The following is not a ‘magickal how to’ nor a declaration of mystical wisdom. There is not much known about the Gnostic sects, particularly the two being discussed. Whether a myth be true or not, whether the teachings be theistically true or not, one can still use them instrumentally for change and understanding. I am not pedantic about historical accuracy or academic tidbits, this is contemplation regarding the topic and can be taken as one sees fit.

Be it Satanism, Luciferianism, or Setianism there is a spectrum of ideological and mythology interpretations regarding the Left Handed Path, if it should even be called such. Two interpretations in the Gnostic context I find particularly enlightening in this current, that being the Ophites and Cainites.

There is not a great deal known about these sects. Any knowledge we have comes down through secondary sources. Pardon any inaccuracies I may have. The Ophites, named for the Greek word ‘ophis’ for serpent, believed the serpent in the Garden of Eden was the original liberator of mankind by introducing to him the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Yahweh, the Jehovah God, is perceived as the distorted and petty Demiurge which created all that is physical. This physical artifice prevents man from realizing his true nature, his self-divinity, and the true Original Source known as Abraxas, the Source which contains all that is and is not, that is destructive as well as creative. The Demiurge as depicted in the Old Testament is a petty entity that demands worship from those embodied in the physical. Abel, the man of clay, is the paragon of ignorant slavishness to the Demiurge whims. The Ophites preferred the serpent to Christ, and Eve, the female principle, which first embraced the Knowledge. It is worth noting in most religions the serpent is symbolic of Primordial or ‘Gnostic’ Wisdom. Christianity is unique in its specific effort to demonize the serpent. One can see how the Ophian sect would be a threat to the followers of Jehovah, especially if there was truth in the Ophite teaching. Throughout Christian rhetoric there is an inverted rhetoric; the meek are praised/the mighty are corrupt, the submissive are saintly/the independent will is wicked, the serpent represents the enemy/the serpent represents Gnostic awakening. This inverted rhetoric has been largely successful and continues even in present secular forms.

Often considered related to or a subsect of the Ophites are the Cainites, aptly named for their reverence of Cain. The Cainites abandoned the Christ figure altogether, and understood the Jehovah to not just be petty and distorted, but outright malicious in its attempt to keep man ignorant. The Cainites were specifically antinomian in their inversion of the Old Testament, and also later with Judas. Cain is revered for containing Gnostic awareness and slaying Abel of Clay, the devotee of the Demiurge. The utilization of antinomianism is what made Cainites infamous. The belief that sinning was a religious duty, although it is unclear what they considered a sin. The physical imprisonment is lesser to the individual spirit and thus carnality can be indulged in as one sees fit. From the transgressive perspective, similar to that found in the Aghora, actions are taken specifically to break certain conditioning or transcend limitations; be it sex, intoxicants, and so forth. It is by transgression does one achieve liberation.

One common belief among varied Gnostic sects is that the physical realm is a kind of labyrinth or prison created by the Demiurge to imprison the individual soul, which ignorant of its true nature will succumb to the Demiurge. Taken to the extreme it resembled Manicheanism which depicts the physical material as utterly evil and the spirit is the only good. Multiple Gnostic sects understood Christ as one who has been completely liberated, attained Gnosis, and is here to teach liberation from the Demiurge. Personally I find these overly colorful themes to be too abstract and mythological for practical use. It is a bitter position to see the physical realm as a prison, as evil, as a vile creation, or even an imprisoning ‘matrix’. Indeed such a position would be life-negating, no different than looking to an Otherworldly Heaven as superior.

In response to that, not to conflate Eastern teachings with Gnostic (unfortunately common these days), one can see similar pattern in Advaita and Shaktism. One of which states maya is an illusion, or rather empty and ephemeral, and man gets entangled in the ephemeral which causes suffering and ignorance of ones true nature. The other, Shaktism, accepts the ephemeral of maya and that one can get entangled resulting in ignorance, but that this maya ia weaved by Shakti, no different than a vibrant tapestry is weaved. Whether enlightenment or ignorance-suffering occurs is solely contingent on the individual. The Gnostic position on this world and the Demiurge can still be valid in practice, and one does not have to reach the near Manichean bitterness. In fact I imagine the Caininites in their carnal indulgences did not see the physical realm as vile, only as limitation, restrictions to be transcended, perhaps indulged in purely for pleasure and gain.

The pragmatic use is what I am most interested in. The metaphysical or mythological truth of this is not my foremost concern, rather the instrumental results. In Eastern teachings there is non-attachment, or varaigya. The non-attachment to passing thoughts, passing emotions, and the physical in general. Not repulsion or hatred. Following the premises of Gnosticism, the soul or spirit is imprisoned in the physical, the Demiurge attempts to keep one ignorant and separated from Abraxas, and by the Ophite or Cainite approach it is through a type of antinomian or rebellion against the material/Demiurge that one achieves Gnosis. This is liberation by transgression, or to go against is to be liberated. It is paradoxical similar to Wu Wei, to act without acting, or do without doing. Contemplation of the Cainite/Ophite current is the Fire of Cain, as opposed to the Clay of Abel, or the Serpent as opposed to Jehovah. This is not a reactive force, it is inversion of the Demiurge intention. One is a goat rather than a sheep, a Lilith rather than an Eve, the mighty rather than the meek. It reverses the demonizing rhetoric of Christianity which paints the aware as evil, the independent as wicked, the mighty as prideful, and so forth. Apophatic contemplation allows non-attachment and Gnosis. Neti neti, not this not this, an essential Vedic inquiry that negates identification with thought/emotion/physical. By apophatic contemplation what remains is Fire, and what is negated is Clay. Again the thought/emotion/physical should not be hated, that is not negation. If anything through negation is one able to mindfully indulge and enjoy the thought/emotion/physical without becoming entangled.

The Ophite and Cainite sects may be based purely on mythology, it may not contain any metaphysical or spiritual truth, but pragmatically as contemplation and method there are results. In late modernism pedantically grasping at long dead traditions and ritual in attempts to restore the original is an exercise in futility. We exist in a chaotic Baudrillardian age that calls for a different response.