The Scarlet Letter
Volume VI, Number 2 | September 2001
The Gnostic Mass As Biological Allegory:
A Speculative Reading

By Dionysos Thriambos

First Disclaimer: As of this writing, the author is a Priest of Ecclesia Gnostica Cathoica, and thus carries authority and proficiency in his own performance of the Gnostic Mass. He is however not a Bishop, and his interpretations of the symbolism and signficance of the Mass have no guaranteed accuracy, and are binding on no one, including himself. In particular, he has not been initiated into explicit knowledge of the Supreme Secret of O.T.O., which the Mass is said to adumbrate.

Second Disclaimer: This essay includes an accounting of biological facts which were probably unknown to Past Patriarch Baphomet XI° when he composed the Gnostic Mass. It is therefore unlikely that the complete set of ideas presented here could be traced to conscious authorial design in the symbolism of that ritual.

Now is the Pillar established in the Void; now is Asi fulfilled of Asar; now is Hoor let down into the Animal Soul of Things like a fiery star that falleth upon the darkness of the earth. –LXV V:5

The Gnostic Mass is a eucharist based on and expressive of the formula of the Aeon of Horus, that of the Crowned and Conquering Child. The Priest and Priestess must both participate to prepare the sacramental feast, and their co-operation is in many respects suggestive of sexual congress. If there is symbolic coitus, the “Formula of the Child” implies that there is also symbolic conception. As human conception occurs though the union of ovum and semen, so it would appear that the magick act of conception in the Mass occurs in the commixto, the moment in the ceremony of the Mystic Marriage when the particula is introduced to the wine in the Graal.

The Cake of Light, or host, is essentially feminine. The Priest identifies it three times as “life.” In Latin, “life” is the feminine viva or vita. The substance of the Cake is attributable to Demeter, the goddess of grain and terrestrial life. Demeter and Dionysos were the focal deities of the classical Eleusinia, the archetypal Western Mystery cult.

The substance of the wine is attributable to the ecstatic god Dionysos, who was also the principal god of the Orphic Mysteries. The wine is essentially masculine. The Priest identifies it three times as “joy.” In Latin, “joy” is the masculine laetatio—or possibly juvius, or even felix, all masculine. The contents of the Cup of the Scarlet Woman are the blood of the Saints, who are masculine under the rubric of Liber XV.

So the wine is the semen, “the blood that is thy life,” (Liber CLVI, v.2) that flows from the grapes of the testes. And the host divided into two signifies the ovaries. The particula, which is taken as a fragment from half of the host, is an ovum. It is joined with the seminal vintage in the womb represented by the Graal. The commixto thus declares (or “warrants”) the “covenant” (agreement) between the generative substances from the male and female, through which the recurrent resurrection of the human race is effected.

There is no need to be deceived by the Priest’s incantation over the particula: TOUTO ESTI TO SPERMA MOU. The word sperma means “seed,” like plant seed. And it is the ovum that is the seed of the human. The so-called human “sperm”—short for “spermatazoa”—are mere pollen. We owe the confusion of terms to a time when neither plant nor human procreation was well understood.

Nor does a problem arise from the delivery of the particula by the Lance. While often perceived as a uniformly phallic symbol, the Lance can represent channels other than the male urethra. It often appears to allude to the sushumna, or central energy passage in the human subtle body. When the Priestess takes the Lance for the Mystic Marriage, it is possible for it to assume the role of the fallopian tube that delivers the ovum to the “waiting womb.” And, indeed, contemporary biological studies reveal that the womb waits for the ovum, not for the semen. Spermatazoa are capable of surviving for several days in the uterine environment, and the typical sequence of conception involves the fashionably late arrival of the guest of honor, the egg.

When approached on this plane of interpretation, the “shrill scream of orgasm” that is the HRILIU refers not so much to the coital ecstasy, but rather to the rapture of union between the generative substances. The sexual congress of the mother and father is the dedication of those substances, as enacted during the Office of the Collects and the Ceremony of the Consecration of the Elements. That sequence is bracketed by the first trishagion at the Opening of the Veil and the second one at the Elevation of the Host.

Of course, these elaborate ceremonial mechanics are only applied to the elements consumed by the Priest. Communicants from the People do not perform a fractio of their hosts, nor a commixto in their goblets. Does that mean that there is no magical conception in their communion, no realization of the Formula of the Child? On the contrary, that process may be understood to be hidden within each communicant. The seventh article of the creed identifies “the miracle of the Mass” with the process of human metabolism, through which our spirits are renewed from the matter of meat and drink. We may conclude then, that the magick that the Priest performs in outward ceremony may be reenacted through the interior transmutations of each magician who partakes of the eucharistic substances.

Offerimus tibi donum corpus dei.

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