This morning I was reading about Markos the Magician, a Gnostic Christian and Neo-Pythagorean who was loathed so much by Irenaeus of Lyons that he spent a significant chunk of his Adversus Haereses besmirching the man’s personal life and lampooning his elaborate, syncretic cosmotheology. In it Yahweh (equated with a personified Tetraktys, the Platonic Demiurge and likely Zeus or Hermes) is alone in the vast emptiness, contemplating his own mind, when he opens his mouth and speaks the letters of the Greek alphabet into existence. Not only were these the στοιχεία or elemental building-blocks of material existence, but each letter — going beyond the canonical 24 to include the archaic digamma (ϝ), qopa (ϙ), and sampi (ϡ) among others — not only had its own δυνάμεις (powers) and φρένες (intelligence) they also were/were overseen by a pantheon of Gods and Angels. All of which was pretty interesting (especially since he was an itinerant wonder-worker who likely traveled in the same circles as the Orphikoi) until it started getting into a bunch of math stuff and I zoned out. When I came to I was staring at a fascinating passage that reminded me of Parmenides, Empedokles, the Olbian Bone Tablets and the katabasis and encounter with the Sentries recounted in the Gold Leaves.
θέλω δέ σοι καὶ αὐτὴν ἐπιδεῖξαι τὴν Ἀλήθειαν. Κατήγαγον γὰρ αὐτὴν ἐκ τῶν ὕπερθεν δωμάτων, ἵν’ ἐσίδῃς αὐτὴν γυμνὴν, καὶ καταμάθοις τὸ κάλλος αὐτῆς· ἀλλὰ καὶ ἀκούσῃς αὐτῆς λαλούσης, καὶ θαυμάσῃς τὸ φρόνημα αὐτῆς. Ὅρα οὖν κεφαλὴν ἄνω, τὸ ἄλφα καὶ τὸ ω, τράχηλον δὲ β καὶ ψ, ὤμους ἅμα χερσὶ γ καὶ phi; χ, στήθη δ καὶ φ, διάφραγμα ε καὶ υ, νῶτον ζ καὶ τ, κοιλίαν η καὶ σ, μηροὺς θ καὶ ρ, γόνατα ι καὶ π, κνήμας κ καὶ ο, σφυρὰ λ καὶ ξ, πόδας μ καὶ ν.
I also wish to show you Truth herself. I have brought her down from the dwellings on high that you might look on her naked and examine closely her beauty, and indeed that you may also hear her speak and marvel at her wisdom. See, then, alpha and omega are her head on high; beta and psi are her neck; gamma and chi are her shoulders and hands; her breast is delta and epsilon and upsilon are her diaphragm; zeta and tau are her stomach; eta and sigma are her private parts; theta and rho are her thighs; iota and pi are her knees; kappa and omicron are her legs; lambda and xi are her ankles; mu and nu are her feet.
.My first thought was, “Oh, very cool. Δ = Διόνυσος is on Aletheia’s breast, above her heart.”
My second thought was, “Niiiiice. Σ = Σαννίων is on her private parts.”
Once I stopped doing my best Beavis and Butt-Head impression about 20 minutes later my third thought was that this could be some valuable spiritual tech. And then dismissed that because I’ve already worked out a soul parts system for the Starry Bull tradition. So I closed the website and went downstairs to make coffee and tea for our household, and take my morning regimen of pills, vitamins, herbal tinctures and the like, which were especially necessary since I was in excruciating pain thanks to the lovely spring showers I’d been watching all morning. As I shambled about the kitchen it started to dawn on me that I am, indeed, a fucking idiot.
Markos was a Neo-Pythagorean — that’s how this tech was meant to be used!
While his friends were in good health Pythagoras always conversed with them; if they were sick, he nursed them; if they were afflicted in mind, he solaced them, some by incantations and magic charms, others by music. He had prepared songs for the diseases of the body, by singing which he cured the sick. He had also some that caused forgetfulness of sorrow, mitigation of anger, and destruction of lust. (Porphyry, Life of Pythagoras 33)
I’m going to experiment with it, tinker around a bit and maybe incorporate the Pythagorean Table of Opposites or astrology (12 pairs of letters = 12 signs of the Zodiac, etc) and if it works I’ll be adding it to the growing body of Starry Bull praxis.
And if you’d like to learn more about Markos the Magician, click here. The good stuff starts at chapter 13. Just keep in mind that Irenaeus is a total prick…
But there is another among these heretics, Marcus by name, who boasts himself as having improved upon his master. He is a perfect adept in magical impostures, and by this means drawing away a great number of men, and not a few women, he has induced them to join themselves to him, as to one who is possessed of the greatest knowledge and perfection, and who has received the highest power from the invisible and ineffable regions above. Thus it appears as if he really were the precursor of Antichrist. For, joining the buffooneries of Anaxilaus to the craftiness of the magi, as they are called, he is regarded by his senseless and cracked-brain followers as working miracles by these means.
2. Pretending to consecrate cups mixed with wine, and protracting to great length the word of invocation, he contrives to give them a purple and reddish colour, so that Charis, who is one of those that are superior to all things, should be thought to drop her own blood into that cup through means of his invocation, and that thus those who are present should be led to rejoice to taste of that cup, in order that, by so doing, the Charis, who is set forth by this magician, may also flow into them. Again, handing mixed cups to the women, he bids them consecrate these in his presence. When this has been done, he himself produces another cup of much larger size than that which the deluded woman has consecrated,) and pouting from the smaller one consecrated by the woman into that which has been brought forward by himself, he at the same time pronounces these words: “May that Chaffs who is before all things, and who transcends all knowledge and speech, fill thine inner man, and multiply in thee her own knowledge, by sowing the grain of mustard seed in thee as in good soil.” Repeating certain other like words, and thus goading on the wretched woman [to madness], he then appears a worker of wonders when the large cup is seen to have been filled out of the small one, so as even to overflow by what has been obtained from it. By accomplishing several other similar things, he has completely deceived many, and drawn them away after him.
3. It appears probable enough that this man possesses a demon as his familiar spirit, by means of whom he seems able to prophesy, and also enables as many as he counts worthy to be partakers of his Charis themselves to prophesy. He devotes himself especially to women, and those such as are well-bred, and elegantly attired, and of great wealth, whom he frequently seeks to draw after him, by addressing them in such seductive words as these: “I am eager to make thee a partaker of my Charis, since the Father of all doth continually behold thy angel before His face. Now the place of thy angel is among us: it behoves us to become one. Receive first from me and by me [the gift of] Chaffs. Adorn thyself as a bride who is expecting her bridegroom, that thou mayest be what I am, and I what thou art. Establish the germ of light in thy nuptial chamber. Receive from me a spouse, and become receptive of him, while thou art received by him. Behold Charis has descended upon thee; open thy mouth and prophesy.” On the woman replying,” I have never at any time prophesied, nor do I know how to prophesy;” then engaging, for the second time, in certain invocations, so as to astound his deluded victim, he says to her, “Open thy mouth, speak whatsoever occurs to thee, and thou shalt prophesy.”
Note the importance of the cup? Also, I suspect that Markos’ Χάρις is the Acquired Goddess.