Teachings from the Manichean Religion (ca. 3rd century AD)
Prince of Darkness
The followers of the prophet Mani were convinced that the world was divided into two opposing camps: the world of light, life, goodness and beauty on the one side, and the world of darkness, death, evil and ugliness on the other. These worlds were constantly at war with each other, with gods and spiritual powers on each side leading the battle.
Âz, Sexual Lust picture adapted from illustration by Ray Nors
Between the two world existed a middleground. Having come about through a number of mishaps, it had fallen under control of the powers of evil. This middleground is the material earth in which we live. It is a mixture of some sparks of light and blobs of life caught in the ugly mess of dark, sinful matter. Chief rulers of the middleground are Ahriman, the Prince of Darkness, and Âz, the Demoness of Sexual Lust.
Âz is complex. Her name means 'lust' in old Persian. In Greek she was identified with 'hule', that is: matter. People noticed how all living things in our world grow by eating each other and propagating through sex. For them this was due to Âz acting in material beings. Âz can best be described as the greedy, lusty, revolting energy of eating and sex in plants and animals. Âz is important because, according to the Manicheans, it was Âz who created humankind. She did this purely because she wanted to control at least some of the sparks of light she had captured. To do this, she imprisoned the sparks of light in human bodies.
the following sections are from the Shaburagân (see
D. N. MacKenzie, “Mani’s Šābuhragān,” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 42/3, 1979, pp. 500-34; 43/2, 1980, pp. 288-310)
rendered by me into contemporary English
Creation of humankind
Then that lusty Âz was filled with rage and thought, “I will form two creatures, male and female. But first I must put on those two forms, male and female, of divine origin (which had falled on earth) as my dress ....”
Then that Âz, lion-shaped, lusty, raging, sin(ful) and thievish as she was, put on those misbirths of the demons that had fallen from the heaven onto the earth, that Archont (devilish leader) who was male and that Archont who was female, as a garment. And having made them her own disguise, she engaged in sex using them as a cover.
And just as in the beginning in that dark hell, her own devilish abode, Âz herself had taught lust and sexual intercourse to the demons and witches, the raging devils, the monsters and the male and female Archonts, so in the same way Âz began to teach sexual passion and coitus to those other monsters and Archonts, male and female, who had fallen from heaven down to earth, so that they should lust and copulate and mingle with their limbs together, and outlandish misbirths were born from them. Âz took those misbirths and ate them and made two beings out of them, a man and a woman.
As in other Gnostic religions, the creator of the human race is considered disgustingly corrupt and evil..
Creation of Adam
Then that monster Âz and the male and female Archonts taught passion and sexual intercourse to all of them, and they mingled together with their limbs together. And their misbirths were born and raised. And they gave their own misbirths to those two Archonts, the male and female of lion form, which had been created as disguises for Âz and which were full of sexual desire. And Âz devoured those misbirths. And those two Archonts, the male and female, lusted and mingled together with limbs together. And Âz formed after her own desire a shape . . . from those misbirths she had eaten, and she made a body in male shape with bones, muscles, flesh, veins, and skin.
Adam’s material soul and language
And she bound (inside that male body) part of the light and good grace of the gods that the misbirths of the monsters had infiltrated (into the earth) and made it the body's soul. And she placed inside the body her own desire, lust and copulation and animosity and bad-mouthing, hate and sin, rage and pollution and mindlessness and antireligionism and doubt, thieving and lying, robbing and evil-doing, obstinacy, vengefulness, sorrow and despair, pain and ache, poverty and destitution, illness, old age and stench.
And all those words and sounds of those aborted monsters, from which it shaped that body, those it gave to that animal creation, so that it should speak and know a number of words.
Astrological ties of Adam
And though the male was formed and shaped after that male appearance of the gods that Âz had seen from the chariot, she connected to the man from the heaven his origin from and attachment to the monsters and Archonts and the (evil) star signs and the planets, so that from the monsters and the star signs desire and sin should rain upon him and fill his mind, so that he would become even more thieving and monstrous and filled with concupiscence and lust.
And when that male creature was born, then it named it “first man,” that is, Gehmurd [means: living dead].
Mani taught that the human body itself incorporates the substance of evil monsters.
Apart from the spark of life - our soul -, there is nothing good in us. Our body incorporates lust, sex, sin, evil and dirt.
The only hope for human beings is to reject their disgusting bodies to save their soul.
Creation of Eve
And then the two lion-shaped Archonts, male and female, again ate of the same misbirths who assisted them (before), and lust and copulation filled them, and they mingled together with the limbs together. And that Âz who had filled them through those misbirths of the monsters that they had eaten, once more shaped and fashioned another body with bones, muscles, flesh, veins, and skin.
Eve’s body, soul and language
And Âz bound (inside that female body) part of the light and good grace of the gods that the misbirths of the monsters had infiltrated (into the earth) and made it the body's soul. And she fitted inside the body and filled into it even more than in Gehmurd [= Adam] her (= Âz's) own desire, lust and copulation and animosity and bad-mouthing, hate and sin, rage and pollution and mindlessness and antireligionism and doubt, thieving and lying, robbing and evil-doing, obstinacy, vengefulness, sorrow and despair, pain and ache, poverty and destitution, illness, old age and stench, and all kinds of heresies and sinning.
And those words and sounds of all those aborted monsters, from which she shaped the female body, those she gave to that female too, so that she too should speak and know a number of words.
Astrological ties of Eve
And though the female too was formed and shaped after that female appearance of the gods that Âz had seen from the chariot, Âz connected to the female from the heaven (her) origin from and attachment to the monsters and Archonts and the (evil) star signs and planets, so that from the monsters and the star signs desire and sin should rain upon her and fill her mind, so that she would become even more thieving and monstrous and lusty and desirous and seduce that male with desire, and so that people be born in the world from those two creatures and be filled with concupiscence and desire and behave with rage and vengeance and without mercy and strike water and fire, trees and fruits and serve concupiscence and desire and do the will of the demons and go to hell.
Afterward, when that female creature was born, they called her Murdiyanag [literally: wife of the dead].
Manicheans looked on on their bodily desires as a direct expression of the Demoness Âz's sinful lusting.
Though Augustine renounced Manicheism, he retained the notion that the spontaneous desires of the body, such as our sexual urges, prove the presence of sin in us. For him it was the original sin passed down from Adam and Eve.
small wonder . . .
The code for the elect
'Elect' Manicheans who tried to live their belief perfectly, were not only forbidden to marry or be involved in any sex personally. They were also prohibited to be involved in any activity that enabled propagation in other species: like breeding animals or sowing seed. No elect Manichean was allowed to be a farmer.
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