Dear Friends,

I am posting my response to a question in our Yahoo chat room about

the meaning of the term “archon.” I hope this very brief discussion

may interest you in finding more about the subject, perhaps in the

Nag Hammadi text “Hypostasis of the Archons.”

I will be posting a brief discussion before the end of the week in

combination with this one — What is an “Aeon”?


Here is the archon discussion:

An archon, sometimes translated as a “power,” is a spiritual entity

or force that serves the demiurge, the creator of the physical

world. To be really crude about it you could say they are bad

angels, but it is a lot more complicated than that.. just consider

them the forces that define and limit physical existence.

One of the Nag Hammadi texts is called the “Hypostasis of the

Archons,” and has a mythological discussion of their nature.

You know how in Christian mythology there are some beings

called “archangels?” That is borrowed from this same greek word,

meaning “ruler..” so an arch-angel is an angel that is really

powerful and rules over the others, whereas in Gnosticism the

archons are the “rulers of this world,” the princes of the world

that Christ referred to, for example, in the story of Christ being

tempted in the desert. The tempter shows him the world and promises

to give him the “principalities of the world” if he will bow down in

homage…and we would interpret those principalities as the realms

of the archons, so to speak.

The thing I should caution you against is thinking that they

are “demons” or something like that… there are no demons or devils

per se in Gnosticism, because ultimately there is no metaphysical

category of “evil,” just various forms of imperfection. The

demiurge is in some way the full realization of imperfection, just

as God is of perfection. The demiurge personifies and draws within

himself the ultimate manifestations of physical form, limitation,

physical space, time, as well as the dimensions of space-time, as

well as natural laws and natural processes that govern the physical

world — including the law that everything that lives must die.