One idea that characterises most Gnostic texts are their complex accounts of the unfolding of the various Divine emanations, the Aeons, the "Eternities" or "Worlds", which become the transcendental Pleroma or realm of Light.Â The Pleroma is distinguished from the lower or manifest creation, so the Gnostic Cosmology is based on the idea of a duality between the transcendent Spiritual Reality (which includes the manifest and unmanifest) Absolute) and the imperfect psychic and physical reality, the "Cosmos".Â Â The psycho-physical cosmos in fact is considered a lower or imperfect reflection or copy of the higher perfect order of the Pleroma.
The exact representations of the Pleroma differ according to different Gnostic sects, but if we take the Sethian and Valentinian schools there is the division into four grades of divine existence, as follows
|the Supreme Principle; - Spirit, Abyss, Fore-Father etc|
|Barbelo - (and associated Aeons)|
|The Self-Begotten - Autogenes - (and associated Aeons)|
|the Archetypal Man - (and associated Aeons)|
|the Cosmos - psyche and matter|