The anatomy of Sin

An occult investigation of the theological concept of Sin and its origins, and the macabre custom of sin-eating

Guest article by John Temple

Introduction by Occult Mysteries

We are indebted to John Temple who has sent us his thoughts on SIN; surely a subject dear to all our hearts! As always, his meticulous scholarship has unearthed a wealth of information about sin, much of which was unfamiliar to us and we suspect will surprise a good many readers too. We are pleased to see that old age has not dimmed John's quirky sense of humour which enlivens what, in less capable hands, might be a very dry and dusty subject indeed. In his customary afterword the author discusses the macabre custom of 'Sin Eating', its origin, and the rationale behind it.

When is sin not a sin?

Before I can answer that question, or indeed many more, such as 'where does sin come from?', 'who, if anyone, invented it?', and 'what is meant by original sin?', we need to consider the word itself. For the benefit of my 'switched-on' younger readers I should explain that 'original' sin is a fundamental Christian doctrine, not a new and especially 'cool' or 'wicked' kind of naughtiness. Rest assured that I will get to the doctrine in good time. Meanwhile, the first duty of an anatomist is to study the structure of things which in the case of language is called etymology. So, taking our metaphorical scalpel in hand, let us dissect the body of sin. The word comes to us from the Middle English sinne via Old English synn or syn, meaning a 'violation of divine law, crime against God, moral wrongdoing, injury, mischief, crime' and the like. I would ask you to remember the first definition — violation of divine law — for this has a bearing on the real meaning of sin, as we shall see later on. Some lexicologists have traced the word back much further, but having a cordial aversion to pedantry in all its hideous incarnations, I shall direct my scalpel into more worthwhile and hopefully, interesting channels.

A poll conducted in 2012 found that 74% of the population of the UK consider the seven deadly sins to be outdated and redundant. In their place the 2,000 respondents cited racism, domestic violence, terrorism, bullying, tax evasion, bigotry and binge drinking as the ultimate in temporal wickedness. So what happened to pride, envy, wrath, sloth, avarice, gluttony and lust? Are we now so virtuous that these historical vices no longer tempt us? Probably not, as 86% of the respondents admitted to committing at least one of the classical sins, and almost half confessed to the sin of envy. A previous study conducted in 2009 found that the most common deadly sin admitted to by men was lust. No surprises there, then! The ladies, on the other hand, being made of "sugar and spice and all things nice," confessed that their greatest sin was pride. This is interesting as pride was called the "first peer and president of hell" by Daniel Defoe. Do I hear sotto voce murmurs of "cherchez la femme"? So the Christian Church would have us believe since the doctrine of original sin is founded on the transgression of Eve which resulted in Adam being kicked out of Paradise. I was highly sceptical of the Church's literal interpretation of this episode in Genesis when I encountered it at the tender age of twelve. I simply didn't buy a devious snake seducing the supposed mother of mankind.

As I grew older I realized it was an allegory, and that far from being a somewhat distracted damsel partial to a tempting pippin within easy reach, Eve was actually the saviour of us all. With this realization came the heretical notion that Adam was a cowardly simpleton who dobbed in his wife to the Head Gardener. In doing so he condemned the inferior sex (yes, I mean you, my male readers!) to a seemingly endless series of incarnations on what some have called a 'prison planet' and Shakespeare called "this great stage of fools." If only Adam had listened to his wife and had the backbone to defy the so-called 'Lord' God we might all have remained in the Garden of Eden forever. But as my youngest daughter is fond of telling me, "women make mistakes; it takes a man to turn them into a complete catastrophe!" What has this to do with the doctrine of original sin? I will come to that in good time. Meanwhile, what is sin? When and where was it first codified and by whom, and why?

I firmly believe it was a clever priest who first invented sin. I base this on the earliest history of mankind recounted by such eminent scholars as Dr E. V. Kenealy in the Book of Fo. The authors of this website were clearly referring to this much-neglected masterpiece when they suggested that it was also a priest who was responsible for the doctrine of Karma in their investigation of this misunderstood law. Perhaps they were one and the same individual; it wouldn't surprise me. Kenealy describes how the first races of man lived in harmony and peace, both among themselves, and in relation to the natural world. "But then contests arose, and the great began to oppress the feeble; and brute strength was seen to overawe justice," writes Kenealy. "And certain artful men set themselves up as the sole ministers of public prayer. The strong hand governed all things, and the cunning head made a slave of the strong hand." From here it was a small step to rebrand wrongdoing as 'sin' and declare that only a priest — appointed to this task by God himself — could forgive the sinner and assure his or her salvation.

Neither in the highest heavens;
Nor in the earth, nor in the waters, nor in the air;
Nor in fire, nor in any element;
Can the spirit escape the consequences of its acts.
It cannot be forgiven;
It must purify itself;
It cannot be atoned for or redeemed;
It must purify itself; it must purify itself;
Sacrifice cannot make it beautiful; it must purify itself;
Offerings or prayers brighten it not;
It must purify itself; it must purify itself."

So wrote Kenealy in the Book of Fo. A clearer or truer refutation of the insidious dogma of priestly absolution has never been written. By 'purify' he not only means righting the wrongs we have committed, whether in thought or deed, but the cleansing of wrong thinking and wrong attunement. Our thoughts and deeds follow us from life to life and by their virtue or vice determine our future fate. This is not 'Karma' as it is popularly misunderstood by all and sundry but the working out of prior causes, what Kenealy calls the 'consequences' of our acts. To which we should add thoughts too, for thoughts are things as the authors of this website have pointed out in several of their articles. They are not the wishy-washy, ephemeral stuff people imagine. Thoughts have real substance, weak or strong, according to the strength or weakness of the thinker's will and imagination. This is the ABC of Occult Science and of the magical arts. We are all creating our future conditions every minute of every day by the thoughts we think. As we may read in The Golden Star, "Every external motion, act or gesture, whether voluntary or mechanical, organic or mental, is produced and preceded by internal feeling or emotion, will or volition, and thought or mind."

Many thoughts are short-lived and fade away without affecting us or those around us to any appreciable extent. From this arises the erroneous notion that thought is fleeting and inconsequential. But this is not true of all thoughts, and especially is it not true of persistent thoughts arising from powerful desires and urges of all kinds. Heightened mental states and especially heightened emotionalism can and do create thoughts which have decided and permanent effects. Which is why neophytes admitted to the Mystery Schools of Greece and Egypt were instructed to "guard well their magical thoughts." For thoughts are magical in their operation as well as their effects. The Buddha taught the same, for in the Dhammapada we may read: "The mind is fickle and flighty, it flies after fancies whenever it likes; but let the wise man guard well his mind, for a mind well guarded is a source of great joy. He whose mind is unsteady, who knows not the path of truth, whose faith and peace are ever wavering, he shall never reach the fullness of Wisdom."

The Christian notion of sin is of recent origin. Hinduism, for example, does not regard sin as a crime against God, but as a violation of Divine Law. In other words, sin is due to ignorance of Divine Ordinance, resulting in wrong thinking or behaviour. I shall come back to the importance of ignorance later on for it is fundamental to the right understanding of sin. The Buddhist concept of sin is essentially the same as the Hindu, except that greater emphasis is placed upon the fact that sin as the Christian Church understands it, has no existence. Islam, on the other hand, takes a similar position to the Christian one in regarding sin as anything that transgresses the commands of Allah. While adhering broadly to the same definition, Judaism differs from both Islam and Christianity in regarding sins against human beings as more serious than sins against Jehovah. From this it is clear that sin is nothing more nor less than wrong thinking and wrong action of some kind. This raises the question of what constitutes wrong thinking and wrong action, which in turn leads to the thorny topic of Good and evil which I discussed in the fourth of my articles on the Search for Truth. If you haven't read this, now is a good time to do so. Even if you have read it, you may want to refresh your memory about the conclusions I reached. The most important of these is that "Good and evil are the two aspects which dominate the whole manifested Cosmos of all thinking entities on Earth under such appellations as Light and Darkness, White and Black, Love and Hatred." I also quoted the seventeenth Century French mathematician and philosopher, Pascal who said: "Nature has perfections, in order to show that she is the image of God: and defects, in order to show that she is only his image." These two statements explain what wrong thinking and wrong action are, namely, negative states of mind and matter; the defects arising from "the admixture of inferior potencies in the arrangement of matter — and even in the formation of Man — a task entrusted to the lower creative hierarchies under God," as we may read in The Secret Doctrine.

Seven Deadly Sins

What of the Seven Deadly Sins? We have the 2nd century Christian polemicist and fanatical scourge of heretics, Tertullian, to thank for them. But it was not until two hundred years later that they were classified by the fourth century Christian monk, Evagrius Ponticus. He enumerated eight sins, not seven, which were: gluttony, lust, avarice, sorrow, wrath, sloth, vainglory, and pride. Later, Pope Gregory (590-604 A.D.) decided there was too much overlap and similarity between them and took it upon himself to 'improve' on Evagrius' work by merging vainglory with pride, sorrow with sloth, and adding envy. Gregory's modifications resulted in the list of seven deadly sins we have today, namely, pride, envy, wrath, sloth, avarice, gluttony and lust. Avarice was changed to covetousness when the King James (KJV) authorised translation of the Greek New Testament was published in 1611. Nowadays the word 'greed' has largely supplanted both covetousness and avarice in standard lists of the seven deadly sins. You may call me a lexicological pedant but I think greed is not the same thing as covetousness or avarice. Indeed, I would go further and say that in substituting greed for covetousness the present list comes perilously close to making gluttony redundant. It is impossible to think of a glutton who is not greedy, or greed which does not involve gluttony. Both words are synonyms for overindulgence and immoderation. Although avarice has a similar meaning, covetousness does not. It is manifestly a synonym for envy. The well-known Biblical prohibition not to 'covet' our neighbour's ass, which so amuses American teenage boys, is a perfect illustration of this. I could go on analysing the classification of the seven deadly sins and discover many more inconsistencies and contradictions, but these few examples will suffice to show that we can reduce the entire lot to just one sin, that of ignorance.

In their inestimable Occult Faq, the authors of this website write: "Occult science does not acknowledge the dogma of sin as it is commonly understood, or as it is taught by most organised religions. The only 'sin' Occult Science acknowledges is that of ignorance. All other human behaviour comes under the category of right and wrong thinking and action, which is either rewarded or punished." This brings us full circle, demonstrating, as I said earlier, that sin is nothing more nor less than wrong thinking and wrong action, both of which are the fruit of ignorance. A simple example will suffice to show the truth of this asseveration. My youngest daughter once made herself horribly ill by scoffing a whole bar of chocolate while bingeing on pickled onions. Now, there may be some who can happily digest this curious combination. Sadly, my youngest daughter is not among them. She was, as I say, horribly, and disgustingly sick. I have reason to clearly remember this incident as the indignity suffered by the interior of my recently valeted motor-car was considerable! Some readers may regard this as a perfect illustration of the evils of the sin of gluttony, others of greed. A Christian traditionalist certainly would. But a more accurate and dare I say — honest — appraisal, would be that it was the result of ignorance of the dire effects of bingeing on two contrary comestibles at the same time. In other words the effect of wrong thinking leading to wrong action. No sins, deadly or otherwise are wanted or needed; ignorance is quite sufficient to explain the case. Although my youngest daughter, who has recently become a grandmother, still enjoys pickled onions and chocolate, she no longer eats them concurrently. So folly can lead to wisdom and ignorance to knowledge!

Of course, not every wrong thought or wrong action leads to such swift or severe consequences. If it did, human beings would embrace virtue and eschew vice rather more often than they do, and there would never have been any need to formulate a list of deadly sins. Thanks to the wonders of modern pharmacology "one night in the arms of Venus" no longer leads to "a lifetime with Mercury" as the medical maxim has it. Although mercury has long since been abandoned in favour of antibiotics and other drugs in the treatment of STDs the principle holds good that if sin were rewarded immediately by so-called punishment, all of us would be saints rather than sinners. Which leads me to the next part of this anatomical discussion — the thorny topic of 'original sin'.

The dogma of original Sin

We are all sinners, or so the Bible tells us. Or rather, so Christian theologians interpret the Bible as telling us, which is not the same thing at all as we shall see. According to Christian doctrine, every single human being who emerges into this world is cursed by the stigma of original sin by virtue of their descent from Adam and Eve. The basis for this doctrine is found in the account of the expulsion of our supposed parents from the Garden of Eden recounted in Genesis chapter three. Two further scriptural sources are often cited in support of this doctrine: Psalms 51:5 and Romans 5-12-21. The former is rather unconvincing in my view. Here is the verse: "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me." Superficially it can be said (and was fiercely argued by one dogmatic cleric whom I knew well when I was still a practising clergyman) that these words can be traced to the curse pronounced upon Eve by the 'Lord' God in Genesis 3:16. "Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee." But if we consider Psalms 51:5 in context (which is rarely done) a different picture emerges. The verse concerns King David's anguished repentance for committing adultery with a married woman. Read in this light, it is simply one verse among 18 others describing how sorry David was for sleeping with the beautiful Bathsheba and fathering a child by her. The child later died, supposedly in Divine retribution for David's many sins. Frankly, the only 'iniquity' and 'sin' here is sexual desire. Without it I wouldn't be here to write these words and you wouldn't be here to read them! What of Paul's Epistle to the Romans? Verse 19 seems unequivocable: "For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous." The former 'one' is clearly Adam and the latter Jesus. So this source supports the account in Genesis, or does it?

There are two important considerations that weigh against this. Firstly, Paul's misogyny. In 1 Timothy 2:11-13 Paul writes: "Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve." The Apostle's antipathy towards Mary Magdalene is well attested in the Pistis Sophia. "My Lord, we will not endure this woman, for she taketh the opportunity from us and hath let none of us speak, but she discourseth many times." Secondly, there is considerable evidence that Paul's letters were 'touched up' by generations of meddling clerics to support the Church's dogmas, of which the doctrine of original sin is one of the most fundamental. If it can be proved that the doctrine antedates Genesis and that 'Adam' and 'Eve' were copies of previous 'sinners', the whole shaky house of cards which constitutes dogmatic Christianity falls to the ground. Gerald Massey did prove this in Ancient Egypt — The Light of the World, wherein we may read: "On the third tablet of the creation series there is a Babylonian prototype for the Hebrew legend of the fall that followed on the eating of the forbidden fruit. In this it is said that 'the command was established in the garden of the god.' But 'in sin one with the other in compact joined. The asnam fruit they ate, they broke it in two; its stalk they destroyed. Great is their sin. Themselves they exalted. To Merodach, their redeemer, he (the god Sar) appointed their fate.' The doctrine of a fall and redemption therefrom is plainly apparent in this inscription which the Hebrew compilers [of Genesis] apparently followed and in that way the later theological legend would get intermixed with the original mythos in a Semitic moralizing of the Kamite [Egyptian] mythology." So wrote Massey 116 years ago.

Merodach, whose name means 'calf of the Sun', was a very ancient deity who became the chief god of Babylon under the name Marduk. Massey does not explain who the god Sar was, nor is he mentioned in any of the lists of Babylonian deities. However, he may have stood for the guardian who was later transmogrified into the 'flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life' mentioned in Genesis 3:21. We must not lose sight of the fact that a large number of Jews spent nearly 70 years in captivity in Babylon after their defeat by Nebuchadnezzar II in the 7th century B.C. They were so well-treated during their exile that many of them became quite wealthy through farming and commerce. Hence, their religious leaders had both the opportunity and the leisure to learn the religious beliefs and mythology of their captors. But, as Massey shows, the Babylonian prototype of the Semitic fall did not originate with them. It had been prefigured ages earlier in ancient Egypt. Various vignettes in the Papyrus of Ani show him and his wife in the Egyptian paradise of Aaru, eating the fruit from the Tree of Life with no suggestion that it was forbidden or 'sinful' to do so. That part of the myth is purely Semitic, itself founded, as we have seen, on the Babylonian model.


Massey includes an illustration from the Papyrus of Nefer-uben-f (reproduced at left) which depicts the Egyptian original of the Biblical copy. What do we find above the crown of the Egyptian Tree in this drawing? An image of the Sun — the prototype of the 'flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life'. But in the Egyptian original of the irresponsible Semitic fairy-tale its role is wholly beneficial and protective. This also shows where the concept of the vengeful, jealous 'god' of the Old Testament is 'coming from' as the modern expression has it. Needless to add, not a good place! Massey continues: "The pair of beings in the Semitic version are supposed to have fallen from the garden [of Eden] through eating the forbidden fruit." Or, as we may read in Genesis: "And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken." Massey remarks that: "As there is no mention of the woman [Eve] in this expulsion, the man must have gone alone upon his 'solitary way,' unless the woman is included in Adam-homo as in the first creation." This proves that Genesis, and indeed most of the Bible is an allegory, as I have attempted to show in so many of my articles. Seen in this light, the supposed original 'sin' of our mythical parents takes on a very different meaning which explains what the 'fall' of man really was and means, as we shall see in the next part of my analysis.

The Fall that wasn't

Once again, I turn to that brave illuminator of the Semitic distortion of the Egyptian Wisdom — Gerald Massey — for an elucidation of the mythical fall of man. In volume two of Ancient Egypt Massey writes: "In the Book of Genesis the fruit of the tree is the means of knowing good from evil, and in the Ritual both the good and evil are determined by the nature of the food presented to the cultivators of the garden, or field of divine harvest, in Amenta as it was on Earth." Whenever Massey uses the word 'Ritual' he means the sacred texts preserved upon the monuments and in the papyri of ancient Egypt. From the quotation just mentioned it is clear that by 'food' experience is meant. Knowing good and evil is thus a synonym, in the Bible, as well as in the Egyptian teachings, for the fruit of experience, whether garnered on Earth or in 'Amenta,' the Egyptian term for the higher or lower regions or planes of the Astral World.

In the distorted Hebrew version of the Egyptian original we read: "And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat" (Genesis 3: 4-6). The Biblical serpent is a direct copy of the Egyptian goddess Renenet who was depicted either as a woman, a cobra or a woman with the head of a cobra. As the authors of this website explain in part two of their incomparable investigation of the Egyptian Book of the Dead, Renenet was the giver of food in the fruits of the earth or in the Tree of Life. For once the account in Genesis is quite correct when it tells us that the serpent "was more subtil than any beast of the field." Of course it was, for as we shall see in a moment, it is a representation of Divine Wisdom which can only be acquired through the knowledge of good and evil born from our personal experience of the material world. It is this knowledge which determines whether we shall rise or fall in our evolution; whether we will devolve into devils, gnashing our metaphorical teeth with rage in the stygian darkness of the lower realms so graphically depicted by Dante in his Inferno, or evolve into angels, fit to join the ranks of the Blessed who dwell in Paradise.

Gerald Massey continues: "The Babylonian handling of the Egyptian Wisdom was begun by falsifying it on behalf of an infinitely later system of theology, which was continued in the Hebrew line of descent in the book of Genesis." The Egyptians were infinitely older than the Semites, but had never heard of the world being lost by Adam’s fall, or its need for an historic saviour who should take the place and act the part of the Jewish scapegoat. The later doctrine of vicarious atonement has been added. This as Massey proved, is Semitic, not Egyptian. The real 'fall' — the only fall of man (and woman) was the descent of spirit into matter, or the Higher Self entering a material body to gain experience it was impossible to acquire on High — the Biblical garden of Eden, itself a poor copy of the Egyptian heaven. Adam was never unceremoniously booted out of Paradise: he left in obedience to the law of Evolution. None of this is new. Neither is it heretical. It may surprise some readers to learn that the true, esoteric meaning of Genesis was known to many of the early Fathers of the Church. Why they chose to suppress this knowledge is a question outside the scope of this investigation. They may have done so from fear it would undermine the power of the Church, or because they were incapable of anything other than a purely literal interpretation of the events described in Genesis.

What we do know is that the beliefs of Gnostic sects such as the Ophites which flourished during the second century of our era were well-known to Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Origen and Hippolytus of Rome, to name just four Christian theologians who lived between 170 and 260 A.D. The Ophites derived their name from their doctrine that the Serpent which tempted Eve was no devil, but the impersonation of Divine Wisdom, the great Teacher and Civiliser of the human race, the parent and author of all knowledge and science. This, as we have seen, is in complete accordance with the Egyptian Wisdom Teachings. They, along with many other Gnostics, also believed that the Creator of the material world was a being subordinate and even antagonistic to the Supreme God — a limited and limiting deity, proud, revengeful and jealous — in fact, the Jehovah of the Jewish race, whose character expresses itself in the Old Testament which proceeded from him.

It was to this inferior deity that the Ophites gave the name of the Demiurge, or World–Former. In the Gnostic text known as the Pistis Sophia he is called Ialdabaoth, or Son of Darkness, and Adamas, the Great Tyrant. The Ophites asserted that the Demiurge ruled the starry world, and that the stars represented the cosmical principle, which seeks to hold the spirit of man in bondage and servitude, and to environ it with all manner of delusions. This brings to mind the astrological adage that "the wise man rules his stars; the fool obeys them." That is to say, the Higher Self of man is free of all stellar influences unless it allows itself to be dominated by the foolishness of the lower self. The Ophites further asserted that at the beginning of all things is Sabaoth, or Victory; at the end, the 'Old Serpent' (Ophis). Between these are the Seraphim (Intelligences) and Cherubim (Benevolences), and their representatives. Ialdabaoth and the angels begotten by him are the Spirits of the Seven Planets. In order to keep his six angels in subjection to himself and prevent their looking higher and discovering the wonderful realm of spiritual light above them, Ialdabaoth endeavoured to fix their attention elsewhere, and to this end called upon them to create man in their own image, and so prove their independent creative power. They did so, but could not give a soul to the form they produced, so brought it to Ialdabaoth to animate.

The Demiurge breathed a living spirit into the lifeless shape his angels had made, but as he did so, all unperceived by himself, the spiritual seed passed from his own being into the nature of man, and he was deprived of this higher principle of life. He saw with amazement and wrath that a creature created by himself, within his own kingdom, was rising above both himself and his kingdom. His aim was now to prevent man gaining consciousness of his higher nature, and so he issued the command to the first man that he should not eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge.

But Divine Wisdom had all this time been watching and at this point employed the Serpent as an instrument (or, even according to some leaders of these sects, Itself assumed the Serpent’s form), to defeat the cruel purpose of Ialdabaoth, by tempting the first man to disobedience. Here we have a coherent and satisfying explanation for the so-called 'original sin' of Adam and Eve that led to their equally suppositious 'fall'. Each one of us is free to accept this explanation or to cling to the irresponsible and implausible fairy-tale foisted upon us by the Christian Church.

We find further confirmation of these beliefs of the Ophites in the Zohar, or 'Book of Splendour', the primary text of the Qabbalah. I should add that the Qabbalah meaning "esoteric doctrines received by tradition," also written 'Kabbalah', 'Cabala', etc., is a system of Jewish mystical theosophy, not a trendy new spiritual movement for jaded Hollywood celebrities! Nor, I might add is it a means of summoning so-called 'spirits' and 'demons' by would-be magicians. The Zohar is on an altogether higher plane of mystical thought than such pedestrian, dare I say, 'grubby' distortions of the Qabbalah. The Zohar teaches that the Soul and the Form (Higher Self and astral body in our terminology) when descending on Earth "put on an earthly garment," meaning the material, physical body. This fits in with the occult teaching that the astral body is made of finer matter than the physical body. The book further teaches that: "When Adam dwelled in the Garden of Eden, he was dressed in the celestial garment, which is the garment (or body) of heavenly light...light of that light which was used in the Garden of Eden. Man (the Heavenly Adam) was created by the Sephiroth of the Jetziratic World, and by their common power the Seven Angels of a still lower World engendered the Earthly Adam."

adam and eve

Albrecht Dürer — Adam and Eve — Copper engraving, 1504

From this, it is clear that Adam and Eve were not driven out of 'Paradise' because they had 'sinned' but because it was necessary for their evolution to leave Paradise, meaning the highest realms of the Spiritual World, and enter into incarnation on Earth. For it is on Earth, and not in Heaven that we find no shortage of opportunities to 'sin' in the way Adam and Eve are supposed to have 'sinned'. I gave you an example of this much earlier when I related what happened to my youngest daughter when she succumbed to the 'sin' of gluttony. I'm sure some of my naughtier readers can think of far worse 'sins' if they put their mind to it! The quotation from the Zohar also explains the dual nature of man, partly blessed by the Higher Self, the 'Heavenly Adam' as the book calls it, and partly cursed by the lower self (the 'Earthly Adam'). Hence there are two 'Adams' to be considered, not one as the Bible tells us. Regarded in this light, Genesis takes on a very different meaning from the literal interpretation accepted and taught by the Church. But not all the Church interpreted Adam's expulsion from the Garden of Eden in this way, at least not in the early centuries of our era. In the 2nd century Origen wrote: "What man is found such an idiot as to suppose that God planted trees in Paradise like a common gardener? I believe that every man must hold these things for images, under which the hidden sense lies concealed." All this goes to show how the ancient and divine Truths have been distorted by the ignorant. Which brings us back to the statement made earlier that the only 'sin' Occult Science recognises is that of ignorance, all else being the result of wrong thinking and action of some kind. We may further reduce this to the simple statement that sin is ignorance personified.


In Vision Six of The Golden Star, Neteru-Hem, the Divine Messenger makes a startling statement about sin. "If I say that Sin only has existence in a mind which has realization of sin, and if I add that sin does not exist when the mind has no such realization, no matter what the man in which that mind dwells does, then I state another Truth that is almost impossible to understand." I believe Neteru-Hem's words can be understood if the reader takes the time to carefully study the following explanation which leads up to this astonishing statement. "The human mind cannot properly appreciate all the positive forces unless it has suffered from at least some of the negative conditions. This is one of the principal lessons the Mind has to learn, and when it has done so it will know that positive forces of good always overcome negative conditions of evil, under whatever form they manifest. The Mind will also know then that hatred cannot overcome hatred, for example; as a negative condition cannot master, rectify, modify, or change another negative condition; whereas the positive force of Love, added to Love, will double its potency." Hence we may say that sin, like beauty or ugliness, is in the eye, or rather the mind of the beholder. It is a mental realization, just as Neteru-Hem tells Ma-u and Ma-uti, the two Egyptian pilgrims in The Golden Star.

We may liken this realization to the reflection in a mirror. The reflection being the negative thought or action — the so-called 'sin' — and the mirror our perception of it. We may also view the process another way by saying that the reflection is a projection of the thoughts or acts of our lower mind onto the mirror of our memory. How we react to the memory depends on our moral and spiritual worth. We may be thoroughly shamed or even tortured by what we have thought or done. Or we may regard it as a lesson — no matter how painful or distressing — which helps us take a step forward, or several, on the path to the Light. It requires both knowledge and wisdom to see 'sin' in this light. Knowledge and wisdom that can only be gained by suffering, as Neteru-Hem says, from some negative conditions. The opposite of knowledge is ignorance. So I say again that the only sin that anyone who aspires to wisdom should acknowledge is ignorance, all the rest comes under the head of right or wrong action according to our lights, always provided we have any 'lights'! I say this au sérieux for there are those who — having thoroughly attuned with evil persons and conditions in their previous lives — "know not what it is to proceed in virtue nor recede from vice; nor is purity, veracity, or the practice of morality to be found in them," as the Bhagavad Gita tells us.

'John' (no relation)

About the author

John Temple is the pen-name of a writer who has studied and practised the occult sciences for more than 60 years. He graduated from Cambridge University with a first in Theology and Religious Studies and was ordained as a Minister in the Anglican Church in 1957. He left the Church in 1972 and has since lectured to students around the world on a wide variety of occult, religious and mystical subjects.

John retired in 2002 and now lives quietly in London with his wife, two Yorkshire terriers and a talkative African Grey Parrot called John, shown in typically meditative mood at left.


© Copyright John Temple & Article published 12 April 2024.

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