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Uncovering the Story of Sophia

Images on the Early French Gothic Cathedrals,

The Knights Templar and

Christ's Message of Holy Embodiment


Sophia-Christos      Hidden in Plain Sight

“I was sent forth from the power,

and I have come to those who reflect upon me,

and I have been found among those who seek after me.
Look upon me, you who reflect upon me, and you hearers, hear me.
You w
ho are waiting for me, take me to yourselves."

- Thunder Perfect Mind, Nag Hammadi Library

In the Epilogue to my book The Divine Spark Within, I gave a thumbnail sketch of a thesis that sculpted exterior images included in the early French gothic cathedrals around Paris were cryptic references to the lost Gnostic themes of Sophia. This thesis began to take shape after visiting Chartres Cathedral in 2009 when I was struck with the possibility that the left west portal may be an illustration of the ascension story presented by Christ in the obscure Gnostic text titled the Pistis Sophia as presented in my article Chartres and the Pistis Sophia.

Since this time, and especially after a trip to France and England in August, 2023 with my partner Diana Kelly, there seem to be many images that, synchronistically, come together to tell this very compelling story. 

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Dan and Diana in front of Notre Dame 

August, 2023 

The Knights Templar and the Pistis Sophia


How could this be, that obscure Gnostic themes could be put on full display on the face of these new highly innovative Gothic cathedrals? The following is a plausable explanation of how this could have happened. Further information on this can be found here


In 1127, a small group of prominent nobles returned to France, following nine years of working in obscurity at the location of the original Solomon's Temple on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Little is known of what happened in during that time, but it is believed by some that they were engaged in excavations, that uncovered treasures, including manuscripts.


Hugues of Payens (1070 – 1136) was a key player in this group. He was a vassel of one of the wealthiest and most prominent nobles of France at the time, Hugh of Champagne (1074 - 1125). Hugh was known as the Count of Troyes, a city center of esoteric intrigue, where the Grail legends and Kaballah were taking root. Upon his return, Hugues of Payen met with his cousin, Bernard of Clairvaux, who formed the order that came to be known as the Knights Templar. Hugues of Payens was its first Grand Master. In only a few years after this, under the guidance of Bernard of Clairvaux, dramatic new developments in the cathedral construction, known as Gothic, began to spring up all around Paris.

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Hugues of Payens (1070 – 1136)

Based on this analysis, I suspect that one of the manuscripts found in their excavations was either the Pistis Sophia or some text related to it, which must have made a dramatic impression on this formative group of Knights Templars. The Pistis Sophia consists of lost descriptions of Christ talking with his disciples (11 years after the crucifixion) mostly with Mary Magdalene, about the Story of Sophia. I have found no direct reference to the Templars discovery of a lost Gnostic text however, based on these Gothic images, I suspect that they went to great lengths to hide in plain sight these lost teachings that might one day be uncovered. This thesis proposes that the Templars influenced the designers of Chartres, Notre Dame, Senlis, St. Denis, Sainte-Chapelle, Laon, and others where novel images of "Our Lady" Sophia were hinted at behind the face of Mother Mary. 

“Perhaps the cathedrals were goddess hymns carved in stone, and the ‘Notre Dame’ to whom so many of them were dedicated was really the feminine principle itself – Sophia…”         

        -  The Templar Revelation, Picknett and Prince

Notre Dame
Our Lady of Paris

Built mostly between 1163 - 1260

This article will focus on two key early Gothic Cathedrals; Notre Dame of Paris and Chartres Cathedral. Though Chartres preceded Notre Dame, both include sculpted images that appear to be highly related, or inspired by the same source. 

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Chartres Cathedral
built mostly between 1135 - 1220

It was this image on the tympanum (arched tableau above the doorway) at the left side of the West Main Entrance to Chartres Cathedral that first alerted me that there was likely a correspondence between this stone collage and the Sophianic Mysteries. Since then, many more images have come together that point to this astounding message of Sophia, Christ and their call for us to drop into a more divinely connected Selfhood. I will present these images and corresponding ancient Gnostic texts according to the Creation Story of Sophia presented in Part I of The Divine Spark Within book.

Left West Portal, Chartres Cathedral  ~ 1145

Uncovering the Story of Sophia

Bernard of Clairveaux was instrumental in both the formation of the Knights Templars and the new designs of the Gothic Cathedrals, along with Abbot Suger. Of course, there are various historical veins that run through the development of these windows as well as the Gothic Cathedrals in general. However, we are looking at this thesis that there is a correlation between various cathedral images and the Creation Story of Sophia, especially as it is found in the Pistis Sophia and other early Gnostic texts. Based on this thesis, these Rose Windows appear to be dramatic images of the burst of the Holy Rose itself, known as Pronoia, the High Holy Sophia. 

The Rose Window


Though Romanesque Circular Windows adorned churches for centuries before, the Rose Windows began in 1130 with the new Gothic Cathedrals, starting with St. Denis. This West Rose Window at Chartres Cathedral is the original from the early 13th century. 


West Rose Window, Chartres Cathedral.   ~ 1215

The Great Emanation


From the Unknowable,

Ineffable Source,

All That Is,

Ein Soph,

sprang the Great Emanation.

As this Great Emanation took place, there burst forth a Holy Light that filled the Universe. Or, more precisely, it was the Universe. Though there are three aspects of this original emanation, this feminine aspect is spoken about at length in the Gnostic texts, where hymns of praise are sung to her. If the Ineffable was “Mind,” then this feminine expression was known as “Thought,” called in Greek, Pronoia.

The female Thought equates to the higher aspect of a twofold Sophia and also to the concept of the Holy Spirit. She spreads her beauty throughout the vast regions as a Great Emanation. In the Kabbalah, this equates with the outpouring of Ein Soph, called Sephirot.

“And Its thinking became a thing. She appeared. She stood in Its presence in the brilliance of the light; she is the power which is before the All.”

     - Secret Book of John, Nag Hammadi Library

“She is called by three names, although she exists alone since she is perfect. I am invisible within the thought of the invisible one. I am revealed in the immeasurable, ineffable things. I am intangible, dwelling in the intangible. I move in every creature”

Trimorphic Protennoia, Nag Hammadi Library

North Portal Rose Window, Chartres Cathedral.   ~ 1235 

“She is the spring of the living water."

     - Secret Book of John, Nag Hammadi Library

The Fall of Sophia

“I (Jesus) will tell you the mystery, how this befell her."

- Pistis Sophia:29

Out from this Great Emanation, eventually, the daughter of Pronoia appears, known as Sophia. This is myth and is described in the Gnostic texts as history and is depicted as a consort of Christ. 

“The perfect Savior said: ‘Son of Man consented with Sophia, his consort, and revealed a great androgynous light. His male name is designated ‘Savior, Begetter of All Things.’ His female name is designated ‘All-Begettress Sophia.’ Some call her ‘Pistis’’”.

- Sophia of Jesus Christ, Nag Hammadi Library

There are differing accounts, but based on my "excavations" of these mysteries and what appears in the Second Treatise of the Great Seth (Nag Hammadi Library), Sophia came from the highest heavens down into this lower physical world to build bodily dwellings in which the Children of Light can inhabit. But this plan went awry and she became captured by the Chief Archon, the Demiurge, Christ calls Yaldabaoth, "of whom I have spoken unto you many times."  (Pistis Sophia).

Synagoga, or rather, The Fallen Sophia

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This is a figure called Synagoga (~ 1220), and appears as a huge statue on the right side of the front central entrance to Notre Dame in Paris. The cover story or overt interpretation by the Church is that this refers to the failures of the Synagogue, the Jewish religion. But based on this thesis, I believe that this is a veiled image of the fallen Sophia. Here the lion-headed serpent has stolen Sophia's Light, replacing her fallen crown of sovereign divinity with what could be called the archonic control system. 

"And all the archons of the aeons mocked me. For they have taken my light from me. And my power has begun to decrease within me.
And I lack my light."
- Pistis Sophia:35

“...She went forth from her own region, the thirteenth aeon, and went down to the twelve aeons [outside of the Pleroma]. The rulers of the aeons pursued her and were enraged against her because she was drawn towards grandeur. And she went forth also from the twelve aeons, and came into the regions of the chaos and drew nigh to that lion-faced light-power to devour it. But all the material emanations of Self-willed [Yaldabaoth] surrounded her, and the great lion-faced light-power devoured all the light-powers in Sophia and cleaned out her light and devoured it, and her matter was thrust into the chaos; it became a lion-faced ruler in the chaos, of which one half is fire and the other darkness, that is Yaldabaoth, of whom I have spoken unto you many times.” (PS:31)

Sophia Cries Out to the Christ to Rescue Her

As Sophia is a figure who represents our plight, as we will see below, this idea of rescue is difficult to take in, especially in light of how religion can tend to keep us disempowered by a dependency on a savior figure. However, in the context of this broader Sophianic Creation Story, all of this is quite clearly represented on these Gothic images. 

Christ's Descent

Christ reports that he descended through the regions of the archons to descend into the lower regions to rescue Sophia and also the restore the divine spark in humans.

“For as I came downward, no one saw me. For I was altering my shapes, changing from form to form. And therefore, when I was at [the archon's] gates, I assumed their likeness. For I passed them by quietly, and I was viewing the places, and I was not afraid nor ashamed, for I was undefiled” (ST).

“I am the one who was sent down in the body because of the seed which had fallen away. And I came down into their mortal mold. But they did not recognize me; they were thinking of me that I was a mortal man” (LPP).

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Central Tympanum, Royal Portal, Chartres   ~ 1145

In this image above, Christ has descended through the archonic realms. Though this image is often interpreted to mean the Second Coming, the four figures that surround him correspond to the four Gospels, as seen through the lens of this thesis, these figures are curious, especially with the lower two lion and ox rearing back from him. This may also represent Christ's descent through these regions to rescue Sophia from the archons. 

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Central pillar South Entrance at Chartres Cathedral.   ~ 1200's

Here is an odd depiction of Christ standing on the heads of a lion and a lion-headed serpent. This is the same image that appears at Notre Dame as well as on Amiens Cathedrals. So similar are they, that it is reasonable to assume that they were inspired by the same original design. The lion-headed serpent is one description given of this lead archon, the demiurge, who trapped and tyrannized Sophia.

“And the lion-faced power and the serpent-form and the basilisk-form and the dragon-form and all the other very numerous emanations of Self-willed surrounded Pistis Sophia all together, desiring to take from her anew her powers in her, and they oppressed Pistis Sophia exceedingly and threatened her. It came to pass then, when they oppressed her and alarmed her exceedingly, that she cried again to the Light and sang praises, saying: ‘O Light, it is thou who hast helped me; let thy light come over me’” (PS:66).

In an astounding section of the Pistis Sophia, in front of his disciples, Christ ascends to the highers region of the "First Mystery" to throw the archons into chaos. As well, he also causes the diviners of lower powers to get purposely confused messages from the Region of the Right which throws their divination into disarray. Though this image has been passed off as being one of the Second Coming, this composite of unique scenes corresponds closely with the Pistis Sophia text.

"It came to pass then, when that light-power had come down over Jesus, that it gradually surrounded him entirely. Then Jesus ascended or soared into the height, shining most exceedingly in an immeasurable light."
-  Pistis Sophia:3

"And all their (archons') bonds were unloosed and their regions and their orders; and every one left his order, and they fell down all together, adored before me, or before my vesture, and all sang praises to the interiors, being in great fear and great agitation."  (PS:13)

“But now I have made them spend six months turned to the left and six months turned to the right.” (PS:21)

Left entrance of the West Portal, Chartres Cathedral.  ~ 1145

Christ ascended to the First Mystery where he received his Vesture, his Robe of Glory.

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South Portal, Chartres Cathedral   ~ 1200's

(horizontal crossbar seems to be missing)

"Rejoice and exult and add joy to your joy, for the times are completed for me to put on my Vesture, which hath been prepared for me from the beginning, which I left behind in the last mystery until the time of its completion. 

- Pists Sophia:8

The Crowning of Sophia with a Wreath of Light

The Coronation of the Virgin theme is one of the most prominent in the early French Gothic cathedrals. Though it may seem like this theme of the crowning of Mary, the Queen of Heaven has been around since the early days of Christianity, I have not found any clear reference to this theme prior to these Gothic images. It was like, suddenly, out of nowhere, this scene of Christ crowning Mary was placed front and center on many of these cathedral entrances. On our trip to Europe in the summer of 2023, Diana and I visited many of these scenes, such as at Senlis Cathedral, where there is the oldest surviving original images in France, being the sole main scene featured at the main entrance. 

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Senlis Cathedral with Diana in front

Coronation of the Virgin

Senlis Cathedral  ~ 1160

"And Jesus continued again in the discourse and said unto his disciples: 'It came to pass then, when Pistis Sophia had finished saying these words in the chaos, that I made the light-power, which I had sent to save her, become a light-wreath on her head, so that from now on the emanations of Self-willed could not have dominion over her. And when it had become a light-wreath round her head, all the evil matters in her were shaken and all were purified in her. They perished and remained in the chaos, while the emanations of Self-willed gazed upon them and rejoiced. And the purification of the pure light which was in Pistis Sophia, gave power to the light of my light-power, which had become a wreath round her head.'"

- Pistis Sophia:59

If we are seeing this image mythologically, or psycho-spiritually, it appears to be an activation of some form of vibrational frequency connected with Higher Divine Light that enables not only Sophia, but us as well to become immune from the nefarious leeching energies of the archons.

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Coronation of the Virgin, Notre Dame Paris  ~ 1220

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Coronation of the Virgin, Chartres Cathedral   ~ 1204 - 1210

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Coronation of the Virgin, Laon Cathedral ~ 1190

"The Light hath become a wreath round my head and I shall not depart from it, so that the emanations of Self-willed (Yaldabaoth) may not rob it from me. For the Light is with me, and I myself am with the Light."  

- Pistis Sophia:59

The Rescued Sophia

Sophia has had her Light restored to her, with the placing of the Wreath of Light. She has been lifted up out from the regions of the archons into the 13th aeon, or, according to the Secret Book of John, the 9th Heaven. This grand sculpture is found on the opposite side of the "Synagoga" figure at the main entrance to Notre Dame Paris. She is known as "Ecclesia," referring to the triumph of the Christian church community, but rather, I suspect that this is a stand in for the figure of Sophia, after having her crown restored by the Christ, holding what could be a Holy Grail, a theme associated with the Knights Templars that emerged in France during this time period. 

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Ecclesia. Notre Dame Paris ~ 1220

The Region of the Right and Region of the Left

Christ taught in his mystery teachings that he came from the higher regions which he termed the Region of the Right. He then descended to the lower worlds of chaos he called the Region of the Left. On the front West portal to Notre Dame Paris as well as on the South Portal of Chartres, this cosmological spread is laid out. In this, he is also pointing us to how we can focus our attention towards the higher regions of Light, and not get pulled in by the archonic systems of the Left. 

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Central West Portal, Notre Dame ~ 1220 

The Notre Dame Cathedrals are temples to the Divine Mother. Situated according to Christ's left and right, this is the orientation to understand the layout of this cosmology. Facing this entrance, Synagoga, or rather, the trapped Sophia, is on the right. However, as seen from Christ's point of view, she would be positioned in the Region of the Left. Juxtaposed to this is Ecclesia, or rather the Rescued Sophia, who is seen in her exalted position in the Region of the Right. 

Looking more closely at the image above the central pillar is a clear illustration of these two regions.  


Region of the Right                          Region of the Left

Notre Dame, Central West Portal

Here we can see how on the left (Region of the Right) the adepts are looking up at the Christ, at the divine realms. On the right side, (Region of the Left), people are being lurred into lower spiritual consciousness, where negative emotions and energies are used to feed the archons own selfish appetites. Below is the same configuration at Chartres South Portal.

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Region of the Right, Chartres  ~ 1200's

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Region of the Left, Chartres

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Region of the Left, close up, Chartres

“And as it is Wisdom in ‘harmony,’ there are those on the Right and those on the Left-powers, authorities, principalities, and daemons, … and the Lower Root from which hath come forth the things in genesis. This, then, is the cross which by the Word hath been the means of ‘cross-beaming’ all things – at the same time separating off the things that proceed from genesis and those below it… ”

- Acts of John

This Cross of Light theme must have been part of the Christ's mystery teachings, as suggested by this Acts of John

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Greeting the pilgrim as she enters in through the main doors of one of the greatest of the Catholic Notre Dame Cathedrals, is this central pillar. Christ is standing over the lion headed serpent, with the fallen Sophia on his left and the Rescued Sophia on his Right. Below him is a most significant message. She is called Mother Alchemy, because of the numerous alchemical images found on the front of Notre Dame. But she may well be expressing the message of Sophia with the ladder inviting us to rise through the gates of the archonic system to meet her. 

Central Pillar, Notre Dame

 Mother Alchemy, Notre Dame Paris.  ~ 1220

Our Holy Embodiment

Following this thesis, it is the Madonna herself who represents the more meta divine form of Sophia. On these early Gothic cathedrals, she is sitting with child on her lap, who is holding up two fingers. As I explored in my book, and outlined by Tabor in his book Jesus and Paul, this represents the Second Adam, or the restoration of the original plan that was seeded by Sophia of the planting of bodily dwellings, but which went awry with the interference by the archons. The Sophia Project, or the Christ Drama is all working to help us get to back on track and to inform us of the broader cosmology, the Creation Story of our origins, in order to help get us back into alignment with our truer nature. 


These images of Mary and Child on Notre Dame and Chartres, in her Sedes Sapientiae or Throne of Wisdom pose, was clearly inspired by the wooden figure currently on display in the crypt at Chartres Cathedral. Legend has it that this was found in the second century BC, placed there by the Druids as was often done at the site of sacred springs. And yet, following this theory, this may correspond to how the Christ child represents the renewal of the human form as its divine nature is activated after having been downgraded by the archonic control system. In this image, as with all of the sculpted images of Christ, he is holding a book, often seen as representing the Bible. But is it? 

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Virgin and Child, Crypt, Chartres Cathedral

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Sophia and the Holy Embodiment, Notre Dame. ~ 1145 - 1155

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Sophia and the Holy Embodiment, Chartres. ~1145

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Sedes Sapientiae, the Throne of Sophia   ~ 1180

“For those who were in the world had been prepared by the will of our sister Sophia…because of the innocence which has not been uttered. And she did not ask anything from the All, nor from the greatness of the Assembly, nor from the Pleroma. Since she was first, she came forth to prepare monads and places for the Son of Light and the fellow workers which she took from the elements below to build bodily dwellings from them. But, having come into being in an empty glory, they ended in destruction in the dwellings in which they were, since they were prepared by Sophia.”

       - Second Treatise of the Great Seth, Nag Hammadi Library

“Man, here below, born from blood, is the dwelling, and the Boundless Power dwells in him.” 

     - The Great Revelation, attributed to Simon Magus

The Pineal Staff - The Divine Spark Within

In a number of images with Christ and the Mary-Sophia, they are holding a staff with a pineal shape at the top. This could have identifications with earlier Greek mythological motifs. However, given the throughline of this thesis, I suspect it has to do with the process of Holy Embodiment. It may refer to a process of activation of the pineal gland, some call the seat of the soul. Or it could even be an image of our Divine Spark that mystery seed of original Light that is latent within us. Notice the position of the pineal as often being on the same parallel as the pineal gland in the center of the third eye region. 

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Notre Dame

Notre Dame

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Laon Cathedral

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Notre Dame

The Voice of Sophia

I move in everyone and I delve into them all.

I walk uprightly, and those who sleep, I awaken…

And I am inviting you into the exalted, perfect Light.

It is a mystery; it is unrestrainable by the Incomprehensible One.

It is invisible to all those who are visible in the All.

It is a Light dwelling in Light.

“It is a hidden Light, bearing a fruit of life,

pouring forth a living water from the invisible,

unpolluted, immeasurable spring, that is,

the unreproducible Voice of the glory of the Mother,

the glory of the offspring of God…” 

     - Trimorphic Protennoia, Nag Hammadi Library

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