IAO – A Mantra Of Rebirth

IAO is a Gnostic mantra I came across while studying alchemy today. Mark Stavish proposed it as a chant that can be used to charge water. I want to share 333Kephirhet666’s post on the mantra since it’s succinct.

See my previous post on Chnoubis (Yaldabaoth) and Gnosticism.


IAOIAO is first mentioned in the Pistis Sophia: The Gnostic Tradition of Mary Magdalene, Jesus, and His Disciples. It is a mantra very rich in symbolic meaning, and like most Gnostic texts a bit mysterious in origin. Among Gnostics it seemed to take not only the form of a mantra but also almost a shorthand version of the name of God also similar to the tetragrammaton which was the name of the biblical god.Tetragrammaton The text within the Pistis Sophia that mentions IAO reads as such:

And Jesus made invocation, turning himself towards the four corners of the world with his disciples, who were all clad in linen garments, and saying: “iaō iaō iaō.” This interpretation: iōta, because the universe hath gone forth; alpha, because it will turn itself back again; ōmega, because the completion of all the completeness will take place.

~ Pistis Sophia, translated by G.R.S. Mead

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On Chnoubis and Gnosticism

A while ago I wrote the article “Six Uncommon Magical Symbols“, but there’s more to Chnoubis than I realized. If you take a chance to read my article, it’s a short list of mystical symbols and a brief description of their meanings and associations.

According to SymbolDictionary.net, Chnoubis is: “an Egyptian Gnostic solar icon, found most often on gnostic gems, and amulets for protection against poison and disease. It is a composite figure with the head of a lion and the body of a serpent, usually with seven rays emanating from the head, sometimes, with the twelve zodiacal signs. Chnoubis is an aspect of the Gnostic Demiurge, Yaldabaoth, and is associated with Abraxas. Images of Chnoubis are most often found inscribed on gnostic gems, small talismans made from semi-precious stone, that date from the first century onward,” (2012).

In my article, I missed key points about this being an Egyptian Gnostic icon and not really a Christian one, which I’ll have fixed in the article soon. I thought Chnoubis may have come from Christian or at least Judeo-Christian belief due to the icon being associated with Yaldabaoth from “the Apocryphon of John and Pistis Sophia and the Gospel of Judas” and Abraxas who, although questionable origins with the Greeks and Egyptians, has been linked to Christianity as well and is known to have had a place in heaven before he fell.

But what’s more interesting about this symbol is the concept of the demiurge. As I said in my article, “serpents were a sign of healing and enlightenment and are often demonized because of their link to Christian mythology’s interpretation of the devil,” (Authentikei 2019). The serpent having the head of a lion can be up to so many interpretations, but the common terms that pop up are “knowledge”, “poison”, and “protection”, which is why we’ll often run into the Judeo-Christian stories about El or Yahweh creating the universe and scolding Adam and Eve. However, we should turn back to Gnosticism regarding this symbol because the Chnoubis being connected to Yaldabaoth from the Apocryphon recognizes this being as an angel and a chaotic creator. Naturally we’ll think of Satan in the Garden of Eden, which I also mentioned. So is Yaldabaoth Yahweh, Satan, both, or neither? Whichever it is, the description of this demiurge only scratches the surface of the underlying meaning of the Chnoubis.

From Gnostic Warrior:

“The important thing to remember with the story of Yaldabaoth is that it (he and she) is an artificially created life form said to be a lion-faced serpent, with its eyes were like lightning fires which flash that was on a throne surrounded by a blood and no one of the immortal ones could see it. He becomes the Archon (Ark-ON or Spark-On) of the human race. The word archon is composed of the words Ark and On. Ark meaning a conduit of energy that is the Hu-Man sacred ark, or ark of the testimony, represents the original spark of divinity and knowledge that gave us Sophia or wisdom.”

Gnostic Warrior – Yaldabaoth

I’m not going to write out a whole research paper here, but I just think it’s interesting that this symbol in particular has more to do with life, death, and rebirth (which is how I describe Abraxas) more than anything else. It’s not just a symbol of healing and enlightenment. It’s linked to creation and destruction, a power we often consider belonging to just the divine, but a power we exercise daily. That’s healing and enlightening in itself, I feel. And funny enough, the “archon” or “spark” is a very important concept in my novel. I love how everything comes together. #Synchronicity

If you know more about this symbol or the other symbols in my article, please comment.