Terms and concepts in Gnostic Christianity

The Mystic Christ
   by Ethan Walker III
The light of non-duality and the path of love according to the life and teachings of Jesus. The Gnostic path is the inner path to God-realization. Buddha, Krishna, Jesus and the other great Masters are all one and in essence taught the same thing.

Gnostic Terms and Concepts

Gnosticism is exciting and beautiful, but without a solid foundation of the basic terms and concepts, it is very easy to become lost. While this glossary is by no means inclusive of every Gnostic term,we hope that it provides a sound beginning to your Gnostic journey.
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Abel - According to Genesis, Abel is the son of Adam and Eve, and he is sometimes believed to be the son of Eve and the demiurge
Abraham - Religious figure that is regarded as the founding patriarch of the Israelites, Arabs and Edomite peoples.
Abrasax - – In gnostic thought, Abrasax (or Abraxas) is thought to represent God and Satan together in one entity. Abrasax’s numerical value is 365 (in Greek), which directly correlates to the solar year. Abrasax is considered an Egyptian god and demon.
Abratur - One of the three demiurgic beings in Mandaean thought
Acamoth - In Valentinian Gnosticism, there is an upper and lower Sophia, Acamoth is the name given to the lower Sophia in these texts.
Adam - The legendary first father of human beings referred to in Genesis and many gnostic texts. Adam is al so “human being” in Hebrew.
Adamas - This is the name reserved for the Heavenly Adam, the father of Heavenly Seth in the divine pleroma as told to us in the Gospel of the Egyptians
Adamas of Light - In Manichaen thought, there were five sons of the living spirit sent to help the primal man, Adamas of Light was one of the five sons.
Adversus Haereses - Against Heresies, written by Irenaeus in the second century.
Aeon - The aeon is the eternal realm that is composed of a series of hypostases (extensions of being) that emanated outward from a common source, creating a ruling entity in the pleroma.
Afterthought - Greek epinoia, which may be translated to mean “thought, intelligence, creativity”. The afterthought is an emanation of the divine and is closely related to Sophia as seen in Sethian texts.
Albanenses - The term used to describe the absolute dualists in the Cathar religion
Alchemy - Early form of investigation of nature and early philosophical and spiritual discipline
Alien God - Marcionites believed that this God, the God of the Old Testament had no previous interactions with this world and was virtually unknown
All - The all is the totality of beings in the Upper Aeons, the entirety of the universe, and is used to especially include the elect
Anaximander - Pythagorean teacher and pre-Socratic philosopher that taught the ultimate substance of beings is “the boundless”
Androgyny - When one has complete sexual identity while being in the physical state of being both male and female. There are numerous powers described in gnostic texts that denote special powers to androgynous ones, the Gospel of Thomas proclaims androgyny as salvific union
Angels - The collection of all beings in the Upper Aeons, each angelic being is a hypostasis of the One
Anima - In Jungian psychology, the Anima is the female component of the male psyche
Animus - In Jungian psychology, the Animus is the male component of the female psyche
Anointed One - Either the Messiah/Christ, or may also be used to describe one that has been anointed with oil, thus guaranteed a special place of distinction
Anthropogony - Creation of humanity
Anthropology - Study of humanity
Antinomianism - The polar opposite of legalism, celebrates the idea that members of a religious group are under no obligation to obey laws of ethics or morality as presented by church authorities
Antithesis - Marcionist text that was composed by combining scripture from Jewish tradition juxtaposed with sayings and teachings from the Gospel of Luke and the Pauline Epistles.
Apatheia - This is the first of three fluid stages of enlightenment in the Thomasine Church which involved complete detachment from the emotions
Apeiron - The boundless in Pythagoreanism, cosmological theory; unlimited mass that is subject to neither age nor decay
Apocalypse - a revealed teaching
Apocryphon - a secret teaching
The Apology - work by heresiologists Justin Martyr
Apolytrosis - The initial initiation rite of the Thomasine Church, celebrating the commitment of the newcomer to walk the Illuminist path
Apophatic Theology - Theology that attempts to describe God by negation or only in terms of what may not be said about God, a means to describe God by what he is not
Apostolic - The belief that the spiritual successor to the original bodies of Christ is composed of the Apostles. In the Orthodox Church, this lineage is passed through unbroken lines of bishops beginning with the original apostles
Aramaic - Group of Semitic languages with a 3,000 year history, called the language of divine worship, the original language of many large sections of the Bible
Archon - The demiurge/evil’s equivalent of aeons. The archons are the rulers of the lower Aeons. An archon is also especially considered to be sycophants of the demiurge and rulers of this world
Arithmology - The belief that religious scriptures and other writings contain secret messages through translating these writings into numbers.
Ascent - The upwards journey of the soul to the pleroma
Ascetic - One who practices a life that is abstinent from worldly pleasures, this is done to achieve a greater spirituality. By having a pure body, the soul may be pure as well. The importance is to attain clarity of thought and an ability to resist potentially destructive temptations.
Astaphaios - Name given to the Son of Yaldabaoth in On the Origin of the World.
Autogenes - Greek for “self-conceived” or “self-created”.



Baptism – A ritual performed in many Christian sects used to initiate a follower, baptism is also considered to be one of the Five Seals.
Barbelo – In Sethian texts, Barbelo is the divine mother and also the first emanation of the Father. She is also described as the forethought (Greek: pronoia) of the invisible spirit.
Bardisans – Followers of Bardisan in the second century that were deemed as heretical, a Syrian-Egyptian sect of Gnosticism that practiced a variety of Valentiniasm
Basilideans – Gnostic sect founded by Basilides of Alexandria in the second century
Beget – To procreate or generate an offspring.
Blind Guides – The Gnostics believed that the bishops and leaders of the Orthodox Church were blinded and ignorant; worshipping the malevolent creator, thus their obedience was submitted to the blind guides of the church.
Bodily – One of the three separations of Christ according to Valentinian teaching.
Body – The body is described (in gnostic thought) as being a prison created by the archons to entrap the soul in the matter of the Lower Aeons.
Bogomils – A medieval gnostic group that reached its zenith between the tenth and fifteenth centuries in Bulgaria, the Balkans and especially in Constantinople.
The Book of Giants – Manichaean testament that concerned the Old Testament, regarding a giant named Ogias who fights a great dragon before the flood. It is said that this writing has been based on the Book of Enoch.
Borborites – An early Gnostic sect that heresiologists claim practiced rites of sexual sacraments.
Bosnian Church – Historically believed to be an indigenous branch of the Bogomils in Bosnia in the Middle Ages, this church was a Medieval Gnostic sect.
Bridal Chamber – Perhaps the most mysterious of all the Five Seals. This ceremony typically emphasized the spiritual meaning of heavenly union. This rite has never been revealed explicitly, and remains a mystery.
Bride Groom – In Valentinian teaching, Jesus is the male counterpart/bridegroom of the Lower Sophia
Bruce Codex – A Gnostic manuscript that was purchased by Lord James Bruce in 1769. This codex contains the first and second Books of Jeu as well as fragments of "On the Passage of the Soul Through the Archons of the Midst".
Buddha – Designated as a prophet within Manichaeism, Mani is referred to as Buddha Mani.



Cain – The son of Adam and Eve in Genesis; also thought to be the son of Eve and the demiurge, committer of the first murder according to Old Testament texts.
Cainites – Early Gnostic group that revered Cain as the first victim of the malevolent creator; venerated Cain.
Call – By naming the elect in the baptismal rite, the One “calls” the elect to him.
Cathars – A gnostic sect that flourished between the eleventh and fourteenth centuries.
Catholic – Literally, universal. The Universal Orthodox church.
Cave – In Plato’s Republic, he uses the allegory of a cave that is mentioned in the Secret Book of John; people are trapped in the dark caves of reality until they see the light of truth.
Cerinthus – Early Christian heresiarch that denied not only the notion that God created the physical world, but also the divinity of Jesus.
Chants – A rhythmic singing or speaking of words or sounds done in reciting tones. Usually used in deep meditation, prayer, worship and rituals.
Chaos – The depth, the abyss, the matter from which the material world was created according to various Gnostic teachings
Chous – One of the three non-corporal elements of the human being accordion to Valentinian teaching.
Chrism – A sacred rite that is considered one of the Five Seals, it is also referred to as anointing in oil.
Christianization – The conversion of individuals or entire religious groups to Christianity
Church – Typically reference to the Roman Catholic Orthodox Church
Codex – A Roman invention that replaced the scroll, term is used today for ancient writings that are bound together as books are today. Usually composed of separate, handwritten pages bound together and given a cover.
Collective Unconscious – In Jungian psychology, the collective unconscious reflects the collective experiences that all humans have had in their evolutionary past.
Confessing Christ – Traditional Christians claim that in order to attain salvation, one must confess their faith in Christ.
Consciousness – Awakening, attainment of gnosis.
Consolamentum – The initiation ritual used by the Cathars to grant redemption to the Perfecti.
Constantine – Roman emperor who is regarded as the first Christian emperor (although it is rumored that he did not convert to Christianity until he was on his death bed). He united Rome under Christianity and issued the Edict of Milan.
Coptic – The final stage of the Egyptian language, the Copts were the native Christians of Egypt, and the Coptic Church is the largest Christian church in Egypt, a member of the Oriental Orthodox family of churches. When the codices were found at Nag Hammadi, they were originally written in Coptic
Corpocratians – Early Gnostic sect that followed Carpocrates and his teachings that taught that philosophers such as Plato, Pythagoras and Aristotle were also gods.
Corpus – The physical body.
Cosmic Christ – In Manichaean theology, the “passable Jesus”; the personification of the divine Light mixed with matter; long before Jesus was crucified on the cross, He was crucified on the cross of matter.
Cosmogony – Chronicle of the universe’s creation
Cosmos – The antithetical concept of chaos, most often referred to depict the universe, but not including the creator.
Council of Nicea – First council was evoked by Constantine and provided the first uniform Christian doctrine (the Nicene Creed).
Counterfeit Spirit – A type of evil spirit, that appears mainly in the Apocryphon of John.
Craftsman – Name for the Father in Valentinian teachings, the personification of the soul, also used to refer to the demiurge
Credentes – One of the two groups of the Cathars. The Credentes were called believers, but were not expected to follow an ascetic lifestyle.
Crucifixion – The ancient method of capital punishment; Jesus’ death on the cross is the central anchor for Christian religions.



Darkness – A state of agitation, the evil abyss, absence of Light, home or the archons.
Daveithai – One of the luminaries created in Valentinian cosmology
Deficiency – Result of a lack of divine fullness as caused by the fall of divine glory, this stands in direct contrast to the fullness of the pleroma.
Demiurge – Considered the creator of this material world in gnostic thought. Literally means “half-creator”.
Demon of Greed – One of the demons dwelling in the Darkness in the Manichaean Cosmogony
Depth – Greek bythos, bathos. In Valentinian texts, the depth is the infinite divine manifestation that the pleroma emanates from.
Desire – Specific part of Philo’s views of the soul and spirit.
Dharma – Buddhist law that is referred to in the Great Song to Mani
Diakresis – Moral discernment
Dichotomy – The splitting of a whole into two separate, non-overlapping parts: Animus/Anima, Mind/Body, Subjective/Objective, etc.
Disciples – Followers that are also referred to as apostles or apprentices
Divine Hypostases – The unfolding or emanation of the divine forces
Divine Mind – The Basilidean reference to Christ, as the Divine Mind was in Him.
Divine Mother – The light, truth and intelligence of the universe; literally dwells in each human, half of our spiritual parentage.
Divine Reality – The result of exploring human experience while simultaneously exploring interior self-knowledge; this Divine Reality is the realization and attainment of Gnosis.
Docetists – Early Christians that believed that Christ only appeared to be living in the flesh and suffered and died on the cross.
Dogma – The established belief or doctrine held by particular religions, taught to be the final authority, not to be disputed or questioned. Especially prominent in the Catholic church.
Drama – The story or any mythical account that is commonly used to refer to a creation myth.
Dualism – The view that two oppositional fundamental forces or concepts exist.
Dyad – Consisting of two parts; namely in Pythagoreanism.



Earth – The material world, as created by the demiurge.
Echamoth – A form of lower wisdom in the Gospel of Philip, similar to Achamoth in Valentinian texts.
Ego – In Jungian psychology, it is everything of which we are conscious, responsible for seeing that the everyday functions of life are carried out. In Gnosticism, the ego is what keeps individuals in their self-centered existence. In order to fully live and function, the ego must be diminished.
Eight – Ogdoad, the realm of eight aeons. This is also used to refer the realm of the demiurge.
Eightfold Path – Developed by Buddha Shakyamuni as the path to freedom from suffering:
1. Right view
2. Right intention
3. Right communication
4. Right action
5. Right livelihood
6. Right effort
7. Right mindfulness
8. Right presence
Elect – Those that have received the gnosis and will return to the Upper Aeons to re-unite with the One
Eleleth – A luminary in gnostic thought
Elements – (see also: Three Essential Elements) There are five fundamental elements in nature:
1. Ether
2. Fire
3. Air
4. Water
5. Earth
Elohim – In Sethian texts, Elohim is the child of Eve and the demiurge.
Emanate – To produce an offspring, to come out from a source
Emperor Nero – Roman Emperor responsible for the persecution of many ancient Christians and is rumored to have begun the fire in 64.
Emperor Theodosius – Roman Emperor that decreed that all citizens should be Christian.
Enemies – Loving enemies is good for the reflection of the truth of our own beings, out oneness and unity with God and helps to put an end to hatred with compassion
Enlightenment – Attainment of Gnosis, those that are enlightened have experienced the true teachings and knowledge of Jesus.
Ennoia – Another word for thought in Valentinian teaching
Enoch – Character in Genesis that is said to have walked with god, but then also taken away by god.
Epiphanius – An ancient Church Father and heresiologist; authored the Panarion.
Epinoia – In the Sethian texts, Epinoia is sent by Barbelo to assist Adam on his descent to the Garden of Eden. Epinoia is Life (Zoë). Epinoia is also to help Sophia regain her power and grace. Personified, Epinoia is Eve.

Epistle – An elegant, didactic letter sent to a group of people, the letters in the New Testament are Epistles.
Error – A female personification in the Valentinian Gospel of Truth that plays roles that are usually reserved for wisdom and the demiurge.
Eschatology – The part of philosophy and theology that is concerned with the final events in the history of the world and the ultimate destiny of humanity.
Esoteric – Knowledge that is not outwardly given, it is only understood and available to a narrow circle of the elect, or the highly educated people.
Eternity – Existing for an infinite or limitless amount of time; others refer to eternity as anything existing outside of time.
Ethics – The study of values and customs of a person or group; the study of broad social systems within the framework of morality.
Eucharist – A ritual that is part of the Five Seals, it is a meal in memory of Christ’s sacrifice based on the Passover meal that Christ celebrated with his disciples.
Eve - In Genesis, Eve is the first mother of human beings.
Exile – A form of punishment where an individual is denied permission to return; Sophia was exiled from the pleroma upon her creation of the demiurge without the Father’s permission.
Existentialism – Philosophical movement that claims that humans create the meanings of their own lives, some elements are closely related to Gnosticism.



Factious Mind – Produces illusions of the wicked one and this is what keeps one from knowledge according to Thomasine teachings.
Faith – Pure knowledge, direct experiential wisdom, the experience of what is beyond the body.
Fall of Man – Interpretation of Genesis; varies across all Gnostic sects.
False Messiah – mšiha kdaba; Mandaean name for Jesus, as they believed that He perverted the teachings entrusted into Him by John.
Fate – Greek heimarmene; considered to be the overwhelming force that determines the destiny of all that is earthly and heavenly. The power of fate is thought to exceed that of the gods, considered by some to be the ultimate bondage.
Father – The original spirit, the Light, the ineffable God
Father of Greatness – In Manichaean thought, the Father of Greatness is the eternal divine manifestation.
Five Seals – These rituals exist only in the uppermost light and are part of the Sethian ritual of baptism, as mentioned in the Sethian Gnostic texts. No text gives an exact description of the Five Seals; they remain a mystery to modern gnostic scholars. Upon receiving the Five Seals, the gnostic could ascend once more to the Upper Aeons.
Fullness – The pleroma, or state of being filled with the divine



Gabriel – Regarded as an angel and archangel in Jewish, Christian and Islamic traditions, Gabriel is an angelic minister to the luminary Oroiael.
Ganzibria – One of the three levels of priesthood in Mandaean teaching. Called the “treasures”, today it is the highest held office in present day Mandaeanism.
Garden of Eden – The final realm where Yaldabaoth cast Adam and Eve to; related in different ways in Gnostic thought and is also found in the Old Testament Book of Genesis.
Garment – Typically viewed in gnostic tradition as a symbol of the body that is put on at birth and removed at death; it has a positive sense when it is a ‘garment of light’ and protects one’s ascent to the Upper Aeons, but can also be seen negatively when it is regarded as a ‘garment of darkness’, which is the body that was ‘put on’ by the spirit when it descended into the Lower Aeons.
Genuflection – Ace of reverence, usually performed by falling to one knee, this was refused by the Medieval Gnostic group the Tondrakians.
Geradamas – Regarded as the heavenly Adam in Sethian texts. The name is most presumably derived from Hebrew; may mean “Adam the stranger.”
Ginza – The sacred text of the Manichaeans
Gnosis – Knowledge, but specifically knowledge and insight in regards to mystical knowledge.
Gnostic Anthropology – The scientific, philosophical and theological knowledge that focuses on the study of the social development and the causal and spiritual behavior of the human being
Gnostic Trinity – Differs throughout the different sects of Gnosticism, but the basic foundation is a trinity of a Father, Mother and Child (whereas the Christian trinity is Father, Son and Holy Spirit).
Gnosticism – A diverse religion and teaching, based on the concept that all humans are trapped in a material world that was not created by God, but by a demiurge. Through the attainment of knowledge (gnosis), one can learn the world’s true origins and will learn to worship the correct God and will attain salvation.
God – The Gnostic God is the ineffable one, the Spirit, the Light, the one from whom everything has emanated.
Godhead – Another name for God
The Gospel of Mani – The last surviving text to tell the modern world about Manichaeanism. Originally written on blackened papyrus.



Harmozel – one of the four luminaries in Sethianism
Hebdomad – In Basilidean teaching, the second archon that is the maker and ruler of the lower planetary heaven below the moon
Helen – Usually referred to as Helen of Troy, in gnostic tradition, she is Helena, the companion of Simon Magus
Hell – Also referred to as Hades, the abyss, outer darkness and limitless chaos, some gnostics believe that the Lower Aeons and earth are already a form of hell where trapped souls are tempted and tormented by demons
Hellenistic – Means “Greek-like”, implying relation to what is truly Greek (Hellenic)
Heresiologist - One who studies heresies (those people that are against the True Church)
Hesychia – One of the three fluid stages of enlightenment in Thomasine teaching; requires detachment from the discursive intellect, imagination and opinions, adopted by Illuminists, it is described as a ‘critical skepticism’.
Hibil – Heavenly Abel in Mandaean thought
Hierateia – The Holy Orders in the Thomasine Church conferred in three ranks.
Hippolytus – One of the most prolific Christian heresiologists, came into conflict with the Popes had headed a separate congregation for some time.
Hokmah – The Hebrew term for “wisdom”, in Sethian teaching, Sophia is the hypostatized form
Holy Trinity – While it varies in different Gnostic teachings, the Trinity of the Godhead is usually a form of Father, Mother and Son, whereas the Christian Trinity is Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Human Being - In Gnostic thought, human beings are essentially not the product of the material world, humans consist of physical and psychic components that are perishable.
Hylic – From Greek hyle, used to name a person of earthly, material matter
Hymn of Jesus – Also referred to as the Round Dance of the Cross, a song that Jesus may have taught his disciples before he was crucified.
Hypostasis – Any of the three parts of the trinity, or the essential person of Jesus in which his human and divine natures are united, may also be used to describe the substance, essence or underlying reality of something.
Hystraa – The demiurge in Cainite teaching



I AM – Pure existence, God, the very core of our existence, the changeless observer of all activity and inactivity
Iamblicus- Revered as one of the most influential Neoplatonic writers that developed a cosmogony that was concerned with a Monad and a Demiurge.
Ida – Related to procreation, the feminine serpent of our internal energetic bipolarity
Idolatry – The belief that material possessions bring happiness, the worshipping of our own ego
Ignatius – The third bishop of Antioch; authored a series of letters that are believed to compose the theology of early Christianity.
Ignorance – absence of knowledge
Illuminating Void – The emptiness, can only be experienced with the absence of the ego
Illuminism – Word implies enlightenment and a logically sound understanding of reality, relates to a philosophical tradition rather than a spiritual one, the ultimate goal of initiates in the Thomasine Church.
Imagination – The mirror of the soul, must be used to achieve enlightenment, but must be separated from fantasy.
Impenetrable Firmament – the limit of the pleroma, especially in Basilidean teaching
Initiation – the process by which the Inner Father receives recognition, the beginning of the gradual journey to Self-Realization, the process of receiving a sacrament is a rite of initiation
Innocence – The absence of the ego, without innocence there is no heaven, a child’s innocence is the most pure, they are not concerned with material things, past or future, they are fully present in what they do.
Inquisition – Established by Pope Gregory IX in 1233, aiming to exterminate the remaining Cathars
Invisible Spirit – In Sethian texts, the Invisible Spirit is an infinite divine manifestation
Irenaeus – Recognized as a saint, he is one of the most prolific heresiologists to write about the Gnostics and other “heretical” groups.



James Robinson – Translator of the Nag Hammadi Library that revolutionized the release of the texts by compiling a group of translators to speed up the process of translating the codices.
James the Just – James the righteous, brother of Jesus, thought to be the author of the Secret Book of James
Jealous God – Typically a nickname for Yaldabaoth in Sethian creation myths; the demiurge did not recognize other Gods, however he himself was jealous of any other being having power that could possibly rival his.
Jesus – Regarded as a revealer, teacher and savior of varying degrees in gnostic texts
John the Baptizer – The Jewish teacher that baptized Jesus in the Jordan River, revered by the Mandaeans as having the true wisdom
Judas Iscariot – The overseer of the Twelve Apostles, and according to the New Testament, the apostle that betrayed Jesus. However, in The Gospel of Judas, a different story is told; as it is revealed that Judas was not betraying Jesus, but acting through obedience of Jesus’ instructions.
Jung Codex – The first codex found in the Nag Hammadi collection, it was originally purchased by a Dutch historian, and then presented to psychologist Carl Jung for his birthday.



Kabbalah – Jewish mystical tradition that has been practiced since medieval times
Karma – The Law of Cause and Effect, making each individual responsible for his or her own life and the pain and joy it brings to others.
Kenoma – The lower world of phenomena, the emptiness; opposite of the pleroma in Valentinian teaching.
King James Bible – English translation of the Bible that was first published in 1611; believed by fundamental Christians to be the ultimate word of God.
Kingdom of God – Found within or among people, approached through understanding and is entered with the acceptance of a child; it is a kingdom inhabited by people of the righteous.
King of Kings – A name commonly used to refer to Jesus
Knowledge – Gnosis, the only means to salvation
Koan – A story, question or statement in Zen Buddhism that typically contains aspects inaccessible by rational thinking, and can only be understood by intuition
Koran – The central religious text of Islam
Kosha – Sheathes or different layers of the soul in the ancient Sanskrit language
Krishna – A deity worshipped in many Hindu traditions



Law of Moses – The Jewish Torah, or the Five Books of Moses
Law of Seven – The fundamental principle of all created things: seven primary colors, seven primary planets, etc
Leitouragia – In the Thomasine Church, literally means to work; the liturgy
Letter to Flora – One of the few authentic Gnostic works that survived before the discovery at Nag Hammadi, written from Ptolemy to a Gnostic woman named Flora
Leviathan – In Ophite teaching, the one circle (world-soul) that circumscribes they seven separate circles
Liberation – Freedom from karmic cycles, the freedom of the physical body upon death, the freedom from the ego upon the attainment of gnosis
Libido – According to Jungian psychology, a general biological life energy that is concentrated on different problems as they arise; a creative life force that can be applied to the continuous psychological growth of the person, the driving force behind the psyche
Library of Alexandria – Once the largest library in the world, contained many papyrus scrolls; burned to the ground in 640 CE
Light – Considered by gnostics to be a glorious expression of the divine
Light of Truth – In the Thomasine Church, the wisdom and enlightenment that is the ultimate goal of humanity
Lightworld – Mandaean heaven, the dwelling place for all light beings and the soul’s final resting destination after death.
Limit – Greek horos; this separates the world inside the pleroma from the outside world as a means of protection for the divinity of the pleroma
Living Gospel – Lost sacred book written by the prophet Mani
Living Spirit – Light that was sent to rescue the primal man in Manichaean thought
Living Water – Flowing water connected to life and baptism
Logos – The commonly personified word of God
Love – God, the measure of all things, makes humanity full and complete
Lower Sophia – In Sethian teaching, Sophia was split into two entities, see Acamoth
Lucifer – Fallen angel that was originally identified with Venus, but later with Satan
Luminaries – Four lights in the Sethian texts that shine in the pleroma
Lust – One of the seven capital sins, turns other people into objects; obscures individual’s vision of oneness



Magi – Pagan magicians and sorcerers, the first to find, recognize and worship Jesus and the incarnation of God
Mammon – Riches, wealth, worldliness
Man – Created in God’s image
Mana – Mandaean thought – spirit of the divine and the spirit in people
Manda – Knowledge, gnosis in Mandaean thought
Mandaeanism – Persian Gnostic school that still exists today, but is non-Christian in character
Mani – The founder of Manichaeanism, messenger of the light, he wanted to unite the people of the world under his religion that blended Buddhism, Christianity and Zoroastrianism
Manichaeanism – Early Persian Gnostic sect founded by Prophet Mani
Marcionism – An early Gnostic dualist belief system, claimed that Christianity was distinct from and opposite to Judaism
Martyr – A believer who witnesses to his or her belief and on account of this witness endures suffering and death
Mary of Magdala – Galilean woman that was a devout student and disciple of Jesus, later discredited as being a prostitute, one of the several Marys in early Christian gospels, some gnostics believed that she was the wife or companion of Jesus Christ.
Masbuta Rite – Mandaean baptism
Materialism – The form of physicalism that holds that the only things that can truly exist are matter; belief in only what the five senses tell individuals
Material world – Nature, Earth; the world that was created by the demiurge
Mathematkoi – Pythagoreans, those who study all
Meditation – A state of concentrated awareness, usually turned inward to the mind itself
Melchizedek – Commemorated as one of the Holy Forefathers, a Pagan that is considered now to be eternally perfect, perhaps a higher incarnation of Christ than Jesus.
Messengers of Light – Bring about the revelation that Gnosis is needed for salvation, provide the stimulation of the mind
Messiah – Christ, any savior or liberator of the world
Messina Congress – Held in Italy, 1966; conference intended to allow scholars to arrive at a definition of Gnosticism following the discovery and the subsequent translation of the Nag Hammadi Library
Metanoia – In the Thomasine Church, the paradigm shift from a Fictitious to Awakened Mind
The Middle – The space between the upper and lower aeons, also the time after death and before re-incarnation, a state of non-existence which is greatly feared, this is also referred to as the realm of Acamoth, the region between the pleroma and this world.
Monad – one
Monism – The metaphysical and theological view that all is one, there are no fundamental divisions in nature, there is a unified underlying set of laws that govern all of nature
Monogenes – In Valentinian theology, the only child; part of the Realm of Eight
Monophysites – Stated that Jesus was one and the same with the eternal God
Monotheism – Belief that there is only one God
Moses – Hebrew law administrator, said to be the author of Genesis
Mystic – One who professes knowledge of spiritual truth or union with the divine that is reached through direct experience
Myth – A scared story relating the origins of the world and its inhabiting creatures



Naassenes – The Serpentine Gnostics, typically the Ophites, who commonly regarded the serpent in Genesis as the savior and giver of wisdom, not as an evil being
Nag Hammadi – City in Upper Egypt where the Nag Hammadi library texts were discovered
Narcissus – A Greek mythological hero renowned for his beauty; in Sethian teaching, Jesus makes an allusion to the myth of Narcissus as He describes a story of a divine mind falling in love with his own reflection in water and produces a thought, Barbelo
Nativity – Birth
Nazarenes – Another name for the Mandaeans
Nebrouel – In the Sethian text The Holy Book of the Great Invisible Spirit, it is said that the world is created through Sophia and Nebrouel, a great demon spirit
Neoplatonism – A religious philosophy that is considered a form of idealistic monism
Nestorian Doctrine – Stated that Jesus had two natures
New Covenant – The idea that God changed the Old Testament teachings by sending Jesus to take a new set of teachings to those on Earth
New Testament – Second half of the Christian Bible, written after the Old Testament, sometimes referred to as the New Covenant
Nicene Creed – An enumerical statement of Christian faith
Nirvana – a state that is free from any mind-contaminants, a state of perfect peace in Buddhism
Non-Duality – There is no separation from individuals, God and the world/
Norea – a figure of Sethian texts, the undefiled daughter of Eve, who together with Seth gives birth to the sons of Seth who are the race of the elect
Nous – philosophical term for mind of intellect, the primary manifestation of the divine
Nymphon – The name of the Bridal Chamber sacrament in the Thomasine Church.



Occult – Properly means “knowledge of the paranormal”, most often used to refer to knowledge of the hidden
Ogdad – Eight
Old Testament – The first section of the Biblical canon, contains the Hebrew Bible
One – see Monad
Onoel – Another name for the demiurge in Ophite teaching, see Thaphabaoth
Ontology – A philosophical study of being or existence, studies the conceptions of reality; seeks to describe the basic categories of being or existence to define entities and types of entities within its framework
Ophites – Also known as Naassenes, an early Gnostic sect that gave great Biblical importance to the tale of Adam and Eve
Orea – variant spelling of Norea
Original Man – Adam, the first human
Original Sin – The fallen state of humanity, the orthodox idea that all humans are inherently evil, result of the disobedience of Adam and Eve
Origen – Early Christian Father, and was one of the first authors to attempt to intellectually describe Christianity
Oroiael – luminary in gnostic thought
Orthodox – From Greek ortho (right) and doxa (teaching, glorification), typically used to refer to the “correct church” or religion as deemed superior by a governing body
Ousia – The essence of God, as known to pneumatics



Paganism – A broad set of spiritual or cultic practices of any folk religion
Pairs – Prominent throughout Gnosticism, there are many instances of syzygies (pairs). Light/Darkness, Aeons/Archons, etc. Furthermore, the aeons also have their respective pairs such as the Lower Sophia and Christ in Sethian teaching.
Panarion – The most important work of the heresiologist Epiphanius
Pantheism – The belief that God sustains and is one with all of creation and beings
Paraclete of Truth – The last prophet as promised in the New Testament; Prophet Mani claimed that he was the Paraclete of Truth
Parousias – The reappearance of Jesus for the Last Judgment
Paulicianism – Medieval Gnostic sect that flourished between 650 and 872 in Anatolia
Perfecti – The core of the Cathar religion, small in number and the only initiates (through Consolamentum) demanded of extreme asceticism
Persona – In Jungian psychology, used to describe one’s public self, this archetype develops because of humans’ need to play a role in society
Personal Unconscious – In Jungian psychology, this is the material that was once conscious to the individual, but was repressed or forgotten
Philo – A Hellenized Jewish philosopher that fused Greek philosophy and Judaism
Pistis - Faith
Pistis Sophia – Ancient Coptic Gnostic document, seemingly divided into four books
Planets – According to the Sethian creation myth, the seven planets were created by the demiurge as he created seven archons to rule the seven realms
Plato's Symposium – The Sethian technique of self-performable mystical ascent toward and beyond the realm of pure being found its roots in this work by Plato
Pleroma – The fullness, the dwelling of the Father and the aeons
Pleromic Union – Another name for the Bridal Chamber
Plotinus – Ancient philosopher and considered the father of Neoplatonism
Pneuma – Greek for breath; one of the three non-corporeal elements in Valentinian teaching, the spiritual seed
Polemic – An attack or refutation of another religion or principles
Polynomial Monotheism – One indescribably God appears in many names and forms, part of Hinduism
Polytheism – Worship of each of God’s various aspects individually
Poor – Those that are enlightened, those that count of God for everything and have made a sacrifice of their ego, giving God total control
Premillennialism – A concept in Christian eschatology that the Second Coming of Christ will occur before the millennium
Primal Man – First man
Prince of Darkness – Another name for Satan
Principle Powers of Reason – Judgment, memory and language as according to Philo
Prison – The material, flesh body of humans is considered to be the prison of the soul
Primordial – First, original, existing before the earth came into existence
Pronoia – The Father’s forethought, also called Ennoia, Barbelo
Prophet – An individual obligated with a responsibility from a Divine source to be a messenger for the purpose of social change
Protennoia – Another word for forethought
Prunikos – The virgin power in Ophite thought
Psyche – In Valentinian Gnosticism, one of the three non-corporeal elements of humans, the psyche is the rational soul.
Psychic – In Valentinian Gnosticism, one of the three types of people (corresponding to the children of Adam and Eve), the psychic are those that are animate, or dominated by their soul
Psychic Gods – The three gods that form a triad in Pythagorean cosmology
Pthail – The demiurge in Mandaean thought
Ptolemy – The leader of the Western school of Valentinian thought
Pythagoreanism – Esoteric and mythical beliefs held by Pythagoras, studied the world through Arithmology





Rajas – One of the three gunas in Hinduism; active and energetic
Realm – The intermediate link in the emanation of the divine beings, the dominion of the Father
Redemption - also called ransom, involves the use of oil and water in a ritual for the dead to aid them in their transition to the realm of the divine
Reincarnation – The mystical belief that the an essential part of a living being will survive death to be born again in a new body
Reintegration – In the Thomasine Church, one of the three fluid stages of enlightenment, involves a perfect union with the light of the truth
Repentance - comes from Greek metanoia, means to change (meta) our mind (noia) or turn around (meta) our way of knowing (noia) – Sophia is the archetype of the repentant soul
Rest - Greek anapausis – divine rest or repose, the blessed state of those at peace, reserved for people who attain gnosis, a kind of meditation and release from the world
Restoration – The symbolic act of an individual being reconnected with the divine
Revelation – In the Thomasine Church, one of the spiritual gifts of Illuminism
Revolution – The battle of the consciousness against the ego
Right - In Valentinian thought, those of the right are psychical people, on the left are the material people
Rišamma – The highest office of priesthood in Mandaean teaching
Ruha – In Mandaean teaching, the rebellious female being that produces Pthail.



Sabaoth – An army or hosts
Sabbath – A weekly day of rest, usually on Sunday
Sacraments – A rite the mediates divine grace, seen as symbols and images of the internal process of redemption
Sagacity – In Sethian teaching, another name for Eleleth, the golden angel
Sakla – Another name for the demiurge or Satan
Salvation – Not attained by merely professing faith in Jesus, requires a fundamental change in perception of us and others
Samael - Demiurge or creator of this world, especially in Sethian texts
Satan – The collective ego, that which obstructs our knowledge of our true nature
Satanail – Another name for the demiurge or Satan
Sattva – One of the three gunas, or qualities of nature in Hinduism, the highest of the three, the quality of goodness, pleasure, illumination, detachment, purity
Seal – One of the rites or sacraments in Gnosticism
Secret – The secret or Apocryphal teachings that must be reached and understood
Secret Knowledge – The secret teachings of Jesus
Seeds – That from which the world develops in Basilidean teaching
Self – see I AM
Serpent – Regarded in some Gnostic sects as the savior, the hero that saved Adam and Eve by giving them the knowledge needed to break away from the demiurge
Seth – Son of Adam and Eve, regarded by the Sethian Gnostics as having the true knowledge
Sethian – Early Gnostic sect that believed that they were direct descendents of Adam and Eve, thus, inheriting the secret gnosis from Seth.
Seven – see Law of Seven
Seven Sermons to the Dead - Gnostic writing by psychologist Carl Jung
Seventh Root – The power corresponding to the seventh day after the six days of creation, according to the doctrine by Simon Magus
Sexual Symbolism – Symbolic words used to describe divinity, as opposed to the notion of using solely masculine words
Shabuhragan – The book written by Prophet Mani, dedicated to King Shaphur
Silence – Expression of the supremacy in mystical traditions, also an aeon in Valentinian tradition
Simon Magus– 1st century Samaritan teacher that heresiologists claimed to be the founder of Gnosticism
Sin – The result of allowing the ego to overpower God.
Sinilaws– underworld in Mandaean thought
Sitil – Heavenly Seth, Mandaean messenger of light
Smbat Zarehavantsi – Founder of the Tondrakian movement
Solomon – Son of David and King of Israel, had legendary wisdom
Son-Ship – Three separate kinds that exist in the world-seed according to Basilidean teaching
Son of Man – Humanity, born in the Ninth Sphere of water and fire
Sophia – Revered in Gnosticism as Wisdom
Soter – Greek, savior
Soul – The spirit, trapped in the fleshly prison of the body
Spark - divine spark within each individual, the realization of that spark begins the journey to gnosis
Sphragis – In the Thomasine Church, the second sacrament performed after the Apolytrosis.
Spirit - invisible spirit, pneuma
Spiritual – One of the three elements in Valentinian teaching. Valentinians also considered Christ to be divided into three figures, the spiritual being one.
Spiritual Gifts – In the Thomasine Church: gift of healing, prophesy, revelation, discernment of spirits (diakvesis) and gnosis
Standing One – The unlimited power in the doctrine according to Simon Magus
Stele – Thought to be the sources of revelation preserved from antiquity
Syzgyos– partner or companion, a divine active-passive, male-female pair of aeons, complementary to one another, not oppositiona




Tao – Way or Path
Tertullian – Ancient heresiologist
Theogony – account of creation of the gods and goddesses
Theotokos – A title for Mary, mother of Jesus
Thomas – St. Thomas, viewed by the Thomasines as the perfect example of a disciple of Christ
Thomasine – Gnostic church that regards St. Thomas as the master disciple
Three Essential Elements – Demonic, rational and spiritual according to Valentinian teaching
Three Fluid Stages of Enlightenment – In the Thomasine Church, include apatheia, hesychia and reintegration
Three Hundred Sixty Five – The number of days in the solar year; also corresponds to the numerical value for Abrasax.
Three States of Being – In Valentinian teaching, illusion personified as the Devil, soul personified by the Craftsman and the spiritual seed personified by Sophia
Three Types of Humans – According to Valentinians, carnal (choic), animate (psychic) and spiritual (pneumatic)
Tibil - Mandaean’s view of Earth or the physical world
Tondrakians – A Medieval Gnostic sect
Tree of Knowledge – Essentially gave Adam and Eve the power of knowledge against the demiurge
Trimorphic Protennoia – Part of the Nag Hammadi Library, a Barbeloite treatise
Tripartite – The theology of mind, body and spirit
True Church – Claimed by the Orthodox Church to be the “true church”, the only church that can possibly ensure salvation
True God – The God worshipped by the Gnostics, to the Gnostics, the Catholics were worshipping the demiurge; the true god is not the creator of the material world
Twin – An individual’s divine counterpart is the twin, alter ego or true self that one knows in gnostic thought



Underworld – The Mandaean world of darkness, the ultimate destination for un-pure souls.
Unio Mystica – “Mystical Union”, the union of the human spirit with the Godhead



Valentinus – Father and founder of the Valentinian Gnostic teaching, considered one of the fathers of Gnosticism



Wisdom – see Sophia
World-Seed – Created from the chaos, the material world




Yahweh – The Hebrew God, referred to in various Gnostic sects as the demiurge, the God of the Old Testament, the creator of the material world
Yaldabaoth – another name for the demiurge
Yao – form of Yahweh, especially in Greek
Yeshua – Aramaic for Jesus
Yushamin – One of the three demiurgic beings in Mandaean cosmology


Zodiac – The path of the sun across the constellations creating twelve stations, or equal zones, of celestial longitude
Zoë – Life
Zoroaster – Ancient Iranian prophet and religious poet


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