Later in life I came into possession of a translated copy of the Ginza Rba. It's a pretty cool holy book, lots of interesting symbolism and mystery. Light and darkness intermingle in interesting ways in these texts. Since most of the significance of these religious elements is taught priest-to-priest and through oral traditions I did not take part of, it's difficult to examine it more deeply.
Although I don't practice religion these days, on occasion I'll reflexively mutter a prayer under my breath. In a more secular light, being a Mandaean strongly informed my material circumstances due to geopolitics and I'm always struck by the weirdness of being part of a dwindling ethnic group swept up by the tides of history.
Do you have a sense of how this impulse toward secrecy has worked over time, what's motivated it, and how Mandaeans might understand it today? Are there other Mandaeans you know of who might be unhappy that you're happy to talk about the tradition with strangers on an Internet forum?
How unified do you think different Mandaean communities have been in their beliefs and practices?
1. The lack of need for evangelicalism, unlike most religions, you can't become a Mandaean unless you're born with it, other religions want to spread their message to expand.
2. In Iraq (when I was living there at least) Mandaeans were very much prosecuted for being Mandaeans, a lot of them didn't identify as Mandaean in public for fear of being ostracised or prosecuted. Eg. a lot of my relatives that had restaurants/cafes would have to lie about their religion to be able to sell, Muslims wouldn't buy from us otherwise.
I'm not sure how unified Mandaeans are right now, there are different communities in every country, where I live (UK) there's a small number of Mandaeans (around 1000) where there is almost no community, this is the case in most countries, we're pretty much spread out all over the world where's there's a 1000 people in Norway, 1000 in the States, it's really to create a sense of community when the people are so sparsed out. The internet (Facebook especially where there are pages/groups that have tens of thousands of Mandaeans together) is the only thing that brings us together, for example when sending Eid (similar to Christmas) greetings and so on.