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STRANGE FIRE: FREE SAMPLE "Now Aaron's sons (entered the Tabernacle)... and they offered a strange fire to the Lord, such as the Lord had not commanded them. And fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them and they died before the Lord." Leviticus 10:1-3 Like the sons of Aaron, there have always been those whose spiritual quest has taken them outside the bounds of conventional religion. Strange Fire is a journal for those who follow that path no matter where it leads - be it the extradimensional spaces of the Cthulhu mythos, the sweetly decaying depths of Gothic culture, or the cutting edge of Modern Magick. Follow the fire... if you dare. -- Strange Fire is available in a subscriber-only area on our web pages. Subscribers may access this material through passwords supplied in our monthly email newsletters and will also receive copies of the collected editions which are published every three months. Electronic editions of all our publications are also available by email or on disk in the PDF format, readable on a variety of systems through the free Adobe Acrobat Reader. Visit us at http://www.io.com/~mjg/visionary or email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. The free Adobe Acrobat Reader can be obtained at www.adobe.com or ftp.adobe.com _________________________________________________________________ Introduction to The Book of Eight Aeons by Dennis Stevens Gnosticism belongs to a class of words, like "Spirituality" and "Truth" that are often used but rarely well defined. This is hardly new; until the discovery of actual Gnostic texts in 1945 in Egypt, the only source of knowledge about the Gnostics came from those orthodox Church Fathers who fulminated against their Gnostic opponents. Writers such as Irenaeus occasionally dropped tantalizing quotes and clues of what these mysterious, early sects believed Even after these heretical movements which flourished in 1st-3rd centuries CE had (apparently) been destroyed, replaced by what we know today as Roman Catholicism, various new Gnostic sects continued to survive into the Middle Ages, such as the Cathars and Bogomils. Like other suppressed groups in history, enough is known to make educated guesses as to what they did and thought, but enough gaps exist that many people can project on to them their own agendas. The picture is only made more unclear by the plethora of different Gnostic sects which apparently existed. However, they all share certain characteristics which allows them to be grouped together. Gnostic beliefs centered around the idea that the perceptible, material world is in some sense inherently "bad". Many Gnostic texts tell the story that the Creator of our world- identified at times with the God of the Old Testament - is not the ultimate deity but an impostor, an inferior being who either split off from ultimate reality, called the Pleroma (the "Fullness", or "Completeness"). This being, called by Gnostics the Demiurge or Craftsman, created a fallen world in an flawed attempt to imitate the true God of the Pleroma. The exact myth varies widely according to different texts, and thus there are many different reasons given as to how such a state of affairs could come to pass. In some stories the Pleroma consists of various levels of reality, which are describedanthropomorphically. The lowest level is Sophia, Wisdom. She tries to imitate the highest level, which produces each level below it. However, she does not possess this power, and can only create misshapen creature, the Demiurge. This creature is ignorant of its own origin, and believes it to be the only being in existence. It then repeats its' mother's mistake and creates the material realm including human beings. Sophia takes pity on humanity and sends her spirit forth into Adam and Eve, the first humans.