|My Reasoning, As promised
||[17 Dec 2003|09:43pm]
Some quick thoughts on the Gnostic Mass
Some people prefer to ascend the dais in order to partake of communion within the context of the Gnostic Mass (Liber XV). I have often come under attack for my position that this aggrandizement is totally unnecessary and actually detrimental to the efficiency of the Mass.
Let me begin by prefacing all of this with the following -- these are my opinions. Obviously I think they are correct, and if you disagree, you must refute these points, not dredge up obscure references to non-Thelemic texts, insult my mother, or whatever.
The Mass is a Religious Rite. As such its desired results fit into a certain category of Magickal workings. These results are listed throughout the text of the mass, but a nice list is provided at the beginning of the Mystic Marriage, "bestowing upon us health and wealth and strength and joy and peace, and that fulfillment of will and of love under will that is perpetual happiness." Religious Rites are different from other Magickal Rituals in that the target for a Religious Rite is usually based upon a societal or community need, and that the participants may or may not be "initiates".
As with any magickal rite, there are officers who lead the rite. Everyone who participates in the ritual lends their energy and the head officer (in this case Priest) channels this energy and acts as a proxy for the other participants. Note that in Liber XV, the congregation is distinct from the priest and they receive their benefit (Communion) separately from the Priest, unlike the other officers which are assumed to be extensions of the Priest. A proxy is different from an intermediary. The Priest is not interceding between the Congregant and God, he is exemplifying the ceremony. The reason for choosing a head officer in any magickal rite is fairly straightforward, it creates a focus, which would inevitably be lost amid the clamor (if everyone attempted to do the ritual at once) or over time (if each person acted sequentially).
Since the Mass is a Magickal Ritual (albeit of the subset "Religious"), and positing that the chosen officers are competent in their roles, we should assume that the ritual actually worked. If the ritual did not work, and the communal blessings are not present, I have just wasted my time (& I can think of many things to do in that hour plus it takes to conduct the Mass).
The Priest in a Gnostic Church is not a mediator, but rather a proxy or representative. In this role, he is, as with any group ritual, charged with acting for and as the other participants. Thus, his words are every congregants words, his acts are those of every member of the congregation. If an individual congregant repeats some section his words are wasted, for all that is to be done has been done (I shall not address introduction of foreign elements to the ritual, for their detriment to the ceremony should be obvious). The congregants statement, which is clearly written out as "There is no part of me that is not of the Gods," is an affirmation an acknowledgement of the sacrament.
The question to ask now is "What are the repercussions of repeating something that does not need to be repeated?" At best, we should hope that nothing happens. Unfortunately, I do not feel this is the case. 777 exists so that we can fill our minds with a single thought which is compatible with the operation. All ritual should be performed so that stray thoughts cannot interfere. Doubts to the efficaciousness of the ceremony should not intrude upon the performance of the ceremony lest it fail in whole or part.
When you repeat these actions, you are saying -- in effect -- that the ritual did not work & are thus entering a flaw into the effectiveness of the ritual. By saying that the ritual does not work, you ensure that it does not -- a self fulfilling prophecy. By redoing the act of consecration, in whole or part, one strips the cookie of the energies which were manifest to it. If the congregant has any ability, he may be able to replace this energy with some stripped down (unless he re-performs the entire right) and weaker (deriving energy from himself only rather than from every person present). I will bypass discussion of supernatural/divine (other than the divinity of the congregants) elements, as they are not accepted by everyone -- however, it is doubtful that if such elements existed in the original blessing, that it would be present in the second weaker blessing.
I would like to wrap up this short piece with some basic Qabalism. The Temple of the Gnostic Mass is tied to the Tree of Life. Ascending the dais symbolizes crossing the Abyss. As the children cannot ascend the dais, they obviously give the host & wine to the congregant at the base of the dais. Thus the congregant must carry the elements across the abyss.
Symbolically, this is impossible. The nature of the Abyss is dispersion. All extraneous elements are stripped during the journey so that nothing is left. I do not recall any special clause for blessings on hosts & wine.
In so many ways, the ascension of the dais destroys the symbolism of the mass, so that the blessing of the congregation is destroyed, is it any wonder that so few communities have the bestowment of "health and wealth and strength and joy and peace, and that fulfillment of will and of love under will that is perpetual happiness."