Gnostic Mysteries of Sex

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2015-08-23
  • Publisher: Inner Traditions
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An exploration of the sexual practices and doctrinal secrets of Gnosticism

• Reconstructs the lost world of Gnostic spiritual-erotic experience through examination of every surviving text written by heresiologists

• Investigates the sexual gnosis practices of the Barbelo Gnostics of the 2nd century and their connections to the Gnostic Aeon Sophia, the Wild Lady of Wisdom

• Explains the vital significance of “the seed” as a sacrament in Gnostic practice

Examining every surviving text written by heresiologists, accounts often ignored in favor of the famous Nag Hammadi Library, Tobias Churton reveals the most secret inner teaching passed down by initiated societies: the tradition of sexual gnosis--higher union with God through the sacrament of sex. Discovering actual sex practices hidden within the writings of the Church’s authorities, he reconstructs the lost world of Gnostic spiritual-erotic experience as taught by initiated masters and mistresses and practiced by Christian couples seeking spiritual freedom from the world.

Churton explores the practices of the “first Gnostic,” the historical Simon Magus, and explains the vital significance of “the seed” in Gnostic practice, showing it to be the sacramental substance par excellence. He illuminates the suppressed truth of why the name “Valentine” came to be associated with ennobling erotic love and reveals profound parallels between sexual gnosis and Tantra, suggesting that gnosis lies at the root of the tantric path.

Solving a millennia-old riddle regarding the identity and secret symbol of Sophia, the mysterious Gnostic “Aeon,” Churton investigates Sophia’s connections to Barbelo, also known as Pruneikos, the Wild Lady of Wisdom, and the central focus of the Barbelo Gnostics of the 2nd century, whose religious sex practices so shocked orthodox Christian contemporaries that they were condemned, their cults of spiritual gnosis and “redemption by sin” driven underground.

Churton exposes the mystery of Sophia in the philosophy of the medieval Troubadours and explores William Blake’s inheritance of secret Renaissance sexual mysticism through the revolutionary English poet Andrew Marvell. Showing how Blake’s sexual and spiritual revolution connects to modern sexual magic, Churton also examines the esoteric meaning of the free-love explosion of the 1960s, revealing how sex can be raised from the realm of guilt into the highest magical sacrament of spiritual transformation.

Author Biography

Tobias Churton is Britain’s leading scholar of Western Esotericism, a world authority on Gnosticism, Hermeticism, and Rosicrucianism. An Honorary Fellow of Exeter University, where he is faculty lecturer in Rosicrucianism and Freemasonry, he holds a master’s degree in Theology from Brasenose College, Oxford, and is the author of many books, including Gnostic Philosophy, The Invisible History of the Rosicrucians, and Aleister Crowley: The Beast in Berlin. He lives in England.

Table of Contents


Introduction    The Gnostic Sex Book

Confessio Churtonatis

Part I    


ONE--The “Filthy Gnostickes”

Great Monsters of Heresy

Is an Erotic Christian Religion Really Possible?

The Essential Myth


TWO--Heresy Starts in Eden: The Accusers

The Heresiologists

Clement of Alexandria




THREE--How to Be a Superman: The First Gnostic

Sex and Simon

Simon Says--According to Hippolytus

Epiphanius on Simon

FOUR--After Simon, the Deluge



FIVE--The Dirty People

Sethians, Seed-Gatherers, and Serpent-Worshippers

Hippolytus on the Naasseni

Kundalini Gnostics?

Epiphanius on Barbeliotes and Borborites

SIX--Tantra--Remarkable Parallels

SEVEN--Be My Valentine

EIGHT--A Question of Seed

Senseless and Crack-Brained

Tertullian on the Valentinians

Clement of Alexandria and Theodotus

A New Picture of Valentinian Sex

NINE--The Valentinian Marriage

The Knowledge of the Heart

The Good Spermaritan

TEN--In Search of the Mystery of Prouneikos and Barbelo in Alexandria

Philo of Alexandria (ca. 20 BCE-ca. 50 CE)

ELEVEN--The Lascivious One

The Wild One

Part II


TWELVE--All You Need Is Sophia

Return to the Troubadours

THIRTEEN--The Golden Riddle

The Golden Ball

The Coy Mistress

The Spherical Art

The Conversion of the Jews

Heaven’s Gate

Thy Heaven Doors Are My Hell Gates



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