In the latest entry in the highly acclaimed mini series , Jack “The Agnostic” Garcia examines the mysterious , bizarre and outlandish religious movement – Gnosticism , which flourished along side and within Judaism and Christianity during the first to fourth centuries AD. The Gnostics sought knowledge and wisdom fro many sources and accepted insight wherever it could be found – so they absorbed diverse religious and philosophical texts. From scared Jewish literature and Christian documents, to Greco /Roman Paganism and the religions of ancient Egypt , Mesopotamia and India. Dualistic in their viewpoint (light vs. darkness) The Gnostics regarded the human body as a type of prison and the soul trapped within -longed to escape it and the evil material world and thus return to the transcendent and divine. While there was a wide variety of Gnostic sects, the ethics of these gnostic systems was the basic alienation from the world which was expressed in two extreme forms – sexual promiscuity and sex magic and a more pessimistic and repressive view, asceticism. Because of their opposition to authoritarian discipline , their liberal attitudes toward sexuality and the importance of the divine female principle (Sophia) to the enlightenment and salvation of humanity, the gnostic sects were persecuted by the Orthodox Christian church. Jack digs deeply into the surviving treasure trove of Gnostic texts , sacred stories, creation myths and spiritual narratives that were profound in the context of a religious cult in the hope of providing salvation for those that believed. Amazing literature overflowing with psychedelic imagery and parallels to the Old and New Testaments.
The world of Ancient Greece was very diverse but their rites ,rituals, cult practices and their pantheon of Gods and Goddesses had enough in common to be viewed as one religious system. Jack “The Agnostic” Garcia travels back to the Aegean during the 3rd and 2nd Millennium BC and examines the origins of this Greek religious system hat developed over the course of centuries. The Minoans worshiped the Great Goddess and filled their palace sanctuaries , cave shrines and mountain peak temples with sacred stones , pillars , bull horns and representations of snakes and double axes that paid homage to the divine feminine principle. When the war like Mycenaeans became politically dominant they absorb the Minoan traditions but their divine war God , the archaic prototype for Zeus , Poseidon and Aries soon overshadows the Goddess. Jack also examines the role of The Iliad & The Odyssey in the Greek conception of deity. A divine society of supernatural beings who live more or less together on Mount Olympus and kept the universe in divine order and prevented it from falling into chaos. then Jack travels back to the Ancient Mediterranean and examines Roman religion. A religion of the state that was interwoven into Roman society. Where the proper performance of prayers, rites, rituals, ceremonies and festivals was thought to ensure Roman military success and imperialist expansion. Jack also examines Roman religion before the introduction of Greek elements. The early Romans believed in a type of Italian Shintoism , local and specialized spirit / deities without physical form. Every tree , stream , mountain or river had its own God or Goddess , vaguely defined divine , disembodied entities that had to be both respected and propriated. And last but not least , Jack examines how Roman religion changed over the course of centuries as the empire expanded and encountered new cultures , absorbing and adapting foreign deities and their cults into Roman Pantheon.
Jack “The Agnostic” Garcia , working at an almost supernatural supersonic speed continues the highly acclaimed mini series and chronicles the worlds oldest and perhaps most influential religion – Zoroastrianism. Zoroaster, the world’s first religious prophet and his teachings would profoundly influence not only Greek philosophy but also the worlds three great Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam). Jack digs deeply into many ancient sacred texts , including The Avesta – which includes 17 hymns/ mantras ( The Gathas) said to have been composed by Mr. Z himself. Thought to be a Magus/ Sage by the Greeks – Zoroaster is a shadowy figure who some historians believe never existed at all. While other scholars can not agree on the dates involved (anything from the 12th century BC to the 6th century BC) . His sacred poetry/ hymns/mantras have many parallels to the ancient traditions of the Rig Veda , the body of sacred knowledge and the basis for spiritual belief in Hinduism. Especially in its fragmentary nature , metrical form and illusive poetic imagery. Mr. Z teachings were concerned with the supernatural , divine source of the dualistic nature of the universe. Goodness & Light ( Ahura Mazda) Vs. Evil & Darkness ( Ahriman) – primal and opposing forces that fight a cosmic battle for supremacy of the universe. Zoroaster’s Esthetology foretells of the ultimate victory of good over evil, essentially spiritual optimism and an expression of hope in a sometimes confusing and malevolent world.
In the third installment of GRR’s ground breaking mini series , Jack “The Agnostic” Garcia digs deeply into the biblical, historical and archaeological record and attempts to unravel the mysterious origins of Yahweh – The God of Israel. First up, its the mysterious Midianites, Kenites and Rechabites – nomadic tribal groups of the Negev desert rooted in ancient pastoralic traditions and connected to another via metallurgy and Mount Sinai. They may have helped Moses bring Yahweh to the Israelites in Egypt . Then its the rock shrines , sanctuaries and tombs of the desert nomads filled with loads of spiritual graffiti , inscriptions and carvings that provide clues to their rites and rituals, ancient ceremonies that may have opened a desert doorway to the divine. Next up, its some of the historical references to Yahweh, from a variety of cultures, dating from the 14th century BC to the 9th century BC . Lines written in stone and metal that connect Yahweh to the desert nomads and also give details about the struggle between the kingdoms of the bible for military and economic supremacy. Then its Yahweh as portrayed in the literary imagery of The Old Testament . An astral God who presides over a celestial court of lesser astral deities and is king of the universe. The divine force that causes all things to come into being. A divine warrior who slays monsters of chaos as a prelude to creation. Literary imagery that has a striking resemblance to Mesopotamian and Canaanite religion and mythology. And last but not least – Jack chronicles the evolution and development of Yahweh as portrayed via the divine rantings and ravings of The Old Testament prophets.
In part 2 – Jack “The Agnostic” Garcia travels back to the two greatest and largest lasting civilizations of the ancient world, Egypt the land of the Nile and Mesopotamia , the fertile crescent and examines the religions of these two amazing cultures of the past and finds remarkable metaphysical ideas and content. First up its the spiritual significance of the Scarab Beetle in ancient Egyptian religion and culture and the sacred insects linked to the supreme sun God RE/RA. The first deity to have involvement with the concept of ethical and moral values. Then its the dying and rising God – Osiris – who saves those who have been assimilated to him and the link to other grain/vegetation deities of the near east (Attis, Adonis & Dummuzi) . Gods of a different kind that would have a peculiar but highly influential place in the history of world religions. Then Jack journeys back to Mesopotamia and the temple/city states complex Ziggurat system and looks at the many different types of priests, priestess , rites , rituals and ceremonies that filled their sacred halls for many centuries. Next up, Jack plays voyeur and takes an eye popping look at the concept of the Hieros Gamos/ The sacred Marriage. A once a year sex magic ritual in which the king and the high priestess (The Entu) would perform a mystical divine copulation , that would ensure the fertility and abundance of the land for the coming year. And last but not least , its some of the great Gods and Goddesses from the cosmic Mesopotamian pantheon . Deities that represented cosmic law and order – and protected the people from evil and demonic supernatural forces.
In the season 14 premiere , Jack “The Agnostic” Garcia chronicles the dawn or awakening of human spirituality and religious consciousness. Essentially, the origins of the concept of Deity , a supernatural power that rules the universe and mysteriously replaces the dead with the newly born. First up, its the Neanderthals , who were the first people to lovingly bury their dead and the first to have a symbolic interpretation of themselves and the world around them. Then its the Magdellians of Western Europe whose cave paintings of animals, shamanistic in nature showcases an uncanny sense of life and the divine. Masters of portable art, they also created tiny figures of fertility goddesses with exaggerated Maternal attributes like wide , round hips and massive milk-filled breasts. The Great Mother whose womb was thought to be the source of all life and the place of repose for the dead. Next up, its the Neolithic town of Katat Huyuk, where the cult of the Great Goddess flourished in shrines and sanctuaries. Holy places adorned with a series of perplexing sculptures , frescoes and friezes. Plaster models of the female breast, human skulls and animal bones – maternal nourishment in combination with symbols of death. And last but not least – Jack examines four famous fertility Goddesses , The Mesopotamian- Ishtar, The Syrian – Astarte, The Anatolian- Cybelle and The Greek – Aphrodite. Powerful female Deities of love, sex and fertility that all sprang from the Paleolithic and Neolithic , Great Goddess of Pre-history.
In the conclusion to GRR’s 4 part mini series on the lives and legends of Saintly Medieval Ladies , Jack “The agnostic” Garcia chronicles the sacred stories of four more remarkable women from the Middle Ages, this time from the 14th century AD. First up, its the saga of St. Notburga a tale that resembles a fable more than historian fact. A Polish peasant girl who works in the labyrinth like kitchens of Count Henry of Rattenberg , Notburga notices that there are lots of leftover food from the feasting and overindulgence of the nobles. So she secretly brings the leftover morsels to a side door in the castle and gives the food to the poor each and every night. That is until the Count’s wicked wife Ottila – finds out and then all Hell breaks loose. Next up. its St. Agnes of Montepulciano – a child prodigy who enters a convent at the age of nine and by the age of fifteen is the Mother Superior of the nunnery. Agnes would become one of the great evangelical preachers of her time and run various convents with successful combination of spirituality and economic savvy. Then its , St. Juliana Falconieri – who was born into a powerful and mega-wealthy Florentine family , but as she grew up would care little for pomp, partying and politics and instead starts her own religious community- a nunnery dedicated to prayer , charity and the glory of God. And last but not least its – St. Bridget of Sweden – whose prescient dreams and intense visions would make her famous in Europe and even The Holy Land. Each revelation or cosmic message takes a physical toll on her body and as the visions become more frequent the Saint grows weaker and weaker.
With the Latin Church now functioning as an evangelical , administrative and mega-wealthy growth industry , a great intensification of Christianity in life and consciousness takes hold of Europe and the effervescence of Medieval spirituality stands out in art, literature and architecture. But…not every soul is content with the status quo and this spiritual disillusionment gives rise to the age of heretics. As entire communities separate themselves and form their own religious enclaves. As opposing dogmas and theologies fight a deadly battle for supremacy amid this sometimes glorious, sometimes dangerous and sometimes smelly and uncomfortable Medieval era , it is the sacred stories of the saints , those that have a special place in Heaven, that can intercede for us on Earth and those who powerful names are invoked in prayer that retained a constant grip on the Medieval mind and spiritual imagination. Jack “The Agnostic” Garcia continues to chronicle the lives and legends of little known but remarkable ans saintly Medieval women – this time from the 13th century AD – The High Middle Ages -saints include – St. Christina The Astonishing / St. Rose of Viterbo & St. Margaret of Cortona.
Jack “The Agnostic” Garcia continues to chronicle the lives and legends of remarkable ladies that had a positive impact on Medieval culture, but have sadly been ignored or forgotten by most scholars and historians . First up, its the tale of St. Bertilla – (8th Century A.D.) – a Frankish princess who was a problem child and rebellious teenager until she has an intense spiritual experience , a piercing vision of Mary Magdalene , that changes her life forever. Then its St. Adelaide (10th Century A.D.) – a sacred story whose narrative is overflowing with political intrigue, murderous rivals, kidnappings, bloody warfare and swashbuckling shenanigans. Up next its St. Cunegund (11th Century A.D.) – a wise and saintly woman with a legendary temper who slaps a misbehaving Mother Superior so hard on the face, it leaves impressions on the nun’s kisser until the day she died. And last but not least – its St. Margaret of Scotland ( 11th Century A.D.) – who made it her goal in life to bring peace and stability to the squabbling Scots via education and religious instruction , igniting a cultural flowering in the war ravaged kingdom.
With the collapse of the Western half of the Roman Empire (476 AD) and the rule of Germanic and Scandinavian tribal chieftans, The Dark Ages officially open for business. It is an era of perpetual warfare , an age of blood ans iron , but it is also the time of the Christian conversion and settlement of Europe. When spiritually forceful woman wit land, property and inheiritance rights were the benefactors of Churches , Monastries, Nunneries and often engaged in both secular and religious assembles. Jack “The Agnostic” Garcia chronicles the lives and legends of some of these remarkable but obscure Women Saints of The Dark Ages, who stimulated by the forces of word, image, ritual and ceremony welcomed the opportunity to dedicate their lives to charity and to God. The mystic fire burned brightly in these spiritual dynamos and part 1 includes – St. Anastasia , St. Euphrasia, St. Scholastica, St. Osith, St. Begalbee, St. Irmina and St. Adela.