Every year, the Apostolic Johannite Church endeavours to expand its collective and individual understanding, and its fellowship, in new directions.
In the last few years, part of this effort has been focusing our Conclave presentations and workshops around themes for exploration- to deepen and contextualize that which we know, and to embark on learnings and subjects we do not know.
This year, we selected the Divine Feminine, and it couldn’t have come at a better time- for the Apostolic Johannite Church as a communion and community and for many of us as individuals, of which I count myself one.
Her echoes and resonances ring forth in the figures lost to the distraction of the modern era, but kindled anew through the exploration of the Missing Witches with Amy Torok and Risa Dickens. We also had opportunity to see her at work in traditions adjacent to our own, through an exploration of Sophia as Goddess, with T. Scarlet Jory.
She comes as a lightning flash and a torrent, proclaiming her presence in the voice of thunder, which Dr. Celene Lillie showed us in an exploration of The Thunder Perfect Mind.
Her undercurrent- powerful, determined, and revitalizing, courses its way through our art and history, as noted by Nic Laccetti in his exploration of the work of Josephin Peladan, and turns up where you don’t always expect to see it, as demonstrated by Dr. David Goodin in the Divine Feminine in the Gospel of John.
Like the Temple tradition of which His Excellency, Mar Timotheos spoke in his talk on the Great Lady, the Divine Feminine remains, thrives even, in the consciousness and sanctuaries of the people.
Sometimes we meet her in places that we as human travellers fear to tread, in death, loss and the contemplation of our own mortality- in the darker places of our consciousness, as illustrated by His Grace, Mar Thomas
In places most closest to home, Fr. Joseph McCauslin gave ear to her voice in the person of Mary, Theotokos, Mary Magdalene by way of Clark Aitkins in the Gospel of Mary and Barbelo and Sophia in an exploration of Gnostic Ascent and the cosmology of the Apocryphon of John with Very Rev. Fr. Tony Silvia.
Fittingly, we capped off our run of excellent talks with How to interpret the Gospel of Thomas by Dr. Andre Gagne- a dive into Wisdom itself in the form of scripture.
From the start of Conclave until its end- I don’t think it is an understatement to say that every attendee came away with a powerful sojourn in the sanctuary of the Divine Feminine, individually and together with our community- with old friends, and new friends.
Our sincere thanks to our many excellent speakers and guests- Dr. Celene Lillie, Amy Torok, Risa Dickens, T. Scarlet Jory, Dr. David Goodin, Dr. Andre Gagne, Nic Laccetti, His Grace, Mar Thomas, His Excellency, Mar Timotheos, Very Rev. Tony Silvia, Fr. Joseph McCauslin, and Clark Aitkins.
Each has given our Church and the living stones from which it is built, a lifetime of exploration, meaning, practice and reflection- and the voice of thunder will echo and reach many corners of the Apostolic Johannite Church in the months and years, and dare I say- decades, to come.
With that, it remains to note the most powerful and inspiring presence of Divine Feminine during this week of communion, community and celebration- that of the women of the Apostolic Johannite Church themselves- and not just here in Conclave but in the sanctuaries of the Apostolic Johannite Church around the globe- our female clergy, seminarians and members will grow, challenge and inspire the Apostolic Johannite Church in ways that I cannot.
Speaking for myself, but I suspect not just for myself, it was moving, inspiring and humbling.
My special thanks especially to the Rev. Jonathan Stewart not only for selecting our theme, but for his ear to the ground of the Johannite Church, and his own inspiration in selection of topics and speakers. He also kept everything on time, everyone well fed and everything running smoothly. You’d be forgiven for thinking this was done by a team of people.
With that, there remains but one duty at the closing of this Conclave- which is the announcement of the next Conclave.
For its 21st Conclave, and to mark the twentieth anniversary of the Apostolic Johannite Church- Conclave comes home to the foothills and mountains of Alberta.
See you in Calgary, 2020.
+ IOHANNES IV
Sovereign Pontiff and Patriarch
The Apostolic Johannite Church
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, Oratories and Chapels, our solitary sisters and brothers who keep the flame burning in distant places, 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, Oblates and Knights of the Order of the Temple and Saint John, and the Gnostic Wisdom Network team 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, Ecclesia Gnostica, The Open Rite, Ekklesia Neoplatonismos Theourgia and the Liberal Catholic Union, 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 the coming year find your work and paths rich and rewarding with fruitful challenge and blessing, and balanced with rest and reflection. Most of all, may your work be noble, your spirits be humble, and your hearts always full.
+ IOHANNES IV
Sovereign Pontiff and Patriarch
The Apostolic Johannite Church
The Apostolic Johannite Church is pleased to announce an addition to our Conclave lineup – Sophia: Gnostic Goddess, Lunar Goddess, Goddess of Wisdom with T. Scarlet Jory
T. Scarlet Jory is a university graduate with Bachelor degrees in Classics/Anthropology and in Honors Religious Studies/Adult Education. She is working on her Masters Degree in Religions & Cultures with a dual focus on Paganism and East Asian philosophies. One of her passions include writing and inspiring people to read, to research, and also to write. Her other passion is tea. She is a published author with two book in print (and more to come), a chapter in an anthology, two anthologies she edited, and several articles. She spoke at the Parliament of World Religions this November 2018 in Toronto. Currently, she is finishing her Masters degree, aiming to graduate January 2020. Her research topic for her Graduate Research Paper is Tea and Religiosity in Ch’an Buddhist Temples: A look at how tea is used in religious contexts.
While she is a parent of a toddler, she is also a teacher and spiritual guide for the Montreal Pagan Community. Scarlet founded Concordia University Pagan Society and ran as its president and on other executive positions during both her undergrad degrees. Now she runs a program called Crescent Moon School that teaches the foundations of Paganism and helps those seeking to find their paths. She also runs workshops, discussions, meditation lessons, spiritual events and two major craft fairs with accompanying presentations annually.
Springboarding from some of the early lore and understanding of Sophia, women have reclaimed her within feminine spirituality. She is both a goddess of wisdom and experience, which lends well to those devoted to a more Pagan path. This talk will be a short introduction to Sophia, followed by a description of how she fits as a matron goddess within a Pagan framework of spiritual praxis.
Her talk is scheduled for the Monday morning of Conclave 2019.
Conclave 2019: Amor vs. Roma: Joséphin Péladan on the Secret Tradition from the Cathars and the Troubadours to Dante with Nicholas Laccetti
The Apostolic Johannite Church is pleased to announce an addition to our Conclave lineup with a talk entitled Amor vs. Roma: Joséphin Péladan on the Secret Tradition from the Cathars and the Troubadours to Dante with Nicholas Laccetti.
Nicholas Laccetti is a Christian esotericist, a theologian, and a practicing occultist. He is the author of The Inner Church is the Hope of the World: Western Esotericism as a Theology of Liberation (Resource Publications, 2018). His writings have appeared in publications such as Patheos, Killing the Buddha, and Religion Dispatches. Nicholas holds an M.A. in Medieval Studies from Fordham University and an M.Div. from Union Theological Seminary, where he focused on the interdisciplinary study of theological aesthetics and popular religion. Outside of his esoteric interests, he works in communications for the Kairos Center for Religions, Rights, and Social Justice, an institute based at Union in New York City.
Nicholas Laccetti’s talk is scheduled for Friday afternoon of Conclave 2019
The Apostolic Johannite Church is pleased to announce an addition to our Conclave lineup with a talk entitled How can we interpret the Gospel of Thomas, with Dr. Andre Gagne.
Dr. André Gagné is a tenured Associate Professor and Graduate Program Director in the Department of Theological Studies at Concordia University. He is also a research associate with the Centre d’expertise de formation sur les intégrismes religieux, les idéologies politiques et la radicalisation (CEFIR), and with the Center for Research on Religion (CREOR), as well as a Digital Fellow at the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (MIGS). In 2017, Dr. Gagné was Directeur d’études invité à l’École pratique des hautes études in Paris for his work on the Gospel According to Thomas.
His teaching and research focuses on the Christian Right, fundamentalism, religious violence and the interpretation and reception of the Bible. In his public scholarship, Dr. Gagné seeks to explain how sacred texts and traditions are used by fundamentalist groups and individuals to cultivate violent ideas and/ or incite politico-religious violence. He also has a marked interest in studying the beliefs, practices and political inclinations of dominionist movements such as the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) and Christian Reconstructionism.
Dr. Gagne’s talk is scheduled for the Monday afternoon of Conclave 2019.
See you there!
What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,
And the dry stone no sound of water. Only
There is shadow under this red rock,
(Come in under the shadow of this red rock),
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.
– The Waste Land by TS Eliot
Today marks the beginning of Lent- a traditional Christian season of repentance (or more properly metanoia) forty days prior to the celebration of the Easter.
More than merely repentance of the wrongs that one has committed, metanoia is a changing of mind- a reorientating of oneself in an act of transformation.
These forty days are likened to the Gospel story of Christ’s time in the desert, of separation, comtemplation and temptation. A trial of spirit.
Lent opens appropriately with Ash Wednesday- where through ritual, prayer and contemplation, we reflect upon our own weakness and mortality. Remember O Man, that you are dust, and to it you shall return.
It is a day to reflect upon attachment, not only to external things which reinforce our ignorance and separation, but also especially to our own minds and bodies, which, like everything else, will deteriorate and decay with the passage of time.
I will show you fear in a handful of dust
Yet, this day gives way to the fullness of lent- an opportunity to experience a change of mind from that which is transitory to that which is eternal.
As Gnostics, there are many different views that can be drawn from the symbology of Lent and I’d like to share with you my own, perhaps you may find some value in it. For myself, Lenten discipline is about a few things- removing obstacles, seeing through superficiality, and renewing ourselves through our connection to the Divine- for which the former is of prime value.
If you have encountered historical Christianity with any amount of depth, you have probably come across concepts associated with the so-called redemptive power of suffering- there are many who identify with Lent in this fashion- particularly through the temptation and trial in the desert. The idea that through trial, loss, difficulty and any other euphemism for things that are hard to bear, we can see ourselves and the Divine, as well as the relationship between them, more clearly.
There is some truth there, but it does not rest within the realm of suffering but of reconnection. The Divine Beloved does not desire suffering for anyone, suffering is a natural byproduct of human existence. We rise, we stumble, we fall, we trip, we push, we are pushed, we bend, we break, we bind, we loose.
Reconnection in the context of Lent, then, is not about suffering but about a willful and intentional examination of those things that are most important to us and our spiritual journeys. It is not about accepting life’s slings and arrows as some kind of noble Divine given test, for nothing could be further from the truth, but rather goes beyond what life hands us into an intentional clearing away of those things that keep us from a full understanding of ourselves and the Divine not only in us, but present in the world and in our fellow humanity.
Does this mean we should turn Lent into a joyless enclave of ascetic rigour? – hardly.
It is an opportunity to examine priorities, seek out again that connection to Self and the Divine, and bridge the perceptual gap between the two- not towards a more “serious” life, but towards a more joyous one. When that gap is bridged we have opportunities for greater understanding, greater happiness, great compassion, greater joy- as we not only see the Divine present in our own lives through love, creativity, communion, connection and passion, but also as we share those things with and recognize them in, others.
In order to do that we need focus and discipline- not a focus and discipline that merely says “I’m not going to eat chocolate for lent” but a focus and discipline that says “I’m going to take some time to work on myself and my journey”. It’s something we should do every day of the year, but in case we don’t- Lent is here for just that purpose.
As for suffering.. suffering is unavoidable. The Divine Beloved seeks not our suffering, and while suffering may not be a test, it is an opportunity. Lent is a period of purification, of clearing away, and is a process of spiritual intention. Suffering, tends to happen despite our intentions.
Suffering is nothing other than what it is but we can take out of it an opportunity to take the lead of life and transmute it into gold. Given the things we go through as human beings, not every situation is an opportunity to do that perfectly, and sometimes the gold we create will be mere ounces to pounds of lead, but it is an opportunity just the same.
Unlike so many other times, trials and lessons in life- Lent offers the opportunity for us to reconnect, examine and explore not only our relationship with the Divine Beloved, but with ourselves on our own terms and of our own choosing.
It should be remembered that Christ went into the desert willingly and of the inspiration of the Divine
Lent offers us the opportunity to walk to the burning and dry realms within ourselves to meet both ourselves and God there, and through the season that follows Lent, bring life to those places.
+ IOHANNES IV
Sovereign Pontiff and Patriarch
The Apostolic Johannite Church