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.

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