Fragments of a Faith Forgotten

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Fragments of a Faith Forgotten

By G.R.S. Mead

From a Letter

"And just as terror of that creature [lit., plasm] seized hold of the angels [the fabricative powers], Concerning the Creation of the First Race of Mankind.when it gave voice to things greater than had been used in its fashioning, owing to the presence in it of Him [the Logos] who, unseen to them [the powers], had bestowed on it the seed of the supernal essence [the ego], and who spake of realities face to face; in like manner also among the races of humanity, the works of men become a terror to them who make them--such as statues and images, and all things which [men's] hands fashion to bear the name of God. For Adam being fashioned to bear the name of the [Heavenly] Man [the Logos], spread abroad the terror of that pre-existing Man, for in very truth he had His being in him. And they [the powers] were struck with terror, and [in their terror] speedily marred the work [of their hands]."

Here we have the Gnostic myth of the genesis of man, which is already familiar to us in the general tradition of the Gnosis.

The plasm, or primitive form of man, which could neither stand nor walk--the embryonic sphere of Plato's Timæus--is evolved by the powers of nature, as the outcome of evolution; into it Deity breathes the mind, and man is immediately raised above the rest of the creation and its powers. Nevertheless his body is still feeble, and the nature-powers, in fear of the mind within--the "name" of the Heavenly Man--war on him, and only by slow degrees does the mind of man learn to overcome them.

The Heavenly Man is the perfect type of all Humanities, and the "name" is no name, but that mysterious something which decides the nature and class and being of every creature. Man alone down here has the divine "name" or nature alive within him.

The "prehistoric" world, with which Egypt was in direct traditional contact, made much of this "name"; statues and talismans and amulets, if made in a certain manner, were supposed to be a nearer approach to the perfect type either of manhood or of nature-organism, and on these fabrications of men's hands the "name" of this or that supernal power was thought to be bestowed by "Him who speaks face to face." Here we have a hint of the explanation given of "idol-worship" by the initiated priests of antiquity, which idea was thus woven into the scheme of universal Gnosis by Valentinus.



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