Christian Gnosticism’s Missing Parts
By
Tom Saunders, B.A. B.S. Certified Linguist, Gnostic Scholar

Gnosticism as a general subject is very broad, as there are different kinds of Gnostics including modern versions. My own interest is in the study of Sethian and Valentinian Christianity, and this includes the unique vocabulary used by both Sethians and Valentinians. I am the author of the “Saunders Sethian-Valentinian Glossary” (2014), which is aimed at defining the Sethian Specific terms of the Nag Hammadi Library. My aim is to help reveal a lost Christianity.

I enjoy reading the current works of Hurtado, DeConick, Bock, Meyer, Pagels, King, Lewis, Thomason, and other Gnostic scholars. The difference in my work is I have a command of how Aeons work in the real world. I know the Aeonology and can use it. Most Gnostic scholars do not regard Aeons as working things and actual forms, and they miss the real significance of Aeon related terms like Monad, Hebdomad, Ogdoad, Aeon, etc.

The ancient Aeonology is the study of the mathematical progression of an Aeon emanation from the Monad, to dyad, triad, tetrad, hebdomads, ogdoads, etc. All Aeon emanations work on the basis of tripartite unions that form one thing. Each unit of an Aeon emanation sequence has the triple values of mathematical, gematric, and literal- as one value. Literal values of an Aeon-Monad, is a single word or name that represents a whole field of study. Aeonology can be used as a tool of logic, or as heuristic devices, and even as weapons. The Aeon matrix can be very creative and can also serve as an effective “memory palace.”

All Aeon emanations like triviums, quadriviums, hebdomads, etc., are interpreted with the following tripartite algorithm:

(1st Premise/Monad A=C) (2nd Supporting Premise/Dyad A=B = B=C) (Synthesis/Triad of A=B=C) = 1

Every Sethian Specific term below in the S-V Lexicon is in one way or another based upon the tripartite union of the above algorithm. This is because in Sethian philosophy Jesus gains his powers of divinity from the tripartite union of the Aeon-Ogdoad powers of Father, Mother, and Son. This is very different from any orthodox version of the divine power of Jesus.

The Sethian-Valentinian Lexicon:

(Abrasax, Adonaios, Aeons, Aphredon, Archons, Armedon, Armozel, Astraphaios, Autogenes, Barbelo, Bridal Chamber, Davithai, (Domedon) Doxomedon, Demiurge, Echamoth, Eleleth, Ennoia, Iao/Jeu, Gamaliel, Garment, Hebdomad, Kaliptos, Logos, Marsanes, Mirotheos, Monad, Ogdoad, Oriel, Pistis, Pleroma, Protennoia, Protophanes, Sabaoth, Saklas, Sophia, Totalities, Yaldabaoth, Youel) (SGG)

The Sethian-Valentinian terms (lexicon) above were collected from the following texts:

“The Gospel of the Egyptians,” “Books of Jeu (Iao),””The Apocryphon of John,” “Trimorophic Protennoia,” “Zostrianos,” “The Second Treatise of the Great Seth,” “Allogenes,” “The Pistis Sophia,” “Melchizedek,” “The Three Steles of Seth,” “On the Origin of the World,” “Hypostasis of the Archons,” “Marsanes,” “The Gospel of Philip,” “The First Apocalypse of James,” “The Gospel of Thomas,” and “The Gospel of Mary” (NHL Archives)

Again, the central theme of all the above is centered on the Father, Mother, and Son Ogdoad power of Jesus’ divinity as the Monad, and Aeon giver of Aeons. The Aeonology is a central theme in the extant writings of Basilides, Valentinus, Simon Magus, Dositheos, Theodotus, Heracleon, Clement, Origin, and other early Gnostic Christians. (Mead/NHL Archives)

Revealing how ancients used Aeons is largely my own discovery. There are no Sethian or Valentinian works that explain the mechanics of the Monadic sequence, and how a Monad, becomes a Hebdomad, or Ogdoad. But the ancient Chinese used Ogdoads the same as the Gnostics, and I learned the Pythagorean model from the ancient Chinese.

The ancient Taoist philosophy of the Tai Chi’ ba gua science uses Ogdoads exactly like the Pythagorean based Sethians. (See; Fung Yu-Lan) I learned the ancient Chinese Ogdoad, and then I figured out the Aeon emanation system from there, based upon the tripartite algorithm. Classical Martial Arts applies the Ogdoad model in the Tai Chi, exactly as both Sethians and Asians used the paradigm. This may not be obvious until you study the Monadic sequence.

There are facts about the study of Aeons that make it part of the earliest Christianity, but it appears w they studied Aeons secretly. Extant writings attributed to people that knew Jesus mention Monads or Aeons, but do not really explain them. I know that human emotions can be profiled with the use of Hebdomads representing Wrath, Envy, Grief, Lust, Lies, Hate, and Fear, vs. the polar opposite of these seven Aeons. I have constructed Aeon-Hebdomad models of the human psyche using this model.

Chapter Eight of the “Gospel of Mary” is about how the Seven Powers of Wrath can be overcome by the Soul. The description of these powers and how they proceed reflects Mead’s description of the formation of the Hebdomad. (Mead, NHL) Here is my own explanation…

Hebdomad; Refers to a seven unit Aeon emanation composed of a trivium (Monad, Duad, Triad) and quadrivium (Tetrad, Pentad, Hexad, Hebdoad) that follows the Trivium Method algorithm: (1st Premise/Trivium A=C) 2nd Supporting Premise/Quadrivium A=B = B=C) (Synthesis of A=B=C) = 1. Hebdomad

Another way to show the trivium and quadrivium as an Aeon-Hebdomad is: (h.e.b.) (d.o.a.d.) = 1 Hebdomad. One way to describe how a Hebdomad works is by explaining the trivium works as a sign to give information, and the quadrivium works like a signal to represent directed action. These principles are based upon the ancient Trivium Methods “where three roads form one road, and where four roads meet, forms a single point.”

I can explain the functions of the Hebdomad with the model below…

(Trivium {a.b.c.}) (Quadrivium {d.e.f.g.}) (Synthesis {a.d.c.d.e.f.g.} = 1 Hebdomad

A template for the evil Hebdomad:

The Evil Hebdomad is: (a. Darkness, b. Desire, c. Ignorance) (d. Excitement, e. Form, f. Action, g. Knowledge) (Synthesis) =1.

Darkness as evil includes every negative emotion you can categorize within the types of Wrath, Envy, Grief, Hate, Lies, Lust, and Fear. This is the target in using the matrix of the Evil Hebdomads as a weapon. I mention this so the reader knows the study of Aeons can be used in the real world and this had to be part of its appeal in learning this system in the ancient world.

The reading or synthesis of the Evil Hebdomad can be interpreted by knowing the functions of the units in the Hebdomad sequence. Each of the terms in the Monadic sequence are all fields of study that become one field of study. These fields are at least in part explained, but scattered in NHL texts. There are both good and evil Hebdomads.

The Trivium functions:

(1. Monads state the form’s first cause, or sequence name, like Wrath, Envy, Lies, etc.)
(2. Duads state the motive of the whole sequence, for each of the seven units.)
(3. Triads consolidate the three forms of the triad into one thing.)

The Quadrivium functions:

(4. Tetrads state a level of ‘excitement’ in the form, i.e. the mind.)
(5. Pentads state the nature of the ‘structure’ of the form as a body or soul.)
(6. Hexads state the ‘action’ in the Aeon matrix and this is related to its specific power of the form.)
(7. Hebdoads state the extent of power or ‘control’ (cause and effect within the Aeon matrix) of the Aeon type and form.

The quadrivium in this model is the same for both good and evil powers. (d. Excitement, e. Form, f. Action. g. Knowledge) = 1

The quadrivium can be looked at as if it were like other body parts with special functions. You cannot see the quadrivium, but you can sense it working, like with the Aeon of Grief or others. If I could not do it myself I would not mention that you can follow the influence of the quadrivium.

Almost everyone experiences grief, like when a loved one dies. When the Aeon of grief strikes, the quadrivium it is a measure of cause and effect from the strike of the Seven Powers of Grief to all the other powers in the Evil Matrix. As an evil and powerful impulse Grief can cause visible effects of mind and body which is all part of the Hebdomad matrix. (Wrath, Envy, Grief, Lies, Lust, Hate, and Fear)

Understanding this model helps to self-analyze the cause and effects of Aeon Monads on the forms of the psyche and physical body. The seven powers of the Evil Matrix act as a harmony when a “demon” Hebdomad strikes. Knowing the model supplies a framework to contemplate Kinetikos, the study of the cause and effect of Aeons on the person. The model has helped in easing my own grief.

The Sethian Aeonology was an instrument that was used to help release a person from control of Archons and harmful emotional baggage. Good and evil Hebdomads are seen as elements of the natural cosmology and psyche of man. I am sure the Sethians, Basilidians, and Valentinians learned the Aeonology to apply it as their version of modern Psycholinguistics, and Psychology.

Like the Hebdomad, the Ogdoad is a two part instrument, except where the Hebdomad is the combination of a triad and tetrad, the Ogdoad is two tetrads that represent duality working in harmony as one thing. Like all Aeon emanations the Ogdoad is a sequence started from the Monad or in the Chinese version, the Tai Chi, meaning one.

Below is the tripartite model of the Ogdoad:

(1st Premise/A. Monad, B. Duad, C. Triad, D. Tetrad) (2nd Premise/E. Pentad, F. Hexad, G. Hebdoad H. Ogdoad) (Synthesis A=B=C=D=E=F=G=H) =1

When the mathematical terms of Monad, Duad, etc. are replaced with common terms, the newly named units of the sequence retain the mathematical, gematric, and literal values of the tripartite union.

As I state above the Chinese Ogdoad and Pythagorean model are the same tool. Lao Tzu, in his work the “Hua Hu Ching,” lists over twenty complete fields of study developed from the Tai Chi model of the Ogdoad. To my knowledge the Chinese did not use Hebdomads like the Pythagorean model, but the sequence from the Monad or Tai Chi, is the same mathematical, gematric, and literal sequence. (See; Fung Yu-Lan; confirms Pythagorean Math and the Tai Chi’s Chinese ba gua model are the same. Vol. 2 “The History of Chinese Philosophy”)

I take the stand as a Gnostic Scholar that Sethian and Valentinian secret works represents the proof the Aeonology as an epistemology and metaphysics was known and practiced by the first Christians. This study changes modern Christian history, especially when other scholars learn about Aeons.

There is no one Nag Hammadi work that puts together the mechanics of the Aeon emanation. This is why most modern scholars lack the information to explain Aeons, Monads, Archons, Ogdoads, and Hebdomads. It is only recently that authors started writing about Aeons at all. Theodotus revealed that it was Sethians that are the first to write about Aeons and Pythagorean Monads, Hebdomads, and Ogdoads.

Nag Hammadi scholars include a lot of people that study the “Gospel of Thomas.” There are people that are still grasping to the idea the text is not Sethian-Valentinian, or Gnostic. It is. This changes the historical perspective of what Jesus and the first Christians knew and taught. It means what Jesus said in the “Gospel of Thomas,” is from the Sethian-Valentinian epistemology. This Sethian version of what Jesus said can be far displaced from Orthodox epistemology and hermeneutics.

The Sethian or Mandaean concept of Father would be Adonaios or Adonai-Sabaoth, and Mother is Barbelo. The power of the Jesus in the Thomas text comes from his tripartite union of the Ogdoad powers of Father, Mother, and Son. This union forms a 24 unit Aeon matrix that is virtually Jesus as an Aeon form or body. The Mother or concept of Barbelo is a form of Christianity using a divine feminine not present in Orthodox Christian philosophy.

A passage by Basilides illustrates that the Aeonology of Sethians was carried on in Alexandria. Basilides explains a schema where he has replaced Barbelo with Mary as the divine creative Ogdoad power that emanated into the Son. This indicates to me he was learning and teaching the Aeonology from earlier sources.

Basilides wrote:

“Thus, from the Hebdomad, the Light–which had already come down from above from the Ogdoad unto the Son of the Hebdomad–descended upon Jesus, son of Mary, and he was illumined, being caught on fire in harmony with the Light that streamed into him. This is the meaning of the saying, ‘The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee’–that is to say, that which came from the Sonship through the Limitary Spirit to the Ogdoad and Hebdomad, down as far as Mary [the body]–and ‘The Power of the Highest shall overshadow thee’–that is to say, the divine creative power which cometh from the [ætherial] heights (the Pleroma) above through the Demiurge, which power belongeth to the Son.” (The Apostle Basilides; source Mead, “Fragments of a Faith Forgotten,” NHL Archives.)

Simon Magus wrote:

“Of the universal Aeons there are two shoots, without beginning or end, springing from one Root, which is the Power invisible, inapprehensible Silence. Of these shoots one is manifested from above, which is the Great Power, the Universal Mind ordering all things, male, and the other, (is manifested) from below, the Great Thought, female, producing all things.

Hence pairing with each other, they unite and manifest the Middle Distance, incomprehensible Air, without beginning or end. In this is the Father who sustains all things, and nourishes those things which have a beginning and end.

This is He who has stood stands and will stand, a male-female power like the preëxisting Boundless Power, which has neither beginning nor end, existing in oneness. For it is from this that the Thought in the oneness proceeded and became two.

So he was one; for having her in himself, he was alone, not however first, although preëxisting, but being manifested from himself to himself, he became second. Nor was he called Father before (Thought) called him Father.

As, therefore, producing himself by himself, he manifested to himself his own Thought, so also the Thought that was manifested did not make the Father, but contemplating him hid him—that is to say the Power—in herself, and is male-female, Power and Thought.

Hence they pair with each other being one, for there is no difference between Power and Thought. From the things above is discovered Power, and from those below Thought.
In the same manner also that which was manifested from them although being one is yet found as two, the male-female having the female in itself. Thus Mind is in Thought—things inseparable from one another—which although being one are yet found as two.” (“Apophasis Megale”)

Simon’s passages above addresses the very idea concerning male and female aspects of Barbelo.
This means that Simon Magus knew the Father as the power of Adonaios. Barbelo or the divine feminine was a common link in Sethian and Valentinian philosophy:

Barbelo, Barbelon: The term Barbelon refers to the 2nd Archon-Ogdoad power of the Mother in the tripartite union of Father, Mother, and Son. Barbelo represents the Aeon powers over gender and creativity. Barbelo is expressed in the Sethian-Valentinian philosophy mathematically in the Bridal Chamber concept aligned with the Monadic triad or Trivium method: (Monad-Father A=C) (Duad, Father-Mother A=B=B=C) (Synthesis of Father-Mother-Son, A=B=C) = 1 Logos. (SGG)

The extant writings of Basilides and Valentinus reveal they did not use the term Barbelo in their descriptions of Jesus’ divine power, but they did not abandon the divine feminine like the orthodoxy did.

Summary:

Having read and interpreted many of the Sethian and Valentinian Gnostic writings has revealed to me a Christianity not known in modern times. When I recognized that a Hebdomad was part of the Monadic sequence that formed the Ogdoad, I knew I had discovered a lost science. This field of study was one known only to those who knew the ancient Christian occult, and how to interpret it. The ancient system sort of defies modern academic methods and logic.

The work of Fung Yu-Lan, Lao Tzu, and other Chinese philosophers that knew the dynamics of the Ogdoad in the Tai Chi model, showed me the way to explaining Hebdomads, Triads, Tetrads, and Ogdoads, etc.. This understanding for me was established upon the understanding of tripartite unions, and the fact that all Aeon emanations start with a Monad, that acts like a seed. This idea of the creation of forms is conveyed in both Sethian and Valentinian works.

An evil Hebdomad can be plaid like a chess piece, and is a real form like a swift punch in the face. A Hebdomad is a real thing acting as a set of emotions in your psyche, and that can be destructive or healing to both the mind and material body. Ancient followers of Jesus knew the skills of using the Monad and the Aeonology.

References:

The Nag Hammadi Library,” by Robinson, Harper, 1997.
Simon Magus,” by G.R.S. Mead, NHL Archives.
Fragments of a Faith Forgotten, by G.R.S. Mead, NHL Archives.
Gnostic Secrets of the Naassenes” by Mark Gaffney, Inner Traditions, 2004.
Gnosticism” by Stephan Hoeller, Quest Books, 2002.
Forbidden Faith,” by Smoley, Harper S.F. 2006.
The Gnostics,” by Smith, Watkins Pub., 2008.
A Dictionary of Gnosticism” by Smith, Theosophical Pub. 2009.
“The History of Chinese Philosophy,” by Fung Yu-Lan, Princeton, 1957
The Hua Hu Ching,” by Lao Tzu.
“Saunders Gnostic Glossaries,” by Tom Saunders, Private Collection, 2004-2014.

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