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The Essenes and the Dead Sea Scrolls

The Essenes and the Dead Sea Scrolls

What does the discovery of these scrolls reveal about first century Judaism and the roots of Christianity?

L. Michael White:

Professor of Classics and Director of the Religious Studies Program University of Texas at Austin


As you leave Jerusalem and go to the south and to the east, toward the Dead Sea, the terrain changes rapidly and starkly. You move off gradually from [the] ... rolling hillside, through the ravines, and it becomes stark and desolate. It's dry. It's arid. It's rocky, and it's rough. And all of a sudden, within a span of only about thirteen miles, the entire terrain drops out in front of you as you go from roughly 3400 feet above sea level at Jerusalem, to nearly 1400 feet below sea level at the surface of the Dead Sea. It is in that rugged cliff face, on the banks of the Dead Sea, in this arid, desolate climate, that the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered at the site known as Khirbet Qumran. The Scrolls were discovered, according to the story that, now, many people know, of a shepherd boy wandering along with his flocks and, as boys tend to do, throwing rocks in a cave. So the story goes that he heard a crack in one, went in to investigate and found a ceramic pot with what appeared to be pages inside. Those were then taken out and eventually found their way onto the market, and were only later rediscovered and deciphered as the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Subsequent to that first discovery, eleven different caves have been found at Qumran. And new discoveries are expected even now. Among the caves were found, then, thousand of fragments of manuscripts and quite a number of whole, or mostly complete, manuscripts in scrolls stored in these jars. Among the cache of scrolls that we now call the Dead Sea Scrolls, are three distinct types of material. First, we have a collection of copies of the actual books of the Hebrew Scriptures. These people were copyists. They were preserving the texts of the Bible itself. Secondly, there were commentaries on these biblical texts. But these commentaries also show their own interpretation of what would happen. This is where we begin to get some of the insights into the way the Essenes at Qumran believed, because of the way they interpret the prophecies of Isaiah, or the prophesies of Habakkuk as well as the way they read the Torah, itself. So among the scrolls, then, we have a complete set of almost all the biblical books, and commentaries on many of them. "The Isaiah Scroll" is one of the most famous of the biblical manuscripts. And the commentaries on Isaiah is also very important for our understanding of Jewish interpretation of Scripture in this period.

The third major type of material found among the Dead Sea Scrolls, though, in some ways is the most interesting insight into the life of the community that lived there, because this material includes their own sectarian writings, that is, their rules of life ... their prayer book. Included then, is the book of the rule of the community or sometimes called "The Manual of Discipline", which talks about how one goes about getting into the community. The rules for someone who wants to be pure and a part of the elect community. We also have something called "The War Scroll" and the War Scroll seems to be their own battle plan for the war that will occur at the end of the present evil age. And so this is something that really is real in their mind ... that this coming end of the age will be a cataclysmic event in their view. Also was found something called "The Copper Scroll". Quite literally, with the letters incised, in Hebrew, into soft, burnished copper. And the contents of the Copper Scroll are still a source of great interest among many people, because people think it may be a treasure map of their own holdings.

Who were the Essenes?

The Dead Sea Scrolls are usually thought to have been produced by a group known as the Essenes. And the Essenes are a group that literally abandoned Jerusalem, it seems, in protest... against the way the Temple was being run. So here's a group that went out in the desert to prepare the way of the Lord, following the commands, as they saw it, of the prophet Isaiah. And they go to the desert to get away from what they see to be the worldliness of Jerusalem and the worldliness of the Temple. Now the Essenes aren't a new group in Jesus' day. They too, had been around for a hundred years at that point in time. But it would appear that the reign of Herod, and probably even more so, the reign of his sons and the Roman Procurators, probably stimulated a new phase of life of the Essene community, rising as a growing protest against Roman rule and worldliness.

You said they were preparing the way for the Lord. What exactly were the Essenes preparing for in their mind?

The Essenes are what we might best call an apocalyptic sect of Judaism. An apocalyptic sect is one that thinks of itself as, first of all, the true form of their religion. In fact, that's part of their terminology. Again, using the prophet Isaiah, they think of themselves as the righteous remnant ... the chosen ones ... the elect. But they're also standing over against the mainstream ... most of Jewish life, and especially everything going on at Jerusalem. So they're sectarian. They're separatists. They're people who move away.

The basis for that understanding is their reading of Scripture. They interpret Scripture, especially the prophets, Isaiah, the Torah itself, to suggest that the course of Judaism is going through a profound change. "Far too many people are becoming worldly," they would have said. The end, as they understood it, of the present evil age is moving upon them inexorably. And they want to be on the right side when it comes. In their understanding, there will come a day when the Lord revisits the Earth with power. And in the process establishes a new kingdom for Judaism. It will be like the kingdom of David and Solomon. A return to the golden age mentality. And this is part of that apocalyptic mind set.

...The Dead Sea Scrolls show us a lot about the beliefs of the Essenes. Now, we typically think of this language of the coming kingdom as reflecting a belief in the end of the world ... as somehow coming upon them or us soon. But in fact, that's not exactly what they thought. They use language like "the end" or "the last things" or "the last days", but what they mean is the present evil age is coming to an end. Now this "end time" language is what we typically call "the eschaton" or "eschatology" ... thinking about the end. But in Jewish eschatology of this period, what they usually seem to be talking about is an end of a present evil age and a coming new glorious age ... a new kingdom.

The Essenes had an apocalyptic point of view, and they believed in a new kingdom of some kind coming; would this necessarily bring a new Messiah with it?

The idea that the coming kingdom is always to be accompanied by a Messianic figure is not entirely accurate for Judaism in this period. We hear of some groups, for example, who expect the coming change, but never mention a Messiah, or a Messianic figure at all, either as a deliverer figure, or as some sort of heavenly agent. So some forms of Judaism in this period don't ever talk about a Messiah. At Qumran, on the other hand, among the Dead Sea Scrolls, we hear not of just one Messiah, but at least two Messiahs. Some of their writings talk about a Messiah of David that is a kind of kingly figure who will come to lead the war. But there's also a Messiah of Aaron, a priestly figure, who will come to restore the Temple at Jerusalem to its proper purity and worship of God. In addition to these two major Messianic figures, we also hear of a prophet figure.

And in terms of the quest for the historical Jesus, what does the story of the Essenes tell us? What light does it cast on his life and times?

The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and our growing knowledge of the Essene community that produced them, gives us one of the most important pieces of evidence for the diversity of Jewish life and thought in the time of Jesus. Now, it has sometimes been suggested that Jesus, himself, or maybe even John the Baptist, were members of this group. And that can't be proven at all. But what the Essenes and the Qumran scrolls do show us is the kind of challenges that could be brought against some of the traditional lines of Jewish thought, and even the operation of the Temple itself. So if one of our perspectives is that there is this growing tension in Jerusalem, the Essenes are probably the best example of how radical that questioning of Temple life might become.

Shaye I.D. Cohen:

Samuel Ungerleider Professor of Judaic Studies and Professor of Religious Studies Brown University

Who were the Essenes?

A good example of a group which separated itself from society at large and defined itself against the Temple in Jerusalem are the Essenes, or perhaps you might say, the people of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Dead Sea community, whom most scholars regard as Essenes. Here is a group of people who left Jerusalem, went to live in the wilderness, to live by themselves, totally isolated from other Jews, from the rest of the community, and as their Scrolls reveal, saw themselves as the new sacred community, waiting for the time, when ... they imagine that the Temple would be reconstituted and reconstructed and rebuilt.... and a new and better priestly group would take over the Temple in Jerusalem. And, in the meantime, while the wicked priests are still off in Jerusalem, following the wrong calendar, following the wrong purity rules and officiating improperly before the Lord, in the meantime, pure purity and true holiness resided only among themselves, in their own community, off near the Dead Sea.... The community itself was a surrogate temple....

The manuscripts that we call the Dead Sea Scrolls are a wide variety of texts. Some of these texts are hardly sectarian texts. These are texts that all Jews would have had, all Jews would have read. For example, the largest single category of Dead Sea text or Qumran Scrolls are text you and I call Biblical. No one is going to say the Book of Genesis was a Qumran document because fragments of the Book of Genesis were found in the Qumran scrolls.... We have to realize then that the Qumran scrolls contain a wide variety of text and we are not always able to distinguish clearly those texts which they simply read from those texts, which they actually wrote.


What was their expectation of what would happen?

The Qumran Scrolls reveal a variety of scenarios for the end of days. The most conspicuous one or the best known one perhaps, is the scroll called the War of the Sons of Light against the Sons of Darkness. Where the Sons of Light, of course, is short-[hand]... for themselves. The group itself clearly consists of the Sons of Light... the Sons of Darkness are everybody else, apparently - Jews, gentiles, priests, plain people, all alike, lumped together, under the category of the Sons of Darkness, and at some point there will be a major battle, a cataclysmic struggle, not just between people, not just between the bad guys and the good guys, as we would say in America, but also between cosmic forces, the cosmic forces of evil and the cosmic forces of good. And, in this gigantic struggle, the angels will fight along side the Sons of Light, against the Sons of Darkness and the forces of evil. And, needless to say, this will end with a victory for the Sons of Light.... What will happen after the victory, the Scroll does not clearly spell out as carefully as or clearly as we might have liked. Other scrolls have different scenarios or different pictures, which downplay or minimize this battle aspect and play up instead other aspects.


What does the book or scroll of Community Rules tell us about the way that people of this community actually lived their lives?

The Manual of Disciplineis a text that envisions a community living in almost total isolation, a community that is self-contained, that is governed very strictly by a Board of Governors, or a series of overlapping authorities, governing community in which everybody owes obedience to their superiors. There's an oath of entry; it is a very much monastic community, for want of the better word, a community with little or no private property. That point is debated in the text but it seems at least that you surrendered if not all, then at least some of your property to the kind of community pot; in turn, then, the community would look out for you and look after you. So, it is very much a community where the individual has somehow been merged into a communal group.... Like a monastic community, there is no private property and, most striking of all, there are no women, and as a result, there are few children. It is a group almost exclusively consisting of adult males, who are to spend their life following the rules of the group and acting out the theological principles and beliefs of the group....


[What is the significance of the Qumran Scrolls?]

Even before the Qumran Scrolls were discovered, we knew that Judaism in the time of Jesus was a very diverse phenomena. After all, the Jewish historian Josephus gives us the names of Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes. We know from the New Testament of a group called Herodians - what they are exactly, we don't know, but there they are. Rabbinic texts add the names of yet other groups and then once the war comes around, in the year 66, we have the names of a whole slew of other groups.... Plus, we have a very wide ranging rich literature from this period which is impossible to imagine all coming from a single source, or all coming from a single school or a single class. The result was, even before the Qumran Scrolls were discovered, we knew or sensed that Judaism in the 1st century of our era was a very rich and varied phenomena. What the Qumran Scrolls do is to demonstrate clearly and unambiguously the truth of that which we always somehow felt or intuited....

The Qumran Scrolls show us the existence of a sect, a group that has separated itself from society at large, a group that defines itself against the Temple, the single central institution of Judaism..., and sees itself as the repository of everything that is sacred and true and sees all other Jews out there, including the priests, as wrong at best and at worst, irredeemably wicked. That is something which we had never previously seen....

The Qumran Scrolls also reveal a whole range of new books which we previously had not known, or had known about only in fragments or only in quotations, or perhaps in corrupted versions. We now have the original text. We have now a rich library of text showing that diversity was even greater than we had ever imagined and the range of possibilities for 1st century Judaism was far bigger than any of us had ever suspected.

More about the Dead Sea Scrolls: an excerpt from Hershel Shanks' forthcoming book The Mystery and Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls; translations of the Community Rule and the War Scroll, with commentary by Michael Wise; and Scrolls from the Dead Sea, an on-line exibit of the scrolls from the Library of Congress.

Introduction to the Ancient Essenes

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Introduction to the Ancient Essenes


Origin and History of the Ancient Essenes

We will consider the opinions of various scholars -- both ancient and modern -- on Essene origins. Most important, we will consider the opinion of the Essenes themselves in regard to their origin. We will begin with two ancient scholars, both of whom were contemporaries of the first century Essenes: Josephus Flavius and Philo of Alexandria. Josephus, born at Jerusalem in 37 A.D., was the greatest historian of the Jews in that period. Philo was the greatest Jewish philosopher of that period. Both men had personal knowledge of the ancient Essenes; thus, what they tell us has a high degree of credibility. In regard to the origin of the Essenes, neither Josephus nor Philo can give a specific date, but both make clear that the Essenian roots are incredibly ancient. Josephus declares that the Essenes have existed "from time immemorial" and "countless generations". Philo agrees, calling the Essenes "the most ancient of all the initiates" with a "teaching perpetuated through an immense space of ages". Josephus and Philo -- as well as several other ancient writers including Pliny the Elder -- are in consensus on two points in regard to the origin of the Essenes:

  1. Their origin is lost in pre-history with certain ancient legends linking them with Enoch;

  2. There was a major remanifestation of the Essenes by Moses at Mount Sinai.

Let us first consider the original founding of the Essenes by Enoch, then the later remanifestation by Moses. Enoch lived many centuries before Moses. In the fifth chapter of the Book of Genesis (the first book of the bible), Enoch is described as "the seventh from Adam" -- which means he was born seven generations after Adam. Since seven, in Essene numerology, is the number of perfection, it is no mere coincidence that Enoch represents the seventh generation of humanity: he represents perfected humanity. He lived on earth 365 years (the number of days in the solar year) and was so in harmony with the laws of God that he was taken from Earth to an Angelic realm without having to die first! There, Enoch was given the angelic name "Metatron", and given the duty of guiding other human beings into their angelic destiny. His main work on Earth was the founding of the Essene Church. The Essene Church is considered (by the Essenes) to be a doorway into the angelic realm, as many of the Dead Sea Scrolls make abundantly clear (see The Dead Sea Scriptures, translated by Theodore Gaster, for numerous references to the Essene belief that their order served as a doorway into the angelic realm). While much of the Enochian legend cited above is found only in Essene Kaballah texts, it stems directly from the Bible: Genesis chapter five verse twenty-four: "Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him."

The fact that Enoch was considered the "founder" or "initiator" of the Essenes can even be seen in his name; the word "Enoch" means in Hebrew: "founder", "initiator", "centralizer". A modern scholar, Edmond Bordeaux Szekely, in his excellent book From Enoch to the Dead Sea Scrolls, writes:

"The origin of the [Essene] brotherhood is said to be unknown.... Some believe it comes from Enoch, and claim him to be their founder."

After the original founding of the Essenes by Enoch, many centuries passed in which the Essenes existed as a Mystery School, out of the eyes of the public. Finally, it was time for a major remanifestation of the Essenes, for their numbers had dwindled to the point of near extinction. Moses was the man chosen by God to guide the remanifestation of the Essenes. Both the ancient scholar Philo, and a modern scholar, Rabbi Harvey Falk (in hisAnother Look at the Jewishness of Jesus), informs us that Moses trained thousands of disciples as Essenes. The Essenes themselves describe that event in one of their most important texts: The Essene Book of Moses. In that text, God, at Mount Sinai, gave Moses the Essene Communions on a stone tablet. It was hoped that all the Jewish people would follow the way of life described on that tablet. But when Moses descended Mount Sinai and met with the people, it was clear that the majority were not ready to follow the esoteric Essene teachings engraved on that tablet. Heavy of heart, Moses again climbed Mount Sinai and asked God for an exoteric, easier set of teachings for the masses who were not ready to receive the esoteric Essene teachings. ("esoteric" means "inner circle"; "exoteric" means "outer circle".) God responded by giving the famous Ten Commandments on a second stone tablet; those commandments would be for the masses. Moses was to keep the esoteric Essene Communions for "the Children of Light," for only they could understand them. We read:

"And the Lord called unto Moses out of the mountain, saying, 'Come unto me, for I would give thee the Law for thy people, which shall be a covenant for the Children of Light'.... And God spake all these words, saying, 'I am the Law, thy God, which hath brought thee out from the depths of the bondage of darkness.... I am the invisible law, without beginning and without end.... If thou forsake me, thou shalt be visited by disasters for generation upon generation. If thou keepest my commandments, thou shalt enter the Infinite Garden where stands the Tree of Life in the midst of the Eternal Sea.'"

At that point, God then gave Moses the Essene Communions on the first tablet. Besides the Communions, that tablet included a synopsis of the main Essene teachings, including vegetarianism: "Thou shalt not take the life of any living thing." Our text then continues:

"And the people knew not what became of Moses, and they gathered themselves... and made a molten calf. And they worshipped unto the idol, and offered to it burnt offerings. And they ate and drank and danced before the golden calf... and they abandoned themselves to corruption and evil before the Lord."

The reference above to "burnt offerings" is a reference to "animal sacrifice". When Moses returned he found the people offering bloody animal sacrifices to their golden idol. Although he knew that these people had not "the ears to hear" the esoteric Essene tablet, -- they were given the exoteric Ten Commandments instead -- Moses preserved the Essene teachings for the Children of Light (the Essenes became known as the "Children of Light"); we read:

"And Moses hid the invisible Law within his breast, and kept it for a sign for the Children of Light."

It was at this time, according to both the ancient scholar Philo and the modern scholar Falk, that Moses trained 2,000 of the spiritual "elect" -- those Jews who had remained vegetarian and refused to participate in animal sacrifice and idol worship -- to be Essenes. AND FROM THIS TIME ON THE ESSENES EXISTED AS AN ESOTERIC MINORITY SECT. (Note: When modern scholars assert that the Essenes of Qumran were founded about 200 years before the time of Jesus, they are correct in regard to that one Essene group at Qumran; but the overall Essene movement is far more ancient.)

Although the Essenes began as an esoteric minority sect within Judaism, they went on to become the very first "Christians," called "Essene-Nazarenes" or "Ebionites". That happened as follows. Several hundred years before the birth of Jesus, the head priest of the Essenes, known as the "Teacher of Righteousness", had a vision: An Angel told him that a great Avatar, the Mashiakh (Christ Messiah), would come to Earth through the Essenes. But for this to occur, according to the Angel, the Essenes must follow certain disciplines in order to create a physical body capable of withstanding the powerful vibrations of the Christ Spirit, as well as a group energy powerful enough to open an "energy vortex" or "doorway" into this space-time dimension through which the Christ would enter. The prescribed disciplines were called the "Essene Halakoth". The group energy for the creation of an "energy vortex" was generated by forming Essene communal villages dedicated to practicing the "Halakoth" in a group context. In the Winter issue of "The Essene Path", Rev. Michael Robinson provided related information:

"Essene prophets who were attuned to the will of the Almighty, by virtue of their Holy meditations and their lifestyle of Righteousness, prepared for generations for the arrival of the Messiah of Peace. Genealogies were consulted and candidates were chosen and raised to a holy life. Pure diet, free of the taint of death and blood, as well as training in the Essene mysteries, brought forth children of a Holy nature, from which new candidates were chosen."

In the book, Edgar Cayce's Story of Jesus, edited by Jeffrey Furst, we read:

"... the Essenes... dedicated their lives, their minds, their bodies to a purpose, to a seeking for that which had been to them a promise of old.... Hence, there was the continued preparation and dedication of those who might be the channels through which this chosen vessel might enter -- through choice -- into this material realm. Thus in Carmel -- where there were the chief priests and leaders of this faith -- there were the maidens chosen who were dedicated to this purpose.... Among them was Mary, the beloved, the chosen one."

Again from Cayce:

"The Essenes were dedicated to their purpose and made holy Mount Carmel their headquarters. This was the original place where the school of prophets was established during Elijah's time....

"Here, the Essenes prepared themselves for several generations to open as it were a door into this realm for the Messiah.... And he became known as Jesus the Nazarene, for he was of the Essenian sect of Nazarenes in the region of Carmel."

In regard to the above references to the Essene headquarters at Mount Carmel and Jesus being affiliated with the Essenian sect of Nazarenes in the region of Carmel, there is much supporting evidence. Indeed, it is quite clear that the headquarters of the entire Essene movement was Mount Carmel in Northern Israel, not Qumran in Southern Israel, and that Jesus was primarily associated with Carmel. Equally clear is the fact that the Northern Essenes in the region of Mount Carmel were called "Nazarenes". The fact that nearly every major event associated with the life of Jesus occurred in Northern Israel, is strong evidence that Jesus lived most of his life in Northern Israel. Only four events of Jesus' life occurred in Southern Israel (his birth in Bethlehem; his visit to the temple when he was 12; his baptism by John; and his final journey to Jerusalem) and each of those events is clearly described as occurring after making a long journey from his home in Northern Israel. Mount Carmel, the Essene-Nazarene headquarters, was in Northern Israel; Qumran, the Essene Monastery where John the Baptist lived (and where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered), was in Southern Israel. THERE IS SOLID CONSENSUS AMONGST SCHOLARS THAT JOHN THE BAPTIST WAS FROM QUMRAN: the location on the Jordan river where tradition tells us John performed his baptisms is exactly where the Jordan river connects with the Dead Sea near Qumran, and everything we know about John matches up perfectly with what is known about the Qumran Essenes. When Jesus came to be baptized by his cousin John, The New Testament and other manuscripts tell us that John did not recognize Jesus; obviously, if Jesus and John lived together at Qumran, they would have recognized each other. This is strong evidence that Jesus was a Northern Essene associated with Mount Carmel, not a Southern Essene from Qumran. In Mystic Christianity, by Yogi Ramacharaka, we read:

"Jesus came unannounced to, and unrecognized by John.... Although the two were cousins, they had not met since childhood, and John did not at first recognize Jesus. The traditions of the Mystic Orders further state that Jesus then gave to John the various signs of the Mystery Schools to which they both belonged, working from the common signs up until Jesus passed on to degrees to which John had not attained, although he was an eminent high-degree Essene. Whereupon John saw that the man before him was no common applicant for Baptism, but was, instead, a highest-degree Mystic Adept, his superior in rank and unfoldment." 

While the New Testament does not include all of the esoteric information above, it does declare that John -- the Qumran Baptist -- DID NOT RECOGNIZE HIS COUSIN JESUS.

The fact that Jesus was not from Qumran DOES NOT MEAN HE WAS NOT AN ESSENE. Often, when orthodox Christian scholars are attempting to prove that Jesus was not an Essene, they point out certain differences between the teachings of Jesus and the Dead Sea Scrolls. (They often point out that Jesus' doctrine is less strict in some matters than the 'Community Rule' of the Qumran Dead Sea Scrolls; by doing so, they think they are proving that Jesus was not an Essene.) But they are missing the point: QUMRAN WAS ONLY ONE OF MANY DIVERSE ESSENE COMMUNITIES. Whereas Qumran was a strict monastic commune for celibate men, some other Essene communities -- such as Mount Carmel and the related Nazarene stronghold of Nazareth -- were for entire families and naturally had more relaxed rules. The teachings of Jesus were more a product of the Northern Essene environment of Mount Carmel than Qumran. I quote from Peter Lemesurier's The Armageddon Script:

"Admittedly, Jesus was often considerably more forthcoming (less secretive) than the typical Qumran Essene, but then it should be remembered that he was not a Qumran Essene. Not only was he a 'Carmelite' or 'Nazarene', a product of the Essene movement's necessarily 'ecumenical' headquarters-group, but he was the intended messianic Priest-King, the ultimate 'Interpreter of the Law'.... As such, his rank was superior by far to the rest of the Essene leadership, even to the original Teacher of Righteousness. Consequently, he was free to interpret the Law and the Prophets in his own way and to whom he pleased, as the spirit guided him."

Thus, the differences between the teachings of Jesus and the Qumran Essenes are due to:

  1. Jesus was raised at the more ecumenical, family-oriented Essene community at Mount Carmel; and,

  2. The Dead Sea Scrolls, wonderful as they are, were written by Essenes who were prayerfully preparing for the coming of the Universal Messiah, the Prince of Peace. Obviously, once the Messiah of the Universe came to earth, the words that came out of his mouth were far transcendant of even the best of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

When the holy family returned from Egypt after Herod's death, we are told they settled in Nazareth. Nazareth is very near Mount Carmel, the headquarters of the entire Essene movement. However, in those days, there was no town called "Nazareth"; rather, it was simply a cooperative village of Essene "Nazarenes". We read in The Armageddon Script:

"... historical evidence that it (Nazareth) existed at the time is entirely lacking. The tradition almost certainly goes back to the fact that the family were members of the Nazarene sect of the Essenes. This group seems to have become the dominant one on Carmel, to the point where the word 'Nazarene' came to be applied to the Northern Essenes in general. It is possible, of course, that the Essenes had a camp in the vicinity of the modern Nazareth."

Thus, the term "Jesus of Nazareth" was originally "Jesus the Nazarene", and a "Nazarene" is a "Northern Essene" associated with Mount Carmel. Which is why in the New Testament Book of Acts, the early Christians' are referred to as "the sect of the Nazarenes."

Having accepted Jesus as the Messiah they had been waiting for, the Essene-Nazarenes became the first Christians. These first followers of Jesus were still called "Essene Nazarenes" or simply "Nazarenes". They were not called "Christians" (which means "Messianists" or "followers of the Messiah") until many years later.

We have now concluded our overview of ancient Essene origins and history. As promised in the introductory paragraph, we will next consider Essene cosmology and theology. Since the Essene cosmology and theology reached its pinnacle in the teachings of Jesus -- he being the Messiah they had prepared for -- our focus will be the Essene cosmology and theology articulated by Jesus.

Essene Cosmology and Theology

Does the reader -- YOU -- understand the meaning of the terms "cosmology" and "theology"? The terms are interrelated but have different meanings. COSMOLOGY is the study dealing with the origin and structure of the universe. THEOLOGY is the study of religious beliefs. Thus we will first consider Essene cosmology; for, the theology of any religious group is an outgrowth of their cosmology.

In a future issue of "Essene Path", an entire article will be devoted to the topic of Essene cosmology. But in the article at hand -- a general overview of many topics -- we can only touch on several main aspects of Essene cosmology. We have defined cosmology as "the study of the origin and structure of the universe." According to Essene Kaballah mysticism, the universe originates with God. God creates the universe in a series of four emanations, each of which becomes a particular realm:

  1. `ATSILUTH: The first emanation from God creates a realm called "`Atsiluth". This is the realm of the Divine Archetypes. It is a spiritual realm, not a physical realm. These archetypal representations are the perfect ideals or models for all things created in the physical world. The Divine Archetypes for humankind are the masculine ADAM KADMON with his feminine counterpart SHEKHINAH. (Jesus is considered to be a messianic incarnation of Adam Kadmon; thus he is called "the first child of God". And since only the realm of Divine Archetypes was created directly by God -- all further steps of creation being accomplished by Adam Kadmon and Shekinah united as "THE WORD" -- Jesus, as Adam Kadmon, is also called "the ONLY BEGOTTEN son of God". Jesus himself stressed that we are all children of God, but only Adam Kadmon and Shekhinah -- by virtue of being Divine Archetypes -- were DIRECTLY BEGOTTEN by God.)

  2. BERI'AH. Whereas `Atsiluth, the first realm, (described above) is a direct emanation from EN SOPH (the unmanifest God), the second realm, BERI'AH, is a direct emanation from `Atsiluth. Beri'ah is the realm of the HIGHEST RANKING ANGELS OF THE UNIVERSE. This realm contains no ordinary physical matter, only PURE SPIRITUAL ENERGY. Another term for this realm is "THE HIGHEST HEAVENS".

  3. YETSIRAH. The third realm, Yetsirah, is an angelic realm, but not as high as the above described Beri'ah. The angelic beings of light in this realm are higher in spiritual development than human beings, but lower than those of the Beri'ah Higher Heavens. Within the realm of Yetsirah are seven sub-realms called "The Seven Heavens". Only when a being has progressed through these seven heavens of Yetsirah -- via spiritual evolution over long duration -- is that being able to ascend to the archangelic realm of the Beri'ah Higher Heavens. Yetsirah is not as physical as our realm, nor as subtle as Beri'ah. The lower regions of Yetsirah are more physical than the higher regions of that realm.

  4. ASIYAH. The fourth realm, Asiyah, is the physical universe that we currently live in. Within Asiyah are countless sub-realms, some extremely dark and dense, some relatively light and subtle. Through our thoughts, words and deeds, we rise to the higher regions of Asiyah, or fall to the hell-pits of Asiyah.

The above cosmology can best be described as a sort of "COSMIC SCHOOL SYSTEM". The origin of thisUNIVERSAL SCHOOL SYSTEM FOR THE TRAINING OF SOULS is God. The ultimate GRADUATION DEGREE IS CONSCIOUS UNION WITH GOD. Having "graduated" -- attained the highest heaven -- a being does "graduate studies": goes on missions to the lower realms to perform works of love and mercy. These "graduate students" work under the guidance of TEACHERS and MASTER TEACHERS. The ultimate Master Teacher -- the "Chancellor" of the Cosmic School System -- is THE CHRIST, the Adam Kadmon, known on earth as Jesus the Christ (Yahshua ha Mashiakh).

Before leaving the topic of Essene cosmology, a bit more needs to be said about HEAVEN AND HELL. According to Essene cosmology, both Heaven and Hell are VERY REAL. However, our understanding of the nature of heaven and hell is quite different than the orthodox Christian doctrine you are probably familiar with. In our ancient Essene holy scriptures, Jesus teaches the following main points in regard to Heaven and Hell:

  1. There is not only one Heaven and one Hell; rather, there are countless Heavenly realms and countlessHellish realms. Jesus said, "In God's house are many mansions" and "various realms". He describes"higher heavens" and "lower heavens"; he also describes "higher hells" and "lower hells". According to Jesus, the universe is a vast cosmic school system for the training and evolution of souls. There are various levels of the cosmic school system and each level consists of many planets, spheres and realms inhabited by sentient beings. SOME OF THOSE REALMS ARE SO VIOLENT, HATEFUL, DARK AND MISERABLE, THEY CERTAINLY DESERVE THE TERM "HELLISH". SOME REALMS ARE SO PEACEFUL, JOYFUL, LIGHT AND LOVE-FILLED, THEY CERTAINLY DESERVE THE TERM "HEAVENLY."

  2. According to Jesus, each being lives in the realm of the universe they deserve to (including the planet they live on) -- according to the universal law of karmic justice (CAUSE and EFFECT). Jesus said, "And as they have sown in one life, so shall they reap in another." Beings who live in harmony with universal law -- the laws of God -- will progressively ascend to ever-higher, more-heavenly abodes of light and love. Beings who do not live in harmony with the laws of the universe will progressively fall into ever-lower, more hellish realms of darkness and pain.

  3. Jesus teaches that Heaven and Hell are experienced first inwardly -- as inner states of being -- and then become manifest in our outer circumstances as well. Jesus said, "The Kingdom of Heaven is within you." But he also said, "What is on the inside will become manifest on the outside." In other words, if you create a heavenly consciousness via harmony with universal law -- heaven within -- you will later experience a more heavenly outer-realm -- including the planet you live on -- as well. Again, Jesus said: "And as they have sown in one life so shall they reap in another." (It should be noted that some angelic beings who are entitled -- according to karmic law -- to live in more heavenly realms, CHOOSE to take incarnation in a more hell-like realm in order to perform loving service for the benefit of other beings.)

The orthodox Christian teaching is that, based solely on this one brief incarnation, you will either go to "Heaven" forever or will BURN IN HELL FOR ETERNITY. They teach that the vast majority of humans will BURN IN HELL. We reject that false teaching, as did Jesus himself. The notion that a SUPREME BEING would send the majority of human beings to BURN IN TORTUROUS AGONY FOR ETERNITY based solely on their status in this one brief incarnation is ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS! Such a "God" would actually be a "Devil"!

Speaking of the "Devil", I should inform you in regard to our beliefs about "Satan". Jesus, in our ancient Essene manuscripts, does not teach the existence of ONE EVIL COUNTERPART TO GOD; however, he does teach the existence of various demonic beings including a particular "fallen angel" called "Satan". So, there certainly is a"dark brotherhood"; there are demons and archdemons of various ranks and potencies; BUT NONE OF THESE DEMONS -- INCLUDING THE GRAND DRAGON SATAN -- are powerful enough to be considered a dualistic counterpart to God. They are simply lost souls in need of heavy-duty repentance.

Having concluded our overview of Essene cosmology, we will now examine several main aspects of Essene theology: REINCARNATION, VEGETARIANISM, and FATHER-MOTHER GOD.

In the ancient Essene New Testament, Jesus teaches the following five main points in regard toREINCARNATION:

  1. Jesus teaches that souls reincarnate in order to gain experience in their quest for perfection. We read in The Gospel of the Holy Twelve:
    "The soul is purified through many births and experiences."

    In another passage of the same manuscript, Jesus states:

    "So through many births will ye be made perfect."

  2. Jesus teaches that all creatures -- not only humans -- must continue to reincarnate until sufficiently purified. Jesus said: 
    "As all creatures come from the unseen into this world, so they return to the unseen, and so will they come again till they be purified."

  3. A third point made by Jesus on reincarnation is that there is a time of rest and reflection between lives: 
    "... and to them will be given space to consider, and amend their lives...."

  4. Jesus taught that what we do in one life will follow us into our next life:
    "The body that ye lay in the grave, or that is consumed by fire, is not the body that shall be, but they who come again shall receive other bodies, and as they have sown in one life, so shall they reap in another."

  5. According to Jesus, once we are sufficiently perfected we need not reincarnate anymore:
    "Blessed are they who suffer many experiences, for they shall be made perfect through suffering: they shall be as the angels of God in heaven and die no more, neither shall they be born anymore, for death and birth have no more dominion over them."

Once we reach a certain level of spiritual evolution we will have angelic bodies that never die. At that point, we will have no need to reincarnate anymore. That does not mean we will be done learning and growing -- the universe is infinite and we will always have new lessons to learn. But, at that point, we will have graduated from the level of the cosmic school system in which birth and death have dominion over us: WE WILL HAVE TRANSCENDED THE WHEEL OF REQUIRED DEATH AND REBIRTH. However, in order to be seen, touched, and considered "real" by physically incarnated beings of a lower evolutionary level whom we wish to help, we may sometimes CHOOSE to incarnate physically, even after we have transcended the need to reincarnate. Such aCHOSEN incarnation motivated by divine compassion rather than bondage to flesh is the act of an "AVATAR". This explains why Jesus, the SUPREME AVATAR, takes physical incarnation even though not bound to the wheel of birth and death: DIVINE COMPASSION!

We will now consider another aspect of Essene theology: VEGETARIANISM. The ancient Essene New Testament makes clear that JESUS WAS A VEGETARIAN, and that vegetarianism was a central aspect of his doctrine, an ABSOLUTE REQUIREMENT OF DISCIPLESHIP. Vegetarianism was REQUIRED by Jesus of any person who wanted to become his disciple. In "Holy Twelve" we read:

Jesus said:

"Verily I say unto you, they who partake of benefits which are gotten by wronging one of God's creatures, cannot be righteous; nor can they understand holy things, or teach the mysteries of the kingdom, whose hands are stained with blood, or whose mouths are defiled with flesh.

"God giveth the grains and the fruits of the earth for food; and for righteous man truly there is no other lawful sustenance for the body....

"Wherefore I say unto all who desire to be my disciples, keep your hands from bloodshed and let no flesh meat enter your mouths; for God is just and bountiful, who ordaineth that man shall live by the fruits and seeds of the earth alone."

In another verse of the same manuscript, Jesus declares:

"I am come to end the sacrifices and feasts of blood, and if ye cease not offering and eating of flesh and blood, the wrath of God shall not cease from you, even as it came to your fathers in the wilderness, who lusted for flesh, and they ate to their content, and were filled with rottenness, and the plague consumed them.

"And I say unto you, though ye be gathered together in my bosom, if ye keep not my commandments I will cast you forth; for, if ye keep not the lesser mysteries, who shall give you the greater?

"He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much."

So, according to Jesus, vegetarianism is one of the "lesser mysteries" of the spiritual life, an ABSOLUTE REQUIREMENT for becoming a disciple of Jesus, and a prerequisite to being trusted with the "greater mysteries" of the universe.

In another verse from "Holy Twelve", Jesus makes clear that flesh-eathers are to be welcomed into our "outer-circle" church activities, but cannot participate in "inner-circle" activities until they become vegetarian:

"A disciple of Jesus asked him a question, saying 'Master, if there come to us any that eat flesh ... shall we receive them?'

"And Jesus said unto him, 'Let such abide in the outer court till they cleanse themselves from these grosser evils; for till they perceive, and repent of these, they are not fit to receive the higher mysteries.'"

Of course, Jesus practiced what he preached: he was himself a vegetarian:

Jesus said:

"For of the fruits of the trees and the seeds of the herbs alone do I partake, and these are changed by the Spirit into my flesh and my blood. Of these alone and their like shall ye eat who believe in me, and are my disciples, for of these in the Spirit, come life and health and healing unto man."

Those readers familiar with the New Testament story in which Jesus miraculously fed 5,000 persons with but a little bread and a few fish, might ask: "Didn't Jesus eat fish?" The answer is: NOT IN THE ORIGINAL, AUTHENTIC NEW TESTAMENT! In the original, unadulterated version of the New Testament (The Gospel of the Holy Twelve), Jesus fed those 5000 persons with but a little BREAD AND GRAPES! The vegetarian teachings of Jesus were removed by merchants of death -- persons who earned money from the flesh of animals -- after they forcibly took over the early Essene-Christian church and established a State-run religion.

The next aspect of Essene theology we will consider is GOD AS BOTH FATHER AND MOTHER. In the Essene manuscripts used by our church, Jesus teaches that God is both Father and Mother, and that all of nature is created in the divine image and likeness of Father-Mother God. In The Gospel of the Holy Twelve, Jesus states:

"God is the Two in One. He is She and She is He.... Therefore shall the name of the Father and the Mother be equally hallowed, for they are the great aspects of God, and the one is not without the other, in the One God."

In other words, God is a perfect balance of the masculine (Father) and feminine (Mother) aspects. But do not get the wrong idea: When Jesus speaks of the masculine and feminine aspects of God, he is NOT speaking about physical sexual gender: he is not describing God as having both a penis and vagina! Rather, Jesus teaches that the masculine and feminine aspects of God are SPIRITUAL ATTRIBUTES such as the masculineASSERTIVENESS and its feminine counterpart RECEPTIVITY, or the masculine JUSTICE and the feminineMERCY. Jesus is describing COMPLEMENTARY ASPECTS of God which are in such perfect balance they form a ONENESS. In "Holy Twelve", Jesus makes that point very clear:

"God is both male and female, not divided, but the Two in One.... In God the masculine is not without the feminine, nor is the feminine without the masculine: Love is not without knowledge, Justice is not without Mercy, the Head is not without the Heart. In God, the masculine powers and feminine powers are perfectly united as ONE."

The key thing to remember is that the masculine and feminine aspects of God form a ONENESS, aHARMONIOUS WHOLE. To illustrate that idea, think of a tree. The branches are an aspect of the tree. The roots are another aspect of the tree. So is the trunk an aspect. But the tree itself is a ONENESS made up of many complementary aspects.

Now let us look at how this teaching relates to each of us. In other words, according to Jesus, what is our own relationship to God? Jesus said:

"Verily, God created mankind in the Divine image male and female, and all nature is in the Image of God.... In the beginning, God willed and there came forth the First Beloved Son and the First Beloved Daughter, united as Love and Wisdom, created in the Image and Likeness of the Father-Mother, and of these proceed all the generations of the Spirits of God, the Sons and Daughters of the eternal.... From the will of God comes forth the Divine Sons and Daughters of God, and within each Son is the Daughter and within each Daughter is the Son."

From the above excerpt we learn several important things about our relationship to God. First and foremost is the fact that we are each a Divine Child of God, created in the EMBRYONIC image and likeness of the eternal Father-Mother. I emphasize the word "embryonic" to bring home the point that though we are created in the image and likeness of God, we are neither quantitatively nor qualitatively the equal of God. An acorn is created in the embryonic image and likeness of Father-Mother Oak Tree; but the acorn is not yet quantitatively or qualitatively the equal of Father-Mother Oak Tree. Likewise, a drop of ocean water consists of the same elements as does the ocean itself. But while the ocean can truly claim to contain every drop of ocean water, the individual drop of ocean water cannot truly claim to contain the entire ocean. Such is our relationship to God: we are One with God; we are created in the image and likeness of God; YET GOD IS SENIOR TO US BOTH IN TERMS OF QUANTITY AND QUALITY.

The essential nature of God is a Oneness. And that Oneness has a name: "I AM". The One God chooses to manifest both a masculine and feminine aspect for the purpose of creation. That which is created is a spark of the Creator: You are THAT.

Masculine, causative energy, must be balanced by feminine, receptive energy, if harmony is to be experienced. If you are out of balance in EITHER direction, you will experience PAIN. You must find that place of balance at the very core -- CENTER -- of your being. That center is where you will find your true Self.... It is where you will find God.... It is where you will find Peace and Joy. It is where "I AM".

It is home.

How the Ancient Essenes Lived

Having established what the ancient Essenes believed about life, we will now consider how they actually lived. While some Essenes lived in private homes in towns and cities, most of them lived in communal villages. There were many Essene communal villages in Israel, and several in Egypt. As described previously, Jesus was primarily associated with the Essene Nazarene communal village near Mount Carmel. Many pie-in-the-sky utopian communities have been very short-lived due to their failure to adequately address such basic human needs as food, employment and health care; but the ancient Essenes created communal villages that thrived for centuries. Although they were advanced mystics with profound cosmological and theological beliefs, they obviously must have mastered the practical aspects of daily life, as well as the philosophic. We now ask four very practical questions: How did they organize themselves? How did they feed themselves? How were their members employed? What type of health care did they practice and provide for their members?

HOW DID THEY ORGANIZE AND GOVERN THEMSELVES? We will first examine the Essene community at Qumran. After doing so, we will consider some other ancient Essene models of communal living.

While other Essene communities were for entire families, Qumran was an all male monastic community. The community at Qumran regarded itself as a church and was organized along the lines of an esoteric "Mystery School", with various levels of initiation. Their word for 'church' was the same used by the first Christians: 'edah. And their organizational structure was identical to that used by Jesus and the first Christians. Theodore Gaster, in his The Dead Sea Scriptures, writes:

"Because the Brotherhood at Qumran regarded itself as the true Congregation of Israel... it organized itself into what may fairly be described as a 'church'. Such an organization requires a formal set of principles and a constitution.... No less interesting, and perhaps more exciting... are the many parallels with the organization of the primitive Christian Church. The community calls itself by the same name ('edah) as was used by the early Christians of Palestine to denote the Church.... There are twelve 'men of holiness' who act as general guides of the community -- a remarkable correspondence with the Twelve Apostles. These men have three superiors, answering to the designation of John, Peter and James.... There is a regular system of mebaqqerim or 'overseers' -- an exact equivalent of the Greek episkopoi, or 'bishops'."

In regard to Gaster's mention of the twelve 'men of holiness' and their three superiors, he is referring to the following. Qumran was governed by a system called "One, Three, Twelve and The Many" (patterned on certain principles of Sacred Geometry and Kaballah). The "One" was the chief priest or "Teacher of Righteousness" (in Hebrew: Moreh Zadik). The "Three" were, after the Teacher of Righteousness, the highest-ranking priests of the community. Together, the "One" and the "Three" made up what today would be called "The Board of Directors", with the "One" obviously being the Chairman of the board. There was also a Council of Twelve Overseers; as Gaster pointed out, the Hebrew word for "overseer" is "mebaqqerim" which is the exact equivalent of "Bishop". The Council of Twelve Bishops were advisory to the four person (the "three" and the "one") "Board of Directors". Gaster pointed out the remarkable correspondence between the above Qumran model and that of Jesus' immediate circle: Jesus corresponds to the "One" or "Teacher of Righteousness". James, John and Peter to the "Three High Priests", (In the New Testament, Jesus often takes only James, Peter and John with him for important "inner circle" events; after his crucifixion those three are referred to as "the three pillars of the church.") and "The Twelve Apostles" to the "Council of Twelve". But very important also is the Qumran term "The Many"; for, the One, Three and Twelve permitted "The Many" -- ALL MEMBERS IN GOOD STANDING -- to vote on any issue that was not considered the domain of the "Mystery School". In other words, the basic daily affairs of the community were decided not by the spiritual hierarchy BUT BY THE COUNCIL OF THE MANY. In this way, Qumran was governed by a unique blend of spiritual hierarchy and direct democracy. The spiritual hierarchy protected the esoteric teachings from being watered down by novices and made sure that the overall purpose, plan and constitution were followed. But the daily affairs of ordinary life were decided according to direct democracy via "The Council of the Many." In the words of Theodore Heline, "Theirs was a democratic society functioning under highly disciplined hierarchical order."

If the term "spiritual hierarchy" seems negative to your modern sensitivities, consider the following. The Essenes believed that their Mystery School was a doorway into the ranks of angelic beings. They believed that the angelic realms were divided into ranks or hierarchies of angels: lower angelic beings on up to archangels. And so they patterned their Mystery School on the angelic pattern of ranks and hierarchies. They also made sure that promotion through the ranks was completely fair in that it was based on the progress made by the student within the context of the curriculum of the Mystery School.

Before leaving the topic of organizational structure at Qumran, let us look at how one became a part of the Qumran community, how one joined the organization.

In his excellent book titled, The Dead Sea Scrolls: The Essenian Forerunners of Christ, Theodore Heline writes:

"From the recovered portions of the Manual of Discipline we learn that an applicant for membership was placed on a one year's probation. If his conduct proved worthy, two more years of study and testing followed. Then if favorably passed upon by the priest and the majority of the members he was admitted to full membership.... On attaining full membership, but not until then, individuals surrendered without reservation all personal possessions to the common store."

Like Qumran, most of the other Essene communal villages practiced a 100% communal economy; that practice was continued by Jesus and the first Christian-Essenes. We read in the New Testament "Book of Acts":

"And all that believed were together, and had all things in common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all, as any had need."

A few verses later we read:

"And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that any of the things which he possessed was his own; for they had all things in common."

Likewise, we read in The Essene Humane Gospel Of Jesus:

"And they who believed gave up their wealth and possessions and did sell all things and gave the proceeds to the communes, for they held all things in common and abode together in one place, even as Christ had commanded them. For by doing so, they fulfilled the law of love, showing all kindness and goodness of God unto their brothers and sisters and all the creatures born of nature....

"And many were the Essene communes of the followers of the holy way, wherein all lived according to Kingdom Order and in Love. For among the communes, it was just as Jesus had spoken... for there existed no hunger or thirst for spiritual or physical food, and the aged man and the widow were not cast out, and the orphan and the inflicted were welcome.... And the holy ones of God did go forth as healers among mankind, teaching the cures of nature unto the people. And unto the nations they were known by the name of 'Essenes' which, when translated, means 'healers and saviors of the people'; for they healed every physical and spiritual ill of any who wanted to become followers of the Essene way of Life."

In regard to the organizational and governmental structure of other Essene communities, we have new information on the Mount Carmel Community in Northern Israel and the Lake Mareotis Community in Egypt. In a manuscript soon to be published by Essene Church of Christ, we learn that the Carmel and Mareotis Essenes followed the same "One, Three, Twelve and The Many" format as Qumran, BUT WITH A FASCINATING TWIST: they patterned it on the Essene Tree of Life! If the reader is familiar with the drawing of the Essene Tree of Life on page 50 of Edmond Szekely's book From Enoch to the Dead Sea Scrolls, you will recall that there are seven branches and seven roots. The center branch represents God, the center root "Mother Nature". The other six branches represent various spiritual forces, the other six roots various natural forces. And at the very center of the Tree of Life is a human being seated in a meditation posture.

The Carmel and Mareotis Essenes use of the "One, Three, Twelve" was linked to the Tree of Life as follows: the "One" (the "Teacher of Righteousness" or, in Hebrew, "Moreh Zadik") was linked to the human being in the center of the Tree; the "Council of Twelve" were linked to the six branches and six roots (minus the center branch and center root); the "Three Highest-Ranking Priests" were linked to the three branches of the upper left portion of the Tree: Love, Wisdom, and Power. Each New Year, the Teacher of Righteousness announced the names of those Essenes who would serve as "The Council of the Tree of Life". When the Teacher of Righteousness and Council of Twelve held meetings, a specific person represented each of the six branches and six roots; for instance, James may have represented the branch of Wisdom, John the branch of Love, Peter the branch of Power (Power is "manifestation"). Meetings began with beautiful songs, chants and recitations based on the Tree of Life Communions. One such song seems to have been the basis for the Gnostic "Hymn of Jesus": the twelve move in a circle around the Teacher of Righteousness, who is seated in the meditation posture at the center (just like the Tree of Life drawing). We also find a reference to this in The Gospel of the Holy Twelve, in regard to the 'Last Supper':

"And at evening the Master cometh into the house, and there are gathered with him the Twelve....And they were all clad in garments of white linen....

"And when they had sung a hymn, Jesus stood up in the midst of his apostles, and going round him who was their Center, as in a solemn dance, they rejoiced...."

After the Tree of Life songs and rituals, the "business meeting" was held. In prayer, the group asked that the Center Branch -- God -- and the Center Root -- Mother Nature -- be with them and guide all of their decisions at the meeting. In this way, all fourteen of the branches and roots were represented at the meetings: twelve by human beings, two -- God and Mother Nature -- by their own spiritual presence. The Moreh Zadik ("Teacher of Righteousness" or "Chief Priest") represented the human being at the center of the Tree. The Moreh Zadik was a lifelong position; the others served one year terms but could be reinstated at the New Year Naming Ceremony for another year term. Often, they served many years, sometimes until death, as there was no limit to the number of consecutive one year terms they could serve. We are told that the Moreh Zadik would isolate himself for several days at the end of each year and do a fast. He would then invoke the presence of the Center Branch -- God -- and the Center Root -- Mother Nature -- and ask their guidance in the selection of the persons for the Council of Twelve for the upcoming year. Then, using advanced yogic techniques, he went into a deep Communion with God and Mother Nature which culminated in the writing down of twelve names. (Until publication, we are not permitted to give direct quotations from the Alexandria/Carmel manuscript, but one thing is very clear: the manuscripts translated by Edmond Szekely which he supposed were from Qumran were actually from Carmel and Mareotis: not a single mention of the Tree of Life Communions or Sevenfold Peace are found in the Qumran Scrolls BUT THE CARMEL/ALEXANDRIA MANUSCRIPT -- which also describes Mareotis -- IS FULL OF REFERENCES TO THE TREE OF LIFE AND SEVENFOLD PEACE.)

Like the Qumran group, the term "The Many" was also very important at Carmel and Mareotis. Like at Qumran, the spiritual hierarchy at Carmel and Mareotis handled the church matters, BUT PERMITTED "THE MANY" -- all members of the community in good standing -- TO MAKE ALL THE DECISIONS IN REGARD TO DAILY LIFE AT AT THE COMMUNITY.

HOW DID THE ANCIENT ESSENE COMMUNAL VILLAGES FEED THEMSELVES? First, we must remind ourselves that the ancient Essenes were STRICT VEGETARIANS. Many of them ate only raw fruits, vegetables, and sprouted grains, along with raw dairy products, never eating cooked food. Although raw foods were recommended, the only requirement was NO MEAT. But our question now is not WHAT they ate but HOW they got it. It's one thing to invite a thousand people to come live together on your land; it's quite another thing to feed all of them! A study of the various source materials provides us with the answer: THE ESSENES WERE MASTER FARMERS AND ARBORICULTURISTS (an "arboriculturist" is one who "grows trees"; in the case of the Essenes, nut and fruit tree orchards). Edmond Szekely, in From Enoch to the Dead Sea Scrolls, writes:

"The Essenes lived on the shores of lakes and rivers, away from cities and towns, and practiced a communal way of life, sharing equally in everything. They were mainly agriculturists and arboriculturists, having a vast knowledge of crops, soil and climatic conditions which enabled them to grow a great variety of fruits and vegetables in comparatively desert areas and with a minimum of labor."

In regard to the reference above to "a minimum of labor", excavation of the ruins of the Essene community at Qumran has revealed that the Essenes made use of sophisticated drip irrigation systems to water their gardens and orchards. During the short rainy season they channeled the rain water that poured down the surrounding cliffs into huge cisterns to save for watering their gardens the rest of the year. They were masters of mulching and composting, the greatest organic gardeners to ever grace the earth. In another section of the same book, Szekely makes clear that they not only were able to feed all their own members, but often had enough surplus food to feed the poor of neighboring cities:

"They had great agricultural proficiency... producing a large variety of fruits and vegetables of the highest quality and in such abundance they periodically had a surplus to distribute to the needy."

While many of the members of the Essene communal villages worked in the gardens, not all of them did.

And that brings us to the next question: HOW DID THE ANCIENT ESSENE COMMUNAL VILLAGES EMPLOY THEIR MEMBERS? In his excellent book The Mystical Christ, Manly Hall reports:

"There was no idleness among the Essenes.... The group was not... financed by the State; it was supported entirely by its own members, whose gain from lawful enterprise was kept in the common purse. The term 'lawful enterprise' was interpreted as honest and honorable work. No activity was considered superior to another. Each of those who came bestowed his talents and abilities, but practiced them only according to the convictions of conscience. As many who sought refuge in the settlement had no inclination to continue their previous occupations, they had no special skill suitable to their new way of living. These farmed the surrounding area and performed such labor as might be required for the common good. Some apprenticed themselves to craftsmen and learned new trades."

We see above that a new member of an Essene community could keep his old job IF IT WAS IN HARMONY WITH THE ESSENE TEACHINGS. If the old job could not be kept for reasons of conscience, the new member either worked on the communal farm, performed general labor for the community -- laundry, carpentry, kitchen work etc. -- or learned a new trade. Hall goes on to inform us that some Essenes had been quite wealthy before joining the communes:

"It is a mistake to assume that the Essenes were simply agriculturists and craftsmen. Some had been scholars or wealthy merchants or successful tradesmen. Each in his own way had found it impossible to continue practices which offended his soul. He had, therefore, divided his goods, bestowed his properties, terminated his worldly career, and returned to the natural faith of his fathers."

Some of the Essenes worked as teachers. Hall writes:

"That the intellectual level of the community was high can be gathered from the historical accounts of the sect. Essenes were selected as teachers of the young and Roman officials residing in Palestine selected these mystics, preferring them to scholars of other Jewish sects or tutors sent from Rome. Under the gentle guidance of these godly men, children received not only learning, but also enlightenment."

Some Essenes worked as doctors. Hall reports:

"Some of the Essenes practiced medicine and healed the sick.... They were especially mindful of the poor, who could not afford to engage physicians. When the Essenian doctor attended a patient, he would not only prescribe a remedy, but would also clean the house, do the mending and washing and any other task which sickness had interrupted. If some gift was forced upon him by one of the grateful, it was placed in the general storehouse of the sect."

Another author, Robert Chaney, agrees that many Essenes were healers. In his fascinating book, The Essenes and their Ancient Mysteries, he informs us that one Essene community was especially famous for its skilled healers:

"The Therapeutae, consisted of those Essenes who engaged in the healing art. The word "Essenes" in the nearest Aramaic equivalent means 'healers'.... One branch of the Essenes located near famed Lake Mareotis in Egypt, was known far and wide for its accomplishments in the field of healing. The suggestion has been made that the young Jesus received his first instruction in the healing arts from the residents of this Essene healing community."

Having established that the Essene communal villages had many skilled healers living amongst them, now is a perfect time to answer the question promised earlier: WHAT TYPE OF HEALTH CARE WAS PROVIDED FOR THEIR MEMBERS? Hall makes clear that the most important ingredients of the Essene "health-plan" for members were love and commitment:

"Those who were sick or injured were given constant and devoted care and protected from all want to the end of their lives."

But what form of healing was used? Amazingly, the ancient Essenes twenty centuries ago were practicing what we today consider "new" and call "holistic medicine." Daniel Maziarz, in his outstanding book, The Angelic Way to Love, informs us:

"Curiously enough, the health practices of the ancient Essenes are making a huge comeback today under the names of holistic health, naturopathy, preventive medicine, Ayurveda, and others.... Increasing numbers of people today are adopting the following natural means of empowering their health that were also employed by the ancient Essenes:
  • nutrition, especially the powerful effect of specific natural foods to prevent and to heal disease

  • breathing exercises

  • physical culture of all forms

  • herbs

  • fasting

  • massage

  • suntherapy (heliotherapy)

  • watertherapy (hydrotherapy)

  • gardening

  • the use of precious and semi-precious stones."

Robert Chaney, in his aforementioned book, describes the Essene healing practices:

"Three basic principles were followed by The Essenes in their healing... First, it was believed that Divinity was expressed in the plant kingdom as an antidote for the illnesses of the human kingdom, that for every illness there existed a palliative in a root, leaf or bark of a tree or plant. The Essenes therefore were herbalists in the highest sense of the word.

"A second method of healing was to make use of 'healing stones' -- bits of various kinds of rock or hardened earth.... The power of such stones in influencing magnetic fields under the direction of one who is versed in this type of therapy became common knowledge at a later period. The Essenes also created salves from natural sources. The clay and spittle Jesus prescribed for the blind man may very well have originated from this source.

"The third method of healing in which the Essenes were extremely well versed drew upon the healing powers of the invisible worlds around them. They acquired an unparalleled mastery in manipulating these healing powers of the superior spheres...."

In an ancient Essene scripture published by the Edenite Society, The Essene Humane Gospel of Jesus, we read:

"And Jesus did heal every ailment and disease among the sick, even teaching the people the art of true health reform according to the natural laws of nature. Yea, for he taught the people healing properties of plants, even every herb and grass of the field, and the power hidden in stones, and the cleansing miracle of pure water. And many were amazed and did believe and were healed."

Two more questions must be asked in regard to Essene communal villages. How did they treat children? How did they treat the elderly? The heart -- or lack thereof -- of any community or nation is revealed in the way they treat their children and old folks.


"The Essenes held children in special regard.... They trained these young people and were attentive to natural abilities and inclinations. When these children reached maturity, they were in no way required to accept the teachings of the sect or to become members. They might choose to do so or not, as they pleased."

Even the celibate Essene community loved children and cared for orphans. Hall tells us: "The order adopted orphans and reared them with all tenderness."

HOW ABOUT THE ELDERLY? How were members of the Essene communal villages treated when they were too old to work anymore? After all, there was no such thing as Social Security checks back then! Hall reports:

"The aged were held in the highest esteem, and it was remembered that they had worked faithfully and lovingly as long as their strength had permitted. They were given... devoted care and protected from want to the end of their lives."

The Essene communal life was based on a set of rules of conduct, spiritual disciplines and lifestyle practices called the "ESSENE HALAKOTH". The Essene Halakoth was given by their line of chief priests calledTEACHERS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS and reached its zenith with the ULTIMATE MASTER TEACHER, YAHSHUA HA MASHIAKH (Jesus the Christ). The Essene Halakoth was in fact a YOGA SYSTEM; it united seven basic yoga systems in a grand synthesis. ESSENE YOGA included: RAJA YOGA (silent meditation);HATHA YOGA (physical postures and breath work); BHAKTI YOGA (love and devotion to God); GNANA YOGA(spiritual study and discourse); LAYA YOGA (the science of using the chakras to bring about higher states of spiritual realization); KARMA YOGA (creative work for the uplift of all); MANTRA YOGA (verbal prayer, singing and chanting). Central to Essene Yoga was a lifestyle practice called THE SEVENFOLD PEACE which included a meditation practice called COMMUNIONS WITH THE TREE OF LIFE. (Specific details on how to perform the various aspects of Essene Yoga -- including the Sevenfold Peace and Communions -- are provided in books and videos available from our catalogue.)

It is of major importance to realize that the Essene exodus from decadent, "worldly" cities to form Essene communal villages DID NOT MEAN THAT THEY TURNED THEIR BACKS ON THE WORLD or abandoned the people left behind in cities. One of the main purposes of leaving the worldly cities to form Essene communal villages was to become LIVING CELLS OF NONVIOLENT SOCIAL TRANSFORMATION, examples for the rest of the world. Also, part of the Essene practice of "Tikkun Olam" ("to actively participate in the healing and transformation of the world") was to send Essene teachers and healers into the cities. In his excellent book From Enoch to the Dead Sea Scrolls, Edmond Bordeaux Szekely writes:

"The Essenes knew there was no escape from this circle of oppression, hatreds and violence, wars and revolutions, except through changing the ignorance of the individuals in the world....

"The solution which the Essenes offered for economic and social harmony can be applied in every age, the present as well as the past. It contained four factors:

  1. Separating from the chaotic conditions of the mass of mankind which refuses to obey natural and cosmic law.

  2. Demonstrating a practical social system based on natural and cosmic law.

  3. Communicating these ideas to the outside world through teaching, healing and helping others according to their needs.

  4. Attracting to their communities other individuals who are sufficiently evolved to be willing to cooperate with the law."

It is truly said that you can judge a tree by the fruit it bears. Based on the reports of writers who were contemporary to the Essenes, we must conclude that the Essene communal villages were very effective "Trees" for the production of beautiful, wonderful human beings. Consider the praise of contemporaries such as Pliny, Josephus and Philo; these men actually knew the Essenes and said of them:

"... a race by themselves, more remarkable than any other in all the world."
-- Pliny
"... they show more love for each other than do others, and live a more moral life. Rightly do they deserve to be called an example for the life of other people."
-- Josephus
"They live each day in constant and unalterable holiness."
-- Philo

Manly Hall sums up the lifestyle of the ancient Essenes in very moving terms:

"The Essenes resolved to live by the laws of God in a world of men.... By simply permitting consciousness to guide conscience, and conscience to govern conduct, the Essenes unfolded the basic plan for human society. The more devoutly they practiced these principles, the more obvious it became that the program was both possible and practical.... By loving their fellow men and serving them, the Essenes discovered in their own hearts the God of love and service."

The Mystic Order of Essenes

Probably no religion system ever produced such a group of saints so eager for purity and spiritual attainments as the Essenes, forerunners of Christianity, who founded not only a new sect but almost a new religion. This indeed was a fascinating, unique group of mystics, men and women whose chief purpose in life was to become temples of the Holy Spirit that they might receive a special revelation, and thus be the means of bringing the promised Messiah into the world. History declares that their desire was fulfilled, that Jesus, for whose coming they made very definite and painstaking preparation, was born in the fold of their organization, that Mary and Joseph were Essene initiates, and that their son, with John the Baptist, his cousin, with many other biblical characters were members of the Essene communities, both in Palestine, Greece, Egypt, and many other lands.

The Freemasons find pure Christianity in Essenism and consider the "Brethren of the White Clothing", or Mystic Order of Essenes, to be the most important fraternity the world has ever seen. The women - the wives, mothers, daughters, and other females of the Essene communities, were associate members. Those not caring to marry brought up orphan children for organization. This group dates back to Moses and even to more ancient days, and was designated at various times and places in history as Nazarites, School of the Prophets, Hasidees, Therapeutae ( healers) , Contemplative Ones, Nazarenes, Ministers fo Peace, Friends, and the Pure and Silent Brethren.

The designation "Essene" was not popularly known, with accounts for the omission of the word in many of the popular histories and writings of the time. The Essene attire was so distinctive and unique that among the populace these mystics were known as "Brethren of the White Clothing" - each member after initiation adopting a robe of white composed of one piece of material, such as the " seamless garment " worn by Christ Jesus, and their salutation was, "Peace be unto you".

Besides preparing for the birth of the Messiah, this group distinguished itself in many other ways, such as the proclaiming of the equality of all mankind and the denouncing of slavery. They were the first socialists to organize a community high above the standards of their times. They were the first collectivists to encourage the ownership of all things in common, as mentioned in the book of Acts in our Bible, and were also the first mystic sect in all Jewish history.

Although historians differ in details, they generally agree upon the major facts concerning the Essenes. For example they agree that this pioneer group of mystics was of "dateless antiquity", as Pliny declares. The Talmud speaks of the brotherhood as the "Holy comunity in Jerusalem", while Strabo mentions "the Essenes in Heliopolis with whom Plato and Eudoxus consulted". Josephus, a member of the organization for a time, writes of Jesus as a member, and considers the Essenes to be the oldest of ascetics, tells us the resurrection or continuity of life after so-called death, in communication with angels and declared that it was from Egypt that their doctrines spread abroad. Philo calls the mystic group "Champions of Virtue", a people by themselves more remarkable than any other in the wide world".

According to Josephus, every Jew had to belong either to the Pharisees, Sadducees, or to the Essenes. Though speaking scathing words against the two former groups, Christ Jesus never uttered a word against the latter group. Solinus affirms that " the Essenes who differ from all other peoples in their marvelous constitutions" ( being vegetarians and living many of them far beyond a hundred years of age ) " have according to my opinion been appointed by divine Providence for this mode of life. They renounce money, connubial pleasures, yet are the richest of all men."

Among representative modern historians is Dean Prideaux , who declares in his book on the descendants of the Essenes, The Old and New Testaments Connected, that the Essenes absolutely antedate the Holy Scriptures and absolutely condemned slavery which both Old and New Testaments allow, and that they anticipated the true spirit of Christianity and the philosophy of the twentieth century .

Dr. Graetz in his book, The History of the Jews, says, " The Essenes first proclaimed the kingdom of heaven", that John the Baptist lived the life of a Nazarite, belonged to the Essenes, and took up his abode with other Essenes near the waters of the Jordan, awaiting penitents, who when baptized joined the Essenic Order.

The historian Ginsburg in his book, The Essenes, Their History and Doctrine, says," The purpose of Jesus, the Essene, was to effect a great moral revolution. From the age of twelve to thirty he was in the Essene colonies and conceived the plan which he intended to carry out. There he was educated until he was sent out by his order to effect a great moral revolution. It cannot be doubted that our Saviour Himself belonged to this holy brotherhood". A most painstaking historical researsh , The Essenes by A. A. Schultz, compiled from the numerous records of the Literary and Philosophic Society of Liverpool in 1896, finds the above statements confirmed in documents written in Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic.

Of all the sects of ancient times, the Essenes were the most exclusive, coming out as they did, from among those of dying civilization, that they might the more effectively build a new and better world for mankind. They usually located their secret societies in small towns or on the border of the desert, away from the crowded hives of humanity with their barter, Temple sacrifices, noise, and attention to things of the body. In these communities each family had its own house and garden. A chamber in each house was devoted to prayer and meditation. These "silent ones", "seers", "healers", during the week lived and worked apart, but on Saturday they prayed and worked in common. Their so-called feasts, where no flesh was used and only cold water was served - particularly those held on the eve of Pentecost - were famous and formed a contrast to the ordinary Greek and Hebrew revels. At such feasts the philosophical discourse was the chief feature. This was followed by hymns and by antiphonal and joint singing, with choral dancing in imitation of Moses and Miriam at the Red Sea.

The Essenes did not repudiate marriage, but the couples had to be approved by high officials of the Essene community. The most advanced of the groups refrained from marriage. "Some", as Jesus explained, " made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake".

The Essenes not only wore a common type of dress, but, also engaged in common labor, united in common meals, deposited their earnings in a common treasury, and devoted themselves to works of charity, for which each had the liberty to draw from the common funds, at his own discretion, except in the case of relatives.

The Essenes served their fellow man as minister, prophet, and physician. They interpreted dreams, exorcised devils, and performed miracles, bringing peace to the soul, healing to hte body, and guidance through the predictions which never failed.

For example, history relates that an Essene, Menahem, once met Herod as a boy going to school, and addressed him as "King of the Jews". Herod thought the man who did not know him jested, and told him of his common origin with no chance of becoming king. But Menahem smiled at him, clapped him on the shoulder, saying, "Thou wilt, nevertheless, be king and wilt begin thy reign happily, for God has found thee worthy of it. Remember the blows that Menahem has given thee as a symbol of a change of thy fortune. For this assurance will be salutary for thee when thou wilt love justice and piety toward God and equity toward thy citizens. However, I know thou wilt not be such a one, for I can preceive it all. Thou wilt obtain an overlasting reputation, but thou wilt forget piety and justice. Thou wilt not be concealed from God, for He will visit thee in His wrath for it, towards the end of thy life"

Judas, the Essene, was another example. One day in the temple surrounded by his pupils whom he initiated into the apocalyptic art of foretelling the future, he saw Antigonus pass. Judas then and there prophesied a sudden death for him at a definite hour on a certain day, in a very special place - all of which came to pass as predicted. Likewise, Simon, the Essene, probably the one mentioned in the second chapter of Luke's Gospel, was a very holy man whose prophesies also came true. There were many others. So devoted to the laws of God and to holy living were these vegetarians of the Mystic Order, that they not only developed exactness in prophecy, but also magnetic personalities, and had such wonderfully beautiful, radiant auras that on some occasions these auras were perceived by the profane. No wonder their lives wereexemplified in the words of Christ Jesus when He said , "He that loseth his life for My sake shall find it, but he that saveth his life shall lose it". In renouncing the temporal side, they won the glory of that which is eternal.

Every adult member of the Brotherhood was assigned at the time of his initiation a definite mission in life, and this mission had to be adhered to regardless of all obstacles and temptations, even to the sacrifice of his own life. Some chose to be healers, physicians, farmers, teachers, missionaries, carpenters, translators, scribes; others chose the feeding of flocks and rearing of bees, preparing of food, making articles of dress, or weaving. Whatever the occupation, it had to be something constructive, not destructive. There were never allowed in the organization any gunsmiths, slaughterers of cattle or sheep, or any practice or business that deliberately destroyed the least of any living thing.

History emphasizes that no maker of arrows, darts, spears, swords, helmets, breastplates or shields, no manufacturer of arms or engines of war, or any man whatever that made things belonging to war, or even such things as might lead to wickedness in times of peace, could ever be found among the Essenes, "Ministers of Peace", who realized with Christ Jesus that "he that taketh the sword shall perish by the sword". Again, no trading was allowed or anything by which money was made, only barter. Pliny, among other historians, declares that the Essenes would "not even dream of carrying on traffic, innkeeping, or navigation, for they repudiate every indulcement to covetousness ". But all peaceful, non-commercial occupations were in keeping with their purpose in life. Every member worked from sunrise to sunset, and devoted the evening hours to the study of the mysteries of Nature and of revelation and the celestial Hierarchy. Abundant time was possible, since each member took his share of the work in the department in which he excelled, and since they toiled only for their necessities and not for laying up sums of money.

In each city there were "Essene Gates" where the poor could receive food and necessities, also places called "Bethsaida" for the sick. We find in this feature of their work the origin of the hospices and hospitals which became well known some centures later. A special staff fo workers were connected with these places and were calle "hospitalers". The Essenes likewise had their rescue homes in various communities, and places where strangers could not only be cared for physically, but could also be guided in their problems.

Those Ministers of Peace elected their own president, judges, and officials, and considered themselves free to act only in service to others. They believed in passive obedience to powers ordained of God. Their essential beliefs and practices included a conviction that fate governs all things, an absolute confidence that Jehovah's will must manifest in all that comes to pass, although free will was not denied; an unqualified belief in prophecy and the ability to see coming events; a belief in pre-existence or reincarnation, survival, and communication.

They were outstanding in their uniformly holy and unselfish life; their abstinence from visiting the Temple or taking part in bloody sacrifices; their unbounded love of virtue and their contempt for earthly fame, riches, pleasures; their industry and temperance, the latter including a vegetarian diet and abstinece from intoxicants; their modesty and simplicity of life; their contentment of mind and cheerfulness of temper; their love of order and truth and their abhorence of falsehood; their benevolence and philanthropy ; their following peace with all men. Known to all was their hatred of slavey and war, their aversion to oaths, wearing of wool, or using of oil, their tender regard for children and for the aged, their attendance of the sick, and readiness to relieve the distressed, their investigation of plants and minerals for healing, and their miraculous cures. Their beliefs and practices have no duplicate in the history of mankind. The Essene converts after the preaching of Christ Jesus became the good Christians or good Jews who started on the long trail of gradual loss of identity into the harmonious background of universal Christianity.

"Jesus was educated by the Essenes and reached a very high state of spiritual development during the thirty years in which he used his body. It may here be said, parenthetically, that the Essenes were a thity sect which existed in Palestine, besides the two mentioned in the New Testament - the Pharisees and the Sadducees. The Essenes were an exceendingly devout order, widely different from the materialistic Sadducees and entirely opposite to hte hypocritical, publicity seeking Pharisees. They shunned all mention of themselves and their methods of study and worship. To the latter peculiarity is due the fact that almost nothing is known of them, and that they are not mentioned in the New Testament."

- Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception by Max Heindel, 1908

Why did the Essenes practice Vegetarianism?


What is a vegetarian? Someone who eats no mammals, birds (chickens, turkeys, pheasant), or fishes. A vegan in addition eats no dairy products or eggs. A fruitarian wishes not to kill plants and eats the fruits of plants, trees, and vines. There are many reasons people make a gradual or immediate transition to meatlessness.

  1. Nonviolence, Reverence For Life
  2. Spiritual or religious belief
  3. Health
  4. Environmental protection
  5. Energy conservation
  6. Provision of food for the hungry
  7. Esthetics
  8. Human Rights
  9. Public Safety
  10. Fire Prevention
  11. Consciousness


The desire not to cause suffering, not to be involved in slaughter of innocent creatures, is the cause of the meatlessness of Buddha, of Hindus such as Mahatma Gandhi, of Susan B Anthony, Harriet Beecher Stowe, DaVinci, G B Shaw, and many others.

Slaughterhouse suffering has been documented in many books such as The Jungle by Upton Sinclair and Animal Liberation by Peter Singer. Mammals do not happily give up their lives when forced. When one person decides to become vegetarian, he or she saves the lives of thousands of fishes and chickens and many mammals.

Electric shocking rods are often used to goad unwilling animals into slaughterhouse chutes. Conditions of death by thirst have been documented in hearings before Senator Lowell Weicker. Dr. Michael Fox of the Humane Society of the United States has spoken of the 4D animals which arrive at the abbatoir. 4D means dead, diseased, dying, debilitated. The average egg represents, says Art Margolis, 32 hours a chicken was confined to a cage which is 3 ft. by l ft. Willie Nelson and Farm Aid have criticized new plans to make Ohio a factory farm state.


There are hundreds of millions who are vegetarian because of religious belief.


The Hindus, Buddhists and Jains of the East are known to be flesh abstainers. The word Hindu is an over 20,000 year old Sanskrit word meaning away from violence. Buddha's prayer was "May all that have life be delivered from suffering." The Jains desire to live without causing harm to any living creature. The Sanskrit term phalahari means a fruitarian. It is considered that fruitarians cause the least suffering since they kill fewer plants, whose consciousness has been documented by the laboratory research of Dr. Chandra Bose, Clive Baxter, Luther Burbank and others. Dr. Bose invented a crescograph which studied plant feelings. For this research he was knighted by Queen Victoria.


The Moslem Druses of Lebanon have long been vegetarian. Many Sufis are vegetarian. Sufism is a mystical Moselm religion. (Casey Kasem, a Moslem Druse and therefore a vegetarian, has been a cosponsor of the Great American Meatout which offers free information to anyone calling 1 800 MEATOUT). It is said that Mohammed once cut a portion of his cloak away so that he would not disturb a cat sleeping on the remaining cloth. Moslems do not eat pork.


The Jewish Vegetarian Society 855 Finchley Rd. London Nw11 England or Box 1463 Balt Md 21203 includes hundreds of thousands. Kosher slaughter was originally intended to reduce suffering to the animal. Former Chief Rabbi of Ireland David Rosen, Dr. Alex Hershaft, coordinator of the Vegetarian Information Service, Mark Braunstein, Piers Anthony, and Vic Sussman, and Raymond Avrutis are Jewish vegetarian authors.

Yehudi Menuhin, CHAI (Committee Helping Animals In Israel) are actively promoting the ancient Jewish love of animals and of the earth. Dr. Richard Schwartz and Louis Berman have written two of many books on Jewish vegetarianism. Dr. Alex Hershaft, concentration camp survivor, has used German reparations money to advance a meatless world.

Genesis 1:29, Behold I have given you herb yielding seed. To you it shall be for meat.

Ezekiel 3 and 4: My body has never been defiled by animal flesh.

Isaiah 65: The wolf shall lie down with the lamb.. they shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord. (many other passages of Isaiah speak of nonviolence to animals)

Proverbs: The wise man is concerned for his beast. Isaiah: He that slayeth an ox is as he that slayeth a man. Daniel l: Daniel was put in prison by Nebuchadnezzar. He ate only pulses (beans) for 10 days while others ate flesh. Nebuchadnezzar noticed that he fared better than the others.

Methusaleh: This longest lived of Biblical heroes is said to have been a vegetarian. (Jeremiah: The Lord offends the mind to reveal the heart)

The Biblical command "Thou Shalt Not KIll" which J J Price cites as a reason to change diet.. is not asterisked "to include humans only". The wisdom of the Jewish dietary laws is upheld as shellfish cause hepatitis and food poisoning, the trichinella worm remains in pork not totally cooked, and the mixing of dairy products with meat multiplies the chances of food poisoning.


Many Biblical scholars believe that Jesus was a vegetarian and that the incident of his temple temper was created by the slaughter of animals there.


The vegetarianism of Francis of Asissi, of St. Martin de Porres, of St. John Chrysostom is written of by biographers. Vegetarian Catholic orders include the original Benedictines, Cistercians, Trappists, Franciscans whose founder believed that plants too have feelings. The meatless Friday was the last vestige of early Christian vegetarianism. George Cornell, Associated Press religion writer, wrote that pretzels were originally a symbol of arms folded in prayer.. and like Lenten lentils.. were meatless alternatives. Fr. Ron Lengwin, a Catholic priest who has a talk show on KDKA, postulates that the apple Adam and Eve ate was actually the 1st heart of a slaughtered animal in violation of Genesis 1:29. Fr. Ron Pickarsky, a vegetarian chef, works toward institutional diet change.


Protestant vegetarian sect founders or promoters include John Wesley, the first Methodist, Ellen White of the Seventh Day Adventists, General Bramwell Booth of the Salvation Army, and Mary Baker Eddy of the Christian Scientists. John Wesley, considered the founder of modern Pentecostalism, wrote in v 6 of his collected writings about the advantages of the vegetarian diet he practiced. Ellen White, the prophet originator of the Seventh Day Adventist movement, has created a church whose followers today are 15% to 50% vegetarian. General Bramwell Booth published as head of the Salvation Army a pamphlet on 19 reasons to be vegetarian. This pamphlet is published by the London Vegetarian Society. Mary Baker Eddy wrote "The Deity is not carnivorous".


  1. The Edenite Society of Imlaystown NJ publishes a book entitled WAS THE MASTER A VEGETARIAN?

  2. The Trinity Broadcast Network has several Christian vegetarian programs.

  3. The Dominican nuns at Crown Pt. in Akron have disseminated vegetarian information.

  4. Ken Hamm's ministry in Florence Kentucky.

  5. Peter Marshall, the chaplain of the U.S. Senate, subject of A MAN CALLED PETER, was instrumental in swinging a U.S. Senate vote on a key environmental protection issue, which he considered to be part of the Genesis ministry. Revelation speaks of the 5th angel who protects all green living things. Romans: If meat offends your brother, do not eat it.



Would you like to add 7 years or longer to your life? A government study comparing the nondrinking nonsmoking Mormons to nondrinking nonsmoking vegetarian Adventists was done over many years. The Adventists lived on the average 7 years longer. The National Geographic reported that the 3 longest lived tribes in the world were centenarian vegetarians. They are the Hunzas of Tibet, the Azerbaijans of the Caucusus and the Villcabamba of Ecuador.


What is the heart beat of a vegetarian? An average 20 beats per minute less than that of a nonvegetarian. The vegetarian heart pumps the same amount of blood with 20,000 fewer beats per day. What is uric acid? It is the pre-urine present in the muscle cells of animals. It is the poison which would have been excreted had the animal lived. Uric acid, like caffeine, is an oxypurin correlated to arthritic deposits, to quickened heartbeat.


What is the relationship between immunity and diet? Just as having more than one sex partner places additional stress on the immune system, in the same way one must adapt to the immune system of each animal he or she eats. Leukemia is called leukosis if a chicken has it. Yet it is the same cancer. The USDA allows cancers the size of grapefruits to be cut out of cows and allows the rest of the carcass to be passed.


What about food poisoning? 97% of all food poisoning fatalities, as reported in a Knight Ridder wire story, were caused by animal products. Those who eat frozen meat are trusting to proper freezing at the slaughterhouse, in transportation trucks, warehouses, grocery freezers, and at home. Thermophilic bacteria can survive temperatures of 300 degrees or more. Creiophilic bacteria can survive freezing temperatures in meat.

How many diseases can be transmitted to humans from animals? As early as 1905 the USDA was saying that over 100 diseases could be contacted by humans eating the flesh or products of animals. Now the number is in the thousands. Brucellosis, trichinosis, toxoplasmosis, ptomaine poisoning, E coli bacteria are some of these. Histoplasmosis, present in bird waste, is a special health hazard near factory farms' water supply.

Knock Knock Who's There? San and Ella. Sam and Ella who? Salmonella food poisoning. This St. Elsewhere line refers to a bacteria which can be contacted in restaurants or kitchens in which animal products come into contact with other food.. through human fingers, counter tops, etc. Ohio Wesleyan University has found heightened levels of salmonella bacteria in Southern Ohio near massive factory farm operations. Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, MD found that within a few hours of slaughter, the colon bacteria in a carcass have multiplied into the billions per oz. Newsweek Magazine reported that had George Wallace not eaten a hamburger right before he was shot, the bullet would not have spread peritonitis throughout his system. The second cause of hepatitis is the eating of shellfish which eat unprocessed human waste dumped into the Atlantic by New York City, Baltimore, and other communities. Restaurants which throw out fruitarian coffee the afternoon it is made will keep much longer the much mor e perishable meat. Is 'fresh shrimp' an oxymoron?

One case in point is the Mad Cows' Disease created by the feeding of sheep brains to cows in Commonwealth countries. Sixty Minutes did a report on the protein molecules of Mad Cows' Disease cows which are ending up in bone meal and animal feed. These proteins survive even radiation treatment. J Ritchey has spoken of the E Coli bacteria's survival in wet dish rags for several weeks. E Coli bacteria are picked up from counter tops on which animal products have been laid.

Cannibals who eat humans contract a lethal disease known as Kuru. It seems that the more conscious the being, the greater the ill effect from consuming him or her. Mammals are more harmful to eat than birds.. birds more than fishes etc.


What about weight? Dr. Hardinge conducted a Harvard University study and found that the average dairy vegetarian weighs 12 pounds less than the average nonvegetarian. Vegans or nondairy vegetarians weighed an average 22 pounds less.


Insecticides, hormones, antibiotics What kills an insect can kill us. Since a thousand lb. cow has eaten an average 21,000 lbs of food before slaughter, there is a 21 times higher incidence of insecticide in animal flesh than in fruit. Other harmful additives include female hormones, given to animals so that they will gain water weight, which can cause gynecomastia (swelling of male breasts), breast and prostate cancer etc. There is a large bibliography on the problems of antibiotic resistance in animals which is passed onto their human consumers.


The McGovern Committee, the American Heart Association, The American Cancer Society, The National Cancer Inst. and others have done studies on the relationship of diet to health. The countries with the most meat consumption have the highest rates of intestinal cancer. These are Australia, Chile, Argentina, Canada, and the U.S. Countries with the highest dairy consumption have the most breast and prostate cancer. These are the Scandinavian countries, Israel, and the U.S. Countries with the highest fish consumption have the highest rates of stomach cancer. These are Korea, Japan, Norway, coastal countries. Life and Health Publishing of Maryland reported that at least two carcinogens are created by the heating of animal flesh over 300 degrees. One is malanaldehyde and one methylcholanthrene. In addition, Dr. Samuel Epstein, formerly of the Cleveland Clinic, reported before Congress on the carcinogenic properties of benzopyrene, created by charcoal broiling steak.


Dr. William Harris, MD, author of SCIENTIFIC BASIS FOR VEGETARIANISM, found a relationship between major money interests and nutritional teaching. Nutrition departments in major universities receiving dairy industry funding are more likely to be silent about lactase intolerance and the many other hazards of dairy consumption.


New research indicates that one cause of cancer is enzyme exhaustion in the body. The cooking of fruits and vegetables destroys many enzymes. A tomato has one enzyme when green, a second when redgreen, and a third when red. If a tomato, as Dr. Ann Wigmore has said, is cooked and placed in a windowsill it will rot. If it is redgreen and uncooked it will ripen in the sun because of enzymes. The Wigmore Foundation on Commonwealth Ave. in Boston has had as its clients a Prime Minister's wife, former Secy of the Interior Rogers Morton, and many others, and has achieved great success in healing cancer and a host of other diseases through 100% raw or uncooked vegetarian diet. The Hippocrates Health Inst. of W. Palm Beach Fla is another institute doing raw food therapy.


Because of deforestation to provide grazing land, meat or the raising of cattle is the most destructive to the environment. Second would be dairy products, then vegetables. The only food group which helps in reforestation of the planet is fruit. Every time you eat an apple or a walnut or an avocado, you are voting for orchards. Slaughterhouses dump billions of gallons of raw sewage and urine into our waterways. The Sahara was originally caused by the destruction of trees and their replacement with grazing animals.


  1. The sound of screams or silence with occasional birdchirps and beebuzzes
  2. The smell of blood, urine and feces or fragrant peach and pear blossoms
  3. A food yield of 100 to l000 lbs per acre or a food yield of 400,000 lbs. per acre not including trilevel agriculture which multiplies the yield
  4. 80 kilowatts of energy per production lb. l kilowatt of energy per production lb.
  5. A final yield of bones a final yield of life containing seeds
  6. Desertification reforestation of the world
  7. Sweat, blood and tears in production dropping a random seed.. watching nature do the work
  8. The most violent food the only food which does not require killing or theft from animals or plants
  9. Wastefully packaged wrapped by Mother Nature in walnut shells, banana peels, coconut husks
  10. Produces human disease produces human health

Fruit has polysaccharides, disaccharides, and monosaccharides. Fruit has time released natural sugar molecules. Fructose bypasses the pancreas and so can be used by diabetics (Marian Burros of the Wash Post and NY Times), whereas sugar in the United States is processed using charcoal bones which cause cancer (Jay Dinshah American Vegan Society Box H Malaga NJ 08328).


Recent 1997 flooding in both Arkansas and Ohio is directly related to massive tree cutting both for the money the wood would bring in and to clear land for intensive poultry and pig farming. Much of the hardwood forest of Arkansas was cleared and sold to a multinational lumber corporation. Each tree which was killed would have provided a root system which could hold several hundred pounds of flooding river water. Bayard Webster of the New York Times has reported that the average tree evaporates 40 gallons of moisture into the atmosphere daily.. moisture critical to the creation of rainclouds around the world. Trees prevent both drought and flood. They are nature's air conditioners and weather stabilizers. While lumber companies claim they are creating more forest land, the thousand and three thousand year old trees of the temperate rainforest and tropical rainforest are irreplaceable. Honduras has trees whose trunk diameter covers an 11ft by 11 ft area. The U.S. Forest Service has mad e the United States a land of skinny trees, as compared to the beautiful several hundred year old oak forests protected by the United Kingdom.


What is the energy ratio of meat to fruit? Dr. Don Meyers found that l pound of meat takes 80 times the production energy of a pound of fruit. Animals are fed, watered, given veterinary care, slaughtered, frozen in warehouses, on transportation trucks, in freezers at grocery stores and in homes. Then animal flesh is cooked at high temperatures. Compare this to a pear from a tree in your front yard which can grow from a casually tossed seed.


The ethical command to feed the hungry given by Jesus, by Krishna, by Buddha, by Mohammed, by Isaiah is not confined to any religious system. What is the food ratio of meat to fruit? According to Dr. Faust, former chief of the Fruit Labs of the USDA, centenarian fruit trees have dropped two tons each of free food. Fruit yields 250,000 to 400,000 lbs. of food per acre as compared to 100 to 1000 lbs. of meat. In between these two extremes are the yields of dairy (10,000 lbs per acre) and vegetables (80,000 lbs per acre). Some international relief scholars feel it is impossible to feed 5 to 6 billion people if many consume meat. It was reported to Dr. Kissinger recently that for China to double its egg production would require the grain of 15 countries.


The butyric acid in animal fat has a distinctive odor which many find unpleasant. The smell of cooking animal flesh in contrast to the fragrance of apple orchard blooms has made some 'esthetic vegetarians'.


Ohio Pirg, The Equal Justice Foundation of Toledo and others are involved in a lawsuit against AgriGeneral of S. Ohio, whose owner Anton Pohlmann supplied l/4 of the German egg market and who has been forbidden by the Lower Saxony courts to administer his operation. Workers are subjected to insecticides of nicotine base which have nearly caused fatalities. Guatemalan, Mexican, and other migrant workers are exempted from 8 hour shift protection. They must work long hours in what some claim is substandard housing.

The Ohio Farmers' Union, Farm Aid (Willie Nelson's group) of Cambridge, Ma, and Consumer Action of Akron have all taken stands against factory form operations' treatment of humans. The Food and Commmercial Workers' Union has picketed the Purdu treatment of workers. Slaughterhouse operations have extremely high turnover labor rates because of

  1. possible injury from terrified animals
  2. injury from the knives and electric shocking rods used on the animals
  3. the ear damage from animals' screams
  4. exposure to freezing temperatures
  5. a revulsion to killing the animals


Research has indicated a relationship between the adrenal poisons secreted by frightened, terrified animals during slaughter and aggressive behavior. Adrenalin is a long protein chain enzyme, some of the links of which are destroyed by cooking. Enough remain intact that humans who eat the animals' flesh are eating the biochemical equivalent of fright and anger. Restaurants which serve a high percentage of meat meals are correlated to crime. Many communities have successfully fought to exclude fast food chains from their communities.


Animal fat or grease fires are the major cause of restaurant conflagration and can be reduced by using olive and vegetable oils and substituting nonanimal foods.


There is a mysterious link between brain biochemistry and consciousness. Linus Pauling, the only man to win two Nobel Prizes (one for biochemistry one for peace) established The Center For Orthomolecular Research and defined an orthomolecule as a fruitarian or fruit=based molecule. His research on vitamin C established fruit as the best source of vitamin C. Fruitarians have the highest proportion of vitamin C in their diet. Pauling found that fruitarian biochemicals are similar to the neuromolecules in the brain and discovered that vitamin C speeds the flow of thought across the brain's electrical synapses. (It is also the body's bouncer, escorting toxins and free radicals out of the body). Vegetarians report the senses are more acute when there is less animal fat shrouding the nerves.

Lauric acid, an enzyme unique to raw coconut, is helpful in achieving a meditative state, many Hindus believe.


If you stood at Times Square and handed out flyers for the rest of your life, perhaps you would not reach as many people as in spending one day calling national talk shows. You can change the world from the privacy and freedom of your home.

Would you like to organize a vegetarian potluck dinner weekly or monthly? Or write a letter to the editor, call a talk show, tell a grocery store manager items you want him or her to carry, give a guest class at a school, tell your friends you are considering a vegetarian diet? Linden Hill asked his teacher "How can I love God more?" and his teacher replied "Each Is All". Whatever you are doing to make this world a better place, God bless you.


Leonardo Da Vinci: One day the world will look upon the eating of animals as it now looks upon the eating of humans.

William Shakespeare in Twelfth Night: He is a heavy eater of beef. Methinks it doth harm to his wit.

Vincent Van Gogh in a letter to his brother Theodore wrote: Since visiting the abbatoirs of S. France I have stopped eating meat.

Mark Braunstein: When one eats cow's tongue, who is tasting whom?

Sherry Kelley: Pray, don't spray.

Syndee Brinkman: I went snorkeling and noticed how gently the fish welcomed us into their world.. as compared to the violence with which we welcomed them into ours. I became a vegetarian.

Buddha: May all that have life be delivered from suffering.

Bhagavad Gita: He is closest to God who harms no living creature.

Isaiah: He that slayeth an ox is as he that slayeth a man.

Edith Bunker: Archie.. do you want eggs for breakfast?

Archie: I'm not going to eat anything that was in a cow's mouth. Fix me eggs, Edith.

Winston Churchill: When I find a ladybug I ask the butler to take it outside instead of killing it. (paraphrased)


Jesus and the Essenes

The Master Jesus was a very simple man who walked in the street in the middle of the people, who spoke directly with them and who lived in the company of his few disciples. Of course, there was a goodness, a purity, a royalty which emanated from him; but he was nothing like the "inaccessible high Master" which all of the churches have completely fabricated.
The Master Jesus was completely accessible, simple, yet imposing, and that is what pleased the crowd. When he was in town, people knew his habits and waited for him in the places where he often gave a teaching through parables, stories and discussions with those who asked him questions or who tried to trip him up. Everybody could come and participate in his talks, and anyone could speak. The Master gave a veiled teaching; he did not reveal all of his thoughts. Those who were interested by this first approach could follow him and become one of his disciples. One could be such a disciple without abandoning one's family or one's work.

Then the Master gave other teachings--deeper, more practical, more direct. He explained the meaning of the parables.
One of the higher steps for the circle of disciples was to repent and to receive John's baptism. It was the close disciples of the Master, the 12 apostles, who were to baptize the students who were entering a deeper level on the path.
Once a candidate had received the baptism, he entered an inner circle of a more restricted and secret School. Inside this circle, the Master transmitted a profound initiatic teaching, as well as certain precise methods. He said that he was working on the future of humanity through the intermediary of his students who had been thus prepared. The students of this secret School included women as well as men, although men were in the majority because of that time period. The discipline was strict, as in the Essene communities, but the presence of the Master meant that joy, laughter, and love circulated abundantly from soul to soul. The students had to do a lot of exercises, and work on themselves, on their own matter, according to the directives which were taught.

The Master said that, when a group of people gather together freely around a divine idea and begin to work on themselves in the direction of this idea, then, if there are enough of them, they carry within themselves all of humanity and they can make it evolve. From their work emanates a communal spiritual strength, which is like a sun in the soul of the earth and of humanity. This sun, in turn, works throughout time to attract the divine idea and to bring it to life within the reality of the earth.
Jesus Speaking to Women

The Master had given very precise directives for this work, and during some very beautiful communal ceremonies--notably the washing of the feet--he had made it understood that each one of them was becoming one with him in the Christ, that each one of them was becoming a part of the Christ on the earth, and that the final incarnation of the Christ inside all humans depended on the work of each one of them.
He had also transmitted songs, sounds, words, dances and movements which had to be done in a particular state of mind and with a great inner purity in order to produce certain effects within oneself and within the soul of the earth.
He taught that, in this way, certain very pure spiritual beings who live inside the soul of man and of the earth could be awakened, nourished, and strengthened in the will of the Heavenly Father.

The students had also to take the Nazarite vow not to eat meat or drink fermented drinks anymore. The Master said that, if a human being ate meat, he could not receive his word. This discipline was, at the same time, for both the external side and the internal side of life. The Master taught that physical vegetarianism had to be coupled with psychic vegetarianism, an attitude of inner life filled with a living morality, an active pacifism, a tenacious and serene will, a clarity and openness of mind. Like the Essenes, the Master attached great importance to cleanliness and purity. The purity which the Master taught was a lot less rigid than the one preached by the Essenes. It was alive, in movement, dynamic. The Master Jesus was very tolerant and very open. These rules applied only in the inner circle of his School. His teaching had several degrees, according to the state of consciousness and the level of evolution of the being who was in front of him. The Master loved all beings and wanted each one to be able to receive and participate in God's word at his own level. For some people, this word took on a tone of reprimand, of severity, even of condemnation. For others, one of consolation and hope. And finally, for the prepared students, it opened up the doors to the sacred path of the initiation of the soul into the eternal mysteries.

Master Jesus liked the atmosphere to be pure, and that is why, before he came, the students prepared and purified themselves in their thoughts, feelings, and desires through rhythmical exercises, movements, and dances. They used certain kinds of human-shaped waves which had the power to vivify, purify and improve the quality of the atmosphere of a place.

Master Jesus himself was always careful about the place in which he taught or practiced the works of his Father-Mother with his disciples. Thus, when he was in Jerusalem, he went and taught the crowd in the square of the Gentiles or in certain places in the streets of the city. People knew where they could find him. With his disciples, he liked to go outside of the city. Thus, he often arranged to meet the members of the inner circle in the garden of the 12 palm trees, which was located close to Bethany. There was a spring there, and the Master had explained at great length that this place was tied to the work which his faithful disciples would have to accomplish in the world in the centuries to come. He had revealed to all of them the purpose of his mission, the future history of humanity, the different incarnations of his disciples, and the role they would have to play in this history to serve Christ. Once again, he had alluded to the mysterious role of the Apostle John, and he had placed him in parallel with John the Baptist, the prophet Eli and the Essene Brotherhood-Sisterhood.

At the time when the Master Jesus was present among his disciples, he had already named the Master St. John as the leader of and the person responsible for this inner and secret School. It is the Master St. John who was put in charge of teaching in this School and of ensuring that the exercises were done correctly.
Thereafter, the Master St. John continued his task, even after Jesus' departure. He remained faithful and opened inner Schools in most European countries. These Schools continued to exist in secret and have propagated themselves right up to our own time, keeping Christ's teaching pure, exactly as the Essenes had kept pure Moses' secret and authentic teaching. Today, parts of this Teaching and of its techniques are being extended to the outside world because a new time of harvesting and sowing has arrived.

Excerpted from The Essenes and the lessons by Olivier Manitara.

Essene Prayer

Essene Prayer Said by the Virgin Mary

Within the Most High, my soul blossoms,
Leaps for joy at the sight of the ascendant path.

What is on high came to meet what is below,
And the Most High has impregnated my soul through his radiant look.

Out of all the generations, mine is blissful,
For the Almighty did great things for me;
He impregnated my soul.

Holy is his name, through the centuries runs his blessing
For those who, because of love, remain faithful to Him.

Sublime and untouched is the Most High,
Almighty is the power of his arm;
He scatters the proud, destroys those who only think of themselves,
Turns down the throne of those who only believe in their own power,
And lifts the humble, the simple, the pure and loving hearts up to his Kingdom.
He showers with his gifts those who remain silent before him.

The Most High never gives up his children who serve him with wisdom and love. Amen. (Gospel according to St. Luke 1.46,55).
Prayer, © Copyright by Annie Lauro.

It’s an ancient word, a prayer said by the Virgin Mary. It was not only said by her, but also by all the women who were pregnant in the Essene community.Actually, one must become aware that the Essene, Nazarene community gave a communal Teaching, a Teaching for the entire humanity, and that the Virgin Mary was not regarded as a superior woman. She had important responsibilities, but she was not regarded as a woman other than an other woman. All the women who were expecting were respected and practiced the same Teachings than the Virgin Mary.

“Nazarene” means “consecrated to God”, and also “the one who knows the hidden things”. This universal brotherhood, which is not characteristic of the Jewish people, knew the secrets of the impregnation of the soul, and regarded the fact that a woman was pregnant as something deeply mystical. They didn’t fix their attention on the fact a woman was expecting; for them, the woman represented a much higher secret than the woman as human being. For them, the woman represented the soul, the hidden soul, the pure soul, the virgin soul, and also the Earth—the Earth which is like a soul, reflection of the universal soul, in which all the souls (for example, the souls of the flowers, of the trees, of the animals, all the souls, even the souls of the angels) can appear as a unity of one same substance, which is the universal soul. This substance is like impregnated by rays of the Very-High, like rays of the sun. This soul was called “Ma” in the ancient mysteries, and gave the name “Maya” -- that is, the great illusion; it gave also the name “Mary”: “Ry”, “Ra”, or “Re” is the Ray of the universal Mother.

So, in this Essene brotherhood-sisterhood, the woman, and notably the pregnant woman, was regarded, not only as a pregnant woman, but as the symbol, the writing, and the hieroglyph of the mysteries of the entire cosmos, and even of the mysteries of Universe and evolution. All the secrets, the secrets of Isis and of the woman were contained in the pregnant woman.

St. John, who was Lazarus the Essene, reveals these secrets in the Book of Revelation when a being comes and tells him: "I will show you the mysteries of the woman." Then he talks about the great prostitute and about the spouse for the wedding of the lamb. The great prostitute is the soul that has given birth to the personality, the ego, separated from the Very-High and doing as it pleases.

So you see, this was an entire universe, not only made of words, but much more of realities: one didn’t need to talk about it, one just had to see a pregnant woman, and straightaway one had all these mysteries of the cosmos in front of oneself. In the same way, one now just needs to see the letters of the alphabet to know the word; one doesn’t need to talk about it, this is something which lives within the soul.

This Essene prayer is all the more important for our time since things happen in the atmosphere of the Earth. And one should know them, as the saying says: “Forewarned is forearmed.” Things happen, things that are in connection with this prayer, with the mysteries of the woman -- which concern men also of course.

“Within the Most-High, my soul blossoms, leaps for joy at the sight of the ascendant path. What is on high came to meet what is below, and the Most-High has impregnated my soul by his look full of light.”
You see, this is so beautiful…

“Out of all the generations, mine is blissful, for the Almighty did great things for me; He impregnated my soul by his ray.”
The question is: “Who can say this at our time?”
Of course, a woman in order to become pregnant is impregnated by a ray. But here, the prayer talks about the soul which is in the deepest; all things considered, about our soul, which, turned toward the Most-High, leaps for joy and sees the ascendant path. This is not an illusion, the path of awakening, ennoblement, and transformation is not an illusion. I see it or I don’t see it, but there is no illusion, there is no belief; it is the experience of a soul that tells what it lives.

“Holy is his name; throughout the centuries runs his blessing for those who, because of love, remain faithful to Him.”
Here, the Essene community says: “Throughout the centuries, we incessantly become incarnate, not by a dead filiation, but because we are faithful to the Very-High and because we dedicate our lives to Him. We dedicate our lives not in order to find something, but because we cannot do it in another way, because we see the reality: the Very-High, Love, Wisdom, and Intelligence fill the cosmos. He is the Source of existence, I am within Him, by my life. I am not the Master of my life, I am not the one who has created my life.”

Now I am going to deepen the meaning of this prayer, beyond the mysteries of the soul I have talked a little...

The Essene Way of Life

The life of the Essenes was perfectly organized in a hierarchy. There were those who lived in the villages surrounded by a low wall, completely cut-off from the cities, in the middle of nature. Their life was simple, austere and pious, lulled into a rhythm by the seasons, by the days of celebration, and by visitors. Others lived in the cities, in large buildings which belonged to the Community and which served simultaneously as their home, as an inn and as a hospital.
Indeed, they devoted their time and their activity to healing the sick and to providing hospitality to strangers passing through. There were others who traveled the roads, circulating news and information around all of the centers spread out in every country.
This is how the Master Jesus was able to go out into the world, benefiting from a minutely-detailed organization which operated to perfection.
There were also those who lived in the monastery-schools situated precisely in certain places, in accordance with the knowledge of the land of light, and of the doors which exist between it and the earth that we know. The Essenes who lived in these "temples" were almost always unmarried.

When an individual from outside of the order asked to be admitted--and after verification of certain aptitudes for the inner life--the candidate had to practice a kind of meditation. In complete calm, he examined his past life clearly, in order to arrive at an objective summary of it--with the successes, the failures, the motivations, the vibrations experienced, and the wisdom acquired. He had to discern the impulses which he had received from "heaven" and from "his angel" during his childhood and throughout his life, and look at how he had responded. Had he moved away from them, or had he remained faithful?
Through this analysis, a new bond with the higher world of the free spirit could be forged; and the candidate was led to discover his own mistakes--the cause of all of his suffering. In this way, he could bring about changes within himself, take control of his life, become responsible in the initiatic sense of the word, and prepare himself effectively, and in full awareness, to enter the Community of Light.
He entered the sacred world on the royal path.

After his initiation, which made him a full-fledged Brother (or Sister) of the community, the newcomer received, simultaneously with his white-linen robe, a mission to be accomplished during his life. This mission had to be a goal, an orientation which must never leave him, and which was a way of uniting him with God and making him useful to the earth and to humanity. He was never to stray from the conducting thread of this mission. This is what gave a positive meaning to his passage on earth and made him a true human being. For the School, to be a man was to carry inside oneself a beautiful light--to be offered to the earth, to its inhabitants and to oneself.

The white robe was a materialization of the power of his baptism and the purity of his soul, which had to protect him from the many contradictions of the world.
The staff, or cane, which he also received on this occasion symbolized his knowledge of the secret laws of life and his ability to use them harmoniously for the successful accomplishment of his task.
He was also required to take an oath to respect the earth as a living, sacred and intelligent being. In order to maintain contact with it, to honor it and to participate in its healthy evolution, he had to be in contact with the ground through his feet--and, sometimes, his whole body. This is why the Essenes were often barefoot.

One had to be at least 21 years old in order to receive this initiation.
The living knowledge of the laws of reincarnation (laws of evolution and mercy) and of the laws of destiny (laws of cause and effect) allowed the hierophants to choose a mission which corresponded exactly to the work which the soul had come to earth to accomplish.
In order to fulfill this particular mission, the Brother (or Sister) often had to surpass himself, to question himself, and to obtain the assistance of the Holy Spirit.
He was given techniques to help him; for example, he had to examine himself and observe himself often. Periodically, he was to look back at himself--watching his life unfold before him, image by image, like the pages of a book: "Was what he saw inscribed in this book worthy to be included in the Great Book of Life?"
Every thought, every feeling, every action, and its motivations, had to be clearly outlined "in black and white".
Then, it had to be determined if the idea of the mission, the high ideal, was the source. The Essene Masters knew from experience how quickly one can stray from the path of light and get lost, unable to find the road again. The task of the neophyte was to simplify everything within himself, in order to become one with his ideal. If this ideal shone only intermittently, as if to call him back to order, then that was not a good sign. A problem was taking root inside of him. He had to immediately clarify his life, in order to keep alive and pure his bond with the Most-High, with the sun of his soul. For him, this was the source of all healing, and of all authentic healing power.

The necessity to purify oneself constantly--by washing one's feet, hands and body--was very important to the Brothers and Sisters. They cleansed themselves physically and spiritually before entering someone's house, at the beginning and at the end of the day, and before eating or praying. They also washed each other's feet, as a sign of friendship and to cultivate the idea that they must take care of one another, as the Father of all took care of them. They also blessed one another by laying their hands on the top of the head, in order to be always united with the light and to reinforce the love which flowed among them.

They possessed an advanced science of speech and were able to cure certain illnesses just by chanting sounds. From childhood, they learned to speak in a soft voice and to control their words.

Mary, the Essene Virgin

The comprehension of certain "historical beings" can prove to be truly beneficial to man's evolution, education, and internal formation. My opinion is that the cosmic intelligence generates "historical beings" in order to bring a divine message to humanity. This message goes beyond the life of a single individual, or even that of a nation, to pertain to a comprehensive work. When the work is finished, the evolution of a cycle is terminated and another cycle can begin. The more we progress towards the outcome, the more history is known in its entirety. For some, it is only coincidence and the fruit of chance. For others, it is the work of the divine wisdom and the book of High knowledge.

History talks about man's free will and his being torn between two opposite complementary forces: death and life, the shadows of false knowing and the light of knowledge, the children of hatred and those of love. The one who was called the Virgin because of her inner purity, her mastery and her divine wisdom was a woman who made the scales of history lean towards the side of the children of light. 

The Virgin is a historical personage and, to understand her, one must place her back into her cultural context. She was part of the fraternity of the Essenes. She was born in the bosom of this fraternity and was raised in accordance with their mysteries and their particular initiation. Her entire life, therefore, had been dedicated to serving the knowledge of the Divine. The Essenes considered themselves as the custodian people of the alliance with God and his spiritual hierarchy. The goal of their entire life was to keep this alliance alive through consecrated human beings. This alliance was as real for them as fire, air, water or the earth are for us. Just as a contemporary man can verify the accuracy of the earth's fertility by planting a seed in it and watching it grow, an Essene could ascertain the reality of the alliance through the celebration of the mysteries. The goal of these mysteries was to form "prophets"--that is, beings capable of sensing, feeling or knowing the spiritual world and the will of the eternal Father. Not all of them succeeded in becoming prophets, but each one worked hard to it according to his own means, and they all participated in a communal work: that of making the Divine triumph in humanity. There were prophets of different categories, and those that the fraternity sought to give birth to, within its bosom, were the great spiritual Masters, those having the power to sow the world. 

The technique of Essene initiation consisted in plunging deep inside oneself to find again the source of divine existence which then allowed one to recognize, in the inner level and also around, in the outer level, the living and divine water which animates everything. This water was called the blood of the lamb, the blood of the prophets, of the spiritual Masters, of the great sages of the fraternity and of the people of God. The Essenes considered themselves to be the guardians of this spiritual blood and it is through its intermediary that they succeeded in keeping alive the alliance with the Divine. It was a whole state of mind, a culture, that is very difficult to put into words now and match today's mentality. It is this state of mind, voluntarily cultivated, that opened up the doors of the spiritual worlds to them. Thus, an Essene was conscious of belonging to a people, a tradition, a lineage. It is only when he felt himself in harmony with this lineage that he could really find his place and his fulfillment as an individual amid the community. An Essene could not reach fulfillment outside the lineage of light. Whatever he did in his individual life, had to be linked to the global task. Some cultivated the soil, others were craftsmen, others therapists or teachers… but all of them worked, in one way or another, for the ensemble and the common goal. 

The Virgin was born as an Essene; she had grown up among the community and had even performed the role of the temple dove. She was loved and recognized in the fraternity. Several had prophesied about her, proclaiming that she would give birth to a son of God, a great Master. However, before bringing Jesus into this world, she had doubts and she wondered because the Essenes had finally been caught by the letter that kills the spirit, and the Virgin had perceived it. As with many instituted groups, the risk is that, at a given moment, dogmas take over. However, the Essenes were about to succeed because very great prophets and spiritual Masters were soon going to emerge and to radiate the teaching in the world. It is the dogmatism, the extremism and the fanaticism that pushed the Virgin to distance herself from the community's life. In her heart and soul, she has always been Essene, but, in her body, she distanced herself from them. She joined dissident groups that lived as a family. At the time Jesus is a child, these families will play a very important role in the education of the Master. Himself, like his Mother, he will distance himself from the official and hierarchal Essenes.

At the time she was pregnant with the Master, she traveled, sleeping and living in the homes of simple people: farmers, fishermen, craftsmen. Everywhere they’d go with her husband, Joseph, they talked about God, about the One With No Name; they healed the sick and taught the art of the vine growing and other secrets of the earth. 

The Virgin knew that, in doing this, she was constructing the body of her child so that later he would feel close to simple people and go towards them in love, simplicity and free exchange. She did not want her child to become a prisoner of dead dogma which distances the human being from the simplest and the most beautiful realities of life. 

The Virgin wanted her child to be liberated from everything that is "frozen" in life, but she wished he would endeavor to live in liberty and love, the reality of the inner teaching of God. This is why she had always wanted to be on the move, traveling and going towards others with love, respect, and divinity.
Mother and Child

In labor, just as she was about to give birth, when the contractions were very advanced and the child was getting ready to come out, she heard the spiritual voice, the prophetic voice, the voice of God which traditionally speaks to the people of the children of light. She was surprised to hear this voice because she knew all that this implicated. The voice told her that her son was wearing a mantle of snow, that he had the hair of wisdom, and that, at the age of seven, he would leave his home to become the Word of God. Thus, the Virgin, who was suffering because of the contractions, thought that she would lose her son and that he would be called by the angels. She understood the message: her son was an Essene and his life was consecrated to God. The mantle of snow was the white robe of the Brothers and Sisters of the Order. The hair of wisdom was the sign of alliance of the Essenes. The age of seven represented the supreme degree of initiation that only the very great Masters could successfully pass through in order to consciously unite themselves with the angelic hierarchies and the divinity. 

It is in this state of mind, with great lucidity and a sublime love, that she consecrated her child to God at the very moment he came into the world. In this way, she accomplished the ancient rite and the secular vow of the Nazarites. Jesus was born as an Essene, and the Virgin, from that moment, deployed her will so that he would receive the education and the transmission of the spiritual laws issued by the fraternity. This is how, at the age of twelve, he was able to astonish all the priests of the temple of Jerusalem . Nevertheless, she made sure that he was educated by a dissident and non-dogmatic branch of the fraternity. In fact, there were two Essene communities: one external and official, and the other more internal and quiet. One finds the same aspect in Christianity: on one side, there is the church of St. Peter , which takes care of the external side and which is very dogmatic and rigid; and, on another side, the church of St. John , which seeks, in liberty and love, to live Christ's teaching from the inside. 

This will of the Virgin to remove Jesus from the external community was very difficult to live with because that community wanted to gain possession of the child for reasons that are very easy to understand. Finally, through negotiations, the Virgin succeeded in keeping the child with her and having him educated by the dissident group. She succeeded in this thanks to the help of the angels who were with her and who protected the Master Jesus. The Essenes were sensitive to the angels and were used to obeying them. 

It is the Essenes who taught the Master Jesus to eat, to walk, to speak, to read, to write, to pray, and to unite himself with the One With No Name, with the Father and the Mother of the world. 

The Virgin made sure that his education would be intensive because she wanted him to be almost an adult at the age of seven before leaving with the angels. But, in fact, at the age of seven, he met his inner being, his divine source, the people of God, his angel of light who made him experience the divine world in its pure manifestation and reality. 

The Virgin supported her son all the time and she believed, for many years, that he was an angel come to the earth

Who Were the Essenes?

"... the Essenes... dedicated their lives, their minds, their bodies to a purpose, to a seeking for that which had been to them a promise of old.... Hence, there was the continued preparation and dedication of those who might be the channels through which this chosen vessel might enter -- through choice -- into this material realm. Thus in Carmel -- where there were the chief priests and leaders of this faith -- there were the maidens chosen who were dedicated to this purpose.... Among them was Mary, the beloved, the chosen one."

Since the archaeological discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1946, the word "Essene" has made its way around the world--often raising a lot of questions. Many people were astonished to discover that, two thousand years ago, a brotherhood of holy men and women, living together in a community, carried within themselves all of the seeds of Christianity and of future western civilization. This brotherhood--more or less persecuted and ostracized--would bring forth people who would change the face of the world and the course of history. Indeed, almost all of the principal founders of what would later be called Christianity were Essenes--St. Ann, Joseph and Mary, John the Baptist, Jesus, John the Evangelist, etc.


The Essenes considered themselves to be a separate people--not because of external signs like skin color, hair color, etc., but because of the illumination of their inner life and their knowledge of the hidden mysteries of nature unknown to other men. They considered themselves to be also a group of people at the center of all peoples--because everyone could become part of it, as soon as they had successfully passed the selective tests.
They thought, and rightly so, that they were the heirs of God's sons and daughters of old, the heirs to their great ancient civilization. They possessed their advanced knowledge and worked assiduously in secret for the triumph of the light over the darkness of the human mind.

They felt that they had been entrusted with a mission, which would turn out to be the founding of Christianity and of western civilization. They were supported in this effort by highly evolved beings who directed the brotherhood. They were true saints, Masters of wisdom, hierophants of the ancient arts of mastery.

They were not limited to a single religion, but studied all of them in order to extract the great scientific principles. They considered each religion to be a different stage of a single revelation. They accorded great importance to the teachings of the ancient Chaldeans, of Zoroaster, of Hermes Trismegiste, to the secret instructions of Moses and of one of the founding Masters of their order who had transmitted techniques similar to those of Buddhism, as well as to the revelation of Enoch.
They possessed a living science of all of these revelations.
Thus, they knew how to communicate with angelic beings and had solved the question of the origin of evil on the earth.


One of their major preoccupations was to protect themselves from any contact with evil spirits, in order to preserve the purity of their souls. They knew that they would only be on earth for a short time, and they did not want to prostitute their eternal souls. It was this attitude, this strict discipline, this absolute refusal to lie or compromise, that made them the object of so much persecution through the ages.

The Essenes considered themselves the guardians of the Divine Teaching. They had in their possession a great number of very ancient manuscripts, some of them going back to the dawn of time. A large portion of the School members spent their time decoding them, translating them into several languages, and reproducing them, in order to perpetuate and preserve this advanced knowledge. They considered this work to be a sacred task.


The Essenes considered their Brotherhood-Sisterhood as the presence on earth of the Teaching of the sons and daughters of God. They were the light which shines in the darkness and which invites the darkness to change itself into light. Thus, for them, when a candidate asked to be admitted to their School, it meant that, within him, a whole process of awakening of the soul was set in motion. Such a soul was ready to climb the stairs of the sacred temple of humanity.
The Essenes differentiated between the souls which were sleeping, drowsy, and awakened. Their task was to help, to comfort, and to relieve the sleeping souls, to try to awaken the drowsy souls, and to welcome and guide the awakened souls. Only the souls considered as awakened could be initiated into the mysteries of the Brotherhood-Sisterhood. Then began for them a path of evolution that could not stop anymore through the cycle of their incarnations.


Everybody knew the Brothers and Sisters in white. The Hebrews called them "The School of Prophets"; and, to the Egyptians, they were "The Healers, The Doctors". They had property in nearly all of the big cities; and, in Jerusalem, there was even a door that bore their name: the door of the Essenes. Despite some fear and joking, due to the rejection of that which one does not know, the people as a whole felt respect and esteem for the Essenes because of their honesty, their pacifism, their goodness, their discretion, and their talent as healers, devoted to the poorest as well as to the richest. They knew that the greatest Hebrew prophets came from their lineage and their School.
Moreover, even if the Brotherhood was very strict about the law of secrecy with regard to its internal doctrine, it cultivated many points of contact with the people, notably through places of lodging for the pilgrims from every horizon, through helpful actions in difficult periods, and especially through the healing of illnesses. These places of primary teaching and of healing were located in precise areas where people could go freely.

Essene Invocation-Meditation For Respect

From the very beginning, initiatic science has taught to all human beings and to all peoples the secrets of prayer, invocation and active meditation, in order to make positive forces come down into one's own body, one's life and the atmosphere of one's community, land, of humanity and the earth.
I give here a prayer-invocation-meditation, the goal of which is to call within oneself and within the soul of the world the presence of the angel of respect, so that all beings can become sane and joyous.
This prayer-invocation-meditation has a magical power which purifies thought, the heart and the destiny. It must be pronounced with respect, consciousness and love. It is good to cultivate within the right attitude, a state of calm before the pronunciation.

Through the light of my awakened thought,
Through the heat of my heart,
Through the force of my consciousness, of my pure intention,
Of my sincerity and of my understanding,
I call the Angel of Respect.
Angel of Respect, servant of the cosmic intelligence,
I aspire to enter your School of devotion.
Come and establish your dwelling in my thought,
My heart, my life and my deeds.
I want to become faithful to you in love
And to set the seal on a saintly alliance with you.

(A few seconds of meditation and inner silence.)

May the immortal being who inhabits the earth,
Makes it alive and intelligent,
Who uses it as a body of manifestation,
But who is larger in its essence,
Receive my respect and my love.
The I who animates me is one with the I who animates the earth.
It is my inner guide and the sacred presence within all beings.
It is the essence of my immortality.

(Meditation and inner silence.)

May the immortal being who inhabits the water,
Makes it alive and intelligent,
Who uses it as a body of manifestation,
But who is larger in its essence,
Receive my respect and my love.
The I who animates me is one with the I who animates the water.
It is my inner guide and the sacred presence within all beings.
It is the essence of my immortality.

(Meditation and inner silence.)

May the immortal being who inhabits the breath,
Makes it alive and intelligent,
Who uses it as a body of manifestation,
But who is larger in its essence,
Receive my respect and my love.
The I who animates me is one with the I who animates the breath.
It is my inner guide and the sacred presence within all beings.
It is the essence of my immortality.

(Meditation and inner silence.)

May the immortal being who inhabits the fire,
Makes it alive and intelligent,
Who uses it as a body of manifestation,
But who is larger in its essence,
Receive my respect and my love.
The I who animates me is one with the I who animates the fire.
It is my inner guide and the sacred presence within all beings.
It is the essence of my immortality.

(Meditation and inner silence.)

May the immortal being who inhabits the sky,
Makes it alive and intelligent,
Who uses it as a body of manifestation,
But who is larger in its essence,
Receive my respect and my love.
The I who animates me is one with the I who animates the sky.
It is my inner guide and the sacred presence within all beings.
It is the essence of my immortality.

(Meditation and inner silence.)

May the immortal being who inhabits the living thought,
Makes it alive and intelligent,
Who uses it as a body of manifestation,
But who is larger in its essence,
Receive my respect and my love.
The I who animates me is one with the I who animates the living thought.
It is my inner guide and the sacred presence within all beings.
It is the essence of my immortality.

(Meditation and inner silence.)

May the immortal being who inhabits the living knowledge,
Makes it alive and intelligent,
Who uses it as a body of manifestation,
But who is larger in its essence,
Receive my respect and my love.
The I who animates me is one with the I who animates the living knowledge.
It is my inner guide and the sacred presence within all beings.
It is the essence of my immortality.

(Meditation and inner silence.)

You are the one who sees without being seen,
Hears without being heard,
Understands without being understood,
Gives without receiving.
You are the invisible, the supreme and perfect.
I want to see you,
To hear you,
To understand you,
To welcome you,
And to offer you my respect, veneration, and love.
Without you,
No one sees,
No one hears,
No one understands,
No one gives,
No one receives.
Within you I want to be.
Within you I am.

(Meditation and inner silence.)

May the earth be blessed within the presence I-Am.
May the water be blessed within the presence I-Am.
May the breath be blessed within the presence I-Am.
May the fire be blessed within the presence I-Am.
May the sky be blessed within the presence I-Am.
May the living thought be blessed within the presence I-Am.
May the living knowledge be blessed within the presence I-Am.
May the sacred traditions of the peoples be blessed within the presence I-Am.
May the humanity of light be blessed within the presence I-Am.
May all beings be blessed, find happiness and peace within the sacred presence I-Am.


Feast of St. John, June 2000.
Olivier Manitara

Excerpted from the lessons by Olivier Manitara

The Modest," "Humble," or "Pious ones."

ESSENES (etymology doubtful; probably two words are represented, "Essenes" and "Essæi": Essenes = Ἐσσηνοὶ = , "the modest," "humble," or "pious ones" [so Josephus in most passages; Pliny, in "Historia Naturalis," v. 17, used "Esseni"]; Essæi = Ἐσσαῖου = , the "silent" or "reticent" ones [so at times Josephus, and regularly Philo; Οσσαῖοι in Epiphanius]; others, with less probability, derive the name from the Syriac "ḥase," pl. "ḥasen," status emphaticus "ḥasaya" [the pious; this explanation was suggested by De Sacy and adopted by Ewald, Wellhausen, and Schürer]; from the Aramaic "asa" [= "to heal," or "the healers"; so Bellermann, Herzfeld, Geiger]; from "'asah" [="to do," with reference to the "'anshe ma'aseh," the men of wondrous practise: Suk. v. 4]; from a town by the obscure name of "Essa" [Josephus, "Ant." xiii. 15, § 3; so Hilgenfeld]; from "ḥaza" [= "to see," "seers"]; from "'ashen" [="strong"]; from seḥa" [= "to bathe"; so Graetz]):


A branch of the Pharisees who conformed to the most rigid rules of Levitical purity while aspiring to the highest degree of holiness. They lived solely by the work of their hands and in a state of communism, devoted their time to study and devotion and to the practise of benevolence, and refrained as far as feasible from conjugal intercourse and sensual pleasures, in order to be initiated into the highest mysteries of heaven and cause the expected Messianic time to come ('Ab. Zarah ix. 15; Luke ii. 25, 38; xxiii. 51). The strangest reports were spread about this mysterious class of Jews. Pliny (l.c.), speaking of the Essene community in the neighborhood of the Dead Sea, calls it the marvel of the world, and characterizes it as a race continuing its existence for thousands of centuries without either wives and children, or money for support, and with only the palm-trees for companions in its retreat from the storms of the world. Philo, who calls the Essenes "the holy ones," after the Greek ὅσιοι, says in one place (as quoted by Eusebius, "Præparatio Evangelica," viii. 11) that ten thousand of them had been initiated by Moses into the mysteries of the sect, which, consisting of men of advanced years having neither wives nor children, practised the virtues of love and holiness and inhabited many cities and villages of Judea, living in communism as tillers of the soil or as mechanics according to common rules of simplicity and abstinence. In another passage ("Quod Omnis Probus Liber," 12 et seq.) he speaks of only four thousand Essenes, who lived as farmers and artisans apart from the cities and in a perfect state of communism, and who condemned slavery, avoided sacrifice, abstained from swearing, strove for holiness, and were particularly scrupulous regarding the Sabbath, which day was devoted to the reading and allegorical interpretation of the Law. Josephus ("Ant." xv. 10, § 4; xviii. 1, § 5; "B. J." ii. 8, §§ 2-13) describes them partly as a philosophical school like the Pythagoreans, and mystifies the reader by representing them as a kind of monastic order with semi-pagan rites. Accordingly, the strangest theories have been advanced by non-Jewish writers, men like Zeller, Hilgenfeld, and Schürer, who found in Essenism a mixture of Jewish and pagan ideas and customs, taking it for granted that a class of Jews of this kind could have existed for centuries without leaving a trace in rabbinical literature, and, besides, ignoring the fact that Josephus describes the Pharisees and Sadducees also as philosophical schools after Greek models.

The Essenes in History.

The Essenes, as they appear in history, were far from being either philosophers or recluses. They were, says Josephus ("Ant." xv. 10, §§ 4-5), regarded by King Herod as endowed with higher powers, and their principle of avoiding taking an oath was not infringed upon. Herod's favor was due to the fact that Menahem, one of their number who, excelling in virtuous conduct and preaching righteousness, piety, and love for humanity, possessed the divine gift of prophecy, had predicted Herod's rise to royalty. Whether Sameas and Pollio, the leaders of the academy (Abot i. 11), who also refused to take an oath ("Ant." xv. 10, § 4), belonged to the Essenes, is not clear. Menahem is known in rabbinical literature as a predecessor of Shammai (Ḥag. ii. 2). Of Judas the Essene Josephus relates ("Ant." xiii. 11, § 2; "B. J." i. 3, § 5) that he once sat in the Temple surrounded by his disciples, whom he initiated into the (apocalyptic) art of foretelling the future, when Antigonus passed by. Judas prophesied a sudden death for him, and after a while his prediction came true, like everyother one he made. A similar prophecy is ascribed to Simon the Essene ("Ant." xvii. 13, § 3; "B. J." ii. 7, § 4), who is possibly identical with the Simon in Luke ii. 25. Add to these John the Essene, a general in the time of the Roman war ("B. J." ii. 20, § 4; iii. 2, § 1), and it becomes clear that the Essenes, or at least many of them, were men of intense patriotic sentiment; it is probable that from their ranks emanated much of the apocalyptic literature. Of one only, by the name of Banus (probably one of the Banna'im; see below), does Josephus ("Vita," § 2) relate that he led the life of a hermit and ascetic, maintaining by frequent ablutions a high state of holiness; he probably, however, had other imitators besides Josephus.

Origin of the Essenes.

To arrive at a better understanding of the Essenes, the start must be made from the Ḥasidim of the pre-Maccabean time (I Macc. ii. 42, vii. 13; II Macc. xiv. 6), of whom both the Pharisees and the Essenes are offshoots (Wellhausen, "Israelitische und Jüdische Geschichte," 1894, p. 261). Such "overrighteous ones," who would not bring voluntary sacrifices nor take an oath, are alluded to in Eccl. vii. 16, ix. 2, while the avoidance of marriage by the pious seems to be alluded to in Wisdom iii. 13-iv. 1 (comp. II Macc. xiv. 6, 25). The avoidance of swearing became also to a certain extent a Pharisaic rule based on Ex. xx: 7 (see Targ.; Ned. 8b; Yer, Ned. iii. 38a; Soṭah 9b; Ber. 33a); and the rule (Matt. v. 37, R. V.) "Let your speech be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay," is also Talmudic (B. M. 49a). As a matter of fact, the line of distinction between Pharisees ("Perushim") and Essenes was never very clearly drawn (see "Perishut" in Abot iii. 13; Soṭah iii. 4, xi. 15; Tosef., Soṭah, xv. 11; Ṭoh. iv. 12; B. B. 60b).

Thus the more than six thousand Pharisees who claimed to be "highly favored by God" and to possess by "divine inspiration foreknowledge of things to come," and who refused to take an oath of fealty to Herod, predicting his downfall while promising children to Bagoas, the eunuch (Josephus, "Ant." xvii. 2, § 4), were scarcely different from those elsewhere called "Essenes" ("Ant." xv. 10, § 4).

"The Ancient Ḥasidim."

About the organization of the ancient Ḥasidim little is known; but each Pharisee had to be admitted by certain rites to membership in the association ("ḥeber" or "ḥaburah"), receiving the name "ḥaber" therefrom (Dem. ii. 3; Tosef., Dem. ii. 2; Bek. 30b); these fraternities assembled not only for worship but also for meals (see Geiger," Urschrift," pp. 122 et seq.). The Pharisaic and Essene system of organization appears to have been at the outset the same, a fact which implies a common origin. A remnant of this Ḥasidean brotherhood seems to have been the "Neḳiyye ha-Da'at" (the pure-minded) of Jerusalem, who would neither sit at the table or in court, nor sign a document, with persons not of their own circle (Giṭ. ix. 8; Sanh. 23a). They paid special reverence to the scroll of the Law in the synagogue (Masseket Soferim, xiv. 14).

But tradition has preserved certain peculiarities of these "ancient Ḥasidim" (Ḥasidim ha-rishonim) which cast some light on their mode of life. (1) In order to render their prayer a real communion with God as their Father in heaven, they spent an hour in silent meditation before offering their morning prayer (comp. Didascalia in Jew. Encyc. iv. 593), and neither the duty of saluting the king nor imminent peril, as, for instance, from a serpent close to their heels, could cause them to interrupt their prayer (Ber. v. 1; Tosef., Ber. iii. 20; Ber. 32b). (2) They were so scrupulous regarding the observance of the Sabbath that they refrained from sexual intercourse on all days of the week except Wednesday, lest in accordance with their singular calculation of the time of pregnancy the birth of a child might take place on a Sabbath and thereby cause the violation of the sacred day (Niddah 38a, b). Peril of life could not induce them to wage even a war of defense on the Sabbath (I Macc. ii. 38; II Macc. v. 25, xv. 4). (3) They guarded against the very possibility of being the indirect cause of injuring their fellow men through carelessness (Tosef., B. Ḳ. ii. 6; B. Ḳ. 30a, 50b; comp. Giṭ. 7a: "No injury is ever caused through the righteous"). (4) Their scrupulousness concerning "ẓiẓit" (Men. 40b) is probably only one instance of their strict observance of all the commandments. (5) Through their solicitude to avoid sin (whence also their name "Yire'e Ḥeṭ" = "fearers of sin": Sheḳ. vi. 6; Soṭah ix. 15) they had no occasion for bringing sin-offerings, wherefore, according to R. Judah, they made Nazarite vows to enable them to bring offerings of their own; according to R. Simeon, however, they refrained from bringing such offerings, as they were understood by them to be "an atoning sacrifice for the sins committed against the soul" (Num. vi. 11, Hebr.). This aversion to the Nazarite vow seems to have been the prevailing attitude, as it was shared by Simeon the Just (Sifre, Num. 22; Ned. 10a). (6) Especially rigorous were they in regard to Levitical purity ('Eduy. viii. 4; Tosef., Oh. iv. 6, 13, where "zeḳenim ha-rishonim" [the ancient elders] is only another name for "Ḥasidim ha-rishonim"; see Weiss, "Dor," i. 110); they were particularly careful that women in the menstrual state should keep apart from the household, perform no household duties, and avoid attractiveness in appearance (Sifra, Meẓora', end; Shab. 64b; Ab. R. N. ii.; "Baraita di Masseket Niddah," in Horowitz's "Uralte Tosefta," 1890, i. 5, p. 16, iii. 2-3, pp. 24-27; "Pitḥe Niddah," pp. 54 et seq.). (7) This, however, forms only part of the general Ḥasidean rule, which was to observe the same degree of Levitical purity as did the priest who partook of the holy things of the Temple ("okel ḥullin be-ṭohorat ḳodesh"); and there were three or four degrees of holiness, of which the Pharisees, or "ḥaberim," observed only the first, the Ḥasidim the higher ones (Ḥag. ii. 6-7; Tosef., Dem. ii. 2). The reason for the observance of such a high degree of holiness must be sought in the fact that Levites who ate "ma'aser" and priests who ate "terumah" and portions of the various sacrifices had their meals in common with the rest of the people and had to be guarded against defilement.

The "Zenu'im," or Chaste Ones.

Upon the observance of the highest state of purity and holiness depended also the granting of the privilege, accorded only to the élite of the priesthood, of being initiated into the mysteries of the HolyName and other secret lore. "The Name of twelve letters [see God, Names of] was, after the Hellenistic apostasy, entrusted only to the 'Ẓenu'im' [the chaste ones] among the priesthood. The Name of forty-two letters was entrusted only to the 'Ẓanua'' and ''Anaw' [the chaste and the humble] after they had passed the zenith of life and had given assurance of preserving it [the Name] in perfect purity" (Ḳid. 71a; Eccl. R. iii. 11; Yer. Yoma 39d, 40a). There was a twofold principle underlying the necessity of perfect chastity. When God revealed Himself to Moses and to the people of Israel they were enjoined to abstain from sexual intercourse, Israel for the time being, Moses for all time (Shab. 87a; Pes. 87b; Ab. R. N. ii., based upon Ex. xix. 15; Deut. v. 27). Those in hope of a divine revelation consequently refrained from sexual intercourse as well as other impurity (comp. Rev. xiv. 4; Enoch, lxxxiii. 2).

But there was another test of chastity which seems to have been the chief reason for the name of "Ẓenu'im" (Essenes): the Law (Deut. xxiii. 10-15; comp. Targ. Yer. ad loc.; Sifra, 258; Ber. 62a) enjoins modesty in regard to the covering of the body lest the Shekinah be driven away by immodest exposure. Prayer was prohibited in presence of the nude (Ber. 24b), and according to the Book of Jubilees (iii. 30 et seq., vii. 20) it was a law given to Adam and Noah "not to uncover as the Gentiles do." The chastity ("ẓeni'ut") shown in this respect by King Saul and his daughter (I Sam. xxiv. 4; II Sam. vi. 16) gave him and his household a place in rabbinical tradition as typical Essenes, who would also observe the law of holiness regarding diet and distribute their wealth among the (poor) people (Pesiḳ. R. 15; Midr. Teh. vii.; Num. R. xi.; Meg. 13b; Yer. Suk. v. 55c). Every devotee of the Law was expected to be a "ẓanua'" (Abot vi. 1; Niddah 12a; Derek Ereẓ Zuṭa vii.), such as were Rachel and Esther (Meg. 13b), Hanan ha-Neḥba, the grandson of Onias the Saint (Ta'an. 23b), R. Akiba (Ket. 62b), and Judah ha-Nasi (Yer. Meg. i. 72b).

The "Hashsha'im," or Secret Ones.

The name "Ẓenu'im," which is replaced or explained by "Kesherim" (the blameless ones), another name for "Ḥasidim" (Yer. Dem. vi. 25d; Yer. Yoma iii. 40d; comp. Tosef., Dem. vi. 6; Ned. i. 1; Ab. R. N., text B, iv., ed. Schechter, p. 14, and comp. note on p. 15), is also applied, like the term "Ḥashsha'im" (see below), to those reticent ones to whom a secret may be confided; e.g., secret scrolls concerning the Temple service were entrusted to them (Tosef., Yoma, ii. 7; Yer. Yoma iii. 41a). It is not always clear, however, whether the name denotes the Essenes or simply the modest ones as a class (see Dem. vi. 6; Ma'as. Sh. v. 1; Tosef., Soṭah, xiii. 6). R. Simeon the Ẓanua', who, while disregarding the Temple practise, shows a certain contempt for the high priest (Tosef., Kelim B. B. i. 6), appears on all accounts to have been an Essene priest. In an old Armenian version of Philo's dictionary of Hebrew names "Essene" is explained as "in silence" (Philo, "De Vita Contempla tiva," ed. Conybeare, p. 247). The suggestion may be made that the Ḥashsha'im, "the observers of secrecy," designated also "the sin-fearing," who "had a chamber called 'lishkat ḥashsha'im' in the Temple, where they deposited their gifts of charity in secret and whence the respectable poor drew their support in secrecy," were the same Essenes from whom "the Gate of the Essenes" in Jerusalem (Josephus, "B. J." v. 42) derived its name. According to Tosef., Sheḳ. ii. 16, these Ḥashsha'im had in every city a special chamber for their charity-box, so that money could be deposited and taken in secret, a thing that could only be done upon the presumption that the money belonged to all alike; and since each city had its administrative body consisting of its best men, who took charge of the collection and distribution of charity (Tosef., Peah, iv. 6, 16; Tosef., Sheb. vii. 9), it is probable that these Essene-like ascetics ("Ẓenu'im": Tosef., Peah, ii. 18) followed their own traditions, though they probably also came under the general administration.

The explanation of Εσσάιοι given by Suidas (= ϑεωρήτικοι = "men of contemplation," or "mystics") suggests that the name "Ḥashsha'im," like "Ẓenu'im," denoted men entrusted with the secret lore given in a whisper "(Ḥag. 13a, 14a; Gen. R. iii.).

"Watikim" and "Holy Ones."

Another name denoting a class of pietistic extremists showing points of contact with the Essenes is "Watiḳim," (men of firm principles: Sifre, Num. 92; Sifre, Deut. 13; Müller, "Masseket Soferim," 1878, p. 257, who identifies them with the Essenes). "The Watiḳim so arranged their morning prayer as to finish the Shema' exactly at the time when the sun came out in radiance" (Ber. 9b; comp. Wisdom xvi. 28; II Macc. x. 28); the Watiḳim closed the prayers "Malkiyyot, Shofarot" and "Zikronot" with Pentateuch verses (R. H. 32b). As holders of ancient traditions, they placed their own custom above the universally accepted halakah (Masseket Soferim, xiv. 18). Still another name which deserves special consideration is "ḳadosh" (saint). "Such is he called who sanctifies himself, like the 'Nazir,' by abstaining from enjoyments otherwise permissible" (Ta'an. 11a, b; Yeb. 20a; comp. Niddah 12a, where the word "Ẓanu'a" is used instead). Menahem bar Simai is called "son of the saints" because he would not even look at a coin which bore the image of the emperor or pass under the shadow of an idol (Pes. 104a; Yer, 'Ab. Zarah iii. 42c, 43b, where he is called "Nahum, the most holy one"). In Jerusalem there existed down to the second century a community by the name of "The Holy Congregation" ('Edah Ḳedoshah, or Ḳehala Ḳaddisha), which insisted on each member practising a trade and devoting a third part of the day to the study of the Torah, a third to devotion, and a third to work: probably a survival of an Essene community (Eccl. R. ix. 9; Ber. 9b; Tamid 27b).

In this connection mention should also be made of the "Banna'im" (builders: Miḳ. ix. 6; Shab. 114a), whom Frankel ("Zeitschrift für die Religiösen Interessen des Judenthums," 1846, p. 455) with great plausibility identifies with the Essenes. Originally applied to a gild of builders belonging to the Essenes (see "Polistes," below; comp. Abba Ḳolon "the Builder," Cant. R. i. 6; Abba Joseph the Builder, Ex. R. xiii.; the "Bannai" [Builder] in the companyof R. Gamaliel, who was to hide in the walls the Targum to Job, Tosef., Shab. xiii. 2), their name was given the meaning of builders of a higher world and afterward applied to the Rabbis in general (Ber. 64a; Yer. Yoma iii. 40; Yer. Giṭ. vii. 48d; Ex. R. xxiii.; comp. οἰκοδομεῖν in the "Didascalia" and the Pauline writings). Each hermit built his house himself; hence the names "Banus" and "Bannaia," adopted by men whose type was the legendary Benaiah ben Jehoiada (Ber. 4a; 18a, b).

Survivals of the Hasidim.

The name of the Ḥasidim of olden times is coupled with that of the "Anshe Ma'aseh" (men of miraculous deeds: Suk. v. 4), a fact which shows that both belonged to the same class. Ḥanina b. Dosa is called the last of "the miracle-workers" (Soṭah ix. 15). But the Ḥasidim remained wonder-workers in Talmudic times (Ber. 18b; Lev. R. xxii., where "ish hama'aseh" is translated into "'asḳan bi-debarim"). In fact, there existed books containing miraculous stories of the Ḥasidim, a considerable number of which were adopted by Talmud and Midrash (see Eccl. R. ix. 10), just as there existed secret scrolls ("Megillot Seṭarim") and ethical rules of the Ḥasidim ("Mishnat" or "Megillat Ḥasidim") to which allusion is made here and there in the Talmud (Yer. Ter. viii. 46b; Yer. Ber. ix. 14d), and the contents of which have found their way into the pseudepigraphic and early non-Talmudic, literature (see Horowitz, l.c.). The Ḥasidim mentioned in old baraitas like Temurah (15b) and Soṭah (ix. 15), and in Abot de-Rabbi Natan (viii.), who spent their time on works of charity, are none other but survivals of the ancient Ḥasidim. The Ḥasidean traditions may, therefore, be traced from Jose ben Joezer, the martyr-saint and Ḥasidean leader of the Maccabean time (II Macc. xiv. 37, where "Razis" is a corruption of the name; Gen. R. lxv.; Frankel, in "Monatsschrift," lii. 406 [1851], down to Phinehas b. Jair, who was both in theory and in practise a disciple of the Ḥasidim (see Bacher, "Ag. Tan." ii. 594 et seq.); indeed, there is little in Essene life which does not find its explanation in rabbinical sources.

Viewed in the light of these facts, the description of the Essenes given by Philo and Josephus will be better understood and appreciated. Philo describes them in his earlier work, "Quod Omnis Probus Liber," § 12, as

Philo's Account of the Essenes.(comp. Ex. R. xii.: "Moses should not pray to God in a city full of idols").

"a number of men living in Syria and Palestine, over 4,000 according to my judgment, called 'Essæi' (ὂσιοι) from their saintliness (though not exactly after the meaning of the Greek language), they being eminently worshipers of God (θεραπευταί Θεον)—not in the sense that they sacrifice living animals (like the priests in the Temple), but that they are anxious to keep their minds in a priestly state of holiness. They prefer to live in villages and avoid cities on account of the habitual wickedness of those who inhabit them, knowing, as they do, that just as foul air breeds disease, so there is danger of contracting an incurable disease of the soul from such bad associations"

This fear of contamination is given a different meaning by Philo ("De Vita Contemplativa," ed. Conybeare, pp. 53, 206). Speaking of their occupations, he says:

(comp. Ḳid. iv. 11; Tosef., Ḳid. v. 15; Masseket Soferim, xv. 10; all these passages being evidences of the same spirit pervading the Pharisaic schools).

"Some cultivate the soil, others pursue peaceful arts, toiling only for the provision of their necessary wants. . . . Among all men they alone are without money and without possession, but nevertheless they are the richest of all, because to have few wants and live frugally they regard as riches [comp. Abot iv. 1: "Who is rich? Who is contented with his lot? for it is said: 'When thou eatest the labor of thy hands happy art thou and it shall be well with thee'" (Ps. cxxviii. 2, Hebr.)]. Among them there is no maker of any weapon of war [comp. Shab. vi. 4], nor any trader, whether huckster or dealer in large merchandise on land or sea, nor do they follow any occupation that leads to injustice or to covetousness"

"There is not a single slave among them, but they are all free, serving one another; they condemn masters, not only as representing a principle of unrighteousness in opposition to that of equality, but as personifications of wickedness in that they violate the law of nature which made us all brethren, created alike." [This means that, so far from keeping slaves, the Essenes, or Ḥasidim, made it their special object to ransom captives (see Ab. R. N. viii.; Ta'an. 22a; Ḥul. 7a); they emancipated slaves and taught them the Law, which says: "They are My servants (Lev. xxv. 42), but should not be servants of servants, and should not wear the yoke of flesh and blood" (Targ. Yer. to Deut. xxiii. 16-17; Tosef., B. K. vii. 5; Ḳid. 22b.; comp. 38b; Abot i. 10: "Hate mastership!" Abot vi. 2. In regard to their practise of mutual service comp. Ḳid. 32b; Luke xxii. 27; John xiii. 1 et seq.).]

Study of the Law.(comp. the name of "doreshe reshumot," allegorists, B. Ḳ. 82a).

"Of natural philosophy . . . they study only that which pertains to the existence of God and the beginning of all things ["ma'ase merkabah" and "ma'aseh bereshit"], otherwise they devote all their attention to ethics, using as instructors the laws of their fathers, which, without the outpouring of the divine spirit ["ruaḥ ha-ḳodesh"], the human mind could not have devised. These are especially taught on the seventh day, when, abstaining from all other work, they assemble in their holy places, called synagogues, sitting in rows according to their age, the younger ones listening with becoming attention at the feet of the elder ones. One takes up the holy book and reads aloud, another one from among the most learned comes forward and explains whatever may not have been understood—for, following their ancient traditions, they obtain their philosophy by means of allegorical interpretation"

"Thus they are taught piety, holiness, righteousness, the mode of governing private and social affairs, and the knowledge of what is conducive or harmful or indifferent to truth, so that they may choose the one and shun the other, their main rule and maxim being a threefold one: love of God, love of manhood (self-control), and love of man. Of the love of God they exhibit myriads of examples, inasmuch as they strive for a continued, uninterrupted life of purity and holiness; they avoid swearing and falsehood, and they declare that God causes only good and no evil whatsoever [comp. "kol de-abed Raḥmana le-ṭab 'abed," "What the Merciful does is for the good," Ber. 60b]. Their love of virtue is proved by their freedom from love of money, of high station, and of pleasure, by their temperance and endurance, by their having few wants, by their simplicity and mild temper, by their lack of pride, by their obedience to the Law, by their equanimity, and the like. Of their love for man they give proof by their good will and pleasant conduct toward all alike [comp. Abot i. 15, iii. 12: "Receive every man with a pleasant countenance!"], and by their fellowship, which is beautiful beyond description.

Their Communism.(comp. B. M. ii. 11).

"No one possesses a house absolutely his own, one which does not at the same time belong to all; for in addition to living together in companies ["ḥaburot"] their houses are open also to their adherents coming from other quarters [comp. Aboti. 5]. They have one storehouse for all, and the same diet; their garments belong to all in common, and their meals are taken in common. . . . Whatever they receive for their wages after having worked the whole day they do not keep as their own, but bring into the common treasury for the use of all; nor do they neglect the sick who are unable to contribute their share, as they have in their treasury ample means to offer relief to those in need. [One of the two Ḥasidean and rabbinical terms for renouncing all claim to one's property in order to deliver it over to common use is "hefker" (declaring a thing ownerless; comp. Sanh. 49a); Joab, as the type of an Essene, made his house like the wilderness—that is, ownerless and free from the very possibility of tempting men to theft and sexual sin—and he supported the poor of the city with the most delicate food. Similarly, King Saul declared his whole property free for use in warfare (Yalḳ.,Sam. i. 138). The other term is "heḳdesh nekasim" (consecrating one's goods; comp. 'Ar. vi. ; Pes. 57: "The owners of the mulberry-trees consecrated them to God"; Ta'an. 24a: "Eliezer of Beeroth consecrated to charity the money intended for his daughter's dowry, saying to his daughter, 'Thou shalt have no more claim upon it than any of the poor in Israel.'" Jose ben Joezer, because he had an unworthy son, consecrated his goods to God (B. B. 133b). Formerly men used to take all they had and give it to the poor (Luke xviii. 22); in Usha the rabbis decreed that no one should give away more than the fifth part of his property ('Ar. 28a; Tosef., 'Ar. iv. 23; Ket. 50a).] They pay respect and honor to, and bestow care upon, their elders, acting toward them as children act toward their parents, and supporting them unstintingly by their handiwork and in other ways"

Not even the most cruel tyrants, continues Philo, possibly with reference to King Herod, have ever been able, to bring any charge against these holy Essenes, but all have been compelled to regard them as truly free men. In Philo's larger work on the Jews, of which only fragments have been preserved in Eusebius' "Præparatio Evangelica" (viii.), the following description of the Essenes is given (ch. xi.):

The Essenes Advanced in Years.

"Our lawgiver, Moses, has trained thousands of disciples who, on account of their saintliness, I believe, are honored with the name of Essæi. They inhabit many cities and villages, and large and populous quarters of Judea. Their institution is not based upon family connections, which are not matters of free choice, but upon zeal for virtue and philanthropy. There exist no new-born children, and no youth just entering upon manhood, in the Essene community, since the dispositions of such youth are unstable on account of their immaturity; but all are full-grown men, already declining toward old age [compare the meaning of "zeḳenim"], such as are no longer carried away by the vehemence of the flesh nor under the influence of their passions, but are in the enjoyment of genuine and true liberty." [This is the most essential feature of Essenism (comp. Pliny, l.c.), and has been almost entirely ignored. The divine command to marry and preserve the race is supposed to have been obeyed by every young man before the close of his twentieth year (Ḳid. 29b), and he has not discharged his obligation until he has been the father of at least two children, two sons according to the Shammaites, according to the Hillelites one son and one daughter (Yeb. vi. 6). It was therefore only at an advanced age that it was considered an act of extreme piety "to leave children, wife, and friends behind in order to lead a life of contemplation in solitude" (Philo, "De Vita Contemplativa," ed. Conybeare, p. 49).]

Philo says here also that the Essenes have no property of their own, not house or slave or farm, nor flocks and herds, but hold in common everything they have or obtain; that they either pursue agriculture, or tend to their sheep and cattle, or beehives, or practise some handicraft. Their earnings, he continues, are given in charge of an elected steward, who at once buys the food for their meals and whatever is necessary for life. Every day they have their meals together; they are contented with the same food because they love frugality and despise extravagance as a disease of body and soul. They also have their dress in common, a thick cloak in winter and a light mantle in summer, each one being allowed to take whichever he chooses. If any one be sick, he is cured by medcines from the common stock, receiving the care of all. Old men, if they happen to be childless, end their lives as if they were blessed with many and well-trained children, and in the most happy state, being treated with a respect which springs from spontaneous attachment rather than from kinship. Especially do they reject that which would dissolve their fellowship, namely, marriage, while they practise continence in an eminent degree, for no one of the Essæi takes a wife. (What follows regarding the character of women probably reflects the misogynous opinion of the writer, not of the Essenes.) Philo concludes with a repetition of the remark that mighty kings have admired and venerated these men and conferred honors upon them.

Josephus' Account.

In his "Antiquities" (xiii. 5, § 9), Josephus speaks of the Essenes as a sect which had existed in the time of the Maccabees, contemporaneously with the Pharisees and Sadducees, and which teaches that all things are determined by destiny (εἱμαρμένη), and that nothing befalls men which has not been foreordained; whereas the Pharisees make allowance for free will, and the Sadducees deny destiny altogether. This refers not so much to the more or less absolute belief in Providence (comp. the saying, "Ha-kol hi-yede shamayim" = " All is in the hands of God": Ket. 30a; Ber. 33b; and R. Akiba's words, "Everything is foreseen, but free will is given," Abot iii. 15), which the Sadducees scarcely denied, as to the foreknowledge of future (political) events, which the Essenes claimed (comp. Josephus, "Ant." xv. 10, § 5, et al.); the Pharisees were more discreet, and the Sadducees treated such prophecies with contempt. In "Ant." xviii. 1, §§ 2-6, Josephus dwells at somewhat greater length on what he assumes to be the three Jewish philosophical schools. Of the Essenes he says that they ascribe all things to God, that they teach the immortality of the soul, and that the reward of righteousness must be fought for (by martyrdom).

(comp. Strabo, vii. 33).

"When they send gifts to the Temple they do not offer sacrifices because of the different degrees of purity and holiness they claim; therefore they keep themselves away from the common court of the Temple and bring offerings [vegetable sacrifices] of their own. [This certainly does not mean that they opposed animal sacrifices on principle, but that they brought no free-will offerings for reasons of their own; see above.] They excel all men in conduct, and devote themselves altogether to agriculture. Especially admirable is their practise of righteousness, which, while the like may have existed among Greeks or barbarians for a little while, has been kept up by them from ancient days [ἐκ παλαιον]; for they, like the Spartans of old and others, have still all things in common, and a rich man has no more enjoyment of his property than he who never possessed anything. There are about 4,000 men who live in such manner. They neither marry, nor do they desire to keep slaves, as they think the latter practise leads to injustice [comp. Abot ii. 7: "Many men servants, much theft"], and the former brings about quarrels; but, living to themselves, they serve one another. They elect good men ["ṭobim"; See Charity] to receive the wages of their labor and the produce of the soil, and priests for the preparation [consecration?] of their bread and meat. They all live alike, and resemble most the [holy unmarried] city-builders [pioneers] of the Dacæ"

The chief information concerning the Essenes is given in "De Bello Judaico" (ii. 8, §§ 2-13). But this account seems to have been taken from another source and worked over, as the description preserved in Hippolytus' "Refutatio Omnium Hæresium" (ix. 18-28) presents a version which, unobserved by most writers, differs in many respects from that of Josephus, being far more genuinely Jewish, and showing greater accuracy in detail and none of the coloring peculiar to Josephus (see Duncker's ed., Göttingen, 1859, p. 472, note). The following is Hippolytus' version, the variations in Josephus' being indicated by brackets with the letter J:

Hippolytus' Description Compared with Josephus'.(comp. Eccl. ix. 8)

"There are three divisions [sects, αἱρετίσται = "philosophical divisions"] among them [the Jews]: the Pharisees and Sadducees and the Essenes. These [last] practise a holier life [J: "Jews by birth"] in their display of love for one another and of continence [comp. Ẓenu'im, above]; they abstain from every act of covetousness [J: "pleasure as an evil deed"] and avoid even listening to conversation concerning such things. They renounce matrimony, but they take children of strangers [J: "when they are still easily instructed"; but comp. Abraham in Gen. R. xxxix. and Targ. Yer. to Deut. xxiii. 17], and treat them as their own, training them in their own customs; but they do not forbid them to marry. Women, however, though they may be inclined to join the same mode of life, they do not admit, as they by no means place the same confidence in women." [This referssimply to questions of Levitical holiness and to the mysteries entrusted to the Ẓenu'im. Josephus has this sentence twisted into the following crude and unjust statement: "They do not forbid marriage and the procreation of children, but they guard against the lasciviousness of women and are persuaded that none preserves fidelity to one man."] Hippolytus continues: "They despise wealth, and do not refrain from sharing what they have with those in need; in fact, none among them is richer than the other; for the law with them is that whosoever joins their order must sell his possessions and hand the proceeds over to the common stock [Josephus adds here remarks of his own]; and the head [archon] distributes it to all according to their need. The overseers who provide for the common wants are elected by them. They do not use oil, as they regard anointing as a defilement, probably from fear that the oil was not kept perfectly pure. They always dress in white garments".

Essenes Travel Constantly.

"They have no special city of their own, but live in large numbers in different cities, and if any of their followers comes from a strange city everything they have is considered as belonging equally to the newcomer; those who were never known before are received as kindred and friends." "They traverse their native land [as "sheluḥe miẓwah," sent for charitable and for politico-religious purposes (comp. Apostles)], and whenever they go on a journey they carry nothing except arms. They find in every city an administrator of the collective funds, who procures clothing and food for them.

Prayers and Meals.

"Their way of dressing and their general appearance are decorous; but they possess neither two cloaks nor two pairs of shoes [comp. Matt. x. 10, and parallels]. At early dawn they rise for devotion and prayer, and speak not a word to one another until they have praised God in hymns. [Josephus has here: "They speak not a word about profane things before the rising of the sun, but they offer up the prayers they have received from their fathers facing the sun as if praying for its rising"; comp. the Watiḳim, above.] Thus they go forth, each to his work until the fifth hour, when, having put on linen aprons to conceal their privy parts [comp. Ber. 24b], they bathe in cold water and then proceed to breakfast, none being allowed to enter the house who does not share their view or mode of holiness [see Ḥag. iii. 2]. Then, having taken their seats in order amid silence, each takes a sufficient portion of bread and some additional food; but none eats before the benediction has been offered by the priest, who also recites the grace after the meal; both at the beginning and at the close they praise God in hymns [comp. Ber. 21a, 35a, in regard to the saying of grace; see, M. Ḳ. 28b; Meg. 28a]. After this they lay aside their sacred linen garments used at their meal, put on their working garments left in the vestibule, and betake themselves to their labor until the evening, when they take supper.

The Law and the Prophets.[comp. Wisdom vii. 20]

"There are no loud noise and vociferation heard [at their assembly]; they speak gently and allow the discourse to flow with grace and dignity, so that the stillness within impresses outsiders with a sense of mystery. They observe sobriety and moderation in eating and drinking. All pay due attention to the president, and whatever he orders they obey as law. Especial zeal they manifest in offering sympathy and succor to those in distress. [Josephus here adds a sentence of his own.] Above all they refrain from all forms of passion and anger as leading to mischief [see Anger]. No one among them swears; a word is regarded as more binding than an oath; and one who swears is despised as one not deserving of confidence. They are very solicitous in regard to the reading aloud of the Law and the Prophets [J: "the writings of the ancient ones"], and of any [apocalyptic?] scroll they have of the Faithful Ones [comp. Tan., Wa'era, ed. Buber, 4; and Eschatology; J: "and they select such as are for the salvation of soul and body"]. Especially do they investigate the magic powers of plants and stones.

"To those desirous of becoming disciples they do not deliver their traditions [παραδόσεις; comp. Cabala] until they have tested them. Accordingly they set before the aspirant the same kind of food, outside the main hall, where he remains for a whole year after having received a mattock, a linen apron, and a white robe [as symbols of Ẓeni'ut (Essene, modesty and purity)]. After having given proof of self-control during this period, he is advanced and his ablutions are of a higher degree of purity, but he is not allowed to partake of the common meal until, after a trial of two years more, he has proved worthy to be admitted into membership. Then oaths of an awful character are administered to him: he swears to treat with reverence whatever is related to the Divinity [compare Blasphemyand God, Names of]; that he will observe righteousness toward men and do injustice to none; that he will not hate any one who has done him injustice, but will pray for his enemies [comp. Matt. v. 45]; that he will always side with the righteous in their contests [this proves, if anything, that the Essenes were fighters rather than mere quietists]; that he will show fidelity to all and particularly to those in authority; for, say they, without God's decree no one is given power to rule [this refers not to political rulers, as has been claimed with reference to "Ant." xv. 10, § 5, but to the head of the order, whose election is not made without the guidance of the Holy Spirit (Sifre, Num. 92: Ber. 58a, "min ha-shamayim"; comp. Didascalia, in Jew. Encyc. iv. 590a)]; that, if himself appointed to be ruler, he will not abuse his authority, nor refuse to submit to the rules, nor ornament himself beyond what is customary; that he will ever love the truth and reprove him who is guilty of falsehood; that he will neither steal nor pollute his conscience for the sake of gain; that he will neither conceal anything from the members of the order nor disclose anything to outsiders, even though tortured to death. He swears besides that he will not communicate the doctrines differently from the manner in which he received them himself. [Here Josephus has two conditions omitted in Hippolytus: "that he will abstain from robbery (which in this connection probably refers to the teachings which might be misappropriated and claimed for oneself; the rabbinical rule, which has, therefore, an Essene coloring, being: "He who tells a saying in the name of the author brings about the redemption," Abot vi. 6, based upon Esth. ii. 22), and "that he will with equal care guard the books of the order and the names of the angels." These oaths give a better insight into the character and purpose of the Essene brotherhood than any other description, as will be shown later.]

Discipline of the Essene Order.

"If any of them be condemned for any transgression, he is expelled from the order, and at times such a one dies a terrible death [see Anathema and Didascalia], for inasmuch as he is bound by the oaths taken and by the rites adopted, he is no longer at liberty to partake of the food in use among others. [Here Josephus: "and being compelled to eat herbs, he famishes his body until he perishes."] Occasionally they pity those exposed to dissolution ["shammata"], considering punishment unto death sufficient. In their judicial decisions they are most accurate and just; they do not pass sentence unless in company with one hundred persons [this is possibly a combination of the higher court of seventy-two ("Sanhedrin gedolah") and the smaller court of twenty-three ("Sanhedrin ḳeṭannah")], and what has been decided by them is unalterable. After God they pay the highest homage to the legislator (that is to say, to the Law of Moses), and if any one is guilty of blasphemy against him (that is, against the Law), he is punished [J: "with death"]. They are taught to obey the rulers and elders [J: "the majority"].

Sabbath Observance.

"When ten [the number necessary to constitute a holy congregation; See Minyan] sit together deliberating, no one speaks without permission of the rest [the rabbinical term is "reshut"; see the Talmudic dictionaries, s.v. ]. They avoid spitting into the midst of them [Ḥag. 5a; Ber. 62b], or toward the right [the right hand is used for swearing; see Brand, "Mandäische Religion," 1889, pp. 110 et seq.]. "In regard to Sabbath rest they are more scrupulous than other Jews, for they not only prepare their meals one day previously so as not to touch fire, but they do not even remove any utensil [rabbinical term, "muḳẓah"]; see Sabbath]; nor do they turn aside to ease nature. Some do not even rise from their couch [comp. Targ. to Ex. xvi. 27; Mek., Beshallaḥ, 5], while on other days they observe the law in Deut. xxiii. 13. After the easement they wash themselves, considering the excrement as defiling [comp. Yoma iii. 3]. They are divided, according to their degree of holy exercises, into four classes."

The following paragraph, omitted by Josephus, is alluded to, in his "Ant." xviii. 1, § 6, as "the philosophy of a fourth sect founded by Judas the Galilean."

Zealots Also Essenes.

"For some of these observe a still more rigid practise in not handling or looking at a coin which has an image, nor will they even enter a city at the gates of which statues are erected [comp. Yer. 'Ab. Zarah iii. 42b, 43b]. Others again threaten to slay any Gentile taking part in a discourse about God and His Law if he refuses to be circumcised [comp. Sanh. 59a, Ex.R. xxxiii.]. From this they were called 'Zealots' [Ḳanna'im] by some, 'Sicarii' by others. Others again will call no one lord except God, even though they be tortured or killed.

"Those of a lower degree of discipline [holiness] are so inferior to those of the higher degree that the latter at once undergo ablution when touched by the former, as if touched by a Gentile. [These are the four degrees of holiness mentioned in Ḥag. ii. 7: "ma'aser," "terumah," "ṭohorot," and "ḥaṭṭat," or "most holy." Another division is: κοινόβια =  = "common meal," and "ṭohorot" = "priestly meal Tosef., Dem. ii. 11.] Most of them enjoy longevity; many attain an age of more than a hundred years. They declare that this is owing to their extreme piety [comp. the frequent question: "Ba-meh ha'arakta yamim" (By what merit didst thou attain an old age? Meg. 27b, 28)] and to their constant exercise of self-control. [Josephus instead rationalizes.] They despise death, rejoicing when they can finish their course with a good conscience, they willingly undergo torment or death rather than speak ill of the Law or eat what has been offered to an idol." (Here Josephus adds something of his own experience in the Roman war.)

This leads Hippolytus, exactly as in the "Didascalia," to the Essene view of the future life, a view in which, contrary to the romantic picture given by Josephus, the belief in Resurrection is accentuated:

Essene View of Resurrection.

"Particularly firm is their doctrine of Resurrection; they believe that the flesh will rise again and then be immortal like the soul, which, they say, when separated from the body, enters a place of fragrant air and radiant light, there to enjoy rest—a place called by the Greeks who heard [of this doctrine] the 'Isles of the Blest.' But," continues the writer, in a passage characteristically omitted by Josephus, "there are other doctrines besides, which many Greeks have appropriated and given out as their own opinions. For their disciplinary life [ἄσκησις] in connection with the things divine is of greater antiquity than that of any other nation, so that it can be shown that all those who made assertions concerning God and Creation derived their principles from no other source than the Jewish legislation. [This refers to the Ḥasidean "ma'aseh'merkabah" and "ma'aseh bereshit."] Among those who borrowed from the Essenes were especially Pythagoras and the Stoics; their disciples while returning from Egypt did likewise [this casts new light on Josephus' identification of the Essenes with the Pythagoreans: "Ant." xv. 10, § 4]; for they affirm that there will be a Judgment Day and a burning up of the world, and that the wicked will be eternally punished.

(comp. Horwitz, "Baraita di Nidda," i. 2).

"Also prophecy and the foretelling of future events are practised by them. [Josephus has in addition: "For this purpose they are trained in the use of holy writings, in various rites of purification, and in prophetic (apocalyptic?) utterances; and they seldom make mistakes in their predictions."] Then there is a section of the Essenes who, while agreeing in their mode of life, differ in regard to marriage, declaring that those who abstain from marrying commit an awful crime, as it leads to the extinction of the human race. But they take wives only after having, during three years' observation of their course of life, been convinced of their power of child-bearing, and avoid intercourse during pregnancy, as they marry merely for the sake of offspring. The women when undergoing ablutions are arrayed in linen garments like the men in order not to expose their bodies to the light of day"

Purpose of the Essene Brotherhood.

A careful survey of all the facts here presented shows the Essenes to have been simply the rigorists among the Pharisees, whose constant fear of becoming contaminated by either social or sexual intercourse led them to lead an ascetic life, but whose insistence on maintaining the highest possible standard of purity and holiness had for its object to make them worthy of being participants of "the Holy Spirit," or recipients of divine revelations, and of being initiated into the mysteries of God and the future. "Wo to the wives of these men!" exclaimed Zipporah, the wife of Moses, when she heard that Eldad and Medad had become prophets, for this meant cessation of conjugal intercourse (Sifre, Num. 99). Abstinence from whatever may imply the use of unrighteous Mammon was another condition of initiation into the mystery of the Holy Name (Yer. Yoma iii. 40d; comp. Ḥul. 7b; Phinehas b. Jair; Midr. Teh. xxiv. 4, cxxviii. 2; Ḥul. 44b, with reference to Prov. xv. 27). The purpose of their ablutions before every meal as well as before morning prayers, which practise gave them the name of "Ṭobele Shaḥarit" ( = Morning Baptists, Ἡμεροβαπτισταῖ), was to insure the pronunciation of the Name and the eating of holy things in a state of purity (Tosef., Yad. ii. 20; Ber. 2b, 22a). The existence of large numbers of Levites (Yeb. xv. 7) and Aaronites, the original teachers of the Law, whose holy food had to be eaten in holiness, was instrumental in the creation of a state of communism such as the Law prescribes for each seventh year (Peah vi. 1). Fear of defilement led Judas Maccabeus as Ḥasidean leader to live only on herbs (II Macc. v. 27).

A glance at the Essene oath of initiation confirms the statement of Philo that love of God, or reverence for His Name, love of man, or pursuit of righteousness and benevolence, and love of virtue, or humility and chastity, were the chief aims of the Essene brotherhood. Successors to the ancient Ḥasidim who instituted the liturgy (Midr. Teh. xvii. 4: "ḥasidim ha-rishonim"), they laid all possible stress on prayer and devotion, opposing the priesthood in the Temple out of mistrust as to their state of holiness and purity rather than out of aversion to sacrifice (Tosef., Ned. i. 1; Ker. 25a). They claimed to possess by tradition from the founders of the Synagogue ("anshe keneset ha-gedolah") the correct pronunciation and the magic spell of the Holy Name (Midr. Teh. xxxvi. 8, xci. 8), and with it they achieved miracles like the men of old (Midr. Teh. lxxviii. 12, xci. 2). They taught Jews and Gentiles alike to cleanse themselves in living streams from their impurity of sin, and return to God in repentance and prayer (Sibyllines, iv. 164; Luke iii. 3; comp. Tan., ed. Buber, Introduction, 153). Ever alert and restless while in hope of the Messianic time, they formed a strong political organization scattered through the Holy Land; and, in constant touch with one another, they traveled far and wide to organize Jewish communities and provide them with the three elements of Judaism: instruction, worship, and charity (Abot i. 2); and they were especially assiduous in pursuit of benevolent work (Ab. R. N. iii., viii.). Each community had its seven good men, called "the Good Brotherhood of the Town" (Ḥeber 'Ir be-Ṭobaḥ: "Ant." iv. 8, § 14; Meg. 27a; Tosef., Peah, iv. 16; Sheb. vii. 9).

Types of Essenes.

Standing under the direction of the "mishmar," or "ma'amad" (the district authority: Tosef., Peah, iv. 7), the Essenes claimed, as direct successors to the Ḥasidim, Mosaic origin for their brotherhood (see Philo and Josephus, l.c., in reference to Ex. xviii. 21; comp. Targ. Yer.; B. M. 30b; Mek., Yitro, 2). Whatever their real connection with the Rechabites (Jer. xxxv.) was, they beheld in Jonadab, the founder of the sect of the "Water-Drinkers," as well as in Jabez (I Chron. ii. 55, iv. 10; see Targ.) and in Jethro the Kenite, prototypes, and possibly founders, of the Jericho colony (Mek., Yitro, 2; Sifre, Num. 78; Sheḳ. v. 48c; Nilus, "De Monastica Exercitatione,"iii.; "J. Q. R." v. 418); likewise in Jesse, the father of David, regarded as sinless and deathless in their tradition (Shab. 55b; Derek Ereẓ Zuṭa i.); and in Obed, Boaz, and his father Salma (Tan., Wayeḥi, ed. Buber, 4; Targ. to I Chron. ii. 54 et seq., iv. 22 et seq.). In this manner Ahijah and Ahithophel became types of Essenes (Midr. Teh. v. 8), as well as King Saul, as mentioned above; but, above all, the Patriarchs and protoplasts. Other Essenic types were Abraham, called "Watiḳ," the prototype of the Anawim and Ḥasidim because "he rose early" for prayer (Ber. 6b, after Gen. xix. 27; Shab. 105a; Gen. R. liii.); Shem-Melchizedek as teacher of benevolence and true worshiper of God (Midr. Teh. xxxvii. 1, lxxvi. 3); Job as philanthropist and as teacher of mystic lore (B. B. 15a, b; see Kohler, "Testament of Job," in Kohut Memorial Volume, pp. 265 et seq.); Enoch (see Enoch, Books of); and Adam ('Er. 78b; Pirḳe R. El. xx.). A passage in the Tanḥuma reads: "Only when Abraham separated from Lot and Jacob from Laban did God communicate with them as perushim" (Wayeẓe, ed. Buber, 21). The claim of antiquity for Essene tradition is, accordingly, not the invention of Pliny or Philo; it is essential to the Essene traditional lore. In truth, Abraham, as "'Anaw" (= "the humble one"), and all doers of works of benevolence, learned it from God, "their Father in heaven" (see Yalḳ. Mekiri to Ps. xviii. 36; Yalḳ. to II Sam. xxii. 36; comp. Sifre, Deut. 49). They are "the lovers of God" (B. B. 8b; Yoma 28a). God unites with the brotherhoods of the humble ("ḥaburot ha-nemukin": Tan., Wa'era, ed. Buber, 3). He provides each day's food for them as He provided the manna for Israel (Mek., Beshalalḥ, 2, ed. Weiss, pp. 56 [note] et seq.; Sifre, Deut. 42; Ḳid. 82b; Matt. vi. 25). "When men ceased to hate men's gifts [the Essene] longevity ceased" (Soṭah 47b, based on Prov. xv. 27).

In regard to Sabbath observance the rabbinical tradition traced the more rigid laws, comprising even the removal of utensils, to Nehemiah's time, that is, to the ancient Ḥasidim (Shab. 123b), and the Book of Jubilees (1. 8-12) confirms the antiquity of the Essene view. As the best characteristic of the Essene view the saying of Phinehas ben Jair, the last Essene of note, may be quoted: "The Torah leads to conscientiousness; this to alertness ["zerizut"] for holy work; this to blamelessness ["neḳiyyut"]; this to 'perishut' [Pharisaic separation from common things]; this to purity; this to 'ḥasidut' [Essene piety?]; this to humbleness; this to fear of sin; this to holiness, or to the possession' of the Holy Spirit; and this finally to the time of the Resurrection; but ḥasidut is the highest grade" ('Ab. Zarah 20b).

Traces of Essenism and Anti-Essenism.

Essenism as well as Ḥasidism represents that stage of religion which is called "otherworldliness." It had no regard for the comfort of home life; woman typified only the feebleness and impurity of man. In their efforts to make domestic and social life comfortable and cheerful, the Pharisees characterized the Essene as "a fool who destroys the world" (Soṭah iii. 4), and their ethics assumed an anti-Essene character (see Ethics). Exceptionally, some tannaim, such as R. Eliezer b. Hyrcanus (Shab. 153a; Ned. 20b) and Jose ben Ḥalafta (Shab. 118b), favored the ascetic view in regard to conjugal life, while some amoraim and tannaim gave evidence of Essene practise or special Essene knowledge (see Frankel in "Monatsschrift," ii. 72 et seq.). Traces of Essenism, or of tendencies identical with it, are found throughout the apocryphal and especially the apocalyptic literature (see Kohler, "Pre-Talmudic Haggada," in "J. Q. R." v. 403 et seq.; Jellinek, "B. H." ii., Introduction, vii., xviii., et al.), but are especially noticeable in the Tanna debe Eliyahu, above all in the Targum Yerushalmi, where the Essenic colonies of Jericho and of the City of Palms are mentioned as inhabited by the disciples of Elijah and Elisha (Deut. xxxiv. 3); the sons of Levi are singled out as forming brotherhoods for the service of God (Gen. xxix. 34); Joseph, Kohath, Amram, and Aaron, as well as the Patriarchs, are called "Ḥasidim" (Targ. Yer. on Gen. xxix. 13, xlix. 22; Ex. vi. 18, 20; Num. xxi. 1); priest-like and angelic holiness is enjoined upon Israel (Ex. xxii. 30; Lev. xx. 7; Num. xvi. 40); angels are expelled from heaven for having disclosed divine mysteries (Gen. xxvii. 12); the Holy Name and the Holy Spirit play throughout a prominent rôle; and God's own time, like that of the Essenes, appears as divided between studying the Law, sitting in judgment, and providing for the world's support and for the maintenance of the race (Deut. xxxii. 4).

The Essenes seem to have originally consisted, on the one hand, of rigorous Zealots, such as the Book of Jubilees looks for, and such as were under the leadership of men like Abba Taḥna Ḥasida and Abba Sicara (Eccl. R. ix. 7); and, on the other hand, of mild-tempered devotees of the Law, such as were the Essenes at En Gedi (Yer. Soṭah ix. 24c; Pliny, l.c.) and the Therapeutæ of Egypt. Rabbinical tradition knows only that under the persecution of Rome (Edom) the Essenes wandered to the south (Darom: Gen. R. lxxvi.; comp. Pes. 70b; Yeb. 62b; Midr. Teh. xix. 2), and occasionally mention is made of "the brethren" ("ḥabbarayya"), with reference to the Essene brotherhood (Lam. R. iv. 1; see also Levy, "Neuhebr. Wörterb." s.v.  and ; Geiger's "Jüd. Zeit." vi. 279; Brüll's "Jahrb." i. 25, 44). It is as charitable brotherhoods that the Essenic organization survived the destruction of the nation.

Relation of Essenism to Christianity.

John the Baptist seems to have belonged to the Essenes, but in appealing to sinners to be regenerated by baptism, he inaugurated a new movement, which led to the rise of Christianity. The silence of the New Testament about the Essenes is perhaps the best proof that they furnished the new sect with its main elements both as regards personnel and views. The similarity in many respects between Christianity and Essenism is striking: There were the same communism (Acts iv. 34-35); the same belief in baptism or bathing, and in the power of prophecy; the same aversion to marriage, enhanced by firmer belief in the Messianic advent; the same system of organization, and the same rules for the traveling brethrendelegated to charity-work (see Apostle and Apostleship); and, above all, the same love-feasts or brotherly meals (comp. AgapeDidascalia). Also, between the ethical and the apocalyptic teachings of the Gospels and the Epistles and the teachings of the Essenes of the time, as given in Philo, in Hippolytus, and in the Ethiopic and Slavonic Books of Enoch, as well as in the rabbinic literature, the resemblance is such that the influence of the latter upon the former can scarcely be denied. Nevertheless, the attitude of Jesus and his disciples is altogether anti-Essene, a denunciation and disavowal of Essene rigor and asceticism; but, singularly enough, while the Roman war appealed to men of action such as the Zealots, men of a more peaceful and visionary nature, who had previously become Essenes, were more and more attracted by Christianity, and thereby gave the Church its otherworldly character; while Judaism took a more practical and worldly view of things, and allowed Essenism to live only in tradition and secret lore (see ClementinaEbionites;Gnosticism).

  • Frankel, Die, Essäer, in Zeitschrift für die Religiösen Interessen des Judenthums, 1846, pp. 441-461;
  • idem, Die Essäer nach Talmudischen Quellen, in Monatsschrift, 1853, pp. 30-40, 61-73;
  • J. Böhmer, Kitbe Yisrael Böhmer, Warsaw, 1849 (Hebrew);
  • N. L. Weinstein, Beiträge zur Gesch. der Essäer, Vienna, 1892;
  • Mitwoch, Essäer, in Zeit. für Assyr. 1902;
  • Grätz, Gesch. iii. 91 et seq., 697-703;
  • Jost, Gesch. des Judenthums und Seiner Sekten, i. 207-214.
  • Derenbourg, Hist. 1867, pp. 166-175, 460 et seq.;
  • L. Herzfeld, Gesch. des Volkes Israel, iii. 368, 388, 509 et seq.;
  • C. D. Ginsburg, The Essenes, Their History and Their Doctrines, London, 1864 (with summary of previous literature);
  • idem, in Kitto's Dict. of the Bible, and in Smith-Wace, Dictionary of Christian Antiquities;
  • Geiger, Jüd. Zeit, 1871, pp. 30-56;
  • M. Friedländer, Zur Entstehungsgesch. des Christenthums, 1894, pp. 98-142;
  • Kohler, The Essene Brotherhood, in Reform Advocate, anniversary number, 1894, pp. 15-19;
  • J. D. Lightfoot, St. Paul's Epistles to the Colassians, 1876, pp. 349-419;
  • Wellhausen, I. J. G. 1895, pp. 292-296;
  • Lucius, Der Essenismus in Seinem Verhältniss zum Judenthum;
  • Schürer, Gesch. ii. 556-584;
  • Hilgenfeld, Ketzergesch. des Urchristenthums, 1884, pp. 87-149;
  • F. C. Conybeare, in Hastings, Dict. Bible;
  • Philo, De Vita Contemplativa, ed. Conybeare, Oxford, 1895

Essenes Origins of Christmas Traditions

The modern “traditions of Christmas” are often attributed to Saturnalia as celebrated during The Golden Age of the Pax Romana in first century Rome. But many of the traditions predate the first century by hundreds of years. The Feast for the Son of Isis and the god Osiris, for instance, was celebrated in Egypt centuries before Jesus the son of God appeared.

The Origins of Christmas Traditions


In Roman mythology, when Jupiter ascended the throne, Saturninus fled to Rome and established the Golden Age, a time of perfect peace and harmony which lasted as long as he reigned. The Feast of Saturnalia was held every year at the Winter Solstice to honor the Golden Age. During this time no war could be declared, slaves and masters ate at the same table, executions were postponed, and people exchanged gifts. It was a joyous time of celebration because it portrayed the idea of equality and recalled a time when all people were on the same level – when there were no kings and no slaves.


A multitude of interesting articles about the origin of Christmas traditions can be found on the Internet, but most show signs that they came from other sources not cited in the articles. The source that struck me as the one best suited for objectively exploring the origins of Christmas Traditions is the one we have borrowed from:


The Origin of Christmas Traditions




There is perhaps no myth in the western world which is more widely accepted - and yet so totally false - as that according to which Jesus the Christ was born on December 25. There is as a matter of fact not the slightest iota of information, even in the form of a legend, which places his birth on that or any other exact date. According to the equally mythical history of Luke, shepherds were watching their flocks on that fateful night and angels appeared to them and sang a wonderful song. The same story had been told concerning Gautama five hundred years before the birth of Jesus, and it had been repeated about others who long preceded the advent of Christianity.




The word Christmas derives from the two words, Christ's Mass. In the Catholic Church the great liturgical ceremonial is the Mass. According to the doctrine of transubstantiation the bread and wine administered by the priest become literally the flesh and the blood of Christ during the ritual. By eating and drinking these the partaker becomes divine and immortal because the flesh and blood of Christ become actually those of the communicant in a mystical process. This is substantially the same Eucharistic rite which had been practiced in various pagan mystery cults for hundreds of years previous to Christianity. Christ's Mass was the principal High Mass celebrated in the Catholic Church in the third century. But at that time it did not occur on December 25 nor did it have any relationship to the birth of Jesus until the second half of the fourth century.




The Catholic Church finally decreed a birth date for Jesus primarily for the purpose of converting the communicants of various pagan cults, and this fact was well known to the early Christians who accused the Roman Church which first instituted this date of "idolatry, paganism, and sacrilege" for making December 25 the birthday of Jesus. It is interesting to note that Martin Luther tried to abolish December 25 as a Christian holiday, the English parliament outlawed it in 1644, and the Puritans in Massachusetts did the same. However when the Episcopalian Charles II was restored to the English throne in 1660, he reinstituted December 25 as the birthday of Christ.




Let us then go back into history to see whether we can discover what this holiday really signifies, for in the northern hemisphere it had been celebrated for thousands of years before the coming of Christianity. And it originated from the solar cycle and from the fear of death which came each fall and winter with the declining sun. Savage and primitive man lived very close to nature, and his two great needs consisted in obtaining food and achieving success in rearing his children. It was very, very difficult to wring sustenance from the earth, but he understood that in the spring the grass would begin to grow again. As the days grew longer, the leaves would spring forth on the trees as nature came alive once more after the long winter sleep. And as a result the man was able to obtain food by which he, his woman, and his offspring could survive. Getting food and shelter and avoiding premature and violent death constituted the career of primitive man. And since he believed that by worshipping and placating supernatural powers he might be successful in his objectives, the religion of our distant ancestors was the only science they knew or practiced.


Since the sun was obviously the most important visible object in the universe, and since it was the ultimate source of light, heat, and food, it was inevitable that primitive man should worship the same. It became the object of fear, awe, and reverence among millions, and its movements were observed most closely. When it began to decline in the late summer and the days shortened, the nights grew chilly, and frost and ice covered the earth so that all vegetation died, then the hearts within these people sank in dread and fear. Perhaps the sun would disappear altogether and the earth would be plunged in icebound universal darkness and death.




And so they watched day by day while the great orb sank lower and lower, until at last, behold, it sank no more. For a day or two it tottered at its nadir. But then a wonderful thing occurred as its motion was reversed. It began to rise again, at first almost imperceptibly but with unmistakable certainty. Three or four days afterward there was no longer any doubt -- the Sun God had been reborn; it would soon again soar higher in the heavens, the days would be warmer and longer, the grass and the leaves would again spring forth, and the human race would survive. A few months later when vegetation had burgeoned forth in all its glory, the second great holiday was celebrated everywhere. The Jews called it the Passover; in various countries it went by different names: the Greeks called it the Lesser Mystery, we call it Easter.


And thus in every land the gods were born on or about December 25, and he was reborn or resurrected into a second life about March 21. And in the fall when the crops were harvested another great festival was celebrated. The Jews called it The Feast of Tabernacles; the Greeks called it the Greater Mystery; and we, in our pedestrian way, simply call it Thanksgiving.




Isis was from the beginning a very potent divinity in the Egyptian religion, and as time progressed she became more and more important until she overshadowed Osiris himself who became little more than a passive sacrifice. There arose also an independent Isis-cult which spread all over the Roman Empire and which developed into the most magnificent and awe-inspiring of all the ancient mysteries. In Rome alone there were fifty-eight splendid temples of Isis in which tens of thousands of her adherents found their life-consolation.


At an earlier date the character of Isis had been exported from Egypt and appeared in Sicily, Greece, and Italy under the name of Demeter and Kore. She was the goddess of the grain and the harvests. The Greeks gave her a daughter called Persephone who became the queen of the underworld. The cult of Kore spread far and wide, and at Alexandria a magnificent temple was built for her in which the Festival of the Maiden was celebrated on January 6. Preceding the dawn of that day the worshippers played flutes all night long; in the morning the high priest appeared at the portals of the temple and announced that the Virgin had just given birth to the Aeon, or the Holy Emanation. This was known as the Epiphany, or the appearance of the divinity, the savior god. And it is most interesting and pertinent to note that January 6 was the day in which the wheat became ripe for the harvest in Egypt. Isis or Kore had given birth to the Savior who symbolized the grain.




The Mazdean religion which existed for thousands of years before Christianity was based on the worship of the sun. And its successor Zoroastrianism worshipped a powerful deity called Ahura-Mazda, the God of Eternal Light. One of the great divinities in the religion was Mithra, who was the god of battles and the mediator betweenAhura and the human race. He was also the savior-god who performed great feats which saved mankind several times. His greatest act was the slaying of the bull from which all good things on earth were derived. The holy day of the cult was Sunday, which the Christians began to celebrate as their Sabbath in the fourth century. According to the myth he was born in a cave of a rock of a virgin on December 25. At his birth shepherds came and sang songs to herald his appearance.


The Mithraic cult arose as a separate religion about 175 BCE, and it became one of the most virulent competitors and enemies of Christianity in the ancient world. All night before the morning of December 25 its devotees kept vigil before their Mithraemus, and as the first stream of sunlight draped the earth, the high priest of Mithra emerged from his inner sanctum and announced in a loud voice to the kneeling multitude: "The god is born." And then there was unrestrained rejoicing followed by a feast commemorating the last meal which Mithra celebrated with his disciples before his ascension into heaven. This was the Last Supper of Mithraism and its sacramental feast, the high mass of the cult which was its principal ritual for five or six hundred yearsbefore the Christians adopted it.


Between 100 B. C. and 300 CE Mithraism spread throughout the Roman Empire, even into the British Isles. There were  tens of thousands of communicants who celebrated the high feast of Mithra on December 25, the day on which the Sun God, their Savior, was born.




Before Christianity became the state religion of the Roman Empire under Constantine, there had for centuries been a great celebration known as the Saturnalia which lasted seven days from December 17 to 24. This was the annual week of good will to all and equality for everyone. During this period sexual conduct was uninhibited, slaves and masters exchanged places and traded their normal dress, and the owners waited at table on their slaves. This was to celebrate the shortest day of the year and the arrival of the new sun. This long holiday was concluded by a climatic feast on December 25, known as the Brumalia. Gifts were exchanged and joy and happiness prevailed. After this normal occupations were resumed and everyone went back to work.


In the Teutonic countries for many centuries the Germans and the Scandinavians had celebrated the passing of the winter solstice and the upward swing of the sun. Their Kris Kringle brought presents for all good children and laid them under the Yule tree. He was the granddaddy of our Santa Claus who drives his reindeer from the far north and climbs down chimneys to fill the stockings of all obedient boys and girls with many wonderful goodies.




Among the early Christians there were three very different doctrines concerning Jesus:


1) He was born of Mary and Joseph in the ordinary course of nature and was only made divine by spiritual adoption at his baptism.


2) The doctrine of the Gnostics who said that Jesus was never born, was not in fact human at all, and had no earthy parents. He was a spiritual being sent by the Supreme God for a brief ministry to deliver the message of salvation and redemption.


3) The doctrine which was became the doctrine of the Catholic Church: Jesus was born of a virgin, similar to the myths found in virtually every mystery cult for centuries.


And so January 6 was accepted almost universally as the date of the Epiphany, and a great many churches, especially in the East, began teaching that it was also the physical birthday of Jesus. In various Catholic countries this is still the case.




In the Latin countries, however, the cults of Isis, Mithra, and the Zoroastrians were extremely powerful. It is not surprising, then, that the Christian God would be drawn into the orbit of the immemorial solar myth. In the year 354, Bishop Liberius of Rome decreed that the birth of Jesus was to be celebrated on December 25 instead of January 6. The worshippers of Mithras had been doing precisely the same things for five hundred years and the Osirians for four thousand years.


December 25 gradually became more and more popular as the birth date of Jesus. The Church at Antioch adopted it in 370, Constantinople in 380, Alexandria in 432, and Jerusalem in 549. The Mass of Christ or Christ's Mass was eventually celebrated almost universally on December 25.


By such means the immemorial Pagan rejoicing which celebrated rebirth of the various and life-giving Sun became the birthday of "Jesus." It is one of those marvelous events which demonstrates how human emotion and physical need are translated into religious doctrine and mythical history, for the race of man lives not by reason but by the yearning of its aspiration.


Borrowed from The American Rationalist – 1963

(modified, condensed, and typos corrected).


Essene Principles and Rules of Life

The Seven Spirits

The Seven Spirits
This powerful drawing gives the magical seals of the seven Spirits who work with Christ for the good of all beings. It raises the consciousness into higher realms; it purifies the vibrations of a place. Ideal to protect a room, a house.

The rules of life, and the very strict discipline which went with them, were not a constraint, but were freely accepted as ways to forge character and to develop in one's highest being.
Above all, their foundation in wisdom was recognized by everyone, using his own intelligence. No arbitrator reigned in the Brotherhood-School.
The Essenes received many teachings of the ancient universal wisdom, which they had to bring to life inside themselves as a sacred service to humanity. They were fully aware that the major part of this wisdom was for a future humanity; and they thought that the great Masters who would come in the future could make use of their work. They believed that, without them--the Masters--the benefactors would not be able to help human beings, and that people would, therefore, sink into the darkness of ignorance and depravity, and eventually destroy one another through wars and other unspeakable atrocities.
This enlivening of the Teaching of Light occurred in groups during ceremonies; through songs, dances and movements; or even during work in the fields or the vineyards, or some other manual work or construction. It was also accomplished through individual work, in the solitude of one's personal temple.

Each Essene was required to respect the privacy of others--their solitude, their intimate and private lives. Solitude was regarded as sacred, because, when one was alone with oneself, one was in the presence of God, the Sublime One, the Source.
The life of a couple was also regarded as sacred, as was community life. These were the three degrees--one's private life corresponded to the inside of the temple; the inner life, to the couple; and the external life, to the community. The student was to look closely at himself in these three lives, and remain honest, morally upright, pure and authentic in all three.

There was a rule forbidding them to reveal the Teaching to people who were not prepared to receive it. The law of silence and discernment was strictly imposed.
Thus, an Essene never tried to convert another person to any belief.
"Do not give pearls to pigs for fear that they will trample them underfoot and turn towards you to devour you." (The words of Christ)

The Essenes practiced hospitality regularly, and they had buildings set aside especially for that purpose. The way in which they healed the sick inside of these buildings--that is the origin for the existence of our modern hospitals.
Through them, hospitality became very far-reaching, because they learned very young to see the divine part of each person. And, thus, it was God who visited them in the guise of the individual, and they had to understand what He wanted to say to them or wanted from them. In this way, they were following the teaching of Toby and Abraham, who, in offering hospitality to men, had, in reality, been welcoming angels.
By taking care of the individual, they were taking care of the Being of beings who was behind him. That is the profound meaning of all true medicine and of every therapeutic process.
The body and the person were, for them, the outer shell of the Universal Spirit. Therefore, they were not disdainful of these things--but they did not ignore the Divine Spirit. Without the Divine Spirit, there is no true hospitality; and that is why, in our time, money has replaced the vision of the Supreme One.

The Brothers and Sisters in the white tunic, as they were called then, also practiced a great many humanitarian acts, helping the poor and the outcasts. A large number of Essenes in the external circles of the order reincarnated and became the source for all of the great modern humanitarian organizations. Of course, these often escaped their control and went astray, because the holy initiatic order was no longer there to support them.
Without initiation, no salvation is possible and no help is effective, because good is transformed into evil, and vice versa.

The Essenes recognized the equality of the sexes, and accorded to women, in the greatest secrecy, the place which was rightfully theirs. Thus, women were able to participate in all of the spiritual activities.
The Essenes studied an esoteric teaching on androgyny, which provided them with a perception of the soul beyond the dualistic conception of sex. The white-linen robe was a symbol of this vision of the soul's unity.

The School strongly condemned slavery and all forms of servility. No Essene could have a servant; that was a sin. So was working only to make money--which, in the end, translates into a certain kind of slavery.
Slavery and servility were, for them, things related to the existence of dark and demonic entities, and belonged to what they called the world of divine anger.
Any man (or woman) who was even merely affiliated with the community had to free his slaves and abstain from eating meat. For them, slavery was also tied to the fact of being carnivorous, because he who could not stop eating animal flesh and drinking blood could not control the passions of his animalistic nature--and, therefore, could not think in a clear manner. He was reduced to slavery by his nature

Essene Gospels Of Peace

Essene Gospels Of Peace

The Essene Gospel of Peace Book 1 "The Essene Gospel of Peace" 
The Essene Gospel of Peace Book 2 "The Unknown Books of the Essenes" 
The Essene Gospel of Peace Book 3 "Lost Scrolls of the Essene Brotherhood"
The Essene Gospel of Peace Book 4 "The Teachings of the Elect"

Other Essene Writings

From Enoch to the Dead Sea Scrolls
The Essene Science Of Fasting
Banus The Essene 
Essene Revelation
Essene Holy Streams
Essene Seven Fold Peace
Essene Seven Fold Peace II
Essene Seven Fold Vow
Vision Of Enoch

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Morning, Noon, and Evening EsseneCommunions to Follow

Day Contemplative Force
Seek Peace With:
Saturday =Earthly Mother = Food = Nutrition
Sunday =Angel of Earth = Top Soil Growth = Regeneration Glands
Monday =Angel of Life = Trees = Vitality
Tuesday=Angel of Joy = Beauty = Harmony
Wednesday=Angel of Sun = Sunrise =Fire of Life
Thursday =Angel of Water = Blood, Rivers, Etc.= Circulation
Friday =Angel of Air = Breath = Energies of Atmosphere

Saturday =Kingdom of the Heavenly Father
Sunday =Kingdom of the Earthly Mother
Monday= Culture
Tuesday = Humanity (Social Peace)
Wednesday=Family (Feeling Body)
Thursday=Mind (Thinking Body)
Friday = Body (Acting Body)

Saturday =Angel of Eternal Life = Superior Planets= Overcoming Gravity
Sunday =Angel of Creative Work= Bees = Creative Work of Man
Monday =Angel of Peace =Crescent Moon=Peace Within
Tuesday =Angel of Power = Stars, Superior Acts = Nervous System, Cosmic Ocean of Life
Wednesday =Angel of Love =Superior Feeling= Emotions, Cosmic Ocean of Love
Thursday =Angel of Wisdom = Superior Thoughts = Thinking Body
Friday =Heavenly Father =Cosmic Currents = Final Union with Cosmic Ocean

Go to Essene-Nazarean

The Nazarenes of Mount Carmel
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The Essene Numerology Chart | Ministerial Training Course

The Essenes considered themselves to be a separate people--not because of external signs like skin color, hair color, etc., but because of the illumination of their inner life and their knowledge of the hidden mysteries of nature unknown to other men. They considered themselves to be also a group of people at the center of all peoples