The Nag Hammadi Library, The Secret Books of the Egyptian Gnostics

Page 20 - SECTION S

Sabaoth | Sacla | Seals | Sephiroth | Seth | Sethians | Shem
Simon Magus | Sophia

"They 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." (The Hypostasis of the Archons, Gnostic papyri)

Sabaoth - Also called Lord Sabaoth, Sabaoth the Good and Adonaiu. The Gnostic Sabaoth is much wiser than his father, Ialdabaoth. He supplanted his father in the Light and is installed as ruler of the seven heavens by Sophia and Zoe. Ialdabaoth, who is cast down into Chaos, jealously wages war against him.

In Gnostic texts, Jesus tells how the powers of Sabaoth the Adamas (Indomnitable) had been bound by Jeou, "Father of my Father," to the wheel of time. One of these powers, Iabraoth, became converted and was instated higher up, while Sabaoth the Adamas remained obstinately attached to his lower works and was bound to the sphere. According to Jesus, Sabaoth's son is named Taricheas, the god worshipped by certain Gnostic sects who held orgies and practiced impure rituals. Jesus said the god of this sect had the face of a wild boar with tusks, and on the back side of his head is another face, that of a lion.

In Jewish mysticism, Sabaoth is the father of the Serpent, but he is not systematically evil. He was lacking in foreknowledge and is the God of the Bible, the Creator of this universe and of the Mosaic Law. With his armies of angels, he is enthroned upon the constellation of the Chariot and is the Pole Star. By playing on the initial letter of the name of Sabaoth, the Hebrews could turn the Lord "of Hosts" into Lord "of the Seven" (planets).

The ancients believed the Egyptian, astrologers and diviners could predict what Lord Sabaoth would do. The Gnostic Sabaoth guards the "Portal of Life."

"Do not become desirous of gold and silver which are profitless, but clothe yourself with wisdom like a robe, put knowledge on yourself like a crown, and be seated upon the throne of perception." (The Teachings of Silvanus, Gnostic papyri)

"Do not become a sausage made of many things which are useless, and do not become a guide in your blind ignorance." (The Teachings of Sylvanus, Gnostic papyri)

Sacla - Also Soclan. Identified with Ialdabaoth. Sacla is said to be addicted to impure delights and to reign over Hell and Chaos. The name may be derived from the Egyptian Sokar (Sokaris), god of the necropolis of Memphis. The Egyptian religion had undergone the inverted interpretation as had the Old Testament, so that the "good" Osiris becomes Sacla-Ialdabaoth and his enemy Seth becomes good.

Sacla (Ialdabaoth) is the child of Sophia who is engendered when she tries to create as the primordial Father did, alone and without a partner. When Sacla is created, he creates for himself the heavens and hell and 12 great angels. When he announces that he is a jealous god and there is no other god but him, a voice from on high responds that Man exists, and so does the Son of Man. Sacla sees the image of this celestial Man reflected in the waters and creates the first human in imitation of that image. Samael is identified with Sacla and Ialdabaoth. Samael is the blind angel of Death, made blind by Moses when Samael came for him.

Angel SealsSeals - Usually described as five in number, the Seals protect the soul against the power of death and the power of the spheres. The possessor of the Five Seals abides in them and they abide in him/her. The possessor partakes of the mystery of gnosis, stripes off the garments of ignorance, and puts on a shining light. The Five Seals are received from the Light of the Mother, Protennoia.

While Adam was imprisoned in the heavy slumber of the body, the Savior sealed him with five seals of the light and the water of redemption, so that death should henceforth have no power over him. Seth was baptized with five seals to help him and his race escape the impure god of the 13 aeons. The angel Gamaliel watches over the great baptisms of the Seals performed by the Virgin of Light on the souls of the Perfect so they will be beyond the power of the spheres. Imprinted by decans on the hands, skull and body during its formation, the Seals, with passwords, give souls safe conduct through the planetary spaces. Jesus appeared to some of his apostles wrapped in a robe of light which had on it the five seals. The old age of the world will be marked by three seals - Atheism, Dishonor and Unreason.

Sephiroth - Plural for Sephirah. In Sepher Yetsira of Jewish mysticism, the Sepheroth are the ten primary numbers in which are comprised all the elements of the world. In Zohar, they are the world of spheres, the ten emanations proceeding from the hidden and infinite God, similar to the series of abstract powers which are added to the supreme divinity in early Common Era Gnosticism. In Sepher Yetsira, Teli the Dragon moves the spheres and turns them from east to west and north to south.

Seth - The biblical son of Adam and Eve, brother of Cain, Abel, and Norea (sometimes husband or son of Norea), and the spiritual Seth of the Gnostics, often deemed to be the Cosmic Christ force. Gnostics say Seth put on the body of Jesus and led him out of matter past the Watchers (lower angels), so that Jesus is identical with Seth even when he had become Christ, who was sent by the Mother of heaven to dwell among mankind. Jesus also is said to be a descendant of Seth, in a miraculous way and without having been begotten.

Seth, as the son of Adam and Eve, is the first of the race of the Perfect ones, the spiritual as opposed to the material (Cain), and the psychic (Abel). Eve said, "For God hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel." The Gnostics interpreted this to mean that Seth is superior and not of the same carnal and inferior births of Abel and Cain, that he is based on a holy pattern superior to their pattern. Seth appealed to the great Invisible Spirit to obtain guardians for his seed, called the human race of the Perfect or the holy Generation of the Spiritual, so they will awaken from oblivion here below. Seth and his successors are described as foreign or alien, of a particular race separate from the rest of humanity and participating in the world of supreme powers. Seth ascended to the zenith of heaven, and then higher yet towards the world into which he will draw the Elect.

Adam dictated a book to his son Seth, who bequeathed it to his descendants down to Noah, who took it with him on the Ark. The family of Seth erected stelae of brick and stone; brick to resist fire and stone (often thought to be the Egyptian pyramids) to resist flood. Judaism has traditions about the sons of God who were thought to be the children of Seth and to have lived on holy Mt. Harmon at the beginning of human existence. Seth is said to be buried in the Cave of Treasures where the Magi found the gifts left for them by Adam.

Many allogeneous (channeled) Gnostic books are attributed to Seth, the most important of the Gnostic prophets, with "seed of Seth" a reference to Gnostic sectaries. A spirit named Seth is behind the books Jane Roberts trance-channeled in the last few decades. The Melchizedekians raised Melchizedek above Seth, who taken up into heaven for 40 days by the supreme Mother, who imparted to him the supreme secrets of the Mysteries of the Pleroma and told him of the inferiority of the created world. Seth also may have been a real person, a great Gnostic teacher named Seth, or who called himself Seth.

In the pharaonic religion of Seth vs Osiris dualism, Seth was the enemy of the good gods, Osiris, Isis and Horus. Some pharaohs were Sethi, with Seth as the patron of their dynasties. In the magical literature of Egypt, Seth's name is used in magical invocations, and his handbook of incantations spread his name and his cult throughout the Roman world. The Egyptian Seth is identified with the monstrous Greek genie Typhon, who has a serpent's body. The Egyptian god Seth was considered by the Egyptians to be the father of Hierosolymus and Judaeus - the ancestors of the Jews. The Gnostics reversed the good and bad Egyptian gods, so that Seth became good. In Islamic belief, Seth is considered to be the first "Master," assimilated to Agathodaimon of Greek Hermetic literature. Agathodaimon, the Seth of Islam, is well known among the Shi'ite groups in Iran as a prophet. Seth is also identified with Setheus and with Seth, the earthly reflection of the Earth-Shaker.

Nag Hammadi ManuscriptSethians - The Sethians were the Egyptian mystics who buried the Chenoboskion Manuscripts in the jar. When they buried the manuscripts, some of them newly transcribed, the Sethians were nearly extinct. They chose 52 of their books as the most important to bequeath to later generations of humanity. The information contained in those manuscripts is the basis of this book.

The Sethians, whose prophet was Seth, were not one of the Gnostic sects most violently opposed to the Old Testament, and they did not revere the accursed therein. They believed in the Three Principles; the two opposites and the intermediate, Wind or Spirit. The Light is on high, the Darkness below, the Spirit or Breath between. The Light (fire) sends rays into the Darkness (water) while the Spirit (air) disperses the Light throughout. The Light and the Spirit exist also in the Darkness and take on the nature of its element, Water. The Darkness cleaves to the Light and Spirit, as these two try to withdraw from it. When the three are in contact they set up a motion which produces an action. The form the action takes is dependent upon the concourse of the forces brought together. Their first encounter caused the creation of heaven and earth, envisioned as a womb. The next encounter created a strong, hissing wind born from water, which created all vegetation. From the hissing wind, thought of as a serpent, generation began. The Light and Darkness entered into contact with Matter (earth) and this resulted in the creation of humanity.

The appearance and construction of each created thing is determined by a specific combination, the concourse of the forces of the four elements. The Sethians believed that all bodies, inert or living, had to have their basic elements separated from each other if they were to rise to the higher world. Because they believed every part of the human body has its correspondence in the larger reality of Earth geography, this separation of the elements is necessary to break the bonds of the soul to the lower world.

The Sethians believed that when the Word of God comes down to the physical world, it comes down in the deceptive form of the Serpent. They attached great importance to Eugnostos the Murmurer. The jar containing the manuscripts contained two copies of Epistle of Eugnostos, and part of it included in The Sophia of Jesus. The Sethians were influenced by Hermeticism and Simonianism. They used the Book of Norea.

Four luminaries were significant to the Sethian theology: Armozel, who contained within him grace, truth, and form; Oriel, who contained within him conception, perception, and memory; Daveithai, who contained within him understanding, love, and idea; and Eleleth, who contained within him perfection, peace, and wisdom.

"My thought which was in my body snatched me away from my race. It took me up to the top of the world, which is close to the light that shone upon the whole area there. I saw no earthly likeness, but there light. And my thought separated from the body of darkness as though in sleep." (The Paraphrase of Shem, Gnostic papyri)

Shem - Also Seem and Seth. Shem is not a god, but a divinized man. The Paraphrase of Shem, the longest of the Chenoboskion manuscripts, opens with a account by Shem of his astral projection, in which his soul separated from his body and he was borne away into the heights of creation where all was light. Shem says he went out of his body in ecstasy, while his intellect remained in the body. As though in a dream, he heard a voice call out to him. The voice told him of the Three Principles, Light, Darkness, and Spirit, the three roots of all things, and how they intermingle. In his astral projection, he passes through the Pleiades, where the clouds are of various colors. Shem continues to ascend and view all the spheres within spheres of the creation. He learns of the Archons and of Ialdabaoth, who thinks he is the one and only god. Finally, Shem becomes the appearance of Jesus and, as Jesus, he says he is the companion of Sophia. Paraphrase of Shem contains a full description of the Pleroma.

When he awakens from his sleep his body is very heavy. Shem ends his account of astral projection by blessing those who know, when they are asleep, into what power their spirit will go after death. Of such mystic experiences as Shem's, the author of Allogenes writes:

"And you become afraid in that place, withdraw to the rear because of the activities. And when you become perfect in that place, still yourself. And in accordance with the pattern that indwells you, know likewise that it is this way in all such matters after this very pattern. And do not further dissipate, so that you may be able to stand, and do not desire to be active lest you fall in any way from the inactivity in you."

The Haggada identifies Shem with Melchizedek and elevates him to special status, as do the Gnostics. The Melchizedekians identify Shem with Melchizedek. Noah received from certain angels secrets he transmitted to Shem. Shem is sometimes said to be the son of Norea. He was called Shum-Kushta by the Mandaeans.

"Does someone have a prophetic gift? Share it without hesitation." (The Interpretation of the Gnosis, Gnostic papyri)

Simon Magus - The famous magician and Samaritan from Gitta, called "The Magus," who may have been grounded in Hermeticism. Gnostic teachers were "good Samaritans" from Samaria. The sect of Simon Magus was founded after the death of John the Baptist, and they are considered to have established Gnosticism in the same way the apostles established Christianity. Simon Magus regarded himself as an authentic incarnation of the supreme powers, saying the Enlighteners spoke through his mouth (early trance-channeler). As a great and famous magician who drew large crowds in Samaria, he so amazed that country with his magic that the people there venerated his every word. He taught his disciples magical practices and incantations, how to make use of dreams, and how to contact and work with spirit guides.

He was baptized by and a follower of the Apostle Philip, who apparently could perform miracles. Simon Magus believed in reincarnation and wrote Great Revelation, an undiscovered text. In it, he teaches of the one supreme God, alien and superior to the base world. Two emanations have neither beginning nor end, and spring from the Silence invisible and incomprehensible. One, The Spirit of All, which is on high, governs all things, and is masculine. The other is feminine and gives birth to all things. They create the intermediator, the intangible space with no beginning and no end, wherein resides the Father, who is both male and female and who sustains and nourishes all things that have beginning and end.

"I used to dwell in the Pleroma putting forth the Aeons and bearing fruit with my consort." (Words of Sophia, A Valentinian Exposition, Gnostic papyri)

Sophia - Wisdom, also called Pistis, Book of Pistis-Sophia is a Gnostic manuscript dating from the 4th century CE, brought to Europe the second half of the 18 century, and translated in 1851. In the cosmogony elucidated by this manuscript, the universe is crowned by an infinite God, symbolized by the almond, who is a light enclosed within himself and from whose power all things emanate as innumerable, individual entities of God. From God issues the First Mystery surrounded by beings (spirits) who preside over 24 other mysteries. Further below is the Treasury of the Light, with 12 saviors and nine guardians at its three portals. This Treasury of Light is attained by those human souls who have received the Gnosis. Jeou, Melchizedek and Sabaoth are the powers who collect and bring back to the Treasury all the Lights (souls) that have been dispersed throughout the universe. The Virgin of Light judges souls and determines whether they are worthy to be returned to the Treasury of the Light. If they are worthy, they receive from the Virgin the seals, mysteries, and baptisms necessary for their journey into the upper realms.

The Virgin of Light is likened to the Persian divinity Anahita, mistress of the waters that flow from a heavenly source in the region of the stars. The Virgin of Light purifies the souls through baptism, seals the perfect souls, then returns them to the Treasury of the Light in the region of the stars. The sad story of the fall of the Virgin of Light from her exalted position in the celestial realms above is mirrored in the events of humanity below.

"Guard your camp and weapons and spears. Arm yourself and all the soldiers which are the words, and the commanders which are the counsels, and your mind as a guiding principle." (The Teachings of Silvanus, Gnostic papyri)

The Virgin of Light weighs the merits of the soul and dispenses justice according to the soul's spiritual accomplishments, like the Egyptian god Thoth, who placed the human heart on a scale and weighed it against the weight of a feather.

"Truth is the mother, knowledge the father. Those who think that sinning does not apply to them are called 'free' by the world." (The Gospel of Philip, Gnostic papyri)

MusesWhen Justice finds the souls wanting in spiritual attainment, she sends them into the rotation of the spheres of down through the body of Draco, whose tail descends into the abyss. Draco is formed by the long and winding procession of the souls on the way to the abyss.

The Virgin of Light, as Justice, passes those perfect souls who are to ascend to the upper realms to the Treasure of the Light. Judging them worthy, she releases them from the birth/rebirth cycle, the dance of death, by sealing them against the powers of the spheres.

Portal of LifeThe Virgin of Light becomes filled with a longing to reunite herself with the Treasury of the Light and the supernal entities of the higher celestial realms. She envies those souls whom she sends upwards to merge with the Light. Her strong emotions of envy and desire weigh her down. She falls from her exalted position as the portal to the upper realms down into the lower heavens to dwell in the 8th sphere, the Ogdoad. When she falls, she becomes Sophia, the "Portal of Life," the door of birth into the Physical world.

"Then Justice created Paradise, being beautiful and being outside the orbit of the moon and the orbit of the sun in the Land of Wantonness, in the East in the midst of the stones." (On the Origin of the World, Gnostic papyri)

Sophia is guarded by Lord Sabaoth.

"Sophia fashioned great luminous bodies and all the stars." (On the Origin of the World, Gnostic papyri)

In Book of Pistis-Sophia, Jesus relates that in his celestial journeys he found Sophia in the 13th Aeon, the Ogdoad, grieving because she had not been reinstated to her former position. He comforts her and tells her that her repentance has been heard on high, and Lord Sabaoth has sent him to lift her out of the Chaos of the lower realms. In another text, she is reinstated to her former position in the lower limit of the 13th Aeon. Another account of Sophia relates she is happily vouchsafed a savior, a spiritual spouse, to join her in her reign as the "Portal of Life" to the material world.

In the Beginning | Subjects

A | Abel | Abraham | Abrasax | Adam | Adamanous | Aeons

          Alchemy | Allogeneous Books | Androgyny | Anthropos

          Archons | Archontici | Astrology, Classical | Athoth

          Audians | Augustine, St.

B | Barbelo | Bardeson of Edessa | Baruch | Basilides | Behemoth

          Book of Archangels | Book of Buried Pearls

          Book of the Cave of Treasure

C | Cain | Cainites | Carpocrates | Cathars | Celsus | Chaos

          Chenoboskion Manuscripts | Christianity

          Cosmogony of the Gnostics | Counterfeiting Spirit

D | Death | Decans | Deir Anba-Palamun | Diagram

          Dragon, Constellation of | Dualism

E | Egypt | El | Elohim | Enki | Enoch

          Enoch, Book of the Secrets of | Essenes | Eugnostos | Eve


F | Fate | Father

G | Gnosis | Gnosticism

H | Hebdomad | Hermes | Hermes Trismegistus | Hermeticism

          Holy Spirit | Homer

I | Ialdabaoth | Islam

J | Jesus Christ | John the Baptist | Judaism | Jung Codex

K | Kanteans | Key to Hydromancy | Kukeans

L | Leviathan | Limit-Cross | Luria, Isaac

M | Mandaeans | Manes | Manichaeism | Marcus | Mariamne

          Mary | Matter | Melchizedek | Messenger, Divine | Mithra

          Moses | Mountain of Lights

N | Nassenes | Nicolaitans | Noah | Norea

O | Ogdoad | Ophites | Ousiarchs

P | Paul, Apocalypse of | Perfect, The | Persia | Philo

          Philosophers, Akhmim | Plato | Pleiades | Pleroma | Plotinus

          Porphyry | Principle of Opposites

          Primordial Principles, Three | Pythagorus

Q | Queen of Heaven

R | Right and Left, Places of the

S | Sabaoth | Sacla | Seals | Sephiroth | Seth | Sethians | Shem

          Simon Magus | Sophia

T | Thirteenth Aeon | Tree of Death

          Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil | Tree of Life

          Trees of Paradise

U | Ur

V | Valentinians | Valentinus

W | Wheel of Time



Z | Zoe | Zoroaster


Copyright Notice - Disk of the World - Text and images copyrighted March 21, 1993-2023, Claire Grace Watson, B.A., M.S.T., U.S. Copyright and under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, All rights reserved.