It expressed itself in a variety of pagan, Jewish and Christian forms. It is derived from the fact that it promised salvation through a secret knowledge or understanding of reality possessed by its devotees.
Previously known mostly from the writings of its Christian opponents, Gnosticism can now be studied in a collection of original documents found near the Egyptian town on Nag Hammadi in 1945 (also called the Dead Sea Scrolls).
Despite the complex diversity of Gnostic groups and their teachings, the basic doctrines of Gnosticism formed an identifiable pattern of belief and practice. A pervasive dualism underlay much of Gnostic thought. Good and evil, light and darkness, truth and falsehood, spirit and matter were opposed to one another in human experience as being and nonbeing.
Associated in legend with Samon Magus, a Samaritan sorcerer mentioned in the Bible in Acts 8:9-24, gnosticism probably originated in the Near East as a synthesis of Eastern and Greek ideas before the advent of Christianity.
When the womanhood was purged from the hill the Druids of Anglesy, they took refuge. The priesthood formed a unique order known as the 'Church of the Culdees,' on the Scottish Island of Iona.
The "under cover" men of Christian Sanction incorporated the similarities in the two beliefs. It was paganized Catholic priesthood.
During the Middle Ages, the Druid's priesthood spent their days in seclusion. They recorded first-hand observation of experiments which took place in natural law.
When the day came, the church officials felt there was no need for Druid's the priesthood went underground fearing for their lives but they were not forgotten. The priesthood became known as the "Gnostics," which meant 'One Who Knows.'
As years passed, the church acquired great acreages of lands, cathedrals, monasteries, and immense, towering abbeys were erected. The once wild country was overrun with huge watchtowers so the church could watch over the people and see their investments grow. Within the walls of the sturdy buildings, the churchmen carefully studied and interpreted the works of Roman, Greek, and Celtic historians and philosophers. In their research they found everything was in its place with a function and nothing was left out.
The monks defined the architecture of the Universe. Everything was put into a pattern which created a harmonious connection. The Divine Power (God) who sat on a throne in the heaven heights. Three orders of angels followed. The first level were beings of diving thought. The angel's love song controlled the direction and movement of heavenly body in space. The second level of angels kept all the cycles and rhythms of the natural world in place. The third was man. He was blessed with faculty of divine thought but also the ability to experience the earthly phenomenon by free will. Man, himself, tamed the wild world how he saw fit. Limitations were built and boundaries drawn so people could live as a harmonious whole, just as Divine Powers had done in heaven.
Beneath man were farm animals that have many uses for humans. Then came creatures like starfish or snails that are suppose to lacked some form of sense. The living and growing but immobile and sensibility came next. The lowest were all the inanimate objects like gems and stones.
The monks gathered and preserved their findings then took painstaking time categorize everything into a class, rank, and a leader. From the history, the monks recorded that all elements in creation were laced together by a mirrored web-lines and patterns of correspondence. Everything in nature had a special attribute, function, and an opposite.
Magic became like a science and some of the monk scholars in the era developed into menacing wizards. Instead of balancing nature's energies, the wizards attempted to master it. They would conjure up dark forces of nature for their own ego gratification. Dark magic was able to perpetuate.
The purity in the intent of magic seemed to greatly change.
The monks devised an adversary to the God, the Devil. He was the epitome of temptation, discord, destruction and darkness. The bodiless angels that were immortal spirits were limited in knowledge and power. Good angels were accepted as intermediate beings between God and man. They lived in heaven yet are able to visit earth in visible or invisible form. The bible speaks of angels who protect man and nation. They will appear when we are in crisis mode.
The dark angels were the closest to the devil's side. They are the evil counterpart of the heavenly host. They come to earth to lead man into temptation and enjoy all its undesirable pleasure in abandonment. But in the end, the devil would devour all love from their being and capture the soul to do his bidding.
The religious figures who practiced the art of wizardry found that absolute power corrupt absolutely. Power plays for instant gratification would be for short term for the joy would be overshadowed by hurt and disappointment that was to come.