The Ecclesia Ogdoadica is a branch of our Tradition aiming at the cultivation and transmission of the religious aspects coming from the ancient Hermetic spirituality.
During the Italian Renaissance, a Byzantine philosopher by the name of Gemistus Pletho traveled to Florence and transmitted to a few philosophers many aspects of the Hermetic Tradition. He himself was the inheritor of Mediterranean mystical religions anterior to Christianity. He wrote a book entitled The Book of Laws in which he gave precise information on the rites, traditions, and teachings of the ancient Mysteries. Some of his writings were burnt by the Inquisition. Luckily for us, he had already transmitted his authority and knowledge to the chiefs of the newly founded Platonic Academy of Florence, itself under the protection of Cosimo de Medici.
This transmission saved the religious and spiritual succession of Gemistus Pletho. The Ecclesia Ogdoadica has been reorganized within the Aurum Solis to practice and study this religious tradition which is called today paganism. Of course, paganism is a vast word. In our case, it is the religion that was practiced by the Hermetists, theurgists, and Neoplatonists.
The Priests and Priestesses of the Ecclesia Ogdoadica are initiates of the Aurum Solis who decided to follow this religious path. They perform religious ceremonies for other companions who sent a request to the Order such as weddings, blessings, consecration of a house or family altar, divination, liturgy, etc. They can also use the power of these ceremonies to their close family, even if member of the family is not initiated.
Main purposes of the Ecclesia Ogdoadica
We should remind that this branch is open to companions after some months as initiate.
Among the purposes we can highlight the following:
- Bring a sense of reverence, respect, and worship to our interactions with the Immortal Divinities and Mysteries.
- Help each practitioner develop abiding tolerance for others, moment to moment, each and every day.
- Promote and practice the ideals of the Hermetic Religion known as the “Ecclesia Ogdoadica” through worship.
- Strive for spiritual richness and human excellence, by assimilating the values taught in the Holy Hermetic Scriptures and practicing them in daily life.
- Learn and research on the Holy Hermetic Scriptures which are: the Corpus Hermeticum (Corpus of Hermes, which contains the Corpus Hermeticum itself, the Writings of Asclepius and some of the Fragments of Writings by Stobaeus), and the Chaldean Oracles. All these documents are presented in the translation validated by the E.O. (As archeological and scholarly research uncovers more ancient texts bearing on this topic, more texts from the Hermetic Tradition may be added to the major Corpus).
- Perform necessary religious services and ceremonies (weddings, worship services, house blessings, etc.)
- Develop, foster and teach respect for all men and women regardless of ethnicity, color, creed, social status, sexual orientation or physical ability.
Frequently asked questions about the E.O.
Did the Hermetic Religion of the Ecclesia Ogdoadica existed before Christianity?
Before Christianity, western religion was not organized with a central political government as it has been the case after for monotheistic religions. Every area, city had its own temples welcoming one or several of the immortal divinities. Everyone was able to worship the God or Goddess he wants when he wants. This religion had no specific names because it was not limited to a specific divinity.
During the 5th century, the emperor Justinian forbade this very ancient cults, killed or banished the Priests and Priestesses who didn’t accept the conversion and destroyed or stole the temples. Clandestinely and secret were the solution used to save this precious inheritance. Country people discreetly continued to perform their worships and it is why these beliefs were named paganism (from the word pagan meaning country man).On their side, the initiates to the schools of Mysteries, continued to be loyal to their divinities, performing secretly their rites and celebrations. Among us, the initiates belongings to the Hermetic Tradition included this ancient religious inheritance in the golden chain which be developed through the years to Pletho and to us. Today this part of the chain is named Ecclesia Ogdoadica and has been reorganized within the Aurum Solis.
Is Ecclesia Ogdoadica a new Gnostic Church?
As you can read in the writings of the ancient hermetic initiates, their religious tradition which perpetuated the cults to the Immortal Divinities was not what has been called later “gnosticism”. All the contemporary churches called today “Gnostic” are coming from an European creation at the beginning of the 19th century. Looking to be rooted in a more ancient history, these Gnostic Churches obtained the apostolic succession of the Roman Catholic Church. This is why we can see the priests dressed like Christian religious.
To know what ancient Gnosticism is, can be a very difficult matter. Studies from scholars can give you a correct idea of it. In antiquity gnostic groups were many. Some of them were linked to the new monotheistic religion of this time while others were used by Pagans to practice their cult under symbolic veils.
The gnostic groups close to the religious Christian power believed that the soul was jailed in the physical body. To be free and ascent to the divine, everyone was supposed to banish body, world and nature.On the contrary, an optimistic gnosis was developed by other gnostic groups. In this case the vision of the world and body was very different. The Byzantine philosopher Pletho brought to the Renaissance this hermetic vision. The Ecclesia Ogdoadica continues this lineage common to its founding fathers. The soul descends in the body to develop a strong new experience. The body, world and nature are not obstacles but are wonderful opportunities to have experiences and develop our abilities. They are sometimes the origin of pain when you are unbalanced but can be also the origin of pleaser and joy. The search for beauty, the balance inwardly and outwardly are ways which help you to progress close to the divine, origin of the soul. Then the rejection of what you are, or the original sin are not a solution to understand the precious experience you are living. On the contrary the solution to be closer to the divine is to manifest physically and spiritually the higher qualities you have.
Who are these immortal divinities?
The initiates and religious belonging to the hermetic tradition always claimed the existence of a unique principle above everything. The whole cosmos exists and works according his laws.
However, as the tradition shows, several divinities exist. They were, are and will be in relation to the world of men and women. Closer to you, even among us, they escort you all along your life. They have often specific fields or abilities (health, fate, justice, etc.), so they can help you to understand and give directions to your life.
Consequently, everyone is able to choose the divinity which corresponds the best to him, to have more than one or even changing the divinity worshipped when this is needed. But this is a serious matter. So, it is possible to pray the Immortal Divinities, to make offerings and eventually develop a spiritual relation with them.As a Mediterranean and western tradition, the hermetic tradition has always been in close relation to the immortal divinities coming from the great civilizations such as Rome, Greece, Egypt, and Sumer.
Is it a reconstruction of ancient rites?
No, because the chain of the religious and hermetic initiates has never been cut. Rituals and celebrations performed in secret since more than 1500 years as still practiced. However, this is not a Greek or an Egyptian religion per se. Such thing never existed.The Ecclesia Ogdoadica performs the religious rituals as the initiates perpetuated them. They were sometimes adapted to the time, but the occult pattern which give their efficiency on the invisible plan was never lost.
Are Christian rituals the heirs of these earlier religions?
Originally Christian rituals were composed from two sources: Hebrew religion and information given by some initiates to the ancient Mysteries who betrayed their oath of secret. Parts of the ancient Mysteries and cults were used by the new growing religion of this time. Then, they were adapted and developed according very different religious concepts.
The rituals used by Ecclesia Ogdoadica rites are truthful in regard to this origin and lineage.
What are the rites and celebrations of Ecclesia Ogdoadica?
As in the past, the celebrations correspond to the important moments of the life as birth, wedding, daily life, etc. Other rituals give the opportunity to ask questions to a divine oracle, ask for blessings and purification of the house, etc.All the rituals are performed by a Priest or a Priestess who received the power and the spiritual authority to do so and under the aegis of the Immortal Divinities.
Is the Priesthood limited to men?
No; Remember that they are Gods and Goddesses and that men and women can be initiated in the Aurum Solis. Consequently, they can become Priestesses or Priests. However, it is essential to point out that Priestesses are not feminine copies of a male clergy. Differently than most of the major religions, the Hermetic Religion is not patriarchal.