Adam, Sophianic Eve and The Archons
The curtain now opens with the next act of this ancient Mystery Play; The Creation of Humans and the Planting of the Divine Spark Within.
The Biblical version of the story of Adam and Eve is maybe one of the most familiar scenes from the Old Testament that was commonly portrayed in the mystery plays of medieval Europe.
However, beginning around the first and second centuries C.E, long after the Genesis story was locked into the Hebrew Bible, a very different version of this story began to appear from within the tradition we know generally as gnostic. It is not only difficult to extract a coherent narrative from the spare written fragments that survived from that time, it is also hard to make sense of the complex twists of this highly unusual rendition of the tale of Adam and Eve. Indeed, as Simon Magus as well as the Gnostic Christ noted, the Hebrew God, Yahweh, was not considered to be the Unknowable God but rather was the demiurge himself. This is an important detail to keep in mind when stepping into this gnostic rendition of the story of Adam and Eve. Also, it helps to be familiar with the first sections of the Sophia creation story, especially with regards to her “fall” as presented in Part 12 and Part 14 of this series.
According to the gnostic mythos presented here so far, Sophia “fell” from the pleroma (the “light land” as it is referred to in the Pistis Sophia) and became imprisoned in this “aeon” or local dimensional reality, by the demiurge and lead archon called, Yaldabaoth who, it is told, stole her divine light. Prior to the advent of Adam and Eve, Christ underwent a descent from his place in the Pleroma where he rescued Sophia and raised her up and safely out of reach of the archon’s abuse.
It is helpful if not unavoidable to see the timeline of these events more archetypally and less concretely, especially when considering “Christ’s rescue” of Sophia prior to the creation of Adam and Eve. (1)
Some like Lash (2) believe that Sophia and the “sons of light” had intended to seed a divine luminous being into this realm but their project went awry. Yaldabaoth and his legion of archons then strutted around as overlords to this world, showing off the stolen Light of Sophia which they were completely unable to upload into their own dark and nefarious beings.
But then it appears that the failure of the original plan to plant the divine anthropos into this quadrant of the universe went to a Plan B that was initiated by Sophia from her perch in the ninth heaven.
The Creation of Humans
- Seen in The Waters
The gnostic text called the Reality of the Rulers (Hypostasis of the Archons) includes a key next piece of this story that leads to the creation of Adam. (3) It begins by referencing St. Paul who said “our contest is not against flesh and blood; rather, the authorities of the universe and the spirits of wickedness.” (4) This text reads as if it is being delivered by a teacher who is clarifying questions about this enigma of the archons and is therefore likely a synthesis of prior texts that may have included the Secret Book of John.
“A veil exists between the world above and the realms that are below.” (HofA) This boundary is also identified as “the waters.” “As incorruptibility gazed down into the region of the waters, its image was shown forth in the waters and the authorities of the darkness became enamored of it.” (5)
Remember that Sophia is sitting in the “ninth heaven”, not having been fully restored to her original place in the pleroma, but where she is safely out of the reach of the archons, while she waits for the full return of her lost light.
Yaldabaoth was outside of the heavenly realm, the pleroma. He did not know of the existence of The Ineffable monad, which in the Valentinian tradition is called The Deep. Yaldabaoth could not see the distant, dark face of The Deep and Thought/Pronnoia, the Spirit of God looked through this window of the waters at the tragedy of this failed seeding.
The earlier version is found in the first lines of the Bible. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” (Genesis 1:1-2)
A case could be made that the gnostic version of the tale offers a more detailed account that includes much more detail about the complexity of the creation story. Whether the version in Genesis simply is presenting a more naive view of this or whether they were furthering the cosmology as seen from the perspective of the lead archon Yaldabaoth we will likely never know.
The Holy Spirit of God is here equated with the Epinoia, the Sophianic divine light of creation who seems to have projected the image of her divine creation in the waters as seen from below. “And through the waters that are over the material realm, the bottom (shone) because of the (appearance) of its image that had appeared.” (6)
Yaldabaoth saw the image of Adamas or Geradamas, the divine human template, the Anthropos, that may well have been what Sophia had originally intended to bring to this lower region who was created in the image of the Ineffable Ein Soph. Upon seeing this, the demiurge then decided to create a man in that image.
2. The Creator Gods Made Man in That Image
“Let us make a human being after the image of god and after our images, so that the human being’s image might serve as a light for us.” (7)
And so in his creations, he created angels to help him and the many creator gods took part in the formation of this being called Adam. One created a left foot, another made the brain, one created the chest, until gradually Adam was assembled. But he was not alive. He was a dead corpse. He was just a body. There was nothing that was alive in him.
3. Sophia’s Light Breathed Into Adam and He Became a Luminous Being
Sophia requested help from the First Mystery to trick Yaldabaoth into blowing Sophia’s stolen light into Adam. And so these non-archonic angelic beings that were sent down to him, “said to Yaltabaoth, ‘Blow into his face something of your spirit and his body will arise.’ And he blew into his face the spirit which is the power of his mother; he did not know (this), for he exists in ignorance. And the power of the mother went out of Yaltabaoth into the natural body, which they had fashioned after the image of the one who exists from the beginning. The body moved and gained strength, and it was luminous.” Apochryphon of John
The Hebrew Bible is more general and vague about this. “Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” (Genesis 2:7)
This sounds like pure mythology that is describing the fanciful work of the gods. To even consider this to be real is to dance with many Christians who throw their full faith behind the literal tale of Adam and Eve. Or maybe it suggests the idea of “intelligent design” where there was some knowing hand behind the creation of our species that was not just the haphazard result of Darwin’s natural selection. Or to look even deeper into the rabbit hole, what if there were (and even are) higher dimensional beings who were vastly superior to us in their evolution who had the ability to work with the very building blocks of life itself, DNA. This is one way in which the gnostic creation story is so valuable because it seems to be attempting to describe a vast cosmological sweep of historical events but it is doing so as creation story that seeks to make it translatable into terms the people might be able to fathom without getting too caught up in the scientific proof of what is being presented.
Getting back to the story. It is at this point that things started to go really bad for this new being, Adam. He was a luminous being with a quality of light that the creator gods did not have themselves.
4. The Archons Became Jealous of Adam
“And in that moment the rest of the powers became jealous, because he had come into being through all of them and they had given their power to the man, and his intelligence was greater than that of those who had made him, and greater than that of the chief archon. And when they recognized that he was luminous, and that he could think better than they, and that he was free from wickedness, they took him and threw him into the lowest region of all matter.” (Apochryphon of John)
5. Adam Undergoes a Second Modeling that Shrouds his Luminosity
As this Adam was a luminous being, Yaldabaoth saw him by his shadow. “And they brought him into the shadow of death, in order to perform again the act of modeling, out of earth, water, fire and the spirit that derive from matter – that is, out of the ignorance of darkness, and desire, and their counterfeit spirit. That is the cave of the remodeling of the body in which the brigands clothed the human being (with) the bonds of forgetfulness. And he became a mortal human being.” (8)
6. Sophianic Eve
At this point in the story, Eve is seen in a completely opposite way than how she is depicted in Genesis. Eve was sent by Sophia to remind Adam of his luminous essence that the archons are trying to hide from him. Instead of Eve being the cause of Adam’s downfall, she is identified as Pistis Sophia’s daughter (9) who was sent to be an ally to Adam, to help him understand how he had descended from divinity but whose physical body had been formed/molded by a jealous god.
“And he (the first mystery) sent, through his beneficent Spirit and his great mercy, a helper to Adam, luminous Epinoia which comes out of him, who is called Life (Zoe).” (AofJ) Eve toiled along with Adam, instructing him “about the way of ascent, by which he had descended.”
7. The Female Divine Spark, Epinoia, Appears as the Snake Who Instructs Eve
Adam and Eve were in the lower regions of matter whereupon the “female spiritual principle” (AofJ) the luminous epinoia, appeared as an instructor to them in the form of a snake. She instructed Eve and Adam that Yaldabaoth’s warning against eating the fruits of this tree were said out of jealousy. This female principle of light then urged Eve to eat from this Tree of Knowledge where she would then become awake to the difference between archonic enslavement and acting according to the impulse of the luminescent spark within. Eve shared this with Adam and they both then become sober to the reality that had been thrust upon them, that they were spiritual beings who had become bound within dense material bodies, naked as animals, stripped of their divinity.
When Yaldabaoth learned that they had thus become aware of their nature that was more advanced than his own, he threw them out of the garden and into the lower regions of material reality.
In this same way, Eve and indeed all of womankind have been blamed for the “fall” of Man, something which, according to this tradition, Eve had been sent as an intervention to help Adam in the face of the tragedy of the loss of the divine luminescent form.
8. Eve was Raped By Yaldabaoth
Cain was born from this rape. When Abel was born from the union between Adam and Eve, Cain eventually seized upon Abel, killing him.
9. Adam and Eve give birth to Seth, the Carrier of the Divine Spark into Humanity
After Abel was killed, Adam and Eve give birth to Seth who then escaped the direct hand of archonic molding that Adam was subjected to. This figure Seth is one of the most significant characters in the mystery play as he is the one who carries the message, indeed the divine spark itself, into history as it unfolded from the time of Adam and Eve. He is like Neo in the Matrix, who holds a key but moves onto the streets of this world in a way were he is of the people but he doesn’t loose his spiritual power.
There are a number of texts that are either attributed to Seth or are in praise of Seth. The Revelation of Adam is like an extensive end-of-life message that he is delivering to his son. The text Allogenes is thought to be a text presented by Seth, the stranger in a strange land to his son, Messos. There are allegedly three stone tablets that are reported to have been written by Seth himself, (Three Steles of Seth) in praise of Holy Pronnoia (Higher Sophia), to his father Geradamas, and to the “pre-existent one”, the Ineffable monad.
What is more, there are multiple references that suggest that Jesus himself was an incarnation of this figure Seth, even with the possibility that Seth being the Son of Adam, or the Son of Man, was part of the higher consciousness of this man Jesus.
There are awkward references to the “Seed of Seth” and the “race” of Seth, suggesting that there is some racial offspring that is coming from the Adamic seed. I believe it is super important to guard against any hint that there might be some racial superiority amongst any of the human population, and rather see it more generally as, humanity as a whole, where we all are part of is called Children of the Light.
10. Eve Gives Birth to Norea, The One Who Expressed Holy Anger in Response to the Tyranny of the Archons
Despite how prominent Seth is in the whole Gnostic creation story, it is astounding that in the last section of the Reality of the Rulers, Seth’s importance is eclipsed by his younger sister who becomes the last heroine of this text who courageously stands up against the archons.
The Story of Norea is also appears in the Nag Hammadi as a Sethian praise to the divine (“ode” or hymn) called the Thought of Norea. (10) Norea “is the virgin whom the powers did not defile.” says Eve (11). Norea represents the voice of limit setting, of refusing to be co-dependent. “It is Norea who cries out to them.”
The demiurge did not like Norea’s younthful freewill and said to her, “You must render service to us (as did) also your mother Eve.” The text continues. “But Norea turned with the might of (… the text breaks off here!) and in a loud voice she cried out to the holy, the god of the entirety, ‘Rescue me from the rulers of injustice and same me from their clutches – immediately!'” (12)
The power and conviction of her holy anger must have reached the heavens because one of the four primary angels “who stands in the presence of the holy spirit” known as Eleleth, came to Norea. “I have been sent to speak with you and save you from the grasp of the lawless. And I shall teach you about your root. …these authorities cannot defile you and [the “children of the light”] (13), for your abode (human form) is in incorruptibility, where the virgin (Sophianic) spirit dwells, which is superior to the authorities of chaos and to the world.”
Eleleth went on. “Do you think these rulers have any power over you? None of them can prevail against the root of truth, for on its account he (Divine Source) has been shown forth in the final ages and these authorities will be dominated.” (14)
Norea appears to be a little known embodiment of Sophia who is in this world but who refuses to comply with the rule of the archons. Perhaps this answer to her cry is a prophetic statement of times to come, when these tyrannical overlords will one day be “shown forth” the exit from the world stage, so that the originally intended seeding of Homo Sapiens, Sophianic Man, can truly be made manifest.
- Christ being both the eternal Logos/Anthropos offspring of the great emanation of the Holy Spirit Barbelo as well as a living man whose soul purpose was to rescue Sophia.
- Lash, John Lamb. Not In Our Image
- The Hypostasis of the Archons is possibly a 3rd century gnostic text that may have been developed from the same source text as On the Origin of the World which are both interpretations as taken from what were likely earlier more original texts.
- This quote from Paul (from possibly as early as the second century C.E.) validates this as being a text from St. Paul that has had little editing or “redaction” over the centuries. “For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” – St. Paul. Ephesians 6:12
- Layton, Bentley. The Gnostic Scriptures: ancient wisdom for the new age. New York: Doubleday. 1987. p. 69.
- Ibid., p. 39
- Ibid., pg 39
- Ibid., 44-45.
- Ibid., p. 74
- Robinson, James, M. General Editor. The Nag Hammadi Library: Revised edition. the definitive new translation fo the gnostic scriptures complete in one volume. San Francisco: Harper and Row. 1978. p. 447.
- Layton, p. 72
- Ibid., p. 73
- One theme that appears in the gnostic texts that is confusing if not troubling is the idea of the “Race” and the Seed of Seth. I subscribe to the theory that Adamic Man, Homo Sapeins, is of a genetic group that carries this Divine Spark, whatever that mystery might be. To assert any one particular “race” as being the carrier of the Seed of Seth is to open the door to the obvious inanity of any groups claim to racial superiority. Gnosticism that was pushed underground has found many secret and dark groups who seek to exploit sacred wisdom to assert their own superiority, the Nazis being one example of this. That said, this idea of the “seed” of Seth, is spoken of in contrast to what is spoken of in the Apochryphon of John. “And he (Yaldabaoth) made a plan with his powers. He sent his angels (archons) to the daughters of men, that they might take some of them for themselves and raise offspring for their enjoyment. And at first they did not succeed. When they had no success, they gathered together again and they made a plan together. They created a counterfeit spirit, who resembles the Spirit who had descended, so as to pollute the souls through it. And the angels changed themselves in their likeness into the likeness of their mates (the daughters of men), filling them with the spirit of darkness, which they had mixed for them, and with evil. They brought gold and silver and a gift and copper and iron and metal and all kinds of things. And they steered the people who had followed them into great troubles, by leading them astray with many deceptions.”
- Layton, p. 73.