Sethian

Saint Catherine, Norea and the Mother of Dragons

The Youtube clip posted above is taken from Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin and HBO. It is probably one of my personal favorite shows and book series. It features one of the principal characters, Daenerys Targaryen speaking with another popular character, Tyrion Lannister. The conversation between the two takes dips into a Gnostic flavor when Daenerys starts talking about “breaking the wheel,” a metaphor for all of the “Houses” in Westeros all vying for the throne forged of the swords of defeated enemies. Game of Thrones is packed with with a rich lore found in the history and many religions of Westeros and they all carry their own smidgen of gnosis as well, including that of Melisandre, who spreads the faith of the “Lord of Light,” or the “Red God,” being R’hllor, who uses various deceptive and violent methods to spread “the one true faith” across the continent of Westeros, including blood magic, sex rituals, and human sacrifice. It seems as though this religious worldview is a strange mix of Zoroastrian and Manichaean/Cathar beliefs. And yet there is reason to believe this “Lord of Light” is in reality a fiery demon who is in opposition with an even worse demon…

The idea that there can be multiple sources of evil is an interesting one. Some exorcists, such as Malachi Martin and Gabriele Amorth, have said that Lucifer and Satan are separate entities. In this view, Lucifer is the original fallen angel, the light-bringer, whose nature fell through pride and envy, and Satan is considered among the third of the angels in heaven who followed Lucifer and embodies death and destruction, the dragon of Revelation who fought Michael and his angels. Perhaps this is why the Bible makes a distinction between the “spirits of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12) and the “beast, that ascendeth out of the abyss” (Revelation 11:17). Following this categorization, R’hllor could be considered a Luciferian being, giving the false appearance of light and divinity, while the Great Other embodies a satanic nature of chaos and annihilation. In Westeros, this false dualism attracts followers to one demon, out of fear for the other.

But, this won’t be an in-depth analysis of the larger metaphysical scheme we see in Game of Thrones, but rather an analysis of some of the archetypes that a very popular character, Daenerys Targaryen, touches on. Her character starts off as a timid and submissive to her brother Viserys, who is a bit of a violent sociopath, prone to mood swings and jealousy. Ever since she got shacked up with Khal Drogo, something changed, and become a strong, independent and courageous chick who would adopt 3 baby dragons as she stands naked and triumphant in the morning light, when she emerges out of the ashes of a funeral pyre. And all of this would serve as a precedent for where she is now in the books and in the show. Also notice that the dragons in the show and the books aren’t depicted as any force for evil but as a force of nature and intelligent “fire made flesh.” They just are.

Her character has a strong resemblance to three different figures in Christian and Gnostic lore. These include Saint Catherine of Alexandria, Hypatia, and Norea from Sethian Gnostic literature. Now let’s get started shall we?

st-catherine-of-alexandria-josse-lieferinxe

Saint Catherine of Alexandria, virgin and martyr of the third and fourth century is said to be a patroness (or goddess) of philosophers and evangelists. The Orthodox Church celebrates her feast day on November 25th. It is said that Catherine was born to a noble family of Alexandria but was converted to the faith. The oldest reference to this fourth century martyr comes from a seventh century Syrian liturgical text from the Byzantine Emperor Basil II who died in 886. In this she is called Aikaterine, and the report runs as follows:

“The martyr Aikaterine was the daughter of a rich and noble prince of Alexandria. She was very beautiful, and being at the same time highly talented, she devoted herself to Greek literature as well as to the study of the languages of all nations, and so she became wise and learned. And it happened that the Greeks held a festival in honor of their idols; and seeing the slaughter of animals, she was so greatly moved that she went to the King Maximinus and expostulated with him in these words: ‘Why hast thou left the living God to worship lifeless idols?’ But the Emperor caused her to be thrown into prison, and to be punished severely. He then ordered fifty orators to be brought, and bade them to reason with Aikaterine, and confute her, threatening to burn them all if they should fail to overpower her. The orators, however, when they saw themselves vanquished, received baptism, and were burnt forthwith, while she was beheaded.”

Because of the long gap between the time of her martyrdom and the first written testimony, many scholars and authorities have concluded that St. Catherine never existed, such as the Vatican did in 1969 (though she was restored in 2002). Some have even postulated that her story is an allegory, like many scenes from the lives of various saints, such as the story of St. Christopher (Christ-bearer) who is said to have carried the infant Jesus on his shoulder, or the story of St. George who is said to have slain a dragon to save a princess. And it all stands with good reason.

Interestingly, the original Greek form of the name Αικατερινη (Aikaterine) or Εκατερινη (Ekaterine) is etymologically very obscure and much argued over. The name does not seem to be rooted in any Greek word, although it has been said to derive from the words αει (aei) which means “ever” and καθαρος (katharos) which means “pure”. What we do know is that this name never appears before it is associated with Saint Catherine of Alexandria.

Hypatia_(Charles_William_Mitchell)

One of the more interesting theories is that the story of St. Catherine is based on the life of Hypatia, a Neoplatonist philosopher from Alexandria who was admired by both pagans and Christians for her virtue and learning. She also was a woman who dedicated her life to virginity in Alexandria for the sake of her learning, and was brutally murdered in 415 by a group of Christian monks primarily for political reasons. It is not difficult to see the parallels between the lives of St. Catherine and Hypatia, for the little we know of both, they may be the same figure. However, a case can be made that they are indeed two different persons.

hypatia

We can also see that also St. Catherine represents an aspect of the Divine Mother, who both in the Western and in the Eastern Gnosis has two modes, called by the Indians Avidyâ Mâyâ (Mâyâ of ignorance) and Vidyâ Mâyâ (Mâyâ of Knowledge, that is Gnosis or Jnâna) respectively. The first one (Mary) carries the divine Spark down to the natural world; the second one (St. Catherine) takes the Spark, made free from the schêma (samsâra), upwards to God. This schema is symbolized as the wheel that Saint Catherine and Daenerys Targaryen seek to break. That is why “Mary” finds herself on the left side, on the descending arc, while “St. Catherine” (Greek katharà, “pure”, wherefore the white garment next to her) is on the ascending arc. Her sword is the one that cuts the bonds keeping the Soul chained to the wheel of the samsâra. In fact, according to the legend, St. Catherine freed herself from the wheel to which she had been bound. And we know that, Gnostically viewed, the Resurrection is the liberation from that wheel. It is therefore clear that the circular movement in the picture represents the whole cycle of the Soul’s history, from the “fall” into the deadly (coffin) samsâra to the final liberation therefrom.

The sacrificial blood of the Savior descends from the Ecce Homo (Anthropos) in parallel with the Pneumatic Seed plunging into the Psychic Waters. This means that the divine compassion accompanies the soul in her descent. Projecting Himself into the temporal order the Savior (the Antaryâmin, the “Inner Ruler” of the Hindu Gnosis) remains united with the Soul in all her vicissitudes, suffering with her, saving her, again with her ascending to God. It is this Presence of the Inner Savior in the Soul that promises, makes possible, and ensures the actuation in the Soul of the eternal Plan of Salvation.

The “blood” of the divine Sacrifice descends to impart eternal Life (Aiônios Zöê), while the burden of all kind of suffering is taken up by the Crucified One, and here is the spunge full of a bitter liquid carried upward by the reed which not by chance leaves the wheel of the samsâra to reach the Cross. But the reed, situated on the right side, parallel to St. Catherine, means also that the redeemed ones, the liberated Souls, are at one with the Christ also in the work of salvation: they too take upon themselves the suffering of all those that still wander in the world of Death.

This brings us to the letter H, as the number of H in the Jewish and Simple Gematria equals 8. According to John 20:26, Jesus showed His wounds to Thomas after eight days. The number 8 means the Ogdoad (the eight Aeons from the Father-Mother to the Anthröpos-Ekklësìa), and here two quotations from the Excerpta ex Theodoto are highly relevant:

Whoever is generated by the Mother (the Child in Mary’s arms) is lead to Death (the coffin)and the world; but whoever is regenerated by the Christ is transferred to Life, within the Ogdoad (80,1);

The Rest (“repose”) of the Pneumatics takes place in the Lord’s Day, in the Ogdoad (63,1).

This is the “Place of Rest” (888). The days of the week are seven, and the seventh is popularly the Lord’s Day or the Sabbath. The eighth day does not belong to the temporal series of the common days: it is beyond time, and being the sum of  7+1 has a meaning well discerned in the passage see in The Gospel of Truth, which describes salvation of the hundredth (99+1) sheep, the lost one. This unity is identified with the Sabbath, which signifies the new life both of the Christian revelation and the pnuematic rebirth:

He is the shepherd who left behind the ninety-nine sheep which had not strayed and went in search of that one which was lost. He rejoiced when he had found it. For ninety-nine is a number of the left hand, which holds it. The moment he finds the one, however, the whole number is transferred to the right hand. Thus it is with him who lacks the one, that is, the entire right hand which attracts that in which it is deficient, seizes it from the left side and transfers it to the right. In this way, then, the number becomes one hundred. This number signifies the Father.

He labored even on the Sabbath for the sheep which he found fallen into the pit. He saved the life of that sheep, bringing it up from the pit in order that you may understand fully what that Sabbath is, you who possess full understanding. It is a day in which it is not fitting that salvation be idle, so that you may speak of that heavenly day which has no night and of the sun which does not set because it is perfect. Say then in your heart that you are this perfect day and that in you the light which does not fail dwells.

We also find some numbers tied with 8 in the Epistle of Barnabas, (XV, 7-8), when it states thusly:

… the beginning of the eighth day, that is the beginning of a new world. Therefore we celebrate with joy the eighth day, when also Jesus rose from the dead…”.

When one looks at the banner for the House Targaryen, one finds three red dragon heads.

House-Targaryen-Sigil-16

This likely invokes imagery of the dragon one finds in Revelation. But, there is deeper symbolism embedded in the banner as some think that the three heads represent the “Prince that was Promised,” or the “Lightbringer” that many characters in Game of Thrones of mentioned here and there. Fire and Blood is also symbolic for the baptism of fire mentioned in Luke by Jesus 12:489. This is certainly not arbitrary, for the three heads represent the three souls enveloping the divine Spark or Spirit in the Valentinian Gnosis: the Hylic or earthy (the dark color), the Psychic (red), and the Pneumatic soul (white). In the Excerpta we read in fact that the Pneumatics wear their Souls as garments until the Completion” (63,1) and that “after laying them down … enter the Bridal Chamber within the Limit” (64).

The three colours of the garments have an interesting Vedic parallel. The Divine Mother, who provides the Spirit with its various psychical bodies or souls, is thus described in the Shvetâshvatara Upanishad, IV, 5:

“There is one Woman with three colors–red, white and black–from Whom a numerous progeny issues, having Her same nature.”

The three colors represent here the three modes of the “Woman” in Her manifestations: inertia-reaction-materiality (tamas, black), action-energy-passion (rajas, red), and harmony-equilibrium-spirituality (sattva, white). No wonder therefore that the Indian Gnosis is perfectly parallel with the Western one in the Bible and in the arch-heretics, in grouping the human beings in three classes: the Tamasic (Hylic), the Rajasic (Psychic) and the Sattvic (Pneumatic) ones.

BIGmind-gunas.jpg

Please notice that in the picture the three colors follow the right order: materiality (raja) on the left, after the descent, and spirituality at the top, as the premise to the ascension. On a smaller scale, this is also the cycle of each individual life: the taking a body (black) at birth on the left, then the lifespan as the raja (red) and finally the death (white) on the top.

Fire Woman

Finally, there is also Norea. Norea appears in a few texts found in the Nag Hammadi Codices. Norea in Aramaic means “fiery.” Some think that Norea is related to Naamah as the wife of Noah and sometimes the sister of Tubal-Cain. In Jewish Kabbalistic legends, we see that Naamah is a bit of a naughty girl since she walks about stark naked all over the place and this inflames the lusts of the angels. Because of her striking beauty, Naamah was able to seduce the angels Shemyaza and Azazel. She also produced a demon Asmodeus from her sexual liaisons with the angel Shamdan. Namaah was simply living up to her lineage being descended from Cain, which after all was the son of the Devil, Samael, according to the Palestinian Targam, the Talmud and the Midrash. The Gospel of Philip and the Apocryphon of John make similar claims as well.

First, she appears in the Hypostasis of the Archons, in which she is depicted as the virgin daughter of Eve and also plays a large role in Noah’s Flood. When Noah builds the ark, she attempts to board it, and when she is refused by Noah, she blows against the ark and destroys it with fire! When the wicked creator god, Ialdabaoth and his archons attempt to seduce her, as they attempted to seduce Eve, Norea cries out for help. Eleleth, one of the heavenly Illuminators, appears to her. Norea represent incorruptibility in this world, a being not created by the archons and a woman of heavenly origin. She defies the archons and calls to the God of the entirety to protect her from their advances. An angel comes down–Eleleth, sagacity–and begins to explain the allegory.

A veil exists between the world above and the realms that are below; and shadow came into being beneath the veil; and that shadow became matter; and that shadow was projected apart.

The Thought of Norea acts more like a liturgical prayer with Norea crying out to heaven and receiving aid from the “four heavenly helpers,” who are the Gnostic Illuminators sent from the Pleroma, which matches the Hypostasis of the Archons account. Both Irenaeus and Epiphanius mention Norea in the Ophite and Sethian accounts of creation in their long treatises against the heretics. Irenaeus calls Norea Seth’s sister and in Epiphanius, Norea is Seth’s wife.

Sack_of_Astapor_S3E4

We are introduced to another character, by the name of Zoe, who appears to be a stern female power of judgement and sends an angel of fire against Ialdabaoth:

And Zoe (Life), the daughter of Pistis Sophia, cried out and said to him, “You are mistaken, Sakla!” – for which the alternative name is Yaltabaoth. She breathed into his face, and her breath became a fiery angel for her; and that angel bound Yaldabaoth and cast him down into Tartaros below the abyss.

So, what am I exactly saying? Did George R.R. Martin purposefully place in these Gnostic characters and concepts in his books to help shape his own? I doubt it. But one can’t escape the parallels between these modern fantasy fiction and ancient religious texts of the Sethians, not to mention what I’ve explained with St. Catherine and Hypatia. I am certain that Martin gleaned a lot of inspiration from the Cathars for the foreign religion of the “Lord of Light,” however. I guess it’s true what they say; one can’t escape the pervasive influence of the collective unconscious and this is the place where one may forge their own destiny and reality through a refined and calm mind but yet it ready to take what is his with “fire and blood.”

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.