Sacred Sexuality in Early Christianity and the Inner Teachings of Jesus

by Walter Last

The Gnostic Gospels as well as other writings point to a central role of sacred sexuality in early Christianity. No details of these practices seem to have survived as the Church later tried to erase all records. In the following I will show that, according to my understanding, these sacred sexual practices are central to the teachings of Jesus about the 'Kingdom of Heaven', and that they are still relevant in our time.  



 The Unique and Authentic Image of

the Master Jesus


Taken from an emerald cutting said to be engraved by order of the Roman Emperor Tiberius.  It comes from the Treasure of Constantinople and was surrendered by the Sultan of Turkey to Pope Innocent VIII as ransom payment for his brother, held captive by the Christians.  This image has been taken directly from the priceless emerald, belonging to the Vatican Treasury.

Historical Background Information

Early Christianity had a strong oral tradition of what Jesus had said and done, and this was only gradually written down. After the crucifixion the inner teachings of Jesus seem to have been the basis of Jewish Christianity under the leadership of James the Just, the first bishop of Jerusalem and the brother of Jesus. The innermost teachings were always kept secret and never written down, but even more general teachings went underground with the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 CE, and especially after the Bar Kokhba revolt in 135 CE.

At this time gentile Christians became the dominant group with their power base in Rome, and the original Essene-based Jewish Christians were increasingly being persecuted. The records of their teachings survived in hiding as the Gnostic Gospels ascribed to various disciples of Jesus. They have been rejected by the Roman church in favor of a version of the more general teachings and doctrines of Paul. The Church never acknowledged that Jesus had secret inner teachings for his disciples.

The apostle Paul did not know Jesus personally and seems to have had a different agenda than Jewish Christianity under the leadership of James. Only one of the letters of James is in the New Testament. Most of his writings were apparently destroyed by the church and survived only as part of the Gnostic Gospels. In contrast most of the New Testament writings are by Paul and his followers. Many of the Jewish Christian leaders rejected the writings of Paul in preference to oral transmissions from reliable sources.

Paul was subordinate to James, but after the scattering of Jewish Christianity the writings of Paul became the basis of Western Christianity. After the New Testament scripts had been selected based on Paul’s doctrines, writings with differing viewpoints, such as now found in the Gnostic Gospels, were declared as being heretical, and they and their owners were destroyed. Only some of them surfaced again in the last century; see

While this greatly reduced the number of Gnostic Gospels that did survive, it also protected them from being creatively rearranged to correspond to changing church doctrines as apparently happened to Canonical Gospels in the New Testament [1]. Furthermore, the Canonical Gospels are basically stories of happenings and parables, while the Gnostic Gospels are mainly collections of sayings and teachings of Jesus, and therefore more instructive.

The Kingdom of Heaven

In our modern perception we associate Jesus with the teaching of being 'good and loving', but a different picture emerges from the Gnostic Gospels, and even from parts of the New Testament and other writings.

For instance in the Gospel of Thomas Jesus said 16): "Men think, perhaps, that it is peace which I have come to cast upon the world. They do not know that it is dissension which I have come to cast upon the earth: fire, sword, and war. For there will be five in a house: three will be against two, and two against three, the father against the son, and the son against the father. And they will stand solitary." Or in 10) Jesus said, "I have cast fire upon the world, and see, I am guarding it until it blazes."

According to this more hidden understanding Jesus was not greatly concerned with this world and did not try to improve it (e.g. 'give Caesar what is Caesar's'). Instead his teaching was centered on the kingdom of heaven, and the quickest way to get there.

It is clear that this kingdom is not just the afterlife but a special condition that actually is the goal of human existence, similar to the Nirvana of Buddhism or the highest goal of yoga. Jesus, Krishna and Buddha all taught special ways to overcome the human condition. In present New Age terminology these teachings are about ascending, and becoming an ascended master.  

In order to enter the kingdom, we must first build a new and higher energy body that is superior to the normal human soul. This is the goal of many religious and spiritual traditions, such as Yoga, Tantra, Tao, Buddhism, Alchemy, Rosicrucians, Theosophy, New Age, and it can also be found in the Gnostic teachings of Jesus. 

There is general agreement that this higher energy body is an 'immortal light body'. Lao Tzu explained the light body thus: 'It is self-aware yet without ego, capable of inhabiting a biological body yet not attached to it, and guided by wisdom rather than emotion. Whole and virtuous, it can never die' [2]. In the last paragraph of the Gospel of Philip we read: 'He who will receive that light will not be seen, nor can he be detained. And none shall be able to torment a person like this, even while he dwells in the world. And again when he leaves the world, he has already received the truth in the images.'

The interesting part is that all these different traditions agree that to build this immortal light body it is necessary to balance our male and female energies. In this light we can understand the widespread practice during the early stages of Christianity of devout Christian males living with their 'virgins'.

The Agapetae

Agape is Greek and defined as spiritual, selfless or universal love - in contrast to Eros being romantic or sexual love. Agapetae may be translated as the beloveds or holy virgins and described as holy virgins who personify and radiate universal love.

A further definition that needs to be cleared up is the term 'virgin'. As I understand it, in biblical times a virgin simply was an unmarried young woman who was not a widow or a prostitute. Physical virginity was not the issue, although it may have been assumed. Early Christian texts often were in Greek, and there the word 'parthenos' was used which meant virgin, but also maiden or young woman.

There is very little known about the spiritual sexual practices of these Christian males (agapeti) with their holy virgins (agapetae) because most of the writings that survived were polemics against this practice. It seems to have been widespread for several centuries until it was outlawed by the synod of Elvira (305 CE) and the Council of Nicea in 325 CE, and replaced with asceticism and monasticism, except for the clergy who could live with their subintroductae or housekeepers. This was the beginning of the suppression of sexuality in Christian societies, the consequences of which are still with us at present. 

However, the practice seems to have survived in some form for several centuries longer. When looking for AGAPETI and AGAPETAE I found the following entry in the Dictionary of Religion & Ethics: 'Monks and nuns of the early Middle Ages, who, while professing celibacy, dwelt together in what they called holy love. The practice was suppressed by the Lateran Council, 1139.'

The Cathars with their strong links to the Gnostics also encouraged chastity and avoidance of procreative sex. They became prominent in Southern France and neighboring countries from about 1000 CE to the middle of the 13th century when they were massacred by the papal army. Afterwards the Inquisition was established to eliminate any survivors and their teachings. There are also suggestions that the Cathars have been the protectors of the Holy Grail of Christian mythology. From the 15th century the gnostic tradition of sacred sexuality was cautiously carried on by the Rosicrucians who celebrated a mystical marriage, and later by the Alchemists in their search for the elexir of life.

Marnia Robinson in Spiritual Brides of Early Christianity and Andrew Moore at give many referenced examples of the polemic against the agapetae custom, which I do not want to repeat here but give just a few general descriptions.

"Our fathers," Chrysostom begins, "only knew two forms of sexual intimacy, marriage and fornication. Now a third form has appeared: men introduce young girls into their houses and keep them there permanently, respecting their virginity." And later he continues: 'The virgin is free from these burdens (of a married woman). She retains her vigor and her youthfulness, and even at the age of forty may rival the young nubile girl (= teenager).' He also described all the loving care that these virginal sweethearts received even in public.

Desert ascetic St. Jerome wrote: 'I blush to speak of it, it is so shocking; yet though sad, it is true. How comes this plague of the agapetae to be in the church? Whence come these unwedded wives, these novel concubines, these harlots, so I will call them, though they cling to a single partner? One house holds them and one chamber. They often occupy the same bed'.

Even St. Paul alludes to the agapetae in his first letter to the Corinthians:

7:36: But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin, if she pass the flower of her age, and need so require, let him do what he will, he sinneth not: let them marry. 37: Nevertheless he that standeth steadfast in his heart, having no necessity, but hath power over his own will, and hath so decreed in his heart that he will keep his virgin, doeth well. 38: So that he who marries his virgin does well, and he who refrains from marriage does better.

Here Paul clearly states that it was accepted practice for a Christian man to live with his virgin. If she got on in years and now wanted a conventional family or if she became pregnant, it was not a sin, and it was fine to marry. However, his preferred way was for them not to marry but just live together as a holy couple. 

While Paul states in the first Corinthian that he is single, he seems to have acquired his own virgin some time later. The ACTS OF PAUL AND THECLA  is a second Century apocryphal of St. Paul and his virgin Thecla. After hearing Paul preach in her home town on chastity, Thecla broke off her engagement which caused much trouble for herself and Paul. This text became very popular and was translated from the original Greek into a number of languages by the early church, and St. Thecla became the most famous of virgin martyrs.

Another reference to the agapetae may be a saying of Jesus according to the New Testament in Luke 23:29: 'Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed.' A similar saying is in 79) of the Gospel of Thomas. Here Jesus seems to say that remaining a virgin or practicing undefiled sex is preferable to reproductive sex.

Mary Magdalene

There must have been a powerful reason that caused this agapetae phenomenon to erupt so suddenly and widely in our first century, and I believe that it was the teaching of Jesus of the Sacrament of the Bridal Chamber and his relationship with Mary Magdalene.

According to the Gnostic Gospels Mary Magdalene seems to have been the consort of Jesus and the first of the agapetae. In paragraph 59 of the Gospel of Philip [3] it says: "And the Consort of the Christ is Mariam the Magdalene. The Lord loved Mariam more than all the other Disciples, and he kissed her often on her mouth."

In Chapter 9 of the Gospel of Mary Levi said to Peter: 8) 'But if the Savior made her worthy, who are you indeed to reject her? Surely the Savior knows her very well. 9) That is why He loved her more than us.'

If Jesus and Mary Magdalene had been married it is unlikely that the disciples would have been upset about his affection for her. Therefore it is much more likely that this was a loving spiritual relationship.  

The other aspect that concerned Peter and other disciples was Mary Magdalene's role as a disciple because women had a rather low standing in their society. Even worse, after the crucifixion Jesus gave teachings to Mary Magdalene, which she passed on to the male disciples, so that she became the teacher or apostle to the apostles.

However, Mary Magdalene was not the only female in that group. There were also other women following Jesus and the disciples. In those times such women would either be wives or prostitutes. No further details are given, but these women do not seem to have been disciples in the way that Mary Magdalene was, and Peter did not voice any recorded objections against them [4].

There are no indications that they were wives or prostitutes. All of this points to the possibility that these women were the agapetae of some of the disciples. After all, according to the Gnostic Gospels the sacrament of the bridal chamber was the most central and holy part of the teachings of Jesus, and that required men as well as women to perform together.

Uniting Male and Female

According to all mystical and most religious traditions, in the beginning was the undivided Whole which split into its opposite parts, and their interaction created the multitude of manifestations. In regard to sexuality we see this when the androgynic Shiva-Shakti splits into the male Shiva and the female Shakti, or when the androgynic Adam-Eve splits into the separated Adam and Eve.

The idea is that a non-sexual or androgynic spiritual being manifests on a denser plane of existence by splitting into dualistic male and female parts. Conversely, to permanently ascend from a denser to a less dense plane, male and female need to permanently unite to become again whole or androgynic.

The commonly used term 'androgynous' may lead some to think of hermaphrodites with male and female sexual traits, or bisexual plants. However, the spiritual condition of androgyny (andro = male, gyny or gynic = female) is rather different and I prefer to refer to it as 'androgynic' rather than 'androgynous'.  

The androgynic condition, required to transcend the density level of three-dimensional humanity, commonly involves a body with normal male or female characteristics but with an additional higher energy body that is neither male nor female. We all have several energy bodies, such as the etheric and the astral bodies which are part of what we call the soul, and which may be visible to some psychics. But all of these bodies are polarized which then become manifest as our sexual characteristics. It is not yet clear to me if or how far hermaphrodites have balanced higher energy bodies.

The Gospel of Thomas speaks of the mystery of entering the kingdom of heaven when male and female become one: 22) "When you make the two into one, and when you make the inner like the outer and the outer like the inner, and the upper like the lower, and when you make male and female into a single one, so that the male will not be male nor the female be female, "... then you will enter (the kingdom)." This theme is also found in the Gospel of Philip and in other Gnostic texts.

In 114) Simon Peter said: "Let Mary leave us, for women are not worthy of (eternal) life." Jesus replied: "I myself shall lead her in order to make her male, so that she too may become a living spirit resembling you males. For every woman who will make herself male will enter the kingdom of heaven." This, too, refers to androgyny.

According to Lao Tzu: "For those who aspire to the higher realms of living, there is angelic dual cultivation. Because every portion of the body, mind, and spirit yearns for the integration of yin and yang, angelic intercourse is led by the spirit rather than the sexual organs. Where ordinary intercourse is effortful, angelic cultivation is calm, relaxed, quiet, and natural. Where ordinary intercourse unites sex organs with sex organs, angelic cultivation unites spirit with spirit, mind with mind, and every cell of one body with every cell of the other body; culminating not in dissolution but in integration, it is an opportunity for a man and woman to mutually transform and uplift each other into the realm of bliss and wholeness" [2a].

The saying of the Buddha "Enlightenment is in the vagina" (in Sanscrit 'Buddhatvam Yosityonisamasritam') points to the necessity of uniting male and female energies for ultimate success. The same approach is used in the higher tantric methods to reunite their Shiva and Shakti natures.

For alchemists, carrying on the tradition of the Gnostics, the 'completed work' has recreated the Divine Androgyne. A 20-picture series of the alchemical and Rosicrucian tradition has been discovered that shows an ethereal spirit being emerging from a long and largely motionless male-female union [5].

Thelema Press promotes the teachings of the late Samael Aun Weor. It has released a 75-minute documentary DVD on the mysteries of sacred sexuality. This shows the symbols and parallels in the traditions of the Kabala, Alchemists, Tantra, Mayan carvings, Tibetan Buddhism, Christian Gospels, and many others ( We see that the central aspect of all these teachings is the original male-female split that needs to be reversed in order to return to our ultimate spiritual condition.


Early Christian leaders have written about the symbolism of nakedness as a sign of innocence and perfection. This comes from the central teaching of Jesus that we must become again sexually innocent like little children to recreate the conditions between the sexes as they were between Adam and Eve before the 'fall'.

In 36: of the Gospel of Thomas Jesus said, "Do not be concerned about what you will wear." And in 37: "When you disrobe without being ashamed and take up your garments and place them under your feet like little children and tread on them, then will you see the son of the living one, and you will not be afraid."  The idea behind these sayings of Jesus is obviously that Adam and Eve were not ashamed of their bodies while they were still pure and innocent like little children, and that we need to become so again before we can enter the kingdom.
To the pure everything is pure, even their bodies and sexual organs and functions.

For the early Christians, nakedness and holy men living together in lust-free purity with their virgins was a recreation of the condition of Adam and Eve in paradise before the 'fall'. The fall consisted of eating from the tree of knowledge. 'Knowledge' referred to procreative sexuality. In biblical terms to know a woman meant to know her sexually. There are countless references to this in the bible. Therefore, the fall means that the descending spirit entities became aware of duality and with this of good and evil when they started to have orgasmic and procreative sex. Accordingly, the aim of Jesus was to reverse duality by encouraging men and women to live together in holy innocence as before the fall. This then created the right condition for ascending back into the kingdom.

Here are some of the sayings in the Gospel of Philip to show this point:

76; 'In the days when Eve was within Adam, there had been no death. When she was separated from him, death came to be. If she again enters and he receives her to him, death shall no longer be.'

86: 'If the woman had not separated from the man, she should not die with the man. His separation became the beginning of death. Because of this, Christ came to repair the separation, which was from the beginning, and again unite the two, and to give life to those who died as a result of the separation, and unite them.'

90: 'Adam came into being from two virgins from the Spirit and from the virgin earth. Therefore Christ was begotten from a virgin, so that the fall which occurred in the beginning shall be rectified.' This saying also illustrates the importance of symbolism in early religious thoughts.

Accordingly, reuniting the sexes in order to return to immortality was the central task of Jesus, and nakedness was a symbol of innocence and purity of spirit. Following this understanding of the teachings of Jesus many holy men have been living more or less naked in the desert either alone or with their holy virgins. Accordingly, the agapetae were sometimes derisively called 'unclad virtues' or having 'sun-clad power of chastity'.

The Sacrament of the Bridal Chamber

Because the Church was so vigilant in destroying all dissident views and heretical documents, we can only infer the details of the sacrament of the bridal chamber and its relationship to the phenomenon of the agapetae. Over the centuries both seem to have been practiced in a wide variety of ways, from the purest and highly spiritual to normal intercourse resulting in offspring.

Our problem is to piece together the original teachings to come to an understanding of how Jesus may have taught this ritual. In this I regard the Gnostic Gospels as the most persuasive sources, and of these the Gospel of Philip [3] has by far the most detailed information. For relevant sayings from this gospel see the Appendix at the end of this article.

The sacrament of the bridal chamber is obviously meant to reverse the male-female split and make us energetically and emotionally whole again. From the Gospel of Philip we can see some important elements in this sacrament. According to Gnostic philosophy it is clear that saying 79 actually means that the bridal chamber is not for sex as performed by animals, meaning reproductive or lustful sex. Instead, saying 89 indicates that it is a restful union, in various translations called a pure embrace or undefiled intercourse.

Associated with it is anointing. Commonly the oil used for anointing is called the chrism. This consists of consecrated olive oil prepared with various fragrances, such as balsam or myrrh. During anointing the oil may be applied to the forehead and other parts of the body. However, in this gospel chrism is equated with 'receiving the light'.

We see this in saying 101. The chain of anointing from Jesus to the apostles and their disciples is clearly meant as transmitting 'the light”. Also in 81) it says: 'The light is the chrism' (therefore it is not the oil that is used as the chrism). The crucial explanation is in saying 71: 'The fire is the Chrism, the light is the fire. I do not speak of this fire that has no form, but rather the other one' whose form is white and which is made of beautiful light and which bestows splendor.'

This indicates to me that the beautiful white light is the halo of the saint, or in other words the opened crown chakra which may more easily be seen in dim light. The chakras are vortices in our energy bodies; for details see the article on Bio-Energies. Participants in this sacrament first received the chrism to 'light the fire', and then used the sacramental male-female union to keep the crown chakra permanently activated or open, and with this the whole chakra system of the participants.

Emotional imperfections or imbalances show up as colors in our aura while white light indicates perfection. Each chakra has a different rainbow color from red at the base to violet at the top. A clairvoyant may see these different colors. However, when all the chakras are fully opened and vibrating in harmony with each other, then they appear as a unified field of white light. Therefore the sacrament is intended to focus our emotions on our highest ideals and so clothe us in white light.

Saying 72: tells us on which image we need to focus in the bridal chamber to become clothed in white light: 'It is certainly necessary to be born again through the image. Which one? Resurrection.' We need to focus on the image of the resurrection. What is this image? It is the image of our perfected spirit body clothed in white light. We may imagine this as a sphere of brilliant white light which makes it difficult to discern the features of the figure inside from which this white light originates.

Continued practice of this image was then associated with the development of a higher energy body, an immortal white light body that was able to ascend into the kingdom of heaven without being seen. This is indicated by saying 112. Those who are not able to see and seize him (or his body) are the rulers of the different levels of the astral world through which the ascending soul must pass on its way to the kingdom. The highest level of the astral world is regarded as the Seventh Heaven, and the kingdom is just above that at what in New Age is regarded as the mental density level and the home of the ascended master.

Saying 113 indicates that those who are not completely perfected when leaving their human body will get stuck in the astral world. Several of the Gnostic Gospels give detailed instructions of Jesus on how to deal with the ascent through the astral world. The simplest way is not to be seen by developing a perfected light body. Jesus obviously regarded the sacrament of the bridal chamber as the fastest way to prepare for ascension.

Central to it is guided imagery leading towards the resurrection or rebirth of an immortal light body (72). Nothing compares with the effectiveness of this holy union (82) which clothes us in the perfect light (85), and it had been recommended for all disciples to rest in this union as a period of guided meditation (89).

The Immaculate Conception

I believe that a rational explanation can be found for the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception that also gives us a better understanding of the Sacrament of the Bridal Chamber. The key to this is the Essene ritual of ‘Temple Sleep’. This is a very deep meditation during a death-like sleep induced by a priest as a higher initiation ceremony, and leading to out-of-body states. It seems to have been a central part of the mystery traditions of all ancient cultures.

There are many indications that Joseph and Mary and later Jesus were associated with the Essenes. James the Just (or the Righteous) is assumed to have been the Just (or the Righteous) Teacher frequently mentioned in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Edgar Cayce has given many readings on the way Mary was trained in the Essene temple for her later role and that the priests also selected Joseph as her husband [6].

Edward Smith in his book The Burning Bush about anthroposophical interpretations of the Bible outlines the position of Rudolf Steiner on this subject based on his clairvoyant observations. According to Steiner it was literally a Virgin Birth and an Immaculate Conception, not because there was no physical contact but because of how the union came about and how the unspoiled soul of Mary remained unspoiled.

In the same book we read about the visions of the illiterate nun Anne Catherine Emmerich (1774-1824). Her visions showed Mary as a temple virgin, and the high priesthood finding Joseph as a husband for her. According to Emmerich, Joseph was later puzzled that the betrothed couple had gone through the temple sleep under the guidance of the priesthood and conception had occurred during that time [7].

For conception to occur during temple sleep we may assume that the couple was lying together in deep meditation with their outer genitals touching. Jesus would have been aware of the temple sleep and other ancient mystery rituals. There were also such rituals for couples. The Nazorean Essenes still have an extensive list of rites such as a Marriage Espousal Rite, a Marriage Nuptial Rite and a Marriage Fruitful Rite (

I believe that Jesus developed the Sacrament of the Bridal Chamber out of the temple sleep and relevant couple rituals. Temple sleep involved a death-like unconsciousness of the biological body. The new ritual was instead designed to lead to similar states of higher perception and initiation while remaining conscious in the body. Rudolf Steiner mentioned that after the coming of Jesus temple sleep was no longer needed to gain higher psychic awareness [7].

For this ritual to work the initiates need to develop a strong energy stream from the base of the spine to the top of the head, similar to what is attempted in Kundalini Yoga. Virgins have by far the highest amount of energy stored in the sexual energy center, and by appropriately connecting male and female poles a powerful stream of energy can now flow, similar to the attracting force between two strong magnets.

For this purpose it is sufficient for the outer genitals to touch, while for continued high energy production into the future it is preferable that virginity remains intact. All the Gnostic and biblical references seem to show that this is how Jesus taught this sacrament, and that he preferred it to starting a family.

Other Sacraments

However, it is clear that candidates for this sacrament need to be suitably prepared so that they have the right state of mind. This was the function of the other sacraments. Baptism was a ceremony of spiritual cleansing, of washing away past sins at the start of the spiritual path. Being a symbolic act, it was successful only if it succeeded in uniting the conscious with the subconscious mind in a firm resolve from now on to live a spiritual life. It was meant to be the birth of the spiritual body in which fleshly vices such as greed and lust were replaced by love and compassion.

In various traditions a five-fold process of rituals is practiced, some of them performed only once, while others are frequently repeated for reinforcement. In the Gospel of Philip we see five mysteries or sacraments:

1. Baptism
2. Anointing
3. Eucharist
4. Redemption
5. Bridal chamber

These are like five stages of initiation. Also the mystical path in general is commonly divided into five stages, with the first being spiritual awakening and the last forming the immortal light body suitable for ascension. Specific invocations or prayers were used with these sacraments, some of which have still survived with the Gnostic Gospels.

It is known that oil or water and other liquids can be energized by a healer or during a spiritual ceremony. This energized agent can then be used as the Eucharist or as chrism oil to transmit uplifting energy to the recipient in a ceremony. However, the strength of this transmitted energy is generally weak compared to the energy that can be directly transmitted through laying-on of hands. To activate the crown chakra a high initiate placed his or her radiating hands at the top of the head of the neophyte. This was a ritual commonly practiced in early Christianity, and has been described, for instance as part of the Valentinian sacraments and those of Marcus, two prominent early Christian leaders with Gnostic tendencies. These practices closely resembled those of other Christian communities of the second and third centuries, and included some forms of the sacrament of the bridal chamber [6].

Looking at it from a practical point of view we may assume that the sacrament of the bridal chamber consisted of a public and a private aspect. The public ceremony was performed only once for each neophyte while the pure embrace was from then on practiced in private by the couple at set intervals. During the public ceremony, which included prayers, chants, sometimes dance, and invocations, there was the laying on of hands to transmit the chrism, and presumably the practice of the pure embrace was explained in detail, including the image or images on which one had to focus. The public ceremony may also have been combined with a wedding feast, the Eucharist, in which bread and wine was used to signify the body and blood of the Christ, and included a redemption ceremony with specific prayers and invocations to symbolically guide the soul back to its creator. Valentinus and Marcus seem to have performed this combination of sacraments in weekly meetings [6].

Actually Valentinus almost became the Pope or Bishop of Rome in 143 CE. He claimed to have been personally initiated by a disciple of the apostle Paul who taught him secret wisdom that Paul had taught privately to his inner circle [7]. This line of initiation through Paul could be the reason why the Valentinian sacrament of the bridal chamber seems to be more symbolic and less physical than that portrayed in the Gospel of Philip. But in all cases the imposition of hands on the head was used to activate the crown chakra as an essential part of the sacrament of the bridal chamber, in addition to the sacrament of redemption which involves the liberation of the mind from the ‘clutches of the world’. In later years similar rites were used by the followers of the prophet Mani and the Cathars [8].

Preconditions and Conditions

In 1) of the Gospel of Thomas Jesus said, "Whoever finds the interpretation of these sayings will not experience death", meaning that he or she will enter the kingdom of heaven. It is instructive that Jesus did not require 'belief in his teachings' as the essential ingredient for reaching the kingdom; rather 'understanding' was the key.

This is also apparent from Matthew 13:10 -11ff: And the disciples came, and said unto him: 'Why speakest thou unto them in parables?
'He answered and said unto them: 'Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.'
Jesus did not simply tell people what to believe or do, but rather adjusted his teachings so that everyone could follow them according to the level of their individual understanding.

In light of the presently growing interest in spiritual matters and ascension teachings it will be interesting to reconstruct the sacrament of the bridal chamber in a modern interpretation. It is clear that this sacrament was not meant to be practiced by everyone but rather by those with a serious commitment to the spiritual path. This interpretation is made easier by being able to draw on other traditions with similar goals, such as Tantra, Tao and Yoga, and on the knowledge of the chakra system and the higher energy bodies.

A restriction on who may successfully use this method is contained in 75) of the Gospel of Thomas where Jesus said, "Many are standing at the door, but it is the solitary who will enter the bridal chamber." In 42) of the same gospel Jesus may give a clue of what 'solitary' means: "Become passers-by", and in 49) Jesus said: "Blessed are the solitary and elect, for you will find the kingdom. For you are from it, and to it you will return." From these and other passages of the Canonical and Gnostic Gospels it appears that Jesus regarded as solitary those who heeded his call to leave family and possessions to follow him and his teachings.

In our modern context I interpret 'solitary' to mean spiritual seekers who are no longer pursuing worldly goals, or those who are in the world but not of the world. It could also mean 'independent'- having found their own (divine) way and not being dependent on other people's or society's rules or guidance for living, no longer dependent on others for survival and security [4a].

131) indicates that this sacrament is performed in the light of day with an attitude of pure love and exchange of holy kisses (35). However, 'day' may not be meant literally but rather symbolic as 'spiritual light'. An essential precondition for the success of this sacrament is purity. This relates to our mind, emotions and body or lifestyle (114). To achieve and maintain purity the conscious mind needs to obtain the full cooperation of the subconscious mind or inner child. Traditionally this was achieved with ceremonies and rituals which greatly impress the subconscious mind.

Presently we have no ritualized initiation system complete with competent teachers and supportive community to transform the subconscious minds of spiritual seekers. Therefore those following the spiritual path need to do their own homework for inner purification. For guidance in this process see The Spiritual Path.

The importance of natural, clean and spiritual living for the early followers of Jewish Christianity can be understood from their connection with the Essenes, the forerunners of the Gnostics. The Essenes had desert communities with very strict rules in this regard. Apart from somewhat inconclusive historical evidence, Rudolf Steiner and Edgar Cayce both gave detailed psychic information linking Jesus and his followers with the Essenes. The Nazorean Essenes, who are still practicing today, claim that Jesus was one of them, and that they represented Jewish Christianity until 135 CE when the Roman Christians gained the upper hand.

Further, in regard to clean living, early Christians lived on organic food and clean drinking water, without any exposure to drugs, chemicals, electromagnetic or air pollution. We have to make great efforts to purify our bodies to come to a condition where early Christians started.

The Lord's Prayer

The Lord's Prayer supposedly is the only prayer that Jesus taught. Its origin is from the 'Kadish' in the Talmud and contains key words and meanings that relate to specific chakras or energy centers. While saying each line, one needs to focus the meaning on the relevant chakra. It is very likely that Jesus also used it at the beginning of the ceremony to activate the chakra system. However, the original Aramaic has different layers of meaning, and while the commonly used translation from Aramaic to Greek to Latin, old English and finally to modern English seems to have been distorted to focus on the lower or material aspects, it is likely that Jesus, especially as part of this sacrament, focused on the highest spiritual meaning.

For instance the line 'Give us this day our daily bread' in Aramaic is: 'Give us nourishment for our daily activities.' This could mean bread in its lower aspects, or it could mean love or wisdom and loving guidance if one is spiritually focused. 'Man lives not by bread alone!' For information on its origin and various direct translations of this prayer from Aramaic into modern English see:

Considering the Aramaic text, the meaning that Jesus would have given it as part of the sacrament may be as follows, starting with the 7th or crown chakra and going down to the 1st or base chakra:

Divine Parent in Heaven, holy is your name,

Fill my whole being with Light, your kingdom come,

Your Will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Fill my Heart with Love,

Forgive my mistakes as I forgive others,

Guide me in the right use of sexual energy,

And in my relationship with the forces of nature.

 Amen (to seal and confirm).

If you use the common English version, you may focus on certain key words and give them these meanings for the appropriate chakras. These key words are HEAVEN for the 7th chakra, followed by NAME, then WILL, BREAD, DEBTS, TEMPTATION, and finally EVIL [9]. The often used ending 'For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen' was not present in the original version but there is no harm in using it.

It is also possible that there was a short chant of AUM from which the present 'Amen' is derived at the end of the prayer. This activates especially the throat center, and sound energy can be used instead of sexual energy to empower images. This was supposedly the means by which our spirit ancestors created (Philip 35) before they used guided imagery to genetically modify and inhabit bipedal apes for their own sexual experiences, thereby causing the 'fall'. This was the 'original sin'. When the spirits started using the second chakra for procreation instead of the fifth chakra, they became more deeply enmeshed in matter and lost the connection with their home, the mental density level or kingdom of heaven.

A Modern Interpretation

In addition to general purity of participants, also each individual performance of the sacrament of the bridal chamber needs to be approached with an attitude of purity. Commonly dedication, invocation, prayer and anointing were used to uplift and focus the mind on the holy mission. This may have been followed by a light massage of key parts of the body with olive oil, and by some holy kisses. 'Holy' in this case means gently loving and uplifting rather than passionate. Holy kisses were called 'the kiss of peace' by the early Christians.

Our main disadvantage is that we do not have a transmission of light for opening our crown chakra before starting to practice this sacrament. This means that we need to concentrate more on the crown chakra during each session, and it may take longer until we are successful. In a group setting the crown chakra might be activated by several individuals placing their energized hands together on top of the head of the one to be initiated.

Several bible passages (Matthew 6:22-23 and Luke 11:34-35) contain this saying: 'When your eyes are single your whole body is full of light.' This shows that Jesus taught chakra meditation. It is common in chakra meditation to turn the closed eyes up and inward as if looking behind the middle of the forehead, focusing on the third eye. In this way you can keep the second chakra activated without having to pay any attention to it. With some practice you not only see an image like a spiritual eye (your eyes being single), but also your whole body appears to be filled with light. I have no doubt that this is what Jesus really meant and that he also taught to focus on the third eye during meditation, thereby making the eyes single. Another common meditation practice is to rest the tip of the tongue against the roof of the mouth to facilitate the downward flow of energy.

The goal is the formation of an immortal light body. The purpose of the male-female union is to balance each others polarized energies in the various soul bodies, and in addition to generate a flow of kundalini or sexual energy up the spine to activate the whole chakra system.

For this it is not essential that the sexual organs are connected. I believe that sexual organs may remain entirely unconnected, they may just be in loose contact, or they may be quietly connected without movement. The choice or decision on what is appropriate depends on previous sexual activities of each participant, separately and in their relationship as a couple. For those coming together for the first time it is definitely better not to connect sexually, especially if they have not practiced ejaculation control.

The stronger the sexual energy of the participants, the less they need to be sexually connected, but skin contact is always required.
A young, healthy and spiritual virgin usually has extremely strong sexual energy, which will make it easy for both participants to become uplifted. An old or elderly couple, on the other hand, may require preparatory work to revitalize their sexual energies, and need stronger stimulation for activation during the sacrament.

Couples in a long-term relationship, especially with orgasmic sex, may initially not have the necessary charge of sexual energy that is required for the sacrament of the bridal chamber. Therefore, they would be advised to avoid intimate contact for a sufficiently long period until their love and sexual desire for each other have been fully restored. Then they can enter the bridal chamber like singles. Alternatively they may approach it gradually by initially adopting a period of Karezza. Also elderly individuals may need first to improve their overall vitality.

The normal resting position would be a frontal embrace lying side by side with legs intertwined. The initial connection of the bodies or the sexual organs should produce a heightened awareness of feeling energy in the pelvic area and at the base of the spine. With part of the mind this feeling may be maintained or reinforced, possibly leading it upward with the mind and breath to the heart area. You may do that by imagining that the energy bubbles upwards and you feel the popping of these little bubbles like opening a bottle of soft-drink or champagne. 

The other part of the mental focus is on the top of the head, the crown chakra. Here you imagine sending out a loving feeling towards your High Self of God-Self. In response you feel a strong inflow of love energy in the form of white light into your crown chakra and also engulfing the rest of your body. For a suitable visualization see The Magic Presence.

When you can strongly feel the inflowing energy and preferably also the energy in the sexual area, then switch the main focus of your attention to the heart center. Feel the energies coming through the top and from the bottom condensing at the center of your chest or in the heart, and now radiate it out onto your partner, surrounding both of you with a cloud of love and white light. Become more and more submersed in the feelings that these flows of energy generate.

This first part of the ceremony is designed to activate our chakras and energy flows in a way that the transmission of the chrism of light by laying-on of hands and allied sacraments may have achieved. After some time you can forget the energy flows and just focus on the image of your perfected spirit body arising out of you as a sphere of brilliant white light. 

Eventually the participants may just remain still for an indefinite period, melting into each other. Couples will need to experiment to find the best intervals at which to repeat the sacrament for experiencing the strongest flows of energy and feelings of love.

On Using Sexual Energy

Sexual energy is our most concentrated form of life-force energy. Life-force energy is what maintains our body and what we need to live, heal and create. The basic act of creating involves forming an image and then filling it with our energy. The image can be anything from winning a race, to healing a diseased organ, to creating a white light body. The energy source may commonly be breath energy, sound energy or sexual energy. Of these, sexual energy is by far the strongest and may be used just by believing in something, or more specifically by using guided imagery or meditation. If properly done, this results in what is called a rise of 'kundalini' energy up the spine, which can now be used to activate a chakra or energize an image.

Stronger energy flows can be generated by combining male and female sexual energies. Intimate contact with an opposite sex partner causes a much stronger activation of sexual energy than meditating alone. For some possibilities see Spiritual Sex. If this energy is allowed to dissipate in a conventional orgasm it is simply lost while the resulting neurochemical changes may lead to a greater sense of emotional separation between partners [10]. However, if one or both of the partners hold a specific image during orgasm, then this image can be energized and helped to manifest. This is a commonly used method in what is called sex magic and black or left-handed Tantra. It has often been abused in unequal power relationships and used for lower or selfish goals. Also much of the energy is lost in an explosive discharge.

A more economic use is a gradual release of sexual energy flowing between male and female like an electric battery. This may be just with skin contact, or resting with the sexual organs connected, or slowly moving as with Karezza. Again, this energy flow may be used to create only pleasurable feelings, or it may in addition be used to energize an image. In 64) of the Gospel of Philip it says: "Therefore contemplate the Pure Embrace (or undefiled intercourse), for it has great power!" This saying points to the enhanced creative potential of sexual energy when it is used to manifest a high ideal.

The Embrace of Peace

I believe the early Christians with their holy agape relationships had something that we have lost and deep within us long for ever since: The Embrace of Peace. This is how I imagine the saint and his virgin exchanged their sexual energies they were lying together naked in a frontal embrace, legs intertwined, but without much movement, perhaps with some occasional touches of endearment, and they were just melting into each others feelings of love and deep peace. There was no striving for anything, nothing to achieve or to perform, just being and feeling.

I regard this embrace of peace as one of our best tools for healing. It counters the greatest scourge of our time: stress. Presently we are stressed at all levels of our existence, from pollution in our air, food and water, from food allergies and nutrient deficiencies, from medical drugs, microbial infestations and parasites, expectations to perform at school, workplace and marriage, suppressed and misdirected sexual energies, and many other emotional shocks and disappointments. All these stresses combine to make us feel unhappy or unfulfilled, separate from each other, and susceptible to depression, diseases and premature aging. 

Antidotes to this are relaxing hobbies, and especially meditation, but the embrace of peace has the added dimension of healing our bruised male-female relationships. Touch is a great healing tool, and with this kind of prolonged touch our emotional and muscular tensions can just melt away. This has been shown with hypertension and other stress-related conditions [10], and I am confident that also muscle tensions like those associated with hip and back problems or arthritis will be relieved, and it will be beneficial for all kinds of sexual problems or dysfunctions. It will be great for those who prefer to live in chastity. But the greatest benefit will be emotional improvements, greater emotional stability and enjoyment of life, and above all a previously unknown emotional closeness in our male-female relationships.

The embrace of peace may be enjoyed once a week instead of conventional sex, while at other times couples may just continue with their usual sexual practices. However, even greater health and relationship benefits can be gained by combining the embrace of peace with regular periods of meditation and more advanced sexual practices such as Karezza.


Going by the Gnostic Gospels I believe that the sacrament described above is close to how Jesus may have taught it. I do not claim or believe that this is the only method to reach ascension or will be best for everyone. While it may be difficult at present to find a suitable saint or virgin to team up with, nevertheless this method should be worth investigating for those who are seriously interested in the spiritual path and especially in ascension.

Those coming from a tradition of conventional sex may gradually draw closer to this ultimate sacrament by first experimenting with the Embrace of Peace on its own or combined with Perfect Sex and Karezza [10]. An advanced form of Karezza was described by Alice Bunker Stockham, MD in Karezza: Ethics of Marriage: 'At the appointed time and after joint meditation the couple calmly engages in physical contact and expressions of endearment and affection, followed by the complete, quiet union of the sexual organs.'

The premise of this article that Jesus had inner teachings for his disciples, and that the central part of these teachings was sacred sexuality, will be completely unacceptable to doctrine-committed Christians, but it will give hope to those who are trying to understand the fragments of secret teachings that have survived the millennia. These inner teachings seem to have been a widely experienced reality for many of the followers of Jesus in our first three centuries, and we are fortunate to have some record of them in the surviving Gnostic Gospels.

However, the very nature of these inner teachings of Jesus makes it clear that they have as little mass appeal now as they had two thousand years ago. This makes it understandable why Paul found it necessary to promote a version of outer teachings that appealed to the masses while keeping the inner teachings for a small circle of those who were ready to receive them. The aim of the outer teachings was to lead individuals towards the solitary life, while the inner teachings guided the solitary individuals back to their heavenly home.

The tragedy of our history is that the newly established church decided to completely eliminate the inner teachings of Jesus instead of providing a guided path from the outer to the inner teachings. Nevertheless, belatedly it is still possible in our time to build a bridge from the religious aspirations of the wider community to the understanding of the inner teachings of Jesus as presented in the Gnostic Gospels.

Summary of the Inner Teachings

A summary of the inner teachings of Jesus as revealed in the Gnostic Gospels and other writings may read as follows:

1.   Our ancestral spirits became trapped in matter and duality when they were tempted to experience procreative sex.

2.   After physical death they became stuck in the astral world and this prevented them from returning to their heavenly home.

3.   Jesus came to show a way for advanced or “solitary” individuals to return to heaven by creating a white light body.

4.   This can be done by reuniting males and females in a pure embrace while using specific imagery.

5.   The result is a return to the condition of sexual innocence that prevailed before the fall into matter and duality.


Here I have assembled several relevant excerpts from the Gospel of Philip [3] as used in this article.

28. There is water in a Baptism of water; there is fire in a Chrism.

35. Grace comes forth by him from the mouth, the place where the Logos came forth; one was to be nourished from the mouth to become perfect. The perfect are conceived thru a kiss and they are born. Therefore we also are motivated to kiss one another— to receive conception from within our mutual grace.

71. The soul and the spirit have come forth in water and fire with light, which pertain to the Son of the Bridal-Chamber. The fire is the Chrism, the light is the fire. I do not speak of this fire that has no form, but rather the other one— whose form is white and which is made of beautiful light and which bestows splendor.

72. The truth did not come unto the world naked, but rather it has come in symbolic imagery. The world will not receive it in any other fashion. There is a rebirth and an image of rebirth. It is certainly necessary to be born again through the image. Which one? Resurrection. The image must rise again through the imagery. The bridal chamber and the image must enter through the image into the truth: this is the restoration….. For this-one is no longer a Christian but rather a Christ.

73. The Lord did everything in a sacrament: with a Baptism, a Chrism, a Eucharist, an Atonement and with a Holy Bridal-Chamber.

74. a) He says: 'I came to make the inner as the outer and the outer as the inner.' He spoke of everything in the place above this place by means of the symbolic images. [...]

79. Let the Bridal-Chamber not be for the animals nor for the slaves nor the impure women, but rather for free men and virgins.

81. No one will be able to see himself either in water or in a mirror without light. Nor again will thou be able to see thyself in light without water or mirror. Therefore it is appropriate to baptize in both in the light as well as the water. Yet the light is the Chrism.

82. The Baptism is the holy vestibule, the Atonement is the holy of the holies but the holiest of the holies is the Bridal-Chamber. The Baptism has the resurrection with the Atonement entering into the Bridal-Chamber. Yet the Bridal-Chamber is more exalted than those. [...] Thou will find nothing that compares with it.

85. The powers do not see those who are clothed in the perfect light, and are not able to detain them. One will be clothed in this light sacramentally in the union.

86. If the woman had not separated from the man, she should not die with the man. His separation became the beginning of death. Because of this, Christ came to repair the separation, which was from the beginning, and again unite the two, and to give life to those who died as a result of the separation, and unite them. But the woman is united to her husband in the bridal chamber. Indeed, those who have united in the bridal chamber will no longer be separated. Thus Eve separated from Adam because it was not in the bridal chamber that she united with him.

89. It left the bridal chamber as one who came into being from the bridegroom and the bride. So Jesus established everything in it through these. It is fitting for each of the disciples to enter into his rest (or peace).

101. The Chrism is made lord over the Baptism. For from the Chrism we are called Christians, and not because of the Baptism. And he was called the Christ because of the Chrism. For the Father anointed the Son, yet the Son anointed the Apostles, yet the Apostles anointed us. He who has been anointed has the totality he has the resurrection, the light, the cross, the Holy Spirit. The Father bestowed this upon him in the Bridal-Chamber and he received.

112. Not only shall they be unable to seize the perfected person, but they shall be unable even to see him. For if they see him, they will seize him. In no other manner will one be able to be begotten of this grace, unless he is clothed in the Perfect Light and Perfect Light is within him. Thus clad, he shall go forth from the World. This is the perfected.

113. It is appropriate that we are made to become perfected persons before we come forth from the world. Whoever has received everything without mastering these places, will not be able to master that place; but rather he shall go to the transition as imperfect. Only Jesus knows the destiny of this one.

114. The sainted person is entirely holy, including his body. For if he received the bread he will sanctify it, or the chalice, or everything else he receives he purifies. And how will he not purify the body also.

131. If the marriage of impurity is hidden, how much more is the Immaculate Marriage a true sacrament! It is not carnal but rather pure, it is not lustful but rather loving, it is not of the darkness or the night but rather of the day and the light.


[1] Tony Bushby: The Forged Origins of the New Testament. Nexus 14-04 (2007).
[2] Hua Hu Ching by Lao Tzu (Translated by Brian Walker) (use Search facility), also Hua Hu Ching: Unknown Teachings of Lao Tzu, trans. Brian Walker, Harper SanFrancisco (1995), section 66.
[2a] Ibid. section 69
[3] Generally the version of The Gospel of Philip that was used was downloaded from because paragraphs in this version are numbered, while the more popular version from is not numbered. However, on a few occasions I used the version to clarify the meaning of a saying.
[4] Mary Sharpe: Sexuality and the Sacred in Gnostic Literature. Dissertation University of Cambridge 2001,
[4a] Mary Sharpe personal communication
[5] shows the 20 drawings only. The Hierosgamos Theme in the Images of the Rosarium Philosophorum at gives some explanations for the drawings.
[6] David Brons: Valentinian Sacramental Practice.
[7] David Brons: Valentinus.
[8] Stephan A. Hoeller: VALENTINUS A Gnostic for All Seasons.
[9] Further interesting information on this and related subjects is in the book Edgar Cayce on the Revelation by John Van Auken, A.R.E. Press, Virginia Beach 2000,
[10] Walter Last: Sexual Energy in Health and Spirituality: Nexus 14-03 (2007); also at

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The author cannot accept any legal responsibility for any problem arising from experimenting with these methods. For any serious disease,
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