Pagan Dualism, the Occult and the Trinity

By: Jay Dyer A common thread in non-Christian religions and worldviews is that of dualism. In fact, nature itself does exhibit all forms of dualities, such as night and day, masculine and feminine, black and white, etc. In philosophy there has been the problem of mind versus body, while in physics there is the wave versus particle debate. In one sense there is a legitimate duality, in that these entities and things are not, of course, evil in themselves. No thing is inherently evil, as all things are created by and have their summation and meaning in the Logos (Col. 1:15). Thus what has being has it's being and meaning or archetypal predetermination (logoi) in the Logos. The many logoi are one in the one Logos of God. Non-Christian systems of thought, and paganism in general, never transcend the dualities that are prevalent in nature, however. In fact, dualism is itself a hallmark of those religions. Think, for example, of the dialectic of matter and spirit in gnosticism, where matter was viewed as base and grotesque. Gnosticism in general is defined as: "A collective name for a large number of greatly-varying and pantheistic-idealistic sects, which flourished from some time before the Christian Era down to the fifth century, and which, while borrowing the phraseology and some of the tenets of the chief religions of the day, and especially of Christianity, held matter to be a deterioration of spirit, and the whole universe a deprivation of the Deity, and taught the ultimate end of all being to be the overcoming of the grossness of matter and the return to the Parent-Spirit, which return they held to be inaugurated and facilitated by the appearance of some God-sent Saviour." (Catholic Encyclopedia, "Gnosticism")

Medieval Chain of Being.

Notice the duality in this system. Gnosticism had, many scholars think, influence from Persian and Zoroastrian systems, – a system known for its two eternal principles – one of good, one of evil. Indeed, it is also true that the name “Satan” or “Shaitan” means one who opposes, or adversary. Thus the chief of the rebellious angels is himself the origin of dialectical opposition and duality in the moral sense.

Anti-Christian gnostic scholar Elaine Pagels presents Christianity itself as a kind of dualistic religion, and I myself have heard many professors do so. Since St. Augustine was a manichaean at one time and since manichaeanism was dualistic, Christianity, with its eternal hell and eternal damnation of Satan and his followers, must also be a dualistic religion. Pagels argues in The Origin of Satan that Christianity needed the devil to succeed.

Albert Pike, in his Morals and Dogma, argued that good and evil are two sides of the same coin, working towards perfection under “the great eye”:

“To every Mason, WISDOM or INTELLIGENCE, FORCE or STRENGTH, and HARMONY, or FITNESS and BEAUTY, are the Trinity of the attributes of God. With the subtleties of Philosophy concerning them Masonry does not meddle, nor decide as to the reality of the supposed Existences which are their Personifications: nor whether the Christian Trinity be such a personification, or a Reality of the gravest import and significance.

To every Mason, the Infinite Justice and Benevolence of God give ample assurance that Evil will ultimately be dethroned, and the Good, the True, and the Beautiful reign triumphant and eternal. It teaches, as it feels and knows, that Evil, and Pain, and Sorrow exist as part of a wise and beneficent plan, all the parts of which work together under God’s eye to a result which shall be perfection. Whether the existence of evil is rightly explained in this creed or in that, by Typhon the Great Serpent, by Ahriman and his Armies of Wicked Spirits, by the Giants and Titans that war against Heaven, by the two co-existent Principles of Good and Evil, by Satan’s temptation and the fall of Man, by Lok and the Serpent Fenris, it is beyond the domain of Masonry to decide, nor does it need to inquire. Nor is it within its Province to determine how the ultimate triumph of Light and Truth and Good, over Darkness and Error and Evil, is to be achieved; nor whether the Redeemer, looked and longed for by all nations, hath appeared in Judea, or is yet to come.” (Morals and Dogma, Chapter 26)

Note that for Pike, the Trinity is of no real significance, in terms of reality, nor is he concerned as to whether Christ was born. Earlier, he wrote that the Mason does not say Jesus is the only way. Masonry does, according to Pike, see the evil principle as working in opposition to the good:

“The belief in dualism in some shape, was universal. Those who held that everything emanated from God, aspired to God, and re-entered into God, believed that, among those emanations were two adverse Principles, of Light and Darkness, Good and Evil. This prevailed in Central Asia and in Syria; while in Egypt it assumed the form of Greek speculation. In the former, a second Intellectual Principle was admitted, active in its Empire of Darkness, audacious against the Empire of Light. So the Persians and Sabeans understood it. In Egypt, this second Principle was Matter, as the word was used by the Platonic School, with its sad attributes, Vacuity, Darkness, and Death. In their theory, matter could be animated only by the low communication of a principle of divine life. It resists the influences that would spiritualize it. That resisting Power is Satan, the rebellious Matter, Matter that does not partake of God.

To many there were two Principles; the Unknown Father, or Supreme and Eternal God, living in the centre of the Light, happy in the perfect purity of His being; the other, eternal Matter, that inert, shapeless, darksome mass, which they considered as the source of all evils, the mother and dwelling-place of Satan.”

Evil is attributed real existence here – that is, substantial reality. This is because Masonry is the successor to the ancient pagan mystery religions:

“The best gift we can bestow on man is manhood. It is that which Masonry is ordained of God to bestow on its votaries: not sectarianism and religious dogma; not a rudimental morality, that may be found in the writings of Confucius, Zoroaster, Seneca, and the Rabbis, in the Proverbs and Ecclesiastes; not a little and cheap common-school knowledge; but manhood and science and philosophy.” (Ibid., source)

In other words, paganism, and paganism is, in it’s classical form, dualistic, but dualism really means just a blending of good and evil. Good and evil are relative, because in these systems, though varied, man is at the center. Pike just noted that the meaning of Masonry is to make man a better man – to bestow manhood on man.

Evil has no being it is not a thing or a substance, and virtually all occult systems end up blending good and evil.. The dualities and dialectical tensions are never reconciled, but the attempt to reconcile them amounts to isomorphic identification. Good is evil and evil is good.

Dr. Joseph Farrell explains how, in the Christain worldview, man is severed from his own nature – persons are divided from nature:

“…soul and person are not the same thing, for soul is the what, and person is the who. Every person, therefore, has all the faculties of the human soul, including the power of choice, or will. But the way of using of employing that will, or the “mode of willing” varies from person to person, just the way each person “particularizes” the human nature uniquely in its own personal “mode of existence” differs from person to person. Thus, no one person, by employing his natural will uniquely, can determine any other person, since that would be to identify, and thereby to confuse, person and nature.

“This fact accounts for the fact that in the First Europe the fall of man is understood very differently from that which obtains in the post-Augustinian Second Europe, for it means that Adam and Ever are only guilty of their own sin. By thus employing their wills personally in a mode contrary to its natural use, they oppose their persons to their natures, and will to come into existence that which cannot ever take on natural existence, i.e., evil.

“This has profound repercussions. First, Adam and Eve literally “tear their being apart” into oppositions which are not original to their creation; the Fall of man renders the distinction of person and nature, in man’s case, as an opposition. Thus, secondly, the fall of man therefore is a fall into the dialectic of oppositions. What Adam and Eve therefore bequeath to their progeny is not the inheritance of guilt for their sins, but the consequence of their sin, the opposition itself, the tearing asunder, of human being. Man inherits not sin and guilt, but death. Thus, the First Europe speaks of “the ancestral sin” as distinguished from “original sin”, the doctrine of the Second Europe, which says man inherits guilt in addition to death.”

“It is in this context that the First Europe understands redemption and deification, for while each and every human being is not only subject to death, which is the natural consequence of Adam’s sin, but is likewise subject to the natural consequences of Christ’s resurrection of humanity: all are, so to speak, irresistibly predestined to be resurrected to eternal life, or “Ever-Being”: they have no choice in the matter. But that Ever-Being, depending on their own personal modes of willing in this life, Well-Being or Ill-Being, will be in a state of Ever-Well or Ever-Ill-Being. The “ever” being the grace of God in Christ’s Resurrection of human nature, and the “well” or “ill” being the person’s own choice. In other words, theology, in so far as it considers the problem of predestination and free will, does so in the same order as all other theological reflections is done: the Divine persons come first, and the doctrine of predestination, an operation, and free will, another operation, is worked out on the basis of the fundamental distinction of person and nature.”

– Dr. Joseph P. Farrell, God, History, & Dialectic: The Theological Foundations of the Two Europes and Their Cultural Consequences (pp.21-23)

So there must be a kind of apokatastasis in an orthodox, Maximian sense in order for evil to not have a real existence, and so it has, as St. Gregory of Nyssa said, a “relative existence.” Israel Regardie, the Golden Dawn occultist and Kabbalist wrote in The Tree of Life that reality manifests dualities in tensions, but that the meaning of all this in serious occultism is really just pantheism. The “forces” of good and evil are relative to the psyche of the individual – in other words, man is god. So, we have dualism collapsing into monism. But the problem with solipsistic monism is clear. Reformed thinker Cornelius Van Til explains of monism:

“When we have found this unity it is not we who have found it; it is that Unity that has found itself through us. And yet this Unity has not even thus found itself for it is no self. If it were itself, it would not have found itself, and if it has found itself it is no longer itself. Thus the Absolute as well as we must run off in opposite directions simultaneously. It must be pure act and to be pure act it must act in still greater heights of separation from all contact with all temporal plurality. On the other hand, it cannot, at the same time, be active in the direction of pure affirmation. But this affirmation is affirmation of pure temporal individuation and as such is at the same time negation of pure unification by negation and separation.”

Cited in R.J. Rushdoony’s The One and the Many, pg. 127.

How do we get past the dyad? Paganism falls short of transcending duality and dialectical tension. The Trinity is the answer, and in particular, the procession of the Holy Spirit in relation to the dyad (of Father and Son) as Eastern theologian Vladimir Lossky explains:

“According to St. Maximus, God is “identically a monad and a triad.” Capita theologica et oeconomica2, 13; P.G. 90, col. 1125A.He is not merely one and three; he is 1=3 and 3=1. That is to say, here we are not concerned with number as signifying quantity: absolute diversities cannot be made the subjects of sums of addition; they have not even opposition in common. If, as we have said, a personal God cannot be a monad — if he must be more than a single person — neither can he be a dyad. The dyad is always an opposition of two terms, and, in that sense, it cannot signify an absolute diversity. When we say that God is Trinity we are emerging from the series of countable or calculable numbers. St. Basil appears to express this idea well: “For we do not count by way of addition, gradually making increase from unity to plurality, saying ‘one, two, three’ or ‘first, second, third.’ ‘I am the first and I am the last,’ says God (Isaiah 44:6). And we have never, even unto our own days, heard of a second God. For in worshipping ‘God of God’ we both confess the distinction of persons and abide by the Monarchy.” De spiritu sancto18; P.G. 32, col. 149B. The procession of the Holy Spirit is an infinite passage beyond the dyad, which consecrates the absolute (as opposed to relative) diversity of the persons. This passage beyond the dyad is not an infinite series of persons but the infinity of the procession of the Third Person: the Triad suffices to denote the Living God of revelation. St. Gregory of Nazianzus, Or. 23 (De pace 3), 10; P.G. 35, col. 1161. Or. 45 (In sanctum pascha); P.G. 36, col. 628C.If God is a monad equal to a triad, there is no place in him for a dyad. Thus the seemingly necessary opposition between the Father and the Son, which gives rise to a dyad, is purely artificial, the result of an illicit abstraction. Where the Trinity is concerned, we are in the presence of the One or of the Three, but never of two.

The procession of the Holy Spirit ab utroque does not signify passage beyond the dyad but rather re-absorption of the dyad in the monad, the return of the monad upon itself. It is a dialectic of the monad opening out into the dyad and closing again into its simplicity. The idea of the Holy Spirit as the mutual love of the Father and the Son is characteristic, in this sense, of Filioquist triadology.On the other hand, procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father alone, by emphasizing the monarchy of the Father as the concrete principle of the unity of the Three, passes beyond the dyad without a return to primordial unity, without the necessity of God retiring into the simplicity of the essence. For this reason the procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father alone confronts us with the mystery of the “Tri-Unity.” We have here not a simple, self-enclosed essence, upon which relations of opposition have been superimposed in order to masquerade a god of philosophy as the God of Christian revelation. We say “the simple Trinity,” and this antinomic expression, characteristic of Orthodox hymnography, Cf. St. Andrew of Crete’s Great Canon of repentance, odes 3, 6, 7.points out a simplicity which the absolute diversity of the three persons can in no way relativize.

When we speak of the Personal God, who cannot be a monad, and when, bearing in mind the celebrated Plotinian passage in the works of St. Gregory of Nazianzus, we say that the Trinity is a passage beyond the dyad and beyond its pair of opposed terms, “The monad is set in motion on account of its richness; the dyad is surpassed, because Divinity is beyond matter and form; perfection is reached in the triad, the first to surpass the composite quality of the dyad, so that the Divinity neither remains constrained nor expands to infinity.” St. Gregory of Nazianzus, Or. 23 (De pace3), 8; P.G. 35, col. 1160C. See also Or. 29 (Theologica3), 2; P.G. 36, col. 76B. This in no sense implies the Neo-Platonist idea of bonum diffusivum sui or any kind of moral basis for the doctrine of the Trinity, e.g. the idea of love seeking to share its own plenitude with others. If the Father shares His one essence with the Son and the Holy Spirit and in that sharing remains undivided, this is neither an act of will nor an act of internal necessity. In more general terms, it is not an act at all, but the eternal mode of Trinitarian existence in itself. It is a primordial reality which cannot be based on any notion other than itself, for the Trinity is prior to all the qualities — goodness, intelligence, love, power, infinity — in which God manifests Himself and in which He can be known.” (Lossky, “The Procession of the Holy Spirit in Orthodox Theology”)

And Patriarch Photios explains in his famed Mystagogy of the dyad:

“10. And again, if two causes are promoted in the monarchical Trinity, why then, on the basis of the same reasoning, should not a third cause appear? For once the beginningless source, which transcends all sources, is cast down from its throne by these impious ones and is divided into a duality, the source will proceed more vehemently to be divided into a trinity, since in the transcendent, inseparable, and simple nature of the divinity, the triad is more apparent than the dyad and also more in harmony with the properties.

14. It is also necessary to accompany this conclusion with the following one: this impious doctrine also separates the hypostasis of the Father into two hypostases, since the ungodly doctrine frames laws for itself, mixing the hypostasis of the Son with that of the Father, as parts of the same thing. But the essence is not the cause of the Word; the Father is the hypostatic cause of the hypostasis of the Word. But if, as this impious doctrine asserts, the Son is also a cause of the Spirit, then it must be conceded that either the Son takes over the Father’s role and title (receiving the hypostatic property of being the cause), or the Father’s hypostasis is imperfect, lacking completion, and that the Son supplements the hypostasis of the Father. Since the Son is made a part of the Father, this truncates the awesome mystery of the Trinity to a mere dyad.”

Unfortunately, in Aquinas, the many are opposed to the one. In deistic Masonry, the Trinity doesn’t matter. In proper theology, we see that the duality of opposition and dialectical tension evident in two principles is reconciled in the procession of the Spirit, the third Person, transcending the dyad. Christianity thus transcends and answers the problems of dualism and monism.

3 Comments on Pagan Dualism, the Occult and the Trinity

  1. steve dalton // April 14, 2010 at 5:13 pm // Reply

    Jay, have you ever heard of a book called “Heresy and the English Reformation”? This book shows that Bogomilism had a great influence on Wyclif and the later English reformers. You ought to get it.

  2. Excellent stuff. This is the very heart of reality. I’ve read that passage by Lossky at least a dozen times. I now think I understand what he is saying.

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