Acclaimed author Andrew Phillip Smith is our guest in podcast episode 170 to discuss Gnosticism, specifically his book The Secret History of the Gnostics, from Watkins Publishing.
“Andrew Phillip Smith is editor of The Gnostic and the author of several books on Gnosticism, esotericism and early Christianity, including the first ever Dictionary of Gnosticism. He has also written for New Dawn, Fortean Times and The Guardian. Originally from Wales he now lives in Dublin.”
History of the Gnostics offers long-awaited illumination on the mystical movement that teaches ‘gnosis’ – knowledge of God as opposed to unquestioning faith. Acclaimed author Andrew Phillip Smith delves into the myths and practices of this ancient movement, exploring its popularity during 2nd century AD, its subsequent decline under the weight of orthodoxy in the Church, and its present-day resurgence. Gnosticism has traveled a fascinating path – from the Manichaeans in Modern Persia between the 3rd and 7th centuries AD, to the triumphs and tragedies of the Cathars in Southern Europe between the 12th and 14th centuries, to, finally, today’s Mandaeans in Iraq. However, as the author points out, the revival of Gnosticism extends further than these narrow sects, offering inspiration to a legion of literary figures, including Dan Brown and Philip Pullman. Gnosticism’s emphasis on personal over organized religion, in keeping with the doctrine of the early Christian era during which it thrived, has found particular resonance with today’s multicultural world. The Secret History of the Gnostics is not simply an authoritative account of one sect’s practical beliefs and customs – it is, in effect, a manifesto, an appeal to those inspired by or drawn to the Gnostic faith not to forget its origins.”
Smith has also written extensively on the Cathars and their connections to Gnosticism in his recent book The Lost Teachings of the Cathars, which we touch upon, but discuss in greater detail in second half of the interview in the Occult of Personality Membership Section.
“Centuries after the brutal slaughter of the Cathars by papally endorsed Northern French forces, and their suppression by the Inquisiton, the medieval Cathars continue to exert a powerful influence on both popular culture and spiritual seekers. Yet few people know anything of the beliefs of the Cathars beyond vague notions that they believed in reincarnation, were vegetarians, were somehow Gnostic, and had some relation to Mary Magdalene. The Lost Teachings of the Cathars explores the history of this Christian dualist movement between the 12th and 14th centuries, offering a sympathetic yet critical examination of its beliefs and practices. As well as investigating the origin of the Cathars, their relationship to the ancient Gnostics of the early centuries AD and the possibility that they survived the Inquisition in some way, the author also addresses recent renewed interest in Catharism.”
Smith is clearly one of the best modern writers on the subject of Gnosticism and his work is pure gold. I highly recommend his books to anyone interested in Gnosticism, Catharism, and connecting with these philosophies from an accurate perspective, both spiritually and historically.
In the Occult of Personality Membership Section, Andrew Phillip Smith and I continue the interview, discussing Catharism and the interest in Gnosticism over the centuries. Don’t miss that excellent conversation. Just go to http://occultofpersonality.net/membership/membership-options/ and Join Now if you haven’t already. It’s the best way to support the podcast while receiving access to a tremendous amount of additional exclusive content!
intro music by Paul Avgerinos