List of gnostic terms

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The following is a list of vocabulary that many books on gnosticism will assume the reader is familiar with

Term Definition
sarkic earthly, hidebound, ignorant, uninitiated. The lowest level of human thought the fleshly, instinctive level of thinking.
hylic lowest order of the three types of human. Unable to be saved since their thinking is entirely material, incapable of understanding the gnosis.
psychic "soulful," partially initiated. Matter-dwelling spirits
pneumatic "spiritual," fully initiated. immaterial, souls. Escaping the doom of the material world via gnosis
aeon one of various levels of reality
archon one of various powers in the cosmos
pleroma fulfillment, the higher reality of archetypes (related to Plato's realm of Ideas). The region of light.
kenoma the visible or manifest cosmos, "lower" than the pleroma
charisma gift, or energy, bestowed by pneumatics through oral teaching and personal encounters
Sophia "wisdom," worldly understanding; personified as Lady Wisdom, the syzygy of Christ
logos The logos is the divine ordering principle of the cosmos; personified as Christ. See also Odic force
hypostasis Literally "that which stands beneath" the inner reality, emanation (appearance) of God, known to psychics
ousia essence of God, known to pneumatics. Specific individual things or being
gnosis "knowledge," direct insight into God attained by pneumatics
syzygy a divine active-passive, male-female pair of aeons, complementary to one another rather than oppositional
demiurge an entity (usually seen as evil) responsible for the creation of the physical universe and the physical aspect of humanity. The creator God
theos The Greek term for god. Used by Christian Gnostics for the monad
Emanation The Supreme Light or Consciousness descends through a series of stages, gradations, worlds or hypostases, becoming progressively more material and embodied. In time it will turn around to return to the One (epistrophe), retracing its steps through spiritual knowledge and contemplation.

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