A Summary of Pythagorean Theology

Part III: Gods

© 2002, John Opsopaus


  1. Enigmas of the One
  2. The Monad and the Indefinite Dyad
  3. Creation of the Demiurge
  4. Creation of Hera
  5. Creation of the Other Gods
  6. The Self-contemplating Nous
  7. The Good
  8. Primal Fire
  9. The Demiurgic Nous
  10. The Logos
  11. Providence, Fate, and Free Will
  12. The Craftsman
  13. The Mediating Dyad
  14. Helios and Eros the Mediators
  15. Iunges, Teletarchs, and Connectors
  16. The Demiurge and the World Soul
  17. The Lower Zeus
  18. Other Gods


Enigmas of the One

I begin with an enigma. The Pythagorean theogony presented in Part I says that the Primordial One, the bisexual Aiôn (Eternity), engenders the Primary Duality, the Monad and the Indefinite Dyad, the archetypal Male and Female. These two represent all dualities, including Sameness/Difference and Being/Not-being, but principally Unity and Plurality. The One, in contrast, transcends and unites all these dualities, joining the opposites. Yet by uniting them it must in some sense be a Unity. And if The One is a unity, it must stand opposed to a Many, and we are back to the duality of Unity and Plurality.

We may resolve the paradox by observing that The One unifies Being and Not-being, so that It may be a unity and not be a unity simultaneously. Nevertheless, we may be left in some doubt as to how The One (To Hen), the Monad (Monas), Being (To On), and Existence (Ousia) relate to one another, and all these to the Good (T'Agathon). Pythagoreans and Platonists differ among themselves about these highest realms of Reality. This is hardly surprising, since we cannot know them directly, and even such knowledge of them as we can have is beyond verbal expression.

In this brief Summary of Pythagorean Theology, I will ignore most of these issues. In this part we will begin with the Monad, identified with the First God Kronos, Father of the Gods, and then proceed to the other Gods. The Indefinite Dyad, identified with Rhea, Mother of the Gods, has, of course, been dealt with already in the Part II. The Part IIII will consider The One, also called The All (To Pan).

The Monad and the Indefinite Dyad

Many of the contrasts between the Monad and Indefinite Dyad were presented in the preceding parts ("Theogony" and "The Indefinite Dyad") and will not be repeated here. However, we may add that ancient Pythagorean doctrine (coming perhaps from Zoroaster) associates the Monad with the Light (as opposed to Dark), Hot, Dry, Light (vs. Heavy), Swift, and Male; the Indefinite Dyad with the opposite qualities. Since Fire is Hot and Dry, we will see that the Monad and His Offspring are especially associated with Fire and the Sun.

As mentioned in Part I ("Theogony"), Aiôn (Eternity) is Time both Infinite and Indefinite. Time as we know it, Determinate Time is created by the Monad and Indefinite Dyad, for Rhea entices the unchanging, self-limiting Kronos to proceed out from Himself, and to become Khronos (Time). As explained in Part II ("The Mother of the Gods"), Rhea creates Rhythm, and from the cyclic alternation of the opposites (Light/Dark, etc.), Determinate Time is born.

Creation of the Demiurge

According to Pythagorean doctrine, the Essence of Kronos is to Remain (or Abide), but Rhea has the Power to cause Him to Proceed beyond Himself. However, He must eventually Revert to His Essence to preserve His Identity. (See Part I on "Triadic Structure.") In this way the determining, form-imparting power of the Monad emanates outward to inform Matter, but it preserves its form by looking back toward its origin. For if this Procession were to continue without Limit, all Form would be lost in the dark abyss of indefinite chaotic Matter.

Kronos' essence is to remain Himself, but Rhea has the power to create another, and so from Them Zeus is born. Thus the three phases, Remaining, Proceeding, Reverting, create the Tridynamos, the Threefold Power of the Triune Godhead - Kronos, Rhea, and Zeus - and we read in the Chaldean Oracles (fr. 26):

The World, which saw Thee, Threefold Monad, worshipped Thee.

This means that the Monad contains the Triad of Father, Mother, and Son.

The Ideas (Forms) exist in unity in the mind of Kronos, for He is the Monad, but Rhea has the power to multiply them, for She is the Indefinite Dyad. Therefore in the mind of Their Son Zeus the Ideas are distinctly articulated, and become the Logos by which He creates the world. The Forms or Ideas have their origin in Kronos, the Father; they multiply without bound by the power of Rhea, the Mother; and the Ideas become active in the Mind of Zeus the Son. Thus the Gods of the Tridynamos govern the three levels: Being (On), Life (Zôê), and Mind (Nous). Referring to the Monad, the Chaldean Oracles (fr. 4) say,

For with Him is the Power, but from Him is the Nous.

(The Indefinite Dyad is also called "Power"; see "Indefinite Dyad" in Part II.)

Creation of Hera

Zeus is the first of the Olympian generation born of the Titanic Regents, Kronos and Rhea; the second is Hera, His sister and wife. As explained in Part II ( "Isis & Osiris," and following), She is the World Soul, who embodies in matter the articulated Ideas of Zeus.

Pythagoreans differ about Hera's birth, but we may say that Gods give birth by creating images of Themselves, by a process of continuous emanation. Pherekydes (fl. 544 BCE), one of Pythagoras' teachers, implies that when Kronos and Rhea wed, They transform into Zeus and Gaia (here equivalent to Hera; see also "Wedding" in Pt. II). Proclus (c.411-485 CE), however, says that Zeus the Creator makes the World Soul (Hera), as will be discussed later ("Craftsman"). In this case She may be seen as an image of Zeus in terms of rank and of Rhea in terms of character.

In any case, we have two ranks, Titanic and Olympian, with a God and Goddess in each. The Emperor Julian (Caes. 307CD) had a vision in which he saw Them seated upon Thrones: Kronos' was of black ebony of "a luster so intense and divine that no one could endure to gaze thereon"; indeed its intensity was more intense than the Sun (on which, see below); this is the blinding blackness of the Paternal Abyss (see "Self-contemplating Nous" below). Zeus's throne was of brilliant electrum, a union of gold and silver. (Êlektron, which may refer to amber as well as to the gold-silver alloy, is from the same root as Êlektôr, which is a name for the Sun, on which see below.) Opposite them on golden thrones were Rhea nearest Kronos, and Hera nearest Zeus.

Creation of the Other Gods

Kronos and Rhea give birth to the other Gods by a Multiplication of Unity. That is, the Mother, the Indefinite Dyad, as the principle of multiplicity, creates a plurality of images of the Monad, the Father. She causes separation and unlimited proliferation, but He maintains Their definition by imposing Limit on Their identities. (See also "Theogony" in Part I.) The result is a plurality of unities, which are called Henads (Units) and correspond to the Gods. In the mind of Kronos They are individual yet interpenetrating, like the spectrum of colors in white light. As Proclus says, "All the Henads are in all, but each separately." In Zeus's Noetic Realm, however, they become articulated as distinct Divinities.

Pherekydes explains how the various Gods came to have Their characters. He says that Kronos' Semen is warm, quickening, and moist, which are the qualities of the three subtler elements, for Fire is warm, Air is quickening (since Air, Pneuma, corresponds to Spirit; see "Air" in Opsopaus, AGEDE), and Water is moist. These correspond to the components of the tripartite soul: (1) the higher soul, seat of the intuitive mind (nous), (2) the rational soul (logistikon), seat of discursive reason (dianoia), and (3) the nonrational soul (alogia), responsible for the senses, appetites, and motion.

In order to create the Gods, this Semen must be nurtured in the Dark Womb of the Earth Mother, which corresponds to the element Earth and to the Body, house of the soul. The Semen is placed in five Craters (Mixing Bowls or volcanic Craters) or Mukhoi (Hidden Places) in the Earth, each corresponding to a different Mixture (Crasia) of Mind and Matter. (See "The Cosmic Tree" in Part II and "Fire" in Opsopaus, AGEDE, for more on the Crater.) Each such mixture corresponds to one of the five Elements, ruled by a God. In the highest place, the Circle of Light, we have Kronos, ruling the Fifth Element, the Quintessence or Aithêr. The deepest place, the Dark Earth, is ruled by the Mother, who may be called Rhea, Demeter, or Gaia. Between them is the Threefold Sovereignty apportioned between Zeus (Fire), Hades (Air), and Poseidon (Water). All three are considered Creators (Dêmiourgoi) operating on behalf of the King, Kronos). (The reasons for the traditional Platonic association of Hades with Air are discussed below, "The Lower Zeus.")

According to Proclus, some of the Gods acquire their character from the triune nature of The One. The three relations of Remaining, Proceeding, and Reverting correspond to three aspects of the One: Peras (Limit), Apeiria (the Unlimited), and Pronoia (Foreknowledge, Providence); they reveal the Essence, Power, and Activity of Divinity, respectively. Each has a corresponding class of Gods, who manifest its character.

Limit leads to Father Gods, who manifest limit, delimitation, definition, form, and law. At the Noetic Level (that of Zeus the Demiurge) and below They are often Creators of some sort, for They create by imparting form to pre-existing matter. Notable among these is the Solar Series (discussed later).

The Unlimited leads to Mother Goddesses, who manifest the unlimited, indefinite, infinite, multiplying, productive, and generative powers. At the Noetic Level and below They are called Life-Giving. (See Part II, "Goddesses," for more on Them.)

Pronoia leads to the Perfecting (Teleiôtikoi, Telesiourgoi) Gods, who manifest Foreknowledge and Providence by assisting with the reintegration of the soul and its elevation to the Gods. At the Noetic Level and below, some of These are called Guardians (Phrourêtikoi), because at these lower levels it's necessary to protect the essence of beings by preserving the distinctness of their forms. Others are called Purifiers (Kathartikoi) or Liberators because They liberate and elevate the divine part of the soul.

The Self-contemplating Nous

The concept of Noêsis (intuitive thought) was touched upon in Part II ("The Mother of the Gods"), but we must consider it in more detail, for both Kronos and Zeus have the character of an Intuiting Mind (Nous). Although Noêsis is sometimes translated "intellection," it does not refer to a process of discursive reasoning; rather, Noêsis is a direct, intuitive apprehension of the essence of things. In contrast to reasoning, which occurs sequentially in time and deals with particulars located in space, Noêsis is not bound by space or time (which occurs only at the level of the World Soul and below, for reasoning is an activity of the soul).

Nous is timeless in Essence, Power, and Activity; Soul (Psychê), however, is timeless in Essence (for She is eternal), but temporal in Activity, for Her Power brings the Archetypes into time. As the Gods have Nous, so also Daimones, humans, and animals all have Nous, which is the divine part of their souls. That is, as there is a World Nous, so also each of our individual souls has a Nous, the immortal divine part within, which understands meaning by means of a direct grasp of the eternal Ideas. (Pythagoras is credited with the discovery of the individual Nous.)

Nous has direct knowledge of the eternal Forms or Ideas, because it is of the same nature as them, but it cannot know the transient, changing individuals participating in those Forms, or anything that is Formless. That is, we might say that the Nous is the Archetypal Mind (in Jung's terms, the Collective Unconscious), which has direct knowledge of the Archetypes. (Therefore also, the Gods, who reside in the Noetic Realm, cannot deal with us as individuals, but employ the Daimones as intermediaries; see "Mediating Spirits" in Pt. V.)

Both Kronos the Monad and Zeus the Demiurge can be characterized as Cosmic Minds (Noi), but of different kinds. Kronos is a Self-contemplating Nous, that is, an inwardly directed Mind, eternally at rest, for which the thinker and the thought are numerically One. He is utterly simple, because He transcends Form, of which He is the Fount or Source. His is the level of Pure Being, and therefore He is the only one who has Pure Being as His sole object of thought. Thus Plato (Crat. 396b) suggests that Kronos' name means Pure Mind (Koros Nous, from korein, to clean out). He is called the Unmixed Nous, the First or Primal Nous, and the Paternal Nous. The Demiurge, in contrast, is an outwardly directed Nous, who contemplates the Monad, as will be discussed in more detail later ("Demiurgic Nous"). He is called the Demiurgic Nous, the Second Nous, and Nous Proper, for His active Noêsis is most akin to our own. The Demiurge is often mistaken for the Father, for His work is more manifest, as the Oracles (fr. 7) say,

The Father finished every thing and handed them
to Second Nous, whom you, the tribe of men, call First.

Here "finished" means "perfected," for the Father thinks the Model perfectly.

Kronos, as the Primal Nous, thinks the Ideas, but they exist in an undifferentiated unity, for He is the Monad. Therefore these unified Ideas are called Kurioi (Proper, Supreme). The Lords (Kurioi), that is, the Gods (the Henads), also lie hidden at this level, and may be compared to the Archetypes, which are hidden until They choose to manifest in consciousness.

Rhea, the Indefinite Dyad, has the power to separate the Ideas and cause them to proceed outward from the Source. Therefore Her Son Zeus thinks the Articulated Ideas, that is, the Logos. The Monadic Totality, the Idea of Ideas (Eidos Eidôn), provides the Paradeigma (Paradigm, Model) of the Universe, which the Demiurge contemplates in His articulation of the Ideas and His creation of the world according to the Logos (see "Demiurgic Nous" and following sections, below).

The name "Kronos" has been connected to the word Krainô, which means to accomplish, fulfil, or bring to pass, but also to reign or govern. This etymology shows Him to be the ultimate Cause and Governor of the universe. Krainô comes from the Indo-European root Ker, which means "to grow." From it we also get the Latin words Cerus (Maker), Creare (to create, beget, bring forth), and Creator (Begetter, Maker). Interestingly, another Indo-European root Ker means Heat or Fire. Thus we further understand Kronos as the fiery ultimate Begetter and Creator of the universe.

Kronos' Realm is the Primary Cosmic Order (Prôtos Diakosmos), the level of Essential or Real Being (To Ontôs On), and therefore of ultimate Truth. However, because Kronos is identical to the absolute unity of His Ideas,

        ... the Father snatched Himself away,
and didn't close His Fire in Noeric Power. (C.O. fr. 3)

That is, the Supreme (Kurioi) Ideas cannot be known by our unaided minds, for even our Nous can comprehend the Ideas only as distinct and separate essences. Therefore the transcendent Monad is called Indescribable, Unnamable, Ineffable, Invisible, Hidden, and the Paternal Abyss (see "Theogony" in Part I on the Maternal Abyss), for at the levels of Life (Rhea) and Being (Kronos) all possibilities occur simultaneously. However, by means of Illumination (Ellampsis) from the Gods,

who see and know Abyss, Paternal, Hypercosmic

(C.O. fr. 18), we may apprehend the Monad by means of our divine indwelling spirit, the Flower of the Nous, as will be explained in Part V of this summary.

The Good

According to Pythagoreans, the Monad is identical to The Good (T'Agathon), as confirmed in the Chaldean Oracles (fr. 11):

The Good perceiving, where Paternal Monad is.

The Good is the highest value, the goal of all striving, because The Good saves all things by preserving their Unity, and Unity is in itself Good. The Good tends toward Unity, and Nature strives for The Good. Therefore, we may identify The Good with Providence (Pronoia) and say that the Cosmos, the orderly universe, depends on The Good. As a consequence, the First God is called Good, Blessed, Conferer of Blessedness, Excellent, and many similar names.

Primal Fire

We have already seen that the Monad is associated with the Light, the Hot, and Fire. Similarly, the Zoroastrians say that the Father exists in Beginningless Light as the Mother dwells in Endless Darkness. Therefore we will see that the Sun is the preeminent symbol of the central Gods of Pythagorean theology.

First, Kronos is the Lord of Time (Khronos), as is the Sun, who defines Time by the alternation of night and day, and who governs Nature through the cycle of the seasons. Therefore, the Chaldean Oracles call the First God the Transcendent Fire. And according to Julian (331-363 CE), the First Principle is Hyperiôn (He Above All), the mythological Father of Helios (Sun) and Selene (Moon).

The Rays of the Primal Fire emanate throughout the universe, down through its levels, connecting it into one whole and harmonizing its parts. As the Oracles (fr. 81) say,

All yield to the Noeric Lightning-storm of the
Noeric Fire and serve the Father's cogent Will.

The "Lightning-storm" (Prêstêr) represents the Ideas or Connectors (see below), the Rays that integrate and coordinate the universe.

Each level has a Sun at its center, which unifies that level and bathes the lower levels in Light. Also, each level is further removed from the original Source of Light (the Light of Lights) and more admixed with the Dark; therefore each level partakes less of Unity and more of Diversity, and there is a Hierarchy of Lights. However, it is a mistake to think that the higher levels are better than the lower, for the Light and the Dark are necessary complementary Poles of The All. From the One to Prime Matter, the universe is an Image of Divinity.

In Part I ("Triadic Structure") I mentioned the Seirai, the multilevel Chords or Chains that emanate from the Monad and tie the levels together. The most important of these is the Solar Series (Hêliou Seira), the central Axis of Light, which comprises the Monad (Kronos), the Demiurge (Zeus), the Transmundane Sun (Apollo), and the Mundane Sun (Helios).

The Demiurgic Nous

We have seen that Zeus the Demiurge is the third member of the Tridynamos, and that He is the Activity and Actualization born of Abiding Kronos and Proceeding Rhea. His activity is Noêsis, the intuitive thinking of the Ideas articulated as His Logos. Zeus is the Nous Proper, that is, the Nous as active, intuitively understanding Mind. The Indefinite Dyad (Rhea) corresponds to Noêsis, the living process of intuitive understanding, by which Nous, the subject, is directed towards its object, the Noêton, the eternal Monad of Being (Kronos).

The Demiurgic Nous, like all things, has a Triadic Character: Abiding, Proceeding, and Reverting. He Abides in Himself, preserving the integrity of the Ideas. But when He Proceeds outward, He creates the world, thereby becoming the Demiurge. He provides the Archetypes for the material world, and therefore occupies the lowest place in the Noetic Realm. However, His Procession, His Creation, is delimited and restrained by the Ideas, which He contemplates in His Reversion. So also the Nous in each of us is both contemplative and creative.

The Logos

Logos has a broad range of meanings in ancient Greek, which include word, explanation, argument, rational account of any sort, tabulation, and ratio; we may summarize them by saying that Logos is Articulated Thought. The Demiurge is called the Logos because He articulates the holistic thought in the mind of Kronos. By the separating Power of the Indefinite Dyad He is able to discriminate the Ideas and define them by the unifying Essence of the Monad. The Ideas are individually simple and distinct; together they are the Model (Paradeigma) for anything that can exist.

Ancient Greek Demiourgos comes from two Indo-European roots, da and werg. Da means to Divide, and therefore also to apportion and provide (whence we also get Daimôn, for the Daimones provide for us). Werg means to Do and also refers to any Worker. (From Werg we also get Orgia, the secret rites.) Thus the Demiurge is the one who Does the Work of Division.

The Ideas are both Transcendent and Immanent. They are transcendent in that they reside hypercosmically in the Demiurgic Nous, and beyond that, as Supreme Ideas or Henads in the Monad. However, they are also immanent in matter as the organizing Logos of the world. Plutarch (c.46 CE - c.125) compares the Immanent and Transcendent Ideas to the Body and Soul of Osiris (see also "Isis & Osiris" in Part II). As the Body of Osiris is repeatedly torn apart by Typhon and restored by Isis so that Osiris is continually renewed, so also the material world, ordered by the Immanent Ideas, undergoes continual dissolution by the power of the Indefinite Dyad and rejuvenation by the World Soul. In contrast, the Soul of Osiris is eternal and indestructible, like the Transcendent Ideas in the Divine Nous.

In its transcendent aspect, the Logos is Eternal and independent of Time; it is like the timeless Harmonic Ratios (Logoi). However, in its Immanent aspect, the Logos proceeds in Time by sequential thinking, like a sequential melody. Thus Logos is both an eternal principle and a sequential narrative. In this way the Demiurge creates Time on the model of Eternity (Aiôn) and by means of the cyclic measure of Time, which is created by the dance of the Monad and Indefinite Dyad, and which is manifested by the motions of the Celestial Beings (stars and planets). The Nous is an activity in Eternity (i.e., outside of time), for He contemplates the Eternal Monad, whereas the Soul (Psychê) is an activity in Time, for She animates the material world. Since the Demiurge acts outside of Time, His creation is not a historical event, but an eternal emanation.

Providence, Fate, and Free Will

The sequential thinking of the Demiurgic Nous is its sequential projection of the Ideas and Forms onto matter. Thus the Logos is the Divine Law governing the material world, which creates the Kosmos (World Order). Whereas the Monad is the source of Pronoia (Providence, Foreknowledge), the Demiurge is the source of Fate (Heimarmenê), which is more manifest and more closely connected with a changing physical nature than is Foreknowledge.

Contemplating the Monadic Ideas, which He articulates, Zeus guides the Harmony of the World, steering it by means of the Forms (the Logos). However, He is unable to completely order Matter (which is subject to the ever-flowing Indefinite Dyad), and so Divine Providence leaves room for Chance and Necessity.

Neither Foreknowledge nor Fate implies absolute determinism, however. Rather, as Providence defines the context in which Fate is free to act, so Fate delimits and influences, but does not determine, Necessity, Chance, and Free Will, which operate within Fate. We may say that Providence encompasses Fate, and Fate encompasses Free Will.

Indeed, according to Apuleius (born c.125 CE) there is a hierarchy of Providences, and each governs the lower, as the higher parts of the soul govern the lower. The First Providence, which has its origin in the Good, is the Model for the Noêsis and Will (Boulêsis) of the Demiurge, and thus for the Logos, which governs the Noetic Realm and the Principal Gods dwelling in the Empyrium. Our Higher Souls are guided by this Providence by means of the Demiurge. The Second Providence, which corresponds to Fate, is governed by the Secondary (or Young) Gods, who correspond to the Planets and occupy the Aetherial Realm. During the descent of our souls into bodies, they acquire from the Planetary Gods the characters and powers necessary for the survival of our kind. That is, our Lower Souls come from the Celestial Spheres, and are therefore subject to Fate and Astral influences. The Third Providence, subject to Fate, is governed by the Daimones, stationed in the Terrestrial (Material) Realm and delegated by the Planetary Gods as Overseers of human activity.

The Craftsman

Zeus is called Demiurge (Dêmiourgos, Creator), Maker (Poiêtês), and Craftsman (Technitês). His office is described in the Chaldean Oracles (fr. 5):

        ... For not in Matter doth
the First Transcendent Fire His own Power clothe
by means of deeds, but by the Nous; for Nous of Nous
is Craftsman of the Fiery Cosmos....

That is, the First Nous (the Transcendent Fire) does not directly clothe His Ideas (Power) in Matter, but this is accomplished by the Second Nous (Nous born of Nous, the Craftsman), who creates the Empyrean World (the Fiery Cosmos).

To accomplish this He looks towards the Pattern or Model (Paradeigma) to guide His creation of the World. In particular, the First Nous is the Model upon which He fashions human souls. As the Oracles (fr. 25) say,

These things the Father thought; a mortal was ensouled.

This refers to Noêsis, the intuitive thinking, of the Paternal Nous, the ultimate source of all souls.

By means of the separating Power of the Indefinite Dyad, the Demiurge articulates the Ideas, creating the Logos, and beginning the process of multiplication and generation by which the Cosmos is born from the World Soul. Like a prism, which separates the colors from white light by bending the rays of each color in the same way, but differently from the other colors, so the Demiurge separates the Ideas by projecting them in accord with their essences. (This is, according to Empedocles (c.495-435), the power of Strife, which differentiates by associating each with its kind and apart from other kinds; Strife is the separating power of the Indefinite Dyad. Love, in contrast, draws all things together, regardless of kind; it is the unifying power of the Monad. For more on Love and Strife, see "Fire" in Opsopaus, AGEDE.)

The process of emanation is described in the longest surviving fragment of the Chaldean Oracles (fr. 37):

In Thought with vigorous Will Paternal Nous shoots forth
the Multiformed Ideas, and from one Fount they all
leap out; for from the Father are both Will and End.
They were divided by Noeric Fire and shared
with more Noerics; for before the Cosmos Multiformed
the Ruler placed the vigorous Noeric Pattern, where
by cosmic track appeared with shape the rushing World,
engraved with Manifold Ideas; their Fount is one,
from which shoot forth divided others, terrible,
which break upon the bodies of the World, and round
the awful Wombs are born like swarms of bees,
which one way, then another, shine around about,
and are Noeric Thoughts from the Paternal Fount,
which oft from sleepless Time's peak pluck the Flower of Fire.
The Father's first and self-perfecting Fount doth gush
forth these Primordial Ideas....

This seems to be the meaning: The Ideas rush with a whooshing sound (associated with the Music of the Spheres) from the First God (Paternal Nous) by means of His Thought and Will, which are associated with the Son and His Mother, for Thought is closely related to Nous, and Will is closely related to Dynamis (Power, Potential). The Fount is the Father, and the Father's Will is also the End (the Accomplishment or Perfection). The Ideas must be divided to become articulated; this is accomplished by the Second Nous (the Noeric Fire). These Ideas are shared with the "other Noerics," the Ideas which inform the material world. The Noeric Pattern (typon) is the Paradeigma, the holistic unity of Ideas in the Paternal Nous. The fiery Forms imprint themselves on Primordial Matter, and swarm around the Wombs of the World Soul (on which, see Part II). In this oracle, "Time" seems to refer to a Teletarch (perhaps Aiôn), rather than Kronos/Khronos, but it's unclear (see below on the Teletarchs).

The following Stages in the Creation (or Emanation) have been identified by Proclus. First the Demiurge produces from Himself the "Nous of The All" (Nous Tou Pantos) or World Mind, which contains all the Noetic Beings, the Ideas or Forms. Next, with the Crater He creates the World Soul (and so, in this account Hera is created by Zeus rather than by Kronos and Rhea; see above). In this way He creates the Womb from which the World is born (for more on the Womb see "Mother of the Gods" and "Hekate" in Part II). In the same manner He creates all other souls (Celestial, Daimonic, and Sublunary) along with their vehicles; they are governed by the Laws of Fate. Finally, in conjunction with Whole Nature (Holê Physis) He creates corporeal things, and in conjunction with Necessity (Anangkê) He creates the World Body (Sôma Tou Pantos). Thus, from Him emanate by degrees the World Mind, World Soul, and World Body.

However, according to Orphic Scriptures and other ancient accounts, the Divine Craftsman opens the Cosmic Egg, and the halves of Its Shell become Heaven and Earth. (For more on the Egg, see "The Goddess in the Cosmic Tree" in Part II.) And according to Pherekydes, Zeus the Craftsman weaves the Variegated Robe, adorned with Creation, as the Unveiling Gift for His Bride, Hera (see "The Wedding" in Part II). In many ancient traditions the Craftsman, who may be identical with the Sun, weaves the Cosmos by His cyclic activity, binding it together with the Thread of Pneuma (Air or Spirit). By His eternal, repetitive working of Forms into the Chords (Seirai), the Harmony of the World is created.

Ancient Greek Technitês (Craftsman) comes from the Indo-European root Tek, which means "to Weave" and, more generally, "to Fabricate" (hence Architect, from Tektôn = Builder). From the same root comes Latin Tela (web, net, warp of fabric) and subtilis (finely woven, subtle), which refers to the Thread passing under the warp (sub tela). English "Toil" also comes from this root. The Craftsman works at weaving the world with His subtle thread.

The Mediating Dyad

Zeus the Demiurge is called a Dyad, but He must not be confused with the Indefinite Dyad, His Mother Rhea. (We might call Him the Definite Dyad.) He is called a Dyad for two reasons. The first is because He is Son of Kronos the Monad; they are called the First and Second God, the First and Second Nous, the First and Second Fire, the Once and Twice (First and Second) Transcendent, and so forth. Second, He is called Dyad because He is a Mediator between the Empyrean (Noetic) and Material Worlds. On the one hand, He contemplates the Ideas; on the other, He hurls His formative Lightning Bolts into the Wombs of Nature. This interpretation is confirmed by the Chaldean Oracles (fr. 8), which say:

        ... beside this one a Dyad sits.
For He hath both: to hold Noetics in His Nous,
to bring Sensation to the Worlds....

That is, he brings Sensation or Sense-perception to the world by planting the Ideas in Matter.

In other terms, we may say that the soul of the Demiurge has two faculties. His Critical Faculty (Kritikon) is directed upward toward the Monad of Being, which His Nous can grasp, although ours cannot. His Impulsive Faculty (Hormêtikon) results from His Lust (Orexis) for Matter. Therefore He sends His Fiery Logos into the Womb of the World Soul to impregnate Her with His Ideas.

Helios and Eros the Mediators

Because of His role as a Mediating Dyad, the Demiurgic Logos is associated with many mediating Gods, who are considered identical or closely related to Him. Among them are Helios, Mithras, Attis, and Asclepius, all of whom may all be referred to as Middle (Mesê) and Mediator (Mesitês).

As we have seen ("Primal Fire"), each of the Levels of Being has a sort of Sun at its center, which governs and harmonizes it, while emanating the next lower level; this is the Solar Series. Therefore, various of these Central Deities are called "Helios" (Sun).

First, Helios may refer to the Mundane Sun, who stands in the middle of the Planets, where He causes and governs Their motion. This is His position in the Chaldean or metaphysical order of the Planetary Spheres: Moon, Mercury, Venus - Sun - Mars, Jupiter, Saturn. Thus He stands midway between the Moon, representing the World Soul, and Saturn, representing Kronos, the Monad (also called the Dark Sun; recall His ebony Throne). The Sun is also central in the modern view of the solar system, which we call "Copernican" (but which Copernicus called "Pythagorean"). Therefore Helios is called "Midmost among the Middle Gods" (that is, among the Celestial, as opposed to Olympian, Gods). Since all things on Earth flourish and decline as the Sun approaches and retires, He governs our world of Becoming.

Second, as the Mundane Sun rules the Planets and other Celestials in the Aetherial Realm, so Helios as the Transmundane Sun rules the Ideas in the Empyrean Realm; thus He is called Noeric Helios. ("Empyrean," it should be noted, comes from Pyr, Fire.) Here the Transmundane Sun is the Demiurge Zeus (called the Noeric God), who mediates between the Mundane World below and the Transcendent Monad (the Primal Fire) above, which is the third and highest hypostasis of the Sun.

Hesiod says that Helios is the son of Theia and Hyperiôn (He Above All), whom we have already seen to be the First Principle. "Theia" of course means "divine female," but it is also a word for Aunt and Nurse; it is synonymous with Têthis, which is connected with Têthys (Goddess of the Abyssal Flux), another name for Hyperiôn's bride. Both names are derived from a root meaning "to milk or suckle." Theia is obviously the Great Mother Rhea. Hyperion and Theia gave birth to a Triad: the Sun (Helios), the Moon (Selene), and the Dawn (Eôs), who comes between the other two. Helios is the World Mind and Selene is the World Soul (see "Moon" in Part II); Eôs marks the place where They meet.

Sometimes the Demiurge is distinguished from the Transmundane Sun, in which case the latter may be identified with Apollo, who then mediates between Zeus and Helios. Plutarch explains Apollo's name (Apollôn) as meaning "Not-many" (A-pollon), which shows His descent from the Monad.

Pythagoreanism was influenced by the doctrines of the Magi, which were traced back to Zoroaster, according to which Helios was identical to Mithras, the Savior God of Mithraism. Therefore Julian had little difficulty reconciling his Pythagorean and Mithraic beliefs.

Based on Mithraic doctrine, we may say that Helios-Mithras mediates in three domains. Cosmically, He mediates between His parents, Kronos and Rhea, that is, between the Monad, the principle of unity, and the Indefinite Dyad, the principle of plurality, for His Logos comprises the articulated Ideas, a plurality of unities. Theologically, He stands between the Gods, residing in the realm of Eternal Being, and humans, residing in the realm of Perpetual Becoming. Morally, He is the Savior by whom humans may hope to ascend to the Good. For Helios-Mithras is the Psychopomp, who shows the mystic's soul the way to the Gods, and who leads the disincarnate souls of the dead up through the seven planetary spheres. Helios-Mithras is the God of Truth and is called the Judge (Kritês) because the Sun sees all things (recall: Helios was the only God to witness the abduction of Persephone), and because He judges each soul after death and decides whether it should be reincarnated.

Another Mediating God closely related to the Demiurge is Eros (Love), and Pherekydes says that when Zeus intended to create (demiourgein), He changed into Eros. The Oracles say that Eros was the first to leap from the Paternal Nous (who, it will be recalled, is identified with Love as opposed to Strife). All the Gods are born through the agency of Love.

Eros is called the Noetic Archetype of the Sun (which makes Him a Transmundane Sun), and therefore He governs the Noetic Realm of the Ideas. As the Noetic Archetype of the Sun, He also corresponds to The Good, which is the goal that all things desire. He is the cosmic force who draws The All together in Unity. In the words of the Chaldean Oracles (fr. 39):

For, thinking deeds, the self-produced Paternal Nous
in all things sowed the fire-heavy Bond of Love,
so that all things Remain in love through Boundless Time,
nor fall the Webs wove of the Father's Noeric Light.
Through Love the Cosmic Elements Remain on course.

The Hyphasmena (Woven Webs) may also be Robes, recalling the Craftsman's weaving of the Variegated Robe (see "The Wedding" in Part II and "Craftsman" above).

Further (as explained in Plato's Symposium), Eros captures souls, and, being Intermediate (Metaxu), turns them toward the Beauty of the Monad and leads them upwards toward It. (In contrast, the Mundane Sun, by illuminating sensible things, may lead us deeper into the material world and bind us to it, unless of course we understand the Mundane Sun as a visible symbol for the Transmundane Sun.)

Helios-Mithras is considered an ally of humanity. He creates and orders the material world, and taught us civilized life, including religion, politics, and culture. Therefore His mediation is called Friendly and Harmonious. Such a Mediating Logos is necessary for Salvation, for the Monad is beyond the reach of our unaided minds, and therefore a mediating power is necessary to join the individual nous with the First Nous. Thus we must seek aid from such Gods as Helios-Mithras and Eros, who can help to lift our minds to the Apex of Being. The Demiurge is able to apprehend the Monad, and by being allowed to merge our own nous with the Divine Nous, we too may approach the Monad. This mystical union is effected through the Flower of Nous (Anthos Nou), the highest part of the soul (see Part V on Theurgy, for more on this).

Iunges, Teletarchs, and Connectors

There are a number of other Mediating Spirits who occupy the Middle Dyad (Hê Mesê Duas) and are essential aids in Theurgic Rites. Since They will be discussed in Part V of this summary, here it will suffice to say that They participate in governing the universe by maintaining the channels of influence and bonds of harmony emanating from the Nous.

First (and most important in Theurgy) are the Teletarchs (Masters of Initiation), chief of whom is Eros, who binds the Ideas as Craters of the Paternal Fount or Source. In the words of the Oracles (fr. 42), the Ideas are created

by Bond of wondrous Eros, who from Nous leapt first,
with Fire clothing Binding Fire, so to mix
Source Craters, offering the Flower of His Fire.

That is, before even the Ideas were created, Eros leapt from the Paternal Nous, and mixed the Ideas, the Craters (or Mixing Bowls) of the Fount, by means of His Binding Fire clothed in Noetic Fire. ("Binding" here refers to the enchantment of a Binding Spell or a Love Charm.) Without His binding power, the Ideas could not have been consolidated into the Logos (see also fragment 39, quoted above). (On the Craters, see also "Creation of Other Gods" above and "Cosmic Tree" in Part II.)

Three other Teletarchs are the Kosmagoi or Rulers of the Three Worlds (Empyrean, Aetherial, Material): Aiôn (not the ineffable God of the same name), Helios, and Selene. Next are the Iunges, who empower the Symbolic Ideas, Signs, and Tokens used in Theurgic Rites. Finally, there are the Connectors (Synokheis). This must suffice on them for now.

The Demiurge and the World Soul

The Demiurge and World Soul (Zeus and Hera, Osiris and Isis) are called the Second and Third Gods, after the Monad (Kronos), the First God. Each level of Being is active with respect to those below and passive with respect to those above; therefore the Demiurge and World Soul are relatively active and passive, respectively. The Demiurge rouses the World Soul from Her trance-like sleep (karos), so that She desires to reproduce His Form in Her Matrix (Womb). She longs for completion by His Logos, and desires and seeks the Good through His Love. According to Plethon, the Demiurge's Semen is the source of the Form of everything in the World. He creates by projecting His Forms into the Womb of Hera, whose Menstrual Fluid provides the Matter and Nourishment for material existence. (See Part II, "Goddesses," for more on the World Soul.)

The Lower Zeus

As the Soul and Body of Osiris are distinguished, so Pythagoreans distinguish a Higher (Hypatos) Zeus and a Lower (Neatos) Zeus, who may be two aspects of a single God. In any case, it is the Lower Zeus, or Body of Osiris, who is most involved with Matter, imprinting the Forms so that they are immanent in it.

As previously remarked, the Demiurge has Lust (Orexis) for Matter, which motivates Him to rouse the World Soul from Her torpor, but in the heat of His passion, He forgets His Identity, and Proceeding forward with too much Power, abandons His Essence. Therefore He is torn apart.

Alternately, consider this analogy: The imperishable Seal (the transcendent Form) may be impressed in wax (Matter) and leave its Sign (immanent Form), an imperfect copy of the original. But the wax is soft and soon the Image will deteriorate. Therefore the wax must be melted and smoothed (reduced to Prima Materia) so that the Seal can be impressed again and its Image restored.

We may compare this with the periodic dismemberment of Osiris by the chaotic Power of Matter (Typhon, here equivalent to the Indefinite Dyad), and with His rejuvenation by Isis, Nurse and Mistress of Magic. Similarly, according to Orphic Scriptures, Dionysos (the Son of Zeus) was torn apart by the Titans but later restored by Athena.

The dismembered God becomes the Patron of Divided Matter, that is, of the distinct material objects that occupy the sensible world, and so the killing of the God has been called the "drama of individualization." Naturally, this is not a work of evil, but Divine Providence's way of creating the material world. Similarly, Mithras, by slaying the Bull, can be seen as the Patron of Divided Matter. Therefore, all three of these Gods are very close to mortals, and thus Saviors who mediate on our behalf. (We have already seen Mithras as Mediator.)

In the myths of Osiris and Dionysos, the God's Phallus is severed; so also in the myth of Attis (young consort of the Great Mother) and in many similar myths. This emasculation symbolizes an end to the chaotic generation impelled by the multiplicative Power of the Indefinite Dyad, and a Reversion to the Limit imposed by the Monad.

Dionysos is the Son of Zeus and in many respects His Alter-ego; indeed He may be identified with the Lower Zeus. This identification is reinforced by Orphic texts, in which Dionysos is closely connected to Hades, who is called Zeus Katakhthonios (Beneath the Earth).

Indeed, according to Pythagorean doctrine, as (the Higher) Zeus is the Demiurge ruling the Noetic Realm, so the Lower Zeus is the Demiurge ruling the Sublunary Realm, specifically, the Air between Earth and Heaven. So also, we may be surprised to find Hades named as the ruler of the Air, but His name Aidês was explained by the formless (aeidês) nature of Air. (Thus the Aerial Daimones, who occupy Nature, are governed by Hades.)

Therefore we have four Divinities ruling the Elements, as mentioned above. Earth is ruled by Demeter, and the Three Brothers Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades - all Sons of Kronos - rule the subtle Elements, Fire, Water, and Air, respectively. The Three Brothers correspond to the functions of Abiding, Proceeding, and Reverting in each realm of the universe. For example, Zeus is the Father, who creates souls prior to generation; Poseidon brings them into generation, for water symbolizes the flux of material existence (see "The Mother of the Gods" in Part II); Hades frees souls from generation by showing them their origin. Therefore, we read in the Oracles (fr. 27):

In every World a Triad, ruled by Monad, shines.

In particular, in the Aetherial Realm, Zeus rules the Sphere of Fixed Stars, Poseidon rules the Planetary Spheres, and Hades rules the Sublunary Sphere. Earth is central to them all.

According to Orphic myth, when the Titans dismembered Dionysos, They cooked and ate the pieces. Zeus incinerated the Titans with His Thunderbolt, and from the Ash (containing both Titanic and Divine Substance) He made humanity; therefore we are part God, part mortal. As a consequence of our Titanic nature, we must spend some time clothed in matter, on earth, in the realm of the Lower Zeus, before we return to the Gods. This is our Guard Duty (Phroura), under the command of Dionysos/Hades, and so we should execute it well.

Other Gods

I will mention briefly the other Olympian Gods as They are described by Sallustius (fl. 363 CE) in On the Gods and the Universe (Bk. VI); these are the Encosmic Gods directly responsible for the cosmos. They are in four Orders (Taxeis), each responsible for an Operation (Pragma), with a beginning, middle, and end (corresponding to the triadic phases: Abiding, Proceeding, Reverting); therefore there are twelve Gods with twelve corresponding Powers (Dynameis). The Creators (Poiountes) are Zeus, Poseidon, and Hephaistos; the Animators (Psychountes), who ensoul the world, are Demeter, Hera, and Artemis; the Harmonizers (Harmozontes), who unite the world into a Harmony, are Apollo, Aphrodite, and Hermes; and the Guardians (Phrourountes), who preserve the resulting Harmony, are Hestia, Athena, and Ares. A little contemplation will show the appropriateness of each of these functions.

Sallustius also tells us the Deities responsible for the Elemental and Celestial Spheres: Hestia (Earth), Poseidon (Water), Hera (Air), Hephaistos (Fire), Artemis (Moon), Hermes (Mercury), Aphrodite (Venus), Apollo (Sun), Zeus (Jupiter), Demeter (Saturn), Athena (Aithêr); the Sphere of Fixed Stars is common to Them all. We might expect Kronos to hold the Sphere of Saturn, but since He is the First God, the Saturnian Sphere is assigned to His wife Demeter (here equated with Rhea, an identification made as early as the fifth century BCE). Also, here we find Zeus as the ruler of the Jovian Sphere rather than with Kronos among the Hypercosmic Gods. Finally, Athena rules the Aithêr because it is the home of our Nous and She is the Goddess of Wisdom.


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