A main reason I was attracted to Gnosticism was its original, intricate, and potent mythology. It felt like spiritual wasabi to my Daemonic senses. As Erik Davis wrote, Gnosticism had that “an almost sci-fi sensibility of ‘alien gods’ and supramundane universes of light.” Beyond their evocative and provocative mythopoeia, I agree with Willis Barnstone that the Gnostics produced some of history’s great poetry.
It does seem, however, that the Gnostics tended to get carried away with their cosmogonies and cosmologies—providing Byzantine systems that could confound even Gary Gygax or JRR Tolkien. This is the case in the Secret Book of John, which Karen King regards as a complete Gnostic Gospel. Also, in his book The Secret Book of John: the Gnostic Gospel, Stevan Davies writes: “The Secret Book of John is the most significant and influential text of the ancient Gnostic religion.”
And also the most complicated—a spanning journey beginning with the primordial thought of the Alien God and ending with the destruction of the universe. (This Gnostic epic is narrated in part by Jesus, comforting a despondent apostle John who just doesn’t get the cosmic joke played on Creation and takes life too seriously.)
Thus, when the mythos gets tough, the tough get visual. I present you with an infographic, the Gnostic Cosmos, based on the Sethian cosmology from the Secret Book of John. This visual is found in Laurence Caruana’s excellent book, Enter Through the Image: The Ancient Image Language of Myth, Art and Dreams. Laurence kindly granted this site permission to republish the Gnostic Cosmos. I hope it brings you that clarity next time to you read this “most significant and influential text of the ancient Gnostic religion” (or really any other Gnostic cosmogony and cosmology, as all Creation models in Gnosticism overlap like a Pleromic burrito).
I’ve provided Laurence’s interview on Aeon Byte Gnostic Radio after the infographic, which includes penetrating instructions on how the Gnostics sought their mystic states (which many of you will find Eastern, in many ways).
But enough of my drivel, as I say on the podcast. Here it is: