by John Lash
Assuming the arrogant pose of a solar
deity, Yaldabaoth falsely believes himself to be the only god in the
Thus, for Gnostics, the identification of Yaldabaoth
with Jehovah of the Old Testament, a deity who suffers from this
very complex of cosmic egotism, is a foregone conclusion, prefigured
in the Sophianic origin myth.
Being blind, he cannot perceive the
Pleroma (galactic core), nor does he recognize Sophia, the cosmic
current that surged from the core and produced him in the first
He becomes infatuated, bloated with
grandiosity, causing Sophia to feel shame and want to hide him from
the sight of the Pleromic Aeons.
"She cast him away from her
radiance, so that no one among the immortal ones might see
him... She joined a luminous cloud with him, and placed a throne
in the middle of the cloud."
(Apoc John BG 38, 1-10)
The Aeon Sophia is that cosmic current
whose impact organizes the dema and produces
happens because She acts unilaterally in Her plunge from the
galactic core, but Sophia does not unilaterally cause the birth of
the Sun. This is a process continually occurring in the galactic
limbs, due to the physics of the limb structure itself. In an action
that might be compared to a mill wheel grinding stones, the galactic
armature churns and refines elementary matter, constantly producing star-birth, the promise of new worlds of experience.
The key to the unique status of our planetary system is the
convergence of Sophia's impact with the nebular expulsion of a
newborn star. The material of the Archons is incorporated into that
material vortex that forms around this star, and Sophia herself
fixes the chief Archon centrally ("enthroned") in the center of the
proto-planetary disk ("luminous cloud").
Overseen by Yaldabaoth, the Archons now proceed to fabricate the
planetary system from the inorganic elements of which them
themselves are composed. As they have no intentionality (ennoia) and
no creative capacity (epinoia) of their own, they can only do this
Apocryphon of John (II, 10, 24-25) describes how
the Lord Archon "produced for himself cyclic worlds (orbiting
bodies) from the luminous spark that still shines in the sky." Thus,
he draws upon the vortex power of the central star, the newborn Sun,
to organize the matter swirling in the proto-planetary disk.
Yaldabaoth originates nothing, however.
He can only copy the model of the Pleroma, without even knowing that
he does so:
And he was amazed by his own
arrogance, for he seemed to beget material powers (exousiai,
"authorities") out of his own solitary power, but after the
patterns of the imperishable Aeons... And so there came to be a
stereoma ("firmament") corresponding to the cyclic formations of
(II, 10, 26-28, and 12,
Gnostic teachings constantly emphasize
that the Archons are imitators who cannot produce anything original,
yet they arrogantly claim they can.
The Lord Archon is called
antimimon pneuma, "counterfeit spirit." (Apoc John III, 36:17. The
term occurs several times in different texts.) The cosmos he
produces is described by the Coptic term hal, "simulation." The vast
planetary system of the Archons is a stereoma, a virtual reality
projection in simulation of a higher dimensional pattern.
Typically, the Archontic framework of the planetary system has been
depicted by "armillary bands" that surround the Earth. (Illustration
from A. Cellarius, Harmonia Macrocosma, 1660.) Taken in many
esoteric systems (Hermetics and Rosicrucianism) as the preeminent
image of cosmic harmony, the model of the planetary spheres reflects
a mindless imitation of divine design, not the living reality of the
Yaldabaoth, the presumed all-mighty creator God, really creates
nothing; instead, he copies from "archetypal" patterns in
the Pleroma. The planetary stereoma of his making is like a plastic copy
of an abalone shell. Only someone who does not know the reality of
the abalone shell, and what living miracle of nature is required to
produce it, would accept the plastic substitution. Here again, the
cosmic-noetic parallel applies: Archons simulate in the cosmos at
large, and they also simulate in the human mind. This is a key
indication of their effect, a clue to their subtle intrusion
The main cosmological texts in the Nag Hamadi Library (NHL),
On the Origin of the World,
The Hypostasis of the Archons, and
The Apocryphon of John, are
consistent in describing how the solar system arises as an inorganic
simulation of the living pattern of the eternal Aeons. Here is
further insight into "the generation of error."
One might be excused
(but just barely) for mistaking plastic for pearl, but it would be
terrible ignorance indeed to be unaware that it takes an entire
ocean and a living, symbiotic biosphere to produce a pearl. Yet such
is the ignorance of the Archons that they cannot comprehend the
living miracle of divine order, rooted in the Pleroma, even when
they are imitating it.
The stereoma of the Archons is truly a grandiose accomplishment,
rather like the many-roomed Venetian palace of a Mafia don afflicted
with religious grandiosity and a militaristic sense of the command
Now the prime parent (archigenetor),
the master breeder of the Archons, since he commanded vast
orbiting worlds, produced heavens for each of his offspring...
beautiful dwellings, and in each heaven Yaldabaoth produced
glorious decor, seven times excellent: thrones and mansions and
temples, and also chariots and celestial virgins... consigning
to each one its own heaven-like realm, and providing them with
mighty armies of gods and commanders and messengers and
overseers, in countless myriads, so that they might all serve
and be served.
On the Origin of the
Readers familiar with the archetypal
psychology of C. G. Jung will recognize in this passage all the
elements of the heaven archetype common to the mainstream religions:
The stereoma is loaded with spiritual kitsch.
If anyone needs evidence of how the
Archons can infect human imagination, here it is, seven times