The Gnostic Movement
The Gnostic Movement was a non-profit spiritual organization actively running free courses from 1999-2011. It was originally established by British-born author and teacher Mark Pritchard (Belzebuub) in Australia and expanded to six other countries worldwide: Canada, the USA, the UK, Greece, Cyprus, and Malaysia. Its primary activity was spreading the Gnostic doctrine of Samael Aun Weor via its popular courses, which were taken by over ninety thousand people in over one hundred countries online and in study centers throughout the world.
Background to The Gnostic Movement
In the 1950s, Samael Aun Weor (born Victor Manuel Gomez) began teaching modern Gnosticism throughout Latin America. It was based upon the principles of Gnosis, a Greek word meaning knowledge gained from personal spiritual experience. He called his work the “doctrine of the synthesis,” because it explained what he said was the esoteric or hidden side of most of the world’s religious traditions and cultures, that of the path to personal spiritual transformation.
He founded the Universal Christian Gnostic Movement (UCGM) in South America in 1960, and when he passed away in 1977, his close disciple Rabolu (born Joaquin Amortegui Valbuena) took over its coordination and helped it to expand further throughout Europe.
Belzebuub and The Gnostic Movement
Belzebuub (born Mark Pritchard) came across a group teaching Gnosis with the UCGM in the UK in 1990. He practiced very seriously and became a teacher of the organization himself later that year. In 1994 he moved overseas to Australia to open a UCGM center, and in 1998 he announced that he had reached the appropriate stage in his personal spiritual work whereby he uncovered and would begin teaching with the name of his consciousness, Belzebuub.
In 1999, just a few months before Rabolu passed away, he along with other members of the UCGM in Australia founded a new organization called “The Gnostic Movement,” amalgamated it with the UCGM, and was elected to coordinate it in 2000.
Structure and Online Courses
Being a non-profit organization and without very many volunteers when it first started, Belzebuub considered that with the rapid advancement of the Internet at the time, putting together online courses would be a great and direct way to reach people worldwide. He began the process of writing them week-by-week and participants were emailed a link to download the free PDF documents as the courses went along. Due to rampant plagiarism, to better protect them they were later compiled into books and eventually replaced with video summaries.
Belzebuub sought to clarify and present the Gnostic teachings in a manner suitable for the times. He organized everything into three eight (later nine) week courses, each with their own distinct subject category, so that each course would allow students to focus upon the practical aspects of the teachings and verify them via their own practice and experience. Although the courses were split into this structure, recommended works of Samael Aun Weor that contained virtually all the information given in the courses were freely available for download at any time from the movement’s websites.
In 2001, he created the course in astral travel and dreams, which covered the process of astral projection, what to see and do in the astral plane, and the nature of dreams. Later that year he created the course in self-discovery, which explained about psychology and the components of the psyche from the spiritual point-of-view, and helped people to improve relationships, overcome addictions, and create order in life.
In 2002, Belzebuub created the esoteric course. This course was open to those who had taken the two introductory courses, and it covered more theoretical Gnostic topics such as karma and dharma, and the process of life and death. Its primary focus however, was explaining about the path to enlightenment, or “the esoteric path.” Later, Belzebuub created a course called “advanced investigation,” which students who had completed the previous three courses could join, and which was purely based on practicing the exercises learned in the previous three courses. After the investigation course, those who wished to teach within The Gnostic Movement could take the teachers course where they could train to be teachers by practicing giving lectures and guiding practices from the courses.
All the courses were optional and students could take them however many times they wished. Few ended up taking the later courses, while many students chose to participate in the introductory courses numerous times, as they enjoyed doing the group practices the courses provided.
Those that did take the teachers course could become qualified teachers when they were ready, and teachers that showed dedication and responsibility in their positions over time were invited to become members of the organization. The members in the various countries in which the organization was set up voluntarily formed boards and administered the organization democratically.
The Gnostic Movement had a main website for running its online courses and facilitating course forums and public forums, as well as other supplementary websites that focused on particular topics and aspects of the Gnostic work, including Astralweb, a community hub for astral travel, astral projection, and lucid dreaming; and Gnostic Judas, which covered the spiritual role played by Judas in the Christic drama as given to him by Jesus, an account of which is found in the Gospel of Judas.
Centers and Groups
Besides the websites and the main courses running online, there were also supplementary courses and events offered at times throughout The Gnostic Movement’s active operation at its study centers and groups, such as a course on meditation, an introduction to Christian Gnosticism course, weekend workshops, weekly drop-in mantra and meditation sessions, movie nights and fundraising events, and one-off lectures and workshops on various topics.
Centers were dedicated spaces to run the courses and these extra events. They featured practice rooms set up with meditation cushions and arranged simply in order to promote a sense of calm, stillness, and focus for the practices, as well as cafes where people could share a drink, a bite to eat, and have a chat before or after classes. In cities without dedicated centers, groups would rent space at public meeting rooms in local libraries or other such facilities in order to hold classes and practices.
In addition to the courses, retreats were held on occasion at rented facilities. For a few years there were annual international retreats in Europe, North America, and Australia, which would usually run for five to seven days. Retreats provided a time for participants to focus solely upon the exercises in nature, as well as catch up with other course participants from around the world. Belzebuub attended some of these retreats where he gave talks, guided practices, and interacted with everyone at meals.
Besides the international retreats, study centers and groups would often hold informal smaller weekend mini-retreats for students in their groups and from nearby cities during the course breaks.
Over ninety thousand people passed through The Gnostic Movement’s courses in over one hundred countries online and in study centers throughout the world. It was a treasured spiritual school for many, offering a range of Gnostic courses, events, and materials free of charge, and it all came together due to the efforts of Belzebuub and its many volunteers.
To read more about the books and courses offered in The Gnostic Movement, go to the Books and Courses page.