13. CAIN, THE IMMORTAL
Everybody knows what happened after the “fall” of man, according to Genesis. Adam and Eve were thrown out of paradise and had children. First Cain and then Abel. Everybody knows that “God did not accept the sacrifices which Cain offered him but did accept Abel's”. So Cain, consumed by jealousy, threw himself on his brother and killed him. Everybody knows this; we have always thought “how bad Cain was”, “he killed his brother, how terrible”. Cain was the bad one and Abel the good; this is the interpretation given to us in judaism, christianity and islam. Even Saint Augustine in his interpretation of the myth of Cain and Abel compares Cain with the Jews and Abel with Christ. He says that the Jews killed Christ in the same way that Cain killed Abel. Saint Augustine then, like everyone else, carried on the tradition that Abel was good and Cain was bad.
It is very clear in the bible; Cain is punished by God, banished. This is seen as something logical and normal: Cain is bad and Abel is good. The Gnostic interpretation is completely different as we will now see.
First of all, Gnosis maintains that Cain was not the son of Adam and that Eve conceived her first son Cain with the Serpent, Lucifer. The Serpent Lucifer impregnated Eve with his breath. In other words, Cain was not completely human, born from flesh. His Spiritual nature was great because his father was Lucifer, coming from the unknowable world of the Spirit.
On the other hand, Abel was the son of Adam and Eve, in other words Abel was indeed born from flesh.
We can now see the first difference between the two brothers: Cain is superior to Abel. Cain is the son of Eve and Lucifer, the initiatory Serpent of Eden. Cain is the son of the Spirit and of flesh. Abel, on the contrary, is born only from flesh. Therefore we can see first of all that Cain is not someone evil but that in fact he is superior, important, and much more so than Abel.
Secondly, Cain as much as Abel made sacrifices to the creator god to please him, offering him things that he liked. Cain offered vegetables and Abel animals, lambs for example. According to the bible the creator god preferred the latter: the blood from the dead animals and the smell of burnt flesh of the corpse. The bible says that the creator was pleased by Abel's sacrifices but not by Cain's. It appeared that Cain had little desire to please the creator since he only offered him a few seeds and with little devotion, as if he wasn't entirely convinced of the usefulness of making sacrifices. Naturally then, Abel's sacrifices were accepted by the creator and Cain's weren't. Cain didn't like to offer sacrifices to the creator because of his roots, because he was the son of Lucifer and had the divine spark of the Angel of Light within him. That is why he did not make suitable sacrifices to the creator and why it disgusted him to do so since he did not belong to this created world. Abel, on the other hand, whose nature was not of the Spirit but of an animal, did make suitable sacrifices and these were the ones which most pleased the creator.
An ancient legend relates what Abel said to his brother Cain on one particular occasion: “my sacrifice, my offering, was accepted by God because I love him, your offering was on the other hand rejected because you hate him”. Now it is quite clear, Cain hates the creator because he is born from the Spirit, his true nature is Spiritual! Put this way it is quite clear. All these legends and myths surrounding Genesis tell us many things. Through them we realise that much information has been distorted and hidden from us.
There are other interesting things which Cain said to his brother. One small sentence sums up his position. These words are key: “There is no law, no judge” Palestinian Targum, Gen., 4:8). Cain is denying the authority of the creator god and the fact of paying homage to and obeying him.
Later on we see that Cain murdered his brother Abel. This is something very profound as it signifies that the Spirit rejects, destroys and murders the soul. Abel, presented as pure love and devotion in the bible, represents the soul of man according to Gnostics. Cain, on the contrary, represents the Spirit, which explains his hostility and hatred. Hostility and hatred typical of the Spirit, since the Spirit really hates this impure world, full of unfair and absurd rules. This explains Cain's resistance to making sacrifices and his disobedience as regards the creator's commandments. Cain and Abel are as opposed and irreconcilable as are the Spirit and the soul.
The soul is pure love, not True Love but that which we know as love, that which we believe is love, that which we have been told is love, which in actual fact is hatred. The Spirit is the opposite; It is perceived as pure hatred, hostility and revenge. Due to being shackled in this satanic creation the only thing the Spirit can feel is hostility and hatred, that which ordinary men know as hatred. The Spirit, which is Pure Love, can only feel aversion and disgust before this thing that is, in fact, pure garbage. That is why the Spirit wants to destroy this satanic creation, because for It, creation is a deformed monstrosity which should never have come into existence. This is what Cain's murder of Abel symbolises.
Cain, through his actions, freed himself completely from the creator and from his own body and soul. Through these acts against the creator god and his half-brother Abel he freed himself once and for all from the inferior god and his impure and flawed creation. With these acts he transformed himself into an opponent, an eternal enemy of the demiurge and his work.
This whole episode of Cain and Abel, such as it is in Genesis in the bible and in legends such as the jewish midrash amongst others, has been interpreted by Gnostics in a way that totally opposes the generally accepted version.
After committing his Supreme Act, the bible says that Cain was cursed by god and banished from that place. “Cursed and banished”, the same destiny as the Serpent of paradise. It was logical that this should happen, as Cain had turned himself into an absolute opponent of the creator god, but as well as that, many more interesting things happened which we are going to be highlighting here:
First of all, we saw that Cain was cursed and banished by the creator god. This, which could have appeared to be punishment, is just the opposite for a Gnostic. To be cursed and banished by the creator is an honour for a Gnostic. It is the natural reaction of the demiurge faced with someone who has defied him and slapped him in the face, faced with someone who has made himself equal or superior to him. Cain is in exile because he completely transformed himself, successfully exiled himself and now no longer belongs to this world, although he carries on living in it. The bible says that the creator banished him, but Cain is free, liberated in life and through his acts he cursed the creator and exiled himself from this abominable creation.
Secondly, several jewish legends relate that the creator punished Cain forever with insomnia, condemning him never to sleep again, with eternal wakefulness. To a Gnostic, this is not punishment but a triumph. Being condemned to eternal wakefulness is an advantage, a virtue, an important achievement. Cain woke himself up disobeying the creator's commandments and “murdered” his soul.
Thirdly, the bible says that the creator protected Cain, not allowing anyone to harm or kill him. This is another interesting fact. Gnostics say that a man who has transformed himself into pure Spirit, although he continues to inhabit his physical body, is immortal, untouchable. Absolutely no-one can harm or attack him now and he has no fear since he is beyond everything and will never die. He is in this world but outside of it as well. He is outside of matter and time and now does not form part of creation. He exiled himself from this world by his own will. The creator god can't harm him anymore, because Cain is now superior to him.
Fourthly, the bible says that the creator put a mark on Cain, a sign, so that everyone would recognise him and would not hurt him. Some ancient jewish legends say that this sign was a horn on his forehead. A horn on the forehead signifies power, power that comes from the Spirit, power that distinguishes him from other men. This callous on his forehead signifies that the Spirit has freed Itself and has taken possession of the body, hardening it, Spiritualising it. No-one put a mark on Cain. Cain put it there himself. When this happens, it is noticed by other men and the whole of creation. Every Spirit freed from the prison of matter will have this mark for all eternity. Now the Spirit will never be what It was before being shackled to matter. That characteristic mark is the body transformed, as hard as a diamond. The Spirit has transmuted the body and is now immortal and eternal. This will be Its eternal reminder, the everlasting proof of Its path through hell and Its triumph over it.
We can find several syntheses in the Gnostic explanation of the myth of Cain in Mgr. Meurin's book on masonry which we quoted earlier. Also in “Le dieu rouge” by Robert Ambelain and also in “Atheism in Christianity”, by Ernst Bloch. Likewise, there are also several interesting facts in “The Hebrew Myths” by Graves and Patai. There is also a very profound Gnostic interpretation of this myth in a strange novel I found on the Internet called “El Misterio de Belicena Villca”.
> Continue reading next chapter: The plans of the creator god