Conclave 2018 Final Thoughts

Like a good meal, Conclave takes some significant time and effort to prepare, and yet passes by quickly but without fail, we always leave full. Also like a good meal, it both refreshes us from the work we have done prior, and fortifies us for the work ahead.

This year’s Conclave restored many, and nourished even more and our cup has truly run over with many great moments of fellowship, education, and connection.

It also fortifies us for the work ahead with many new steps and commitments being made- a baptism, a confirmation, three minor orders, one subdiaconate and two sets of solemn vows. Solid people making solid strides in their own spiritual journeys both individually and together in the Johannite Church.

It was deeply enriching to hear and see the work being done in our Parishes, Narthexes and Missions, as well as the Order of the Temple and Saint John.

Being able to meet, discuss and share our journeys and work, reflecting and learning from each other’s difficulties and successes, is a kind of greenhouse which promotes healthy spiritual and organizational growth. Importantly, it also places our spiritual work in the context of something much greater than ourselves alone.

I want to extend my thanks to our many fine speakers and presenters- Stephen O’Shea and M Isidora Forrest, Father Joseph Wolf, Erik Arneson, His Grace Mar Thomas, Msgr. Scott Rassbach, The Rev. Deacon Jason Campbell, Brother Mark Donato, The Rev. Mr. Jonathan Stewart, and Bro. Benjamin Pierce.

Each of these teachers and seekers have given us much to explore, work on and consider in the journey ahead.

I want to extend additional thanks also to Bishop Steven Marshall of the Ecclesia Gnostica and Queen of Heaven Gnostic Church, for welcoming many of our people who were fortunate to attend service on the Friday evening of Conclave.

Lastly and most importantly, a special thanks must go out to our Conclave committee, Msgr. Scott, Sr. Constance and Rev. Jason who made things happen both in planning and in execution- but especially Sr. Constance Crain, who worked tirelessly to organize and move people. She has proved a worthy successor to the efforts and people of Conclaves past and an example for those who will step into her shoes in conclave planning to come. On behalf of the Apostolic Johannite Church, please accept my gratitude for excellent work.

Fresh from spiritual and physical nourishment, we now collectively turn our eyes towards the year to come, and with this last writing from my keyboard on Conclave 2018, I’m pleased to deliver you the first news of Conclave 2019, its location.

We return after more than a decade absence to the True North, strong and free, Canada.

Montreal, Quebec, Canada to be exact.

In the meantime, be good to one another

Sovereign Pontiff and Patriarch

Easter Blessing 2018

Companions of the Sacred Flame,
This night we gather in vigil,

to commemorate the death and resurrection of Christ,
recalling with it, the history of our spiritual path
seeing in it, our own journeys from life to death,
and experiencing through it, the initiation from death to life.

Divine Beloved, out of the tomb of separation you have called us, to rise into the Kingdom of God. The ancient mysteries of sacrifice speak to our journey.

Incarnate in each one of us, the Sacred Flame is transfixed upon the cross of space and time,
May we never fear to descend into our lowest reaches, like the Logos and the harrowing of hell, to reconcile the lower with the higher- that we may rise transformed in this very life, and in the fullness of time ascend into perfect union.

–  Easter Vigil of the Apostolic Johannite Church

My blessings, good wishes and prayers for all the Johannite Parishes, Narthexes, Missions, and our solitary sisters and brothers, and all those who call the Apostolic Johannite Church home, deepening and sharing their journey here.

My thanks and gratitude on behalf of the Apostolic Johannite Church to the Johannite Bishops, Priests, Deacons and Seminarians , the Grand Master and Initiates of the Friary, the Prior and Oblates of the Order of the Temple and Saint John, the Gnostic Wisdom Network team, and the Conclave Committee of the AJC, for all their hard work and dedication- not only to the people we work on behalf of, but also in their own spiritual paths and in their service to each other.

Blessings and good wishes also from the Apostolic Johannite Church to the many Churches and communities of good will, especially the Order of Ste. Esclarmonde, the Ecclesia Gnostica Mysteriorum and Ecclesia Gnostica, as well as the many Martinist Orders and Lodges, our Masonic sisters and brothers, and also the many individual friends, family, laity and clergy of good will.

May your work be noble, your spirits be humble, and your hearts always full.

Sovereign Pontiff and Patriarch

The Quest for the Grail

“One day a fool wandered into the castle and found the king alone. And being a fool, he was simple minded, he didn’t see a king. He only saw a man alone and in pain. And he asked the king, “What ails you friend?” The king replied, “I’m thirsty. I need some water to cool my throat”. So the fool took a cup from beside his bed, filled it with water and handed it to the king. As the king began to drink, he realized his wound was healed. He looked in his hands and there was the holy grail, that which he sought all of his life. And he turned to the fool and said with amazement, “How can you find that which my brightest and bravest could not?” And the fool replied, “I don’t know. I only knew that you were thirsty” Richard LaGravenese, from the movie The Fisher King (1991)

The spiritual journey is not unlike the quests of legend and myth.

Often, as Gnostics, we are inspired by the tales of old but struggle to place ourselves in them fully or to recognize our own journeys in them, missing also at times, even with their lens to assist us, the sight of a discernible impact in the seemingly barren realm around us.

The esoteric schools and churches wisely caution against anything that smacks of enlarging one’s own destiny or placing oneself too much at the centre of things. I have also given this advice so I don’t intend these words to counter it.

And yet, we are the centre point of our own stories and we have the opportunity to play valuable roles in the stories of others even if small- by what we do, where we succeed and just as importantly, where we fail- and these times reverberate across the landscape of multiple lives and settings.

Key in both these settings are our central moments, our spiritual landmarks if you will, and how we respond to them.

In my own spiritual path, I’ve been asked what has been the central moment of my own work and journey.

It would be very easy to think that it might have been when I became a priest or a bishop or to be found in some of the successes I’ve been fortunate to be a part of, thanks to the talent, drive and determination of so many laity and clergy in the AJC.

It is none of those moments, joyous and profound though they may be.

At the heart of many esoteric systems, medieval Christian myth, and modern era fantasy stories lies the Holy Grail.

This object, at times a platter or dish, in others a cup, or still yet a stone, is the object which in the medieval stories, restores the Wasteland to full flower and flourishing. The Fisher King, Amfortas, lies wounded, and that wounding is a microcosm of the Wasteland itself. The land and the King are one, and they suffer together.

In the rich history that is the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, wherein is found the Crusades, the foundation of many notable religious and military Orders, the height of Western church power, the Cathars, a new flowering of devotion to the Theotokos, the appearance of Trobairitz and Troubador, and far too many saints to list- rises the Grail Castle, and with it, the Grail. It’s worth noting that Grail wouldn’t get its title of Holy until the telling of Robert de Boron.

It is also where those who would quest for the Grail would become royal household names. The Knights of the Round Table.

Not unlike the archetypes and symbols found in the diverse personalities and characters of each of the twelve Apostles, the Knights of the Round Table who would quest for this supreme spiritual relic, each have characteristics which can easily render them as symbolic of ourselves at different points in our journeys.

The most notable of them in terms of the legends of the Grail being Sir Percival and Sir Galahad, both of whom, so the story goes, succeed in their quest for this most fabled of objects.

In the tale of Sir Percival, the original hero or successful seeker of the Grail in the myth, Percival fails the first time around in his original test, which would have seen the Fisher King healed and the land with him.

Percival in this telling, is taught prior in his travels and training to not ask needless questions, and as a result fails to ask a necessary question at the necessary time (and fundamentally to distinguish between the necessary question and the unnecessary question) when he encounters the Fisher King and the procession of the Grail.

The question varies upon the telling or version but each of them are, I would like to think, linked in purpose.

“What ails thee?”
“Why do you suffer so?”
“Whom does the Grail serve?”

In this regard, Percival’s initial failure is not unlike many initiates and seekers throughout the ages, myself included.

In our visions, our encounters or our experiences of the Divine which we call Gnosis- that transcendent, liberating and experiential knowledge of the Divine, when we reach that important landmark in our journey as Gnostics, it isn’t the experience which risks leading us astray, for it is that which saves, but rather our response to it- what we do with it.

Gnosis is no guarantee of making the right decisions from there on out, and the spiritual world is full of people who have failed to honour or follow up on their experience.

The purpose of this salvific landmark of the path is not a prize won or attained for its own sake nor is it for personal refreshment or restoration alone, and the heroes of the story do not drink from the Grail.

As I have often reflected in other writings, in the great stories, scriptures and myths of the spiritual path, we as seekers in time and at turns, play many of the characters (and embody their characteristics for good or ill).

In the spiritual story of the quest for the Grail, we are both Sir Percival and King Amfortas

We quest for that which will make us whole, that which will make present the Kingdom of Heaven, that which will bring forth the person of the Christ within us, and make clear his presence in the face of our fellow humanity, that which transforms the Wasteland of the Kenoma into the Kingdom of the Pleroma.

The pursuit and attainment of Gnosis, a grail of sorts to the spiritual path, achieves its richest flowering when we turn it to the service of others.

Did you think the salvation that the experience of Gnosis heralds was that so you could stand on the heap of your history at the end of your path, alone while the wasteland burns?

Healing the wounded King who lies in the Grail Castle of our hearts and minds requires us to also be Sir Percival- when on our quest we are confronted with the wound of another and the Wasteland of the world, we ask the question of necessity. With the experience of knowing comes the obligation of action.

The land and the King are one and they suffer together.

They also heal together.

And our wholeness is intrinsically linked to the wholeness of the realm around us, and the people in it.

When you ask “What ails thee?” or “Why do you suffer so?” you also ask and answer the question of whom the Grail serves.

It serves your sisters and your brothers, those less fortunate than you, those above you, those just like you, those not like you at all.

The Grail carries with it an obligation of service but what service exactly? The answer is encoded in the story. From that point, from that moment, it is no longer about you.

Sir Percival, in asking the question of necessity, doesn’t give Amfortas a lengthy exposition on all his problems or the things he needs to fix in his life- he simply recognizes and gives way- What ails thee? How may I be of service?

I’ve been fortunate to have several experiences that have served as landmarks on my spiritual journey, the points by which I try to be guided and also to assist others, even though it only may be a matter of small value, such as a caring question of concern, an opportunity for another to begin the healing of their own wounds for themselves.

So it wasn’t my ordination or consecration or any such event that moved me the most but rather the opportunity, the duty, and the privilege of which I am in no wise worthy, to give communion in the Eucharist to another, for the very first time.

This wasn’t an experience of Gnosis, but the grail question of necessity applied on your journey opens a path for that experience to flow. Planting a seed is not the same thing as having grown a tree. Liturgy opens a space where the invisible can be made visible- it creates moments and spaces where Gnosis can occur.

Stepping out of the sanctuary, this is true also of being attentive to the wholeness of the world around you, giving way to another, asking the question of necessity and making the connection to another human being.

It isn’t about you saving them, it isn’t about you at all. It’s about opening a space where they can enter into that transcendent, liberating and experiential knowledge of their own accord.

If the wasteland were to take from us all the pointers that we are fortunate to have- our practices, iconography and scriptures- how would we rebuild, how would Gnosis and the Kingdom re-flower?

By the experience of one human being to another.

Through liturgy and practice we have a time honoured means of opening a path to Gnosis, but one of the quickest way to see Christ in the face of our fellow humanity, as our liturgy (itself called the Grail of Undefiled Wisdom) recalls- is to place ourselves at the service of our fellow travellers, and ask the question of necessity, without fear of the answer we may find.

Sovereign Pontiff and Patriarch
The Apostolic Johannite Church



Conclave 2018

The Apostolic Johannite Church is proud to present the nineteenth annual AJC Conclave – May 17-22 in Portland, Oregon

Each year the people of the AJC, friends and family gather together to socialize, learn, build our skills and deepen our community. It is an amazing opportunity for spiritual growth and insight to modern Gnostic practice.

Conclave offers lectures, workshops and panel discussions selected to develop ministry skills, support the work of church leaders both lay and ordained and deepen and enrich the spiritual lives of attendees. Conclave is also rich in social time, time to eat, talk, pray and practice together. It’s like a retreat and a conference all rolled into one.

As always, we welcome you, no matter who you are or what your spiritual path, to join us for this unique week. You can come for all or part and participate as much or as little as you’d like. However you choose, we welcome you into our household.

Keynote Speaker

The Apostolic Johannite Church is excited to welcome and present Stephen O’Shea, author of the Perfect Heresy and the Friar of Carcassonne, to Conclave 2018. He will be speaking on the Cathars and the movements they inspired in the 19th and 20th Centuries. 

Toronto-born author and journalist Stephen O’Shea moved to France in the early 1980s. There, he took up journalism, shortly after completing postgraduate degrees in politics at the Université de Paris 1 (Pantheon-Sorbonne) and the prestigious Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris. In 1989, Elle magazine relocated O’Shea to New York to be a senior features editor of their American edition.

In 1993, he returned to Paris, where he worked as Variety’s film critic, and published articles on French culture and politics for American, British, French, and Canadian magazines, including The Observer, The Times of London, Harper’s Bazaar, Interview, Allure, and Mother Jones.

To research The Perfect Heresy, O’Shea moved to Perpignan in southern France in 1997, where he spent two years immersing himself in Cathar lore. In 2011, he continued his exploration on the Cathars and the Inquisition in France with the Friar of Carcassonne. In addition to The Perfect Heresy, O’Shea is also the author of the widely acclaimed Back to the Front (Walker & Company, 1997), a hiker’s meditation on the trenches of World War I and most recently, The Alps: A Human History from Hannibal to Heidi and Beyond. (via Bloomsbury Publishing)

The Dr. Juliana Eimer Memorial Lecture

Continuing the tradition begun at Conclave 2017, we are also proud to present to you this year’s Dr. Juliana Eimer Memorial Lecture- M. Isidora Forrest on The Divine Feminine.

For several years, the Rev. Subdeacon Juliana Eimer, Ph.D was an active presenter and participant at our Conclaves- speaking on a variety of topics, from female Saints to the nature of Divinity. Her passing a mere months after Conclave 2016 was difficult for our community, and the Apostolic Johannite Church has chosen to remember her work here with us through an annual lecture in her name.

M. Isidora Forrest has been devoted to Isis ever since the Goddess told her, in no uncertain terms, that she was not yet ready to be Her priestess. (Isidora respects a Goddess Who doesn’t coddle.) More than twenty years—and a lot of research, ritual, agony and ecstasy—later, Isidora has earned the title of Prophetess in the House of Isis. She is also a priestess of the international Fellowship of Isis, a Hermetic adept, a maenad for Dionysos, and a founder of the Hermetic Fellowship, a non-profit religious organization devoted to spiritual development through ritual and education in the Western Esoteric Tradition (via goodreads).


Program of Conclave Lectures and Workshops

In addition to our Keynote and the Dr. Juliana Eimer Memorial Lecture, we are also excited to bring you an engaging list of speakers and activities throughout the Conclave program. Without further preamble- here are some of the talks and workshops we have at the time of this announcement:

  • The Shem ha-Mephorasch with Fr. Joseph Wolf
  • Music and Magic with Tasha Danner
  • The Order of the Temple and Saint John II: Templarism in the AJC with the Sovereign Pontiff and Patriarch
  • The Sacrament of Confirmation with the Primate of the United States, HG Mar Thomas
  • Magic and the Liturgy with the Primate of the United States
  • St. Cyprian the Mage with Monsignor Jordan Stratford, OSE
  • Divine Guidance: The Practice of Divination with Monsignor Scott Rassbach, AC
  • The Friary and the AJC with Monsignor Scott Rassbach, AC
  • Marian Gnosticism with the Rev. Father Joseph McCauslin
  • The Congregant in the AJC with the Rev. Father Joseph McCauslin
  • Gnosticism in the Far East with Rev. Deacon Jason Campbell
  • Contemplative Practice and the Oblates of St. John with Prior Mark Donato, OTSJ
  • The Demiurge in the Gospel of John with the Rev. Mr. Jonathan Stewart

Costs and Registration
Lodging is not included and is the responsibility of the attendee.

Full Registration

Individual- January 1st to April 1st: Early Bird: $450

After April 1st: $500

Couple- January 1st to April 1st: Early Bird: $750
After April 1st: $800
Full Registration includes All Activities and Eight Meals:

Thursday: Dinner
Friday: All Activities, Lunch and Dinner
Saturday: All Activities and Lunch.  Dinner excursion at own cost
Sunday: All Lectures, Workshops, and Dinner
Monday: All Activities, Lunch and Dinner
Tuesday: All Activities, Lunch

Weekend Package  includes All Activities and Four Meals
Individual- January 1st to April 1st: Early Bird: $200
After April 1st: $250

Couple- January 1st to April 1st: Early Bird: $350
After April 1st: $375

Friday: All Activities, Lunch and Dinner
Saturday: All Activities and Lunch.  Dinner excursion at own cost
Sunday: All Lectures, Workshops, and Dinner
Saturday: All Activities and Lunch.  Dinner excursion at own cost
Sunday: All Lectures, Workshops, and Dinner
Monday: All Activities, Lunch and Supper

$100 Individual Per Day Registration (Includes activities and scheduled meals excepting Saturday Dinner)

Refund Policy

From Now until April 1st- 100% Refund
April 2nd to May 1st- 50% Refund
After May 2nd- No Refund will be issued

Registration closes May 2nd

 We look forward to seeing you there and sharing your journey. Registration opens soon


New Mission: Stella Maris Mission, Baltimore, MD

The Archdiocese of Wisconsin of Apostolic Johannite Church and St. Eve’s Apostolic Johannite Church are happy to announce the genesis of Stella Maris Mission, another local Johannite community and a home for gnosis, discussion and spiritual opportunity for the souls of Baltimore City.

St. Eve’s has been a sanctuary in Harrisburg, PA for over 5 years, delivering a message of world-positive, soul-loving, guilt-free Gnosticism to those who wish to hear it.  Seeking God and Wisdom through the unspoken language of the physical senses, the event-patterns of the life-experience, and logical investigation of human emotions and thought, St. Eve’s has worked hard to be a place where the mundane is not just respected as a manifestation from the Divine, but is instead wholly indiscernible from it.  Now that message is coming to Baltimore, bringing a spiritual freedom to another corner of the world.

Stella Maris Mission is located at 209 S. Pulaski St, Baltimore, MD.  The space and times to worship, commune and learn have been generously donated by the William Blake Lodge, located at the same location, whose members wish for the citizens of Baltimore to have a wide spectrum of spiritual experience available to them, right in their own city.  Stella Maris Mission currently offers monthly Liturgy and education sprinkled with a healthy dose of community, humor and wisdom.  While Stella Maris tries to meet consistently and regularly to make it easier for those wishing to participate with us, dates and times are subject to change based on availability.

You can find out more about Stella Maris Mission at the St. Eve’s website at or you can look us on Facebook.