Days of Future Past

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Measured against eternity, ten years is a mere blink of an eye. In the average life span of a magazine, however, a decade is a major chunk of time. With your indulgence, I'd like to offer a few reflections about the past, present, and future of GNOSIS as a preface to this special 10th Anniversary issue.

First let's set the stage: In January 1981, having hit age 30 a few months before, I undertook a major reevaluation of my life and work. In the midst of this turmoil I read Edward Edinger's Ego and Archetype, a masterful presentation of C.G. Jung's main themes and concepts. My interest was piqued by his discussion of ancient Gnosticism, alchemy, and the depths of Christian symbolism. Fortuitously, within a week or two, I happened upon a small congregation of contemporary gnostics, and at the culmination of their lovely ritual I found myself unexpectedly moved. I began to take part in their quiet work and the whole panoply of Western esotericism and mysticism began to open up before me.

January of 1981 also marked the publication of Elaine Pagels' book, The Gnostic Gospels, in mass paperback, which I immediately picked up and read enthusiastically. Almost simultaneously in February, VALIS was published, the gripping gnostic novel by my favorite science-fiction author, Philip K. Dick. Dick had undergone his own puzzling mystical transformation nearly seven years before but VALIS was the first occasion in which he publicly discussed it in semi- fictional form.

The universe, it seemed, was conspiring that winter to rub my nose in the idea of gnosis.

It didn't take long for the realization to hit me that gnosis, i.e. mystical unfoldment and illumination, was hardly confined to the ancient Gnostics. I found the term used in discussions of Islamic Sufism and Jewish Kabbalah, and it soon became self-evident that the experience of gnosis was a thread running between mystics and seekers of all persuasions and eras. Within a year's time, the urgency of my interest in such matters led me to envision a new publication where these things could be discussed in a non-sectarian manner.

Looking back through my files, the earliest material evidence of this idea is a little thumbnail sketch of a GNOSIS cover dating back to February 1982. It appears in a black-bound sketchbook in which I was then jotting ideas for the new magazine. (See accompanying reproduction on this page.) Thirty pages later, in June 1982, there's a chart of potential GNOSIS topics lined up in five columns under the headings: Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Folk

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