The Afterlives of the Archons: Gnostic Literalism and Embodied Paranoia in Twenty-First Century Conspiracy Theory

M. Dillon
This article analyzes the reception of the ancient Gnostic archons, or rulers, in contemporary conspiracy theories. In the classical Gnostic myth these nefarious beings rule the cosmos, mold primordial matter into a prison for Adam and Eve, and blind the Elect to their divine nature. These archons send cataclysms to earth and serve as celestial gatekeepers that keep the divine light trapped in their creation. Contemporary conspiracy theorists such as John Lamb Lash, David Icke, and Carol Reimer
more » ... read the archons not as allegories or metaphors, but as real beings at work in contemporary politics, media and religion. Utilizing Michael Barkun's concept of "superconspiracies," this article examines how conspiracists Lash, Icke, and Reimer weave disparate conspiratorial discourses together through the classical Gnostic myth. The article concludes that the vast gulf between the anticosmic and anthropic dualism of the classical myth and the generally pro-cosmic and humanist thrust of modern esoterica leads these authors into paradoxical understands of cosmos, mind and eschatology.
doi:10.17613/drh4-y335 fatcat:fdzyawa5q5bxpneybuwb6ixhfy