In nature as well these epic themes are played out in the cycle of the seasons, as we – and our remote ancestors who were crucially attuned to these things – witness each year with the awakening of new life in the spring after its seasonal death in the cold soil of winter. Even in those desert places which have no temperate seasons, the dried husks of seeds can lie dormant in the hard sun-baked ground, sometimes for years, before an infrequent downpour awakens them to sudden life, and the desert blooms like a garden.
The act of resurrection is like a truth that is encoded into the matrix of life, and we respond to that truth when we encounter it in stories. For the Christian Gnostics, the events of the Biblical resurrection were not so much intended to be read as simple history, but as events which mirrored these great truths, which provided a kind of teaching aid to remind them of these profound lessons of life. And these lessons carried a deeper meaning than mere rebirth. Resurrection involves redemption: redemption of the inner self, a shedding of those things which might hinder the process of true spiritual resurrection. These could be a breaking through the ego which tricks us into thinking that our mortal selves are the only reality, or even just the letting-go of those ideas that prevent us from seeing such things in a clearer light.
The letting-go of all these things, of all preconceptions of what make our ‘reality’, is the path of resurrection. But to tread that path involves a process of inner ‘dying’ – not physical dying, but the death of those things which might be holding us back from reaching our true fulfilment as beings intimately connected with, and part of, the greater Mystery.
It is no coincidence that the Christian Easter takes place at the time of the year that originally was reserved for the celebration of this process in pre-Christian times, for Christianity layered itself on top of these old festivals, just as churches were often built upon the demolished foundations of pagan temples and other pre-Christian sacred sites. This as well gives an added potency to the Christian story, and the events of the Christian Easter, which unfold upon the greater stage of mythic drama which lies beyond the stage of historical narrative. Easter is the time of resurrection, and a person who takes part in that resurrection during his life, has conquered death.
This is the crown of the Christian Initiation Mystery. He who resurrects in a gnostic sense, has it in his power to work through joy, and to take part in the divine plan of creation. It is a grand perspective, and one which we can let ourselves be inspired by – and not only at Easter!