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What’s in a Name?

February 1, 2013


Ikon REBEKAH -L. Thiel Hewlings

In 2010, I was a catechumen in a Greek Orthodox parish for seven months. At one point during this, the priest gave me the name Photini, even though I was no where near prepared for chrismation. In truth, I thought it might be several years before this happened, but there I was with the Samaritan Woman’s name.  For some time, I didn’t tell anyone I was given this name, even when the cradle orthodox asked: So, which saint’s name did you choose?  I replied, Isn’t it the priest who is to choose the name? Still, I kept it quiet. One day, I asked the priest why he’d chosen the name. He explained that it was because I was illumined. A couple of long-time members even gave me an ikon of Christ and Photini at the well as a gift for my work on a newcomer packet the priest had asked me to write. Despite all of this, near the end of those seven months, that same priest sent me an email in the form of a Dear John letter, stating that I was not of his Greek Orthodox Rite, and I was to find another church. In all honesty, I had no idea what he was talking about. It’s now 2013, a year for more serious rocking of those cradles, and I am fully aware of the consequences of prejudice, ignorance, and dissemination.

The name Photini literally means “the enlightened one”. I wonder how many Photinis are out and about, but more importantly, how does one bear the name of enlightenment?

I’ve been reading The Secret Book of John this week, and I’ve got to say … wow, truly profound. Our Lord held off on allowing me to read these until I was spiritually ready. Of this, I have no doubt, and I fully believe that works are better, and more fully received, when the time is ripe. In the book, John writes: Now, Sophia, who is the Wisdom of the Insight and who constitutes an aeon, conceived of a thought from herself, with the conception of the Invisible Spirit and Foreknowledge. She wanted to bring forth something like herself, without the consent of the Spirit, who had not given approval, without her partner and without his consideration. She did not find her partner, and she considered this without the Spirit’s consent and without the knowledge of her partner. Nonetheless, she gave birth. And because of the invincible power within her, her thought was not an idle thought. Something came out of her that was imperfect and different in appearance from her, for she had produced it without her partner. It did not resemble its mother and was misshapen.

When Sophia saw what her desire had produced, it changed into the figure of a snake with the face of a lion. Its eyes were flashing bolts of lightening. She cast it away from her, outside that realm so that none of the immortals would see it. She had produced it ignorantly.

She surrounded it with a bright cloud and put a throne in the middle of the clouds so that no one would see it except the holy Spirit, who is called the Mother of the living. She named her offspring Yaldabaoth. 

The text then goes into Yaldabaoth’s World Order, mating with the mindlessness in him and produced authorities for himself: the list is twelve.

I think I read this a dozen times. It’s rich in spiritual information. So much so, I am not sure where to begin! To start, I could not help but ask: what is the thought conceived? It’s clear in my understanding that the thought born from Sophia (Wisdom) is Religion. Sophia thought Religion; Man gave it a face – Yaldabaoth. When I googled this name, I found two meanings: Child come hither, and false god.

The content in these passages on John’s secret book  leave one swimming the lower depths of that river of fire and ice, and one continues in this, yearning for more. Where was Sophia’s partner?  This is where I can’t help but laugh. Good Lord, how long must Sophia wait at the altar? If I waited as long as she, I would be tempted to have a thought, too!

There is so much in this text. We see the lion-snake, which demonstrates a two-fold message.  Not only is John thought of as a lion, but he and James are called Sons of Thunder by Jesus. This, of course, easily relates to the sentence: Its eyes were flashing bolts of lightning. The twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve authorities which Yaldaboaoth produced, and his “mating with mindlessness” reminds me of Enoch’s prophesy in Chapter seven, Verse one: And they all went out and took wives for themselves, each choosing one for himself, and they began to go in to them and to defile themselves with sex with them (transliteration by Joseph Lumpkin).  As I shared in a previous essay on this, wife represents a life option.  Also, the text brings forth the importance of partners, spiritual soulmates. For Wisdom is shown in these words: Where two or three are gathered in My name, there I will be also. Matthew 18.20

YHWH, what’s in a name? Could it be God and man ongoing? Y is a split. H is Church and State, joined by the bar. W is the joining of two V s (John’s book shares on the five androgynous aeons, which are the ten aeons, which is the Father), and the last H is a framework of love and life, two small l s,  or two I s, depending on the font, that make up the first step on that ladder of ascent.  James shares in his secret book:

Be eager for the word. The first aspect of the word is faith, the second is love, the third is works, and from these comes life.

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