As stated above in the beginning, there was the Unknowable All who was best understood as the alien super-consciousness. This Cosmic Intelligent Consciousness had many names. Under the name "Abraxas" second century Gnostics understood this Cosmic Consciousness to refer to the Supreme Being or god whom they worshipped. They believed that Jesus Christ emanated from Abraxas and was a phantom while here on earth. They believed the name contained great mysteries because it contained the seven Greek letters when computed numerically equaled the number 365, which is the number of days in the year. It was further believed that Abraxas commanded 365 gods, each possessing a virtue, so there was a virtue for each day of the year. However, older mythologists place Abraxas among the Egyptian gods, while some demonologists cite him to be a demon with the head of a king and serpents forming his feet. He has been represented on amulets with a whip in his hand. The mystic word abracadabra was derived from his name. Many stones and gems were cut with his capricious symbolic markings, such as a human body having a fowl's or lion's heads, and snakes as limbs, which were worn by the Basilideans as amulets. Also, a favorite amulet bore the number 365. This Cosmic Consciousness was understood to contain all of creation without being a part of it.
Looking into his reflection, the Unknown God created Barbello, the womb of the universe, the mind of the Unknown God brimming with ideas. Barbello is also referred to as the pleroma, the heaven in which all spiritual beings reside. The Nag Hammadi Codices found near Qumran (like the Dead Sea scrolls), ancient centre of the Essenes, thought to have been written by Valentinus from Christian and Coptic texts, were a reflection of Platonism and Eastern dualism religion, Zoroastrianism. They have brought additional Gospels to the fore including that of Mary Magdalene - her true importance is said to have been excluded from the Bible by Peter (and the Roman Catholic Church) who denied Christ and detested women, especially educated ones, seeing them as the gateway to the Devil, even denying they had souls. According to Gnostic tradition Mary Magdalene was associated with wisdom (Sophia) represented by the sun, moon and halo of stars, becoming Athena to the Greeks. The female gnosis of Sophia (mother of Zoe (Life, thought to be EVE and Pandora), one of the AEONS, gnostic creators of all things, daughters of Barbello) was deemed to be the Holy Spirit, represented on Earth by Mary Magdalene.
The only children of Barbello and the Unknowable God were Sophia and Christ, in one sense male and female versions of the same being, the Immortal (Wo)Man. As you might expect they in turn gave birth to the Aeons, beings of light who reproduce infinitely by reflecting, each forming its own universe.
Sophia saw the reflection of Abraxas in the world of matter; wanting to possess it, Sophia descended into the world of matter and began trying to impart life to inert elements. She became hopelessly trapped in the mud, but, by sheer accident, managed to create Yaldabaoth, the God of the Old Testament. Realizing she had acted in ignorance, she regained her composure and escaped back to the pleroma, erecting a veil between the spirit world and the world of matter. But she has left some of her essential light behind.
Finding himself the only being in existence, Yaldabaoth, the Demiurge, created the world. He also spawned his own offspring, the seven Rulers, animal-headed angels called Archons that help him rule his heavens:
These manifestations of the Demiurge are shadows, just as the Demiurge is himself a shadow of the Unknown God.
- The first is Athoth, with the face of a lion;
- The second Eloaios, with the face of an ass;
- The third Astaphaios, with the face of a hyena;
- The fourth Yao, with the face of a seven-headed snake,
- The fifth Sabaoth, with the face of a dragon
- The sixth Adonin, with the face of an ape
- The seventh Sabbataios, with a face of shining flames of fire (The Secret Gospel of John, from Willis Barnestone's The Other Bible, p.56, pub. A.D. 1984.
Gnostics believe that Sophia tricked Yaldabaoth into creating Adam, taunting him that a being would descend from the pleroma to destroy him; Yaldabaoth created the image she showed him, reasoning that a being he created would serve rather than threaten him. Sophia then sent her daughter Eve to help Adam; the Archons tried to separate the two, and even tried to rape Eve, before she escaped to hide in the Tree of Knowledge. Sophia then sent the serpent to help the humans; he enlightened them, and they rejected the Chief Ruler.
After the Flood, the Demiurge introduced many evils to plague humanity, including greed and the concept of scarcity. When Sophia used the Rulers' own prophets to spread seeds of enlightenment, they got together and raped Sophia, producing Fate, the origin of all inequities and great fears. Fate imposes, among other things, the Zodiac, forgetfulness, and the seasons.
In Gnostic theology, the Immortal Androgynous human incarnated on Earth as "the Christ"; being the original model on which Adam was based (second Adam), the way had been prepared for him by Yaldabaoth himself. Christ joined with the soul of Jesus of Nazareth. He taught what he could and, when the Rulers sent humanity to kill him on the cross, he flew away laughing. Christ was a light-being above "God" who came here to possess Jesus, using him like a "thophany" of sorts to teach humanity the truth: there is no "Hell" - the earth is the lowest plane, and we're just being reincarnated over and over. Christ taught humans how to free themselves from Yaldabaoth through self-knowledge and secret passwords. Yaldabaoth tried to kill him, but Christ switched bodies with an innocent bystander named Simon and flew away laughing while the Romans crucified the wrong guy. He reappeared once on Easter to the world, but he never stopped appearing to the gnostics, continually reminding them that matter is an illusion and the apocalypse is now.
According to Gnostic Christianity, everyone has their own "Christ," or spirit double; the significance of Jesus' story was that he had been possessed by Christ, resurrected before he died, and thus was able to escape from the world of created matter.