• Michael Martin

The Hypostasis of the Archons: Politics


In the study of Sophiology, one inevitably encounters the vast, complex, often confusing mythologies of Gnosticism. Gnosticism borrows freely from Judaism, Christianity, Zoroastrianism, Platonism and Neoplationism, and any number of systems available to late-classical era investigation. As a Sophiologist, however, I’ve never thought much of the Gnostic and later Manichaean and, even later, Catharist/Albigensian thought regarding Creation as the work of a deluded demiurge. If Sophiology has anything at all of worth to say, it is that Creation, as Genesis 1 tells us, is good. That’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it.


This is not to say that I dismiss the Gnostic mythos root and branch. Far from it. Indeed, I think the Gnostic mythos is the ideal diagnostic tool for deciphering the worlds we create or, better, the worlds created around us and which we then, often unconsciously and, for the most part, voluntarily, inhabit and take for the Real. The Gnostic text The Hypostasis of the Archons (also known as The Nature of the Rulers) accurately describes such a “world.” Here are its opening paragraphs:

Concerning the hypostasis of the archons, the great apostle, through the Spirit of the Father of Truth, referred to the ‘authorities [archons] of the darkness’ [Colossians 1:13] and told us ‘our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the authorities of the world and the spirits of wickedness‘ [Ephesians 6:12]. I have sent you this work because you inquire about the hyspostasis of the Archons.


Their leader is blind. Because of his power and ignorance, because of his arrogance, he said, with power, ‘It is I who am God; there is no other.’


When he said this, he sinned against the Realm of the All [the Pleroma]. His boast rose up to Incorruptibility, and a voice answered from Incorruptibility, saying, ‘You are wrong, Samael’ (a name that means ‘god of the blind.’)” [1]

Is this not among the temptations all leaders face, one also offered to Christ in the desert? Are we not all wandering in this desert?

Another person fascinated by Gnosticism and its societal implications (and applications, for that matter) was science-fiction novelist Philip K. Dick. Dick’s work is an extended meditation on individuals caught in a reality that isn’t real, of men and women deceived by simulacra, and of figures manipulated by brainwashing and other forms of social engineering. For Dick, the primary philosophical and spiritual problem facing humanity resides in knowing what is Real. He is likewise acutely sensitive to the possibility that we might be manipulated by maleficent powers interested in exploitation and control under the pretext of upholding the common good. He is a popular writer now (he died in 1982, basically penniless), but he has much to say to populations living under various permutations of the surveillance state. He predicted all of it.


Philip K. Dick

In 1974, Dick came to some realizations about the Constitutional crisis surrounding then President Nixon and the shenanigans at Watergate that certainly bear some relevance to our own time:

The Constitutional guarantees of our country have been suspended for some time now, and an assault has begun on the checks and balances structure of the government. The Republic is in peril; the Republic has been in peril for several years and is now cut away almost to a shadow of itself, barely functioning. I think they are carving it up in their minds, deciding who sits where forever and ever, now. In the face of this, no one notices that virtually everything we believed in is dead: mysteriously killed. It’s best not to talk about this. I’ve tried to list several things to talk about, but so far I can’t find any. I’m trying to list the safe things to talk about, but so far I can’t find any. I’m trying to learn what the Lie is or what the Lies are, but I can’t discern that anymore. Perhaps I sense the Lie is gone from the world because evil is so strong now that it can step forth as it is without deception. The masks are off.”[2]

With the exception of that last sentence (!) he could have written this yesterday.

Dick, however, was no defeatist. Inspired by some mystical experiences he had at around this time, he saw that hope yet persisted. As we writes,

But nevertheless something shines in the dark ahead that is alive and makes no sound. We saw it once before, but that was a long time ago, or maybe our first ancestors did. Or we did as small children. It spoke to us and directed and educated us then; now perhaps it does so again. It sought us out, in the climax of peril. There was no way we could find it; we had to wait for it to come to us.”

This insight is in content not all that different from those realized by Thomas Traherne or by the multifarious languages of Sophiology: The Kingdom of Heaven is within you. Unless you become as a little child, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven. How like an Angel came I down!

It is important for us as we slog through the hypostasis of our current archons to hold to this fundamental human insight. The Gnostic Hypostasis of the Archons describes it in a beautiful imagination:

You, together with your offspring, are from the Primeval Father; from Above, out of the imperishable Light, their souls are come. Thus the Archons cannot approach them because of the Spirit of Truth within them; and all who have become acquainted with this Way exist deathless in the midst of dying Mankind.”

The great French poet Guillaume Apollinaire paints a similar picture toward the end of his poem “Un Fantome de Nuees”:

The little saltimbanque turned a cart-wheel

With so much harmony

That the organ stopped playing

And the organist hid his face in his hands

With fingers like the descendants of his destiny

Small foetuses which came out of his beard

New Indian cries

The angelic music of trees

The disappearance of the child

The saltimbanques lifted the great dumb-bells in their arms

And juggled with the weights

But each spectator looked in himself for the miraculous child

Century O century of clouds [3]

Look for the miraculous child.


A scene from Blade Runner 2049 (based on Philip K. Dick's work)


1. A mix of translations from two editions and my own editing. See The Nag Hammadi Library, ed. Robinson (Harper & Row, 1977) and The Nag Hammadi Scriptures, ed. Meyer (HarperOne, 2007).

2. Philip K. Dick, The Exegesis, ed. Jackson and Leithem (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011), 21.

3. Guillaume Apollinaire, Selected Writings, trans. Roger Shattuck (New Directions, 1971).


Michael’s latest books are an edition of The Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz and Transfiguration: Notes toward a Radical Catholic Reimagination of Everything. He can be reached at director@thecenterforsophiologicalstudies.com See also The Center for Sophiological Studies' available courses. Also check out the latest volume of Jesus the Imagination: The Garden.

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