Approximately the first third of the novel centers around young Sophia’s travels with the last gnostic missionary, Timaeus. Timaeus is a blind, 45-year-old former Catholic bishop who has adopted and adapted Gnostic beliefs and travels throughout the Eastern portions of the Roman Empire to share those beliefs with other Gnostics. Up to the point of this chapter, his relationship with the 18-year-old Sophia has been purely platonic. In this chapter that changes. It is an attempt to combine the physical act of making love with the ultimate spiritual goal of a Gnostic believer: rejoining the “Pleroma,” or heavenly realm in which all eternal essences and beings exist in perfect oneness and merging with “ennoia,” or the perfect mind of the gnostic goddess Sophia.
May 21-22, 325 A.D. – The Pleroma
“Yet you are sleeping, dreaming dreams. Wake up and return, taste and eat the true food! Hand out the word and the water of life! Cease from the evil lusts and desires.”
The Concept of Our True Power
Stars in the night. Stars without light. Swirling darkness, motion felt but unseen. Infinite, undulant darkness. Not black. Black can be seen. Darkness: no color, no light. Abyss. Deeper and deeper into the swirling Abyss. Down, down into the swirling Abyss. Until … a pinprick of white. A star, a single star, a single, moving star emerges from the darkness and is instantly swallowed up. Back into the Abyss. Was it even there? Did he see it? But there it is again. No. Not the same star. A different star. A little brighter than the last. And not quite white. Not all white. Blue, perhaps, or green or red or yellow. A flicker. Just enough light to illuminate the edges of the roiling Abyss by which it is instantly consumed. Again, was it there? Did he see it? What was its color? And always and ever, the roiling Abyss.
What was happening? He was lost. Who was he? Gradually there were more and more stars. Here and there. Sometimes two or three together. Then a neighborhood of stars, a community of stars, a nation of stars, emerging, shining, flashing through the colorless heavens. Lighting the heavens faintly. Moving, yes moving, toward each other and apart and always swallowed up again by the Abyss. The churning Abyss.
Was the Abyss jealous of the stars’ light? Is that why the Abyss moved so quickly to swallow them? But why should the Abyss, which was infinite, be jealous of small, finite flashes of light? Why should it not merely enjoy the infinite, infinitesimal variations in its own universal darkness? Or was the Abyss unconscious? Was it a fluid nebula that simply filled every space as quickly as the space appeared, consumed every object and variation as a raging river swallows up all things in its path? But then, why did it roil so? Why was it so restless? Was it conscious or random?
Gradually, without awareness, he slipped through the darkness and into the bright light of the Abyss. He felt it moving around him, heard its voices, smelled its scents, felt its warmth, sensed … could it be? … sensed its consciousness. No, it was not an unconscious river of nothingness. It teemed with the essences of infinite realities, with the vitality of infinite beings, but existing as one reality, one consciousness. A common origin. A common end. Existence before creation. Existence after time. A palimpsest of all life, all matter, all time, flattened to a plane, invisible but subsuming all. As he moved within it, merged with it, diffused into it, he knew that it was not filled with jealousy for the stars, but unbounded, passionless love. It rushed to cover each lonely, new spark of light with its warm perfection, its timelessness, its unblemished and pure darkness. And the stars coveted its embrace, welcomed their return to the mother, to the All. He was in the Pleroma. He was one with the mind of Sophia. He was immersed in the pure nothingness, the pure everything of love, of God.
He moved within it, churned within it, surrendered to it, like the stars. It was timeless and eternal. Eternities passed as, without will of his own, he let it carry him forward and backward, through time and beyond hunger or care or longing or life or death. He was one with the Pleroma and wanted nothing more. He lost all sense of being. A deep, deep, but conscious sleep, an unshakeable sleep, deep within the All.
But there was a light. Ahead. Another star. Out of the Nothingness, out of the All, was a small, fragile flickering light. He pulled himself hard away from the light of the Pleroma, aching, longing to make it out, to distinguish it from the other stars. It was familiar. It pulsed, almost as if it breathed. The pang of loss he felt as he separated himself from the All did not deter him. Why was this light familiar? Why did it beckon to him with so strong a call that he would leave perfection in order to know?
Suddenly, he was again in the world he once had known, so long ago, before the Abyss, before the Pleroma. He could see again with human eyes, his eyes, unblemished. Perfect. And he saw … Sophia.
Was it her? Did she see him? He knew that he was still part of the Nothingness, the Everything. He knew this vision was fleeting. He longed, in fact, to return fully to the All, the Abyss, the Pleroma, to flow within it, to become subsumed again. But there was Sophia, lovelier than he could ever have imagined. Pure, soft, perfect. A perfect form, distinct from the formless All. She kissed him with an unfathomable tenderness and timelessness. The heat he now felt did not come from the Pleroma. The consciousness was his own. The heat was his own. His own and Sophia’s. As they kissed, their bodies merged into a perfect and sublime oneness. Apart from the Everything, the All, the Nothing. A raging and fulfilling fire burned around them, did not consume them, but nourished them. The Nothingness fled. It hid from a fire too strong to consume. It could swallow suns and galaxies, novae and pulsars, it could absorb every being that ever lived, everything thing that ever existed, but drew back from and paused before the fire that burned between Timaeus and his Sophia. His Sophia.
They moved together now, rolled together now. At a distance the Pleroma separated into a billion fragments, a billion ghosts, watching in envy or pride, waiting in envy or pride, as the lovers moved together, moved as one, moved to fulfill an eternal, shared and common longing. Moved until perfect unity subsumed them and the warmth of a billion stars washed over them.
He was moving again, subsumed again within the darkness, within the Pleroma. But where was Sophia? Gone, gone, behind an unseen screen, a locked and hidden door. There was not even her light. He could not see. He was blind again. He was home again in the All, in the Nothing, in the Everything, in the Pleroma. He welcomed it, surrendered to it. He slept.