. A possible example is the Ottoman Empire whose state religion
was of course Islam, but it was a more tolerant Islam than that practiced in Saudi Arabia. Non-Muslims were welcome there
as long as they paid taxes and didn't stir up trouble. There was a lot of intellectual ferment in the Ottoman Empire.
Fertility images, like the classic Demeter and her Cornucopia, used a lot in American
art in the 1800s, would probably be unknown. Maybe Barbelo-Freud would discover repression of fertility drives? Also, the
ecstatic side of Christianity would be more respectable, and probably de rigeur, but maybe you'd only have to fake it on festival
days. A dark side of a religion like this could be outbreaks of mass panics, fundamentalist frenzy. Maybe the state would
make use of them and channel them into participatory public executions like the "salvagings" of Margaret Atwood's
"The Handmaid's Tale," only people wouldn't pull on a long rope but instead tear the
victims apart themselves.
Burning Man would be government-subsidized, and have darker connotations,
at least in states that had the death penalty...
at the scarwash
03:26 / 30.09.03
Religions of aesceticism,
if they are to thrive, seem to very quickly generate more easily-consumable versions of themselves. A good example of this
is perhaps Pure-Land Buddhism, which offers potential enlightenment to those who can't find it though the path of wisdom,
or in other words, by doing the damned hard (and selfish) work of the aescetic. Even Catholicism as it is today would be a
good example. My impression of Catholic doctrine is that the real O.G.'s of the Catholic world are found amongst the priesthood
and the orders; the laiety have their place, but they are somehow less holy than their clergy. It's not that they actually
could or should all be ordained--they are in the position intended for them.
So anyway, I'd imagine that the Barbelo-Gnostics
would probably evolve a similar system: a real hard-ass Barbelo-Gnosis for the expert, and a Barbelo-lite Home Edition (TM)
for the people too concerned with raising crops to feed the priesthood to be able to go off and be awesome pervert-heretics
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