I like jigsaw puzzles. Sometimes in working a jigsaw, one little piece opens up a whole area and a myriad of other pieces fall into place. This is what happened to me recently: I was reading Alexander Cummins’ A Book of the Magi: Lore, Prayers, and Spellcraft of the Three Holy Kings (Folk Necromancy in Transmission) which contained a reference to the god Aion being worshipped on 6 January (Christianity’s Festival of Epiphany) by followers of Dionysius, where the Nile was said to turn into wine. This set off all sorts of bells in my head and I went in search of Aion.
Aion is a deity that ties together the mysteries of Orpheus, Dionysius, Eleusis, and Mithras with that of Gnosticism, specifically the gnostic teachings found in the Pistis Sophia, Book V. He was later incorporated into the deity Serapsis. In the Eleusinian mysteries, he was the daughter of Kore. (Levi, 1944) Aion is boundless time.
We usually think of Chronos/Saturn as being time. But time can have many meanings. (For more on this I’d recommend Carlo Rovelli’s The Order of Time.) Saturn is “relative time”, that how long has this village existed. It is time bounded. Esoterically, we think of Saturn as being a binder. Saturn is structure. It holds things together. And by binding, it also limits and confines. Astrologically, Saturn is represented by the sign Capricorn in the zodiac. The sun enters Capricorn on 21 December, the winter solstice when the sun is at its lowest strength and begins to wax. This coincides with the Saturnalia (and also the birth of Dionysius, Mithras, and Jesus) which calls for the casting aside of the bonds that bind. January 1st, New Year’s Day, is the birth of two-faced Janus, god of the new year, who looks to the past and to the future. January 6th is the birth of Aion, eternal time. So these three festivals together represent the present, the past, the future, and eternity. In Christianity, January 6th is the celebration of three events: 1) the visit of the three kings to baby Jesus, 2) the baptism of Jesus, and 3) the Marriage at Cana where Jesus turns water to wine. The first two of these events were marks of new beginnings, hence time. It does seem more than coincidence that the celebration of the Marriage at Cana is assigned the same date as the Dionysian water-to-wine celebration. David Fideler points out that not only this coincidence of date but also the reference to Jesus as “the true vine”, suggests an incorporation of attributes of Dionysius into the Christian Jesus.
The Eighth Reveals the Ninth
“Lord, grant us a wisdom from your power that reaches us, so that we may describe to ourselves the vision of the eighth and the ninth. We have already advanced to the seventh, since we are pious and walk in your law.” The Discourse of the Eighth Reveals the Ninth
The Nag Hammadi scripture of “The Discourse on the Eighth Reveals the Ninth” has always fascinated me. The Ascent through the Spheres is one of the pervading themes in Western Esotericism. Each sphere, as represented by its archetypic planet, corresponds to a mastery over a dimension of the psyche. Here Saturn also represents the limits of the material mundane world. So for the ancients, beyond Saturn lie the realms of spirit. The 8th sphere represented the fixed stars. However by the 2nd century, it was known that the “fixed stars” are not truly “fixed”. This is due to a phenomenon we now know as the precession of the equinox, a full cycle through the zodiac being known as a platonic year. While the 25,722 years in a platonic year isn’t eternal, it is still a very long time. So when the teacher/father in “The Eighth Reveals the Ninth” hints that a clue to the 9th sphere is given by the 8th sphere, could he be hinting at experiences to eternity and Aion as ruler of the 9th sphere? At the 9th sphere we do read the familiar vowel chants that contain the name Aion.
A O EE O EEE
ooo iii oooo
ooooo uuuuuu oo
I’ve attended modern Gnostic churches that use an adaptation of the 5th book of the Pistis Sophia for a special Epiphany mass. There is a lot happening in the 5th book. There are descriptions of ceremonies/eucharists, guided journeys through the celestial realms, intonations, astrology, and explanations to after-death experiences and judgements. There are definite Sethian references. At present, I want to restrict this discussion to Aion related matters.
The beginning of the 5th book starts with Jesus arranging the male and female disciples in preparation for celestial travel. Careful description is given for the arrangement of the disciples to the four directions. This is the first Aion reference as the wings four wings of Aion represent the winds of the four directions (Levi, 1944). Jesus then begins the invocation ‘IAO, IAO, IAO’ which is interpreted as ‘iota, because the universe hath gone forth; alpha, because it will turn itself back again; omega because the completion of all completeness will take place.’ (Mead, 1921) The mantra of IAO, with its various forms (IAO, IOA, AIO, AOI, OIA, OAI) appear throughout Gnostic and early Hermetic literature. Elsewhere AIO is explained by Jesus as ‘alpha because I am the beginning; omega because I am the end; and iota because I am the stuff in between’. While slightly different, both mantras relate to time and to the seeing oneself in time and outside time. When AIO, it contains the name of boundless time or eternity (Aion). 
We then see Jesus referenced as Aberamentho. Saunders argues that Aberamento is a conjugation of the Hebrew ‘abyr mym’ (power of waters) with the Egyptian god Thoth. (Saunders, 2007). This definition is interesting as it relates to the conflagration of Jesus with Dionysius and possible Osiris. In the 5th Book of the Pistis Sophia, the ritual begins with Jesus and his disciples on the waters of the Ocean. Later, in the described Eucharist rite, Jesus sets out water in addition to the wine. The water, being the ‘living water’ as described in the gospel story of the Woman at the Well.
I want to post this blog prior to Epiphany 2019 so need to cut things short. I hope this short piece has sparked interest in Aion, Epiphany, and the treasury which is the Pistis Sophia.
1] This is similar to the vowel name for the boundless father, IEOU, which Mead translates as Yew or Carl Schmidt as Jeu. The use of vowel names is a topic all to itself. I recommend Joscelyn Godwin’s book The Mystery of the Seven Vowels for more detail on these names.
Cummins, Alexander (2018). A Book of the Magi: Lore, Prayers, and Spellcraft of the Three Holy Kings (Folk Necromancy in Transmission). Revelore Press.
Fideler, David (1993). Jesus Christ, Sun of God. Ancient Cosmology and Early Christian Symbolism. Wheaton, Illinois: Quest Books.
Godwin, Josceplyn (1991). The Mystery of the Seven Vowels in Theory and Practice. Grand Rapids, Michigan, U.S.A.: Phanes Press.
Levi, Doro (1944, Oct. – Dec.). Aion. Hesperia: The Journal of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, 13(4), pp. 269-314. Retrieved from https://www.jstor.org/stable/146699
Mead, G.R.S. (1921). Pistis Sophia, A Gnostic Gospel. Blauvelt, New York, U.S.A.: Spiritual Science Library.
Rovelli, Carlo (2018). The Order of Time. Allen Lane.
Saunders, Tom (2007, February 27). Gnostic word of the day: Aberamentho. Retrieved January 5, 2019, from theurgical.com: https://magdelene.wordpress.com/2007/02/27/gnostic-word-of-the-day-aberamentho/
The Discourse of the Eighth Reveals the Ninth. Retrieved from Gnosis.org: http://www.gnosis.org/naghamm/discorse.html
The Mysteries of Mithra. Echoes from the Gnosis. G.R.S. Mead, 1907. Retrieved from Gnosis.org: http://www.gnosis.org/library/grs-mead/grsm_mythra.htm