Gnostic Eucharist

(Excerpt from Hidden Intercourse: Eros and Sexuality in the History of Western Esotercism)

The Gnostic Borborites and their Sexual Celebration of the Eucharist

The Borborites, or Borborians, were a gnostic sect that flourished in the fourth century and reportedly survived up to the sixth century. Epiphanius of Salamis has left us an extensive report on them in his Panarion.

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According to Epiphanius, the Borborites practiced a curious Eucharistic ritual, in which instead of bread and wine, male semen and female menstrual blood were offered up and eaten by the participants. Epiphanius reports about the ritual of the male emission:

To extend their blasphemy to heaven after making love in a state of fornication, the woman and the man receive the male emission in their own hands. And they stand with their eyes raised heavenward but the filth in their hands, and of course they pray – the ones called Stratiotics and Gnostics – and offer that stuff in their hands to the actual Father of all, and say, “We offer unto you this gift, the body of Christ.” And then they eat it and partake of their own dirt, and they say: “This is the body of Christ; and this is the Passover, because of which our bodies suffer and are forced to confess the passion of Christ.”

Epiphanius continues his report with the ritual of the menstrual blood, to which he adds an interesting exegesis:

And so with the woman’s emission when she happens to be having her period. They likewise take the unclean menstrual blood they gather from her, and eat it in common. And “This”, they say, “is the blood of Christ.” And thus when they read in apocryphal writings: “I saw a tree bearing fruit twelve times a year, and he said to me, “This is the tree of life”, they interpret this allegorically of the woman’s monthly emissions.

The rational behind this ritual seems to be that the divine element in human beings is located in their procreative power and that, therefore, salvation is realized by the emission of the bodily fluids, which are then offered to God. Epiphanius comments: “The idea is that they can obtain ready access to God through such a practice.”

Sixteenth-century engraving showing a Black Mass involving similar
sexual sacrementalist rituals to those allegedly practiced by the Borborites.

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