Week 9 – Knowledge, Wisdom, and Gnosis – Mar 2
What do these words mean to you? How do express these principles in your spiritual work? Is any one more important than the other? Why?
Knowledge, wisdom, and gnosis are all important to my practice. They all inform each other, and I would be poorer if even one was missing. I might not be much of a recon, but I still do my research, because it informs my practice. I still use experience to decide what to do, based on what’s worked for me before. Gnosis is how the gods in old books come alive in my own experience.
Knowledge helps me recognise the gods when They communicate with me. How am I to know a god when I experience one if I don’t know Their symbols or personality? It also helps with discernment, so when a god does get in touch, I can work out whether it is that god, or just brain chatter. Without knowledge, I’d be lost in a sea of my own madness.
Every ritual teaches you something, even if that something is that it doesn’t work for you. The act of doing, and learning, and trying, and possibly failing, enrich my experience of worship and practice, and guide me as I seek to create new rituals. Learning what works for me helped me build a daily practice that has become a peaceful anchor to my day. Knowing what my capabilities are in terms of the sort of rituals I like doing, and can handle, helps me plan my festival celebrations. This might sound like mundane stuff, and wisdom might seem to be more abstract and intellectual, or closer to mystic gnosis, but I find that sort of definition unhelpful. Every day brings a little wisdom, a little more experience you can learn from.
Gnosis comes from experience, when the gods reach out to me. I might meet Them in meditation, or have something revealed to me in ritual. I might hear from Them in divination, or from the gentle breeze as I walk outside. It’s those little touches that let you know the gods are with you. And the best way to discern gnosis from brain chatter is with knowledge. Know yourself, and know the gods, so you can tell the difference between them. This is particularly true if They use a form that may not be backed up by historical records.
Some very complicated UPG regarding Sobek and Heru-sa-Aset was revealed to me five years ago, and I’m still processing that. I may not have been able to confirm all that gnosis with historical precedents, but there’s enough there to suggest it has some basis in truth. They are so close, but to suggest They are One and the Same just does not fit my experience of Them.
Even now, I have trouble thinking of Sobek without Heru. They balance each other, and have this dynamic binary star-like relationship that just can’t be broken. I might call myself a priest of Sobek, because it feels right, but it isn’t to the exclusion of Heru. They come together. Knowledge backs up Their relationship, experience tells me this is true, and this helps support my gnosis, so that as I build this path and settle into a stable religious practice, I know I’m on a firm foundation.
None of these things is any more important than the other. Ultimately, they are all important, and inform my practice as I build it. They should all exist in a balance with each other; nothing in excess. To have too much knowledge is to spend too much time in books, rather than experience. To rely on gnosis too much could lead down pathways that may mislead. To not have enough wisdom and experience to be able to learn from your mistakes, and keep trying, could leave you not knowing how to proceed, because you don’t know what works for you. All of these things are important, and should be balanced appropriately if any spiritual practice is to be well-rounded and meaningful. That’s what my experience suggests, anyway, for what it’s worth.