Monthly Archives: April 2013

One Mint Julep Please

Earlier this week I went to a lecture at the new Hermetic Arts Learning Center in Salem, MA. It was kind of a 101 level alchemy lecture, as such, I didn’t pick up a whole lot of new information, but it was nice to talk to other people interested in these topics. I was inspired to try a simple spagyric tincture based on the method described by the lecturer, David Newman.

I have some chronic digestive issues, nothing serious, just annoying. So I wanted to try something that might help with that. I chose mint. A trip to the local garden center supplied me with some sad looking mint plants, two of them, in case I want to do it again. I also bought some cilantro because it’s great and I plan to put it in everything I cook.



This is the entire plant, roots and all, washed, a jar, vodka (80 proof, 100 proof would have been better but they store didn’t carry any), and a copy of the Emerald Tablet of Hermes. Not pictured: scissors, some plastic wrap and aluminium foil. After all of the items were prepared, I said some prayers and started cutting up the plant. It smelled lovely.

Where's the Vietnamese soup?

Where’s the Vietnamese soup?

At this point you put the plant into the jar and fill the jar with vodka and seal it with some plastic wrap. Shake it up a bit and wrap it in aluminium foil. Let it sit in a dark place for 2 or more weeks. I’ll document the next steps as I get to them.

Delicious mint julep

Delicious mint julep

If all I get out of this is some mint-infused vodka, I guess that’s not all that bad, even though I’m not a vodka fan.

I’m not doing this in the “traditional” way in one important respect. I’m not doing any planetary associations. Now, you might say that there’s no point to even trying this if you don’t pay attention to the planetary attributes. I’m not sure I agree. Gnostics aren’t historically big fans of the planets, or at least their astrological influences. I’m treating this as a spiritual-medicinal exercise only. I’ll keep you posted on the results, if any.

Dude, We Got Corn

(Please excuse the stupid inside joke)

Today I bought seeds for a new backyard garden I’m going to plant. I’m starting by building some raised beds over the next few days. I know this doesn’t have much to do with Gnosticism, but it’s my blog, so there.

I’ve been fascinated with permaculture for some time, and this is going to be my first experiment with it. I’m going to be planting the three sisters plant guild, which is corn, beans, and squash. You plant all three species in the same space. The reason why it works, to the best of my understanding, is that each plant grows at a different height and root depth. I’ll be posting pictures and updates here as I get them.

I’ve been thinking about the relationship the modern Gnostic has to the environment. In fact, I think there may be a whole book in it, someday. We world-hating dualists don’t need to care about this world of illusion, right? Well, like most things in our strange little corner of the religious spectrum, I don’t think it’s anywhere near that simple. What do you think the role of the Gnostic should be with our environment? Putting aside politics or your personal feelings, should a Gnostic try to be “green?” Why or why not?

Membership Has Its Benefits

I recently had a interesting conversation with a Episcopalian about the need for “membership” in a church. His argument (I think) was that if a church has official members, it creates an “us vs. them” mentality. I think he’s probably right, but I wonder if that’s bad. Let me explain… no, there is too much. Let me sum up.

He was trying to convince me that I would be welcome “in his church,” which I took to mean, as a member. As a member of the Johannite Gnostic clergy, I thought this would be unlikely. This began the fundamental misunderstanding on both our parts. After some circular discussion I finally realized what he was actually trying to tell me. I would be welcome to attend mass and take communion at his parish. Great! I’ve done so at Episcopalian churches before, and he would also be welcome to do the same at my parish. His parish, as it turns out, doesn’t have any formal membership process at all. People are welcome to come and go as they feel the need to, and that’s just fine. (I should be clear that he wasn’t talking about his entire denomination, as I’m positive that the Episcopal Church does, indeed, have members.)

The Johannite Church, on the other hand, does have members, and I think that the option to become a member is spiritually useful. I also think it creates an “us” and a “them” but I can’t find too many reasons to think that’s a detriment. Yes, that kind of thing can be abused, and has been in the past, but I don’t think that’s something we do. Our membership procedures are extremely loose. At this point there is no formal process, and each parish does it slightly differently. Members in our church are not required to “renounce” their membership in other churches, or anything else, for that matter. Membership is self-selecting, and the only commitment you make to become a member is to yourself. If your path takes you elsewhere  go, with my blessing. Also, our church doesn’t require membership to participate in our sacraments (with the possible exception of Holy Orders, but even that is unclear logistically). A non-member can fully participate in the life of the AJC as much or as little as s/he wants.

My problem with the “no members” model is that there is very little middle ground for the laity. You either go to mass on Sundays or you train to become clergy. Now, I realize that this is overly simplistic, but it seems to me that the “community” aspects of a church with no members would have to be transitory by their very nature. To me, the very word “church” implies a dedicated family of believers. A religious institution that has no method of formally affiliating is not much more than a community center.

It’s not that I don’t think there is a need for exactly that kind of institution. I think there is a perfectly viable niche for a non-denominational, Christian, feel-good, drop-in-when-you-need-to social club. I would just call it something other than “church.”

I’m sure I’ve created a strawman of this particular argument. I’m positive I misrepresented the reality of this particular parish. I’ll be sharing this post with the person who inspired it, with the hope that he understands that the conversation was merely a jumping-off-point for these ideas. I will be sure to post any comments he would like to make, and hopefully we can have an interesting dialogue.