The Mark of Cain (Transcript)
This is the transcript of a video by the same title published a few days ago.
The Mark of the Beast has been a place of much imagination, speculation and fear in the past decades. I remember as a child hearing that barcodes on products might be an early foreshadow of this mark. Later, there were rumours of microchips being placed under the skin. Of course, the most recent speculation has been that the Covid vaccine is the Mark, or a step towards this Mark. These intuitions, often arrived at through very immediate ways, can nonetheless divulge some mystery about what this Mark is referring to. In general, though, this subject has been an arena of much panic in certain circles, while seeming strange and arbitrary to others. In the media, the reaction of course is to mock the concerns that people have, to attempt to debunk the claims, or else to simply wonder why it matters. Why, apart from some verse in Revelation, would it matter to be marked in this manner? Why would it bother people the way it does, except for their religious attachment to this very strange book full of dragons and trumpets and floating altars with lambs on them. What we will see is that, although the relationship between a vaccine, surveillance, identification and a mark that would make you participate in or be expelled from a system might seem arbitrary at first, these intuitions do not appear out of nowhere, but are based on implications which are already there in the very notion of a mark itself.
So, we are going to do a deep dive into the problem of the Mark and, hopefully, the concern over this question (whichever side you end up on) will at least make better sense to people when we are done. In writing this I realized how big the subject was, and so it will be separated into two videos. This video will deal with what a mark is and what its origin in scripture can teach us, how it is related to accounting, to technology, to identification and, yes, to medicine. The second video will try to parse out how this is connected to what we are going through right now and why both the projects and the fears take the shape that they do.
And he (the beast) causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:
And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six.
– Revelation 13:16-18
I have talked about the symbolism of the Beast and of 666 in previous videos about how the system of 666 is about a desire for perfection, a desire to account for everything, even the exception, and the effect that this thrust has. Now we will see how all of that is also present in the notion of a mark. So, in order to understand the Mark of the Beast, we must first and foremost understand what a mark is. This question of the Mark is extremely difficult, so strap yourself in. It is of such a primordial nature, one of those subjects which is actually opaque and made, ironically, difficult by its very encompassing simplicity and its far-reaching implications. Such elemental symbolism is often taken as a given, so we must make a particular style of effort, entering a type of innocence in order to perceive the reason and function of a mark.
In scripture there is an early Genesis story related to the question of marks and it is, in a way, a key to how the Mark of the Beast is presented in the Book of Revelation. The origin of the mark is found in the figure of Cain. After Cain killed his brother, God cursed him, and humanity’s first mark will play a role in that curse.
Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me.And the Lord said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the Lord set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden. And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he built a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch. – Genesis 4:14-17
So, the elements are as follows: Cain does not accept that his brother Abel’s sacrifice is pleasing to God and so he kills him. God chases Cain away to be a wanderer. He complains that this will bring about his death because whoever finds him will kill him, and so God declares that Cain will be avenged if killed, and He places a mark on him so that others would not kill him. Cain is chased further away from the garden, knows his wife, has a child, builds the first city and names the city for his child.
The pattern of the story of Cain follows nearly exactly the fall of Adam and Eve, only just at a lower and more explicit level. Adam and Eve do not accept being forbidden the tree of knowledge which would make them like God, and so they transgress by eating the fruit of knowledge of good and evil, plunging them into duality. This seemingly immutable duality will become the motor for death and the fall. The first fruit of duality is to notice nakedness, that is to see and to feel threatened by a clear and irreducible separation between me and everything else. They see themselves as lacking, needing to be added to from the outside while also paradoxically experiencing inside and outside as incompatible, with outside being a danger. When we see the story of Cain in this light, we realize that killing your brother is an increase in the fruit of duality—that is, the capacity to see the other human as so completely outside yourself as to be able to take his life. In the case of Adam and Eve, they are chased from the Garden into the world of death for their transgression, but God gives them garments of skin, condescends and compensates for their duality (just like God will give Cain a mark) an aspect of death itself which protects them from Death. Adam knows his wife, and they have a son, Cain, who will, as we have seen, replay the drama in his own terms—we could say at a lower level—through murder. Cain’s city will then also rehash the pattern at an even lower level of reality, a level closer to quantity, by bringing about the fruit of duality in a social sphere as the number of people are increasing on the earth. The strangeness of this can help us grasp to what extent inside and outside are two sides of the same problem of duality. The Mark of Cain, just like the garments of skin, because they participate in duality itself, will down the line be the common origin of things which usually appear to us as opposites, such as tribal inclusion and exclusion or identity and strangeness.
This structure in the story of Cain shows us how death increases in the world. The mark received is a participation in the consequence of the curse while being a protection from the effects of the curse. At the same time, however, it is also inviting a possible increase of its effects. The Mark sets Cain up as being excluded, dead in a way, thrown out further into the wilderness, further into the outer darkness. That is the curse. The Mark also signifies how Cain is protected from death when he is recognized by the Mark. Now, if he is killed, there will be an increase and multiplication of death in the world. Cain will be avenged sevenfold, which is an increase of the curse. We learn later that his descendent Lamech (who according to tradition is the one who accidently killed Cain) will be avenged seventy-seven times. All of this promise of death is far worse than if Cain had not been marked in the first place.
This is the process of the supplement which I have discussed in many videos, and which is the duality of any increase in power. It is easier to understand it with the garments of skin, or with technology, rather than with a mark, but the mark will become clear in time. Starting with a mark though, imagine I live in a kind of paradise where there is no danger. For some reason I need to move away from that ideal, into a threatening world. I go somewhere it is cold. I can supplement my body by adding layers and layers of clothing to keep myself warm. In doing so, I am both marking a type of strength, for the supplement will in fact help me face the increased danger, but it also marks a type of weakness (remember how you didn’t like wearing a helmet as a teenager when biking) because wearing clothing in the cold is a mark that you would be cold without them. Like the Mark of Cain, clothing, or a wall are both a consequence of danger while also being a protection from danger. And just like the mark, it is also an invitation to increase the effects of danger. If nearer to the tropical world, a lack of clothes might have caused a slight discomfort, now in the dead of winter, losing what by then would be layers and layers of warm clothing, will bring about far greater consequences.
The process of supplement is difficult to limit only to a specific point in time or space, for it is rather a process which imbeds itself at all levels of Creation. One can recognize the elements and pattern of the supplement, but the origins of the pattern go back ontologically and historically into the hidden origin of the world. We cannot point to a place or time in our world of death where there is no supplement, for our very birth and biological existence are part of this ever-receding memory. Rather we can only point to a nostalgia for innocence and purity, a nostalgia for paradise. We can also recognize the process as a fractal. Something which is relatively less engaged in supplementation, for example the human singing voice. Even though it is already bound in exteriority, it appears as an image of the ineffable paradise compared to those instruments that are bound up by layers and layers of additions—let’s say an electronic keyboard. So, the human voice will appear more direct and not as encumbered as the complex, electricity-powered keyboard. It is always about fractal levels, but the supplement, the garments of skin are inevitable in the fallen world.
Now, what clothing does for your body, and what the city does for the social level, a mark does for identification and knowledge. If you were searching for the origin of writing in Scripture, the Mark of Cain is your best bet. This will seem like a surprise to many, but it is completely coherent with every use of writing that has existed since. The invention of writing, just like the development of technology, is a working out of the Fall and death, a working out of the problem of duality.
To put a mark on something is to make it stand out from other things, to separate it from other things. It is akin to a pointing, a calling out of “that one” is what marking inscribes exteriorly. It is, in fact, different from merely a pointing however, which is immediate and done with presence. Marking is something like inscribing upon the memory of a thing, though not a living memory, an exterior one. The mark acts as a token to the invisible difference in quality which came about by the act of selection. If I go into a theatre and want to keep my place while I am getting popcorn, I need to mark my seat somehow, leaving my shirt or book on it. All the chairs are the same in appearance. I do this so I can remember, and so others can know that, even though I am not in the chair, this chair, among all the other chairs, is my chair. It has an invisible quality, the quality of being mine at the moment, a quality that the other chairs do not have. I mark it so that this invisible quality can be recognized in my absence.
What makes it difficult to keep this very simple notion in our mind is that this calling out, this separating from other things can be good or bad, can be done for the inside or the outside. A simple mark can mean: “This”, “mine” or it can mean “good” or else “for this use”, but it can also mean “not this”, “rejected” or “defective”. If a urinal is broken, I need to mark it somehow to avoid it being used. To see a place where the duality of this process appears simultaneously, one can think of a graded paper, with green and red check marks, each meaning the opposite of the other despite being simple marks.
This inside/outside duality is the very shape of the Fall, and it can be found in several aspects of the story of Cain. He is cast out and set to wander into the land of Nod, a land of hostility, and in reaction to that he develops a city, then techne, and so his seed contains both opposites of wild and civilized, something that is contained, fixed, identified, and something that is unmoored, wandering and exiled. Both of these are contained in the ark. Marking is always a making of both inside AND outside. A mark is very close to a wall or a limit which can also be used to set aside space, for good or ill in multiple ways, make it sacred like a temple or keep it excluded like a prison. Keeping in or keeping out can also each be for good or ill, for each keeping in is always simultaneously a keeping out. This is why there is a relationship between a mark and a seal placed on a container to bind several things together, therefore creating an identity of purpose.
The earliest writing we have, the very early cuneiform tablets, were most often a form of accounting. This might seem surprising to those of us who believe in a sacred origin of Scripture, but this accounting is in many ways already what is happening in the story of Cain. And if you have watched my videos on the symbolism of 666, you will remember the relationship between the system of the Beast and “accounting for everything”. We can see that accounting is the most primordial form of writing and mark-making, for it is firstly about including and excluding, then about quantifying sets of things bound by an identity, whether by category or by owner. It is the place where purpose, quality and quantity are bound by an authoritative system. We need to understand the Mark of Cain as both the origin of writing and the origin of mathematical notation. This little insight about how marks serve to account for something can already show one all there is to understand about the Mark of the Beast in Revelation.
In order to more properly understand the relationship between the mark, writing, and the garments of skin, we need to take a little detour into Plato. Actually, we need to take a detour into Plato and Jacques Derrida. In his famous work, Plato’s Pharmacy, Derrida stumbles into the question of the supplement, and although I think he makes some errors in his conclusions, he appropriately draws attention to its importance. In his reading of Plato’s dialogue Phaedrus, he analyzes the multiple meanings of the word pharmakon, a Greek term which is equivalent to the English word “drug”, meaning both a poison and a cure at the same time with the general notion that a drug is a supplement, the addition of some exterior thing to yourself. A derivative of pharmakon is pharmakos, which refers to human sacrifice, the ritual scapegoat sacrifice. A deficient person was either expelled from the city, or else expelled and killed. And so, there is a relationship here to the Girardian notion of identity forming through scapegoating, which already happened in Cain killing Abel, but then is also happening for the line of Adam and Seth in the expulsion of Cain from their midst. The related word pharmakeus will mean a poisoner, but ultimately a magician or sorcerer. Of course, in the ancient world there is very little difference between a tekton—an artisan—and a magician, in the sense that both of them are directing knowledge towards increasing power over the world rather than towards wisdom. This is why the fallen angels in the Book of Enoch teach, at once, metallurgy, necromancy and the power of seduction.
Going back to Plato’s Phaedrus, we find Socrates and Phaedra encountering each other outside of the city and then crossing a river to discuss desire, sex and love as madness. Anyone who is aware of stories like Hercules and the Centaur, Elijah and the Chariot or the story of St Mary of Egypt will understand the relationship between crossing the river and entering the wilderness. The entire dialogue in Phaedrus is about the problem of exteriority and ultimately the question of supplement. In the second part of the dialogue, Socrates says that writing is a dangerous pharmakon, a supplement to speech which must be rejected or at least be seen as suspect.
In making his point, Socrates retells the story of an Egyptian god, a “foreign story” in its own right. He tells the story of Toth or Teuth, one of the Egyptian gods of the Underworld, known for being the origin of all the arts and technology, and for his presentation of writing to the god-king Thamus. In this story, Toth presents writing as a supplement, a pharmakon, to wisdom and memory, a way of increasing them by recording them. Thamus sees in writing the opposite of this increase and sees it rather as a weakening of memory and a decrease of wisdom, because people will now rely on something external for memory and will therefore forget things more than before. Of course, this is the process of the garments of skin and is easy to understand, not just in terms of writing but writing as a basic technology. The fact that I have my parents’ phone number written in my phone means I do not have to remember it in my mind. Having a multitude of phone numbers in my phone means I can also access many more people with ease, making me far more powerful. But it also means that I am dependent on my phone now, and if I lose it, I am in a much worse position than I was when I remembered my parents’ number. Through Socrates’ Egyptian stories, we can understand how the notion of pharmakon can be translated as “medicine” or “elixir”, which is why we still have the term “pharmaceutical” today. What Toth is presenting to Thamus is a medicine for memory, and like with writing, we understand the duality of medicine especially in the common word “drug”. I can take a painkiller to reduce suffering, or I can take coffee to stay awake, but doing so means that my resistance to pain will decrease in relation to the painkillers and I might become dependent on coffee to stay awake.
If one looks carefully, one will find that in the very fact that the story of Toth is a foreign story, it structurally participates in the notion of the supplement as the dead garment—that added, outer or excluded aspect. This will be paralleled in St Gregory of Nyssa, who uses the image of the Egyptian as the garment of skin in the life of Moses. St Gregory related Egyptians to the foreskin that must be removed in circumcision, returning us to the invisible centre. We can also understand the Egyptians as warriors with chariots. That is, representatives of civilization and technology who get lost in the crossing of the waters. It is a little image of the flood and how the descendants of Cain, with all their weapons and civilization, Cain who also became the first “stranger”, perished in the waters. Circumcision, the removal of the peripheral skin, just like the drowning of the Egyptians, functions like a basic scapegoat ritual.
The notion of pharmakon is bound up in the story of Cain with all its elements. In fact, we find in the story of Cain a version which is purer and clearer than the Toth story told by Socrates, as it simultaneously contains the opposite directions of the supplement. This plays itself out in the story, especially if we understand the story of Cain in the wider tradition of the Watchers and the Book of Enoch. There, the negative element of this increase in power is attributed to fallen angels who give this information to humans. This is not unlike the vision of a god of the Underworld, like Toth in Socrates’ myth of the origin of writing. Or, for that matter, a Titan, like Prometheus in the Greek version. The elements of the supplement are contained in Cain almost as an aporia which makes it difficult to see them. The extreme duality of inside and outside is brought together in one character. Cain is both a scapegoat (marked as excluded), and the founder of the city—one as a consequence of the other. He is both a wanderer and the father of all the arts and technology, the origin of agriculturists and nomads. In the Mark of Cain, we also see another aspect of what is presented by Plato in the Phaedrus dialogue: that is, an origin of writing which is also both a medicine and a poison all at once.
Now, before we go any further, it is important to understand how this process of the garments of skin, the expansion of death, can be transformed, transmuted, sometimes reversed and this is what God will do as a consequence of the Fall. This is necessary to consider when one understands that God is not outside an arbitrary Creation which is just going along its way while He gets involved once in a while. Rather, God, as St Maximus tells us, is the secret origin and telos of all things. His energies are actively underlying the entire cosmos, and so He is constantly calling fallen things to Himself, making it possible once again for them to become aspects of His glory by transforming them.
We can see this transformation of the dead supplement into participation by looking at a few parallel stories. When God saves Israel from Egypt and leads them to the Holy Mountain after crossing the waters, what we are seeing is a new beginning, a new world. And Moses ascending the mountain is the image of a return to Eden, which was itself pulled out of the primordial waters. The crossing of the sea and ascent of the mountain is also akin to Noah’s flood ending on a mountain where he will receive a simpler version of the Law that Moses will later receive. All of these stories are connected by the same pattern. In Moses’ revelation on the mountain, he receives the Law which will be written on stone tablets. He also receives the pattern of the tabernacle. When Moses comes down from the mountain, he must wear a veil to cover his face because of the glory which shines forth from it for having encountered God. This veil is the supplement. It is a more subtle version of the garment of skin which was given to Adam and Eve when they were chased down the mountain of Paradise. But this supplementing is not only in the veil, in fact the veil is in many ways the written Law itself, and not only the Law, but the earthly tabernacle built by Bezalel and Oholiab, with its own hierarchy of veils leading to the inner holy place. The process of supplementing, if not taken as a good in itself and as a means to increase one’s power in pride, can become the very procession of layers from the divine to man. It is a reframing of the supplement towards participation. The veils in this case, the writing of the Law, always both conceals and reveals, covers and shows. So, the Law, being a good, is nonetheless an answer to the Fall, like writing and city building. This exterior is insufficient and, in some ways, dangerous. It is dangerous if it is not taken as a veil covering something, connecting it to something behind it, something inside, an ontological hierarchy receding into the heart, or the heart of the heart, and ultimately to the Divine Spark which is God Himself. As a form of manifestation of God, it is a good. This can help us understand the way St Paul talks about the Law in the Book of Romans, about how the Law shows us the reality of the Fall by making us transgress particular rules, like a series of veils reminding you of how you are not in the Holy of Holies. It can also help us understand how sacrifice and city-building is presented in Scripture.
People love to quote Psalm 51:
You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise.
This, of course, is the notion that exterior action is not what God wants. What God wants is a broken spirit and a contrite heart, and so all must begin in what is invisible and above. This is what spirit is. A spirit comes from Heaven and THEN the centre, the heart or the place where exteriority disappears. Our basic new-age Gnosticism likes that. It sounds spiritual but not religious, saved by faith, not works—that kind of thing. But people often forget the next part of the psalm:
May it please you to prosper Zion,
to build up the walls of Jerusalem.
Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous,
in burnt offerings offered whole;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.
So, recovering the spirit and the centre lead to their exteriorisation. This stanza is structured the same as the last one, but now only in the world of manifestation. Mount Zion is the hierarchy of Heaven embodied on the earth which prospers. Always remember that the mountain is also Paradise, Eden. The centre gives place to the margin. The walls of the city are built up, and always remember that the city is the fruit of Cain, but here seen as built by God, Himself, and so participating in His will.
And once all of this is done, once the heart is entered and the mountain ascended, the hierarchy prospers, the walls get built. Then the righteous will offer sacrifice because the outward gestures will be completely connected to the inner movement. Let us be clear, the outer gestures are the same. The garments of skin on the tabernacle are of the same nature as the garments of skin on Adam and Eve, yet they are transmuted into a participation in glory by their connection to the invisible centre and reason. The writing on the tablets of the Law is a continuation of the Mark of Cain, yet now it carries the will of God into the particular through multiple prescriptions. Understanding this can help us understand so much of what seems ambiguous in biblical symbolism. For example, alluding again to the Mark of the Beast, it is said to be either on the hand or the forehead. This statement actually refers to a commandment in the Old Testament, which is to wear, to bind or to be marked by the prescriptions of the Divine Law on your forehead and on your hands, exactly where the Mark of the Beast is said to go.
The profound duality of these layers and supplements, makes this symbolism difficult to hold in our minds. One of the best examples which will show the duality and its difficulty is that even the removal of the veil can, in a certain way, be a veiling, an exterior sign or mark of that which is happening at a more primordial level. Circumcision is precisely the removing of the garments of skin, removing a layer of skin to expose that which is hidden. In Scripture, this gesture is called a mark, or a sign. In fact, it is the same word which is used to describe the Mark of Cain, but it is a mark that makes one enter into a covenant with God, and which marks one as part of the chosen people by removing the outer skin. But this gesture, which is actually a removing, will later be revealed by St Paul to be a kind of pharmakon, an outer gesture meant to reflect an even more inner reality, which is the circumcision of the heart, all of this in a similar move as what we just saw in Psalm 51. Of course, this might seem like a contradiction, but this is the nature of the duality of inside and outside. And all of this is already there in the story of Cain, because the removal of Cain—from the point of view of Cain—is an adding of layers as he increases the garments of skin into city building. From the point of view of God or of the line of Adam, it is a circumcision. Cain has been cut off, become the scapegoat, become the foreskin.
So, there will be a lot more to say on this, but we need to remind ourselves that we are moving towards an understanding of the Mark of the Beast and how it relates to what is happening around us. Those of you who are being attentive will already notice an interesting pattern. If one looks at the Mark of Cain as an aspect of the garments of skin, with a little help from Plato’s use of pharmakon, we see the Mark as instigating a form of official identification, scapegoating, writing and civilization. But there is also a medical/magical aspect to the Mark in the most general sense of a seal or talisman used as a remedy which is also a poison. Looking at this as the beginning of a pattern we can then understand through the fractal nature of reality, that this moment of the Mark of Cain can be expanded to different levels of being and ultimately into its cosmic and final version. This is exactly how we need to approach the allusions in Revelation to the Beast as the final tyrannical vision of civilization, the number of the Beast as the final accounting of this system, and the Mark of the Beast as the ultimate mark of inclusion AND exclusion. It is the final human mark of inclusion and exclusion in many ways. That is, without the mark, one will be excluded from even the basic participation in civilization, but the mark will also be a form of apostasy and will cut one off from “the face of God”, as is mentioned in Genesis for Cain.
But in the image of the Mark and the consequences of Cain’s fall, there are in fact two possibilities of the supplement which appear—one that remembers and one that forgets, one that is connected and one that is disconnected. Cain’s story will feed the origin of the two final images in Scripture, the image of the Whore and the Beast in Revelation, who come out of the sea, as mentioned already, but also the image of the New Jerusalem which comes down from Heaven, the final city (with all that implies) sharing an origin with the city of Cain, though covering and fulfilling the consequence of Cain’s transgression to its glorious resolution.
There is a hint of how the problem of the supplement can be resolved in Plato’s Phaedrus dialogue. At the very end of the dialogue, when it is time for Socrates and Phaedrus to return home, Socrates offers a prayer to Pan and to the unknown gods who haunt that outside place, but it could easily be a prayer for any of us today: “give me beauty in the inward soul; and may the outward and inward man be at one”. It is, in fact, the unity of the inner and outer which not only is the root of symbolism, but also the solution to the problem of layers. Socrates then asks for temperance in being and temperance in having. Phaedrus answers with another version of the solution, a mirror of the first. He says: “Ask the same for me, for friends should have all things in common”. It is, in fact, through communion of the particulars that the whole becomes something true. It is by coming together, both within ourselves, but also with those around us, that our intentions and our exterior forms line up to become a crown of glory.
In conclusion, I want to help people remember that things do not happen arbitrarily. They follow patterns, and this is true as much in the most factual working out of what is going on, to the stories people tell, and even the rumours which swirl around events. Both large-scale rumours bubbling from below as well as propaganda emanating from authorities, can often help us understand the narrative frame which is being brought to, and sometimes imposed on, very complex situations. And so, all the discussions of vaccines, of identification and of exclusion, with its relationship to economics and accounting, should not appear as arbitrary. There are deep narrative reasons why these things are happening the way that they are, and there are also deep reasons why very reasonable people are noticing how the recent events are circling around and aiming closer to what in Revelation is called the Mark of the Beast. Hopefully after this video, you will understand a little more about why that matters.
In my next video on the subject, we will look more closely at what is happening today, at the rumours, the propaganda and the narratives, but we will also be looking at the prophecies of St Paisios and how many of these threads have been floating in the story-world for quite a while. In the meantime, I pray that you all have proper discernment in these difficult times.