by Ronnie Pontiac.
For hundreds of years scholars have attributed a mysterious manuscript to Ignotum Prophetam. Best known to European historians as one of the mad monks of history, the contemporary consensus attempts to prove from scant and contradictory evidence that Ignotum was never more than a myth, most likely invented on the island of Cyprus. The less popular scholarly opinion is that Ignotum was an influential historical figure deliberately written out of history.
Several scholars since the end of the 19th century have attempted to prove that Ignotum was actually a woman, not a nun, but a female masquerading as a male monk. The evidence supporting that view derives from a polemical attack on Ignotum by a Patriarch of Constantinople from which only this fragment survives: “in him the mind of a woman occupied the life of a man.” Did the Patriarch intend this observation to be taken literally? Could he have been commenting on gender identification? At the time the Patriarch wrote the polemic this was not an uncommon insult meant to undermine the authority of a thinker.
We know little of the life of Ignotum. The earliest Church Fathers argued against the popular idea that he was the child of a devil and an angel. His healing powers must be from the Devil, they reasoned, and therefore there could be nothing holy about him. According to them Ignotum burned at the stake as a heretic.
But among the poets and heretics of Rome, Constantinople, and Ephesus different stories were told. Some said Ignotum knew how to make lead into gold. Others claimed he could not only detect any lie but then would furnish the truth as if an angel had spoken into his ear. The hermit monks of Libya described Ignotum as a somber man who lived on little and owned nothing. According to them the Pope despised him because he condemned the Vatican’s love of worldly power and luxury, and because he laughed in the faces of bishops who sold indulgences, ridiculing them for claiming to have the power to lift damned souls from Hell to Purgatory.
By the Middle Ages Ignotum had become a character called Ignobus, a foolish monk eager to commit any misdeed that crossed his path, secure in the knowledge that he could confess and be forgiven. All the faults of monks and humans became his folly. He was said to chase after buxom virgins and rich widows. He would eat nuch more than his share of provisions. He became obsessed with finely crafted objects he felt compelled to steal. He ignored his studies and prayers assuming a mantle of power in a community only for his own benefit. His advice to those seeking forgiveness and wisdom consisted of no more than a handful of plausible clichés he had collected over the years. In medieval puppet shows the Ignobus puppet frequently suffered a beating administered by an agent of royal or papal justice.
The manuscript allegedly written by Ignomus himself, labeled Manuscript by Anonymous Prophet, can be consulted at the British Museum. Here is the first translation from Aramaic into modern English of The Three Spheres of Ignotum Prophetam..
The three spheres of Hell, Purgatory and Heaven can be found in our own lives for our being and all being is made from them.
In Hell souls learn that consequences can only be postponed, never avoided. There we pore over details of not only misdeeds but also omissions, for failing to uphold our part of the Divine Wisdom creates suffering for others. In this way we can become partly responsible for the damnation of other souls. Therefore the only right action is to seek to redeem these damned souls. Over many lifetimes a soul may become the guardian of numerous other souls, like a shepherd leading his flock from this life to the next and back again.
In Purgatory souls learn that realizing what we did wrong, regretting it, confessing it, feeling empathy for the suffering we caused deliberate and accidental, even asking forgiveness while working to mend what we have broken, cannot change the rule that every cause has an effect, and that we must suffer full knowledge of our misdeeds. What we forget in the stupor of our flesh we will soon remember.
Heaven begins when we give thanks for what we love. To cherish every being, every moment, every memory that brings us joy is to walk the path to Heaven. To appreciate deeply with humility these gifts of grace and beauty is how we climb the steps to Heaven. Slowly we learn to see mercy everywhere. When we see all and everything shining with this light of being, when every experience good or bad is a gift of the grandest artistry given by the awe inspiring Divine Imagination, then we stand at the threshold of Heaven.
There we are grateful even for our misdeeds, for every experience no matter how dire shines with Divine Wisdom. This is true forgiveness. Forgiveness is not to be exempted from punishment by a questionable authority, nor is it to receive reassurance from someone we have wronged. True forgiveness is the soul’s recognition of the privilege and wonder of all being. We travel together, on our way home.
When we enter Heaven we learn that even as Purgatory and Heaven exist in Hell, and Hell and Heaven exist in Purgatory, so Hell and Purgatory exist in Heaven. Otherwise they could have no existence. Learn to see the world this way and you will have no need of books or priests. Pray then to love as you are loved.
From this writing the reader can easily deduct reasons for the propaganda about Ignotum propagated by various orthodox seats of Christian authority. Ignotum redefined Heaven and Hell into something more like the Chinese Daoist yin and yang. Strong yang may be experienced as hellish by what is yin and visa versa, but they depend upon each other for existence. Even more troubling to traditional authority, if we are responsible for the souls we harm not only by our actions, but also by sins of omission, then we are all priests in the church of Ignotum.