Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Return of Our Ancient Knowledge

The Return – Neo-Platonic Schools of the Renaissance

After a long and tired struggle with stupidity humans realised that something was missing. That something was Plato, in all his Alexandrian glory. Unfortunately he didn’t come thundering from the clouds with lightning flashing from his arse. Nope, people just discovered his writings, and thank goodness for that. It was only with the re-discovery of his works, as well as that of other Greek Philosophers, particularly Plotinus, that European scholars of the time realised how truly far into darkness civilisation had fallen. The Renaissance arrived shortly onto the scene in the 14th century. Christian monks had started to read and translate Platonic text, even giving birth to forms of ‘Christian-Platonism,’ which was mostly frowned upon by the church, or outright got you into a lot of pooh. These Christian monks had obtained copies from Arabic sages, philosophers located in the desert or in eastern schools, whom they encountered during the Crusades. Of course it was also during these encounters that the Knights Templar learned some great secret, possibly that Christ had simply married a prostitute and was into shagging like the rest of us. But the good Knights are another subject. Whatever they learned, they, like the witches, were burned, hanged, murdered and some say even accused of shagging each other.

Locations in the Arabic speaking world had bustling centers of knowledge while in Europe little learning on that level was to be seen. At the heart of these Arabian centres were Sufis, the Arabic sages who despite being outwardly Muslim, and according to their own writings, actually trace their ancestry of learning to a Thoth-Hermes the Egyptian god of knowledge. These sages were teaching Persian astrology, Egyptian mysticism, Alchemy, Neo-Platonism, advanced mathematics and geometry etc. Everywhere Europeans looked they were getting a rude wake up call. ‘How could these ‘barbarians’ know so much?’ said Christian monk wearing nothing but a potato sack. But not to be disheartened the Christians quickly delved deeply into the writings of Plato and Plotinus. In ‘borrowing’ it from these Muslims suddenly these Greek teachings were thought to contain ‘hidden truths’ relating to Christianity, even though in the translations the Greeks insisted they had learned it all in Egypt. Yes, the Christians were simply trying to claim the Alexandrian Light as their own.

This claim didn’t last, and would be short lived. People started to see such teachings for what they really were; a complete teaching in themselves and indeed the source for many teachings that the Church had later borrowed in its early history. You could almost imagine Plato teaching Jesus saying ‘No my boy, no! You are getting it all wrong!’ But in all seriousness, scholars have now proven that many of the deeds and words attributed to Christ were actually copied into the bible from the life of Plato, who lived 300 years earlier!

Actually that the whole Christ story was stolen from the earlier Alexandrian traditions is quite well known today. Much of the life of Jesus Christ was also modelled upon earlier gods. For a clear and exciting must-read for any serious student of Alexandrian teachings get ‘The Jesus Mysteries: Was the Original Jesus a Pagan God?’ by Timothy Freke. I highly recommended it. This and other scholars have uncovered many disturbing facts about ‘Jesus’ and it basically amounts to; anything good that the Church had was stolen from Alexandrian Mystical Science. That is why it was only natural that Neo-Platonism would start to stand on its own shortly after it was re-discovered by Europeans. Two major things occurred after this re-encounter in the 13th century. The first was the oncoming of the Renaissance itself and the second was the rebirth of Neo-Platonic schools in Italy which are of greater concern to us.

Above: The Creation of Adam, Michelangelo

To briefly examine the effect of the Greek writings on the Renaissance just look at all the architecture. Europeans started to base their architecture on classical Greek designs. Buildings began to be based on human proportions, much like in Egypt. Artist, even Church artist were painting in a style totally based on the Greek sculpting and ancient murals. The Sistine Chapel for example as painted by Michelangelo in 1508 used such style. His ‘Creation of Adam’ could very well be the Greek god Zeus reaching out to his son Hercules. Today, most of the mental images people have of the Greek gods are not based on ancient art, but on how Renaissance painters and sculptors idealised their art after what they ‘thought’ was more Greek. This fascination in the Renaissance became so popular that the Dukes of Burgundy even went so far as to claim ancestral descent from the Greek hero Hercules.

It was during the renaissance that one Marsilio Ficino learned that Plato had originally lectured and educated his students in what was known as Plato’s Academy in Athens thousands of years ago. Following this ideal Ficino is responsible for re-establishing the Platonic Academy in 1484, in Florence Italy. He gathered around him scholars and humanist to study the writings of Alexandrian Greco-Egypt. Ficino is also responsible for translating a vast collection of Alexandrian Greek documents for the first time, from ancient Greek into Latin. Included was the Corpus Hermeticum, being the writings of the Egyptian sage Hermes Trismegistus, along with the writings of many Neo-Platonist, such as Porphyry, Iamblichus and Plotinus. Although Ficino himself never relinquished his attachment to Christianity his contribution is vastly important. From this moment onwards, owing much to his translations, the occult revival of the Renaissance began in full swing.

Suddenly Alchemy, Hermetic sciences, Greek philosophy, and Kabbalah became highly prized subjects for re-examination in European occult circles. Humanist and rationale appeared back on the scene as a result of Plato’s teachings. Because of this people also started to outright question the church, which later lead to the Protestant Reformation. Europeans were replacing the spiritual ideals that were being removed along with declining authority of the church. Not only did the Protestants oust the church, but they also opened a vacuum for further experimentation. The Italian pioneers of the Hermetic revival (Hermeticism is the outcome of all Alexandrian Philosophies) really did pave the way for us. The modern Alexandrian Wisdom revival has its roots here.

The most important influence of the Renaissance period on our present studies is that of the creation of the Tarot cards themselves. During the Renaissance the Neo-Platonists had a great impact on the formation of esoteric teachings we carry today. During the Renaissance excitement Tarot cards were created to depict a model of the universe. The Italians were painting Tarot cards to represent Neo-Platonic ideals and at the same time depicting self-transformation through the stages of the Tarot. In every respect, while the ancient Egyptians had hieroglyphs for symbols, the Renaissance had the Tarot. Unfortunately although people wish the Tarot existed in Egypt, it simply did not. But hieroglyphics did exist in Alexandrian Egypt and the Tarot, as their Renaissance creators intended it, were based upon the hieroglyphs showing a continuation of Alexandrian symbolism. The third chapter is dedicated to uncovering how the Neo-Platonists of Renaissance Italy, in fact, based the first Tarot cards on a series of Egyptian hieroglyphics they discovered.
Key point: Renaissance Period
Stream: Neo-Platonic School
Symbols used: Tarot
Secret: Tarot is based on Hieroglyphs

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