Month: August 2011

The Battle Within

Jesus said, “Perhaps people think that I have come to cast peace upon the world. They do not know that I have come to cast conflicts upon the earth: fire, sword, war.

The Gospel of Thomas, Logion: 16

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5

And if ye cannot be saints of knowledge, then, I pray you, be at least its warriors. They are the companions and forerunners of such saintship

Nietzsche,Thus Spake Zarathustra

Born is the battler who make peace.
The all-good highest of the gods gives you three tasks;
Destroy death, strike the enemies, and cover the whole
Paradise of Light! You paid homage and went out for battle
and covered the whole Paradise of Light.
The tyrant prince was bound forever and the dwelling place
of the Dark Ones was destroyed.
The Light Friend, Primal Man, remained until he carried
out his fathers will.

The First Hymn of the Primal Man

Blessed are you, oh Soul, you with the divine form!
Blessed are you, oh Soul, weapon and battlement of the gods,
Blessed are you, radiant Soul,
Splendor and glory of the … Worlds of Light!
Blessed are you, divine radiant Soul,
Weapon and might, soul and body, gift of the Father of Light.

Hymn to the Living Soul, A Manichaean hymn in Parthian.

“O best among men [Arjuna], the person who is not disturbed by happiness and distress and is steady in both is certainly eligible for liberation.”

“Those who are seers of the truth have concluded that of the nonexistent [the material body] there is no endurance and of the eternal [the soul] there is no change. This they have concluded by studying the nature of both.”

“That which pervades the entire body you should know to be indestructible. No one is able to destroy that imperishable soul.”

“The material body of the indestructible, immeasurable and eternal living entity is sure to come to an end; therefore, fight, O descendant of Bharata.”

“Neither he who thinks the living entity the slayer nor he who thinks it slain is in knowledge, for the self slays not nor is slain.”

“For the soul there is neither birth nor death at any time. He has not come into being, does not come into being, and will not come into being. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.”

The Bhagavad Gita, 2: 10-20

And as to what, again, they say of sleep, the very same things are to be understood of death. For each exhibits the departure of the soul, the one more, the other less; as we may also get this in Heraclitus: “Man touches night in himself, when dead and his light quenched; and alive, when he sleeps he touches the dead; and awake, when he shuts his eyes, he touches the sleeper.”[4] “For blessed are those that have seen the Lord,”[5] according to the apostle; “for it is high time to awake out of sleep. For now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and put on the armour of light.”[6] By day and light he designates figuratively the Son, and by the armour of light metaphorically the promises.


The Stranger’s Battle Cry: Reloaded

(This article was also published on the former Palm Tree Garden, under the same alias as “AeonEye”.)

In the first installment of my article, “The Stranger’s Battle Cry,” I explored in great detail one particular excerpt from The Second Treatise of the Great Seth, in which Christ himself is seen as both a revealer of salvific knowledge to the spiritual regents that are the Gnostics, and a judge of the self-professed and false “Christians” who would take the tragedy of Jesus’ death on Calvary and resurrection as a wholly carnal and thus erroneous article of faith. In so doing, they would assert their anti-Gnostic attitudes, and their theocratic dominion over the keepers of the sacred mysteries and knowledge deemed unfit to evangelize to the profane and uninitiated. It is they who despised the Gnostics as heretics. The Gnostics considered themselves the true Christians, the custodians and guardians of a special knowledge and insight into what they believed to be the true message behind Christ’s ministry. In this installment, I will explore the message of the Treat. Seth. and other mysteries that were brought up previously in brief, but will explore and extrapolate even further.

The Gnostic religion itself had become its own distinct theological movement, almost independently of the narrow Christian notion of a “heresy”, by its adoption of Platonic dualism. By embracing Greek philosophy, it introduced numerous doctrinal variations to Christianity that would also bear fruit as vastly different to traditional Christianity (which would prove to fuel the fire against them as the authors of “Satanic”, iconoclast heresies). And, Gnosticism easily adapted Christian language and concepts into its rich mix of Greek and Oriental thought, as Gnostic language is inherently “soteriological” that is, it is distinctly mystical and poetic in its juxtaposition of paradoxes and emphasis on the transcendental. R. Mcl. Wilson writes in Gnostic Origins:

…the discovery of the Gnostic library at Nag Hammadi in 1945 has made it clear that the movement with which we are dealing was something much wider than a Christian heresy.” Later on, the author reiterates his point and introduces some new ones, “That we have to deal with something much wider than a Christian heresy is plainly evident, but that prior to the impact of Christianity upon the Hellenistic world there existed a regular Gnostic movement has not yet been conclusively shown. It is indeed possible, but as yet our available resources take us back only thus far and no further. The presence in pre-Christian times of elements which were later to be incorporated in the Gnostic theories is not in question, but it would seem more appropriate to classify these elements as pre-Gnostic, rather than as Gnostic in the proper sense.(208)

The tenuous claim that Gnosticism was a pre-Christian religious phenomenon is at the very least debatable. There are certain claims that Gnosticism developed out of a cauldron of a pre-Christian Jewish milieu by a few scholars as a sort of Jewish heresy instead of Christian one. Yet, even this explanation has problems. Many point to the Apocalypse of Adam being incontrovertible proof for such a claim. A more precise dating would point to the first or more conservatively, the second century, only to be later revised in a Gnostic lens. While there are certainly pre-Christian elements from the ancient world that the Gnostics would use in their religion, the claim as a pre-Christian movement remains inconclusive and prematurely presumed as much. Gnosticism can be defined quite easily and it really is not pre-Christian, except for the terminologies and a few key Platonic concepts. Why is it not pre-Christian? Because, it is essentially the original Christianity. (For a more in-depth exploration of this topic see Edwin M. Yamauchi’s scholarship and David Brakke’s The Gnostics.)

In the wild collage of Gnostic mythology, much of it is focused on the inherent harsh insanity and absurdity interwoven into the cosmos. The main crux behind the message from these spiritual sojourners is that the perception that man does not belong to the misbegotten world of forms and appearances, lacking in autonomy and permanence. The world is often equated with a decaying corpse or garment that must be discarded. (Gospel of Thomas: Jesus said, “Whoever has come to understand the world has found (only) a corpse, and whoever has found a corpse is superior to the world.” Logion 56). Man is a creature belonging to another realm of a higher divine fire, temporarily entombed in the gloom of corporeal being. This kind of religiosity was reflective of the inherent nihilistic and negative evaluation of the cosmos and human existence contrasted with the yearning for a spiritual reality. Gnosis begins as recognition of the soul’s “dire straits” of its predicament and the “escape route” from the fetters of dark matter and into the original unity of light. It is in essence, anti-cosmic mysticism. In order for this to occur, pistis (faith) and praxis (action), must both be utilized to cultivate an in-dwelling knowledge as a platform for salvation. This cultivation of knowledge is achieved through an interior and unknown dimension which reveals a fundamental and supreme aspect of the self, impervious to the limitations of time and space nestled within the spiritual seed. This realization is likened to a luminous lamp, dispelling the darkness of ignorance and unconsciousness. It is not simply a redemptive work, but one of illumination.

Allogenes echoes this sentiment:

There was within me a stillness of silence, and I heard the Blessedness whereby I knew my real self…..And I turned to myself and saw the Light that surrounded me and the Good that was in me, I became divine.

This realization results in a recollection or, anamnesis embodied in self-knowledge which is based on a drive for self-exploration of the furthest recesses of the soul and the world. Gnosis is not an end-point or purposeful result but an on-going process, an inner-alchemical change from the darkness within into pnuematic gold of spiritual rebirth or resurrection—a growth into releasing the manacles of the world. The spiritual essence is in itself anti-matter. This allows one to ascend to a higher understanding of reality, hence “eternal life,” of immortality. Without this knowledge, the soul is fallen in its own delusions of vanity and worldly cares, steeped within the dark abyss which is opposed to the Supreme Goodness of the One. The Hypostasis of the Archons proclaims an existential error that is innate in the human condition:

 Moreover, they threw mankind into great distraction and into a life of toil, so that their mankind might be occupied by worldly affairs, and might not have the opportunity of being devoted to the holy spirit.

So powerful is this “muck of matter” that even if the Soul merely glances in its direction, it is able to seize it, pull it down and drown it in the quicksand of its bottomless darkness. The ordinary human existence without self-knowledge is, at worst, spiritual death. In this state where mankind is unknowing of his predicament as the “walking dead”, the unconscious slaves to the hierarchical fallen psychic powers that hold secret domination over the lower souls of the human race. These chaotic demonic powers of the stars, the lords of fate surround the universe on all sides. The over-all multi-layered universe contains various concentric spheres, occupied by the authorities, archons, angels and demons which leave no space or gap unoccupied so that there is a slight crack to escape the tyranny of the rulers.

In classical Gnostic mythology, the creator of the world was by in large regarded as a Satanic figure. This is clear from his depiction in his outer appearance (a lion-faced serpent), from the “psychic” nature attributed to him and, above all, from the stories about his actions against spiritual humanity (although he isn’t always successful in this regard). The transgressive reading of the Old Testament (the entire Biblical Canon, really) was used to illustrate this point by transforming it into a tale of nightmarish horror and tragedy. The traditional account supposedly given of the God of Israel is incomplete, for he is not the just and protective Lawgiver of Abraham, but in actuality, an irrational and even malevolent agent to whom cosmic evil may be attributed while opposed to spiritual virtue.  A couple examples of this become rather apparent when the Old Testament itself does not depict a God who is wholly good, but in fact has evil spirits at his command and wreaks terrible havoc on his enemies. (1 Kings 22.22). The material world that he put together isn’t peaches either. At the legal God’s express command, the world is a place of thorns and thistle, pain and death. (Genesis. 3.14-19)

This focus on mitigated dualism—the struggle between spirit and matter, mainly served to explain evil and error in the world and cosmos at large by tracing it back to an accident and fracturing in the divine realm. The supreme deity remains absolved of any complicity in the creation of a deeply imperfect world; the folly of subsidiary deities or emanations are, by and large, ultimately responsible. These subsidiary emanations are, in and of themselves, less hostile forces than tragic and sympathetic characters in this unfolding cosmic drama. This tragic story of the disturbance and fall of the divine realm into the abyss of matter profoundly impacts the pathos of mankind in all its metaphysical, epistemological and psychological sophistication and complexity. Not only is there an inherent struggle or duality inherent in the cosmos, but to make matters even more complicated, this tense dynamic also exists within the soul. The spiritual seed’s dimension is divine by default.

In Excerpta ex Theodutus, this “breath of spirit” is likened to the “marrow” of the soul, the principle that brings life to the body:

So Wisdom first put forth a spiritual seed which was in Adam that it might be “the bone,” the reasonable and heavenly soul which is not empty but full of spiritual marrow.

In the same paragraph, there also exists a “hylic” stain within the psychic soul, that contains the divine breath:

This is called a “tare” which grows up with the soul, the good seed, and is also a seed of the devil, since it is consubstantial with him, and a “snake” and a “biter of the heel” and a “robber” attacking the head of a king.

This devilish seed is made of the same substance that is of the Devil, which according to Irenaeus in Against Heresies, was made from grief of Wisdom:

They further teach that the spirits of wickedness derived their origin from grief. Hence the devil, whom they also call Cosmocrator (the ruler of the world), and the demons, and the angels, and every wicked spiritual being that exists, found the source of their existence.

This “tare” or appendage of evil spirits are attached the psychic soul. This semi-spiritual organ places man in-between daily, mundane life and transcendent layers of reality. It is also the means that enchains the spirit to the lower-world, providing a battlefield on which wars, rivalries and struggles are fought out by the Devil and his legion of demonic powers as well as the holy angels of God. Demons penetrate and claim dominion over the soul, lacerating it with passions in which they make a haven for confusion, fear and terror. The soul according to the Tripartate Tractate is “double-natured”, inclined to do good but fighting the urges of the material that is by default designed to “sin”.

This is repeated in the Exegesis of the Soul:

Indeed, it is in order that he might know who is worthy of salvation that God examines the inward parts and searches the bottom of the heart. For no one is worthy of salvation who still loves the place of deception.

Elsewhere in the same text, it describes how the soul that descends into a body falls into the clutches of the “wanton creatures” that “passed her from one to another” and continued to “defile her”. The soul in this state is akin to a “whore” and a “prostitute” to the rulers who gang-bang the souls of the living within the deficient cosmos and the world.

Hans Jonas in The Gnostic Religion, goes even further to illustrate this point:

Each man, so the text explains, is from birth possessed by his demon, which only the mystical power of prayer can expel after the extinction of all passions. In this voided state the soul unites with the spirit as bride with bridegroom. The soul which does not thus receive Christ remains “demonic” and becomes the habitation of “the serpents.

Again, Jonas continues in the same paragraph:

This is the basic condition of human insufficiency. “What is God? unchanging good; what is man? Unchanging evil” (Stob. Ecl. I. 277. 17). Abandoned to the demonic whirl of its own passions, the godless soul cries, “I burn, I blaze . . . I am consumed, wretch that I am, by the evils that possess me” (CM. X. 20). Even the opposite experience of spiritual freedom is one of receptivity rather than activity: “the spiritual part of the soul is immune against enslavement by the demons and is fit to receive God into itself” (CM. XV. 15). (282)

In the Corpus Hermeticum XI, it asserts that the universe is completely evil—so evil, in fact, that it is impossible for God to dwell within it. According to that text, both man and the cosmos are completely evil:

Mind conceives every mental product: both the good, when mind receives seeds from god, as well as the contrary kind, when the seeds come from some demonic being. {Unless it is illuminated by god,} no part of the cosmos is without a demon that steals into the mind to sow the seed of its own energy, and what has been sown the mind conceives – adulteries, murders, assaults on one’s father, acts of sacrilege and irreverence, suicides by hanging or falling from a cliff, and all other such works of demons.

Not exactly the most popular message, especially in the contemporary, secular world. It is this unregenerate, natural state of the soul which by the grace of God can only be changed through the indwelling of the Son, sanctifying the dark, stony heart in gleaming regenerative light. Yet, how can embodied soul be in the “exile” of shadowy alienation from the Absolute, find their true selves and return “home”? The “way to return home” means that there is a distinct realization the soul is indeed exiled, experiencing a sort of “poverty” or “lack” of the world, longing to possess that which is “lost”, that is the fullness of being. Contemplation that begins at a “soul-deep” level is key in grasping the soul’s ambivalent predicament. The true story begins at the heights above all heights, at the most primordial of origins.

The Supreme God is named as the ground and space behind all spiritual being, the fountainhead of its heavenly, immortal family tree. Because of its immeasurable and unfathomable depths, it is given several names such as the eternal “silence,” “the broadest depth,” “before the beginning,” etc. In Kabbalistic terms, this non-existent God exists in pure potentiality within a hidden ineffability called Ein Sof (“limitless”). This unnamable deity generates “aeons” or “eternals” in cascading successive waves of a divine family tree (similar to the Kabbalistic Tree of Life and the sefiroths as a bridge between the finite and infinite realms). In a sense, these aeons are different attributes of God, forming hermaphroditic pairs of male and female god-forms (syzygies) until there are 30 in all which comprise the divine realm, the Pleroma. They are often depicted as bright luminous beings which mirror the lower forms of human bodies in a much more glorified expression, beyond normal mortal comprehension.

All of these successive aeons long for their ultimate progenitor. The further away the aeon is from the origin, the weaker it becomes. The outpouring and overflowing light descends from density to density in a process of emanation in the sense that each succeeding lower order of reality is not a full manifestation of what preceded it. Instead, the process is rather like a chain of progressively diluted projections of divine spirit—think of the way one feels less and less heat the further one steps away from a fire. The last of these aeons, called Sophia (“Wisdom”), boldly ascends towards the supreme deity in an attempt to comprehend it in a misguided but well-intentioned folly, but fails miserably and consequently suffers for undertaking such a daunting task. Hell paved with good intentions?

Due to Sophia’s hysterical distress, the origins of human suffering arise from her inability to know what is unknowable, and she gives birth to an amorphous substance that crystallizes into an independent entity, the Demiurge, who is described in various sources as the fearsome leontomorphic deity Ialdabaoth which have various meanings, but a popular one would be, “the child of chaos” and even “Lord of Hosts.” He is wholly a product of emotion, which is, in modern occult parlance, an “astral” substance. In another variation of this myth, Sophia becomes haughty in her confidence and emulates the creative power of the Great Invisible Spirit—an act which catapults into divine disaster. Sophia’s mistake was mainly that she copulated (or masturbated) without her mate and the consent of the Holy Spirit. She, in essence, imitated the Father who generated the first aeonic couple. The Apocryphon of John indicates:

Our sister Wisdom, however, by virtue of her nature as an aeon, conceived an idea on her own; and through the thought of the Spirit and the first knowledge she desired to make manifest an image from herself, although the Spirit had not allowed her this nor permitted it, nor had her marriage partner, the male virginal spirit, agreed to it.

The result of her attempt at self-generation was an impregnation, and the birth of her blind, bastardly, golem child of chaos. When Sophia realizes her mistake and makes a face-palm at the sight of the deformity of her offspring, she starts to wail in hysterics at the ghastly sight of her aborted child. In her devastation, she relegates him to the abyss far from the true heavens where she can wean him from his innately corrupt nature, but to no avail; he matures into a lion-faced monstrosity, demanding constant worship and attention. Her frustration soon turns into suffering which eventually actualizes prototypes of human emotions—the “passions”—such as fear, grief, and anger, crystallized into the elements of cosmic matter, which in Platonic understanding was completely passive and receptive to the ideal—“a space of the possible,” or a reflections of the light as imperfect copies of the true reality. The very fabric of the cosmos is shaped by the tears of Sophia. Matter in this sense was ultimately seen as having no real substance, but is given the appearance or illusion of reality by the spiritual reflected in it, much as the prisoners enchained in Plato’s Cave view the shadowy reflections, brought on by the burning embers of torches set aflame behind them, as the only familiar reality they know. Platonists failed to account for the origin of the primal matter where the Demiurge creates the universe, so many Gnostic groups attempted to “fill in” the gaps of their pre-cosmic story.

The Demiurge himself is by in large ignorant of a higher spiritual reality (i.e. the Platonic realm of forms and ideals) and impulsively creates the “kenomic” or the empty, lower, visible universe out of his mommy’s passions,  modeling it after a dim reflection of the aeons of light that he sees reflected in the element of the dark waters of chaos. Irenaeus reiterates this point in Against Heresies:

The corporeal elements of the world, again, sprang, as we before remarked, from bewilderment and perplexity, as from a more ignoble source. Thus the earth arose from her state of stupor; water from the agitation caused by her fear; air from the consolidation of her grief; while fire, producing death and corruption, was inherent in all these elements, even as they teach that ignorance also lay concealed in these three passions.

The Apocryphon of John indicates that Ialdabaoth fills up his fiery realm of chaos by mating and copulating with Madness—in a grotesque imitation of the Unknowable God and Forethought in the original union which sprouted the divine order of the Aeons. This unholy union results in the “begetting” of the authorities of the rebellious angels:

that are under him along with the twelve angels, and each of them as an aeon, after the pattern of the incorruptible ones.

These twelve angels or rulers are divided in so that seven rule the numbers in heaven and the five remaining angels preside over the fathomless abyss and the chaos of the underworld. It is also said that Ialdabaoth was blind and insane; an incompetent pretender who is moved by the impulses of his irrational soul and only capable of producing deceptive semblances or a simulacrum of the ideal forms.

In the exegetic text On the Origin of the World, it is this substance, which is referred to as a “shadow” or “darkness” outside of the eternal realm, “deriving from the aforementioned Pistis,” from which the gods and angels of men, and their slaves (mankind), originated. In a way, the Demiurge acts as a cosmic alchemist, forming a type of order out of chaos, however flawed that “order” might have been. The creation of the universe from matter—itself the product of divine suffering—ensures that human experience is infused with suffering. Sophia, in this respect, is also seen as a proto-demiurgical figure, providing the means and materials for the cosmic artisan to build the vast prison that is the cosmos. Although the substance of the material cosmos itself harbors pain and corruption, contrasting itself with the goodness and perfection beyond, it is still fundamentally patterned after the beautiful astronomical system of the upper world of light, mirroring a higher beauty. In a twisted way, this mirrors the magical words contained in The Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus:

That which is Below corresponds to that which is Above, and that which is Above, corresponds to that which is Below, to accomplish the miracles of the One Thing.

This also goes for the human body which is shaped out of the reflection of the divine-lightened figure of the immortal androgynous man (the Adam Kadamon in Kabbalistic terms). The significance of this story is that the origins of human pathos, a subject that is often of intense focus in Gnostic literature, is not one of divine agency or intention, but one of divine suffering resulting from Sophia’s hubristic but noble intellectual curiosity and profound love for the primal origins. Her son’s unconscious creative impulse to imitate the perfection of the higher aeons is another set-back in eternity. The emergence of worldly evil arises from a “deficiency” (a word often used by Irenaeus to describe the Gnostic reference to the disorderly realm of this world) from Sophia’s descent into hysteria and chaos. It’s as if the cosmos were a warped Alice in Wonderland with “Wonderland” being the fractured mirror world of the Aeons.

In Against Heresies, Irenaeus reports:

They claim that the duodekad, in connection with which the mystery of the passion of the defect occurred, and from which passion (they maintain) the visible world has been made, is clearly and manifestly to be found everywhere. (Against Heresies 1.24.3)

To Irenaeus, the notion of the Lord God being an accidental by-product due to the folly of a female divinity was the epitome of lunacy and blasphemy. Imagine the look on his face when the Gnostics would declare themselves as being superior to the creator god! As mentioned earlier, Sophia was also seen as a proto-demiurgical figure who “gives birth” to not only the satanized-form of the Demuirge (who eventually becomes synonymous with Jehovah of the Old Testament thanks to his boastful arrogant proclamation of being the only god in existence) we see in Gnostic mythology the metaphysical goo that binds multi-verse in its stark inglorious and paradoxical beauty.

Her passionate lust to create without the consent of the upper regions sets a very interesting precedent. In the Second Treastise of the Great Seth, Sophia is described as a lustful Prunikos (“harlot” or “whore”):

For those who were in the world had been prepared by the will of our sister Sophia – she who is a whore – because of the innocence which has not been uttered. And she did not ask anything from the All, nor from the greatness of the Assembly, nor from the Pleroma. Since she was first, she came forth to prepare monads and places for the Son of Light and the fellow workers which she took from the elements below to build bodily dwellings from them.

Karen L. King in “Images of the Feminine in Gnosticism” elucidates on the figure of Sophia as the “Holy Harlot.” King spells out the etymology behind the word “Prunikos” as a lewd, impulsive person or untamed nymphomaniac. This would fit rather well with some of Sophia’s capricious actions mentioned throughout various Nag Hammadi tractates. Throughout her book, King stresses the sexual and carnal symbolism inherent in Gnostic myth. John Douglas Turner, in “Sethian Gnosticism and the Platonic Tradition”, finishes this tale of divine drama:

In deep grief and sorrow over her error, Sophia begins part two of the drama by offering a prayer of repentance to the divine realm whose order she had unintentionally violated. Her prayer receives a positive response, but it is clear that her former status can only be restored once the deficiency in her creative activity has been corrected; until then, she must be content only to be elevated to the “Ninth,” above the realm of the Archon she brought into being, but not yet to the divine realm. (74)

As a result from this “mistake”, the material cosmos, though a dim production and reflection of the divine, is the furthest removed from God as a lower level of reality. Immersed in the chaos of passive matter, the pneumatic element sown by Sophia into the powers of the Demiurge, finds itself in an alien environment, as a Stranger, exiled and wingless, whose true home is elsewhere. The creation of the material world “happens” as a consequence of a fall, accident or a rebellion. The stark beauty of nature is purely because of the Spirit that flows through it and the Logos that organizes it. Otherwise the material strata is “dead.” It is a illusory shadow and has no existence of its own. It is the strata in which actual existence reflects. When Sophia fell, her distress polarized her and her tears solidified into a chaotic, unorganized mess and the origins of the Gnostic disdain for the cosmos. It is safe to say that any admiration the Gnostics had for nature, particularly the Christian-Gnostic teacher and theologian Valentinus, was that the true beauty rested in the Spirit and Word which reflected in the material strata, not the material strata itself.

Sophia’s “sin” like Lucifer in the War in Heaven, was one of pride and unregulated desire or lust to bolster herself into and above the infinite depths of the Unknowable One without proper understanding, assistance or initiation. She had a glimpse of something better than she was able to imagine, and she wanted it for herself.  Philosophy in itself has an inkling of something greater, an ultimate reality perhaps, but cannot in itself properly perceive it without a proper revelation. Error is thus given form, which had been better it not come into being. Yet, when these errors do arise, the ultimate reality orders everything at will to bring good out of evil. Philosophy can be refined and purified, and all the disorder will ultimately be transmuted into universal harmony. To the Gnostics, this was done accomplished by the redemptive work done by the Cross of Light.

Everything that unfolds from this tragic event needs to be reversed so that the original state can be restored. Yet, there exists a hidden plan for the restoration involving a “panspermia” or “seeding” humanity with a flash of divine light, the pneumatic “germ”, which by default places mankind superior over the craftsman of the material world. Overcoming this disabled condition requires nothing less than the soul’s experiential goal of self-transcendence through transformative philosophy and the intervention of a higher being.

This dramatic incident triggers a plan of action from the higher-forms to send down their emissary, a sort of divine superman. Mission Target: To crucify the world! (The Gospel of Phillip) The Savior Aeon in same text of the Treat. Seth asserts:

And I subjected all their powers. For as I came downward, no one saw me. For I was altering my shapes, changing from form to form. And therefore, when I was at their gates, I assumed their likeness. For I passed them by quietly, and I was viewing the places, and I was not afraid nor ashamed, for I was undefiled. And I was speaking with them, mingling with them through those who are mine, and trampling on those who are harsh to them with zeal, and quenching the flame. And I was doing all these things because of my desire to accomplish what I desired by the will of the Father above.

In essence, the immortal Illuminator or Revealer (Christ and Seth are also interchangeable names for this savior) descended to the lower worlds to shape-shift his likeness into that of one of the bizarrely frightening, bestial forms of the Archons (the successive wicked progeny of the Demiurge), in order escape their notice and subvert their stupefying power over the Pneumatic elect through spiritual amnesia. This shape-shifting theme is also repeats in other texts of the Nag Hammadi which I won’t list all in its entirety. Christ is nearly equated to a trickster deity, yet his devious actions aren’t instigated against mankind, but rather against the “rulers and principalities”, the jealous powers of the cosmos (often referred to as a “laughing stock” in the Treat. Seth along with many of the familiar Patriarchs of the Old Testament). On the Origin of the World echoes this sentiment:

Thus did the world come to exist in distraction, in ignorance, and in a stupor. They all erred, until the appearance of the true man.

The Savior, who is likened to the image or revelation of the Father, is generated from the harmony and joy of the higher aeons as their “fruit.” The Savior’s revelation in the eyes of the recipient exposes the false pretenders who in their true forms are terrible theriomorphic beasts who exercise control over the visible world of time and space. They are the implacable tyrants and and controllers of all aspects of human existence. It is the Savior who sets up the final deliverance of the human race from their yoke. Through the defeat of the archons, Christ’s descent into the upper and lower astral realms of the “shadows” would spell the fate of the souls of “fruit-bearing trees” (as mentioned in the Apocalypse of Adam) in their redemption from their former state as “creatures of the dead earth,” under the authority of the Archon of Death. Moreover in On the Origin of the World, the worldly visible church is itself likened to “the modeled forms of perdition,” since matter is in itself perishable and illusory due to the intermixing of the seed of the pneumatic (“light”) and the psychic and hylic (“darkness”) substances.

Furthermore, the same text explains how the descending Logos shakes the thralldom of the satanic rulers of fate:

Now the Word that is superior to all beings was sent for this purpose alone: that he might proclaim the unknown. He said, “There is nothing hidden that is not apparent, and what has not been recognized will be recognized.” And these were sent to make known what is hidden, and the seven authorities of chaos and their impiety. And thus they were condemned to death. So when all the perfect appeared in the forms modeled by the rulers, and when they revealed the incomparable truth, they put to shame all the wisdom of the gods. And their fate was found to be a condemnation. And their force dried up. Their lordship was dissolved. Their forethought became emptiness, along with their glory.

We see the same sentiment expressed in The Sophia of Jesus Christ:

I have struck off the chains…I have broken down the doors of the pitiless and humiliated them…I have revealed to you the name of the Perfect and the whole desire of the mother of the angels. I came to reveal to you that which exists since the beginning. I came because of the pride of the archigenitor and his angels, who say, ‘We are gods!’ to condemn them by revealing to everyone the God who is above the universe. Trample under foot their sepulchers! Let their yoke be broken, that mine may be exalted.

The Second Treatise of the Great Seth:

For the Archon was a laughingstock because he said, “I am God, and there is none greater than I. I alone am the Father, the Lord, and there is no other beside me. I am a jealous God, who brings the sins of the fathers upon the children for three and four generations.” As if he had become stronger than I and my brothers! But we are innocent with respect to him, in that we have not sinned, since we mastered his teaching. Thus he was in an empty glory. And he does not agree with our Father. And thus through our fellowship we grasped his teaching, since he was vain in an empty glory. And he does not agree with our Father, for he was a laughingstock and judgment and false prophecy.

And in the Triorphic Protennoia:

I am their Father, and I shall tell you a mystery, ineffable and indivulgeable by any mouth: Every bond I loosed from you, and the chains of the demons of the underworld I broke, these things which are bound on my members, restraining them. And the high walls of darkness I overthrew, and the secure gates of those pitiless ones I broke, and I smashed their bars. And the evil force, and the one who beats you, and the one who hinders you, and the tyrant, and the adversary, and the one who is King, and the present enemy, indeed all these I explained to those who are mine, who are the Sons of the Light, in order that they might nullify them all, and be saved from all those bonds, and enter into the place where they were at first.

In the Hypostasis in the Archons it also asserts:

He said to me, “Until the moment when the true man, within a modeled form, reveals the existence of the spirit of truth, which the father has sent. Then he will teach them about everything, and he will anoint them with the unction of life eternal, given him from the undominated generation. Then they will be freed of blind thought, and they will trample underfoot death, which is of the authorities, and they will ascend into the limitless light where this sown element belongs.

Even more so is the similar Gnostic sentiment echoed in St. Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 2:7-8:

But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom (Sophia), which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

The notion that the gods of men were in actuality malefic imposters of darkness was a unique one to the Gnostic religion and one that no doubt infuriated many pagans. The god’s insistence that they assert to be the first beings in existence was a claim that the author of On the Origin of the World refuted outright. Why was this? This was because there is indeed a higher, spiritual hyperspace above their normal vision, placed in the Empyrean. It is this world that the Gnostics lay claim to as the “Seed of Seth” or the “Gnostic Race” that spring forward in a cry for battle for the Word and against the demons of forgetfulness with gleaming swords of light. It is they that will eventually “withdraw” to their true spiritual roots. Similarly, those belonging to the realm of darkness will be thrown to the abyss and “dissolved”.  No longer is the light (spirit) thrown and intermingled in the flux of dark matter. It is this apocalyptic notion that is purely alchemical in its symbolism where the good and spiritual is separated from the corrupt and perishable. The Apocryphon of John indicates that it is the Gnostic Race that that have devoted themselves exclusively to Incorruptibility “without anger, or envy, or  fear, or desire, or insobriety.”

Sophia in Sethian and Valentinian cosmology is responsible for the divine catastrophe. She also birthed the Demiurge. Yet, the fall and redemption of Sophia is an allegory for the fall and redemption of each individual. Mankind is violently thrown into and held in captivity by the lower powers in the darkest pit of ignorance and death. Gnosis is a recital of redemption. The knowledge and internalization of this story already signals a reversal of bonds of fate. It is this knowledge that sets mankind above the cosmic prison and set limitations, giving a radical sense of freedom and liberty that is completely “acosmic”. The ascent is integral to the Gnostic worldview. Cosmology as a history of an imprisonment, and the divine descent as a fissure in the prison wall, point toward a need to escape. The Illuminator arrives to awaken the scattered lights frozen in the dark. These spiritual seed contains the “blueprint”, of the image of God. To be “born again” is to transform into this glorious image of the solitary light, transcending beyond the cold and ruthless machinery of cosmic fate. This was the spiritual password used to transcend into the next world. In order to transform to this “perfected” state, one must live a life of righteous piety emulated Jesus’ example in the Gospels. Although the sojourn to the spirit is full of tension, pain and confrontation—an inner alchemy—it is indeed what separates the darkness from the light. This mystical union of the soul (symbolized by the fallen Sophia) transcends the sharp duality of the cosmos, the subject and object, the knower and known; it is the escalation of spirit in the unity of the One.

For those who have toiled in the devastation of the abyss of existence on the path to the light of self-knowledge, like Sophia, and have risen to understand her message, it is she and her consort who descended to the depths of hell where the archons and demons dwell who were eventually swallowed and trampled in order to triumphantly rise again. In the union between Christ and Sophia, the masculine and feminine, the higher and the lower, an androgynous union is formed within the “bridal chamber”, the “bedroom” of the One. United, they seek to console the spirits of heaviness, the lost, the broken and the lamenting, to be released from their bondage and transcend the duality within and inherent to the cosmos, and to glimpse into, and take part of, the dynamics of the One. They wage a secret war against the demonic rulers who seek eternal enslavement, inviting fear and misery. It is both aeons that invite us to examine ourselves, to take part and bite into the sweet flowing juices of the fruits of the tree of life.

The Second Treatise of the Great Seth closes with this:

Now these things I have presented to you – I am Jesus Christ, the Son of Man, who is exalted above the heavens – O perfect and incorruptible ones, because of the incorruptible and perfect mystery and the ineffable one. But they think that we decreed them before the foundation of the world, in order that, when we emerge from the places of the world, we may present there the symbols of incorruption from the spiritual union unto knowledge. You do not know it, because the fleshly cloud overshadows you. But I alone am the friend of Sophia. I have been in the bosom of the father from the beginning, in the place of the sons of the truth, and the Greatness. Rest then with me, my fellow spirits and my brothers, forever.

The Stranger’s Battle Cry

(This article was also published on the former Palm Tree Garden, under the same alias as “AeonEye”.)

“After we went forth from our home, and came down to this world, and came into being in the world in bodies, we were hated and persecuted, not only by those who are ignorant, but also by those who think that they are advancing the name of Christ, since they were unknowingly empty, not knowing who they are, like dumb animals. They persecuted those who have been liberated by me, since they hate them – those who, should they shut their mouth, would weep with a profitless groaning because they did not fully know me. lnstead, they served two masters, even a multitude. But you will become victorious in everything, in war and battles, jealous division and wrath. But in the uprightness of our love we are innocent, pure, (and) good, since we have a mind of the Father in an ineffable mystery.” – The Second Treatise of the Great Seth (NHC VII,2).

Much like the above excerpt in its vastly confrontational nature, The Second Treatise of the Great Seth (second of the five tractates in Codex VII of the Nag Hammadi Library) contains a very stark dichotomy of the Gnostic call to spiritual transformation, cosmological and ontological mythologies as well as polemical, visceral war-like imagery scattered throughout the very rare tractate and homily.  This excerpt alone stands as a scathing indictment against the proto-orthodox (Catholic) Christians who by in large had taken Christ’s passion and resurrection as wholly carnal in a judicial, fundamentalist manner hence the “doctrine of a dead man”. This condemnation of the opposing Christians for their ignorance and pandering to the “profane” multitude who seek to rule them through their “herd mentality” becomes a perfect example of Gnostic elitism. The blessing of warring and battle by Christ to the “Strangers” of the immortal world above against their enemies of the lower world is rarely emphasized in apocryphal and Gnostic literature but yet is found here. It is a Gnostic protest against the Orthodox persecution of their heretical brethren. Although the text carries a title under the name of Seth, Seth (the 3rd son of Adam and Eve, later deified as a Gnostic Illuminator) himself makes no appearance but rather the text itself begins in a narration told by an ascended Christ. However, it is safe to suggest that Jesus Christ was considered to be a spiritual successor to Seth by the very least—the Sethian Gnostics. According to Birger Pearson, they did exactly just that:

“Epiphanius tells us that the sect of the Sethians considers that Seth is “Christ and maintains that he is Jesus” (Panarion 39.1.2-3): “from Seth by descent and lineage came Christ Jesus himself, through not by generation; he has appeared in the world miraculously. He is Seth himself, who visited men then and now because he was sent from by the Mother…” (Birger Pearson, Fredrick Wisse. Nag Hammadi Codex VII, Volume 7. Pg. 131)

The ascended Christ, in first person delivers a message to his followers, the Christians a much different account of his descent from heaven, incarnation and passion then the orthodox account or strict reading of the Canonical gospels. The general tone of this passage could be compared to John 15:19 where Christ proclaims to his followers:

“‎If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.”

Moreover, the text is famous for the “doetic” version of Christ’s supposed incarnation, meaning that the incarnation made manifest by the Logos or Christ was at best illusory and at worst non-existent as Treat. Seth would attest. It is Christ who clothed himself with a body of a psychic substance, arranged in an ineffable way to be received as visible and tangible.

This is due to the typical Gnostic rejection and devaluation of the physical cosmos as well as the flesh. The soul that encases the spiritual seed is foreign and alien to the misbegotten world and cosmos which is by in large hostile to its divine essence.  Because the flesh is destitute and intrinsically corrupt, this in turn caused most of the Gnostics to conclude that Christ could not have taken these transitory garments and taken on the toxic sludge that is the flesh. The Gnostics themselves however were largely divided on this issue of docetism as texts such as The Gospel of Thomas, The Apocryphon of James and The Treatise of the Resurrection suggests:

“Jesus said, “I manifested myself in the flesh.” – The Gospel of Thomas

“If you keep my cross and my death in mind, you will have life.” – The Apocryphon of James

“He existed as flesh being both human and divine, so that he would conquer death because he was the Son of God, yet also restore the pleroma because he was the Son of Man.” – The Treatise of the Resurrection.

Although the flesh is corrupt, the descent and union of the divine pnuema on the terrestrial man, allegorically represented as the Logos or the Holy Spirit (symbolized through a dove) descending upon Jesus, serves as the crux for redemption. The cited excerpt stands as veritable proof of the clashing of doctrines the blood-drenched coliseums of early Christianity. The dichotomy between flesh and spirit are emphasized in both proto-Orthodox Christian and Gnostic writings. However, this contrast is especially evident in Gnosticism (and by direct extension to Platonic dualism) as the above excerpts will attest.

One popular definition of heresy is known as an “option” or “choice”, although correct is much closer to a faction or school of thought. These heretic’s “dogmas” posited that since everything in the material universe changes, deteriorates until nothing remains, it is ultimately illusionary and unreal relative to the immutability of the true God—the primal foundation of all existence—from the ineffable stratosphere of the Pleromic throne-world to the smallest ring-worm writhing in the dirt and mud of the earth. This world-view is exemplified through their adoption of 1st Corinithians 15:50 where St. Paul proclaims that, “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God.” Heresy hunters and opponents of these ancient heretics such as Irenaeus rebutted this view and complained of the Gnostics:

“That “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God” – This passage is used by all the heretics in order to substantiate the lunacy with which they annoy us.” (A.H. 5.9.1)

Sorry there, guy. Moreover, Irenaeus takes an opposite stance in his insistence that the flesh is connected and manifested to God, and that the world was God created in its “finished perfection” as opposed to having a Platonic demiurge to point to for failure in the creative process of the cosmos. In direct opposition to the doetic account of Christ’s incarnation, Irenaeus insisted that “Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us,” The essential essence of humanity is not spirit alone but it is rather:

“a mixed organization of soul and flesh, who was formed after the likeness of God, and moulded by His hands, that is, by the Son and Holy Spirit.” (A.H. IV. Preface)

By Irenaeus’ account, the world of forms isn’t fallen nor is it a byproduct of some epistemological and ontological error by some deviated aeon that went astray. For the heresy hunter, incarnation is a condensed link between the Spirit and the flesh, much like how water crystallizes into frozen solid ice. Spirit was seen as synonymous as the flesh. The material cosmos isn’t an accident but a willed act creation from the God revealed by Jesus Christ in the New Testament (who claims is the same deity of the Old Testament). It was Irenaeus who introduced the idea of an Old Testament and a New Testament, with only four gospels revealed by the same God, who adjusted his revelation to the progression of humanity.

However, it does not stand to mean that Irenaeus did not repudiate the “lusts” of the flesh:

“Those persons, then, who possess the earnest of the Spirit, and who are not enslaved by the lusts of the flesh, but are subject to the Spirit, and who in all things walk according to the light of reason, does the apostle properly term “spiritual,” because the Spirit of God dwells in them. Now, spiritual men shall not be incorporeal spirits; but our substance, that is, the union of flesh and spirit, receiving the Spirit of God, makes up the spiritual man.” (AH V.8.2)

Yet, Irenaeus’ stance on the flesh and spirit being more or less equal is of contended with by Jesus in the Gospel of Thomas:

Jesus said, “If the flesh came into being because of spirit, it is a wonder. But if spirit came into beingbecause of the body, it is a wonder of wonders. Indeed, I am amazed at how this great wealth has made its home in this poverty.”

For Irenaeus, flesh “in its most oblivious and ordinary sense” cannot inherit the kingdom of God and, therefore, flesh must put on immortality.”  Irenaeus interprets that in the orthodox sense that human flesh is divinized into immortal flesh upon resurrection, but it’s still material flesh. Clearly, Paul isn’t saying that at all. Irenaeus also completely contradicts Paul on the stance of the flesh being capable of receiving the gift of God, whereas Paul viewed the flesh as irrelevant for salvation as mentioned in Ephesians2:8. Paul’s resurrection body is pure spirit. It has no material or soulish component. Paul basically thought that we would all get docetic bodies like Jesus upon resurrection.

Furthermore, Irenaeus simply dismisses the idea that mankind can simply deduce the correct gnosis of the Ineffable God by his own means without an intermediary:

“FOR in no other way could we have learned the things of God, unless our Master, existing as the Word, had become man. For no other being had the power of revealing to us the things of the Father, except His own proper Word. For what other person “knew the mind of the Lord,” or who else “has become His counsellor?” (AH V.1)

Strangely enough, the highly fragmentary and esoteric Gnostic text, Allogenes agrees with this sentiment:

“And when I was confirmed in these matters, the powers of the Luminaries said to me, “Cease hindering the inactivity that exists in you, by seeking incomprehensible matters; rather, hear about him in so far as it is possible by means of a primary revelation and a revelation.”

In this manner, the supramundane substance of God, which is a stranger to this world, cannot be contained, nor can he be comprehended in Himself in all His glory, for this glory is unsearchable and far beyond the investigative power of our physical and even psychic faculties. The direct gnosis of God is impossible because in God, nothing recognizable is available to us save for the revelation that is given to the individual through grace. However, that is not to say that the quest for self-knowledge visa-vi the knowledge of God is vain because as many different texts such as the Gospel of Thomas which deals with self-consciousness:

“But the Kingdom is within you and it is outside you. When you shall know yourselves, then you shall be known, and you shall know that you are sons of the living Father” (Logion 3). “He who knows everything except himself, misses everything” (Logion 67). Whoever will find himself, of him the world is not worthy.” (Logion ii).

This is comparable to the New Testament in Luke 17:21 where the Christian believer contains the Kingdom of God within by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit after the subsequent spiritual conviction with the destitute inner heart of man becoming receptive to the bestowed saving grace. The return to the Father is also a return to the true Self, the Pneumatic man exemplified by Christ. Knowledge of God and self-consciousness cohere very closely, and in Gnosticism they practically coincide. Who knows God also knows about himself, from where he comes and whither he goes. The only verifiable way to know God is to “know thyself” or “Gnothi Seauton” of the Delphic commandment. It is this revelation that produces experiential knowledge. In ancient Gnostic thinking, knowing yourself means knowing the cosmological outline you are connected to. To them, the spirit is of course from the spiritual source, and one is cast into the physical trap. Sophia is fallen into the world, and is dealing with the error. The point is the understanding of the mythology was considered part of gnosis, according to the historical Gnostics. Plato described this knowledge:

“This knowledge is not something that can be put into words like other sciences; but after long-continued intercourse between teacher and pupil, in joint pursuit of the subject, suddenly, like light flashing forth when a fire is kindled, it is born in the soul and straightway nourishes itself.” Seventh Letter, §341c.

Texts such as The Second Treatise of the Great Seth were more than likely a retort to all the polemics written by Heresiologists such as Irenaeus. The rejection of this Greek dualism, taken on by the Gnostics, stand as evidence to them which persons such as Irenaeus have indeed taken a prostrated position in that the goodness of the Supreme God above all other gods, is responsible for the countless evils and corruption that is inherent not only to the actions of the human race but to existence itself. This denial of evil and corruption proceeding from Good was explained through various mythologies of how the hypostatization of the negative passions produced by the fallen aeon Sophia through her abortive manifestation of the lower, demiurgical angels’ maligned works as the dark fire extant as the material universe, showing the dualistic and even pluralistic ontology that appears many times in Gnostic cosmology. The error is produced not from the will of the Supreme God but through the mistake of the lowest emanation that being the folly of Wisdom. And even still, according to this theory, the fall had already occurred long before mankind came into the picture. Without concern for world humanity or any “sins” committed of Adam and Eve through disobedience of a divinely ordained law, “evil”, though latent, was already in existence. Irenaeus’ denial of their renunciation of the world in favor for a supernal one and affirmation of the world of appearances no doubt annoyed the Gnostics to no end!

Typical to the pessimistic inklings found in Gnostic cosmology, the visible cosmos is the product of an epistemological error committed within a web of illusion, while slave race of humanity mistake this darkness for true reality much like prisoners trapped in Plato’s allegorical dungeon-like cave. The material world is in fact a botched carbon copy of the higher forms contained within the spiritual realm of the Pleroma. The physical universe itself in all its glaring error and painfully beautiful splendor is but a faint shadow and plastic caricature to the eternal realms of the aeons in which it is preceded by. Jacques Lacarriere writes in The Gnostics:

“For this world, crucible of corruption, excrement of error though it is, possesses the seeds of immortality and a faint resemblance to the distant God, the living Aeon, the veracious model of all things.” (68)

In E.M Corian’s The New Gods, he succinctly summarizes the primal and pluralistic message of the ancient Gnostics:

“It is difficult, it is impossible to believe that the good god, the “Father”, has been involved in the scandal of creation. Everything suggests it took no part, he is a ruthless God, a God weighed. Goodness does not: it lacks imagination, yet it takes to make a world, if it is sloppy. It is, strictly speaking, the mixture of goodness and wickedness that may arise an act or work. Or universe. Starting from ours, it is in any case otherwise easy to trace a suspect god than a god honorable.”

The pneumatic seed is entombed in shells of the flesh, enmeshed and fallen in the imperfect world of forms. Mankind is largely subject to infernal trickery and debasement by his demonic wards, the enemies of the Gnostics. As a result, humanity is drunk, asleep and ignorant of this divine “nous” resident within them and enslaved to the pangs of the physical world—the jailhouse of the principalities. This ignorance is fostered in human nature by the influence of unreality inherent in sentient existence.

The exact origins of this corrupting evil reality isn’t brought through by the ultimate reality but rather through the error and rebellion of the lower angels as mentioned by both canonical and apocryphal texts in all their terrible glory. The only way to redemption and the bypassing the “dwellers on the threshold” is through self-realization of our divine origins through revelatory saving knowledge bestowed by the savior. In the cosmology of the Hypostasis of the Archons, the universe is divided by a veil into two mutually exclusive realms. The primary, incorruptible, and invisible realm above the dividing veil is contrasted with its shadow, the corruptible and visible realm of physical matter and of ignorance beneath the veil. This is where humanity dwells within this vale of tears and all its baneful glory as Jacques Lacarriere also writes:

“Viscerally, imperiously, irremissibly, the Gnostic feels life, thought, human and planetary destiny to be a failed work, limited and vitiated in its most fundamental structures. Everything, from the distant stars to the nuclei of our body cells, carries the materially demonstrable trace of an original imperfection which only Gnosticism and the means it proposes can combat. But this radical censure of all creation is accompanied by an equally radical certainty which presupposes and upholds it—the conviction that there exists a man something which escapes the curse of the world, a fire, a spark, a light issuing from the true God, the distant, inaccessible stranger to the perverse order of the universe, and that man’s task is to reign his lost homeland by wrenching free of the snares and illusions of the dark fire, to rediscover the original unity, to find again the kingdom of this God who was unknown, or imperfectly known, to all preceding religions.” (10)

In other words, mankind who is wrought and enslaved in the realm of appearances struggles to find reality behind this façade of this nightmarish reverie called the world.  Worldly existence is beset by pain, uncertainty, frustration, horror, suffering and death. Its inhabitants mistake ignorance for knowledge, insanity for sanity, pain for pleasure, unconsciousness for consciousness, darkness for light. In many instances when the light of true reality attempts to breaks through the gloomy veil of matter, these attempts are halted by the predatory forces that has been around since the beginning of creation and time. Caught in the vast insane asylum, mankind is seemingly hopelessly lost, immured in a cyclical limbo that never seems to stop.

Unable to discern between the benevolent light and the encroaching shadow, the sounded siren seduces and lulls their prisoners to a much deeper trance of sleep, enwrapped in chains of darkness, held in the pit of existence. However, the hostile sentries that guard the cosmic penitentiary did not count on a covert divine invasion. This raid from the immortal realm outside of the confining bars is lead by the Stranger, a figure of light and truth. His luminous forces are called the “immovable race”, charged by an awakened pneumatic seed, ripping through the darkened wasteland of the cosmos in which the wicked principalities would shake with tormenting fear at such a prospect.

Their grapple hold on the false reality becomes ever so loosened as the immortal spirit—the hated and persecuted Stranger invades enemy ground, the world of the lie, freeing the battered captives from their confinement and into the warmth and light of true freedom. The trumpet calls of the Stranger’s arrival have rend the dark skies from stygian black to a brilliant golden light, signaling an end from the cruel imprisonment placed by the rulers. It is as if the fallen castaways of mankind was destined to be emancipated, a plan set in motion at the very beginning of this glaring error of creation. The faint pnuema resident within man is illuminated by the invading revealer, armed with a sword girt before the tenebrous deception and becomes victorious over the sentries of the cosmic prison.

But I was rejoicing in the height over all the wealth of the archons and the offspring of their error, of their empty glory. And I was laughing at their ignorance. Treat. Seth.

The Letter of Peter to Philip confirms this cosmic struggle between spirit and the darkness that inhabits the fetters of the cosmos:

“Then a voice called out to them from the appearance saying, “Now you will fight against them in this way, for the archons are fighting against the inner man. And you are to fight against them in this way: Come together and teach in the world the salvation with a promise. And you, gird yourselves with the power of my Father, and let your prayer be known. And he, the Father, will help you as he has helped you by sending me. Be not afraid, I am with you forever, as I previously said to you when I was in the body.” Then there came lightning and thunder from heaven, and what appeared to them in that place was taken up to heaven.”

In 1 Corinthians 13:12, it tells us that “For we see through an hour glass, darkly.” The natural vision of man can be described as a winter night under a full moon. The eerie, haunting light of the moon cascades over the horizon. Things can be seen, but not well and indistinct. There are many shadows, deep and dark. It is majestic and beautiful in its starkness as it is in its own entire category. In contrast, those who have received the episteme and an intimate knowledge of the uncreated, while seeing the world in a different light where everything suddenly becomes much clearer, brighter, and they can see where others cannot see. The shadows disappear, all the gray areas become bright as noon. Things are sharply in focus. This is the new finely tuned spiritual vision as a result of the redemptive work.

In order to shed and cast off these dark shades and weight of the wasted shells of Malkuthian matter, the symbol of the cross is used as an allegory where the separation and filtration of the spirit from matter occurs. In Gnostic terminology, the cross is known as the limit or barrier veil (Horos). The material is consumed in straw burnt up in flame. The Gospel of Truth speaks in this way of the crucifixion of Christ:

“He was nailed to a (cross of) wood (and) He attached the deed of disposition of the Father to the cross… He abased himself even unto death though he has been clothed with eternal life. Having divested himself of these perishable rags, He clothed himself in incorruptibility. Having penetrated into terror’s empty places (the material world), He passed those who were stripped of the incapacity for knowledge, in which He became both Gnosis and perfection.”

Its result was the separation from the profane world, the receipt for saving gnosis as being as life and light which enabled the Gnostics for remembrance and restoration to the hyperspace of the Pleroma. Deep within the psychic and hylic nature of man lies within the portal to salvation itself: his pneumatic seed. If this is true then why is there a need for a savior when man has a spark of the spirit? The Spirit is in a position of imprisonment or slavery because it has been bound to matter and has been subjected to the fatalistic thumb of the cosmic rulers. From this inference that the every person is under the subject of the thralldom of these hostile powers, this exile also features a kind of haunting of every person from birth to death by their demon, thus in turn becoming a “demonic man” left without the interceding divine power of the Holy Spirit to convict the “hylic” and “psychic” aspects that make up the ego into fires of the Cross. The pneuma is latently exists, but it does not work, for it must first be awakened from sleep. Such is the work of the Savior—for him to awaken the children of the Fallen Aeon who are asleep, forgetful of their celestial origins.

It is the task of the “Revealer” or the “Savior” to descend through the heavenly spheres and fan the slumbering sparks of spiritual fires which lie dormant within the soul, leading to the recognition of one’s secret self and spiritual destiny. In this sense, Christ functions in a much different manner than the orthodox notion of the dying and resurrecting God-man:

“The Sethian conception of a final descent of a redeemer identified as the pre-existent Logos who brings salvation as revealed gnosis rather than transactional redemption through his death on the cross was shared by the Johannine Christian circles. Not long afterwards, Valentinus (140-160 CE) too developed the notion of a pneumatic Christ coming to awaken the sleeping spirit in humankind, a notion which lies at the core of his theology.” (249) Christ is the prototype of pneumatic man or perhaps even a newly formed version of the Anthropos or in Kabbalistic terms the “Adam Kadmon.” It is he in which the Gnostic strives to become as the Gospel of Philip indicates, “Those who receive the name of the father, the son, and holy spirit…[are] no longer a Christian, but [are] Christ.”

The pneumatic seed is also pre-existent in the Logos:

“He possesses within himself the grains of seed which will originate, through the promise which came into existence in the one (i.e. the Logos) who conceived it (the seed) as if he were one belonging to the seeds which will originate.” (4th Treatise)

Christ himself is also called “seed of the truth”. The pneumatics are preexistent in him, and they will return to him:

“…and that on the other hand through the Son of Man (besides the Son of God) the restoration into the Pleroma might take place, since at first he was from above, a seed of the truth, when this structure had not yet come into being.” (The Treatise on the Resurrection)

Christ himself is seen as the divine prototype or Logos to the pneumatic man. Thus salvation is realized through this point within him where the man joins his angel in the consummation—a model for Sophia or Wisdom’s union with her bridegroom, the Christos. There exists a gateway or a “portal” buried deep within the inner heart or pnuema, the seed of the soul in which the Gnostic must discover this inner chamber, the passageway that leads to this authentic, unconditional reality that in many Gnostic texts could only be described in apophatic terms (of what God is not rather than what God is). Once this gateway is opened, the spirit man enters a bridal chamber reserved for those waiting to recite their marriage vows with the Savior in the holy of hollies, the “husband in the Aeon” in a syzygyetic union. The way to reach this “doorway” or “portal” to the divine is specifically mentioned in Matthew 7:13-14:

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

On this journey to the gateway is rife with terror and sorrow which is largely comparable to St. John of the Cross’ the Dark Night of the Soul (also known as the Night Sea Journey according to Carl Gustav Jung) where sadness and grief become disproportionate to the initial causes. It is a period of struggle, pain, strife and difficulty of a spiritual kind and not so much of a purely mental chemical imbalance in the human brain (flesh). Redemption in this sense is natural to mankind, because the pneumatic seed serves as a seat to traverse the narrow way of Christ. From this union, regeneration or the rebirth is realized (from the Adamic to the Pneumatic), bestowing the gift of agape to the believer who traverses this inward path to the Spirit.

It is the culmination of the quickening that is mentioned in John 3:5-8:

“Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit”.

This is largely comparable to The Gospel of Philip where the author claims:

“We are born again through the Holy Spirit, and we are conceived through Christ in baptism with two elements. We are anointed through the spirit, and when we are conceived, we were united.”

This awakened pneumatic man is further demonstrated in Ezekiel 36:25, where God promises:

“I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you.”

In the Old Testament, water and the spirit often have to do with refreshing and cleansing, restoration and life from God. So Ezekiel provides a good lens for understanding Jesus’ statements as well as the statements made in the Gospel of Philip. It is this inward descent into the spiritual heart nestled deep within and beyond the “psychic” and “hylic” substances formed from the passions of Sophia where the Gnostic communication is formed and thus the resurrection and ascent occurs within as a joyous, rapturous event transforming the unregenerate into a Son of Light, the Stranger to the shadows. This gnosis is called “secret knowledge” because it is only knowable to the deep and truest Self and neither to anyone for it is by its nature intimate. It is experiential in nature. Further examples of this spiritual awakening can be seen furthermore in the New Testament:

“For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:14-19

And in 1 Peter 3:4:

“But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.”

Birger Pearson makes an effective analytical conclusion in regards to the analysis of Treat. Seth:

“Christ’s message during his incarnation and now in Treat. Seth is that he and his followers are one, and one with the Father; that, like himself, their origin is from the heaven and their destiny is one day to return and themselves join in the spiritual union of the heavenly wedding; because of his victory they may now rest in him in the face of their difficulties with the world of the archons and the Great Church.” (Birger Pearson, Fredrick Wisse. Nag Hammadi Codex VII, Volume 7. Pg. 129)

This is congruent to many passages featured in the Treatise on the Resurrection where the close connection between the Gnostic, and Christ is made evident:

“But when we are made manifest in this world, bearing Him, we are his rays, and we are encompassed by Him until our setting, which is our death in this life”, and “We are drawn upward by Him as the rays by the sun without being retained by anything”.

The corporeal and psychic parts of man is completely absorbed into the pneumatic:

“This is our spiritual resurrection which swallows the psychic as well as the fleshly. It is the revelation of that which is and the transformation and a passing on to a new existence. For incorruptibility descends on what is perishable.”

The attainment of spiritual life is the pneumatic resurrection, and it guarantees the resurrection into eternity:

“They who say, ‘One will first die and then he will rise’, err. If they do not receive the resurrection at first when they are alive, they will receive nothing, when they die. In this way one speaks of Baptism, when it is said, ‘The Baptism is great, for when a man receives it, he will live”‘ (Gospel of Philip)

Lastly, an important point should be made that being this is not a polemic against any orthodox Christian or Jewish religion, but rather should be recognized as a call to analyze within and reject the blind and ignorant archon that dwells and festers within the ego’s beating black heart and to strike it with the gleaming sword of knowledge and wisdom.  It is the duality and struggle between the archontic and pneumatic nature within the mind and soul of each individual that should be emphasized. It is easy to use such a text to validate one’s persecution complexes and prejudices to those of “mainstream” Christianity or any other religious church simply because they do not share the similarly deeper understandings of the mysteries of gnosis.

Because their readings of the New Testament accounts were not as strictly conservative in a literalness of a reading in their faith and simply viewed such texts as mirrors of greater truths, the battle of doctrines rang loud. The very fact that there was an assortment of views and understandings among the early Christians should be an indicator that one point of view isn’t necessarily far superior over another. In other words, reality does not have to conform to one’s cognition simply due to the need to be proven right. True knowledge isn’t boosting about how one is “enlightened”. Avoiding the pitfalls of ego projection is just as important as gaining “enlightenment”. It is the discovery of this redemption within us that must be acknowledged, for it not the struggle against the flesh that must be fought but the thralldom of the hostile darkness that abides within the psyche and the cloudy firmament of the soul. The Gnostics are those who had:

“…rituals of investiture and enthronement, perhaps also of anointing, as symbols of their status as the sovereign and autonomous, thus “kingless,” race or generation of seth” (John Douglas Turner. Sethian Gnosticism and the Platonic Tradition. Pg. 241)

Whereas the Adversary, his minions and even the Old Testament patriarchs are described as a “laughing stock” in Treat. Seth. Instead of acting like the haughty and retarded Saklas once did in his fixed, abiding ego, who at the depths of the abyss was raging against the Almighty–embracing Wisdom and avoiding her passions would go a long way into gaining true, spiritual vision. From the mythological story that portrays this divine drama, the Gnostics believed that the human soul itself was co-substantial to the stuff of the cosmic rulers in that their motions of the soul are caused and controlled by the demonic authorities. It was through the soul that man could be led astray into evil and away from the spiritual core, the divine power in man. They were convinced that  they could sense the wickedness of the cosmic demiurge and his accomplices in themselves. It was therefore their duty to neglect psychic inclinations and to devote themselves exclusively to spiritual reality. This is the true battle cry of the Stranger. Let us be the kingless, sovereign and autonomous generation rather than a laughingstock.