The pairing of opposites
“And the three (are): Will, Thought, and Life. And the four powers are: Understanding, Grace, Perception, and Prudence. Now it is Grace which dwells in the Light Aeon Armozel, who is the first angel. And three other Aeons are with this Aeon: Grace, Truth, Form. And the second Light Oriael is the one who was established over the second Aeon. And three other Aeons are with him: Pronoia, Perception, Memory. And the third Light is Daveithai, the one who was established over the third Aeon. And the three other Aeons with him are: Understanding, Love, and Likeness. And the fourth Aeon was established over the fourth Light Eleleth. And the [th]ree Aeons with him are: Perfection, Peace, Wisdom. These are the four Lights who stand before the divine Autogenes. These are the twelve Aeons which stand before the Son of the great Autogenes Christ, through the will and the gift of the invisible Spirit. And the twelve Aeons belong to the Son of [A]utogenes.”
The Secret Book of John, Nag Hammadi Library.
From Nockwood to Gnostics
The word ‘pronoia’ was new to me. Turns out it’s the opposite to paranoia…The belief that the universe is conspiring in your favor. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, it is “The belief in the good will of others or the pervasiveness of serendipity”… well, there’s nothing wrong with that? If more of us felt our environment, the world, the forces of nature were working in our favor, or at least could be used to achieve positive outcomes, then maybe we’d all be that little bit happier.
In many ways, that’s what the Nockwood cards have been able to unlock me. A belief that, rather than the world working against you, there are forces and powers that we can use to achieve positive outcomes in the world. Some of these forces exist within us (like “Will”, “Thought”, “Prudence” and “Understanding”) others, exist outside our control (“Life”, “Perception” and “Grace” ).
Anyway, this Gnostic text followed others I’d read in asserting that the mundane and material world we live in was created as a bit of a distraction, created by the ‘Demiurge’ (a malevolent spirit) that entrapped us humans in materiality.
Two things interested me about these stories. Firstly the importance escaping being trapped in unimportant things and secondly, that there is a path to ‘enlightenment’ that involves experimentation, creation, self-reflection, prudence, knowledge and shared wisdom.
I was also interested in the numbers and the structure of this universe. There were 12 primary ‘aeons’ (the things from which everything flows) and below them were pairs of 15 pairs secondary pairings. Angelic paired with human. Male with female. opposites whose power was released when brought together.
So I started looking at the Nockwood Deck. Three of the suits I deemed earthly, because they concerned forces that were of this world:
Shields (protection). Spades (concrete, knowledge, reason). Flags (social, community, empathy).
Three I deemed ‘divine’ as these concerned forces that informed a future that was not yet realized.
Hearts (creativity, passions, and intuition). Coins (ambition, power, enterprise). Diamonds (discovery, adventure and innovation).
If you take the Ace cards out of the mix, for these cards refer to the forces in their purest form then there are 30 cards remaining.
6 of these cards are combinations of purely ‘divine forces’. They have no ‘earthly’ elements. 6 of these cards are exact opposites of these 6 cards as they are combinations of purely ‘earthly forces’ and have no ‘divine’ elements.
These 12 cards are and map rather remarkably to the 12 astrological houses, starting in the spring. Each with a planetary ruler that matches the themes of the Nockwood card. All of the ‘Divine’ cards are either Fire or Air signs. All of the ‘Earthly’ cards are Earth or water signs.
The remaining cards of the Nockwood deck fall automatically into pairings. Rather amazingly there are 9 pairings of these secondary cards making a total of 15 pairs (as described by the Gnostic texts).
These are paired so the card with a ‘divine’ primary is matched with the card with the same symbols but with an ‘earthly’ primary symbol. Exact opposites. Divine and Earth. Male and Female. Perfect and imperfect combined as one.
Nine pairings made this perfect as a means of giving all of the cards numbers.
I decided that the lower order cards, the divine and earth combined, would be 1–9 and 11–19. The Divine cards 10–60 and the Earthly pairs of these cards would be 100- 600. This mirrors how Hebrew numbers have been created from alphabetic characters — the foundation of gematria.
So, 15 pairs in total. A set of 12 cards within the deck that are pure. 18 cards that are half of a powerful pair. The six suits originate from the forces, from which everything else flows. 4 Aeons. Three angels each. These primary Aeons go on to create 15 secondary pairings. If nothing else, the architecture of the Nockwood deck has historical precedent.
And while i’m here…thought it would be fun to map the 4 angels of each aeon…creating 4 quadrants. A cross. The four houses of the Nockwood reading methodology.