Tag Archives: The Discourse on the Eighth and Ninth

Silent Hymns and the Absent Heaven

21 Mar

Continuing with the conversation in The Discourse on the Eighth and Ninth, the initiate persists in his quest to reach the eighth and ninth heavenly spheres. He tells his spiritual father (and, simultaneously, the thrice great God), “Trismegistus, let not my soul be deprived of the great divine vision.”

Still psychically floating in the eighth heavenly sphere, the father replies, “Return to praising, my son, and sing while you are silent. Ask what you want in silence.”

The initiate praises in silence; he asks for the vision in silence. (What else could he do?) And, after praising, perhaps even by praising, he obtains it at last: “We have received this light. And I myself see this same vision in you. And I see the eighth, and the souls that are in it, and the angels singing a hymn to the ninth and its powers.” His instructor quickly tells him not to speak any further about the vision (“It is advantageous from now on that we keep silent”).

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A Vicarious Mystic

15 Mar

“My father, yesterday you promised me that you would bring my mind into the eighth and afterwards you would bring me into the ninth. You said that this is the order of the tradition.” – Initiate, The Discourse on the Eighth and Ninth

For having such a dull title, The Discourse on the Eighth and Ninth might be one of the most exciting texts in the Nag Hammadi Library; it offers an intimate glimpse into third-century mystical practice. The only version of its kind, it describes a conversation between a mystagogue (instructor of transcendental teachings and excursions–think Jedi Master) and an initiate (eager young Padawan). The mystagogue guides the initiate into an experience of eighth and ninth heavenly spheres by experiencing them first himself, and then describing to his pupil what he sees. (They’ve already taken the trip to “the seventh sphere” together, apparently, “since [they] are pious and walk in [God’s] law.”) The mystagogue tells his spiritual “son,” “Your part, then, is to understand; my own is to be able to deliver the discourse from the fountain that flows to me.”

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