It is some time since I last wrote on this blog. Events in the world have had a profound effect on me, like the two world wars had on those who lived in those soul-destroying days. The horrors of the trenches destroyed the faith of Vaughan Williams and Elgar. The latter stopped composing until shortly before his death in 1934. On the other hand, the American pilot who released a nuclear bomb on Japan entered the monastic life with the Trappists. It all depends on how we take the mystery of evil! This morning at Mass, I read the words of St Paul’s Epistle (Ephesians vi. 10) in Latin and understood them clearly. I broke down in tears as the mendacious world of politics was made so clear:
My brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the Gospel, For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
We are not faced with horrible human beings lusting for power and money through lies and deceit, but against a vast and ancient conspiracy of evil spirits, whether we call them demons or Archons, or indeed other names in different spiritual traditions around the world. A human representation of that world of evil would be called a psychopath, showing what we are up against in the spiritual world beyond our time and space.
What is a psychopath? It is essentially a being who is devoid of empathy or moral conscience, who has no care faced with the sufferings of his (her) victims. We are not only considering the worst serial murderers who justly died on America’s electric chairs and hanging ropes, but a minority of humanity who are as if infected by a “virus” that takes away their humanity. They operate in unison, even if not consciously, in sowing terror and disruption in the world. Psychopaths are not only serial killers like Ted Bundy or Jack the Ripper. They are not always killers and most have never been held to account by the law. We become increasingly aware that many psychopaths hold positions in government, politics, big business, the medical and pharmaceutical professions. When we find them in science, they are developing biological and other weapons, trans-humanism, great resets, a replay of Nazism, “playing God”. Some want to replace humans through genetic manipulation, robotics, artificial intelligence, and nano-technology. They view humans as inferior, fit for slavery or slaughter. It is difficult to typify psychopathy in empirical scientific terms, but the key comes in the form of a supernatural category and concept.
I once walked past a man with a woman in the street, very ordinary people it would seem. I was deeply struck by the impression – That man is dead. This thought or feeling is perhaps a root of the popular mythology of zombies, the living dead. A zombie is a mythological un-dead human body created through the reanimation of a corpse, something like Frankenstein’s monster revived through the use of electricity or through black magic like voodoo. This man was certainly a human being, born of a mother and father, perhaps someone charming if only I knew him. But I don’t and all I could see in his face was nothingness. Most people I cross in the street don’t leave me with such an impression.
Gnosticism had a more developed notion of demonology than classical Christianity. We read all over the place about great conspiracies of powerful people associating in secret societies like the alleged Illuminati or Freemasonry. The Nazi empire was truly a criminal conspiracy of some of the most horrible and evil people who ever lived. However, most conspiracy theories contain the seeds of their own lack of credibility. Humans are not intelligent enough to keep something like that going for centuries, in secret, and get away with it. Some popular figures like David Icke tell us that the British Royal Family are shape-shifting alien reptiles! That alone takes his credibility away, which is unfortunate, since he has many profound intuitions in other subjects.
Yet there is a monstrous conspiracy, but it is not human. Are the Archons shape-shifting alien reptiles. Can they be experienced by humans through our normal five senses? We incarnate humans have invented technical means to go to the moon, which took some three weeks. If I remember something I read, a space vehicle takes some seven weeks to go to Mars. To travel light years, even with the future invention of Star Trek technology and warp speed, would take longer than a human’s lifetime. Now, there is strong evidence that this world has been visited by creatures who are represented in ancient Egypt and South America. When did any of us see a giant human body with something like a dog’s head? It is too easy for us to say that they were just figments of an artist’s imagination. The Old Testament is full of myths that are shared with other traditions, the most obvious being the great Flood. Who were the Nephilim? The big guys with animal heads? Shape-shifting reptiles? How can we explain the absence of fossils or other remains except for allegations of very large human giants found here and there? These questions have gone into the making of science fiction films like Stargate, and our imagination find it difficult to discern anything until we dismiss it all as bunk. A popular theory is that they don’t travel through space but between parallel universes – like different frequencies of electro-magnetism than can be picked up by a radio, one at a time. Stephen Hawking took the idea of parallel universes seriously and worked on it. Unfortunately there is no empirical proof of any of this, but nor is there any for God and the Angels. The true sceptic keeps an open mind.
Something influences or even takes possession of a proportion of humanity we call psychopaths, takes away their humanity, and makes those beings into enemies of humanity. Psychiatrists look for a difference in the brain, but the issue is spiritual. It is beyond science. Yet there are some of the most perverted sadists out there who mete out inhumane treatment to their victims. They are often politicians, successful businessmen, military officers and commanders, lawyers, doctors – and even bishops and priests, ministers and clergy of other religions too. History keeps repeating itself, and so does the infernal litany of war, starvation, genocide and murder. We face dire times. What can we do?
I briefly mentioned Gnosticism which had several forms in history. Its most Christian side was represented by the Alexandrian Fathers like Origen and St Clement of Alexandria. Little was known about Gnosticism until the discovery of the Nag Hammadi texts as recently as 1945. Adolf von Harnack (1851–1930) stated that “Gnosticism is the acute Hellenization of Christianity“. It is a narrow point of view when dealing with such a vast and diverse phenomenon that escapes narrow labelling. A study of Gnosticism does raise some difficulties about God himself and the mystery of evil. Who committed the original sin? I will not attempt to give any answer to that question here. In briefly discussing Gnosticism, the question being asked is who or what were the Archons?
In Gnosticism, creation was not the work of the “God above God” but the Demiurge, this word coming from the Greek δημιουργός, meaning “public or skilled worker”. This figure is also called “Yaldabaoth”, Samael (Aramaic: sæmʻa-ʼel, “blind god”), or “Saklas” (Syriac: sækla, “the foolish one”). The Demiurge is sometimes ignorant of the superior god, and sometimes opposed, in which case he is malevolent. Other names or identifications are Ahriman, El, Satan, and Yahweh. Taken literally, this is blasphemy to the orthodox Christian or Jew. The Gnostics would answer that this divinity is not the God of love and light, but another being. Orthodox (with a small “o”) Christianity lumps God and the Demiurge together and adds the fallen angel called the Devil, Satan or Lucifer among other names. God would have created matter, not the Devil. The origin of Dualism is this attribution of both material creation and evil to the Demiurge. Thus the physical universe and incarnate humanity are compromised or “infected” from the very beginning, without any human sin being involved as related in the Book of Genesis. Christian asceticism is to some extent influenced by this dualism when materiality, including the human body, is perceived as evil and constrictive, a deliberate prison for its inhabitants.
Some variants of Gnosticism used the term archon to refer to several servants of the demiurge. According to Origen’s Contra Celsum, a sect called the Ophites posited the existence of seven archons, beginning with Iadabaoth or Ialdabaoth, who created the six following: Iao, Sabaoth, Adonaios, Elaios, Astaphanos, and Horaios. Two of these names are given to God in the Old Testament, though the meaning of Adonai is extremely confused. What do we make of “Lord God of Sabaoth”? Sabaoth was seem to be a being who is subordinate to Yahweh, also a word similar to Sabbath – the seventh day on which no work is done and everyone goes to the Synagogue. Christ found the meaning of the Sabbath being distorted when the Pharisees took him to task for healing a sick person on this day. This twisting of meaning is often a root of evil.
All this has certainly been studied in great depth, and my own biblical and theological knowledge finds itself at its limit. When Christ exorcises a demon in Luke’s Gospel, he exhorts the person to prudence, saying that the expelled spirit finds seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they all enter the person and live there. And so that person is worse off than before. Numbers have always been important in exegesis. Orthodox Christianity was not something monolithic for a very long time, and nor was Gnosticism. I discuss the question because we need to think and learn, to discover a deeper truth through comparison.
Whether humanity has been assailed by demons or archons, obsessed by fear and jealousy, we consider the long history of the suffering and trauma the world has suffered. These beings are bent on destroying mankind. They are vampires and parasites. They possess and use humanity with advanced technological secrets, power and wealth.
I was recently talking with a priest here in France about the current crisis in the world. How could I be against Putin? Surely he proclaims a message of Christian civilisation? I am perhaps a little more familiar with Russian philosophy than many: Dostoievsky, Berdyaev, Soloviev, etc. The Grand Inquisitor in the Karamazov Brothers proclaims a Christian Empire but is essentially an atheist! Would Christ do to Ukrainians what Putin and his army have done? If so, I need to start looking for a new religion or settle for materialism as a philosophy of life! Which god is God and which god is the Demiurge?
Another appealing concept, also present in the Old Testament and Christianity, is Sophia. She is often perceived as a feminine emanation from God, the “mother” of the Demiurge. There are many parallels between Sophia and Mary the Mother of Jesus, and one of the titles of Mary in the Litany of Our Lady is Sedes Sapientiae. Many of the Old Testament reading in Mass of Our Lady expand on wisdom – Σοφία in Greek. Is there confusion between two distinct beings, or is Mary as Mother of Jesus an image of Sophia? Who is bad and who is good? Already, we express ourselves as dualists, and the whole combat is being fought within each one of us.
A number of Russian Orthodox theologians showed a particular interest in Sophia, Sergei Bulgakov in particular. In the west, Louis Bouyer studied and wrote on Sophia in seeking to find the deepest roots of Catholic devotion to Mary. He wrote the monumental Sophia et le Monde en Dieu. Wisdom brings us to know God through the Mystery. Bouyer attempted to tease out an “orthodox” version of Gnosticism to distinguish it from heresy. I recommend these books either in French or English translations that are certainly available.
I return to my theme of today. Our combat is not a material one or an attempt to bring back a Christian empire, especially is it is through atrocities, war crimes and destruction. It is a temptation to look for a material Christian kingdom when we are challenged by the New World Order, Great Reset 2030, Brave New World, Orwell’s 1984, post-humanism and all the other terrors of our nightmares, but it is a temptation. We can only fight spirit by spirit, essentially by prayer and fasting, by retreating from the cities and the noise to challenge the enemy within our own souls. St Paul described the world of 2022 as in all other ages of our history – principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this world, spiritual wickedness in high places. The rot is established in the institutional Church too, and that is no longer a refuge. What do we do? Just go through this short text. Our defence is God, being in his grace, standing up to evil with truth. Lying is one of the worst sins because of its ability to distort and annihilate. We have to be truthful and strong in ourselves, being virtuous and refusing the temptation to lie and deceive. The Gospel of Peace is not Putin’s “Russian Orthodox Empire”, nor is it our hegemony of power and obscene wealth, our Woke “cancel culture”, gender ideology and all the other stuff from the black box of dirty tricks. Our shield is our faith and our weapon is God’s word. We pray with perseverance with the Saints, both those who are still living as well as those we commemorate at the altar. Our combat does not kill or commit atrocities but is concentrated on filling the evil darkness with light and love.
Lord grant me the courage and bravery to be worthy of such a combat!
* * *
Fr Michael Wood, an Orthodox priest and monk, has published this on Facebook and has given me permission to reproduce it here.
DEALING WITH THE MODERN CULTURE OF THE WEST
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
That was a traditional translation of an excerpt from Saint Paul’s letter to the Ephesians 6:12.
A literal translation, having regard to the linguistic usage of the period:
“Because we are wrestling not against blood and flesh, but against the Archons, against the Powers, against the Cosmic rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the celestial places.”
An Archon is a Greek term for a worldly lesser ruler, Powers are satanic angels (demons), the Cosmic rulers of the darkness of this world are rulers who are satanically controlled and their controllers, and the spiritual forces of wickedness are the corruptibility and wicked intent of the highest rulers.
Saint Paul is drawing our attention to a fact, which is alarmingly evident today: That we are literally fighting for our spiritual lives against pretty well all earthly secular governments and against the very powerful legions of satan himself, who are sensing victory.
We are fighting against the whole secular, morally depraved satanically induced culture of the surrounding society and their governments.
Unlike the typical modern conception, “demon” had a much broader application in the ancient usage, where, originating from the Greek word “δαίμων” (daímōn), it was a generic term for “a spirit” with no connotation as to whether it was good or evil.
With the translation into Greek of the Old Testament, known today as the Septuagint, the word “demon” acquired a negative connotation, and has since come to mean and “evil or unclean spirit”.
In the Early Church, a “demon” can refer to pagan gods which were in fact fallen angels which were in rebellion against God as satan’s legion. These are the beings Saint Paul refers to as “powers” (Ephesians 6:12).
Saint John of Damascus tells us the following about the archangel Lucifer (satan):
“Lucifer was not made wicked in nature but was good, and made for good ends, and received from his Creator no trace whatever of evil in himself. But he did not sustain the brightness and the honour which the Creator had bestowed upon him. Of his free choice, he was changed from what was in harmony to what was at variance with his nature, and became roused against God; thus, he was the first to depart from good and become evil. For evil is nothing else that absence of goodness, just as darkness also is the absence of light. For goodness is the light of the mind, and, similarly, evil is the darkness of the mind….Now along with him an innumerable host of angels, subject to him, were torn away, followed him, and shared in his fall. Therefore, being of the same nature as the angels, they became wicked, turning away at their own free choice from good to evil.”
Lucifer was filled with pride and boasted that he would establish his throne on the clouds of heaven and become equal to God. Isaiah writes, “How has Lucifer, that rose in the morning, fallen from heaven! He that sent orders to all the nations is crushed to the earth. But thou saidst in thy heart, ‘I will go up to heaven, I will set my throne above the stars of heaven; I will sit on a lofty mount, on the lofty mountains toward the north.’ But no thou shalt go down to Hades, even to the foundations of the earth (Is 14:12-15).” Lucifer fell from glory as the Lord reminds us in the Gospel, “I was beholding Satan as lightning having fallen out of the heaven (Lk 10:18).” All the angels that were subject to him also rebelled against God and followed their leader Lucifer. They then assumed a black and dismal appearance instead of their previous radiance and became demons.
And so we are beset with powerful enemies on all sides but one, on that side stands Christ the Anointed, our Saviour, if we will but turn to Him.
Ancient Rome, for all its cruelty and harshness, ancient Greece for its relative licentiousness, the notorious Canaanites were nowhere near as totally morally depraved as is modern western society.
Think about the pornography industry, the LGBTQ agenda, the overt moves towards the legitimising of paedophilia, the introduction of euthanasia, the massive abortion industry, the totally pervasive drug industry through all classes of society, the virtually non-existent sexual morality standards anywhere, the prevalence of divorce, the ongoing wars fomented purely by corporate greed, the repetitive discovery of elected representatives’ sexual deviancy, the acceptance by society of homosexuality and homosexual “marriage” and transgenderism. The “normalisation “ of transgender, homosexual, heterosexual and bisexual exotic sex and ubiquitous permissiveness, the clearly visible corporate production of known dangerous/useless medications, the fairly obvious corruption of elected and non-elected officials.
Nothing is sacred save LGBTQ – it is now a required belief – required to keep your job, and required by law.
All this moral revolution has been coming for a long time, but it only actually broke the surface in the sixties and has grown into a huge, world-consuming monster today.
We are now wading around in a morass of sewage.
The only real way of dealing with this is involving oneself with ones’ Orthodox Church congregation (no other church will do because they are all involved in the modern culture of immorality), attending services, throwing out the TV set and newspapers, restricting use of social media to proclaiming God, trying to find a way of earning a living away from the secular corporate world or large educational institutions.
“Because we are wrestling not against blood and flesh, but against the Archons, against the Powers, against the Cosmic rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the celestial places.”
So how to wrestle? We have the instructions of the Anointed to pray:
“Prayer needs no teacher. It requires diligence, effort and personal ardour, and then God will be its teacher.” – St. Meletius the Confessor
What is prayer? It is the mutual and personal encounter with God. It is through prayer that we open ourselves to the invisible, imperceptible power of God. To pray is to stand before God with our mind in our heart.
First of all, Christ tells us in the Gospel of Luke, “How much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him” (Luke 11:13). We pray so that God can help us to become more like Him in our actions. We pray for our renewal and the growth of our soul. We pray to give thanks to God for all He provides for us. We pray to seek forgiveness for our sinfulness. We can also pray to seek help for others as well as ourselves. But we must not forget to pray for His help in our own spiritual growth. This is not selfish, but essential for us to better love and serve others and carry out God’s commandments. We ask also for His help in supporting us in the various ascetic practices we choose to undertake to help purify our inner being.
Begin praying by focusing your consciousness and forcibly gathering all the powers of the soul and body. Take the time at the beginning to quiet your mind and body and to concentrate your energies in your heart. Christ says, “Enter into thy closet and … shut thy door” (Matt 6:6). Remove all activities that could disrupt your inner descent. Set aside, to the best of your ability, all of your problems of the day and your worries for tomorrow. This is not a time for thinking or worrying.
We are asked to pray constantly. Here are the Scripture references to this idea:
Pray without ceasing (1Thess 5:17)
Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit (Eph 6:158)
He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart. (Luke 18:1)
Our life is to become one of a constant prayer where we are continually in a relationship with God. This is our main task, to draw nearer to God. Saint Isaac of Syria says that it is impossible to draw near to God by any means other than unceasing prayer.
Your time in prayer will grow as your relationship with God grows.
Fast for a reason, fast if you want God to take you really seriously, fast and pray.
This is the means of our resisting the infernally toxic “culture” of secular society that is infecting everything, even, in places, the Church itself. This will help us determine what actions we must take in response to the culture’s destructive course against Christianity. Our prayer is our secret weapon, unknown to our earthly adversaries, and hated by the satanic angels.
* * *
Just a comment of my own: We seem to be in an eschatological mood. The history of the Church has oscillated between the eschatological Sehnsucht and the settled periods of the institutional Church and civil authorities in the form of kingdoms and empires.
Indeed, we have to fast and pray, do something about ourselves and not try to change other people. This is easier said and done – not merely a stoical moral effort but a pilgrimage in knowing ourselves and realising our God-given vocation.
The Gnostic version of the creation story is a way of dealing with the problem of how could a good God create such a flawed world.
I think you will benefit from reading Jakob Böhme. This is fascinating – http://www.berdyaev.com/berdiaev/berd_lib/1930_349.html