The dead filled the place murmuring and said:
Tell us of gods and devils, accursed one!
The god-sun is the highest good; the devil is the opposite. Thus have ye two gods. But there are many high and good things and many great evils. Among these are two god-devils; the one is the BURNING ONE, the other the GROWING ONE.
The burning one is EROS, who hath the form of flame. Flame giveth light because it consumeth.
The growing one is the TREE OF LIFE. It buddeth, as in growing it heapeth up living stuff.
Eros flameth up and dieth. But the tree of life groweth with slow and constant increase through unmeasured time.
Good and evil are united in the flame.
Good and evil are united in the increase of the tree.
In their divinity stand life and love opposed.
Innumerable as the host of the stars is the number of gods and devils.
Each star is a god, and each space that a star filleth is a devil. But the empty-fullness of the whole is the pleroma.
The operation of the whole is Abraxas, to whom only the ineffective standeth opposed.
Four is the number of the principal gods, as four is the number of the world's measurements.
One is the beginning, the god-sun.
Two is Eros; for he bindeth twain together and outspreadeth himself in brightness.
Three is the Tree of Life, for it filleth space with bodily forms.
Four is the devil, for he openeth all that is closed.
All that is formed of bodily nature doth he dissolve; he is the destroyer in whom everything is brought to nothing.
For me, to whom knowledge hath been given of the multiplicity and diversity of the gods, it is well. But woe unto you, who replace these incompatible many by a single god. For in so doing ye beget the torment which is bred from not understanding, and ye mutilate the creature whose nature and aim is distinctiveness. How can ye be true to your own nature when ye try to change the many into one? What ye do unto the gods is done likewise unto you. Ye all become equal and thus is your nature maimed.
Equality shall prevail not for god, but only for the sake of man. For the gods are many, whilst men are few. The gods are mighty and can endure their manifoldness. For like the stars they abide in solitude, parted one from the other by immense distances. But men are weak and cannot endure their manifold nature. Therefore they dwell together and need communion, that they may bear their separateness. For redemption's sake I teach you the rejected truth, for the sake of which I was rejected.
The multiplicity of the gods correspondeth to the multiplicity of man.
Numberless gods await the human state. Numberless gods have been men. Man shareth in the nature of the gods. He cometh from the gods and goeth unto god.
Thus, just as it serveth not to reflect upon the pleroma, it availeth not to worship the multiplicity of the gods. Least of all availeth it to worship the first god, the effective abundance and the summum bonum. By our prayer we can add to it nothing, and from it nothing take; because the effective void swalloweth all.
The bright gods form the celestial world. It is manifold and infinitely spreading and increasing. The god-sun is the supreme lord of the world.
The dark gods form the earth-world. They are simple and infinitely diminishing and declining. The devil is the earth-world's lowest lord, the moon-spirit, satellite of the earth, smaller, colder, and more dead than the earth.
There is no difference between the might of the celestial gods and those of the earth. The celestial gods magnify, the earth-gods diminish. Measurelesss is the movement of both.