Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Abrasax by Jeremy Lampkin

Numerous spiritual philosophies ran wild in the Roman Empire during the formation of the orthodox church.  The church was compartmental, divided into different sections that took many different views on the creation.  The formation of the church seemed to reflect the "war in heaven" that ousted many of its rebellious angels into eternal damnation.  When you have a team of disorganized writers whose stories go every direction, you'll never get your point across to the ancient Joe Blow.  The powers that be initiated a religious revolution when they decided to eradicate certain branches of their organization in the name of unity.  It is a recurring theme in history for hatred and ignorance to overpower peaceful philosophies.  During the ancient religious war for political control of the emerging orthodoxy, many ideas were swept under the rug.

In all likelihood, the Apocalypse of St. John the Divine would have been constructed as an allegory of the decline and fall of Roman Empire and the rise of the Church.  To write about such things would undoubtedly have been punishable by torture, so the text obviously had to be written in code.  Yet in the same formations of this early church, there were all kinds of disparate philosophies.  The so-called Gnostic members seemed to be major offenders because the uninitiated could not reconcile many of their scriptures with a lot of others.  There were scriptures about Jesus placing curses on many heads all throughout his youth, scriptures that didn't go with the story they wanted to present as the canon.  Like editing a movie, many scenes had to be eliminated for the sake of story logic.  And like a DVD, out-takes can be some of the best parts. 

During these unstable times, fragmented scriptures and ancient amulets point to the worship of a philosophical deity who represented the unity of all things in one being.  This take on all religions as one seemed to be an offspring of Greek philosophy's interpretation of the then-current religious state of affairs in the Roman Empire.  As intellectuals, the Gnostics were similar to a modern day mystery school and likewise would have been a prime target for ancient conspiracy theorists who were far more brutal in those times, before the invention of gunpowder.  Gnostic religious views were based on the aspects of various religions which were found to be universal.  The highest deity of the Gnostic heaven, which was essentially a map of the mind of God, was known as Abrasax.  

History has only preserved fragments of the memory of this supreme deity, so we only have a few solid pieces of evidence to follow.  Modern and recent mystery schools have presented him as Abraxas, and it has become the name he is now generally known as.  But somehow this would appear to be a typo.  The word ABRASAX, in Greek sums up to the total of 365 as he is a god representing the totality of time.  He is depicted as a being with a man's body, but with 2 cobras for legs and a rooster's head.  He holds a shield in one hand and a whip in the other.  His shield was often depicted with the 3 letters of the secret word of God, I-A-O.  Though Abrasax is the supreme deity of the heavens, it does not suggest that he was created first, but that he has knowledge of the first creation.  His occult name Abraxas has been suggested to mean that he is the union of all polar opposites. 

The problem with being all things to all people in all ways is that it can be hard for ordinary people to comprehend a deity like that.  Most people naturally relate better to a story they can follow, so it is no mystery why the story had to be dumbed down.  There were all kinds of dialects and local languages of ordinary people who just didn't have the time or necessarily the capacity to become as wise as the old Greek philosophers.  When unifying a people under a new religion, it's crucial to hit the lowest common denominator.  Unfortunately this meant that the higher philosophical traits of the early church had to be rooted out (meaning books burnt and people killed) so that there were no traces of the mass "heresies" that happened in the early church.  For this reason we are forced to put the pieces together, the few that remain, to glean any understanding of this deity. 

As an artist I found it shocking that an internet search revealed only a few modern depictions of Abraxas, even though he is historically obscure enough to be almost forgotten.  Even those who have honored his name for the past century have misspelled it, as we see how a mispronunciation by even one credible source can alter a name forever.

Jeremy Lampkin 2012