The Gnostic Faustus: The Secret Teachings behind the Classic Text

Overview

The Faust legend seen as a transmission of core Gnostic teachings disguised as a morality tale

• Shows the 16th-century Faust text to be a coded, composite Gnostic creation myth

• Identifies the many Hermetic, alchemical, and Tantric symbols found in Faust that signify worship of the divine feminine through sacramental sexual practices

• Reveals a mystical process of spiritual salvation, as distilled from esoteric traditions

In The Gnostic Faustus, Ramona Fradon shows the legend...

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The Gnostic Faustus: The Secret Teachings behind the Classic Text

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Overview

The Faust legend seen as a transmission of core Gnostic teachings disguised as a morality tale

• Shows the 16th-century Faust text to be a coded, composite Gnostic creation myth

• Identifies the many Hermetic, alchemical, and Tantric symbols found in Faust that signify worship of the divine feminine through sacramental sexual practices

• Reveals a mystical process of spiritual salvation, as distilled from esoteric traditions

In The Gnostic Faustus, Ramona Fradon shows the legend of Doctor Faustus to be a composite Gnostic creation myth that reveals the process of spiritual salvation. Nearly every element of the original 16th-century text is a metaphor containing profound spiritual messages based on passages of Coptic and Syrian Gnostic manuscripts, including the Pistis Sophia and The Hymn of the Pearl. Fradon identifies many Hermetic, alchemical, and Tantric symbols in the Faust Book that accompany the story of Sophia, the goddess of wisdom, whose troubled journey to salvation is a model for human spiritual development. Extensive line-by-line text comparisons with these Gnostic manuscripts show that Faustus’s corruption by the Devil and his despair parallel Sophia’s transgression and fall, and that his tragic death is a simple reversal of her joyful rebirth, so written in order to make an otherwise heretical story palatable to Church authorities at that time.

Fradon demonstrates that the Faust legend is a vehicle for transmitting antiquity’s secret wisdom. It provides an account of spiritual initiation whose goal is ecstatic revelation and union with the divine. The elements of alchemy, sacramental sex, and worship of the divine feminine that are encoded in the Faust Book reveal the same hidden goddess-worshipping tradition whose practices are hinted at by the writings of Renaissance magi such as Cornelius Agrippa and Giordano Bruno.

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Editorial Reviews

Michael Moynihan
“Fradon’s comparative study of the hidden origins of the ‘original’ Faust tale not only illuminates the gnostic, hermetic, and alchemical substrata that have been hinted at by previous scholars but also breaks new ground in pointing out uncanny tantric resonances in what superficially appears as a lurid sixteenth-century German chapbook.”
Michael Gleason
"The imagery contained in the Faust legend is thoroughly explored, and some aspects are brought forward which have not, to my knowledge, been discussed in works available to a general readership. And that is the best thing about this book. While a basic background is necessary, the reader need not be a specialist in medieval literature to be able to make
sense of it."
Michelle Mueller
"The historical and literary information in the Introduction is key. . . . Familiarity with the book can improve one's magic because it includes basic esoteric concepts and their application."
Jeff Arrow
" The Gnostic Faustus is one of those books in which every other paragraph is so illuminating that you want to jot down notes so as to not forget anything. Fradon's style is mature and she frames these gems of insight in a way that everyone can understand."
From the Publisher
" The Gnostic Faustus is one of those books in which every other paragraph is so illuminating that you want to jot down notes so as to not forget anything. Fradon's style is mature and she frames these gems of insight in a way that everyone can understand."

"The historical and literary information in the Introduction is key. . . . Familiarity with the book can improve one's magic because it includes basic esoteric concepts and their application."

"The imagery contained in the Faust legend is thoroughly explored, and some aspects are brought forward which have not, to my knowledge, been discussed in works available to a general readership. And that is the best thing about this book. While a basic background is necessary, the reader need not be a specialist in medieval literature to be able to make
sense of it."

“Fradon’s comparative study of the hidden origins of the ‘original’ Faust tale not only illuminates the gnostic, hermetic, and alchemical substrata that have been hinted at by previous scholars but also breaks new ground in pointing out uncanny tantric resonances in what superficially appears as a lurid sixteenth-century German chapbook.”

author of Lords of Chaos and The Secret King Michael Moynihan
“Fradon’s comparative study of the hidden origins of the ‘original’ Faust tale not only illuminates the gnostic, hermetic, and alchemical substrata that have been hinted at by previous scholars but also breaks new ground in pointing out uncanny tantric resonances in what superficially appears as a lurid sixteenth-century German chapbook.”
Michael Gleason
"The imagery contained in the Faust legend is thoroughly explored, and some aspects are brought forward which have not, to my knowledge, been discussed in works available to a general readership. And that is the best thing about this book. While a basic background is necessary, the reader need not be a specialist in medieval literature to be able to make

sense of it."

From the Publisher

" The Gnostic Faustus is one of those books in which every other paragraph is so illuminating that you want to jot down notes so as to not forget anything. Fradon's style is mature and she frames these gems of insight in a way that everyone can understand."
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781594772047
  • Publisher: Inner Traditions/Bear & Company
  • Publication date: 12/15/2007
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Ramona Fradon has been investigating the Faust legend since 1978 in order to decipher the mysteries of its spiritual framework. She has also practiced astrology and energy healing and studied shamanism and hypnotherapy. She is a visual artist with ex-tensive illustration credits in the comics industry. She was the artist for Aquaman, Metamorpho, and the comic strip Brenda Starr. In 2006, she was inducted into the Comic Book Hall of Fame. She lives in upstate New York.

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Read an Excerpt

from Chapter 1

Of His Parentage and Youth

Highlights from the Tripartite Tractate, the Hymn of the Pearl, and the Apochryphon of John underlie this opening chapter and introduce the two mythological themes that shape the Faust Book plot. The Tripartite Tractate launches the composite creation myth by describing the first principle the Gnostics called Father—the unfathomable, illimitable world of Light that encompasses all potential and will emanate all of creation.

The Hymn of the Pearl introduces the composite drama of the fallen cosmic soul whose repentance and return to grace is a model for human spiritual development. In this case it is a hero savior who descends into the realm of matter to rescue the lost Pearl of Wisdom—the spark of divinity that lies forgotten in each of us and must be discovered. He fails in his mission, however, for when he crosses the boundary from the world of Light and assumes a material body, he succumbs to its desires, forgets his divine nature, and abandons his soul-saving mission.

Other texts with other divine souls will pick up this story in subsequent chapters, for whether it is Sophia from the Pistis Sophia and the Apochryphon of John, the Logos from the Tripartite Tractate, Primal Man from the Mani myth, or this particular hero savior, all assume the burden of incarnation and fall into “sleep,” “drunkenness,” or “ignorance.” All forget their heavenly origin and must be called to remembrance by a Logos or otherwise awakened in order to return to the world of Light.

In the Apochryphon of John, the doubting disciple reappears and continues to be reproached by the Pharisee for succumbing to Jesus’s teaching. He will soon receive a revelation from the Holy Spirit, however, a revelation that includes an account of the cosmic creation, a version of Sophia’s myth and secrets of divine and human salvation. For the disciple, access to these mysteries is equivalent to the divine soul’s awakening.

At the start of this text comparison, a description of Faustus’s virtuous parents is matched with lines from the Tripartite Tractate praising the “good, faultless,” and “perfect” Father. Then, as Faustus abandons his faith and sinks into depravity, his fall is matched with the hero savior’s in the Hymn of the Pearl who “puts on the body” and forgets his heavenly origin. Finally, Faustus’s friends are condemned for inclining him to magic and other forms of deception. They are compared to Jesus in the Apochryphon of John, whom the Pharisee accuses of seducing the disciple with “deception” and “lies.”

Quite aside from its relevance to the underlying texts, Faustus’s search for forbidden knowledge reflects the spiritual development of a Tantric disciple. We will be following his progress throughout this book, using as our guide an informed summary of the Tantric process by Mookerjee and Khanna in The Tantric Way. Their book and others supply physiological details about specific Tantric practices, which we will compare to some of Faustus’s peculiar actions as well as to certain unusual images and events that appear in the Faust Book.

In their summary, Mookerjee and Khanna identify a series of “sharply defined phases” of the Tantric process. They characterize the first as “an unwinding” of expansive “inner energies” or the emergence of an impulse “in the newly awakened man” to uncover his “unlimited potential.” Thus he breaks the bounds that confine him and seeks out sacred or hidden knowledge. When Faustus abandons his conventional studies, “strays from his godly purpose” and develops a wide-ranging curiosity about magic and other black arts, he is parodying this expansive impulse.

He finds his vocation in sorcery, necromancy, and other forbidden arts in the same way the aspirant “discovers and accepts a belief system—in this case Tantra—in which (he) is going to be actualized.” While the belief system Faustus has adopted consists of the devil’s Arcana and will contribute to his undoing in the surface story, the practices and beliefs for which it is a metaphor will ultimately “actualize” or transform the Tantric disciple and he will acquire the godlike attributes he desires.

The magical “figuroe” and “incantaciones” Faustus studies evoke the tantrist’s sacred yantras and the potent syllables or mantras they chant to effect their transformations. The “conjuraciones” and “nigromantiae” he practices suggest the powers attributed to Tantric adepts who are said to produce plasmic forms out of mind stuff through the projection of sexual energy, to teleport and become clairvoyant. Faustus will master these Tantric practices and acquire many more as the story progresses.

The magical system he adopts is condemned by the Faust Book author as foreign and blasphemous, labels that have also been applied to Tantra, whose worship of the goddess through exotic rituals and explicit sexual techniques clearly run counter to orthodox norms.

Condemned in India by the conservative Brahmans and driven underground in the West by the patriarchal Church, news of Tantra has surfaced in this speculative environment of alchemy and Gnosticism. Indeed, as we shall see, Tantric practices indicated in the “heretical” Faust Book fit comfortably into alchemy’s framework and the structure of the Gnostic myth.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Setting the Stage

PART ONE
Here Beginneth Doctor Faustus: His Vita & Historia

Introduction to the Faust Book

1 Of His Parentage and Youth
2 How Doctor Faustus Did Achieve and Acquire Sorcery
3 Here Followeth the Disputatio Held By Faustus and the Spirit

Introduction to Chapters 4-7

4 The Second Disputatio with the Spirit
5 Doctor Faustus’s Third Colloquium with the Spirit, Which Was Called Mephistopheles—Concerning Also the Pact Which These Two Made
6 Doctor Faustus’s Instrumentum, or Devilish and Godless Writ Obligatio
7 Concerning the Service That Mephistopheles Used Toward Faustus

Introduction to Chapters 8-11

8 Concerning Doctor Faustus’s Intended Marriage
9 Doctor Faustus’s Quaestio of His Spirit Mephistopheles
10 A Disputatio Concerning the Prior State of the Banished Angels
11 A Disputatio Concerning Hell; How It Was Created and Fashioned; Concerning Also the Torments in Hell

PART TWO
Doctor Faustus His Historia: Here Followeth the Second Part, Adventures & Sundry Questions

12 His Almanacs and Horoscopes
13 A Disputatio or Inquiry Concerning the Art of Astronomia, or Astrologia
14 A Disputatio and False Answer Which the Spirit Gave to Doctor Faustus
15 How Doctor Faustus Traveled Down to Hell
16 How Doctor Faustus Journeyed Up to the Stars
17 Now I Will Tell You What I Did See
18 Doctor Faustus’s Third Journey
19 Concerning the Stars
20 A Question on This Topic
21 The Second Question
22 The Third Question

PART THREE
Here Followeth the Third Part: Doctor Faustus, His Adventures, the Things He Performed and Worked with His Nigromantia at the Courts of Great Potentates

23 A History of the Emperor Charles V and Doctor Faustus
24 Concerning the Antlers of a Hart
25 Concerning Three Lords Who Were Rapidly Transported to a Royal Wedding in Munich
26 Concerning an Adventure with a Jew
27 An Adventure at the Court of Count Anhalt
28 The Manner in Which Doctor Faustus as Bacchus Kept Shrovetide
29 Concerning Helen Charmed Out of Greece
30 Concerning a Gesticulation Involving Four Wheels
31 Concerning Four Sorcerers Who Cut Off One Another’s Heads and Put Them On Again, Wherein Doctor Faustus, Attending Their Performance, Doth Play the Major Role
32 Concerning an Old Man Who Would Have Converted Doctor Faustus from His Godless Life
33 Pact

PART FOUR
Doctor Faustus: His Last Tricks and What He Did in the Final Years of His Contract

34 How Doctor Faustus Brought About the Marriage of Two Lovers
35 Concerning Divers Flora in Doctor Faustus’s Garden on Christmas Day
36 Concerning an Army Raised Against Lord Hardeck
37 Concerning the Beautiful Helen from Greece, How She Lived for a Time with Doctor Faustus
38 Concerning One Whose Wife Married While He Was Captive in Egypt and How Doctor Faustus Informed and Aided Him
39 Concerning the Testament: What Doctor Faustus Bequeathed to His Servant Christof Wagner
40 The Discourse Which Doctor Faustus Held with His Son Concerning His Last Will and Testament
41 What Doctor Faustus Did in the Final Month of His Pact
42 Doctor Faustus: His Lamentation, That He Must Die at a Young and Lusty Age
43 Doctor Faustus Lamenteth Yet Further
44 Doctor Faustus: His Hideous End and Spectaculum


Notes

Bibliography

Index

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