One of the most important yet misunderstood concepts for modern Gnostics is that of the Counterfeit Spirit. I get varied descriptions, ranging from associating it with the dreaded ego to a Homer Simpson imp that magically appears on your shoulder urging you to fake your death in order to skip work.

In reality, the Counterfeit Spirit is far more complex yet kick-in-the-groin identifiable once its metaphysical subtleties are captured. And like most notions in Gnosticism, it stresses the existential urgency for spiritual transcendence because the human condition is far worse than imagined.

To put it simply but not exactly, the Counterfeit Spirit is the Gnostic equivalent of Original Sin, though instead of paying for the sin of Adam’s disobedience we’re paying for the sin of God’s insecurity (as will be revealed shortly). Furthermore, the Counterfeit Sprit is far more than just a stain of sin within our inner being—it’s a spreading lagoon of deterministic doom reaching into the very fabric of time and space itself.


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Defining the Counterfeit Spirit


In A Dictionary of Gnosticism, Andrew Phillip Smith defines the Counterfeit Spirit without all the bombastic bells and thistles I just spewed:

In Sethian myth a force which, in the absence of the living spirit, binds humanity to the Archons (Pg. 66).

In an even plainer definition, Zlatko Plese in Poetics of the Gnostic Universe equates the Counterfeit Spirit with Satan and his monkeyshines (Pg.74).

Both definitions are accurate. However, they reveal only a fraction of the salvation-castrating phenomenon that is as the Counterfeit Spirit, which in Classic Gnosticism appears solely in the Secret Book of John. This Sethian scripture in large part deals with the resurrected Christ wikileaking to tranny John about what really happened during creation. To put it bluntly, the Savior explains that Moses was smoking too much manna when he sat down to write Genesis. Jesus has risen to give the world the real dope.


devils advocate


How did this depressing but likely true concept begin?


The Counterfeit Spirit’s adventures begin in Secret Book of John after Jehovah and his thug-angels (also known as the Archons) create Adam in a fool’s paradise known as Eden. As God breathes animal-life into Adam, his mother Sophia smuggles part of her essence into history’s first dude in order to make him a tool for the powers of light instead of just a tool. Jehovah and his thug-angels realize at once that Adam now houses the Living Spirit or Divine Spark.

The text seems to indicate Sophia’s essence is located in one of his ribs; but it’s more than likely inside his skull since a man’s brain is the last place anyone would look for something bright. The Archons also realize this cat is superior to them. After all, the Divine Spark is nothing less than a shard of the Eternal Realm, basically amounting to the horsepower of infinite goodness. To understand the magnitude of Adam’s potential, imagine shoving several tons of dilithium crystals up an ant’s (censored by order of the Gnostic International Tribunal).

God and the Archons decide that this is a very delicate situation that requires utmost prudence and wisdom.

So they immediately kick Adam’s ass.

Jehovah and his crew toss Adam down the stairs of the heavens until he reaches the material world. They dress him in a monkey suit and rob him of his immortality, basically making Adam and his descendants walking Giza pyramids that will entomb yet spread the Divine Spark forever.

One of the Tombraider traps they manufacture is the Counterfeit Spirit.


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The true identity of the Counterfeit Spirit


To the Sethians, the Counterfeit Sprit was a clone of the Divine Spark. Instead of allowing humans to calibrate their consciousness to the Eternal Realm, this soul-parasite hoodwinked them into embracing the material world and its dead ends. It all becomes a question of whether the human psyche can discern between these two indwelling and competing entities. As Jesus says in the text:

“The soul, in which the power will become stronger than the Counterfeit Spirit, is strong and it flees from evil and, through the intervention of the incorruptible one, it is saved, and it is taken up to the rest of the Aeons.”

But the function of this ectoplasmic femme fatale doesn’t end with temptation. In the brilliant The Tree of Gnosis, Ioan Couliano goes into alarming detail about the celestial wingspan of the Counterfeit Spirit. He writes that this supernatural Rolex-replica’s hypostasis is:

…astral genetic information that accompanies every soul coming into the world. The relation of a person to his or her Counterfeit Spirit determines the result of the soul’s trial after physical death (pg. 103).

In words that Packers’ fans or those of Irish descent might understand, the Counterfeit Sprit is analogous to an unholy T-virus that infects not only a person’s judgment but his or her life-fate. The Counterfeit Spirit is the black hole sun of all free-will. Expanding on this Calvinistic wet dream, Couliano further writes that she is also “…the quintessence of the bonds of astral Fate and at the same time as the most influential factor in determining personal destiny.”

Couliano also states that each person’s Counterfeit Spirit has the similar phantasm “appendages” the Gnostic Sage Basilides wrote about, which are basically “planetary accretions that lure and push the soul toward evil” as well as “hinder the free will of human reason.”

To wit, this ethereal cougar seduces the youthful Zodiac over our lives. She is both cosmic and instant karma, the reaping we sow in fields of broken dreams and lifelong regrets, the dark side of the moon that swallows us whole each lifetime. Beyond stupid, stolen metaphors, if she ain’t The Matrix, she’s pretty darn close, Mr. Anderson.

As Jesus tells his cross-dressing disciple in the Secret Book of John, Gnosis is the only way to defeat this Bizarro Sophia. Only a few heroic individuals are able to do so. Now, my Counterfeit Spirit destined me to write this drivel, so I wonder if this means the situation can only get worse.


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Actually, things do get worse. The Counterfeit Spirit just told me


The only other Gnostic work where the Counterfeit Spirit makes an appearance is in the Pistis Sophia, a much later gospel influenced by Manichaean anti-astrological polemics. The anima doppelganger’s role is more elaborate in this scripture, as highlighted in chapters 111-115. The Counterfeit Spirit is described as a vestment for the Divine Spark, stitched from the finest silks of predestination. The vestment absorbs all negativity and sin into itself to the point it becomes more like karmic cement shoes. Thus, upon an individual’s death, it literally weighs down a person’s Divine Spark, dragging it right back into the wheel of birth and rebirth. The Archons then quickly dress the soul with another Counterfeit Spirit.

Couliano points out that there are two methods proposed in the Pistis Sophia to negate the magnetic pull of the Counterfeit Spirit. These are constant “baptism, which, like a purifying fire, loosens the seals of the sins with which the soul is burdened and separates her from her Counterfeit Spirit; and the prayer of intercession for the dead.”

In later chapters, the Pistis Sophia goes into elaborate detail regarding the industrial process of the Counterfeit Spirit being enjoined to the Divine Spark. It’s almost like a heavenly factory where hundreds of thug-angels in an assembly line construct each human’s entire kismet. The process even gets organic like the doctrine of Original Sin, because a person’s latent material being and Divine Spark are split in two and injected into his or her future parents. In other words, your mother and father had no choice but to fall in love and ruin each other’s dreams. Surprising no one except Packers’ fans or those of Irish descent, the Counterfeit Spirit itself ends up in a man’s sperm. The two halves of a person are melded in the mother’s womb by the labor of 365 Archons (it’s assumed that 364 don’t bother to look at the instructions).

There are certainly hints in this mythology that the Gnostics, as with all early Christians, more than likely believed human life started at conception and that divorce was simply going against a person’s psychic nature.

According to the Pistis Sophia, all creases, prints, and marks inside and on the human body contain an individual’s entire life story. For example, the wrinkles on your forehead mark exactly how many years your present incarnation will last on Earth, while every time you bully someone on Facebook using a fake profile is probably written on your buttocks (or it could be the hours sitting on a cheap leather chair). An adept Gnostic might be able to decipher everything about you, every event in your life; yet it’s usually Avenging and Collector Archons who own the almanac to your present mortal existence. And they are the ones who make sure the bad events hit you at maximum overdrive, just in case Jesus and those meddling Apostles of Light get in the way.

Unless cheap wages have displaced Archons from Heaven to Taiwan, the Counterfeit Spirit is still one of the main ways God confines the Divine Spark to matter. Like the Agents in The Matrix or the Strangers in Dark City, Jehovah’s thug-angels will do anything in order to keep the status quo and exploiting the Divine Spark. The ancient Greeks and Romans knew that the gravitational pull of Lady Fate was almost insurmountable; but the Classic Gnostics decided to make the notion of free-will and destiny more complicated than a Michael Bay action scene.


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Of course, things could be worse, right? Just think if we had to deal with:

  • A Supreme Being that acts like an alcoholic husband.
  • Cosmic amnesia and eternal return without sustainable experience.
  • A universe built like a Haitian neighborhood.
  • A savior who dares us to think independently and nurture our intrinsic divinity.
  • A religious world where the divine feminine gets as much respect as a Jennifer Lopez movie.

Then we might as well give up and become Packers fans and listen to The Pogues. So the best approach is…


As simple as that. Gnosis breaks the bonds of fate and lifts the veils of illusion. Or as the Gnostic Theodotus explained, what sets you free from the Counterfeit Spirit is the knowledge (Gnosis) of:

Who we were,
What we have become
Where we were
Where we have sunk
Where we hasten
From which we are redeemed
What is birth
And what rebirth.

Meditate on this, but hurry. Your Counterfeit Spirit already knows you’re awakening and is moving to take you back to that heavenly factory for a satanic tune up.


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