[NB] Apocryphon of John and the Sefirot

I’ve been reading Buckley’s Female Fault and Fulfilmennt in Gnosticism and in it she briefly articulate the five aeons of the Apocryphon of John and makes clear that the five aeons are, in fact, ten aeons; each of the five aeons is divided in two according to a principle of gendered duality. Oh, yeah, and that duality is gathered together into an overarching third (Father over the Mother and Son). While trying to keep firmly in mind the maxim about things looking like a nail when you are holding a hammer, it is a little difficult for me not to think about Kabbalism as I read this.

Here are the five aeons:

(1) Barbelo / Pronoia
(2) Thought / Prognosis
(3) Indestructability
(4) Eternal Life
(5) Truth

If you think about the Tree of Life, there is an easy way to map these aeons onto it. The first aeon opens the central pillar, differentiating Malkuth and Keter, under the auspices of Alef. The second aeon appears within that aeon, differentiating Thought from Prognosis, again by the agency of Alef, except that as a placeholder Shin and Mem are created to sustain the difference between Thought and Barbelo, on the one hand, and Prognosis and Pronoia, on the other. The remainder of the sefirot appear as the dual aspects of Indestructability, Eternal Life, and Truth.

The Tree of Life in the Apocryphon of John would look something like this:


Indestructability (F)–Shin–Indestructability (M)


Eternal Life (F)–Alef–Eternal Life (M)


Truth (F)–Mem–Truth (M)


There is something to the way in which this model gives Alef a double role and establishes the other two mother lines as placeholders within that system of differentiation which Alef controls. The central pillar as primary, as the point from which the differentiation of the Tree of Life develops also seems apt.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s