About the EGL

About the

Liberal Gnostic Church

Theurgy and Thaumaturgy within the Apostolic Succession

 

The Inner

Cloister

The Liberal Gnostic Church is an Esoteric, Gnostic community of Initiates with valid Apostolic Succession. We hold and transmit lines of authority from both major European lineages – English and French. Our model is not congregation-based, but instead focused on the private priesthood of the individual for their own empowerment and aid upon their initiatory path.

The LGC does not train people for the standard congregational model of the clergy — rather, harkening back to the early days of the ancient church, we have chosen to establish what was once called a “regular” clergy, as distinct from a secular, or diocesan clergy, which is to say, something more akin to independent monks than to ministers.

The specific rules and disciplines of a cloistered monasticism are not relevant to a 21st century Gnostic Initiatory tradition, to be sure, and a case could be made that many of them are no longer relevant to the modern world more generally. Still, there is certainly a need for men and women who are willing to embrace a “new monasticism” centered on a personal rule, or way of life: one in which the core principle of aligning the whole life with the inner dimensions of reality can express itself in forms relevant to the individual and the present age; in which a rich esoteric and spiritual life supported by meaningful ceremonial and personal practice can readily coexist with whatever form of outward life is necessary or appropriate to each priest or priestess.

This concept, which the LGC terms “the Inner Cloister,” is what the LGC offers to those who are interested in following the path of a priest or priestess. It is obviously not for everyone, but it is our belief and hope that many will find the path of the Liberal Gnostic Church relevant to their own lives.

Understanding

Our Roots

The Liberal Gnostic Church has its roots in both the Liberal Catholic Church of England and the French Gnostic Revival. Much of their traditions have been maintained, and yet there are also many differences. The major differences may be summarized in three points:

  • Authority The traditional hierarchical structure of clergy versus laity is dismantled. Although the sacrament of Holy Orders remains intact, the path is open to all who wish to tread it. The decision to follow this path lies with the seeker. Authority lies with the individual.
  • Inclusiveness Inclusiveness in its widest sense.
  • Diversity Unity means having an umbrella with defining characteristics. Any organization must have its rules and dogmas. Yet, these should be restricted to those which are strictly essential. Unity is therefore found in the diversity of individual expression rather than in uniformity.

Apostolic

Succession

The term Apostolic Succession refers to the linear series of bishops, regardless of See, each consecrated by other bishops, themselves consecrated similarly in a direct and linear succession going back to the apostles who derived their apostolic authority from Christ. The Apostolic Succession of The Liberal Gnostic Church is derived primarily from the Old Catholic Church of Holland, though all extant lines of Succession are held. That Apostolic Succession has been carefully and canonically preserved in unbroken lineal descent to the current Presiding Bishop.

Seeking

The Sacraments

The Liberal Gnostic Church wishes to be a channel for the beneficent influence of the Logos upon the lives of its members and those with whom they interact. We believe that the Sacred Flame of the Divine dwells in everything and in all the peoples of the earth. Irrespective of the seeming differences between human beings, each and every  is endowed with the possibility to become a creator, to fulfill their own lives, to follow their own unique, yet valid path to spiritual unfoldment. The traditional sacraments are meant as an aid along the way: They are neither essential nor necessary requirements.

A sacrament may be seen as an outward sign of an internal grace. However, a sacrament is something that is experienced by the person undergoing it. It is this experience, which is personal and different for everyone. The ritual provides an environment in which personal experience may occur.

  • Baptism Strengthens the connection between the personality and soul. Generally conferred by a priest at any time of day.
  • Confirmation Strengthens the resolve to work towards spiritual unfoldment. Conferred by a bishop, generally during the celebration of the Holy Eucharist.
  • Absolution Helps to accept things done imperfectly so that these no longer impede further progress. Conferred by a priest during the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, a Healing Service or at any other occasion. Confession is not required and regular confession is even actively discouraged. However, if a person has weighty things on their mind that they do wish to confess, the possibility to do this is provided.
  • Qurbana Is the theurgic reconnection with the highest divine principle within oneself and with the Divine Origin. The Qurbana, or Holy Eucharist (the Mass) is the service during which the offerings are consecrated into the Body and Blood of Christ.
  • Nuptual Strengthens the bond between any two people who wish to share each others’ lives as partners. The two people confer this sacrament on each other by exchanging vows and rings.
  • Anointing of the Sick In the final stages of earthly life, the anointing may be used to loosen the bonds with the earth so as to assist the process of passing away.
  • Holy Orders Provides a spiritual pathway to activate the priesthood already embedded in each and every human being. Holy orders are conferred by a bishop in an ordination service.
Teachings

Teachings

Of the LGC

Cultivating the Inner Cloister


 

The Teaching

Of the Liberal Gnostic Church

The Liberal Gnostic Church draws its teachings from a medley of influences, both ancient and modern – Western and Eastern. While no attempt is made to establish dogma – in this, as in all Gnostic traditions, personal religious experience is the goal that is set before each aspirant and the sole basis on which questions of a religious nature can be answered – certain teachings have been embraced as the core values from which the LGC as an organization derives its broad approach to spiritual issues.

Those core teachings may be summarized in the words “Gnostic, Universalist, and Esoteric.”

Gnostic

The word Gnostic comes from the Greek word gnosis, generally meaning “knowledge” – that is a direct experiential knowing, as opposed to the more general “acquisition of information.” The term was used as a self-description by an extremely diverse and highly creative set of religious movements that pre-date the Christian era and continued for several centuries before being run to ground by political and religious persecution.

Beginning in the 19th century, the fragments of ancient Gnostic teachings helped spark a series of modern movements that borrowed the concept of gnosis and the ancient Gnostic teaching that personal experience, rather than dogmatic belief or membership in an organization, can form the heart of a spiritual path. As part of the modern Gnostic movement, the LGC affirms that individual experience is central to its own vision of spirituality.

Universalist

Some of the ancient Gnostics, like the mainstream religious movements that persecuted and eventually destroyed them, taught that only an elite group of people were capable of reaching the goals of the spiritual path, while others were doomed to fail. An alternative view, actually the prevailing Christian doctrine for its first 500 years of existence, held that communion with spiritual realities is open to every being without exception, and that all beings – again, without exception – will eventually enter into harmony with the Divine. While this belief was later condemned by the established Church and classified as heretical, the LGC affirms not only the recognition of the potential for spiritual achievement in all beings, but also the ultimate universal salvation of all as central to its own vision of spirituality.

Esoteric

The term esoteric refers here broadly to what is commonly referred to as the Western Esoteric or Mystery Traditions – those traditions that study the natural relationships that exist between the Divine, the Universe, and Humanity through knowledge and application of Gnostic, Hermetic, Neo-Platonic, and other teachings. Esoteric also means occult, or “hidden” – not “open to the public at large” as it were. While we do not hold ourselves to be superior or somehow “elite” to the general populace, we do recognize the value and necessity in this path being largely private, and exclusive – and so, while the LGC affirms a Universalist soteriology, it holds to an esoteric, or hidden corporate application. In short – salvation is ultimately for all, however our organization is not. Fortunately, the latter is no prerequisite for the former.

Belief

As befits a church founded on the principle of individual spiritual experience, the LGC does not require its members or any person whatsoever to accept any of its teachings, but it does expect its priests and priestesses to be familiar with them, to understand their meaning and value within the LGC’s tradition, and to be able to discuss them intelligently.

Beyond these, and on the same terms, the LGC accepts certain basic principles that are common to most of the world’s religions and spiritual paths. It accepts, for example, that the universe we see is a reflection of an invisible reality we do not normally see; that there are many other beings in the universe besides humanity, some less complex and intelligent than humanity, some more so; that each human being has a dimension that transcends the physical and is capable of surviving the death of the physical body; and that a personal relationship based on respect is an appropriate way of interaction with spiritual powers and of participation in the cosmos as a whole.

It will be noticed that the LGC does not specify the number, gender, or nature of the spiritual powers its deacons, priests and priestesses, and bishops invoke. This is quite deliberate, and derives from the points already made. Human beings around the world and throughout time have encountered a rich diversity of spiritual beings and powers, and have drawn inspiration, benediction, and guidance from them all. Though it is common in today’s popular religious culture to insist that all this diversity must somehow be the expression of a single reality, there is at least as much direct evidence against as there is for such a claim, and the LGC chooses not to take a position on an issue that human beings may never be able to settle for certain. One or many, personal or impersonal, gods or goddesses or some of each – these questions are left to the free choice and the personal experience of the individual.

The Inner

Cloister

So personal a way of life as that defined by an independent gnosis requires a conception of the role of regular clergy that is more closely akin to that of the lone hermit than that of the monk or nun living under a collective discipline. Still, the traditional solitude of the hermit is neither easy to attain in today’s crowded world nor appropriate for the needs of many people otherwise well suited to the work of the LGC. In place of the outward trappings of the hermit’s life, therefore, the LGC proposes an inner orientation — the Inner Cloister.

The life of any person who cultivates an inner life and an orientation toward the Divine in today’s obsessively materialistic world must inevitably have important resonances with the lives of hermits in other ages. There is the same sense of standing apart from the outer world, the same embrace of a freely chosen discipline, the same provision of a place of solitude; the difference is simply that the most suitable place of solitude for the hermit of today is found within his or her own heart.

The practice of the Inner Cloister embraces the whole of life; it calls on the priest or priestess to maintain the inner clarity and the spiritual orientation of a hermit in a hermitage all through his or her daily life. Within that framework, the more specific practices that are recommended to the priests and priestesses of the Liberal Gnostic Church have their places: the practices of the home altar, morning prayer, and evening meditation, to enrich and orient the inner life; and the Qurbana to nurture the central Sacred Flame around which the rest of the Inner Cloister is built.

Tau Barnabas

About the

Presiding Bishop

His Excellency, The Most Rev. + Barnabas


 

Maleficarus

Strangefellow

Dr. Mal Strangefellow, in ecclesia Tau Barnabas.

It’s been a long and winding road, starting in the 1980’s.

Rather than the more “modern” approach of finding a “Path(tm)” and sticking to it to the end, I took the more 18th & 19th century approach of casting my net wide… but letting it sink deep. I’ve been an initiate and adept of multiple “Orders” and systems – though I took my time (often many years) in each. Mine has been the path of the Wanderer, though not the dilettante.

The end result has been an integrated and eclectic system of theurgy (spiritual work/mysticism) and thaumaturgy (practical magick/sorcery) – though calling it an “end result” is a bit misleading, as it continues to grow and evolve.

My graduate degree is in psychology, and I am a: Theurge/Mystic, Thaumaturge/Sorcerer, Gnostic Bishop with Apostolic Succession, Zen Master, Tarot Reader, and Spiritual Counselor. That means I use a blend of traditional Eastern and Western esoteric knowledge to help facilitate change. My style of work is firmly rooted in Western and Eastern esoteric practices, but has undeniably been influenced by my work with Gnostic Christianity. That’s why you’ll find me performing sadhanas and reciting mantra; conjuring spirits, angels, or elementals; petitioning saints, and saying mass to change conditions.

Some of my specialties include being able to understand and work with the unique sensitive psychological needs of those involved with esoteric work; using and teaching zen kōan work as a method of deconstructing deeply held misconceptions; uncrossing and warding. When I am not divining solutions or manifesting objectives I occasionally teach practical magic and write; and have contributed to peer-reviewed academic publications.

As I work on fleshing out this autobiographical narrative, I’ll end with a brief bullet-point outline of my “Esoteric CV.”

  • Esoteric Buddhist
    • Japanese Mikkyo (priest ordination/tokudo; shido kegyo/esoteric ritual training)
    • Tibetan Vajrayana (monastic ordination/gelong & getsul; training & retreats)
  • Western Esoteric
    • Spiritual Alchemy via Rufus Opus’ “Red Work”
    • Jason Miller’s “Strategic Sorcery”
    • Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn
    • The Martinist Order
    • Freemasonry
    • The Friary/Ordo Sacrae Flammae Founder, and Grand Master Emeritus
  • Zen Buddhist
    • Kōan Training completion
    • Inga / Dharma Transmission
  • Psychology
    • Clinical
    • New Media
    • Organizational
  • Gnostic
    • Episcopal Consecration w/ valid Apostolic Succession
    • Presiding Bishop, Liberal Gnostic Church
    • Archbishop of North America, Bishop of Colorado and Ohio,
      Bishop in Partibus of Ephesus, l’Eglise Gnostique Catholique Apostolique:
      Autocephalous Primacy of North America
    • Archbishop of Cincinnati, Metropolitan of the Liberal Gnostic Rite,
      Oriental Apostolic Church of Damcar
    • Founder, Sovereign Pontiff & Patriarch Emeritus, Apostolic Johannite Church
    • Prior General, Order of St. Cyprian of Antioch

Academic Degrees

  • Religious Studies
    • History of Christianity, East and West
  • Psychology
    • Clinical
    • New Media
    • Organizational

Academic Publications

  • Peer reviewed articles in psychology journals on the use of Zen Kōans for psychological flexibility
  • Chapter in psychology textbook on the use of Zen Kōans for psychological flexibility
Ordination

Holy Orders

Ordination

Esoteric, Gnostic Church of Initiates with Apostolic Succession


 

Ordinations

For All

The requirements for ordination candidates, both men and women, are that they have been baptized, confirmed, and have completed the the Red Work series of training in the Society of Royal Philosophers.

Church

Membership

Membership in the Church does not limit anyone’s freedom. This also means that our members are free to take part in whatever organizations they deem fit, including participation in services of other churches or religions.