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The Llewellyn Encyclopedia

Term: Ophites


Ophites: Any of a group of Gnostic sects, primarily centered in Egypt and Syria and dating from the 1st and 2nd centuries C.E. These sects focused on the serpent of the tale of Adam and Eve. The saw the serpent as positive and God as negative, the evil demiurge.

Ophite sects included the Naasseners, the Sethians, the Perates, and the Borborites who performed a type of sex magick focused on consuming sexual and other fluids as part of the eucharist. What is known about these sects primarily comes through the writings of people attacking them.

Another Ophite sect, the secretive Mandaeans, revere some Biblical figures such as Adam, Noah, and John the Baptist, but consider Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad to be false Prophets. The Mandaean religion exists to this day. Most lived in Iraq, but persecution in Iraq and Iran led many to leave for Europe, Australia, and North America. The 2003 war caused most to flee Iraq. Now only about 5,000 remain there while 60,000 or more have fled.


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