Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Ask April: Who is Abrasax?

R. Eagle asked:
So is Abrasax the name of this Angel of the Jews?

Incidentally, Abrasax sounds like Carlos Santana's 1970 album, but the 's' and the 'x' or reversed. And I can't remember where I heard it, but someone told me it was the name of a fallen angel (or demon). Would you know anything about this, Dr. D.
Abrasax is not the name of the Yahweh Angel of the Jews according to Basilides. Abrasax is the astral lord who rules the celestial spheres. He is distinct from the Yahweh Angel who is the ruler of the lowest of the heavens (365th heaven) that is visible from earth. Abrasax probably originated in the magical traditions of Egypt and the Hermetic practioners. He is found named on many gems and in the Greek Magical Papyri.

His name was created to equal 365. In Greek numerology each letter is associated with a number. When the letters of his name are added up, they equal 365. Thus he is the god responsible for the astral sphere. He would be the one most powerful in controlling your fate. So appeasing him (and using his Name) would be very important and give you some sense of control.

His name is spelled variously: Abrasax and Abraxas. Thus Santana's album. Abrasax is no fallen Jewish angel, although he is a "demon" in the sense that he is a capricious very powerful power in the skies who controls your fate, ruling the entire universe. The fallen angel you are thinking of is likely Azazel.


R.Eagle said...

Cool...thank you!

José Solano said...

"God and devil are distinguished by the qualities fullness and emptiness, generation and destruction. EFFECTIVENESS is common to both. Effectiveness joineth them. Effectiveness, therefore, standeth above both; is a god above god, since in its effect it uniteth fullness and emptiness.

This is a god whom ye know not, for mankind forgot it. We name it by its name ABRAXAS. It is more indefinite still than god and devil.

That god may be distinguished from it, we name god HELIOS or Sun.

Abraxas is effect. Nothing standeth opposed to it but the ineffective; hence its effective nature freely unfoldeth itself. The ineffective is not, therefore resisteth not. Abraxas standeth above the sun and above the devil. It is improbable probability, unreal reality. Had the pleroma a being, Abraxas would be its manifestation. It is the effective itself, not any particular effect, but effect in general.

It is unreal reality, because it hath no definite effect.

It is also creatura, because it is distinct from the pleroma. The sun hath a definite effect, and so hath the devil. Wherefore do they appear to us more effective than indefinite Abraxas.

It is force, duration, change."

"VII Sermones ad Mortuos written by Basilides in Alexandria"

pearl said...

José, just for clarification, The Seven Sermons to the Dead was written by C. G. Jung, who used the pseudonym of Basilides.

José Solano said...

Just for clarification Pearl, Jung claims that he "penned" the VII Sermones in a sort of "channeling" state in which certain spirits were communicating with him. He does not use Basilides as a pseudonym for himself. After naming himself, Jung states: "Written by Basilides in Alexandria the City Where the East Toucheth the West." It was a supposed form of "automatic writing" which he was rather compelled to write and the spirit possession ended after he had completed the work. Read Jung's autobiography, Memories, Dreams and Reflections for a detailed description. It's quite fascinating.

I have done dramatic readings of this work accompanied by an organist playing music of Dietrich Buxtehude. As you may know, Jung was steeped in Gnostic literature and what is to me most interesting is what he has to say in the "spirit" of Basilides.

"Harken: I begin with nothingness. Nothingness is the same as fullness. In infinity full is no better than empty. Nothingness is both full and empty. . . ." Compare this focus on nothingness with what is stated Basilides and his son Isidore taught.

"Since then there was nothing—no matter, no substance, no non-substance, nothing simple, nothing complex, nothing not understood, nothing not sensed, no man, no angel, no god, not anything that is named or perceived through the sense, not any intelligent things, and not anything which can be defined more subtly than anything else—the non-existent God wished, without intelligence, without sense, without will, without choice, without passion, without desire, to make a universe [cosmos]. I say that he 'wished' for the sake of saying something. . . . " Hippolytus, Ref. vii. 20-27. Quoted in Robert M. Grant's Gnosticism.

Jung received a lot of flak for publishing the VII Sermones, particularly from Christians but also from Martin Buber who wrote a strong criticism of Jung and the work.

But what we're looking at here is the concept of Abraxas and I thought the VII Sermones has something rather interesting to say about this.

pearl said...

Thank you for expanding on your post, José. I only wrote my clarification because you did not originally mention Jung in your initial post. There might be some readers who are not familiar with this work, and whether or not Jung was actually channeling Basilides, Jung’s name also should be associated with this writing. Jung’s claim to channeling is not the same as quoting ancient source documents of Basilides.

I do agree that The Seven Sermons to the Dead is a very interesting work. I appreciate your mentioning it here, José.

M.W.Grondin said...

Hi April,
Sorry I didn't read this item when it first appeared, but if it isn't too late to comment, I'd like to draw attention to the fact that the 14 factors of 210 (which is the value of 'IS') also add up to 365. (For anyone who wants to check, the factors are 2, 3, 5, 7, 6, 10, 14, 15, 21, 30, 35, 42, 70, and 105.) What I wonder, of course, is whether the originators of Coptic Thomas might have been aware of this connection between 'Abraxas' and 'IS', and if so, what they might have made of it?

M.W.Grondin said...

Hi again April,
I guess you're on Spring Break right now, but in case you eventually come to read this, I'd like to add that since my previous note, I've proposed an answer to my own question. It can be found at In a separate issue, it's somewhat misleading to say that "In _Greek numerology_ each letter is associated with a number". It was the number-system itself, not numerology per se. BTW, Hebrew had a very similar number-system as well. Thus, both supported similar numerologies, or gematrias.