About the Hymns of the Pearl
The Discovery of the Ancient Gnostic Manuscripts
The lyrics of this collection are rooted in Gnostic scriptures and meditative experiences, and the music is the work of Zedek, a Patriarch in the Gnostic Temple of the Pearl located in North San Diego County, California. The music has its heritage in ancient Gnosticism.
To set the context, consider this: In December, 1945, two poor Egyptian brothers were digging for fertilizer near the limestone caves of Upper Egypt, called Nag Hammadi. The older brother, Mohammed Ali Samman, came upon a large earthenware vessel containing twelve leather-bound codices. He disregarded the find at first, being disappointed there was no gold in the jar. And later, his mother even used some of the documents to build a fire for tea! Eventually, he gave the treasure to a priest who sent them off to the Cairo museum to be examined.
Soon, the world was to learn that this treasure contained fifty-two ancient Gnostic scriptures dating back to the first century after Christ. It also contained three texts belonging to the spiritual cousins of the Gnostics, the Egyptian Hermeticists. And it contained a portion of Plato’s Republic. But why were these manuscripts hidden in a jar and buried in the desert of Upper Egypt?
Scholars tell us that the Gnostics were considered to be heretics by the church authorities of the time. They had begun to methodically erase the Gnostic presence from the earth. In the year, 367 CE, when Bishop Athanasius condemned anyone who used a scripture that was not accepted as part of the official canon of holy scriptures authorized by the Roman Catholic church, the Gnostics realized that they and their writings were about to be destroyed.
So they took their copies of these scriptures and wrapped them in leather and buried them in a large earthenware vessel near the limestone caves of Nag Hammadi, Egypt. That was over 1,650 years ago!
In 1945 the sacred texts were rediscovered. And it’s only been since the mid-1970’s that scholars really began to translate and study these amazing books. Their presence is just beginning to be felt in the world today. We now have many books like Elaine Pagel’s Gnostic Gospels that are making their way through our culture, informing us about who the Gnostics were and what they knew by their experience.
The Vision of Gnosis
This collection of contemporary hymns is an extension of that fantastic discovery in Nag Hammadi. The Gnostic vision of reality has been rekindled and today’s Gnostics are carrying on the traditions learned from the ancients. Out of our experience of living Gnosis has come this new music that extends and celebrates the Gnostic vision.
What is the Gnostic vision of reality? The title of our collection—Hymns of the Pearl—holds the key. The ancient Syrian myth of the same name tells the story of the descent of the spirit into a human body where it must awaken from the sleep into which it has fallen and remember its true home and origins, and its true purpose for being here in the material world.
The spirit, depicted as the son or daughter of the King and Queen of Heaven, having fallen into the darkness of the material world, must now leave the chummy surroundings of the tavern and search for the ancient dragon that guards the priceless pearl. The royal prodigy is to enchant the dragon and claim the pearl and take it back home to the heavenly realm.
The pearl is a metaphor for the priceless attainment of enlightenment, and it is for this attainment that we have all been sent here, for we are all the children of the divine, and the knowledge and power of the divine is our true heritage and potential. We only have to put the dragon to sleep and claim that pearl. And that, of course, is the work of a lifetime.
These new Gnostic hymns are tools to aid you on your long journey back home to your true source. Our hope is that they both inspire you and stimulate you to move forward in your path so that one day you can hold the sacred pearl in your hand and take it with you on your next adventure after this life ends.
All the music of this collection, Hymns of the Pearl, emanates from another image told in the apocryphal text, The Acts of John in which Jesus is described as having gathered his disciples in a circle of singing and dancing on the night before he died. They sang together about the healing of the soul and the return of the soul to her home with the Aeons. This is the true meaning of salvation, for to heal and to save come from the same root word. We envision these new hymns to be a direct link in our world to the ancient medicines for the soul. We hope your listening to these hymns will be a medicine for you to heal from our constant exposure to the lower consciousness of the material world. Shalom Nur.
The Use and Meaning of the Icons in the Temple of the Pearl
We have featured the icons in this web site and on each album to better express the gnosis inherent in our personal experience of the Divine Mind. In our gatherings as a body, we sing, chant, study, discuss, meditate, and produce icons.
The icons are the culminating expression of our experience of the Christ and Sophia within us. We work with our feelings, our insights, our yearnings, and our awareness to give the experience a form in shape, color, and texture. It is a way of manifesting outwardly in the icon what we have experienced inwardly.
As you look at and appreciate the icons on this web site and on our eight albums, remind yourself that the image you are viewing is the completion of a process that began with a decision to turn our attention towards the love and wisdom of our divine Parents. In this way, the realities found in the unconscious mind is joined with the realities found in the conscious, sensate world.
The icons along with the hymns form the scaffolding of a spiritual memory that now lives in us and reminds us that we have been touched by the living Gods.