Tom Saunders


A mystery exists in the study of Nag Hammadi Library works as to what is actually meant by the term Aeon. What does the term really mean? There is a great deal to know about Aeons. Here are a few passages using the term…

“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.” (Simon Magus,”Apophasis Megale”)

“In an Aeon I (Jesus) was released from a world, and in a Type from a type, and from the fetter of oblivion which is transient. From this time on will I attain to the rest of the time, of the season, of the Aeon, in silence.” (GMary)

“The one who seeks me will find me in children from seven years of age and onwards. For there, hiding in the Fourteenth Aeon, I am revealed.” (Hippolytus, Ref. 5.7.20, GThom L-4)

“Through Aeons universal will I make a Path; Through Mysteries All, I’ll open up a Way!” (Naassene Fragment)

The mention of Aeons in a Nag Hammadi text is a sure sign the text has Sethian-Valentinian roots to the same secret teachings of the Naassenes. This teaching was preserved by Basilidians and later Valentinians. This fact can be shown by the shared unique Sethian Specific terms used in Nag Hammadi texts by known Valentinians and earlier Naassenes. Aeons are complex structures. Ancients who studied Aeons called the science of how Aeons affected the body, Kinetikos. Here is how I define the term Aeon…


Aeon: The term refers to emanations (spirit or pneuma) from the Pleroma, or the energy of thought entering man’s mind. All human emotions enter our minds as Aeon emanations which start with a Monad and grow to a Hebdomad. Aeons are formed from tripartite unions of a Monad, Duad, and Triad. Aeons as types of emanations are one-half of a duality, and Aeon sequences like Hebdomads and Ogdoads are made of other Aeon-Monads which can form a matrix. Aeon names like Spirit or Soul are given mathematical, literal, and gematric tripartite values. Aeon names usually represent titles for whole fields of study that become one field of study. The emanation process in Sethian-Valentinian works is based upon the early Gnostic Father, Mother, and Son, Ogdoad trinity, giving Jesus the power of divinity as the Monad. This method is based upon the concept of three roads meeting to form one road; and when four roads come together, it forms one point. Aeons are constructed from Monads aligned with the algorithm of the Trivium Method. All Aeon emanations like triads, tetrads, hebdomads, and ogdoads, etc. work based upon the same algorithm: (1st Premise/Monad A=C) (2nd Supporting Premise/Duad A=B = B=C) (Synthesis/Triad of A=B=C) = 1. (Logos) (SGG, 2015)


Aeon-Monads can form triads, tetrads, hebdomads, ogdoads, decads, etc. No matter the size of the Aeon sequence the tripartite formula applies to its construction. This allows both even and odd numbered sequences to have equal power in the tripartite unity to form one thing.

The ancient Gnostics knew that every basic human emotion could be put into the form of a Hebdomad. Jesus had the power of Light, meaning the power of good Aeons over evil Aeons. This is to say that he taught the power of recognizing the emotions as subtle powers presented a model that could be manipulated.

“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…” (The Apostle Basilides, see Mead)


Hebdomad; Refers to a seven unit, two part Aeon emanation as a power 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.

Another way to show the trivium and quadrivium as an Aeon-Hebdomad is: (h.e.b.) (d.o.a.d.) = 1. One way to describe how a Hebdomad works is by explaining the trivium works as a cause or sign to give information, and the quadrivium works like a signal or effect 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.” (SGG-2014)


Ogdoad; Refers to a two part eight unit Aeon emanation as a body, composed of two tetrads that form a 1st and 2nd premise in the Trivium Method formula: (1st Tetrad/Premise A=C) (2nd Tetrad/Supporting Premise A=B =B=C) (Synthesis of A=B=C) = 1 Ogdoad. Another way to express the Monadic values of the Ogdoad is: (A. Monad, B. Duad, C. Triad, D. Tetrad) (E. Pentad, F. Hexad, G. Hebdoad H. Ogdoad) (Synthesis A=B=C=D=E=F=G=H) =1. A Tetrad works like a four point compass, and an Ogdoad works like an eight point compass. There are actually many different applications for the Ogdoad as a heuristic device. (SGG-2014)

The significance of the Ogdoad in Gnostic literature is that the power of divinity of Jesus is based upon the tripartite union of the three Ogdoad powers of the Father, Mother, and Son. This trinity is explained in the “Apocryphon of John,” “The Gospel of the Egyptians,” and other NHL related works. As an epistemology, this trinity is very different from the mainstream version of how Jesus gained the power of divinity.

This literal comparison of different Christian epistemology is for a discussion outside the scope of this work.

The Gnostic Aeon-Ogdoad, and the Chinese eight ba gua or trigrams of the icon of Tai Chi philosophy are used as heuristic devices the same way. According to Fung Yu-Lan, Pythagorean math and the Tai Chi’s use of trigrams are virtually the same tool. The Gnostic Sacred Tetrad, the Evil Trinity, and the Chinese “I Ching” are all constructed into a matrix the same way; all built into a literal, gematric and mathematical binomial system. All Chi or Aeon emanations are constructed based upon the tripartite algorithm, (A=C) (A=B B=C) (A=B=C) = 1.

In his work the “Hua Hu Ching” Lao Tzu names over twenty heuristic applications for Ba Gua science. As far as I know the Asian system did not use the Hebdomad. I have met other people that knew how a Ba Gua sequence worked. This is how I discovered that the Aeonology and the Tai Chi’s Ba Gua Science are the same tools. After I practiced putting together eight unit ba gua sequences, I figured out the Hebdomad, and how it works with the tripartite algorithm.

Gnostic Christians saw Jesus as the Monad, and Aeon of Aeons. In my opinion the study of Aeons is imperative to the understanding of Nag Hammadi texts.


Aeon: These are characterized as emanations from the ‘first cause,’ the Father in some Gnostic schema. The word not only refers to the “worlds” of emanation, but to the personalities as well. Sophia, Logos, and the other high principles are aeons. ”A link or level of the great chain of being, the sum total which is the ‘All’ or Pleroma…Can also mean a world age.” (See; Gaffney) ”According to other Gnostics, for example Valentinus, the first principle is also called Aeon or the unfathomable, the primeval depth, the absolute abyss, bythos, in which everything is sublimated…”

translated by Scott J. Thompson from G.W.F. Hegel’s ”Vorlesungen über die Geschichte der Philosophie ii ,” (Theorie Werkausgabe, Bd. 19), Frankfurt a.M., Suhrkamp Verlag, 1977, 426-430] ( See also; Pleroma.)

The first ten aeons in the Valentinian schema are, Bythios (Profound) and Mixis (Mixture), Ageratos (Never old) and Henosis (Union), Autophyes (Essential nature) and Hedone (Pleasure), Acinetos (Immoveable) and Syncrasis (Commixture,) Monogenes (Only-begotten) and Macaria (Happiness).

Aeonology: The study of the emanations of the Aeons from the void, or Silence. G.R.S. Meade writes, “In his Aeonology, Simon, like other Gnostic teachers, begins with the Word, the Logos, which springs up from the Depths of the Unknown-Invisible, Incomprehensible Silence. It is true that he does not so name the Great Power, He who has stood, stands and will stand; but that which comes forth from Silence is Speech, and the idea is the same whatever the terminology employed may be.

The Word, then, issuing from Silence is first a Monad, then a Duad, a Triad and a Hebdomad. For no sooner has differentiation commenced in it, and it passes from the state of Oneness, than the Duadic and Triadic state immediately supervene, arising, so to say, simultaneously in the mind, for the mind cannot rest on Duality, but is forced by a law of its nature to rest only on the joint emanation of the Two. Thus the first natural resting point is the Trinity. The next is the Hebdomad” (G.R.S. Meade, “Simon Magus.”)

gnostic cosmology