The following passages are from an ancient Gnostic Christian text called The Gospel of Philip, which is attributed to Jesus’ disciple Phillip. It was discovered in 1945 in Egypt as part of a library of ancient texts called the Nag Hammadi Library that had been buried by nearby monks to preserve them after the Bishop of Alexandria had condemned their use. They lay beneath the sands of Egypt for nearly 2,000 years until they were discovered remarkably by chance.
This particular Gospel contains the hidden or esoteric side of Jesus’ teaching, which he gave to a select few. It contains many passages about the practice of spiritual alchemy, which was called the “bridal chamber” by the followers of Jesus’ esoteric teaching. The practice of spiritual alchemy often had to be given secretly, and veiled in symbolism, as has been done in this text – in order to protect those teaching it from persecution.
The following excerpts explain that a pure marriage between a husband and wife is a spiritual mystery. The bridal chamber, or the bedroom of the couple, is described as the “Holy of Holies,” as pure sexual intercourse between a husband and wife is said to be spiritually powerful. In the bridal chamber, which is considered the most sacred of places, through working with the symbolic water and fire (which is the sexual energies and awakened sexual fire) the soul, spirit, and “son of the bridal chamber” come into being. This is a reference to the practice of spiritual alchemy.
The mystery of marriage is great. [Without] it, the world would [not] exist. The existence of [the world depends on] people, and the existence [of people depends on] marriage. Then think of the power of [pure] intercourse, though its image is defiled.
No [one can] know when [a husband] and wife have sex except those two, for marriage in this world is a mystery for those married. If defiled marriage is hidden, how much more is undefiled marriage a true mystery! It is not fleshly but pure. It belongs not to desire but to will. It belongs not to darkness or night but to the day and the light.
~ The Gospel of Philip, translated by Marvin Meyer
It is from water and fire that the soul and the spirit came into being. It is from water and fire and light that the son of the bridal chamber (came into being). The fire is the chrism, the light is the fire.
Baptism is “the Holy” building. Redemption is the “Holy of the Holy”. “The Holy of the Holies” is the bridal chamber. Baptism includes the resurrection and the redemption; the redemption (takes place) in the bridal chamber.
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.
~ The Gospel of Philip, translated by Wesley W. Isenberg in James M. Robinson (Ed.), The Nag Hammadi Library in English, HarperCollins, San Francisco, 1990, pp. 148, 150, 151, 158.
Interestingly in this text, Mary Magdalene is described as Jesus’s companion, and it is said that he loved her more than the other disciples and used to kiss her often.