During the meal Jesus took some bread in his hands. He blessed the bread and broke it. Then he gave it to his disciples and said, “Take this and eat it. This is my body.”

   Jesus picked up a cup of wine and gave thanks to God. He then gave it to his disciples and said, “Take this and drink it. This is my blood, and with it God makes his agreement with you. It will be poured out, so that many people will have their sins forgiven. From now on I am not going to drink any wine, until I drink new wine with you in my Father’s kingdom.” Then they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives.

Matthew 26


We give thanks to you and we celebrate the eucharist, O Father, remembering for the sake of thy Son, Jesus Christ that they come forth […] invisible […] thy [Son….] his [love…] to [knowledge ……] they are doing thy will through the name of Jesus Christ and will do thy will now and always. They are complete in every spiritual gift and every purity. Glory be to thee through thy Son and they offspring Jesus Christ from now and forever. Amen.

–Nag Hammadi collection


To Valentinians, the eucharist is the “wedding-feast” of the saved (cf Excerpts of Theodotus 63:1). This idea also occurs in other early Christian sources. The bread was regarded a the true, life-giving food (Gospel of Philip 55:6-13, 73:19-25) and is closely identified with Jesus (Gospel of Philip 63:1). The wine was believed to be full of Grace and the Holy Spirit (Irenaeus Against Heresies 1:13:2, Gospel of Philip 75:17-18). By partaking of it, they believed that they were taking the perfect human being, their angelic counterpart, into themselves (Gospel of Philip 75:19-20, 58:10-13). This how one receives the spiritual flesh and blood of the resurrection body (Gospel of Philip 56:26-57:22).

The eucharist was followed by the “bridal chamber.” This term has several meanings in Valentinian thought and practice. In this case, the imposition of hands is what is being referred to. This is made clear in the formula attributed to Marcus. Among other things, the initiate is told, “Allow the seed of light to take up its abode in your bridal chamber. Receive your bridegroom from me and take him into you, and be take by him.” (Irenaeus Against Heresies 1:13:3) They believed that the person received or became possessed by the light (Gospel of Philip 86:4-6), that is, their heavenly counterpart or bridegroom angel. The spirit manifestations such as prophesy and speaking in tongues which are associated with this practice were therefore regarded as a result of angelic possession.

Like the eucharist, the “bridal chamber” was also part of weekly meetings. Among the followers of Marcus, the candidate for imposition of hands was chosen by drawing lots. The providence of God was believed to guide this seemingly random selection (Irenaeus Against Heresies 1:13:3).

The sacred dance described in the Acts of John seems to serve much the same purpose as the imposition of hands. If in the impostion of hands the person received Grace in the form of an angel, through dancing one was also said to receive Grace. The celebrant takes on the role of Christ and proclaims: “Grace dances…To the universe belongs the dancer…” Spirit possession is often associated with dancing in other traditions. Through the dance, the person was brought into connection and harmony with the heavenly Pleroma.

The association of the sacraments with Valentinian eschatology should be obvious by this point. The spiritual awakening of the individual through gnosis is described as “resurrection from the dead” (see Treatise on the Resurrection). This is the only resurrection that they recognized. It is symbolically enacted through baptism. As a result of resurrection in baptism, the person was seen as having undergone a restoration to their original state of being and connection to the spiritual realm. The person is no longer of the world. This is symbolized by annointing.

After the person’s physical body dies, Valentinians believed that the soul and spirit ascend through the seven lower heavens and beyond the lower powers to the eighth heaven to join the Sophia (Wisdom) and await the end of the world. This ascent is acted out through the redemption ritual. At the end of the world, the saved animate people join the perfect spiritual ones in the wedding feast of all the saved. This clearly corresponds to the eucharist which the spiritual and animate celebrate together in the world. The spirits of the saved are then joined with their heavenly counterparts like brides joined to their grooms in marriage. Together they enter the Fullness (pleroma) or heavenly realm. The entire Fullness is described as the “bridal chamber.” (Excerpts of Theodotus 63-64, Irenaeus Against Heresies 1:7:1,Valentinian Exposition 39:28-33, Gospel of Philip 81:34-82:25).

This close correspondence between myth and sacraments is characteristic of most religious systems. In this case the entire eschatology is acted out as part of the initiation of the individual. Valentinians believed that through the internal process of gnosis and through the external sacraments, entering into the Fullness need not necessarily be postponed until the afterlife. They believed that a person could enter the Fullness and be permanently joined with the bridegroom angel while still in the flesh (Irenaeus Against Heresies 3:15:2). They believed it was possible to “dissolve the world” (Valentinus Fragment 4, cf. Also Irenaeus Against Heresies 1:21:4) through gnosis so that “realm of appearance is no longer manifest but will pass away in the harmony of unity” (Gospel of Truth 25:1-6). For such people, “the world has already become the eternal realm” (Gospel of Philip 86:11-14).

The Peace of God which passeth all understanding, go with you.
There is a power that makes all things new;
It lives and moves in those who know the Self as one.
May the Peace brood over you, that Power uplift you into the Light,
may it keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and Love of
God, and his Son, our Lord the Christ.
And may the Blessing of God Almighty, the Father,. the Son and the Holy
Spirit, be amongst you and remain with you always.


This Benediciton is taken from the Holy Gnostic Eucharist, closing the
formal part of the Gnostic Eucharist observed by Ecclesia Gnostica.



Hail Sophia, Lady of Light,
Mystical Lover of my spirit.
Blessed are you, Woman of Wisdom,
and blessed are the gifts you bestow on us your children.


Holy Sophia, goddess who leads to the One God,
fill me with your emptiness,
and darken my spirit with your light,