by John Lash

original 2006

revised 11 October 2010 Andalucia

from MetaHistory Website

Spanish version




Approaching Gnosticism is rather like entering a sharp curve on a mountain road: you’re wary of the maneuver, but intrigued by the promise of a spectacular sight around the bend. This short essay is intended to get us around the bend.

Many people attracted to Gnosticism are apt to be put off by the difficulty of defining it. The problem of definition is so bad it can almost immediately spoil interest in the subject .

It must be said, we’re in good company with the problem. To date there is no scholarly consensus on how to define Gnosis or Gnosticism. The definition proposed at the Messina Conference in 1966 (conference on The Origins of Gnosticism) has not proven useful, and is now disregarded. Yet that definition carries erroneous notions about Gnosticism, disinformation deriving from attacks on Gnostics by Christian ideologues 1600 years ago, and continues to have currency.


To make matters worse, the lack of a clear consensus hides the fact that routine assumptions are always applied to Gnosticism, as if scholars did agree on how to define it.


These assumptions concern both the historical origins of Gnosticism, and the Gnostic worldview.



Historical origins

The earliest scholars (who are no longer cited) regarded Gnosticism in the broad sense as a monumental spiritual movement of Asiatic origins, long predating Christianity. There is now a slight tendency to return to this view.


See, for instance, the Introduction by James Robinson in NHLE 1990:

“This debate seems to be resolving in favor of understanding Gnosticism as a much broader phenomenon than the Christian Gnosticism documented by the heresiologists.”

Most scholars writing today, however, insist that Gnosticism was the mystical philosophy shared by a loose confederation of cults that sprang up between 50 and 350 CE in the milieu of early Christianity. In this view, Gnosticism was a marginal and even parasitic movement that only existed in response to genuine religious impulse of Christianity.

Karen King argues that Gnostic views were merely differences of opinion among early Christians who debated the Gospels, the identity of Jesus, the doctrines formulated by Saint Paul and Saint John the Divine, and so on... This argument is particularly misleading because the emphasis on difference tends to conceal the real issue, which was dissent.


Certainly, many different views on Jesus and his message were discussed in the communities where Christianity arose, but this atmosphere of tolerance was not due to the generous spirit of the first Christians, as King would have us believe.


Tolerance was the mark of the Pagan religious attitude, and the more Christianity came into power, the less tolerance there was in the classical world. But the Church ideologues who condemned Gnostics as heretics were not merely intent on eliminating diversity and difference so that they could impose uniform totalitarian doctrines (as they eventually did).


They were far more intent on eliminating dissent, especially the informed dissent of Gnostics from the Mysteries, such as Hypatia, who argued brilliantly against salvationist doctrines.


The totalitarian belief system that asserts divine intercession in history, and imbues suffering with redemptive value. Includes Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, the three dominant mainstream religions.


Assumes superhuman rescue of humanity from its problems and off-planet, remote-control authority on morals, and divine retribution.

(From the Glossary in Not in His Image)







from MetaHistory Website


Proposed term in metahistorical discourse for belief-systems that place the responsibility for the fulfillment of humanity outside itself, usually in the hands of a superhuman creator deity, such as the Father God of the Abrahamic faiths.

All three religions that trace their origins to the Biblical Patriarch Abraham present salvationist programs, with slight variations: Judaism, Christianity (Catholic, Protestant, Greek Orthodox, and more), and Islam. For a concise evaluation of this schema, see the four concerns.

Every religion consists of four components:

  1. a narrative

  2. a set of rites

  3. ethics

  4. ideology

For instance, the religion of the ancient Hebrews consists of the "sacred narrative" in the Old Testament (recounted in the Torah, the first five books of the Bible), the rites practiced by the adherents, the ethics proposed by the spiritual leaders or authorities (such as the Ten Commandments, said to be dictated to Moses by Jehovah), and the ideology implied in or attached to all the preceding.

Any theme or mytheme that forms part of the structure of a religion will find expression in some or all of these modes. For example, the theme of atonement. The OT narrative tells the story of the atonement of the Jews in various episodes, most notably the atonement that followed their escape from Egypt. This episode, taken for an actual historical event, becomes the basis of rites of atonement to be periodically practiced.


The episode (which is exemplary or paradigmatic, in the sense that Mircea Eliade applied to myths) presents the model for rites and also the framework for ethical practices. Finally, an ideology is contained in or attached to the ensemble of narrative, rites, and ethics.


Usually, the ideological component consists of a set of beliefs relating to supernatural things, to God or the "Divine Plan," and to other notions which, because they are not normally subject to verification by direct personal experience, are taken as a matter of belief. For instance, the belief that God protects those who practice rites of atonement is an ideological premise.

Salvationism, the dominant religious belief-system on the planet, consists of all four components, but the innermost, driving dynamic of salvationist doctrines resides primarily in the ideology, the unverifiable beliefs attached to the system. As noted in this site, Gnostics who observed the rise of the Christian salvationist program out of Jewish sectarian ideology (primarily, the cult of the Zaddikim) and protested against what they saw as erroneous beliefs, did not attack anyone who held beliefs those beliefs, but they attacked the beliefs that were held.


In turn, Gnostics themselves were physically attacked, and the Mystery Schools where they preserved a millennial tradition of initiatory teaching were destroyed. The destruction took centuries, beginning in the time of the adoption of Christian as the state religion of the Roman Empire, and continuing into the Middle Ages.

I point all this out, once again, at the risk of becoming tedious, not only to signal your attention to the greatest untold story of Western civilization - i.e., the destruction of the Mysteries and the sacred heritage of Europan indigenous wisdom, of which the Mysteries were the finest flowering - but also, and even more pointedly, to indicate that

Salvationist religion cannot, and did not, succeed in prevailing on the planet by peaceful conversion or by the persuasion of its intrinsic and irresistible truth.

Constantine, who made Christianity the state religion of the Roman Empire, was no fool, nor was he a devout Christian. Even his biographer, Eusebius, clearly fudges the account of Constantine's "conversion," attributed to a vision of the Cross in the skies. (Once again, this incident has been interpreted as an ET/UFO sighting, thus linking salvationism to the perennial presence of alien entities on Earth, and suggesting their possible intervention in human religious experience.)


It was politically expedient to make Christianity the state religion, because the new faith conferred supernatural authority on the governing powers. We see the clear and consistent extension of this political ploy in the arrogant religious fascism of the American government under presidents Bush, although the root of this tyranny may be traced back to antecedent sources.

In short, I am saying that salvationist religion is not a religion in any true sense of the word: it is political ideology in the disguise of religion. Christianity was nothing but this from its conception. It did not become perverted into mystico-fascism, for it was originally conceived as such.


Salvationism prevails in world events, and tyrannizes the minds of millions of people today, as it has through the last twenty centuries, because it has the ideological components of a totalitarian control system in which the ultimate source of control is unquestionable and beyond accountability. Beyond human conscience and correction.

The main ideological components of Judeo-Christian-Islamic salvationism are:

  • Creation as the handiwork of a male deity, the Father God, rather than as an ever-ongoing process involving divinities of both genders.

  • The supremacy of the male Father God who is also conceived as a judge and lawgiver.

  • The derivation of moral codes by God's dictation to chosen messengers - who are always men, of course (Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Jesus, Mohammed). This masculine bias is the signature of "revealed religion," the academic-theological term for salvationism.

  • The repression of the Feminine, evident not only in the elimination of Pagan Goddesses from the Old Testament, but also in the misogyny of the New Testament, promulgated by Saint Paul, and the sexual apartheid of Islam.

  • Dominion of humanity over the Earth, declared by the Father God who creates the human species "in His image." This ideological issue sets up a social control system defined by the mandate to consume and ravage the Earth. In effect, global consumerism is totally consistent with the Biblical ideology of human supremacy.

  • The dogma of the Fall, sin and redemption.

  • The incarnation of divinity in human form—affirmed in Christianity, denied in mainstream Judaism but not in the apocalyptic ideology of the Zaddikim, and denied again in Islam which, however, ascribes to a single holy book, the Koran, the status attributed to Jesus Christ by Christians.

  • The corrupt nature of sexuality and the natural world - an attitude falsely attributed to Gnostics by early Christian ideologues, in a clever and largely successful attempt to disguise their own sex-hating and world-rejecting tendencies by attributing them to the diabolized Other.

  • The Divine Redeemer complex, common to all three variants.

  • The physical resurrection of the body, in the special case of Jesus Christ, and in the general case of the resurrection of humanity in the end time.

  • Eternal punishment and damnation for sinners and infidels.

  • Divine retribution, the apocalypse at the end of history.

  • The efficacy of vicarious rites of atonement (Jewish festivals, the Catholic Mass, the Islamic Haj, etc)

Take all this away and what do you have? Not much, for there is not much to salvationist religion when the ideological dynamic is removed.

But it might be protested, Is any form of genuine religion possible without these elements? Certainly. Genuine religion devoid of salvationist elements existed widely in the Pagan cultures of Europa, and it was demonstrated, and still just barely is, in the indigenous spiritual wisdom of native peoples such as the Australian aborigines, and native-mind cultures in the Americas, the Arctic, and Polynesia.


To some extent, but not completely, Asian metaphysical systems such as Dzogchen and Vedanta are free of salvationist elements. Gnosis, the path of direct knowing of divine matters, was a method of illuminism, contrasting in a profound way to salvationism by its emphasis on experience over authority, learning over doctrine.

In Gnosis no doctrines were sacred or beyond question, nor should anything presented in the form of Gnostic teachings today be so taken. The knowledge cultivated in the Mysteries was testable by direct experience, and indeed, the initiators insisted that neophytes learn for themselves the basics of experimental mysticism.


Each generation of mystai extended the process of ongoing revelation and elaborated on the wisdom developed by those who had preceded them. Gnostics were prolific writers, and although they did not hold anything produced by an individual author to be sacred, for them teaching and learning were a sacred commitment.

"God is discourse" says a Gnostic saying.

The discourse they pursued was open-ended, innovative, expansive.

All the elements of the above list depend on enforcement by authorities, such as Pope and President, who present themselves to be the representatives of the supernatural powers who underwrite the salvationist program.


In the Gnosis of the Mysteries, there were no such intermediaries between the initiate and the supreme experience of initiation: encountering the Gods and exploring the wonders of this world, Earth, and the cosmos beyond. The purpose of the Mysteries was to teach how to know Gaia and co-evolve in Her purposes.

The purpose of salvationist religion is social control.

ET/UFO interventionist scenarios represent a special class of salvationism. In the narratives recorded on cuneiform, Sumerian scribes produced the earliest surviving record of a salvationist program in which ET-like entities, the Anunnaki, intervene in human evolution.


However, not everything written on clay tablets needs to be taken for true, does it?





King's praising view of the rich diversity of early Christianity fudges the real issue: it was the dissent of the educated heretics, not merely different views in the Pagan community, that so threatened the Church's rise to power that brutal measures were taken to eradicate Gnostics and destroy all their writings.

There is so little evidence left of the Gnostic movement that scholars find it difficult to believe it had vast scope and autonomy. Some scholars like Birger Pearson, who sees Gnosticism as an heretical offshoot of Judaism, view the movement more sympathetically on its own terms, but still consider it to be largely derivative.


Pheme Perkins, writing from deep within the Christian fold, is unusually bold in indicating the pre-, non- and anti-Christian elements in Gnostic writings. Others also suggest pre-Christian and Pagan origins, but without developing their arguments because (as explained below) they cannot do so without going outside their special fields of expertise.

Gnostic studies are so completely bogged down in specialist debate on obscure issues that no one pays attention to the unique and alarming message contained in Gnostic texts.



Three Definitions

I propose three definitions of Gnosis, psychological, inspirational, and evolutionary, or shamanic...

  1. The psychological definition is:

  • Gnosis is intuitive knowing of the heart that liberates us from social conditioning and ego-fixation.

As such, it is a path of questioning and learning, open-ended and unlimited in scope.

  1. The evolutionary aim of Gnosis is to realize human potential so that we can co-evolve with all species and serve Gaia’s purposes.

    In his massive Gnostical treatise, “The Exegesis,” science fiction writer Philip K. Dick says that Gnosis,


    • “consists of disinhibiting instructions” that allow us to access “the core content of knowing already intrinsic to us.”

He believed that Gnosis enables the self-repair of “memory retrieval” circuits that exist uniquely in the human species, but have been damaged. This accords with my view that humanity provides a memory-circuit for Gaia.

Dick assumes, as I do, that Gnostic teachings and practices were preserved in the Mysteries:

“The ancients possessed techniques (sacraments and rituals) used largely in the Greco-Roman mystery religions to induce firing and retrieval” of the memory circuits. He notes that these techniques had a restorative value for the individual, but Gnostics also “correctly saw the ontological value to what they called the Godhead itself, the total entity.”

That is, Gnostics recognized that these practices were not for self-glorification but to contribute to the healing of God, or Goddess. ("The Exegesis," quoted in Valis, p. 108ff)


This is consistent with the Gnostic assertion that we, the human species, are intimately involved with the "correction" of the Goddess Sophia.

  1. The inspirational definition is:


    • Gnosis is the deep ecology of the human spirit.


    In other words, Gnosis is to the religious experience of humanity what deep ecology is to our rapport with nature. This is close to the evolutionary definition:

    Gnosis is a way of encountering the Sacred as it is known to the powers that inhere in the natural world, i.e., the animating powers of the earth and the cosmos at large.



Alternative History

Nearly all scholars maintain that Gnosticism arose historically with Christianity, but I take a different view, as follows:

Gnosis was a spiritual path of millennial duration, closely related to, yet distinct from, well-known traditions of Pan-Asian mysticism, including Indian yoga and Buddhism.

Gnostics were telestai, initiates in the Mystery Schools who broke their vows of anonymity to come out in the open and protest Judeo-Christian doctrines of Salvationism - doctrines that provide the ideological frame for the patriarchal/dominator agenda.


Because the initiates emerged into the public eye during the first centuries of the Christian Era, scholars assume that Gnosticism must have been devised then and there.

I also depart from orthodox scholarship in looking outside the genre to develop an historical profile for Gnosticism. No scholar would say that Gnostics were from the Mystery Schools, because there is a disciplinary fence between Gnostic studies and Mystery School studies. Thus, Elaine Pagels insists flatly that there is no evidence (by which she means textual evidence) of such a link.


But pioneer researchers, such as Theosophical scholar G. R. S. Mead, assumed Gnosis to be the core teaching of the Mysteries.

“Gnostic forms are found to preserve elements of the Mystery-traditions of antiquity in greater fullness than we find elsewhere.”

(The Gospels and the Gospel , p. 210.)

This statement was written in 1901.

Even the earliest evidence on Gnostics, such as the polemics of Hippolytus, state that the "heretics" drew their views from the Greek Mysteries. This link to the entheogenic cult of the Eleusinian Mysteries confirms my view that Gnosis was a refined form of psychedelic shamanism, a visionary path dedicated to the Earth Goddess. Such links are totally ignored by Gnostic scholars.

There is ample historical evidence for cross-cultural exchange between Gnostics and Asian mystics, such as Brahmins and Buddhist monks. From the 4th Century BCE Alexandria was a melting-pot where diverse cults met and mixed. The Church Fathers attest the presence of Druids and Brahmins in Egypt at the dawn of the Christian Era.


Gandhara art from the Hindu Kush demonstrates the fusion of Greek and Indian cultures from the 4th Century BCE, and Buddhist scholars such as David Snellgrove and Paul Williams see Gnostic ideas affecting early views of Mahayana.


In a hallmark essay published in 1967, renowned Buddhist scholar Edward Conze outlined 17 key similarities between Buddhism and Gnosticism. But comparative studies of this kind are totally out of fashion today, and comprehensive historical perspective on Gnosticism is non-existent.

The result is, a fog of ambiguity. On approaching Gnosticism, we naturally want to locate and label this movement, to get a sense of where Gnostics were coming from, culturally, historically, and geographically. Not a chance. Narrow-mindedness and denial dominate the subject. We must approach Gnosticism knowing beforehand that its origins are under-researched and misrepresented.

To make matters worse, my claim that Gnostics came out of the Mystery Schools throws the entire issue into perplexity, because no one knows what went on in the Mysteries! When I make this link, I set myself up to explain what the Mysteries were, which is about as difficult as explaining what Gnosticism is. (Actually, it is not so difficult, but building an adequate picture takes time.)


I cannot fail to link Gnosticism to the Mysteries, even if this leaves people in bafflement. These abstruse matters are crucial to recovering the lost spiritual heritage of Europe (i.e., the West), and it takes a lifelong commitment. It is not just an obscure episode in history we’re contemplating here. What Gnosis really was, and what happened to it, determined the most decisive shift in the moral and spiritual life of Western civilization.


The story of the Gnostics is the crucial missing chapter of that part of our collective story.



Lego Method

No scholar today regards the actual content of Gnosticism to be worthy of discussion. The message of the Gnostics is lost in endless debate over the textual meaning of the surviving materials. Scholars assume that Gnostic texts are valuable for what they tell us about the origins of Christianity, period.


But using Gnostic texts to legitimate Christianity is contradictory to its radical message. The Gnostic protest against Judeo-Christian religion is written clear and large in the surviving materials, chaotic and fragmentary as they may be.


I use what I call the “Lego method” (see below insert) of Gnostic scholarship to select those elements from the surviving materials that build into a consistent and coherent message, distinct from Judaic and Christian doctrines.





Lego method of Gnostic scholarship

from MetaHistory Website


My technique of selecting from a wide range of textual materials those passages that support a preconceived view or scenario.

In my comments on reconstructing the Fallen Goddess Scenario, I explain how I intentionally select material compatible with the Pagan (i.e., pre-Christian and non-Christian) message the Gnostics. This method could be applied in any area of scholarship and research, but it works particularly well with the Gnostic materials because they are so scanty and incoherent. No single text presents a full picture of the Gnostic creation myth. Nor does any single document from the Coptic codices present a consistent statement of Gnostic views.


Pro- and anti-Christian statements can occur in the same text. To build a platform of anti-Christian views, I select from numerous texts the passages compatible with that outlook. I do so, however, in a completely transparent manner, admitting what I'm doing.

Scholars also use the lego method on the extremely difficult and obscure material of the Coptic Gnostic literature. Unlike myself, however, they do not have, or do not admit to having, a specific intention to reconstruct a particular outlook or scenario. Thus they do not put together particular lego pieces to make an animal or a tree. Rather, they are content to sort through the lego pieces and arrange them in piles.


Then they label the piles, using such complicated rubrics as "a Jewish-Christian post-resurrection discourse in a Gnosticizing milieu," and write long treatises on what the labels mean.





Scholars also use the Lego method, putting together selected pieces of text to highlight a specific doctrine or viewpoint, but without admitting they do so, or why they do so. They take no interest in recovering the message of Gnosticism on its own terms.

My intention in reworking the Gnostic materials is fourfold:

  1. First, to show what is valid in the Gnostic protest against the patriarchy and the salvationist agenda

  2. Second, to describe the rich spiritual heritage of pre-Christian Europe, destroyed in a centuries-long rampage of sexual, spiritual and intellectual genocide

  3. Third, to restore and redevelop the Sophia myth, treating it as a story to guide the human species toward a sane and sustainable future

  4. Fourth, to propose a corrective view of certain paranormal aspects of human experience, based on Gnostic writing about the Archons

This is quite a tall order, I know. Nevertheless, I believe that nothing less than this is acceptable where genuine experience of Gnosis is concerned. There is huge responsibility involved in knowing what Gnostics knew.


I am convinced that the way for the human species to co-evolve with Gaia can best be discovered, and perhaps only discovered, on the visionary path of Gnosis.



"Religious Pessimism"

The disinformation regarding Gnosticism has persisted for 1600 years.


Needless to say, it is not easy to dispel. (A difficult but important book that has tackled this problem is Rethinking “Gnosticism” - 1996 - by M. A. Williams. The author shows that the negative hype attached to Gnosticism is unfounded and the evidence routinely cited to support it, unreliable.)


The presumed contents of the Gnostic worldview are routinely derived by selecting from the pathetic heap of surviving texts certain elements that are not even the prominent factors in those texts, yet are favored by scholars because they carry assumptions that cast Gnosticism in a negative light, just as the Church Fathers intended.


These assumptions usually are stated in language like this:

Gnostics regarded nature and the material world as flawed, corrupt, if not downright evil. They believed that the human soul belongs to a higher world, but has fallen captive to the realm of the senses, and so must extricate itself and return to the Source, the Light.


Gnosis is the recognition of the presence of the Higher Self, the spark of Divinity trapped in matter, but only an elite few can realize this awareness and liberate themselves from the enslavement of this world. (Loose paraphrase of the Messina declaration.)

Not surprisingly, the online Catholic Encyclopedia repeats the disinformation introduced by the Church fathers in the 3rd Century.


It says that Gnostics,

"held matter to be a deterioration of spirit, and the whole universe a depravation of the Deity, and taught the ultimate end of all being to be the overcoming of the grossness of matter and the return to the Parent-Spirit, which return they held to be inaugurated and facilitated by the appearance of some God-sent Savior."

With the exception of the phrase in italics, this statement comes pretty close to the notion of Christianity as a religion of trans-worldly escapism.

Scholars use the term “anti-cosmic” to describe "religious pessimism" and the world-hating attitude ascribed to Gnostics. But these attributions are manifestly wrong.


They cannot possibly reflect what Gnostics believed, because they contradict in two flagrant instances the sacred cosmology of the Mysteries:

  1. First, the claim that Gnostics regarded the material world as "a deterioration of spirit" and a place of enslavement for the "divine sparks" cannot be true. The paraphrase of Gnostic cosmology found in Irenaeus (Against Heresies, Book 4, Ch. 2) says that the earth we inhabit was formed from the body of the goddess Sophia, the supreme divinity in the Gnostic worldview.


    If the very substance of the material world is the embodiment of this divinity, how can it be considered evil, degenerated, and worthy of rejection? Furthermore, Gnostic texts such as the Apochrypon of John state that Sophia, in order to achieve the "correction" by which she becomes realigned to the gods in the cosmic center (the Pleroma) depends in some sense on humanity. This being so, how can humans be viewed as "divine sparks" that have fallen into blind enslavement in matter?


    The genuine Gnostic teaching states that we are not in essence divine sparks but we have a spark of divine intelligence, nous, by which we can recognize the fallen goddess and participate in her "correction." Our mission is not to escape from the world, but to take part in its transformation, extending even to the cosmic level.

  2. Second, the claim that " the whole universe a depravation of the Deity," or to put it otherwise, that the material world is a creation of the Demiurge, who is a false deity, also cannot be true. Several cosmological texts explicitly state that the Demiurge cannot create anything, but only imitate the workings of the true gods, the Aeons of the Pleroma - and imitate them badly, at that.


    (The kind of imitation involved here might be compared to a kaleidoscope that uses pieces of colored glass, i.e., inorganic material, to replicate the organic complexity of the seeding, budding, and blossoming of a sunflower.)


    The texts are explicit on this point: the Demiurge lacks ennoia, intentionality. Saklas, the blind god, suffers a delusion that allows him to think he creates the cosmos, but it is really Sophia working through him that permits this delusion. What he does "create" in his weird way is the stereoma, the planetary system exclusive of the earth, sun and moon - the "hebdomad" of the seven planets.


    Clearly, the pseudo-deity cannot and does not create the earth, because this planet is uniquely the metamorphosis of Sophia herself.

In his book The Gnostic Jung and the Seven Sermons to the Dead, Gnostic revivalist Stephen Hoeller notes that the surviving writings do not condemn the earth (KAZ in Coptic, from the Greek ge) as such, but the cosmos (Greek kosmos), the "system."


In The Sophia of Jesus Christ (NHC III), KAZ occurs next to cosmos, stating a clear distinction between the earth and "the world" as we conceive it. The world or system is our conditioned perception of the earth, or human reality on earth. Hoeller's distinction agrees with the observation of Jacque Lacarriere that Gnosis is about deconditioning our minds to perceive reality as it is, rather than as we assume it to be.


The illusion of this world, the earth, is not in its own nature, but in our perception of it. But such is the nature of the human mind that we live in the perceptual frame we construct, rather than in the reality it frames.

Disinformation on what Gnostics believed runs side by side by slander about how they behaved. “Antinomian” is the scholarly terms for the Gnostic’s alleged claim that in rejecting this world, they stood beyond its laws; hence they were free to ignore social and sexual mores. Gnostics were condemned by early Christians for gross immorality, including orgiastic sex magic, Pagan rites of "snake worship," and worse.


The very suggestion that Gnostics were “anti-Christian” puts them in cahoots with the Anti-Christ. The treasure of Nag Hammadi is heavily booby-trapped. There are so many taboos and negative projections around the subject of Gnosticism that struggling for a clear orientation to it may look like more trouble than it’s worth.

I have never known a subject able to push people’s buttons as fast and hard as Gnosticism does. I believe this is because by its nature Gnosticism confronts us with our conditioning. (This is also the view of Jacques Lacarriere.) Yet without such a confrontation, we can never be free to know our own minds.


We need “disinhibiting instructions” to penetrate the layers of lies that have been implanted in our minds.



The Message

After thirty odd years of research and reflection, I am convinced that they had the key knowledge we need to shatter the historical framework of the patriarchal/dominator agenda, and thereby undermine that agenda for good and all.


Gnostic ideas assume a central and imperative role in because they present the best chance we have to break away from the death-grip of the Western historical narrative.

The unique knowledge Gnostics tried to impart to the world at large concerns the identity of Jehovah, the "father god" of Judeo-Christian religion. Gnostics claimed that the supernatural being billions of people take for God is insane and actually working against humanity. The core teaching specifies that Jehovah is really an alien entity, not just a bad idea or a delusional belief.


It also specifies that Jehovah and his minions, the Archons, used the Jewish people to make an intervention into the human race.


The Archons deviate us from our humanity through religious beliefs. Salvationism (i.e., reliance on a superhuman savior) germinated in the Jewish apocalyptic sect of the Zaddakim and went pandemic in Christian ideology centered on a transhuman messiah, Jesus Christ.

In short, Gnostics warned that Judeo-Christian religion is a deviant program implanted in the human mind, like a computer virus. Salvationism is an ideological virus, and its origin is not human. This is the core teaching of the gnostikoi, “those who know about divine matters.”


Search where you will, I don’t think you will find this message anywhere else.

Gnosis is the knowledge of how we are deviated, by what, and for what.

So much for the bad news, the spooky part of the message. But Gnostics also had sublimely good news to impart. They had a beautiful message about what guides us, the insuperable power of knowing that inheres in us and cannot be deviated. (This I call the wisdom endowment, or Sophianic endowment.)


They presented a grand cosmic story in which humanity is intimately allied with the Goddess Sophia of the Pleroma, she who becomes Gaia.


This story describes how Jehovah and the Archons were produced by the “fall of Sophia,” before our world was created by Her embodiment. Then, when the earth emerged, it was captured in the planetary system, habitat of the Archons. Gnostics taught that these inorganic entities influence us by a kind of telepathic link.


They use the power of suggestion when our attention is dulled by fatigue or over-stimulation. Gnostic texts contain vivid accounts of first-hand encounters with Archons, and they explain the motives and methods of the alien forces in explicit language.

But the message of Gnosticism is not "Blame it on the Archons." Far from it. The core teaching of Gnosis specifies that this alien species is not an autonomous force of evil that works against us. The Archons represent error, not 'evil.'


They do not cause mistakes in our learning process, but they affect our thinking so that our mistakes go undetected and extrapolate beyond the scale of correction. If we cannot correct our minds and redirect our actions, we cannot participate in Gaia’s process of alignment with the Pleroma, the celestial gods.

Hence the Archons present a special test in our effort to recognize and actualize our divine endowment.

And the Archons are, after all, our cosmic cousins, the offspring of Gaia-Sophia, though in a different way than we are. They are not the only extra-human species with which we have contact on earth, but they are unique in their predatory role. Gnostics taught that not all that happens in our minds originates there.


This is an occult observation, compatible with the most advanced theories of noetic science today. It is, I would say, the single most important concept in the entire field of cognitive psychology. It explains how humans can be programmed to act in deviant and destructive ways, contrary to good sense, compassion, gut emotion, personal conscience, and their sense of humanity.


Since the agents of the global program of domination (the "Illuminati") use occult techniques of mind control, understanding the Archon thesis of the Gnostics can alert us to how we are being manipulated.


The implications of “Archon theory” are profoundly practical and far-reaching.


Risking Sanity

All this strange business concerning Jehovah and the Archons is written large and clear in Gnostic texts, but ignored by scholars for obvious reasons.


If we also ignore this scenario, dismissing it as a bizarre fantasy, a religious psychosis, or a remnant of Pagan superstition, we lose the opportunity to develop a coherent culture myth that connects humanity to its cosmic origins and to the future of the planet itself.


Knowing how we are deviated could be the best thing that ever happened to us, spiritually speaking.

Sometimes, you have to put sanity (see below insert) at risk to find out what it really means to be sane.

This is the startling message of R. D. Liang, who insisted that our very capacity for experience can be destroyed by conditioning that alienates us from what we intrinsically know.





 from MetaHistory Website


To understand behavior in the sense peculiar to metahistory, it is helpful to follow the proposal of R. D. Laing and distinguish 'behavior' from 'experience':

I see you, and you see me. I experience you, and you experience me. I see your behavior. You see my behavior. But I do not and never have and never will see your experience of me... Experience is man’s invisibility to man. [At the same time] it is more evident than anything. Only experience is evident. Experience is the only evidence...


Our behavior is a function of our experience. We act according to the way we see things... Natural science knows nothing of the relation between behavior and experience. The nature of this relation is mysterious.

(P, 18-19)

Although stated in the sometimes trying language of paradox typical of Laing, the contrast between experience and behavior is clear enough: behavior is what we can observe each other doing, but experience is what happens to us inside the behavior observed.

This distinction becomes even more emphatic when framed in the context of belief. Belief drives behavior, but often belief is not based on experience and so does not reach or reflect the intimately lived dimension of human existence. Indeed, the very nature of belief precludes the necessity of experience. I can believe, for instance, that Jesus sits on the right hand of God in heaven, and simply by believing it I do not have to experience it, do not have to put it to the test or search for evidence to prove it is so. I believe it is so, that’s all, and that is sufficient to cause me to act in a certain way based on the belief I hold.

In the normal manner of expression, we do not usually apply the term belief to something we experience directly. We say we know something is true when we have experienced it to be so. Belief pertains where rational proof or verification by evidence is lacking, but “experience is the only evidence.”


This means that if we can experience something directly, evidentially, we are free from having to hold beliefs about it. Laing warns: “If our experience is destroyed, our behavior will be destructive.” (p. 28) It might be said, “if our capacity for experience is destroyed,” our behavior will be affected in a negative way. Indeed, this may be a huge understatement.

Like a signal flare, Laing’s distinction highlights an insight crucial to metahistorical inquiry: what is most subjective about us, that upon which both our personal identity and our sense of humanity depend, is a capacity to experience that can be destroyed. Factoring this idea into the primary assumption of metahistory (namely, that belief drives behavior), we may begin to comprehend that behavior is driven by belief precisely because the capacity for experience has been superseded by the willingness to believe without the evidence of direct experiencing.


Considered in this light, beliefs in and about God (or anything else) may be derived from the incapacity to experience what God actually is. Someone who can experience God in a direct and evidential way no longer needs to hold beliefs in or about God.

The English word behave traces back to Middle High German, sich behaben, literally “self be-having or be-holding.” To behave is to have a view of yourself behaving in a certain manner, and probably to derive a sense of self from the behavior so enacted. This notion is not entirely trustworthy, however.


It represents a concept of human identity that has been challenged in modern psychology relating to abuse and addiction. One of the guiding principles of recovery therapy is that you are not your behavior, although you are responsible for your behavior. Laing would probably concur with the semantics here. Consistent with his distinction, it can be said that you are the subject of your experience, not the result of your behavior.


If you are truly living from experience, from the unlimited capacity to grow, learn and evolve, then you will be continually transcending the limits of behavior. In conventional terms, the most obvious sign of behavior is habit, custom, the usual way of doing things. It represents a form of conditioned response induced or programmed from outside. Such conditioning works against the innate capacity for experience.

Laing says that experience is “intrapsychic.” Someone standing before Niagara Falls may be expected to have a certain response, to act in a customary way: take photos, make oohing sounds, and so forth. This behavior is programmatic and predictable, yet the fact remains that an infinite variety of human experiences could occur in the presence of Niagara Falls.


Laing asserts,

“My psyche is my experience, my experience is my psyche.” (p. 21)

Behavior is the conditional form experience assumes when acted out and shared with others. It is what happens to the psyche, but not what the psyche experiences happening in itself.


To live in behavior and identify oneself with behavior is to become alienated from one’s own experience, yet this emphasis on behavior (custom, habit, preprogrammed activity) is precisely the mark of belief-driven activity. People who hold the same beliefs will act in the same (predictable, customary) ways, and they will identify strongly with those ways.


Their behavior will prevail because their capacity to experience has been severely compromised, if not destroyed.





Alienation is also a theme that informs the best work of Philip K. Dick, the science fiction writer whose genius is currently recognized worldwide due to cinematic adaptation of his books.


Relating the work of R. D. Liang, Philip K. Dick and others such as Wilhelm Reich to the Gnostic message, helps us to realize its contemporary power.

The surviving Gnostic texts, thought to be Coptic translations of Greek-language originals, are scant and derivative. These materials are too fragmentary and incoherent to reveal the full scope of what the Gnostics had to say, although all the essential clues are there. It is unrealistic to expect the average seeker to plow into these obscure materials and come up with a clear understanding of the core teaching of the Mysteries.


After hundreds of readings of the Nag Hammadi codices and related materials, I can attest to how extremely difficult it is to extract a coherent message from these pitiful remains.


Nevertheless, from these flakes of papyrus a powerful visionary system can be inferred. Everything that goes into my reconstruction of the core teaching of Gnosis is based on specific clues in the Coptic codices, although I do not always cite the textual clues because the proof process regarding these materials is tedious, meticulous and exhausting.

It’s much easier to find the core teaching in ourselves, in the intuitive knowing of our hearts where humanity dwells and our species' bond to Gaia is rooted.



The Plasmate

When all is said and done, approaching Gnosticism involves an act of faith, but not blind faith in received doctrines and supernatural agencies.


There is another kind of faith, indicated by Gnostics by the term Pistis Sophia,

“confidence in the indwelling wisdom.”


You have to believe that you can discover innately whatever you are seeking to know

through an external quest for knowledge.

Philip K. Dick believed this was so.


This conviction informs his best writings, especially the Valis Trilogy, a masterpiece permeated with genuine, first-hand, re-invented Gnosticism. Dick said that the discovery at Nag Hammadi in December, 1945, was not merely a find of documents, but the release of a living impulse, something he called “the plasmate.”


This is,

“the living information slumbering at Nag Hammadi century after century…The plasmate had gone hiding at Nag Hammadi and was loose again in our world.”

(Valis, 180)

It is a spiritual impulse charged with numinous content, a core teaching that lives and regenerates within those who learn it.


This knowing within is Gnosis, not the assurance of a divine self, but the awakening of a faculty of higher cognition, a faculty that gives insight transcending the human condition. Whoever touches that core teaching is touched by divine revelation. An ever-new, ever-true, ongoing revelation.

There is no better way to approach Gnosticism than through the eye of the heart, where this revelation is perpetually in birth.