Gnostic Gnotes: The Logos in Hermetic, Simonian and Johannine Literature

This won’t be a very long post as this is simply a recent collection of notes that I believe have very similar themes present throughout. This is taken from the Hermetic The Divine Pymander, Second Book, Poemander:

“6. Then from that Light, a certain holy Word joined itself unto Nature, and outflew the pure and unmixed Fire from the moist nature upwards on high; it was exceeding Light, and sharp, and operative withal. And the Air, which was also light, followed the Spirit and mourned up to Fire (from the Earth and the Water), insomuch that it seemed to hang and depend upon it.

7. And the Earth and the Water stayed by themselves so mingled together, that the Earth could not be seen for the Water, but they were moved because of the Spiritual word that was carried upon them.

8. Then said Poemander unto me, Dost thou understand this vision, and what it meaneth? I shall know, said I. Then said he, I am that Light, the Mind, thy God, who am before that moist nature that appeared out of darkness; and that bright and lightful Word from the mind is the Son of God.”

And again from the same chapter:

“13. For the Mind being God, Male and Female, Life and Light, brought forth by his Word another Mind or Workman; which being God of the Fire, and the Spirit, fashioned and formed seven other Governors, which in their circles contain the Sensible World, whose Government or disposition is called Fate or Destiny.

14. Straightway leaped out, or exalted itself from the downward Elements of God, The Word of God, into the clean and pure Workmanship of Nature, and was united to the Workman, Mind, for it was Consubstantial; and so the downward born elements of Nature were left without Reason, that they might be the only Matter.

15. But the Workman, Mind, together with the Word, containing the circles, and whirling them about, turned round as a wheel, his own Workmanships; and suffered them to be turned from an indefinite Beginning to an indeterminable end, for they always begin where they end.

16. And the Circulation or running round of these, as the mind willeth, out of the lower or downward-born Elements, brought forth unreasonable or brutish Creatures, for they had no reason, the Air flying things, and the Water such as swim.”

Compare this to the 2nd or 3rd century Simonian Great Announcement or Declaration (otherwise known as “Apophasis Megale”) as quoted by Hippolytus in the Philosophumena (“Refutation of All Heresies”):

“In sum, therefore, the fire, partaking of such a nature, containing both all things visible and invisible, and in like manner those heard within and those heard aloud the numerable and the innumerable, may be called the Perfect Intellect, since it is everything one can think of an infinite number of time in an infinite number of ways, whether of speech, thought, or deed.

For I judge that all parts of the fire, both seen and unseen, possess awareness and a modicum of intelligence. Thus the contingent cosmos was generated out of the Unbegotten Fire.

And it began to be generated in this manner. The first six roots of the principle of generation which the cosmos received from that fire. And the roots themselves were begotten of the fire by pairs, which are mind and thought, voice and name, reason and reflection.”

And from the same document:

“Man, here below, born from blood, is the dwelling, and the Boundless Power dwells in him, and it is the Universal Root. Nor is the Boundless Power that is, fire, one. The fire in being two fold, one said being manifest, the other concealed. And the concealed things of fire are with the Manifest Ones, while those revealed are produced by Those Hidden.”

The Gospel of John 1:1-18 speaks of similar themes of the descending principle of Light, being the Logos, being “with God” and sent by the Father to illuminate the created order of the world:

“1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome[a] it.

6 There was a man sent from God whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

15 (John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’”) 16 Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and[b] is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.”

Hermes Trismegistus

Hermes Mercurius Trismegistus, Simon Magus and the author of the Gospel of John also seem to come from or tap into a similar divine, Logoi current. It seems like all these different texts are describing the same process of the divine element descending into the lowest, sublunar depths of matter, the ordering or organization of creation and illuminating its true nature, which is darkness and eternal flux. Matter bereft of spirit is puerile, immovable and inert. Manifest and unmanifest. Sensate, the invisible and intellectual. The Mind of Hermes is present in many metaphysical, theurgical and exegetical writings of the Gnostic Hermetic, Johannine and Simonian literature.

A Christian understanding of the Logos and of the Holy Spirit has become indistinguishable from the verbal mysteries of rebirth the Gnostic Hermetica, including, of course, the Divine Pymander, as well as the fourth and thirteenth tractates of the Corpus Hermeticum- which have, significantly, been conflated with the daimonic magic of the Asclepius (which is another subject that is worth delving into further). Valentinian texts found in the Nag Hammadi Codices, such as the Valentinian Exposition as well as the Valentinian teacher, Heracleon’s commentary on the Gospel of John (naturally- as preserved by Origen and Clement of Alexandria) also reflect Hermetic and Johannine ideas.

The metaphysics described by Hermes, Simon, the Valentinians and the Fourth Evangelist all might have a possible root in Philo of Alexandria as well with his teaching of the divine Logos being the “first-born Son of God” the intermediary through whom God gave rise the manifest world as well as being a mediator between the world and God. Ultimately, however, the Logos concept (which translates to “reason”) is distinctly an Egyptian one which has its origins in Thoth or Djehuti, the god of writing, magic, mathematics and knowledge, the voice or “secretary” of the Sun God, Ra.

Even the concept of a personified Wisdom figure like Sophia originates with Sia or Isis. They are (Wisdom and the divine Logos) also present in Plato’s writings such as Timaeus, AristotleStoic writings, Heraclitus and Jewish Wisdom literature such as Proverbs and even the Book of Enoch. This all makes sense considering Alexandria, Egypt was the well-spring for most of these ideas and various esoteric cults such as the Gnostics and Hermeticists. These ideas are all worth exploring further in a future set of notes, or more likely in my forth-coming commentary of the the Simonion Great Declaration (Part 4).

De Aetatibus Mundi Imagines_Francisco de Holanda (1545-1573)

Erotic Philosophy

Last year, I wrote a 45-page academically-oriented paper, Eros, Orpheus and On the Origin of the World for the Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition on the Greek god, Eros and his influence on the Orphic religion and Gnosis. Of course, in the process of actually researching and reflecting, you come across a lot of information, and some information didn’t wind up in the actual paper. However, there is some more interesting tidbits I thought was worth exploring further.

Philosophically speaking, Eros was conceived as Beauty that leads naturally to knowledge of the eternal Forms (God or the Pleroma) collectively as all eternal objects are interconnected, and recollection naturally proceeds from one object to another. This recognition of Eros meant the upward ascent or trajectory from the Cave of shadows (the world of matter) to the form of the Good. It was the realignment from the visible to the intelligible world. Diotima, the wise priestess philosopher describes all this in the Symposium (210a-212b). Diotima rhetorically asks:

[211e] But tell me, what would happen if one of you had the fortune to look upon essential beauty entire, pure and unalloyed; not infected with the flesh and color of humanity, and ever so much more of mortal trash? What if he could behold the divine beauty itself, in its unique form?

Indeed, this is the crux of all Platonic or erotic philosophy. In a way, Plato would answer this question, in the Republic (515c4-516a1).

Consider, then, what being released from their bonds and cured of their ignorance would naturally be like, if something like this came to pass. When one of them was freed and suddenly compelled (énagkãxoito) to stand up, turn his head, walk and look up toward the light, he’d be pained and dazzled and unable to see the things whose shadows he’d seen before…if we pointed to each of the things passing by, asked him what each of them is, and compelled (énagkãzoi) him to answer, don’t you think he’d be at a loss… And if someone compelled (énagkãzoi) him to look at the light itself, wouldn’t his eyes hurt, and wouldn’t he turn around and flee towards the things he’s able to see, believing that they’re really clearer than the ones he’s being shown? He would.

And if someone dragged (ßlkoi) him away from there by force (b¤&), up the rough, steep path, and didn’t let him go until he had dragged him out (§jelkÊseien) into the sunlight, wouldn’t he be pained and irritated at being dragged.

Socrates emphasizes that the youth of the kallipolis (the ideal city) will be surrounded by beauty, and that this will evoke in them a virtuous eros for the beautiful. Moreover, in book 6 of the Republic, his depiction of the philosopher as stargazer in the ship concludes with an affirmation that the real philosopher is driven by an eros that can only be satisfied by communion with true being, much like how a an attractive body would engage in intercourse with another beautiful body.

Zephyrus, the progenitor of Eros along with Iris, is described by Alcaeus (VII-VI centuries BCE) as “golden hair Zephyr” (Hymn to Eros, fragment V, 327).

Zephyrus, the progenitor of Eros along with Iris, is described by Alcaeus (VII-VI centuries BCE) as “golden hair Zephyr” (Hymn to Eros, fragment V, 327).

Even more interesting is how Diotima distinguishes philosophers from sages and senseless fools by also stating that Eros or Love is a daimonic spirit, half-way between immortal divinity and perishable, foolish mortality in the Symposium (203b-204d):

When Aphrodite was born, the gods made a great feast, and among the company was Resource the son of Cunning. And when they had banqueted there came Poverty abegging, as well she might in an hour of good cheer, and hung about the door. Now Resource, grown tipsy with nectar—for wine as yet there was none—went into the garden of Zeus, and there, overcome with heaviness, slept. Then Poverty, being of herself so resourceless, devised the scheme of having a child by Resource, and lying down by his side she conceived Love. Hence it is that Love from the beginning has been attendant and minister to Aphrodite, since he was begotten on the day of her birth, and is, moreover, by nature a lover bent on beauty since Aphrodite is beautiful. Now, as the son of Resource and Poverty, Love is in a peculiar case. First, he is ever poor, and far from tender or beautiful as most suppose him: rather is he hard and parched, shoeless and homeless; on the bare ground always he lies with no bedding, and takes his rest on doorsteps and waysides in the open air; true to his mother’s nature, he ever dwells with want.

And as that which is supplied to him is always gradually flowing out, Eros is never either without resources nor wealthy, but is in between wisdom and lack of understanding. For here is the way it is: No one of the gods philosophizes and desires to become wise—for he is so—nor if there is anyone else who is wise, does he philosophize. Nor, in turn, do those who lack understanding philosophize and desire to become wise; for it is precisely this that makes the lack of understanding so difficult–that is a man is not beautiful and god, nor intelligent, he has the opinion that that is sufficient for him. Consequently, he who does not believe that he is in need does not desire that which does not believe he needs. (203E-204A)

The Birth of Venus by William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1879)

Note that the sage is considered synonymous with that of a god. Diotima is saying that fools are unconscious of their lack of wisdom, even though they think they are wise and are full of hubris (i.e. delusional). On the other hand, philosophers are acutely aware of their lack of wisdom and are constantly searching after her like desert nomads thirsting after clean water. The philosopher is the intermediate stage between sages and fools. Like the philosophers, daimons were also considered to be intermediate beings, and have a share of divinity although their divine nature is conjoined with a soul and a body, capable of perceiving pleasure and pain.

For Diotima, the daimon acts as an intermediary between gods and men, existing in an intermediate state or nature. This is like Hermes, the messenger of the gods, or Thoth. This is the Christ of the Hermetic tradition essentially. Diotima was from Mantineia in the Peloponnese not far from Corinth where Paul was said to evangelize. It was apparently an ancient argument among the Greeks whether to pray to Gods or to an intercessor. The savior figure of Jesus Christ as a supernatural, docetic and otherworldly being could also be considered a daimonic being as I go into great detail on this in my much longer essay, linked above.

As explained by the Middle Platonist Plutarch in On Isis and Osiris, 360 d13-e23, consequently, the daimons, like humans, are moved by appetite, and are capable of both good and evil. In one sense, daimons bridge the gulf or distance between the earthly and the heavenly. In another, daimons were also considered to be responsible for the incarnation of souls into the enslavement into flesh, matter and Fate. The Corpus Hermeticum explicitly states that daimons are responsible for humanity’s enslavement in the cycles of birth, life and death under the authority of fate. Fate to a Gnostic, however, did not exist and was illusory like matter. The more Orthodox minded Christians however, were obsessed with Fate and the Apocalypse or the End Times.

In the above scheme, we can see the parallels between the three-fold scheme of the Sage, philosopher and the fool in comparison with the tripartite anthropology or the three natures motif that we often find in Gnostic and Valentinian writings, with the pneumatic (spiritual), the psychic (soul), and hylic (matter). The Catholic Church Father Irenaeus gives us the Valentinian doctrine of the three natures in Against Heresies, 1.7.5:

“They conceive, then, of three kinds of men, spiritual, material, and animal (soul), represented by Cain, Abel and Seth. These three natures are no longer found in one person, but constitute various kinds of men. The material goes as a matter of course into corruption. The animal, if it choose the better part, finds repose…in the intermediate place; but if [choosing] the worse, it too shall pass into destruction. …

But they assert that the spiritual principles which have been sown by [Sophia], being disciplined and nourished here from that time until now in righteous souls…at last attaining perfection, shall be given as brides… (referring to the Bridal Chamber), while the animal souls rest of necessity with the Demiurge in the intermediate place (referring to the Valentinian notion of the repentance and salvation of the Demiurge).

And again, subdividing the animal souls themselves, they say that some are by nature good, and others by nature evil. The good are those who become capable of receiving the spiritual seed; the evil by nature are those who are never able to receive the seed”

Even in the Apostle Paul, do we find this same basic three-fold structure in 1 Corinthians. 2:14–15:

“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judges all things…”

And once again in 1 Corinthians 3:1-3:

Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans?

Here, Paul distinguishes the spiritual man from the natural man, and lastly the fleshy man, the last of which Paul expressly condemns. He points out the flesh is actually the source of all jealousy, strife and evils of humanity. Likewise, Plato in Phaedo 66b would claim that the body is the source of all “troubles”:

For the body is a source of endless trouble to us by reason of the mere requirement of food; and also is liable to diseases which overtake and impede us in the search after truth: and by filling us so full of loves, and lusts, and fears, and fancies, and idols, and every sort of folly, prevents our ever having, as people say, so much as a thought. For whence come wars, and fightings, and factions? whence but from the body and the lusts of the body? For wars are occasioned by the love of money, and money has to be acquired for the sake and in the service of the body; and in consequence of all these things the time which ought to be given to philosophy is lost.

“Moreover, if there is time and an inclination toward philosophy, yet the body introduces a turmoil and confusion and fear into the course of speculation, and hinders us from seeing the truth: and all experience shows that if we would have pure knowledge of anything we must be quit of the body, and the soul in herself must behold all things in themselves: then I suppose that we shall attain that which we desire, and of which we say that we are lovers, and that is wisdom, not while we live, but after death…”

Obviously, in Paul, Socrates and Plato, the Gnostic deprecation of the flesh and the fallen world of matter is merely the next logical development in their theology based on the foundation of the former. The Cynics, Epicurians, and Stoics also had their own philosophical variation on these anti-cosmic themes. The Gospel of Philip makes an exegetic claim in that Eros builds up, where as Knowledge “puffs up” based on Paul’s 1 Corinthians 8:1:

He who has knowledge of the truth is a free man, but the free man does not sin, for “He who sins is the slave of sin” (Jn 8:34). Truth is the mother, knowledge the father. Those who think that sinning does not apply to them are called “free” by the world. Knowledge of the truth merely makes such people arrogant, which is what the words, “it makes them free” mean. It even gives them a sense of superiority over the whole world. But “Love builds up” (1 Co 8:1). In fact, he who is really free, through knowledge, is a slave, because of love for those who have not yet been able to attain to the freedom of knowledge.

Eros, in some way is depicted like a Demiurge figure, in the way it is described as to “build up” much like how Eros is described in an Orphic Fragment:

First I sung the obscurity of ancient Chaos, How the Elements were ordered, and the Heaven reduced to bound; And the generation of the wide-bosomed Earth, and the depth of the Sea, And Eros (Love) the most ancient, self-perfecting, and of manifold design; How he generated all things, and parted them from one another. (Arg. v. 12.)

Returning to Diotima, the wise priestess equates Eros with that of a philosopher:

…Eros is—necessarily—a philosopher; and as a philosopher he is between being wise and being without understanding. His manner of birth is responsible for this, for he is of a wise and resourceful father, and an unwise and resourceless mother. Now the nature of the daemon, dear Socrates, is this; but as for the one who you believed to be Eros, it is not at all surprising that you had this impression.

In a way, Socrates is much like Eros, in that he is a mediator or “mid-wife” of souls remembering their divine origins akin to Eros’ relationship with Psyche in the satirical novel, the Golden Ass. Socrates, however, appears at the same time as someone who goes out of his way to say he has no wisdom and yet is also deeply admired by his students and others like for his guidance and discourse. In this way, Socrates himself was a daimon!

The Stoics, likewise, held that the Sage was god-like and unaffected by the cycles of Fate or any sort of difficulty that might inevitably arise nor were they dazzled by any good fortune or luck that might come their way. These kinds of people to the Stoics were indeed very rare, like fine gold and regarded non-sages as guile-less fools, slaves to vice and their misfortune (the vast majority of the human race). The Stoic philosopher Arius Didymus in the Epitome of Stoic Ethics, had this to say about the division between sage and non-sage, indicating there are two races of men:

It is the view of Zeno and his Stoic followers that there are two races of men, that of the worthwhile, and that of the worthless. The race of the worthwhile employ the virtues through all of their lives, while the race of the worthless employ the vices. Hence the worthwhile always do the right thing on which they embark, while the worthless do wrong.

Clearly, Arius minces no words about calling the non-sages a race of worthless animal men who follow only the demands of the flesh. Much later, the Gnostic Hermetic alchemist, Zosimos in On the Letter Omega (5.41-46), mixed Gnostic ideas with Stoic ones where the true philosopher is liberated from cycles of pleasure and pain:

Hermes and Zoroaster maintained that the race of philosophers is superior to Fate, because they neither rejoice in her blessings, for they are masters of pleasure; nor are they thrown by her evils, since they live an inner existence; nor again do they welcome the beautiful gifts she sends, since they focus on the end of evils.

I could add the Neoplatonist Proclus’s commentary on Eros in the mix but perhaps it would be too much to digest. Looking back on all this information, Gnosticism was never a philosophy but rather sage wisdom reserved for its unshakable, spiritual race of initiates and anyone else being beckoned by the call. The winged Eros, as a god, daimon and philosopher clearly has influenced many ideas found in both Christianity and Gnosis, and I only hope the philosopher within you will continue on the tireless trek after Sophia.

Short Story: Unknown Territory

Just a quick note. At Smashwords, I uploaded another short story, Unknown Territory, based on H.P. Lovecraft’s mythos for only .99. Here is the blurb:

A bounty hunter, Sigmund and his partner are on a hot pursuit for a dangerous, wanted fugitive. They soon discover they bargained more than they wanted as their world is pulled into a nightmarish abyss. This occurs in their discovery that their fugitive is an avatar for the blind god of insanity, Azathoth! This nightmarish short story is based on H.P. Lovecraft’s mythos.

And yes, I also did the cover. Please help support this hobbit blog by purchasing this short story for only .99, if you like unflinching, noir-style cosmic horror. See you on the flip-side, dear readers.

Unknown Territory Cover

Interview: Tracy R Twyman On Baphomet (Part 2)

Tracy R TwymanBaphomet

Tracy R Twyman and I decided to do a Part 2 of an audio interview on the magical and occult mysteries of Baphomet and its connection with John the Baptist, the Teraphim, the Judas goat archetype and much, much more. Tracy also relays one specific fascinating account on her personal communication with the goat demon Baphomet!

Also be sure to check out her illuminating and mind-bending E-Book, The Judas Goat: The Substitution Theory of the Crucifixion.

Click here to listen to the: Aeon Eye Tracy R Twyman Baphomet (Part 2) Interview. 

Teraphim

The Teraphim

The Great Declaration: A Commentary (Part 3)

In Part 2, we examined further parallels between Simon Magus and Jesus along with Paul. We also examined a few key aspects about Daniel and Ezekiel and their relationship with Simonianism (the role of the Prophets in Gnostic thought will be further examined). However, one important detail that I have not yet examined is the eponymous figure of John the Baptist. While there are many versions of John the Baptist as there are many versions of Jesus and Paul (generic Catholic/Orthodox, Muslim, Mandaean, modern occult/mythicist), what I suggest may not sit well with any of these groups. Here, I propose that John was the forerunner of Simon Magus. Like Simon, John was an astrologer and Magician. He never met any man named Jesus and he was dead before Simon Magus returned from Alexandria, Egypt to compete with Dositheus for the primacy of the Samaritan sect as mentioned in the Clementine Homilies.

As I have been demonstrating in Part 1 and Part 2, all three of these characters were destined to be remodeled into people like Jesus, Paul, and even Peter. Jesus also exhibits characteristics from John, in other ways Simon and at times, Dositheus, hence: the Trinity. Peter also took on the name of Simon and also exhibits characteristics of Dositheus who is also named Nathaniel. Paul also exhibits many parallels with Simon. The authentic John, Simon, and Dositheus are hidden within these masks. The very root of the Christianity is essentially proto-Gnostic.

First, were going to examine the next part of the Great Declaration:

As it is written in Scripture: “For the vineyard of the Lord Sabaoth is the house of Israel, and a man of Judah is well-love shoot.” And if a man of Judah is a well-loved shoot, it is evident that the tree is nothing but a man. As to its being divided and distributed, scripture has spoken plainly enough and suffices for the instruction of those who have ripened unto perfection, to wit: “All flesh is mere grass, and everything which mortal’s glory is like the wildflower. The grass is dried up, and the wild flower droops, but the word of the Lord endures through the aeon.” So the world of the Lord is the speech which comes to flower in the mouth and in the world, for where else may it be produced?

And when Moses says, “In six days God made the heaven and the earth, and on the seventh rest from all his labors,” he tells a great mystery. This may be seen from the contradictions wherein Moses says light into being on the first day. When, therefore, Moses says that there are three days before the generation of the sun and the moon, he means esoterically mind and thought, or heaven and earth, and the seventh power, the Boundless. For these three powers were begotten before all others. And when he says, “He has begotten me before all the aeons, the words are used with reference to the seventh power. So this seventh power, which was the first power subsisting in the Boundless Power, which was begotten before all aeons, this is the seventh power of which Moses says, “And the Spirit of God hovered over the water,” which means the Spirit which holds all thing in itself, the image of the Boundless Power, the image reflecting the eternal form which by itself order everything. For the power hovering above the water is begotten by an immortal form and by itself orders everything.

The above passage is obviously an exegetic exercise of Genesis’ creation account and how the Simonian author interpreted the text, esoterically with references of Sabaoth and the seven days of the week being linked with the Seven Aeons of Simon’s Tree of Life aenology and the “seven angels of who made the world”. Here, again, we also see the idea of the Two Trees, one being mortal, a copy and vulnerable to being dissolved and the other being the ideal model, eternal and unshakable in its root. The reference of the Spirit hovering over the water, is also reflective of the idea that the Monad, or the Unknowable Father reflected upon itself upon the living waters of the upper aeons as stated by many Gnostic codices. This mirror idea can also been seen when Sophia (in other times the Anthropos or Divine Man) looks down upon the prima materia or chaotic waters and is attracted by her own image, thus producing her lion-faced abortion from this erotic reaction.

This passage specifically includes the speculations of many Jewish heretics, which resulted in two figures: Ialdaboath and Sabaoth, both destined to play different roles in Gnostic theology. One was the “young god” or “Son of God” (Saboath), and the other was the “god of hosts” (Ialdaboath) as either figure was thought to exchange roles as the sovereign power of the cosmos. The two powers in heaven was the Unkowable God and the Demiurgical creator god. One is remote from matter, the other destined to shape matter as the Pantokrator or the lord of generation, Protogenetor.

The heresy of the “two powers of heaven”, however, doesn’t exactly originate in Gnostic dualism or early Christianity but rather in the Jewish speculation about the Name or the Bearer of the Name, being Jaoel or little YHWH (later being called Metatron). Philo of Alexandria calls the Angel of the Lord or Logos, a second God as a positive power rather than an antagonistic one like chief ruler of the Apocryphon of John.

This distinction that the Hypostasis of the Archons and the Origin of the World make between Ialdabaoth and Sabaoth might also be remembered. They were two figures of the God of the Bible, but only the first is rejected. If Sabaoth remains distinct from the true God, at least he is depicted as submitting himself to Wisdom. Sabaoth, in the Apocryphon of John, is depicted as having a dragon’s face. This corresponds to many instances of Yahweh having many dragon-like characteristics as mentioned in the Old Testament, such as Zechariah 10:8, Psalm 18:8, 2 Samuel 22:9, etc. Maybe God is a draconian reptilian from Orion! Watch out, David Icke!

Seven Angels Pouring Vials of the Wrath of God upon the Earth by a British School Painter Influenced by William Blake

The names of the Archons such as Ialdaboath, Iao, Sabaoth, Adonai, Eloeus/Aiolaiso, Horais/Oreus, Astophaios as featured in Contra Celsus (VI 21 and 32), Irenaeus’ Against Heresies (30,5), all indicate that the creator god was depersonalized into multiple angelic powers. And it these powers that the above verse indicates as representing the seven days of the week. These are of course the same angelic powers that detained fallen Wisdom or in Simon’s case, Helen. According to Hippolytus in Refutation of All Heresies (VIII, 14, 1) the heretical teacher, Monoimos spoke of the first six days of creation as six “powers”. For the first six days, they were represented as angels, but the seventh, being more sacred, could be representative of being God himself.

Like Yahweh, the seven angels or Archons are also the originators of not only the “coat of skins” of Adam and Eve, and the formation of the world, but also the Law of Moses. The Mandaeans (a Middle eastern baptist sect and the only Gnostic group barely in existence today from antiquity), for example, also knew that the Seven participated in the redaction of the Torah. Moreover, the Gnostic belief that the Creator had a lion’s face (the Zodiacal sign being Leo) seems to underscore the fiery/solar nature of the YHWH as indicated a few instances in the Old Testament.

IAO Sabaoth

“Yahweh of Hosts who dwells (among) the cherubim” (1 Samuel 4:42 Samuel 6:21 Kings 8:6–7) is an expression for the God of Israel that is virtually synonymous with the theology of the Jerusalem Temple. This seemingly enigmatic expression “Yahweh of Hosts” (Yahweh Tsva’ot) implies that Yahweh was head of the stars and was to be identified with the most important star of all, the sun. Support for this suggestion is found in several Biblical passages: “You who are enthroned on the cherubim, shine forth. … Restore us, O God; let your face shine” (Psalm 80:2–3); “The Lord came from Sinai, and dawned from Seir upon us; he shone forth from Mount Paran” (Deuteronomy 33:2).

Moreover, in Jewish incantations and prayers of the Graeco-Roman period we find such prayers as “Hail Helios, thou God in the heavens, your name is mighty … ” and an incantation that invokes “Helios on the cherubim.”

YHWH Helios

Moreover, Yahweh happened to be worshiped and praised by many ancient Roman pagans, such as Celsus in his The True Doctrine as attested by Origen in Contra Celsus. Yahweh was also worshiped and sacrificed to in a similar manner of that of a pagan solar deity! At the same time, Yahweh was seen as nothing special, in comparison with the vast number of deities, gods and heroes of the ancient world despite his jealous vanity. Even Plato in the Republic, Book 2.7 recognized Yahweh as belonging to the vast pantheon of multiple gods in existence, belonging to different tribes:

“The gods, too, may be turned from their purpose; and men pray to them and avert their wrath by sacrifices and soothing entreaties, and by libations and the odor of fat, when they have sinned and transgressed.” And they produce a host of books written by Mousaios and Orpheus, … according to which they perform their ritual, and persuade not only individuals, but whole cities, that expiations and atonements for sin may be made by sacrifices and amusements which fill a vacant hour, and are equally at the service of the living and the dead; the latter sort they call mysteries, and they redeem us from the pains of hell, but if we neglect them no one knows what awaits us.

As mentioned in Part 2, Simon saw the prophets or “heralds” as belonging to different archons or the false gods of the Jews (see Irenaeus AH book 1, ch. 30, paragraph 11). Similar to Plato’s contention, each tribe of Israel was assigned a different god or angelic ruler. It appears that the Israelites themselves were polytheists!

“Moreover, they distribute the prophets in the following manner: Moses, and Joshua the son of Nun, and Amos, and Habakkuk, belonged to Ialdabaoth;  Samuel, and Nathan, and Jonah, and Micah, to Iao; Elijah, Joel, and Zechariah to Sabaoth; Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and Daniel, to Adohai; Tobias and Haggai to Eloi; Michaiah and Nahum to Oreus; Esdras and Zephaniah to Astanphaeus. Each one  of these, then, glorifies his own father and God, and they maintain that Sophia,  herself has also spoken many things through them regarding the first Anthropos  (man), and concerning that Christ who is above, thus admonishing and reminding men of  the incorruptible light, the first Anthropos, and of the descent of Christ. The  [other] powers being terrified by these things, and marvelling at the novelty of  those things which were announced by the prophets, Prunicus brought it about by  means of Ialdabaoth (who knew not what he did), that emissions of two men took place, the one from the barren Elizabeth, and the other from the Virgin  Mary.” (12)

Reading from Irenaeus’ testimony, it appears that the birth of John and Jesus was thought to be a trick on Ialdabaoth/Yahweh/Jove by Prunicus (Sophia) to prepare a vessel for Christ’s descent into the world, for the liberation of the children of light from those who, “wise of their own interests beyond the children of light”, as mentioned by the Gospel of Luke. These dual redeemers- one who made the way, and the other the Paraclete who explained it- would free mankind from the flood of ignorance that the angry and jealous false notions of God had brought by way of the prophets. Thus, the Gnostics, like their forerunner, Simon, held a lower view of the prophets in the sense that only some of which each said was inspired by Sophia or Wisdom, while the rest were inspired by the Lawgiver and his angels.

One of Simon’s successors, Saturnilus would claim that the prophets themselves were strangers to the revelation of the true God (Irenaues, 1, 24, 2). However, the lack of an explicit reference of a Demiurge figure in the Great Declaration is notable as there are only angelic powers that govern the world in this Simonian myth, but the fact that it quotes the New Testament suggests that it is a later writing (2nd to 3rd century) and the author more than likely was aware of the myth of the Demiurge. John the Baptist was of course, also considered a “herald” of the coming Logos, and other times, was considered the Logos or Christ himself. In this instance, Jesus and John would be conflated as the same person! And even in other instances, John the Baptist is also condemned with the rest of the Old Testament prophets as seen in the Second Treatise of the Great Seth.

St John the Baptist, the Angel

Simon as Successor to John the Baptist

In the two works ascribed to St. Clement of Rome, the Pseudo-Clementinesand Homilies, we learn that Simon Magus is intimately connected with John the Baptist. In it, it lists Jesus as representing the sun (just as Yahweh is sometimes depicted as the sun) and had twelve apostles corresponding with the twelve signs of the Zodiac. John the Baptist represents the moon, and had thirty disciples, corresponding with the thirty days during which the moon completes its heavenly circuit. These disciples also corresponded with various aeons as listed by the Valentinians. Owing to the fact that the moon does not occupy thirty full days, one of these disciples is a young woman. In one of these works she is called Helen, in another Luna. The reason being that Helena’s name is changed to Luna to reflect what was stated in the Homilies above about her being half a man (Aristotle would agree) and making up the imperfect cycle of the moon in it’s final half day. Luna, of course, means Moon in Latin.

But that he came to deal with the doctrines of religion happened on this wise. There was one John, a day-baptist, who was also, according to the method of combination, the forerunner of our Lord Jesus; and as the Lord had twelve apostles, bearing the number of the twelve months of the sun, so also he, John, had thirty chief men, fulfilling the monthly reckoning of the moon, in which number was a certain woman called Helena, that not even this might be without a dispensational significance.

Sun & Moon

Hippolytus and Eusebius as well as by the author(s) of the Clementine writings, describes this Simon as a baptist and as a disciple of John the Baptist. On both counts, this makes the Clementine picture of Simon a valuable one as representing a still surviving tradition about one who has been called “the first Gnostic”. Accordingly, Simon was also the immediate successor to John, in his untimely death, the Baptist was another Samaritan, Dositheus, as Simon was in Egypt at the time of the Baptist’s martyrdom. The Clementine Homilies. 11. xxiv recounts that when Simon returned, the two men quarreled. Simon’s superiority was proved miraculously after a magical duel (like how Simon and Peter battle it out in front of Nero, although in this battle Simon loses whereas in the battle between Dositheus, Simon wins) and Dositheus ceded his position as head of the sect to Simon and forms his own group. According to the Clementines, it is Dositheus who get’s John’s instructions incorrect and Simon proves his gumption by defeating him. Legend may contain grains of truth and we know from patristic sources that baptizing sects of the Simonian school survived for some time.

The Orthodox polemicist and historian Eusebius in his Ecclesiastical History, IV. xi, names offshoots of the Simonian type: Simon’s immediate successor, the Samaritan Menander (op. cit. III. xv), Saturninus in Antioch, and in Rome Cerdo, all came under this heading. The last-named, according to Eusebius, settled in Rome in the time of, “Hyginus who held the ninth place in the Apostolic succession.” Contemporary with Cerdo and Valentinus was Marcus the Magician, whose sacramental mysteries are described in a slanderous manner by Irenaeus in Against Heresies, where Marcus taught that the wine of the Eucharist symbolized Wisdom’s blood instead of Jesus’. In what appears to have been a hieros gamos rite, ‘cups were mixed with wine’. As the cup of wine is offered, he prays that “Grace may flow” (AH 1.13.2) into all who drink of it. Eusebius gives a slightly more moderate account:

Some of them [i.e. the Murcosim] construct a bride-chamber and celebrate a mystery with certain invocations on their initiate and say that what they do is a spiritual marriage according to the likeness of the unions above; others bring them to water and baptize them with this invocation; ‘To the name of the Unknown Father of the Universe, to Truth, the mother of all things, to Him who descended into Jesus’, and others invoke Hebrew words in order more fully to amaze the initiate. (Op. cit. IV. xi.)’

The words “who descended into Jesus” recall the Jewish-Christian belief that Jesus, as Messiah and Son of God, had appeared in or been foreshadowed by other “true prophets” or “prophets of the truth”; a belief which appears plainly in Luke ix. 18-20. Matt. xvii. 10-13, and John i. 21. Simon the Magian, too, looked upon himself as an embodiment of, or as possessed by, the divine “Father”, the androgynous Father-and-Mother in One, when he calls himself “the Standing (i.e. ‘living’, ‘persisting’) One”.

John the Baptist

For some people like the Renaissance master, Leonardo da Vinci, John was the Christ. This belief goes back at least as far back in literature as the Clementine Recognitions.

Yea, some even of the disciples of John, who seemed to be great ones, have separated themselves from the people, and proclaimed their own master as the Christ. But all these schisms have been prepared, that by means of them the faith of Christ and baptism might be hindered.” Clementine Recognitions 1.54

“And, behold, one of the disciples of John asserted that John was the Christ, and not Jesus, inasmuch as Jesus Himself declared that John was greater than all men and all prophets.” Clementine Recognitions 1.60

This is the same John who taught Dositheus and Simon Magus, the notorious heresiarchs of the early days of a blooming “Christianity”. One might be familiar with the rebellious yet righteous John who chastises kings and loses his head after a lap dance of death from Salome. Which head he lost is best left to the imagination. This same John appears in the Gospel of John as his follower Nathaniel is an Israelite and his buddy Jesus is accused of being a Samaritan Magician with a daemon and Nathaniel actually means ‘gift of God’ as does Dositheus. Even stranger still, the conflation between in Jesus and John seems to be alluded in Mark 11:28-30 when Jesus counters the chief priests’ question as to his authority by asking their estimate of John’s authorization:

And say unto him, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority to do these things? And Jesus answered and said unto them, I will also ask of you one question, and answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men? answer me.

Another curious parallel between Jesus and John can be found in Mark 6:14 and Romans 1:4. The emphasized words are in bold:

…and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.

King Herod heard about this, for Jesus’ name had become well known. Some were saying, “John the Baptist has been raised from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him.”

Could it be that John, instead was the one who achieved resurrection and took on the title “Jesus” as Philippians 2:6-11 claims? Maybe Leonardo da Vinci wasn’t that off after all. John also happens proclaims himself the Standing One like Simon in the Mandaean Book of John when he says:

“Stand not I here alone? I go to and fro. Where is a prophet equal to me? Who makes proclamation equal to my proclamations, and who doth discourse with my wondrous voice?”

The narcissism of John in the Mandaean Book of John is unrivaled by any other Biblical figure. John losing his head is a strange occurrence. The Apocryphon of James, has the “Lord” telling James:

“Do you not know that the head of prophecy was cut off with John?”

It is not altogether clear what this passage is intended to mean. It could be a derogatory passage against prophets but who really knows for sure?

"Head Anyone?"

“Head anyone?”

To be decapitated is usually a sign that one was a Roman citizen. Paul was said to have been decapitated as well while Peter, at the same time, was supposedly crucified. In ancient Egypt as attested in the Pyramid TextsCoffin Texts, the Book Going Forth by Day/Book of the Dead, as well as an array of the royal Nether-world Books, to have one’s head cut off was an intensely negative thing, which basically meant that the spirit was cut off from the afterlife or the night lands (e.g. the Second Death or oblivion). This is a common motif in ancient literature and cultural beliefs. The nagging question remains to be answered: Was John a Roman citizen?

Gustave Moreau

It is said that John was killed while Simon was in Egypt. In the Gospel of Matthew, we find that Jesus was in Egypt before the baptism scene (see Matthew 2:13-18), but instead of returning upon the death of John, Jesus returns upon the death of Herod (see Matthew 2:19-23). To make matters even more intriguing, Herod the Great never slaughtered the infants as told in this writing. In Josephus’ writings the information is relayed that Herod planned to fill up the Hippodrome with infants and then slaughter them but died before he carried it out.

This leads me to the John of Josephus. In Josephus’ records, Jesus is killed before John the Baptist as found in the golden passage that is so controversial. John is then killed in 26/27 AD or 33 AD depending on what, “About this time”, means following, “in the twentieth year of the reign of Tiberius”.

“Now, some of the Jews thought that the destruction of Herod’s army came from God, and that very justly, as a punishment of what he did against John, that was called the Baptist; for Herod slew him, who was a good man, and commanded the Jews to exercise virtue, both as to righteousness towards one another, and piety towards God, and so to come to baptism; for that the washing would be acceptable to him, if they made use of it, not in order to the putting away of some sins only, but for the purification of the body; supposing still that the soul was thoroughly purified beforehand by righteousness. Now, when others came in crowds about him, for they were greatly moved by hearing his words, Herod, who feared lest the great influence John had over the people might put it into his power and inclination to raise a rebellion, thought it best, by putting him to death, to prevent any mischief he might cause, and not bring himself into difficulties, by sparing a man who might make him repent of it when it should be too late. Accordingly he was sent a prisoner, out of Herod’s suspicious temper, to Macherus, the castle I before mentioned, and was there put to death. Now the Jews had an opinion that the destruction of this army was sent as a punishment upon Herod, and a mark of God’s displeasure against him.” – Antiquities of the Jews 18.5.2 and 18.3.3

This account complements the one concerning the prophet abused by Pontius Pilate at Mt. Gerizim while trying to separate the mythical, messianic aspects from John. In both cases a crowd assembles in Samaria and it appears clear that the assembly is without provocative or insidious intent. In the cases of both Pilate and Herod, only simple political precaution motivated their brutal aggression against the Baptist and his unfortunate disciples who were left rudderless and splintering into other diverging groups and factions along with their leaders (e.g., Ebionites, Sabeans, Mandaeans, Nasoreans, Barbelo-Gnostics, with Simon, Dositheos, Jesus, Marcion, Valentinus, Menander, etc, etc.) after his murder.

The Gospel of Thomas is very much in opposition to the above texts:

“Jesus said, “From Adam to John the Baptist, among those born of women, no one is so much greater than John the Baptist that his eyes should not be averted.

But I have said that whoever among you becomes a child will recognize the (Father’s) kingdom and will become greater than John.”

It seems Thomas is trying to say that John was so great one could not look upon him as a sign of respect, as if he were the Lord himself. This is the very opposite of how the Mandaean Book of John portray Jesus and John’s relationship as being entirely hostile and antagonistic. Mandaean literature dates more than likely, much later than what they claim (probably around the 6th century) than Simonian and Gnostic literature, so they could be inaccurate about the true nature of John and Jesus’/Simon’s relationship. One John complains about Jesus, the carpenter God, and Paul even:

“YAHYĀ proclaims in the nights.—Glory rises over the worlds.

Who told Yeshu (Eshu)? Who told Yeshu Messiah, son of Miryam, who told Yeshu, so that he went to the shore of the Jordan and said [unto Yahyā]: “Yahyā, baptize me with thy baptizing and utter o’er me also the Name thy wont is to utter. If I show myself as thy pupil, I will remember thee then in my writing; p. 49 I attest not myself as thy pupil, then wipe out my name from thy page,”

Thereon Yahyā answered Yeshu Messiah in Jerusalem: “Thou hast lied to the Jews and deceived the priests. Thou hast cut off their seed from the men and from the women bearing and being pregnant. The sabbath, which Moses made binding, hast thou relaxed in Jerusalem. Thou hast lied unto them with horns and spread abroad disgrace with the shofar.”

Notice here that we have a Jesus who discourages procreation and relaxes the Sabbath. This Jesus is like the Jesus of the Gospel of John, who’s Father is always at work. This God of his is the Great Invisible Spirit of Simon who is above the creator. He never took a day off, he never had a Sabbath but rather he allowed the Sabbath for man as a consolation for his hardships in life (Egypt).

Yet, whoever becomes a child of light will recognize the kingdom of the Father and become greater than John. This John is merely a servant of the Demiurge. It would not be shocking for him to represent the Demiurge, as many scholars such as Elaine Pagels in the Gnostic Paul, have noticed similar instances in which figures such as David and Abraham are symbolic of the Demiurge in Valentinian exegesis of the Apostolikon (a collection of Paul the Apostle’s letters) as attested to the arch-heretic Marcion of Pontus. Perhaps this is why John the Baptist was condemned in Treat. of Seth. 

John, the Womb?

Da Vinci's Fetus Sketch

Finally, we’ve arrived to the next part of the Great Declaration which also happens to parallel one excerpt from the Testimony of Truth:

“But the Son of Man came forth from Imperishability, being alien to defilement. He came to the world by the Jordan river, and immediately the Jordan turned back. And John bore witness to the descent of Jesus. For it is he who saw the power which came down upon the Jordan river; for he knew that the dominion of carnal procreation had come to an end. The Jordan river is the power of the body, that is, the senses of pleasures. The water of the Jordan is the desire for sexual intercourse. John is the archon of the womb.”

John is clearly symbolic of the womb and that womb’s waters are the Jordan or the seas of the world, which is life-giving water; no planet can flourish with life, none of the plants, animals and mankind could thrive or even exist without its life-giving water. This water at the same time enslaves us. As in the Mandaean Book of John it is said that Yahya did not marry much like how the Jesus of the Gospels remained abstinent. John knew that procreation and the cosmos would eventually come to an end so he was trying to just cut mankind’s losses and throw in the towel prematurely it seems.

The mystery of child birth was a great one for the ancients and even for Simon Magus. It is mentioned in patristics and Simon’s Great Declaration. The Jordan became a symbol of this. This is likely why children are emphasized along with water and birth pangs, in many Christian/Gnostic documents. In John 19: 31-34, water and blood flows from Jesus’ side when he was pierced by the spear of one of the Roman soldiers. This seems to be symbolic of birth trauma and perhaps even the breaking of the hymen during intercourse. The Great Declaration provides us a very similar account to the Testimony of Truth, in which I will quote in full:

Having made the world in some such fashion, God, as Moses says, formed man by taking dirt from the ground. And he made him not single but double according to both the image of the likeness. And the image is that Spirit hovering over the water which, if it does not mature into its true form, perishes along with the world since it has lingered in potentiality and never attain unto actuality. And this what scripture means when it says, ”So we may not be condemned along with the world.” But if it matures perfectly into its intended image and it is begotten from an indivisible point, the small shall become great. And this great thing shall persist through the endless and eternal aeon since it no longer belongs to the process of becoming.

How and in what manner does God fashion man? In the Garden. We must view the womb as a garden or a cave, as in the scripture when it says, “It was you who formed my inner parts, you who knitted me together in my mother’s womb. My frame was not unknown to you when I was being made in secret, intricately crafted in the caverns of the earth.” This is why he chose this metaphor. So when he speaks of the Garden, Moses referred allegorically to the womb. Or so he must if we are to believe the world and not dismiss it as nonsense.

And if God fashion man in his mother’s womb, that is, the Garden, as I have said, not only must the womb be understood for the Garden, but Eden is to be understood as the area around the womb, and then “river going out of Eden to water to Garden” as the umbilical cord. This cord is divided into four channels. On either side of the cord are a pair of air ducts so the fetus my breathe and a pair of veins through which the blood flows carry it from the Edenic region through the so-called gates of the liver, they nourish the fetus. And the air-ducts, channels for the breath which surround the bladder on either side in the pelvic region are united at the great duct called the dorsal aorta. In this way the breath passing through the lateral doors into the heart provokes the motion of the embryo. For as long as the babe is being fashioned in the Garden, it neither receives nourishment by the mouth nor breathes through the nostrils. As it is completely surrounded in water, death would strike as soon as it were to take a breath. It would inhale the fluid and die. Father, the whole is contained in an envelope called the amnion and nourished through the umbilical cord and receives the same thing breath conveys through the dorsal duct, as I said.

Thus, the river which goes out of Eden and divides into the streams, four ducts, speaks in reality of the four senses of the fetus: vision, smelling, taste, and touch, these being the only senses possessed by the child while still in the womb.

If Carl Jung read this, he would have given a standing ovation to Simon Magus’ insight of the Garden of Eden being an allegory for the womb. To Jung paradise was the positive aspect of the archetypal mother, and he related it to the Kingdom of God and the Heavenly Jerusalem, symbols of salvation. Carl Jung of course had a lot more to say about these issues than Freud, who on clinical grounds would be more reluctant to stress universal symbols in the dreams of his patients. In this formula, Exit from the Garden meant a life of hardship in the Wastelands of Matter, then the Quest for the Holy Grail being the Source, and finally Knowledge and Apotheosis. Hippolytus in Ref. 5.19, claimed the Sethian-Gnostics (being Dosithean disciples) held very similar ideas to Simon:

Heaven and earth have a shape similar to the womb …and if…anyone  wants to investigate this, let him carefully examine the pregnant womb of any living creature, and he will discover an image of the heavens and the earth.

Marcus the Valentinian Magician, would declare that such views comes directly from “the cry of the newborn,” a spontaneous cry of praise for “the glory of the primal being, in which the powers above are in harmonious embrace” (AH 1.14.7-8). A prophet and visionary, Marcus calls himself the “womb and recipient of Silence” (AH 1.14.1). The visions Marcus received of the divine being appeared, he reports, in female form. This all would of course, mirror Valentinus’ Vision of the Logos being a newborn infant: “I saw a newborn child, and questioned it to find out who it was. And the child answered me saying, “I am the Word.” The idea of the Virgin Birth is also interpreted symbolically to mean the Spirit was virginal (as well as the Mother Earth from which Adam is formed from) and was seen as synonymous with Mother Wisdom as attested in Marcus the Magician’s doctrines as well as the Gospel of Philip.

According to the Clementine Recognitions (2.7), Simon also claimed to be born of a virgin:

“For before my mother Rachel and he came together, she, still a virgin, conceived me, while it was in my power to be either small or great, and to appear as a man among men.”

Symbolic interpretations of the Garden of Eden have been many and varied. Ancient Hermetic writings as well as the Naasenes of Hippolytus saw it as the head rather than the womb. The Fall of Man from Eden is also associated with Adam’s discovery of his sexuality, following from the temptation to eat the “fruit of knowledge” thanks to the eager intercession of the Serpent, who also has very overt sexual, occult and alchemical connotations as discussed in Part 2 of my Forbidden Fruit series. The garden where Venus and Adonis cavorted from Ovid’s Metamorphoses was sometimes also equated with the Garden of Eden.

Getting back to the Orthodox John the Baptist, it is stated in the Gospel of Luke that Jesus came to be baptized by John the fifteenth year of Tiberius. This is roughly 28 AD, after September 18th. That means it occurred around the winter of 28/29 AD. That is about one to two years after John died in 26/27 AD! This lends credence to my conjecture that Jesus was just a title for Simon who returned from Egypt after the death of John. Probably about year after his death. In that year, Dositheus who is Peter/ Nathanael, ran the sect. Anyway, I hope I have showed you a side of John you hoped you’d never see and I hope I busted your Orthodox cranium wide open.

In Part 4 and eventually 5, we’ll go more in depth about Samaritian concept of the Messiah, Simon’s possible connection with Philo of Alexandria, the horned Moses, as well as the Orphic and Hermetic mystery cults and its mystagogue Saviors. Until next time truth seekers.

A Gnostic Holiday Greeting

Happy Holidays everyone. The title is very tongue-in-cheek but in all seriousness, I want to dedicate some space to speak on a conversational level to the reader while reflecting on what on the past of this blog and the direction its headed. In the spirit of giving, I thought I’d share a few thoughts that I’ve been having lately. The true Joy and Merry Spirit dwells within you. It is not of this world and in no way connected with the seasons, Saturn worship or material goods (although none of these things are inherently bad). This joy is accompanied with a special kind knowledge; it is this knowledge that sets one free as mentioned in John 8:32 by the Savior. It is experiential as well as it is intellectual. This knowledge also corresponds with the three natures or aspects of the Self: being spirit, soul and flesh.

Let’s be honest. This world is Hell (or at least bordering it); it is a place of ignorant darkness and you’re smack dab in the middle of its death grip. The universe is a cavernous prison and ruled over by forces that do not want you to get out. Every day peoples lives are ruined, minds are tormented, and hearts are broken. Many spend their holidays alone and wallow in poverty. Creatures of all kinds are abused and slaughtered without mercy. Japanese toxic waste quietly poisons the world ecosystem. All geo-political and financial forces work tirelessly to create an even greater divide between the rich and poor, resembling a feudal system until their unfettered greed blows up in their faces. All your digital and electronic activities are recorded. Natural disasters strike when you least expect it. History as we know it is a monumental fabrication. We do not see eye to eye with others and justice is abandoned for profit and gain. Evil and conflict do indeed exist.

In many ways, Siddhartha Gautama was ultimately correct. Life is suffering and ultimately unsatisfactory. Material existence isn’t pure joy. And yet, the Gnostic science fiction author Philip K. Dick would suggested that those who had it good in life don’t ask the big questions while the down-trodden seek a way out in every way they can:

“There is a very curious point that I see here for the first time. Those persons on whom the artifact, through its projected world, heaps pleasure and rewards are less likely to take a stance against it and its world. They are not highly motivated to disobey it. But those who are punished by the artifact, on whom pain and suffering are inflicted — those persons would be motivated to ask ultimately questions as to the nature of the entity ruling their lives.”

Until you sink to the depths of sorrow and privation, one could never understand. Pleasure is also a double-edged sword. Even when you eat tons of cake, you will eventually get sick of it and have stomach aches, if not a food coma or diabetic shock. The God of Truth extends his benevolent hand to the down trodden, he offers them rest. The counterfeit spirit of the world only exists to confuse and blind you. The blind lead the blind, falling into the pit while very few who are brave enough go down the rabbit hole and are shown the truth. They say the truth hurts but do they really know what it feels like? Just like apples fall from a tree, all of creation has fallen short of the glory of the hidden God. Yet, the apple never falls far from the tree. In God exists our ultimate origin and destiny. We too contain a spark of life, of his glory—his DNA is encoded within us. But how often do you see an apple climb back up its tree and replant itself? Just as the Valentinian Gospel of Truth tells us:

And the Spirit came to him in haste when it raised him. Having given its hand to the one lying prone on the ground, it placed him firmly on his feet, for he had not yet stood up.

We stand firmly in the truth that we are hold the keys of knowledge of our origins, our present situation and our ultimate destiny. Simon Magus wasn’t the only Standing One. We all can be Standing Ones when we attain the keys of knowledge, the stone of philosophy and a crown of victory. We are eternal spirits entrapped in the perverse order of created matter and yet within us lies the secret to transcend and transform into something far greater than the god of this world could ever conceive. This is the sole reason why the God of the Old Testament is always jealous of man and other gods. Despite all the bad shit that happens in the bad dream we call “reality”, at the same time, don’t take life so seriously and yet don’t take what you already have for granted. It’s a mixed bag like everything else. The Law of Attraction is also at work here, despite what many naysayers who have no idea what they’re talking about will say. It all rests in Pistis or “faith” or “belief” of the beholder. Another Valentinian text, the Interpretation of Knowledge says the very same sentiment expressed in this post:

Now the world is the place of unfaith and the place of death. … A holy thing is the faith to see the likeness. The opposite is unfaith in the likeness.

See? Belief and faith isn’t all that bad. It’s just dogmatism and static literalism that keeps your divine imagination at bay. All the blood and tears, time and energy put into research and writing all this stuff has been an effort to realize and recollect certain truths that already knew on a latent and dormant level, ready to be unearthed like a jinni in a lamp. Every post have something new and exciting tidbits that I discovered along with the reader. Myth, legend and religion exist to put images, archetypes and fantastic stories to the truth just as the Gospel of Philip would tell us that truth did not enter naked into the world.

Gnosis really has helped transform my life more and more each day as I gather blades of inspiration from other fields such as alchemy, ancient medicine, the wisdom texts of Solomon, the Corpus Hermeticum, the Manichaean Kephalaia, the Bhagavad Gita, Plato, Aristotle and Stoicism. Plato’s transformative vision of the divine beauty expressed in many of his writings, such as the Republic, the Symposium, Timaeus, Phaedo and Phaedrus also point the same eternal truths expressed in certain texts of the OT and NT, the Nag Hammadi Codices, and many quotations and paraphrases of the Church Fathers. They all have made a certain impact on my own personal vision and life, and they will certainly change yours. Pick them all up, study their words and maybe it will all eventually click and see the “likeness”.

That’s all I have time for this week and next. 2014 for the Aeon Eye Blog will be even bigger as I have many things in store for it, including fascinating more interviews with guests, Part 3 and 4 of my commentary of the Great Declaration, the exciting conclusion of the Forbidden Fruit series, and much, much more. Very soon, we will also be getting our very own domain name. And with all that, I wish you a Merry Gnosis. May the New Year bring everyone good tidings and unexpected blessings!

Blessing Hand ICXC

ICXC and LVX

— Alex

Interview: Tracy R. Twyman

Baphomet

While this isn’t my first interview by any means, this however, is my very first audio podcast. This audio podcast features a very special guest, the author Tracy R Twyman. For those of you who aren’t familiar with her work, she has authored many books such as Money Grows on the Tree of Knowledge, Solomon’s Treasure: The Magic and Mystery of America’s Money, The Merovingian Mythos and many other great articles on the web going back 10 years. She has also been on Jesse Ventura’s television program Conspiracy Theory, Ground Zero Media and Coast 2 Coast. I personally think she’s done some great research regarding not only esoteric and occult subjects, but also work regarding America’s financial system, the CIA and mind-control, and many political subjects that is in the currently in the news. The subject of the Aeon Eye Podcast #1 is the ever so mysterious and occult figure of Baphomet. which is also the subject of her forth-coming book and a cruise! Also be sure to read my own deconstruction of Baphomet and Abraxas.

Please listen and enjoy! Aeon Eye Podcast #1

Tracy In the Library

A Luciferian Interview: Jeremy Crow

Jeremy Crow is a Luciferian/Left-Hand Path Occultist based in Toronto, Canada. He’s also part of the electro/drum ‘n bass group, Pleasure the Priestess. I’ve also interviewed him on the Youtube show, Aeon Arcanum with my co-host Karl James Smith (I’m the guy with the glasses). Recently, I asked him to take part of a Q & A session because of his Light-bringing intelligentsia and fiery Promethean Gnostic spirit that fits very well with the general theme of this blog. This is the result of our dialogue. Enjoy the interview!

Three Eyed Crow

1. How do you think Left-Hand Path Luciferianism and ancient, Nag-Hammadi styled Gnosticism are alike and do they differ in any specific differences, including perhaps encratic/asceticism in contrast with antinomian libertinism?

I think modern Luciferianism differs from historical Gnosticism in a number of ways. For instance, Gnosticism tended not to deviate very far from the Judeo-Christian mythos. They certainly had their own way of looking at it compared to the mainstream Christian traditions that developed and they definitely were influenced by other cultures, however it was not nearly as syncretic as modern Luciferianism. Luciferians of today borrow heavily from a very wide range of mythologies and spiritual systems both ancient and modern. For a few examples, Prometheus is almost universally considered by Luciferians as a “Lucifer” (literally “Light Bringer”) as well as characters such as the serpent from the biblical Eden story, the Norse god Odin and the Sumerian god Enki. Many even consider the Gnostic Christ to be a Lucifer.

There is a basic story arc that these various Light Bringers typically follow: The providing of forbidden knowledge to an oppressed people, punishment of the emancipator from the established authorities and finally the redemption of the light bringer. The actual practices are also wildly divergent, even among modern Luciferians. You often see more extreme forms of practice in historical forms of Gnosticism when compared with modern practitioners. Take for example the Cathar practice of avoiding reproduction in order to avoid providing physical bodies so as not to enable the Archons to imprison souls in the flesh. That is a form of extreme fundamentalist dualism that I think would be very difficult to find among modern Luciferians.

2. Do you equate Lucifer with Satan or do you consider them two distinct entities?

My thoughts on this have evolved over time. Really, “Lucifer” and “Satan” are just words that are used to convey ideas. Are those two ideas the same? To some people, they certainly are. To start with, I think it’s important to know that Lucifer is a Latin word that means “Bringer of Light” or “Bearer of Light” and that Satan is a Hebrew word that means “Adversary.” When I was first getting into Gnosticism I used the word “Lucifer” to personify the liberating truth and “Satan” to personify the demiurgic force that tries to maintain control through suppressing the truth. It was a very Manichean or dualistic way of looking at things. Now I see Lucifer and Satan more as the two primary ways of relating to the aspects of reality that we find disturbing and have a hard time accepting or integrating. For someone who is not ready to accept these difficult truths, it is more of an adversarial relationship – Satan guarding the gates of Hell from the intrusions of the unwary for their own protection. When we become mature enough and brave enough to effectively integrate the shadow, it becomes Lucifer initiating you into the forbidden knowledge. The lens has changed.

Satan In His Original Glory - William Blake (1805)

3. H.P. Blavatsky and Aleister Crowley have both exerted an enormous influence on modern Luciferian thought. Do you think its possible that John Milton’s Paradise Lost could be the origination of the celebration or deification of Lucifer?

That’s an interesting question. Technically, Milton’s Paradise Lost doesn’t mention Lucifer at all. It’s a story about Satan. Milton apparently didn’t intend Satan to be the protagonist although that is how it turned out. Certainly it has inspired some to sympathize with Satan and his plight. It has also been one of the major pieces of literature that led to the identification of Satan with the serpent in Eden as well as with the word Lucifer as found in the KJV version of the bible. For a very long time, the word Lucifer was not associated with Satan. Not until the KJV came out did people start thinking of Lucifer as equivalent to Satan. To this day, the Catholic Church does not see the word Lucifer as equivalent to Satan or even as something bad at all. There was even a Bishop who took on the ecclesiastical name Lucifer and was later canonized.

I would also like to mention that Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was essentially an updated retelling of Paradise Lost, where the monster becomes the anti-hero style protagonist and Dr. Frankenstein is the uncaring and cold hearted creator. In the book, the monster actually reads Paradise Lost and sympathizes with Satan. Mary’s husband Percy Bysshe Shelley also wrote a lyrical drama called Prometheus Unbound, which he prefaces with a note stating that Prometheus is essentially the Satan character but in a different cultural context in which he is actually appreciated by the people he helped emancipate. Paradise Lost has been and remains an important and influential piece of literature, especially for those on a Left Hand Path.

4. How does the dual symbols of Lucifer and Satan tie into the concept of the HGA (The Holy Guardian Angel)? Could this dichotomy be compared to Carl Jung’s thought on the Shadow Self?

I alluded to this above and will elaborate here. The way I see it can be easily described with reference to Jung’s concept of the Shadow. Before I get into that, I want to make it clear that I think the modern concept of the Holy Guardian Angel as something you need to spend years trying to gain knowledge of and conversation with in order to determine your True Will is a load of crap. This kind of thinking amounts to a lot of busy-work, doing the same basic rituals over and over for years and rarely yielding any greater insight into your life’s purpose or progress toward achieving it. It is my suggestion that you likely already know what inspires you. Pick a goal in line with that and work at it as hard as you can. It will evolve or even dramatically change as you go along and that’s how it should be. If you genuinely don’t know what inspires you, explore as much as you can until you find your muse! If nothing else, you will develop your personality in the process.

The original concept of the personal guardian angel was a usually undetectable influence that subtly keeps you from harm. The Shadow, as a repository of all that you have rejected about yourself and the suppressed memories of traumatic events is frightening for the very reason that this material is potentially damaging. It was knowledge that was so disturbing or incomprehensible that your mind segregated it from consciousness so that you would not go insane. Personified, it is Satan or Hades, making sure that the damned souls and demonic entities do not escape the underworld to molest the living. Satan is the guardian angel. What many modern occultists sometimes refer to as “shadow work” is an attempt to explore the contents of this rejected personal truth (aka “forbidden knowledge”) and to heal and integrate it into the conscious mind. This work seeks to overcome the natural feelings of fear and revulsion and look upon the Shadow not as an adversarial guardian but as an initiator – the devil is transformed into an angel of light, so to speak. Eventually we should grow beyond the need for these functions to become mature and courageous enough to process difficult truths through a consciously directed process. This is why you hear that once we leap into the Abyss, we leave the HGA behind. At least that is my personal take on the HGA.

Chaos Magic Sigil

5. What are your thoughts on Chaos Magick and creative visualizations associated with ideas such as the Law of Attraction? Does the deific or daemonic (the Platonic daemon) self-identification “I am” formula in the Greek Magical Papyri and the Egyptian Pyramid texts have anything to do with these concepts and ritual practices?

I think that most Luciferians are Chaos Magickians in the sense that they develop their own personal system based on what works for them. They may not call themselves Chaos Magickians, but the basic concept is there. Modern Luciferianism is very personal and tends to be quite syncretic. As far as Creative Visualization, The Secret, the Law of Attraction, or whatever else you want to call it, I do see a lot of validity in that technique. It is important but not sufficient and therein lies the problem. Too many people reduce this to “if I have the right mental attitude and can visualize it strongly enough, it will manifest in my life” and then they spend all their free time in fantasy, never accomplishing anything. If you want something bad enough, you need to work on it from both sides. Continue to do your visualizations but you also need to put in the grunt work on the ground to create ways for it to manifest in your life. If you’re trying to get a certain type of job, wishing and praying for it usually won’t work unless you are also sending out resumes. Too many aspiring occultists spend countless hours trying to develop magickal powers without any idea of what they hope to accomplish with these powers. Usually, those hours would be better spent working toward achieving the same thing using more mundane techniques. I like to think of Creative Visualization and/or Sigil Magick as a method of enhancing the likelihood of succeeding in my conventional efforts. It’s to get that extra edge.

6 On various social media websites (including Facebook and Youtube), you’ve spearheaded an Occupy the Temple movement. Could you elaborate more about this?

Occupy The Temple is an initiative to challenge the status quo of occult organizations and Esoteric Orders. There are many ways of going about doing things that may have been necessary in the past but could be discarded or improved upon for the modern era. Many times, the only reasons these methods persist is because of the reverence for tradition and (more often) because they allow the leaders of these groups to hold and maintain more power over their membership. Occupy The Temple seeks to educate people about these specific issues and to encourage [and where possible, to also provide] alternative ways of doing things. Ideally these changes will be possible to enact within the existing establishments but where it cannot, we encourage individuals to take it upon themselves to defiantly do things the way they feel is right without asking for permission from someone who has taken on a position of authority in their group. Occupy The Temple is a leaderless movement in a manner similar to the hacker collective Anonymous, in that anyone can take up the Occupy The Temple mantle and take direct action without asking permission from anyone. These individuals take both credit and responsibility for their own actions. For examples of issues, I encourage anyone curious to look us up.

Pleasure the Priestess

7. Are there any upcoming musical or book projects to expect, down the pipeline for 2014?

Yes, I have a few things in the works. Pleasure The Priestess is working on a new album which we plan to release on vinyl, cassette tape and digital download sometime in 2014. The new songs are going to be closer to our Industrial roots compared to the more dance music oriented stuff we released in 2013. We’re going to experiment with crowd-funding to help finance the project. We also intend to continue putting out music videos on our YouTube channel. I hope people will check out our channel and if they like what they see, they can show their support by subscribing on YouTube.

As far as books, you can expect to see at least two publications in 2014. One of these is a compilation of articles written by members of the Luciferian Research Society (LRS) mostly on topics of practical occultism. It is therefore a “Book of Shadows” for our community and we intend to publish a series of these over time. If it pays for itself it will be a worthy project, as it will publish the work of aspiring authors and help them get noticed. If it actually generates some income, these funds will be used to support the expenses of the LRS and its official projects. For more info on the LRS, please visit: http://luciferianresearch.org/

I also have a personal project to publish a book containing four original rituals that I have written for use by Left Hand Path occultists. The first three of these are solo rites. The final ceremony is a full lodge initiation which requires five people to perform: Four officers and one candidate for initiation. This group ritual will form the basis of a sort of Open Source Order, as anyone can perform it without asking permission or paying dues to any governing body. No governing body such as a Grand Lodge or Sovereign Sanctuary will even exist in the first place and if someone should try to set one up, it could not be enforced as there will be no oath of secrecy attached to the initiation ceremony. A digital copy of this rite will be freely available to encourage sharing and I will also be publishing and selling physical copies of the book.

Jeremy Crow

Forbidden Fruit in the Midst of the Garden (Part 4)

In Part 3we discovered that the two trees being the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge were seen as living symbols for the Gnostics’ cosmology being the Aeons in the Pleroma and the veil or Platonic (X) or limit that separates it from the deficiency or hysterema of the material world, marked of illusion and imperfection, time and flux. It is therefore useless to identify with the physical symbol of a cross as it is more of an archetype.

The Stauros (Cross), which means to “stand” or “straighten up” (e.g. the “Standing One” per Simon Magus?) in its true self is a living idea, a reality or root-principle of separation and limit, dividing entity from non-entity, being from non-being, perfection from imperfection, fullness and emptiness, Light from Darkness. The Stauros or Horos was also seen as synonymous with the Logos and was also seen as the sign of victory as per the doctrine of Christus Victor atonement i.e, that Christ defeated the powers by duping them into crucifying him.

Guarding this Horos was the Limit-Setter, the Across-Taker, the Emancipator, the Guide or Leader that guides the initiated soul from its astral journey from the underworld, to the zodiacal cosmos, to the eighth heaven or “ogdoad” where Sophia is said to dwell, near the gates and finally to the Heavenly Cross, functioning like a portal or gateway into the realm of the Father or the Pleroma. The Logos himself is designated as a “door” or a “gate” into eternal life symbolized as pasture, for the saved sheep (or souls) (John 10:9).

Salvador-Dali-Crucifixion-Corpus-Hypercubicus-1953-54

This region was also called the “suburbs”, a frontier or the barrier, demarcating the boundary between the worlds. The term “suburbs” is also used in a Peratic text that the Church Father Hippolytus quotes at length called The Suburbs up to the Aither in the Philosophumena or the Refutation of All Heresies, which I will briefly touch on later on. In Plato’s Timaeus, he refers to the soul-stuff of the universe in terms of two circular strips joined together like the Greek letter chi (X). Similarly, tau, the last letter of the Phoenician and Old Hebrew alphabets, is shaped like a cross, and was popularly held to be a protective emblem of supernatural power. Crosses were also said to be used by Roman General Marcius Turbo’s forces in the first century to carry their food and clothing.

In Plato’s radical dualism, he thought that matter and the Demiurge were uncreated and co-existed eternally with the world of forms or the eternal archetypes. And he believed that matter and the forms were eternally separated by what he called the “divided line.” In Ephesians 2:19, the invisible cross is represented as bestriding the cosmos in terms of “the breadth, and length, and depth, and height” of the love of Christ, which surpasses knowledge.

Only through the stauros can souls enter into life eternal.  Without it, humanity are held in thrall by time, subject to Satan, to fate and to reincarnation. The stauros is the axis of the mighty spiral that reverses the order of the cosmos, and takes man from the emptiness (kenoma) of the illusory lower world, to the fullness of the upper world of Reality. It is this reality which Luke 13:19 describes as:

It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds perched in its branches.

The fruit of this aeonic Tree were manifested as the Cosmic Christ or Logos and his otherworldly redemptive mission when evil came into existence. His work on earth and even the universe at large was to touch every region on our side of the Stauros, to fulfill a specific mission for every form of creation: from the fallen angels, archons, fallen aeons, for man and so forth and so on down to the Chain of Being. It is his presence on earth that was hotly debated and gave birth to a religious movement that ultimately become the very thing it once strove to liberate itself from. Christ would be reduced to a rotting corpse on a cross, in which the Orthodox “cleave to the name of a dead man, thinking that they will become pure” as the Apocalypse of Peter would say.

Yet, the very reason for the existence of the Logos is explained in a “fall of man” scenario which occurs in not just in Jewish and Christian literature but also in Hermetic and Indian literature. We will examine the events that unfold right after the fall of man that eventually precipitates into events surrounding the Flood and how they relate to all these concepts associated with the Garden. Is there a possible deeper message to the Flood myth?

flood-of-noahs-day2

The Flood of Darkness

In Josephus, Antiquitates I 69-71 and Vita Adae et Evae XLIX 3-L2, he discusses the coming destruction by fire and water. The Apocalypse of Adam and the Gospel of the Egyptians also mentions destruction by water which was identified with the biblical flood, and by fire. Plato’s Timaeus 21E-22E also relates a similar idea for periodical destruction of the earth by water and fire. Its influence on the idea of a periodical disaster was widely known in Jewish and Christian literature. In the Latin Life of Adam and Eve, after the funerals of Adam and Abel, Eve tells her children of a coming divine judgement, “first by water and then by fire,” and gives them the recommendation to preserve the account of their parents’ lives by writing it down in two sets of tablets, one made of stone and the other of clay (49–50).

By the fourth century BC, Greek philosophers and geographers eventually opined that the earth was not a flat disk consisting of a single land mass and swirling waters, like Homeric geography posited, but rather a sphere with multiple continents and seas. Plato, for example, would often use myth and story to service his philosophical endeavors. In the Phaedo 110b, Plato’s Socrates describes the earth as viewed from above as “one of these balls made of twelve pieces of skin, variegated and marked out in different colors”. Plato would engage the Ocean even more directly in his myth or story of Atlantis in Timaeus 25a, which tells us:

The island (Atlantis) was larger than Libya and Asia put together, and was the way to other islands, and from these you might pass to the whole of the opposite continent which surrounded the true ocean, for this sea which is within the Straights of Heracles is only a harbor, having a narrow entrance, but that other is a real sea, and the land surrounding it on every side may be truly called a boundless continent.

Plato would go on about the greatness, hubris, and demise of Atlantis in the Critias, although the account was not completed because Critias was never finished. He made another reference to its destruction in Timaeus. Plato’s myth-making or speculation was a self-admitted speculation in the service of philosophy. He signaled this by having Socrates say in Phaedo 114d, “Of course, no reasonable man ought to insist that the facts are exactly as I have described them.” Plato’s “invention” of Atlantis was explicit, and he was, in the end, uninterested in the truth value of his own world created out of a pastiche of myth, philosophy and geography. What mattered for Plato was that the myth was served his real purpose, to support his ideas about the immortality of the soul and the proper governance of humankind through the administration of the Philosopher Kings.

From a careful consideration of Plato’s description of Atlantis it is evident that the story should not be regarded as wholly literal or historical but rather as both symbolic of Plato’s Utopian ideal with possible roots in actual history. Theologians and philosophers in late antiquity such as Origen, Porphyry, Proclus, Iamblichus, and Syrianus realized that the story concealed a profound philosophical mystery, but they disagreed as to the actual interpretation. Classical Alexandria was a hotbed of allegorization as the Alexandrine Jewish philosopher Philo and the early Church Fathers also rejoiced in ascribing symbolic meanings to their sacred writings as well.

There are, of course, many parallels with Plato’s mysterious Atlantis with Noah’s Deluge and even the Garden of Eden. For one, the Hebrew word used for the Garden of Eden was called gannah, which also means a covered or hidden place. Gardens in ancient times were usually protected by walled enclosures, which lends to the concept of Adam and Eve being “expelled” and unable to return. Ancient Atlantis was also considered to be “walled off” from outsiders. The famous passage of Genesis 6:4 presents the idea that the flood was sent by God to punish the crimes committed by the giant children of the Angels or Watchers who committed intercourse with human women, being the Nephilim. Of course, in Gnostic literature, intercourse between supernatural powers and human women are continuous since the beginning of creation itself, starting with Cain and Abel as the spawn between Eve and the lion-faced demonic ruler, Ialdabaoth as featured in Apocryphon of John.

This Jewish story of the Watcher Angels being imprisoned in the valleys of the earth after sleeping with the daughters of men is clearly drawn from Greek myths- this was the fate of the Titans after Zeus defeated them, and it recalls the imprisonment of the children of Ouranos in valleys as punishment. Both Enochic and Gnostic literature go out of their way to claim that these same Angels taught humankind various occult secrets and teachings, being astronomy, magic and the usage of natural elements. This was not the only view concerning the origins of astrology as the earliest Hellenistic Jewish Historian Eupolemus claimed that astrology was actually discovered by Enoch (identified with Atlas) and then handed on by him to the Babylonians. Zosimos of Panopolis, the Hermetic-Gnostic alchemist also placed much emphasis on the Book of Enoch and the Angels being the source of the majority of occult and alchemical teachings.

Flavius Josepheus in Antiquities 1.154-168, also referred to Abraham (although not mentioning his name explicitly) as a great and righteous man, “versed in the heavens” as did many other writers throughout history. Eupolemus also claimed that Abraham was a Chaldean. Seth, being Adam’s son, is also singled out as the originator of astrology by Flavius Josephus as well as being the founder of the Gnostic religion in the Three Steles of Seth.

Josephus in Antiquities 1 68-71 also claimed that the progeny or “seed” of Seth were just, peace-loving men, who understood the secrets of the stars, and had knowledge of the Flood and other disasters, inscribing her doctrine on two steles. Other texts such as On the Origin of the World, claimed that the Angels or Archons taught women idolatry, which would naturally fit with the idea of the “god of this world” being a blinding idol or icon as per 2 Corinthians 4:4. Justin Martyr in the Second Apology, Chapter V, would say something very similar to Orig. World:

But the angels transgressed this appointment, and were captivated by love of women, and begat children who are those that are called demons; and besides, they afterwards subdued the human race to themselves, partly by magical writings, and partly by fears and the punishments they occasioned, and partly by teaching them to offer sacrifices, and incense, and libations, of which things they stood in need after they were enslaved by lustful passions; and among men they sowed murders, wars, adulteries, intemperate deeds, and all wickedness.

That is not to say that the science of astrology and magical workings were rejected by the Gnostics—quite the opposite, as they had a deep respect for the knowledge revealed by the angels. In fact, one can go as far as to say the Watchers or fallen angels themselves were literary representations of the Gnostics because of their deep knowledge of the stars, planets, plants, medicine, writing, etc. The Valentinian Theodutus claimed that Christ came into the world to free all people who believe in him from astral fate. Astrology is not a wholly fictional science or an error as it can tell the truth concerning the destiny of those who are not in Christ. But once one is baptized, the astrologists “no longer tell the truth” concerning the person’s destiny. Jewish texts such as Sepher ha Razim, glorify the science of the stars and the cosmos revealed by the Watchers:

And seven thrones are prepared there, and upon them are seated overseers, and around them on all sides encampments of angels are stationed and are obedient to men at the time when they practice magic; to everyone who has learned to stand and pour libations to their names and cite them by their signs at the period when prayer is heard so as to make a magical rite succeed. Over all these encampments of angels, these seven overseers rule, to dispatch them for every sort of business, so that they will hasten and bring success.

Both 1 Enoch and and the books of Daniel and the book of Jubilees either condemn Babylonian astrology as a diabolical science, or stress its inferiority to wisdom directly revealed by God. The Jewish form of astrology tends to distinguish itself from the astrology of the Babylonian Chaldeans. The Gnostics continued on the same path of Jewish astrology, who posits Seth, Jesus and Mary to reveal the truth about the planetary fate, the stars and the deities who rule them. It is of course, the Savior that “disturbs” the other stars as he descends into the world of matter.

Still, the problem of the Giants were no laughing matter. The offspring of the Watchers (including the angels Shemyaza, Azazel and all the rest of the angels listed in 1 Enoch) and human women resulted in gigantic beings being the Nephilim, also referred to as “GiBoR” which is Hebrew for “hero” or a great man, strangely enough. They are also known as the “giants born of, or descendants of the Aion”. There are certain magical gems of the famous Chnoubis (lion-headed snake) that contain the inscription of being a conqueror of giants! This seems to indicate that the lion-headed serpent wasn’t always held in a negative light by Gnostics. The myth of the giants and their destruction by God through the flood is preserved in many different writings that flourished in the late Hellenistic-Judiac apocryphal literature as well as Gnostic mythology featured in different texts such as the Apocryphon of John, On the Origin of the World, the Valentinian Exposition and of course, in many Manichaean writings, including the Book of Giants.

Ialdaboath

Even these Giants of the Jewish apocrypha and Gnostic literature can be seen as synonymous with the immortal giant Titans per Greek myth, with Kronos, Zeus’ “Forgotten Father” or “Hidden One” being the Atlantean king of these Titans. Kronos would eventually become imprisoned within the underworld, as a “Dark Lord”. This is much like how Ialdabaoth in On the Origin of the World is imprisoned in Tartarus by Pistis Sophia, the deep abyss or the “Foundations of the Great Deep” per Genesis 7:11, underneath hell, where the Titans are thrown and placed there by the Olympian gods. The Middle Platonist and Greek Historian, Plutarch in On the Cessation of Oracles, would claim that Kronos or Saturn’s imprison was imposed by a death-like sleep, where his dreams and illusions acted like shackles, symbolic of the nature of material reality:

In that region also, they said, Saturn was confined in one of the islands by Briareus, and lay asleep; for that his slumber had been artfully produced in order to chain him, and round about him were many dæmons for his guards and servants.

Hippolytus in Refutatio, Book V, chapter 11 in The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. V, wrote of the beliefs of a member of the Gnostic Peratae (meaning “traversers”) sect:

But water, he says, is destruction; nor did the world, he says, perish by any other thing quicker than by water. Water, however . . . they assert (it to be) Cronus.

Statues of Bacchus and the Seven Planets

Even more relevant, the ancient Chaldaeans warned that a universal flood would come down from above: “Kronos announced to Sisithros that a flood would pour from above.” Tacitus in Histories V.4 alleged that the Jews were worshipers of Saturn, indirectly claiming Jehovah was Kronos. It is safe to assume that Kronos was considered a synonymous figure with the Demiurge as maintained by the Peratics. According to the Orthodox Syrian Bishop, Theodoretus of Cyrrhus, the heretics, especially the Marcionites, detested water because it was produced by the creator. The Bible frequently mentions Yahweh’s rule over the waters, particularly the Red Sea and the Nile. The notion that water was an element of the Demiurge, who was equated with Kronos as the “lord of generation” and positioned in the center of the universe by the Peratic-Ophites per Hippolytus in Refutation 5.15.4, was characteristic of the Gnostic contempt for the creator’s work and the creator himself.

Accordingly, many Gnostics would deliberately disobey the Creator’s precepts and praise vilified Biblical characters like the serpent in Eden or other times, Cain and even the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah! Theodoretus of Cyrrhus has this to say about the Marcionites:

They dare to say that the serpent is better than the Creator. in fact the Creator forbade men to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge, while the serpent exhorted them to eat it. But these sinners do not know that the serpent’s advice generated death. And so some of them worship the serpent. And I myself found that they had a bronze serpent, kept in a box together with their nefarious mysteries.

Theodoretus also claimed that the Marcionites not only insulted the Creator god, but also the biblical patriarchs and prophets because they were the Creator’s agents, while they believed that the Old Testament villains such as Cain and the Sodomites had followed Jesus out of Tartarus when he descended into Hell. The doctrine of the Ophites were also attributed to the Marcionites by Theodoretus. Whenever Jehovah would unconditionally condemn magic and divination as worship of foreign gods in Deuteronomy 18.9-11, 27, 35, Exodus 22, 17 and Leviticus 20,27, the Gnostics would value the knowledge of astrology because it was expressly forbidden by the creator god much like the knowledge fruit forbidden in Eden. This is explicitly mentioned by the Latin Church Father, Tertullian who would say, “the Marcionites very frequently are astrologers, and are not ashamed to live by the Creator’s stars” (Contra Marcion, I 18 1). Naturally, astrology was associated with heresy (or false teachings) according to the Orthodox Heresiologists. For example, Irenaeus in Against Heresies 1.15.6, says of a certain Marcus the Valentinian:

Marcus, you former of idol, inspector of portents, skill’d in consulting the stars, and deep in the black arts of magic, ever by tricks such as these confirming the doctrines of error, furnishing signs unto those involved by you in deception, wonders of power that is utterly severed from God and apostate, which Satan, your true father, enables you still to accomplish, by means of Azazel, that fallen and yet mighty angel—thus making you the precursor of his own impious actions.

Irenaeus’ pupil Hippolytus also asserted that:

…the teachings of the heretics have their source in the wisdom of the Greeks, the opinions of those who engage in philosophy, those who undertake mysteries and roaming astrologers.

Hippolytus devoted the whole of Book IV of his Refutatio to the Chaldeans, magi and astrologers, as one of the sources of inspiration to the Gnostics. Chapter V was mostly concerned with the Peratics, who may have considered themselves the “true Hebrews” considering that Hebrew means “passerbyer”. The confidence of the Peratae or the Peratics, that they were able to find salvation from the oppression of the astral powers of fate through gnosis:

For if any one, he says, of those (beings) which are here will have strength to perceive that he is a paternal mark transferred hither from above, (and that he is) incarnate— just as by the conception resulting from the rod a something white is produced—he is of the same substance altogether with the Father in heaven, and returns there. If, however, he may not happen upon this doctrine, neither will he understand the necessity of generation, just as an abortion born at night will perish at night.

This attitude towards magic wasn’t shared by all Gnostic groups as sects such as the Manichaeans considered witchcraft as inspired by the primeval Darkness and Satan, despite the fact that their practices such as exorcisms and prayers to the four guardian angels (Michael, Uriel, Gabriel, Raphael) were also considered “magical”.

Returning to the Flood story, the Gnostics would interpret this episode in Genesis as proof that the creator god was indeed fallible because the Lord repented of his own creation (Genesis 6:6) and was willing to save only a few chosen ones (being Noah, his family and various animals) and start creation anew. The Apocryphon of John makes full use of this idea by stating:

And he (the chief archon) repented for everything which had come into being through him. This time he planned to bring a flood upon the work of man.

Ialdaboath initiates this destructive plan because the chief ruler fails to enslave the human race through the creation of “fate” and “destiny”. This destiny, while successful in fostering “sins” and “forgetfulness” of the ultimate deity and constraining choices, was insufficient to “arrest” human “pondering” entirely. As it follows, a new plan of wiping out life on earth completely is started and not just as an attack on Gnostic humanity.

In any event, for the Gnostics, the cause of the flood was by the maliciousness of Ialdabaoth and his angels but ultimately fails to completely destroy mankind, including the Gnostic race, revealing the ultimate ineptitude of the authorities. To remedy this situation, the Archons decide to produce a “counterfeit spirit” in the image of the divine “spirit of life”, which enables them to change their shapes and further seduce humanity with wealth, and many other vices which goes a long way to their achieving their desired union with human women, according to the Apoc. John. The result is ignorance of spiritual reality plaguing humanity even “down through the present time” and also attempts to explain the origins of evil in the human species.

The reason for Ialdaboath causing the flood should be obvious. Humanity’s growing insight and superiority over spiritual matters concerns the creator god and his angels, rather than moral depravity or humanity’s sins as stated in Genesis 6: 3, 13, 17. In Enochian apocalyptic literature, the deluge is sent by God’s judgement to wipe out the giants from the face of the earth. Hypostasis of the Archons would say that humankind “began to multiply and improve”. Irenaeus would say that humankind would “not honor” Ialdabaoth as “parent and god” in Haer. 1.30.10. This is, of course, a wholesale rejection of the God of Israel’s divine status, in part of the Gnostics. However, in some cases the God of Israel is identified with the repentant archon, Sabaoth which is depicted in Gnostic writings in an often positive light, with his intimate association with Sophia. They also point to his amorous fallen angels, who were originally “ministers of flaming fire” (Psalms 104:4) being a part of a archontic conspiracy to further confuse the human race in vice and blood-shed.

Much later, the Church Father Epiphanius would tell us a different account of the Sethian version of the flood. In the Panarion 39.3.1, Wisdom caused the flood because “the frequent intercourse and confused impulse on the part of the angels and the human beings, so the two tended toward mixture…” It is clear that Sophia is depicted in struggling against the Archangels, Archons and Watchers which is typical in Gnostic and Simonian literature. So, for the Gnostics, it is also clear that the Flood and the intercourse between Angels and human women were attempts to disrupt human progress because of their strengthening link to the spiritual world outside of material creation.

When it comes to the issue of Noah, the Gnostic evaluation of the character shows no unanimity in any of Gnostic writings, and one can find examples of both positive and negative attitudes toward him. The Apocryphon of John tells us that Noah was a chosen patron of the spiritual race:

And he repented for all that had happened through him. He plotted to produce a flood [κατακλυσμός] over all the offspring of man. But the greatness of Providence [πρόνοια], which is the reflection [ἐπίνοια] of the light, instructed Noah and he preached to men. But they did not believe him. It is not as Moses said, “He hid himself in an ark [κιβωτός],” but she sheltered him in a place, not Noah alone but men from the immovable race. They went into a place and sheltered themselves with a luminous cloud. And he (Noah) recognized his lordship and those who were with him in the light which shone upon them, because darkness was falling over everything upon earth.

The reference to the waters seems to be a metaphor for the “darkness”, as the understanding of the biblical flood was understood as more a of a spiritual event, much like the first fall, which was the descent of spirit into the abyss and inferno of matter. The “Abyss” or the “void”, which also relates to the Kabbalistic Qliphoth (Tree of Death), was also symbolic of the vacant place that was left when God retracted his presence from that area. The process of emptying left a vacant place for what was to become the natural universe we know. In Gnostic writings, the cognate word, Kenoma, signifying “emptiness”, describes the illusive, phenomenal world of space and time in which all sentient life lives in. In essence, God obscured himself by creating the place of the Deficiency, but he is not that place.

The Apocryphon of John also goes on in a lengthy dialogue concerned with the ultimate destiny of the two kinds of spirits: “the spirit of life” from the Pleroma and the “counterfeit spirit” generated by the rulers and authorities of fate. The flood story and biblical imagery are used to convey this dialogue in the text. The late 3rd century Simonian text The Concept of Our Great Power tells us something very similar, by saying that the water, which represents the Demiurge, coexists with spirit eternally, i.e., radical dualism.

Discern what size the water is, that it is immeasurable (and) incomprehensible, both its beginning and its end. It supports the earth; it blows in the air where the gods and the angels are. But in him who is exalted above all these there is the fear and the light, and in him are my writings revealed.

The same text also goes into similar details regarding the fall of the angels, the flood myth, Noah, etc. Another text in the Nag Hammadi Library, the Hermetic tractate, Asclepius also discusses the Flood myth. In this treatise, the Demiurge is presented as a benevolent figure and his actions in a very Stoic context, with themes of recurring cosmic catastrophes and restoration:

And when these things had happened, O Asclepius, then the Lord, the Father and god from the only first (God), god the creator [δημιουργόϛ], when he looked upon the things that happened, established his design, which is good, against the disorder. He took away error and cut off evil. Sometimes he submerged it in a great flood, at other times he burned it in a searing fire.

Fire Woman

Speaking of fire, the Gnostic prophetess, Norea is also featured in a few writings including Hypostasis of the Archons, Thought of Norea, and by the Church Father Epiphanius. Her role is that of a Gnostic heroine, and that is somewhat of a rare (if not non-existent) feat in any religious writing but is boldly featured in a Gnostic holy writ. The scholar Birger Pearson connects Norea with Noah’s wife Namaah. In Enoch, Namaah was said to have overwhelmed the Angel Azazel with her beauty, as she is also identified as the sister of Tubal-Can. In later Jewish legends, Namaah is also identified as the sister or daughter of Lilith. The Hypostasis of the Archons tells us that Norea is essentially the revealer and spiritual mother of the Gnostic race, through Eve:

Again Eve became pregnant, and she bore Norea. And she said, “He has begotten on me a virgin as an assistance for many generations of mankind.” She is the virgin whom the forces did not defile.

It is through Norea’s intervention on human kind that they progress and improve, which spurs the authorities to come together and wipe out all life on earth:

The rulers took counsel with one another and said, “Come, let us cause a deluge with our hands and obliterate all flesh, from man to beast.”

Norea reveals herself to be one of a spit-fire type when she blows Noah’s Ark down! Perhaps this is symbolic of emphasizing true salvation being “spiritual” rather than trusting the works of the flesh.

Then Orea came to him wanting to board the ark. And when he would not let her, she blew upon the ark and caused it to be consumed by fire. Again he made the ark, for a second time.

Later, Ialdaboath and his angels confront Norea with the intend to bully her, saying: “You must render service to us, as did also your mother Eve…” Norea tells them off by saying:

“It is you who are the rulers of the darkness; you are accursed. And you did not know my mother; instead it was your female counterpart that you knew. For I am not your descendant; rather it is from the world above that I am come.”

She later appeals to the ultimate God for help and a holy angel, Eleleth, thus saves her from the authorities’ clutches and reveals the divine mysteries of Pistis Sophia. Norea is ultimately revealed to be the female parent of all Gnostics, as Seth is the male parent:

“You, together with your offspring, are from the primeval father; from above, out of the imperishable light, their souls are come. Thus the authorities cannot approach them, because of the spirit of truth present within them; and all who have become acquainted with this way exist deathless in the midst of dying mankind. Still, that sown element will not become known now. Instead, after three generations it will come to be known, and it has freed them from the bondage of the authorities’ error.”

As it is usually the case, the Gnostic interpretation of scripture was far from literal in favor for unearthing spiritual and allegorical meanings and this approach is highlighted in Apelle’s (a disciple of Marcion) critical take on Noah’s Flood story:

In no way could it have been accomplished that in so short a time so many kinds of animals and their foods, which were to last for a whole year, should be taken abroad. For when two by two the unclean animals, that is, two male and two female of each—this is what the repeated word means—led into the ark, how could the space described be made big enough to take even four elephants alone? It is clear that the story is false; but if this is so, it is clear that this writing is not from God.

Through the Flood story, the Gnostic writers were able reflect on the types of human beings that exist in the world and on the question of how ignorance is able to persist throughout history. Noah’s Ark would become a symbol for the gracious divine care to rescue the “immovable race” of the Gnostics. The Manichaeans would also interpret Noah’s Ark to be a symbol for their church as a “Ship of Light” in their Coptic Manichaean Psalms:

Lo, the ship has put in for you, Noah is aboard, he steers.
The ship is the commandment [ἐντολή], Noah is the Mind [νοῦς] of Light.
Embark your merchandise, sail with the dew of the wind.
The] Commandment [ἐντολή] was knowledge, the Commandment was a Church. …
It was a tree, it was a ship, it [was] …
It was a tree in the desert, it was an ark [? κιβωτός] in the flood [κατακλυσμός].

Hippolytus, Callistus of Rome and Cyprian of Carthage used the survivors of the flood as ciphers for the purity and discipline of the church as did the Gnostics who saw these primeval characters as symbolic of themselves and their situation among the growing influence of Orthodoxy.

Tree of Death

The Two Trees Revisited (A Small Note)

According to the Babylonian Prophet Mani, there exists two irreconcilable roots (Do Bun in Persian): Light and Darkness. The Tree of Life and the Tree of Death. The Pre-Socratic philosopher Empedocles also taught that the universe is composed of the forces of Neikos: Strife/Discord and Philia: Love/Friendship. Besides Zoroastrian dualism, Empedocles could very well be another source for the Manichean Two Roots.

The Monophysite patriarch Severus of Antioch informs us that he is quoting from an unknown Manichaean scripture within a sixth-century Cathedral Homilies. In these citations, the expression “Tree of Life” functions as an alternate designation for the summum bonum of Manichaean cosmology: the Realm of Light. A symmetrical parallel to this usage is the expression “Tree of Death,” which Mani or one of his disciples employed to designate the evil Realm of Darkness. Therein we read:

They say: That which is Good, also named Light and the Tree of Life, possesses those regions which lie to the east, west, and north; for those (regions) which lie to the south and to the meridian belong to the Tree of Death …’,”Likewise does the Tree of Life exist, which is there adorned with every sort of pleasing and lovely, beautiful thing. It is filled and covered with all sorts of good things… its fruits cover it, and majesty belongs to it.”‘

In the Realm of Light there is no burning fire which could be discharged against that which is evil. There is neither an iron (weapon) for cutting, nor overwhelming waters, nor any other evil substance like those. Instead, all is Light and (every) place is noble.’, The Tree of Death is divided into many (parts); war and bitterness characterize them … good fruits are never upon them … all of them form rottenness for the corruption of their place.’, [The members of the Realm of Darkness provoked and stirred each other up until they came unto the boundaries marvelous and surpassingly beautiful sight, they gathered together … and plotted against the Light regarding how they could mix themselves with it. Due to (their) frenzy, they were unaware that the powerful and mighty God dwelt in it …

The description of the realm of Darkness does not sound too far from that of the Kabbalistic Qliphoth. The Tree of Death is also said to contain the inverted or reversed “serifots” of the Tree of Life. What this means is basically that the ten “serifots” on the Tree of Life, that represents different aspects of the Godhead are reversed. For example, Kether (Crown) is said to be highest point on the Tree, which represents the purest emanation, the first movement towards manifestation from the Infinite. It’s opposite is called Thaumiel, which to some might refer to “contending forces” (e.g. division or radical dualism), which stands opposed to the idea that everything is unified in Kether as divided and cleaved at Thaumiel’s essence. The rest of the serifots also have reversed, mirrored opposites in the Tree of Death.

The physical world, say the Gnostics, lies on the edge of nether regions, and since we live in the environs of hell, we are in a state of perilously bordering on eternal perdition. Hell or Hyle (matter), for the Manichaeans was separate, uncreated, active principle or nature, complete with its own realm of division, warfare and pure chaos and not as simply an absence or deficiency of the Good or Light as the Neoplatonists like Plotinus maintained. Evil was conceived as Non-Being for the Neoplatonists and the Orthodox. This specific argument was used by the ex-Manichaean turned Roman Catholic theologian, St. Augustine in his anti-heretical works against his former associates.

Stranger still, the Darkness or hell was not only considered a macrocosmic reality but also reflected in the microcosm, i.e. the human body (the lower part) as all the secrets of the universe, as the Manichaeans, the Ophites, the Peratics and the Simonians, all maintained were hidden in every cell of human flesh, skin, hair blood, tissue and bone, despite it being a tomb for the spiritual man. In Theodore bar Konai’s Liber Scholiorum, he goes on to speak ill against Mani and say all kinds of slanderous accusations and explain the various cosmological Manichaean doctrines. He ends it with the idea that Adam was roused from his sleep by Jesus, the Splendor in serpent form and make him aware of his sticky predicament:

Then Adam examined himself and recognized who he was, and (Jesus) showed him the Fathers on high, and (revealed to him) regarding his own self (i.e., Jesus’s) all that into which he (i.e., Jesus) had been cast—into the teeth of leopard(s) and the teeth of elephant(s), swallowed by voracious ones and absorbed by gulping ones, consumed by dogs, mixed and imprisoned in all that exists, and bound in the stench of Darkness.  He (Mani) says that he (Jesus) raised him (Adam) up and made him taste of the Tree of Life.  Then Adam saw and wept, and raised his voice loudly like a lion that roars and tears (prey).  He cast (himself down), beat (his breast), and said: ‘Woe, woe to the one who formed my body, and to the one who bound my soul, and to the rebels who have enslaved me.’

In Part 5, we’ll continue in the dark, dangerous territory of Tree of Life and its opposite being the Qliphothic Tree of Death, an in-depth examination of the Gnostic science of the body, the origins of the doctrines of Original Sin and Total Depravity, and some concluding thoughts on the series.

The Great Declaration: A Commentary (Part 2)

In Part 1, we explored a few shared traits between Simon Magus and the Johannite Jesus. We also explored Simon’s cosmology and how it is rooted in a divine Fire similar to the Orphic Phanes and the cosmological doctrines of Heraclitus and the Stoics. Simonian cosmology also has a deep connection with the doctrines of the Sethians and Valentinians, considering the many similarities between Helena with the fallen Wisdom Mother figure, Sophia Achamoth and even Mary Magdalene. Yet, Helena seems to be more of an embodiment for Sophia for theatrical teaching purposes since the Sophia archetype precedes Helena and can be traced back to the Eros myth of Plato, the Egyptian Sia and Isis as well as the Babylonian Innana.

However, the parallels do not end there. As we are about to see, not only are there parallels and connections between Simon and the Johannite Jesus, but also with other Biblical figures such as Paul the Apostle, Peter, Nathaniel and of course, John the Baptist. The demonized Simon Magus by the Orthodox Church also bare striking resemblances with the figure of Satan as does Jesus in Matthew and Mark, strangely enough. Outside of the Bible, in other mystery religions, the connections with Orpheus, Dionysus, Asclepius, Apollinius of Tyana, Apollo, Hercules and even Zeus also exist, which will be explored in greater detail in Part 4 after 3.

Simon, the first Magician or the first Adversary?

One thing I do want to point out before I delve into into the last half of the commentary is that of Simon’s status as a “magician”. In Simon’s time, he was not known as “Simon Magus”, which the word Magus is a Latin word for Magi. The term Magi was originally used by the Greek historian, Herodotus in reference to one of the five social classes of the Medes, an ancient Iranian people who at one time were medicine men or shamans who eventually became Zoroastrian priests. This term would become associated with the Greek term for sorcery, “goēteia”, where the Medieval Latin term “Goetia” comes from.

Many Magi were present in or about Roman courts as they accompanied high ranking officials and governors. Therefore, they were socially accepted in Roman society. However, their credibility was questioned by some throughout history such as Philo of Alexandria (Jewish philosopher, 20 BC – 50 AD), for example, who said the Magi perverted the magical arts. This would echo in the accusations of being a “magician”, which eventually came to be meant as a slanderous allegation appended to anyone, especially to Simon in order to scandalize him as the opposite of Peter. He was probably just Simon of Gitta. Or Simon the Samaritan.

The Samaritans were an offshoot sect of Judaism and considered themselves the true inheritors of the Mosaic law. So Simon could have considered himself a Jew as a Samaritan, but obviously non-Samaritan Jews would disagree since they were seen as largely schismatics, and other times heretics of the worst kind, much like their Simonian predecessors. This is attested in Matthew 10:1-10 (likely redacted from the Gospel of the Hebrews), where the pro-Judiac/anti-Gentile Jesus advises his disciples to avoid “any town of the Samaritans”. Likewise, the Samaritans would also reject the Davidic Jews as heretical impostors.

Jesus and the Devil

In the Babylonian Talmud, it explains that Jesus was accused of being a sorcerer by the Talmudic Rabbis. In the eyes of them, the practice of sorcery and false prophecy constituted capital crimes worthy of execution, specifically mentioned in Deuteronomy 18: 10-12 and 13: 2-6. Sanhedrin 43a tells us:

On the eve of Passover Jesus was hanged. For forty days before the execution took place, a herald went forth and cried, “He is going forth to be stoned because he has practiced sorcery and enticed Israel to apostasy. Anyone who can say anything in his favor let him come forward and plead on his behalf.” But since nothing was brought forward in his favor, he was hanged on the eve of Passover. Ulla retorted: Do you suppose he was one for whom a defense could be made? Was he not a mesith (enticer), concerning whom Scripture says, “Neither shall thou spare nor shall thou conceal him?” With Jesus, however, it was different, for he was connected with the government.

Likewise in Mark 3:22 and Matthew 9:34; 12:24, the Scribes and Pharisees accuse Jesus of exorcising demons because he is in league with the prince of demons also known as the “Lord of flies”, Beelzebub, and even go so far as to claim that Jesus is himself Beelzebub (Matthew 10:25)! Even Jesus’ own family accused him of being out of his mind (Mark 3:21). In replying (v. 24) “How can Satan drive out Satan?” Jesus shows that he knew perfectly well who his adversaries took him for: he was possessed by Beelzebub; he was even Satan personified. Jesus was also accused of being Jesus Magus.

Beelzebub

According to the gospels, then, the devil apparently exercised great influence over Jesus! When the Beloved Disciple asked Jesus “Who is it” who would betray him (John 13:25), Jesus replied, “It is he to whom I shall give a morsel when I have dipped it.” Then, dipping a morsel, he gave it to Judas, who is specifically mentioned as the son of “Simon Iscariot”. Immediately after Judas received the morsel, Satan entered him. So in effect, the devil entered Judas through the bread that Jesus provided!  Around the era that Jesus supposedly lived, the belief that the devil took hold of people in various ways, such as by food (especially those consecrated to idols) was a common one. Considering this little detail comes from a text that is entirely canonical, this is rather alarming.

What’s interesting about this is that the account of the Last Supper where Jesus presides with a meal with people of questionable character and values (the pagans), “at the table of demons” (1 Corinthians 10:21), this would also coincide and at the same time, contradict Paul’s allegation regarding meat sacrificed to idols (cf. 1 Cor. 8:8–11; 10:25) because the unholy fate of Judas is actually the fault of his master, Jesus! Poor JudasPeter in Galatians 2:12 would disassociate himself with the same group of people, and also deny Christ three times, and would not be with him during his master’s last hours. The most Jewish of all the Gospels, being Matthew 16:23, clearly associates Satan with Peter:

Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

This sort of reflects the idea that Jesus was also an exorcist, despite the strange associations of Jesus with Satan. We see this in the Greek Magical Papyri:

Hail God of Abraham Hail God of Isaac Hail God of Jacob; Jesus Chrestos the Holy Spirit the Son of the Father who is above the Seven who is within the Seven. Bring Iao Sabaoth may your power issue forth from him until you drive away this unclean daimon Satan who is in him.

A  pattern thus begins to emerge in the interconnection between the promotion of Christ’s power over demonic local gods, dramatic exorcist ritual, and widespread thaumaturgical reputation as seen in the Gospel of Mark, which reflects a peculiar emphasis on exorcism and demonology. Jesus was seen as both an exorcist and a demon, simultaneously, by different groups. Interestingly enough, the earliest inscription to Christ is of one who evokes demons. A “goistais” or a necromancer/nigromancer implies someone who calls up infernal spirits rather than an ordinary magician.

Following in Jesus’ footsteps (as per Mark, Matthew and John) a similar pattern can also be seen in the Church Fathers, where Simon was conceived as being synonymous with the Devil himself. Irenaeus in Against Heresies (3.3:4) would write about Marcion as being “the first-born of Satan” (Satan being Simon):

And Polycarp himself replied to Marcion, who met him on one occasion, and said, “Dost thou know me?” “I do know thee, the first-born of Satan.”

Furthermore, Irenaeus regarded all heresies as instigated by Satan (Adv. Haer. 1.21.1):

There are as many ceremonies of redemption as there are mystagogues. This kind of person has been infiltrated by Satan with a view to the denial of the baptism of rebirth to God, indeed the renunciation of the whole faith.

So in Irenaeus’ eyes, Satan was the first Gnostic! Indeed, Simon Magus was Satan incarnate, as being a concrete example of being “the devil, who leads astray the world” (Revelations 12:9). In Ambrose’ Epstulam ad Romanos, he spoke of the flight where he compared Simon Magus to Satan. This is likely an allusion where Jesus in Luke’s Gospel said, “Behold, I see Satan falling from heaven”, as his disciples went about casting out demons. Ambrose also likened Simon Magus’ magic to that of Jamnes and Mambres’ abilities, who were the court magicians of the Pharaoh.

Augustine also boasted about Peter’s victory at Rome over Simon in De haeresibus, a symbolic statement of the triumph of the Catholic Church over the heretics. In Letter 36, Augustine recalls how Peter, the leader of the apostles, brought Simon down from heaven and defeated him. Augustine also claimed that Simon Magus was indeed, the “devil” and representative of the Evil One. This consistent demonization of Simon is reinforced through Simon’s own magical incantations as being a trait of deception as Irenaeus reports (Adv. Haer. 1.23.1) :

He, then, not putting faith in God a whit the more, set himself eagerly to contend against the apostles, in order that he himself might seem to be a wonderful being, and applied himself with still greater zeal to the study of the whole magic art, that he might the better bewilder and overpower multitudes of men.

The Clementine Homilies 2:26 reflects this by telling us that Simon Magus produced a homunculus or an artificial human, out of air!

“For he even began to commit murder as himself disclosed to us, as a friend to friends, that, having separated the soul of a child from its own body by horrid incantations, as his assistant for the exhibition of anything that he pleased, and having drawn the likeness of the boy, he has it set up in the inner room where he sleeps, saying that he once formed the boy of air, by divine arts, and having painted his likeness, he gave him back again to the air.

“And he explains that he did the deed thus. He says that the first soul of man, being turned into the nature of heat, drew to itself, and sucked in the surrounding air, after the fashion of a gourd; and then that he changed it into water, when it was within the form of the spirit; and he said that he changed into the nature of blood the air that was in it, which could not be poured out on account of the consistency of the spirit, and that he made the blood solidified into flesh; then, the flesh being thus consolidated, that he exhibited a man not made from earth, but from air.

“And thus, having persuaded himself that he was able to make a new sort of man, he said that he reversed the changes, and again restored him to the air. And when he told this to others, he was believed; but by us who were present at his ceremonies he was religiously disbelieved. Wherefore we denounced his impieties, and withdrew from him.”

That was a common accusation also raised against Simon Magus by the various accounts of the Church Fathers, supposedly that he performed miracles by the aid of demons as first mentioned in Justin Martyr’s account. The charge of “magic” was part of a rhetorical strategy employed by many groups, like the Romans, Orthodox Christians, Hellenes and Jews alike. Sometimes this was done against one another and sometimes against rival factions or schools within their own religious traditions.

Another example can be seen with the Stoic Celsus as well as the Roman authorities in the first and second centuries who regarded Christians as magicians engaged in secret diabolical rites. It is a well known fact that early Christians refused to participate in the pagan cults of the early Roman empire, thus reinforcing their status to the Empire as fringe or alien. Moreover, the claims of the Christians themselves to heal the sick and exorcise daimons were thought of as evidence of sorcery and diabolism, according to Celsus as recorded by Origen in Contra Celsus 1.68:

Since these men do these wonders, ought we to think them sons of God? Or ought we to say that they are the practices of wicked men possessed by an evil daimon?

Similarly, in the pastorals such as I Timothy, the text stigmatizes Gnostics (those who espouse “what is falsely called knowledge,” or gnosis in 6:20) as “giving heed to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons” (4:1) For the author of I John, docetic Gnostics prophesy by “the spirit of the antichrist” (4:3).This is also explicitly raised in John 8:48-51 as an indictment against Jesus, which he rebuttals:

Then the Jews answered and said to Him, ‘Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?’ Jesus answered, ‘I do not have a demon; but I honor My Father, and you dishonor Me. And I do not seek My own glory; there is One who seeks and judges.’

The Samaritan that they’re referencing is of course, Simon Magus. Jesus doesn’t deny being a Samaritan (Simon), only having a demon. Jesus would condemn his Pharisaic critics as children of the devil, inferring that the Jewish God was actually Satan in John 8:44!

You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

Also, the account of the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4 may be a revised version of Simon Magus and Helena. It is probable to suspect that the Gospel of John was originally a Simonian gospel about Simon Magus that was heavily redacted and Christianized into an orthodox text. Here is the Catholic Church Father, Irenaeus’ account of Simon’s doctrine in Against Heresies 1.23.3:

For since the angels ruled the world ill because each one of them coveted the principal power for himself, he [Simon] had come to amend matters, and had descended, transfigured and assimilated to powers and principalities and angels, so that he might appear among men to be a man, while yet he was not a man; and that thus he was thought to have suffered in Judaea, when he had not suffered. Moreover, the prophets uttered their predictions under the inspiration of those angels who formed the world; for which reason those who place their trust in him and Helena no longer regarded them, but, as being free, live as they please; for men are saved through his grace, and not on account of their own righteous actions. For such deeds are not righteous in the nature of things, but by mere accident, just as those angels who made the world, have thought fit to constitute them, seeking, by means of such precepts, to bring men into bondage. On this account, he pledged himself that the world should be dissolved, and that those who are his should be freed from the rule of them who made the world.

If you substitute Simon with Jesus, what you’re essentially left with is Paul’s gospel. Men are saved by the grace of Simon (Jesus), and not by righteous works. Those who put their faith in him will be saved from the dissolution of the world. He appeared in the likeness of men, although wasn’t a man, and was crucified in Judea, although he did not suffer physical pain. It all sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Simon’s doctrine is synonymous to Paul’s, aside from Simon being substituted for Jesus. It’s fairly obvious to say that what we have here in Irenaeus is a conflation of Paul’s unperverted Gnostic-like gospel with his original identity, Simon. So Simon is none other than Paul, and the Church fathers confused Paul’s theology of Christ for Paul himself, who is known to them as Simon. In other words, Simon, who is also Paul, was mistakenly divided into two separate people, Simon of Samaria and Paul the Apostle. Once one sifts through all the contradictions and muddled accounts of Simon Magus, it becomes apparent what’s really going on here, or who was who all those years ago. Simon as a Samaritan would also explain all the ambiguity about Paul’s Jewishness. And from there stems the doubt whether Paul was actually a Jew or not because of his repeated association with Simon as a pseudonym for Paul or vice versa.

“Ye know how through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you at the first. And my temptation which was in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected; but received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 4:13-15)

In the Pseudo-Clementine literature much like the Acts of Apostles, which pits Simon Peter against Simon Magus, Simon Magus represents the Pauline camp while Simon Peter (or Cephas) represents the Jewish Christian camp. Simon Magus was Simon Peter’s arch-rival, much like Jesus claimed Peter was “Satan” his adversary in Matthew. Simon Magus was indeed a real historical figure and the original inspiration for the Paul persona since Simon associated himself as being megas, which is Greek for “great” while Paulos comes from the Latin parvalus, which basically means pathetic, small or insignificant. This is not coincidental as others have noted and may have to do with Philippians 2:7-8, where Simon Christ the Great Power takes on the likeness of a servant being the title Paulos (small). And Peter is also a surname rather an actual name, as it is even probable that Peter is also a satirical caricature based on of Simon through a play on words, the “Great Power” or the “Standing One” since Peter is a latinized form of the Syriac Cephas meaning “rock”. So the “rock” that Christ supposedly built the Roman Catholic Church on is perhaps a fictitious creation based on a Catholic interpolation or addendum of Matthew 16:18 in support for the authoritative spiritual, political and social primacy of “Orthodoxy”. This stands in direct opposition of Paul when he declares in Romans 1:11:

“I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established.”

Considering the vast amounts of forgeries, plagiarisms, interpolations and false attributions written by competing proto-Orthodox groups to not only to delegitimize Gnostic and esoteric writings but to also erase them with their own, none of this would come as a surprise. This can be seen as sort of a systematic Buffalo Bill “wearing the skins of his victims” type of scenario.

In Acts of the Apostles 8, Simon Magus answers Peter in a humble manner and requesting the latter to pray for him. However, in patristic writings seen in works in what is purported to be by Clement of Rome, he is represented as boastful, a megalomaniac, calling himself the omnipotent, challenging the apostles of Rome, before Nero. The latter event is mentioned by several of the Fathers of the Church as well as the Acts of Peter. Simon ascends into the air like Superman, in imitation of the physical ascension of Elias and of Christ, but whilst he was doing so the apostles counteracted his activity through the intercession of prayer and he fell to the ground, seriously injuring his legs. As the story goes, the death of Simon was brought about by Peter and the Christians in Rome shortly before 64 AD. Yet, this story given in the Acts of Peter looks so ludicrous that many biblical scholars have dismissed it as sheer invention by an orthodox scribe from much later. The Acts of Peter also portrays Peter performing very important miracles such as resurrecting smoked fish, and making dogs talk…True story!

Petrus and Simon by Paul Troger (1743)

Hippolytus in Refutation of All Heresies (5:15) tells us another story, where Simon performs a yogic miracle of being buried alive. Simon would tell his followers he would rise on the third day, which again looks like an attempt to imitate Christ, in all too literal fashion:

This man, ultimately repairing to … (and) sitting under a plane tree, continued to give instruction (in his doctrines). And in truth at last, when conviction was imminent, in case he delayed longer, be stated that, if he were buried alive, he would rise the third day. And accordingly, having ordered a trench to be dug by his disciples, he directed himself to be interred there. They, then, executed the injunction given; whereas he remained (in that grave) until this day, for he was not the Christ (R6.15).

In both Hippolytus’ account and in the Acts of Peter, they give us fabricated reasons to make Simon not like Christ. They are basically satirical and polemic in nature, in attempt to discredit Simon’s position as the “Standing One” or the Chrestos by also using the belief in the carnal resurrection as a satirical device, strangely enough, considering it is one of the earliest apocryphal Acts of the Apostles.

Simon was also said to be baptized by John the Baptist much like Jesus was in Matthew 3:13-16, however, and then seeing the apostles administering the sacrament of chrism, he asked them to give him the power to do this, offering them money. Peter rebuked him for attempting to purchase sacramental powers, and ever after the offering of money with the aim of obtaining sacerdotal powers has been known as *simony*. Yet, is it any coincidence that the Simon of Acts tries to buy the holy spirit from the apostles, just as Paul attempted to win the favor of the Jerusalem Christians by donating to them a large some of money collected from his congregations in 2 Corinthians 8? Or that Marcion, too, supposedly did the exact same thing with the church of Rome? 

Simon of Samaria is usually reputed to be the father of Gnosticism, but that only means he was the first well-known leader of a Gnostic movement. Now it certainly would be true to say that Gnosticism emerged from the milieu of Greek philosophy, but it would be good to understand a specific origin to which we can say: that is where Gnosticism came from. Now some think that there were Apostate Jew Gnostics (the so-called “Sethians”) existing in the first and second centuries B.C.E. The Sethians were probably originally a Jewish mystery cult that venerated the patriarch Seth and eventually became Gnosticized after the advent of Christianity, through the influence of Dositheos (a disciple of John the Baptist and spiritual competitor with Simon) since the Three Steles of Seth specifically mentions him as the “father of the living and unshakable race”.

So there is no complete doubt in the possibility that Sethianism itself was pre-Christian, just that Gnosticized Sethianism was pre-Christian. That is, if Sethianism predates Christianity, then it most likely wasn’t Gnostic (belief in a Demiurge, fall of Sophia, descent of an immaterial Savior, etc) prior to being Christianized. Not to mention the strong influence of Merkabah or Throne mysticism introduced by the prophet Ezekiel who first saw a fiery anthropos figure which he saw as God. From this strange and frightening vision emerged the tradition of chariot mysticism—the chariot representing movement or transport between the divine and the world of flesh. Merkabah mystics saw Ezekiel’s chariot as a prototype for ascending into the world above and for glimpsing the Heavenly Jerusalem. We will revisit Ezekiel later…

So why believe that this bad-boy magician began Gnosticism or at least was one of the earliest of these naughty, troublesome heretics? Irenaeus writing in his Against All Heresies 1.23.4 in the late second century in regards to Simonians, those who follow Simon, wrote among other things about Simon and his followers:

“They have also an image of Simon made in the likeness of Jupiter, and of Helen in that of Minerva; and they worship the (statues); and they have a designation from their most impiously minded founder, being called Simonians, from whom the Gnosis, falsely so-called, derives its origins, as one can learn from their own assertions.”

We see here, one who investigated heresy carefully for the purpose of arguing well against it claims that Simon Magus began Gnosticism and he even says that the Simonians say this of Simon too. He bases this notion primarily from Justin Martyr’s account which many scholars seem to agree that seems the most trustworthy as it is the earliest and happens to come from a fellow Samaritan (being Justin Martyr). But this is not all for his enemies have preserved a significant amount of his teachings and in them we can find striking parallels to Gnosticism as I have already explained in great detail in Part 1.

Another small reminder that I want to make is that as we can read in the Simonian Great Declaration, which we have preserved by Hippolytus:

“This is He who has stood, stands and will stand, a male-female power like the preëxisting Boundless Power, which has neither beginning nor end, existing in oneness. For it is from this that the Thought in the oneness proceeded and became two.”

Does this not sound like a aeonic syzygy that we see so prominently in Gnostic Aeonic systems? Even strongly esoteric texts like the Books of Jeu (Iao), Paraphrase of Shem and the Gospel of the Egyptians share many strong Simonian ideas. While, I will not conclusively say that Simon the sorcerer began Gnosticism and perhaps even Christianity itself, he certainly is a convincing candidate.

Let us return to some more commentary on the Great Declaration. From this moment forward, however, I will only be commenting on passages that do not necessarily repeat the same information since the Great Declaration is very repetitious in nature. Also, I will only comment on one part of the writing since I have already devoted a great deal of exegesis to Simon.

In general, one may say concerning all things, the visible and the intelligible, that is the concealed and manifest, that are contained in the fire which overpasses the very heavens, even as the great tree like unto that glimpsed in a vision by Nebuchadnezzar which nourishes all flesh. Of this, the manifested side corresponds to the trunk, limbs, leaves, and encasing bark. All these members of the tree are set ablaze from the all-consuming flame of the fire and destroyed. But as for the fruit of the tree, if it’s for is perfect and it assumes the true shape, it is gathered into the storehouse, not thrown into the fire. For the fruit is produced in order to be stored away, but the bark of the tree, having served its purpose is destined for the fire, as it was produced for no purpose in its own right but only to protect the fruit.

In the Biblical book of Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar is a Babylonian King who, “has a dream he can’t remember but keeps searching for an answer.” Daniel 4: 4-27 details Nebuchadnezzer’s dream where it presents a tree with the head of a statue. The metaphor of the tree alludes also the king’s presumptuous character, comparing Nebuchadnezzar to Adam in his function as manager of the universe (Gen. 1:28). It also hints at the tree of life (or the tree of knowledge) in its position in the middle of the earth (Gen. 2:9; 3:3).  The tree stretches unto the heavens as it clearly is no ordinary tree (Dan. 4:11, 20). Nebuchadnezzer interprets the tree to be himself and as a haughty King of Babylon, prefers to reply on the astrologers’ explanation.

Therefore, when Daniel, acting like a true court magician, enters the scene, Nebuchadnezzer trembles and his first words are full of tact and wishing: “My lord, if only the dream applied to our enemies…!” (Dan. 4:19). But the interpretation that follows slashes like a knife: “You, O king, are that tree!” (verse 22).  What is the significance of this, exactly? Perhaps, Nebuchadnezzer’s dream body represents the mortal flesh that will eventually be dissolved in the conflagration just as the “members of the tree are set ablaze from the all-consuming flame of the fire and destroyed.”

Statue-of-Nebuchadnezzar-Daniel-Chapter-2-Iron-and-Clay-Hyrbid-Nephilim-Kingdom

This King of Babylon (Isaiah 14) and the prince of Tyre (Ezekiel 29) are both said to have declared themselves “god” and to have been punished for their impudence. It would not have been strange or unusual for Jews to have applied the same exegesis where the sin of arrogant claims of divinity was suspected. Certainly similar claims were made by Nebuchadnezzar in Judith (3:8; 6:12); Entiochus Epiphanes in Daniel (11:36f.); Caligula in Philo (Gaium 22, 74-80), 93-97; 118; 162); Nero in the Sibylline Oracles (5:33-35) and the Ascension of Isaiah (4:6-8). In 2 Thessalonians 2:4 the man of lawlessness i.e., the “AntiChrist” is said to proclaim himself to be God as stated in Revelations 13:1, 5-6.

Isaiah 14 was also used in the Orthodox polemic against Simon Magus and in the Jewish polemic against, you guessed it…Jesus! In the Gospel of John (5:18, 10:33), the crime of Jesus in the eyes of Judaism is not just that he considers himself the messiah but that he seeks to make himself equal with God:

For this reason, the Jews sought all the more to kill him – not only was he breaking the sabbath; worse still he was speaking of God as his own father, thus making himself God’s equal.

We stone you for no good work but for blasphemy because you, being a man, make yourself a god.

The creator god of Genesis is cast in the role of the arrogant ruler who vainly claims that he is the ultimate God featured in Hypostasis of the Archons: “It is I who am God; there is none apart from me. When he said this, he sinned against the Entirety.” This seems to be centered in the polemic of the Gnostics against the Jewish God in the first instance, but, in the second instance, against those who value the scripture of the Old Testament too highly—namely, the Orthodox Christians. This idea is reflected in the Gospel of John, when Jesus says in John 18:8 that “all who have come before me are thieves and robbers.” Wouldn’t “all” in that context imply the Old Testament patriarchs and prophets? If Johannine Jesus is favorably Judaic, then wouldn’t he want to clarify that he doesn’t include Moses, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, etc. in his criticism? We see another variant of this criticism leveled against the prophets and Old Testament patriarchs in the Basilidean Second Treatise of the Great Seth, as “laughingstocks” including the Old Testament deity also known as the “Archon”:

 The 12 prophets were laughingstocks, since they have come forth as imitations of the true prophets. They came into being as counterfeits through the Hebdomad, as if he had become stronger than I and my brothers. But we are innocent with respect to him, since we have not sinned. Moses, a faithful servant, was a laughingstock, having been named “the Friend,” since they perversely bore witness concerning him who never knew me. Neither he nor those before him, from Adam to Moses and John the Baptist, none of them knew me nor my brothers.

The Clementine Recognitions (2:47) also preserve a similar argument by Simon made against Peter, throwing a Matthew 11:27 quote to his face:

…yet your Jesus, who appeared long after the patriarchs, says: “No one knows the Son, but the Father; neither knows anyone the Father, but the Son, and he to whom the Son has been pleased to reveal him. ‘ Thus, therefore, even your Jesus confesses that there is another God, incomprehensible and unknown to all.

The chief point at issue between the disputants is the difference between Peter’s view of Adam and his Creator and that of Simon. According to Peter, God the Creator first made the world and all that is in it, and then his creature Adam. Peter is a monotheist and defends his position as such, whereas Simon, according to Peter, is a polytheist who places another Unknown and Unknowable God above the Jewish God the Creator in a typical Gnostic and Marcionite fashion, and thus turns Jehovah into his Agent. Simon’s actual teachings of course, can be found in the Great Declaration.

The Apostle Paul also has a very negative assessment of traditional biblical theology, revealed in the Old Testament in Galatians 3:19, where he reduces the Law and by extension, the Lawgiver as the work by angels:

Why, then, was the law given at all? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was given through angels and entrusted to a mediator.

Again, in Philippians 3:5-9, Paul considers the Jewish Law as worthless and ultimately “garbage”:

I was circumcised when I was eight days old. I am a pure-blooded citizen of Israel and a member of the tribe of Benjamin—a real Hebrew if there ever was one! I was a member of the Pharisees, who demand the strictest obedience to the Jewish law. I was so zealous that I harshly persecuted the church. And as for righteousness, I obeyed the law without fault.

I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him.

Later, Marcion would use Luke 6:43-49, to justify his radical dualism:

For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit;  for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good man out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil man out of his evil treasure produces evil; for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

Marcion said the two trees represented the two gods and the two covenants. Also, the part in Luke (5:36-39) where Jesus says you can’t put new wine into old wine-skins—Marcion interpreted that as saying that you can’t mix Christianity with Judaism. Therefore, Gnostic interpretation was built on Pauline and Marcionite exegesis, and also took over the claims of uniqueness for Israel’s God, but applied them to Plato’s Demiurge of Timaeus. This Gnostic exegesis split the tradition we find opposed by the rabbis in two parts: the traditions about a second figure were transmuted into the Gnostic Savior, while the scripture characteristic of the rabbinic polemic against “two powers” associated with the Demiurge who is still the God of Israel but not the “Most High”. Saturnilus of Antioch, a student of Simon Magus through Menander would later clearly reduce the “God of the Jews” as one of the angels, as testified by Irenaeus in Against Heresies (1,24).

In Part 3, we will continue on this dark and dangerous voyage into the magical depths of Simonian theology, some more details regarding the heresy of the “two powers”, a possible connection with Philo of Alexandria, more commentary on the Great Declaration and its subsequent influence on not only Gnosis but the foundations of Christianity itself. And yes, the Hermetic Super-friends will also make a grand appearance.

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