Aeons: emanations of God

The aeons, in many Gnostic systems, represent the various emanations of the first God, also known as the One, the Monad, Aion Teleos (the Perfect Aeon), Bythos (Greek for Depth), Proarkhe (Greek for Before the Beginning) ), Arkhe (Greek for Top). 

This first being is also an aeon and contains within itself another being known as Ennoia (Greek for Thought), or Charis (Greek for Grace), or again, Sige (Greek for Silence).

The perfect being later conceives the second and third aeons: the male Caen (Power) and the female Akhana (Truth, Love).

Aeon, also known as eon, is the term used to denote “what is forever”, a long period of time or eternity.

This word originates from the Greek αἰών (aión), which can be translated as “life time”, “life force”, “generation” or “eternal”.

It is a term widely used in geology, cosmology and astrology to represent the period of a billion years, corresponding to the geological time scale that constitutes the history of planet Earth.

In Gnosticism
In Gnostic mythology, the eons are known to be divine entities, usually in pairs (male and female, called “ sizigie “) and which exist in the Pleroma, a “space of light”.

The concept of aeons was developed by Valentino, one of the main Gnostic theologians during early Christianity.

There are several Gnostic systems and hierarchies of the aeons, but all of them have very surprising characteristics regarding the Christian, mythological and Platonic definitions.

One of the great defenders and followers of Eoni’s concepts was the British occultist Aleister Crowley, founder of Thelema’s philosophical doctrine.

According to this doctrine, the aeons would be the different ages that humanity would have gone through at certain times. Every age, or better, every Aeon would be represented by a divinity.

The first Aeon was the goddess Nuit or Isis, who represented the dominion and power of motherhood. The second aeon would be Osiris, who marked the beginning of patriarchy in humanity.

According to Aleister, the third aeon belongs to the god Horus and would have started in 1904, with the creation of the doctrine of Thelema.

Each aeon should go through three phases: genesis, apogee and decadence.

The genesis is when it still presents itself in its embryonic form; the apogee is when it reaches the peak of its maturity and finally the decline is when it begins to obtain little cosmic influence among its followers.

The Aeons, at a superficial glance, could be equated with the Jewish-Christian angels, but as emanations ( and not “creations” ) of the first God, the One, the Principle, the Origin, and therefore, as divine beings to all the effects and not simply spiritual (which are the Jewish-Christian angels), are actually more correctly comparable to the hypercosmic Gods (ie “beyond the Cosmos”, therefore Gods residing in Hyperuranium , the whole of the higher Worlds, or “Paradise”) or Hyperuranics of Neoplatonism.

The same name Aion or Aeon was the name of an ancient microasian deity of Time and Eternity, it was also used as the name of the leontocephalous deity of Mithraism which had the same meaning. Plato used the term Aion to denote the Eternity of the World of Ideas, in his Myth of the cave.

Aeons were often represented in male / female pairs, the syzygies , the number of which frequently reached 20-30. Two of the most commonly mentioned aeons were Christ and Sophia. The aeons as a whole constituted the pleroma, the “region of light”. The lower regions of the pleroma were also those closest to darkness, that is, to the physical world.

When an aeon called Sophia emanated without his partner aeon, the result was the Demiurge , or half-creator (in Gnostic texts sometimes called Yalda Baoth ), a creature that should never have existed …

This creature did not belong to the pleroma, and the One emanated two aeons, Christ and the Holy Spirit, to save humanity from the Demiurge. Christ then took the form of the human creature Jesus so that he could teach humanity the way to achieve gnosis: the return to the pleroma .

The recently discovered, translated and then purchased Gospel of Judah also mentions the aeons and speaks of Jesus’ teachings about them [ see The Lost Gospel – online version from National Geographic, containing Coptic texts, English translations and photographs ].

Valentino, (Floruit 135-165; Phrebonis, … – …), was an Egyptian theologian, philosopher and preacher of Greek language and Christian-Gnostic school. The followers of his school are called Valentiniani. He is perhaps the finest Gnostic thinker of the Alexandrian school, in his system he had postulated the existence of 30 different aeons.

The first Aeon is Bythos (Abyss), direct emanation of the supreme spiritual root, it has within itself, or emanates, another aeon named Sige (Silence), to follow each pair of aeons emanates another pair and thus to build the Valentinian spiritual hierarchy: 
Kaen (Power) and Akhana (Love) 
Nous (Mind) and Aletheia (Truth) 
Sermo (Word) and Vita 
Anthropos (Primogenio Man) and Ecclesia (Church) 
Bythios (Deep) and Mixis (Mixture) 
Ageratos (Mai old) and Henosis (Union) 
Autophyes (Essential nature) and Hedone (Pleasure) 
Acinetos (Unmovable) and Syncrasis (Union) 
Monogenes (Unique-generated) and Macaria (Happiness) 
Paracletus (Comforter) and Pistis (Faith) 
Patricas (Paternal) and Elpis (Hope)
Metricos (Maternal) and Agape (Brotherly Love) 
Ainos (Prayer) and Synesis (Intelligence) 
Ecclesiasticus (Son ella Ecclesia) and Macariotes (Bliss) 
Theletus (Perfect) and Sophia (Wisdom)

Gnostic cosmogony distinguishes a pneumatic / spiritual world, often called a world of light , and a world of darkness. The first is an immediate expression of the First Root, the second consequence of the fall. The angels, as well as the demons, as well as the archons of which they are both creation, belong to this second world. In reading Barbelotian texts one encounters the creation of Adam by the Archons; which leave 365 angels the task of forming the body of man, made up of the mixture of water, earth, fire, and wind, and subjugated by passions and desires. Adam is later placed inside Eden, which takes on the meaning of prison for Pneuma.
For the same reason we certainly cannot link the Aeons to the Jewish Sephiroth, since traditionally they are agents of the polar deployment phase of the manifestation, and in Gnosticism it is deceptive, as it contains in itself powers and forces capable of diverting man from return to the world of light: creation is arch-arctic or demiurgic. 
Remaining in the field of cabal, and wanting to create a somewhat arduous parallelism, we can suggest how Pleroma represents Atzilut, that is, the world close to the divine, populated by realities called Partzufim. 
We can share the fall of Sophia with Briah, “Creation”.

This is the first world to be “outside”, as Briah’s etymology says, which comes from BAR = “outside”. It is the creation “yesh mi Ain”, “something from nothing”, or “ex-nihilo”. The Creation of the Demiurge and Archons at Yetzirah, or Formation. 
While the world of Adam in Assiah, the world of Doing. The lowest part of this universe is physical and material. 
Finally we conclude this short work some passages by Irenaeus and Tertullian on the Aeons:

“ Therefore all (the Aeons) are placed on the same level as regards their form and their knowledge, all reduced to being what each is. Nobody is other because all are the others “(Tertullian, Against the Valentinians, 12, 1).


” All of them (the Aeons) are now equal also in form, all the more for thought […] and they share in common all the best and most beautiful in which each excelled ” (Tertullian, Against the Valentinians, 12, 3).


” All of them (the Aeons) put together a single good, that is what they were all of ” (Tertullian, Against the Valentinians, 12, 4).


” The Aeons are all of the same nature as the Father, only as regards their size and not as regards their nature, differing from each other since they complete the Father’s greatness as the fingers complete the hand ” (Irenaeus of Lyons, Against the Heresies, II, 17 , 6).

Among the ancient Greeks, the term Aeonit indicated time, in an absolute sense, as opposed to Chrònos, that is, to time commensurate with human experience. In the great mystery religions of the Hellenistic-Roman age (Mithraism, orphism, etc.) it became a divinity in its own right and was syncretistically represented as a human figure with a lion’s head, wrapped in a snake and with attributes of clear meaning (lightning, keys , scepter; but there is also an anthropomorphic representation: an old man with a beard and with the zodiac wheel on the right). The term, as we have seen, has had wide and varied use in the Gnostic doctrine, of which it expresses one of the fundamental concepts. The origin of the properly Gnostic meaning is perhaps to be found in the diffusion of the astrological doctrines of the Chaldeans, who imagined chronologically and spatially successive worlds in which the soul would have migrated before the final rest. Judaic gnosis took up the term and the concept to represent the contrast between ‘good inclination’ and ‘bad inclination’ of the soul, hypostasizing them in two: respectively of light and darkness; and this remained the dominant meaning, which from the Jewish apocalyptic then passed also into the New Testament eschatology, where the “present century (e.)” (ὁ αἰὼν οὗτος) waits to be overwhelmed by the “future century” (ὁ αἰὼν μέλλων). In the New Testament, however, there is also a trace of the spatial sense of the term, which occurs here and there (I Cor. III 18; Hebrews I 2; XI 3; Ephes. II 7, etc.) with the meaning of world or part of the world, sometimes also as personification (Col. I 26; Ephes. III 9, etc .; but above all Ephes.the prince of this world “).

During the 1st and 2nd centuries, when gnosis reached its maximum development, the term aeon was charged with ever more meaningful meanings. The joint influence of Hellenistic Platonism and Eastern religions (especially the Mithraic cult) imposed a complex development on Gnosticism:

the hierarchical solution was the preferred solution, in all Gnostic systems it is now possible to meet a scale of aeons that proceeds from the Supreme Father (called variously) for male-female couples (syzygies) that reproduce by emanation in less and less bright couples as much as possible they move away from the source. 

“ But the heretics how many supernities of sublime places have suspended, opened, dilated to form the corner where each of their gods lives, is a truly extraordinary thing. Even for our creator, Ennio’s rooms have been arranged in the form of apartments. Constructive on one floor after another, floors distributed to each of their gods by means of as many scales as heresies, the world has become a pension“(Tertullian, Against the Valentinians, 7, 1-2).

In this passage of Tertullian, as in all contemporary heretical literature, there is an attempt to present the Gnostic communities as communities with a substantially pagan character. 
The nascent priestly bureaucracy of the Great Church thus intended to reduce Gnostic thought to an absolutely marginal product of the culture of the time in order to marginalize the Christian communities that had developed the Gnostic metaphysics of the Aeons.
In reality, for Valentino and his followers, the Aeons are not anthropomorphic gods similar to pagan gods, who mate in a pneumatic marriage to generate children who are also markedly anthropomorphic in character … Tertullian himself, committed to his to say to fight the Valentinians more than Valentine himself, has left us an important trace of what the Aeons really meant in the metaphysics of the great Gnostic master:

“ Turning to fight the truth, Valentino took possession of the seed of a certain ancient doctrine and traced the road with his snake. Ptolemy later entered that road, having distinguished the names and numbers of the aeons by making them personal substances, however determined outside the divinity, while Valentino had locked them in the complex of the divinity itself, as if they were feelings and affections and motions of it “( Tertullian, Against the Valentinians, 4, 2).

Valentino’s Aeons represent that element of metaphysical “synthesis” that allows us to bring the “dialectic” between the primordial Abyss and the multiplicity of entities of the sensitive world to unity. The Kingdom of God, that is, the Pleroma, is none other than this synthesis of Unity and Multiplicity, of sensible and super-sensitive. For this reason we find written in the Apocryphon of John that the Father of Truth ” is neither corporeal nor incorporeal “. 
Hypostases (compound term of Greek origin: hypostasis, from hypo, “below”, and stasis, “to be”) is the generation of divine images or expressions, which are subordinate to the One and which give substance to the various ontological planes .

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