The Five Most Dangerous Archons in the Gnostic Gospels
You gotta love ‘em Archons. When they’re not reptilian space lords bent on whatever they’re bent on, they’re the overseers of all fate in a rickety universe, the godly entities that keep humanity mired in ignorance and the bondage of the average.
In my article How the Archons Destroy Your Life, I explained the ways these Powers and Principalities bury our Divine Spark in layers of egoic personality, making us no better than hosts of Westworld. In Why Does the Demiurge Have a Lion Head? I gave attention to the chief Archon, the Demiurge or Yaldabaoth (or Yaldi-Baldi, when he’s been cute).
That’s just scratching the surface when it comes to the Archons, and defeating them. Knowledge is power, as they say, but in Gnosticism knowledge is also freedom. Understanding some of the unique (and dangerous) Archons will go a long way in finding a way out your own Westworld.
At the very least, these Archons will make cool villains in your next D & D Campaign, Cthulhu fan fiction, or jail cell story after your latest political protest.
I’m not kidding. Yoko appears in the Secret Book of John. She is known as the Archon of Desire. Does anyone else find this darkly ironic? Do you see how perhaps human relationships have been so fragile all these millennia?
In case you wanted to know, Yoko is ancient Greek for “f**k off, Paul.”
This cat might be the scariest Archon ever. Why is that? Authades is a bloody Aeon (the personified capacities of the One or ultimate god). This means Authades is infinitely more powerful than any Archon! He appears in the Pistis Sophia, holding a slightly higher position than Sophia. What more, he hates Sophia because of her obsession with understanding the One instead of keeping the Aeon realm running smoothly. In the account, Authades tricks Sophia into falling out of the Aeonic Realm by creating a false light in the chaos that seduces her.
As April DeConick writes in The Gnostic New Age, the Pistis Sophia is a later Gnostic gospel from sectarians that didn’t particularly like the Sethians. Thus, the idealized world of the Aeons is presented as more like a domain of gods instead of an ultimate reality. Like other deities of the time, the Aeons tend to fall into human ways.
It’s no roll of the dice to know that the Gnostics contended we lived in a deterministic universe with little choice. Only Gnosis liberated us from the Chinese finger trap that is destiny. In the Secret Book of John, fate is portrayed as an Archon mysteriously called Fate. She is the youngest but perhaps most powerful Archon. She is created when each of Yaldaboth’s Archons fornicates with Sophia (a metaphor for usurping her power). Then Fate is tasked with the ultimate mission: keeping humanity trapped in the material domains. As the Secret Book of John says:
Fate changes unpredictably
It is of different sorts just as the demons are of different sorts.
Fate is hard.
Fate is stronger than
The gods, the authorities, the demons, the generations of people
Who are caught up in it.
Out of fate emerged
Sinfulness, violence, blasphemy, forgetfulness, ignorance,
In this way all of creation became blind,
Ignorant of God above everything.
Because of imprisonment in forgetfulness
They are unaware of their sins,
They are bound into periods of time and seasons
By fate who is lord of it all.
In the Reality of the Archons, Sabaoth is depicted as one of Yaldabaoth’s sons, working alongside daddy in the early stages of the universe’s creation. At one point, the Demiurge brags that he’s the ultimate god. Sophia, his mother, is not amused from her perch in the higher heavens and scolds him. She sends an angel that binds Yaldabaoth and throws him into Tartarus for a time out. Sabaoth, her grandchild, is impressed with Sophia’s chutzpah and changes his stripes. As the Reality of Archons says:
Now when his offspring Sabaoth saw the force of that angel, he repented and condemned his father and his mother, matter. He loathed her, but he sang songs of praise up to Sophia and her daughter Zoe. And Sophia and Zoe caught him up and gave him charge of the seventh heaven, below the veil between above and below. And he is called ‘God of the forces, Sabaoth’, since he is up above the forces of chaos, for Sophia established him.
This immigration by Sophia might not have been a good idea, though. When Yaldabaoth finds out his son is not only a turncoat but has been elevated, he gets really envious and then “envy engendered death; and death engendered his offspring and gave each of them charge of its heaven; and all the heavens of chaos became full of their multitudes.”
So what’s the deal with Sabaoth? As Birger Pearson writes in Ancient Gnosticism, Sabaoth might have been written in to divide the Demiurge in two characters, Yaldabaoth and Sabaoth, in order to have a good god to appease Jewish Christians. After all, Sabaoth is one of the names of God in the Old Testament.
Why is he a dangerous Archon if he’s been redeemed? I smell a sleeper cell with Yaldabaoth holding a Sabaoth pee-pee tape somewhere.
The Gnostics were the lords of deconstruction, as I say in my podcast, and they enjoyed making biblical villains into heroes, like Cain or the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah, and vice versa in some case. What’s more, later Gnostics sects would then turn previous Gnostic heroes into villains. This is the case with the Mandaeans, who vilified Jesus in some texts, as well as Sophia, calling her Ruha. Andrew Phillip Smith in John the Baptist and the Last Gnostics explains:
Into this darkness falls the evil spirit Ruha, who gives birth to a dragon or monster known as Ur. In the realm of darkness, monsters emerge and evil angels are born as Ruha mates with her offspring Ur, and the malign astrological influences are felt of the Seven (the planets) and the Twelve (the zodiac). Ruha means ‘spirit’ and she is the intermediate entity who has fallen from grace and the light.
Unlike earlier Gnostic texts who redeem the fallen Sophia, Ruha remains a divine seductress and antagonist of both humans and good gods, the ultimate cosmic femme fatale.
But Archons are still reptilian space lords, right?
They are never depicted as reptilian in Classic Gnostic texts, except for perhaps having a lizard-face like the Archon Yao in the Secret Book of John. They are portrayed as hermaphrodite creatures owning different bestial faces, with an appetite for rape and brawling. They are a mixture of heavenly administrators and hellish union goons. Borrowing from William James and his take on God, they are omnipotent to the extent they can do what is possible, omniscient to the extent they can know what is known.
That’s why they’re no match for those who have Gnosis – those who can do what’s impossible and have come to know the unknown.