The Gnostic Ogdoad is a group of eight divine beings or emanations that were central to certain Gnostic cosmologies. The divisions of the Gnostic Ogdoad vary depending on the specific Gnostic system, but generally, they consist of four pairs of male and female aeons, or divine beings.
Here is one example of the divisions of the Gnostic Ogdoad [note: some of my Greek names at right are different. See refs. below.]:
Barbelo and Bythos: Barbelo represents the divine feminine aspect of the highest deity, while Bythos represents the divine masculine aspect. Together, they represent the ultimate unity and transcendence of the divine.
Nous and Aletheia: Nous represents divine mind or wisdom, while Aletheia represents truth. Together, they represent the intellectual and rational aspects of the divine.
Logos and Zoe: Logos represents divine word or speech, while Zoe represents life. Together, they represent the creative and life-giving aspects of the divine.
Anthropos and Ecclesia: Anthropos represents the divine human or perfect man, while Ecclesia represents the divine assembly or church. Together, they represent the human and social aspects of the divine.
It’s important to note that different Gnostic systems may have different variations or interpretations of the Ogdoad, and some may not include all eight divine beings.
Born: March 22, 1980
Died: July 6, 2022
Let These Be
to an Age
of Reason (*)
Capstone with (*) written in Four Ancient Languages
Ten Recommendations (**) about
Four Upright Stones with (**) written in Eight Modern Languages
English and Spanish
Swahili and Hindi
Hebrew and Arabic
Chinese and Russian
One Center Stone supporting Capstone for Three Astronometries
Finding the Celestial Pole
The Sun’s Annual Travel
Sun’s Position at Noon over the Year
Fear no more the heat o’ the sun, Nor the furious winter’s rages; Thou thy worldly task hast done, Home art gone, and ta’en thy wages: Golden lads and girls all must, As chimney-sweepers, come to dust.
Again, I have taken a diagram and bent it into my preferred vision. At least the original figures have isosceles right triangles to begin with. However, they were in a left-to-right sequence (ordered by time) instead of a cycle as I have done. On many diagrams of the diamond approach there are indeed loops that return the user to positions earlier in the sequence so I don’t feel too bad.
The steps that are part of the diamond approach are reminiscent of other learning cycles, such as that of Kolb. The original left-to-right sequence emphasizes the order, as well as showing that steps may be divergent or convergent (analytic or synthetic) in their methods. Instead I have denoted divergence by arrows facing away from each other and convergence by arrows facing towards each other.
The main creator of the Diamond Approach is A. H. Almaas, who has written many books on spirituality or esoteric subjects such as the Enneagram. Being a skeptical sort, I have no idea if the notions and methods in these books are worth your time, but the goals indeed sound laudable. How do they differ from psychoanalysis, psychotherapy, or other techniques to improve mental health? Further reading may be required before you pay for classes and retreats.
The Fourth Dimension has been an interest of mine since I was a child. I’m not sure when I first heard about it, but I still have my coverless copy of “Geometry of 4 Dimensions” by Henry Parker Manning that I bought in a used book store. (I wonder why it hasn’t ever been reissued by Dover?) Maybe I heard about the fourth dimension in some science fiction TV movie, or in some mathematical survey book like “Mathematical Snapshots” or “Mathematics and the Imagination”.
Once I tried to explain to my best friend about my newly discovered insight how a hypercube could be folded up in four-dimensional space from its so-called three-dimensional net consisting of eight cubes, just as a regular three-dimensional cube could be folded up from its two-dimensional net of six squares. This 3D net somewhat resembling a cross is famously seen in Dali’s “Crucifixion (Corpus Hypercubus),” although I probably didn’t refer to this painting in my explanation.
I’m not sure who came up with the take-away message from my exposition, but it remains clear in my memory that the “junk in the middle” of the hypercube was a piece of the fourth dimension, just as the faces of a cube enclose a piece of our normal third dimension.
I recently came across Claude Fayette Bragdon, architect, author, draughtsman, stage designer, and mystic. At first I was interested in his drawings found on-line. His book “Four-Dimensional Vistas” started off with a good if overly wordy introduction to the concept of the fourth dimension. But then he suggests that many esoteric concepts such as the meaning of dreams, reincarnation, past-life regression, prognostication, ESP, etc. could possibly be explained by higher dimensional space or even higher dimensional time.
Even though I initially found many of these hypotheses too far-fetched for my tastes, I still found some interesting ideas to mull over in this little book.
Claude Fayette Bragdon / Four-Dimensional Vistas (1930)
Claude Fayette Bragdon / The Beautiful Necessity (1910)
Claude Fayette Bragdon / Architecture and Democracy (1918)
For my gratuitous anime tie-in, Bragdon’s world-view suddenly reminds me of the anime character Haruhi Suzumiya, who wished for her aliens, time-travelers, and ESPers so much that she willed them into being. If only she had known about the fourth dimension!
The Kabbalah (correspondence) is a traditional and esoteric school of thought in Jewish mysticism. The ten Sephirot (emanations) of the Kabbalah in the Tree of Life diagram can be divided into Four Worlds as follows, and correspond with the Four Suits of the Tarot and the Four Elements:
Atziluth (אֲצִילוּת): World of Emanation (Wands, Fire, Spirit)
Beri’ah (בְּרִיאָה): World of Creation (Swords, Air, Intellect)
Yetzirah (יְצִירָה): World of Formation (Cups, Water, Emotion)
Asiyah (עֲשִׂיָה): World of Manifestion (Disks, Earth, Action)
Ethan Indigo Smith’s recent book, “The Tao of Thoth,” is a companion to a previous book of his I reviewed, “The Matrix of Four“. But instead of dwelling on fourfolds from ancient and esoteric sources, this book’s appeal to me is mainly for eightfolds. The sources are again traditional and occult, and indeed the title’s constituents come from ancient Asian and Egyptian cultures. Smith encourages us to contemplate these venerable concepts to reclaim simplicity in our lives and move away from any unnecessary complexity of modern life.
Certainly Smith is legitimate in critiquing present-day institutions and mentalities that valorize profit and consumption over ecological and humanitarian well-being. Can we learn from ancient cultural precepts and use them to heal the earth as a whole as well as enhance the health of our own lives, our descendants lives, and that of our follows? We seem to be avoiding the simple fact that current lifestyles are unsustainable for the earth and even harmful to our own psyche.
The first chapter introduces us to the Taiji, or Yin Yang, as well as the Tao of Asian study. The “Tao of Thoth” is also introduced and seems to be the relationship between the Taiji and the Tenets of Thoth (also referred to as Thoth Energy). Several claims are then made as to their separate and related simplicity and applicability. The next two chapters deal with this so-called Thoth Energy and the Taiji in more detail.
In Chapter 1 the Egyptian god Thoth is described in some detail, and his connection to gods in other mythologies, both Eastern and Western. The term Thoth Energy seems to describe the principles conceptualized by his attributes. That these principles are found in separate traditions is indicative our common humanity, rather than cultural approbation (maybe except for continuity between the Egyptian (Thoth), Greek (Hermes), and Roman (Mercury) gods). Next the Eight Trigrams of the Bagua and the eight deities of the Ogdoad are discussed.
A list of the Seven Tenets of Thoth close the chapter: Mentalism, Correspondence, Vibration, Polarity, Rhythm, Cause and Effect, Gender, and their relationship to the Tao. Hermetic and occult principles are often associated with individual self-development and not social coherence common to institutions. These tenets are the Seven Hermetic Principles mentioned in Chapter II of the Kybalion. Hermeticism is also deeply connected with Alchemic principles.
Chapter 2 discusses the Tao, Taiji (Yin Yang), and Taiji practice (Tai Chi). The Eight Layered Body is mentioned (the physical body, the chi body, the emotional body, mental body, psychic body, causal body, body of individuality, and the body of Tao). The next seven chapters deal with the seven hermetic principles which are hinted to align with Taoist principles as well, but do they do so in clear ways? Perhaps I need to study both the Kybalion and the Taiji in depth before I understand their connection.
Chapter 9 (Gender, Chapter XIII of the Kybalion, and Mental Gender, Chapter XIV) mentions the Eight Auspicious Offering Bowls and the Eight Secrets of the Tao Te Ching.
In Chapter 10, I am certainly glad that Smith rounded out the Seven Tenets to Eight with Patience. Mentioned are Chakras and the Spectrum of Light and the fourfold Wu Wei. In contrast, the last Chapter XV of the Kybalion deals with “Hermetic Axioms,” discussing several of the principles together.
After each chapter discussing a tenet, Smith suggests a Taiji or Taiji-inspired meditative practice that embraces a core concept: standing meditation, champion posture, shaking, arm swinging (Renunciation/Reintegration, Evaporation/Condensation), spiraling balance, pressurization, integrating Yin and Yang, walking.
It would be nice to have a bibliography and index included in this book, as many sources are mentioned and it would be convenient to have it as a quick reference. I must say that I didn’t find this short book as rewarding as “The Matrix of Four,” nevertheless, I found it worth reading and it piqued my interest for trying Tai Chi.
How does one circumscribe the totality of human experience, both for the individual as well as for culture? One of the oldest ways is the twelvefold division of the Houses of the Zodiac, which may have its origins in Babylon. Other similar systems were used in India, China, Europe, etc. In my diagram above I’m using Latin numerals along with the Latin names of the houses.
For Western Astrology, four groups of three houses are divided by the four classical elements and then into triplicities (from Wikipedia):
Fire : Identity (I, V, IX)
Earth : Material (II, VI, X)
Air : Social and intellectual (III, VII, XI)
Water : Soul and Emotional (IV, VIII, XII)
And somewhat similarly for India, the divisions of Vedic Astrology are broken into four Bhavas or “needs” (from Wikipedia):
Dharma : (Duty) The need to find our path and purpose
Artha : (Resources) The need to acquire the necessary resources and abilities to provide for ourselves to fulfill our path and purpose
Kama : (Pleasure) The need for pleasure and enjoyment
Moksha : (Liberation) The need to find liberation and enlightenment from the world
There are more recent and scientific divisions of human universals, such as those by George Murdock, Robin Fox, and Donald Brown, as mentioned by Jungian analyst Anthony Stevens in his book “Archetype Revisited”. These are also grouped into four categories (from Wikipedia):
“The Fourth Way” is the title of a 1957 book by Russian esotericist P. D. Ouspensky that is supposed to be about the self-development methods of the mystic/philosopher/teacher G. I. Gurdjieff. Ouspensky was a student of Gurdjieff for a significant part of his life until there was a parting of the ways. This book was published after Ouspensky died in 1947. A substantial amount of it is constructed in questions and answers, as a teacher might answer their student’s questions.
Ouspensky’s first book in 1909 was about the fourth dimension, which was much in the public consciousness in the first few years after Einstein published his theory of special relativity. His second book was titled “Tertium Organum”, or the third canon of thought, after Aristotle’s first and Francis Bacon’s second. Ouspensky’s third book “A New Model of the Universe” continued in this way, linking science with spirituality, or at least consciousness.
What is a person or what are the aspects of a person? Is a person a machine? A physicalist thinks that a person is their body, and the mind is what the brain does. A dualist thinks that a person has a body as well as a separate mind, but we know that the mind is dependent on the body for operation and it can be diminished by injury, neglect, or abuse. There are other aspects of the person, such as the emotions or “heart”, which are somewhere between the body and the mind.
And if you search on the web, “soul” or “spirit” are often shown in images along side body, mind, and mood, but these terms are imprecise. Sometimes soul is defined as spirit, sometimes spirit as soul. It is difficult to determine what is meant by them, but they are usually of a higher-order nature than the physical or mental or emotional. It is usually what remains the same for a person, the still point of a changing self, regardless if that endures after death.
Mood (Heart or Emotions)
Various schools of spiritual people concentrate on the control and discipline of different aspects of the self: the physical for the Fakir, the mental for the Yogi, and emotions for the Monk. These are the first three historical ways for self-development, but they require separation from the normal social world, and neglect the other aspects of the self. The Fourth Way was said to require no extreme separation, and to develop body, mind, and mood in a balanced way.
Gurdjieff thought that most if not all people were machines because they were “asleep at the wheel” (my metaphor), the wheel being the control of their own consciousness. Similar to the practice of lucid dreaming, these teachings (also called “the work” or “the system”) purported to develop the conscious self into something much more than ordinary awareness. This aware self would have access to all sorts of abilities that remain hidden or dormant in most of us.
The Fourth Way is also said to be the way of the “sly man”, but to be sly is to be crafty, cunning, and tricky. If you are sly you are deceitful or a charlatan, dishonest and evasive, a “rogue”. You take advantage of people, or you game the social system. Are there any truth to these teachings, or were they merely a way that Gurdjieff found to make an easy living? If not, why call it the way of the “sly man”? On the other hand, who doesn’t want to develop their best selves in the most efficient and clever way?
Rogue: Balance or ?
I also read that “sly man” is a translation of the French “le ruse”. The idea behind this name is for a person that takes advantage of opportunities in their normal life to development their awareness, rather than just their attitude towards others. And so it’s a posture towards the broader world, not just towards people. If I had a short word to substitute for “rogue” in the above diagram, I might do so, to prevent the negative impression I might be giving. But the term “rogue” is probably less offensive that it used to be, so I’ll keep it for now.
Yet people do love to be deceived. They love to be entertained, and they love a good story with charismatic characters. They also love to hear what they want to hear. Perhaps that’s all these teachings really were and are. And yet, many artists, writers, and thinkers have embraced the ideas of this fourth way. Certainly to enhance one’s consciousness is a positive thing to do, or to eliminate erroneous or harmful thought, or to “know thyself”. Socrates taught that “the unexamined life is not worth living”. Perhaps there is some worth to these teachings after all, but a person may have to determine this for themselves.
We must, therefore, distinguish the qualities of the pleroma. The qualities are pairs of opposites, such as—
The Effective and the Ineffective. Fullness and Emptiness. Living and Dead. Difference and Sameness. Light and Darkness. The Hot and the Cold. Force and Matter. Time and Space. Good and Evil. Beauty and Ugliness. The One and the Many. etc.
— Carl Jung, from Seven Sermons to the Dead
I previously mentioned two fourfolds which are perhaps better combined as an eightfold. These concepts or entities are from Carl Jung’s “Seven Sermons to the Dead”.
To the left are the “principal gods”, who are said to be in one-to-one correspondence with the “world’s measurements”. What then are these measurements? Are they the coordinates of relativistic Space-Time or something else?
The God-Sun: The beginning
Eros: Binding of two together, outspreading and brightening
The Tree of Life: Filling space with bodily forms
The Devil: The Void, opening all that is closed, dissolving all formed bodies, and destroyer of everything
And to the right we have:
The Pleroma: The spiritual universe as the abode of gods and of the totality of the divine powers and emanations.
The Creatura: The living world, subject to perceptual difference, distinction, and information
Abraxas: The supreme power of being transcending all divinities and demons and uniting all opposites into one
Philemon: Jung’s spiritual guide and the narrator, also said to be Simon Magus or Basilides