Growing into the Gnostic Circle
One Woman's Story

by Patricia Heidt ©2003

FIRST, SOME IMAGES Take a deep breath, sit quietly for a moment and picture all people on earth in peace with one another... They are filled with knowledge, gnostic beings, who know and fulfill their great purpose for being on this earth... Their bodies, hearts and minds are strong and supple... there is a luminous core radiating from their being...

See our home, planet earth, breathing safely... expanding and contracting... offering all her gifts to her living creatures, and receiving in return their respect and care... the core of our earth's being has been unveiled, there is a release of energy and power that is extraordinary...

And imagine the Divine Godhead, as the Sun, with all of us as planets and galaxies of stars moving around the yearly cycle of the heavenly ellipse, receiving from this inexhaustible Sun all the energy needed for our being... We in return, acknowledge and reflect this transcendent Divinity as the seed and source of all that we are...

See these three - all men and women, their home on earth, and the Divine Sun - as a basic triangle... each part balancing the other in perfect harmony... All evolve toward their ideal goal together... all journey through the long cycles and stages of transformation together, unfolding the new way... See a new symbol emerging for this path... the 9 planets and the 12 signs of the zodiac, circling an inner sacred triangle ... in the center the zero, the sacred fullness...


The accompanying diagram (see Link) is the visual symbol of these images. I had been searching for THE GNOSTIC CIRCLE for a long time, perhaps longer than I knew. I found it in the USA in the mid 80's, but I had to come to India to live it. My teacher lived here. She said I couldn't just use the symbol, I had to grow into it. ‘It must be your philosopher's stone, your stable constant. You are part of the new world that is being born - and there is a new symbol.'

I knew about some symbols. I had a crucifix over my bed as a child and on the bedstand a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary. I wore St. Christopher's medal and attended Mass on Sundays. When I graduated from High School I became a religious sister, and we lived our days patterned after the life of Christ. Many years later I left those symbols and that life, but not the search, not the journey.

What did it mean to grow into the Gnostic Circle? In the beginning, it started with the idea of expanding my personal boundaries, tuning into a new cosmology: what is this world, what is my purpose here? ‘If there is one word which would characterizes our times now it would be universalization', my teacher explained

‘We need a universal language, known by everyone; the changes happening now apply to all people, living in all parts of the world. We need a new seeing.'

Thea was very concerned regarding what she called the goal or the direction which traditional religions took. As a child in Catholic school, I had often repeated from the catechism, the answer to the question: Why did God make you? ‘To know him, to love him and to serve him here on earth, and to be happy with him forever in Heaven', was the response. And to me, heaven was some place up there, away from the earth.

The same thing happens in Buddhism, she said; enlightenment is achieved by the seeker liberating him or herself from the wheel of karma and finding a way out of ‘earth-time' into a timeless and formless void. ‘What madness', she added; ‘spending a lifetime to find one's self and in the end to obliterate it. And how does this help the earth?'

Thea felt there was a great misunderstanding at the root of religions; none follow the true and only direction, inward. ‘Even here in India some of the great spiritual paths lead their seekers to escape into the Transcendent. This is done in such a magnificent way it is hard to convince people there can be any other way', she explained. ‘And this has been happening for over 2000 years!'

The new seeing is an unveiling process. Spirituality is like science, she taught us; it is a progressive movement, a continuous unfolding of divine knowledge. It is as if the Divine falls asleep in the plunge to earth and at the heart of creation is this slumbering Eye. The purpose of evolution is the awakening of that Eye. If we are to achieve our goal, a divine life here on earth, she explained, that EYE cannot be diverted outward. It is in the centre of the earth, and in the centre of the soul of humankind that the Divine progressively awakens to him/herself.

The Earth and its peoples will transform from a human life into a divine life; from a life where the end state is death, to a life that is immortal. The Gnostic Circle shows us that the journey begins here on Earth, and it is here also that the transformation takes place.


A triangle lies in the center of the symbol with the numbers 9, 6, and 3 at each of the angles and the 0 in the centre. The nine is the Divine, the six is the Cosmos and the three is the individual Person - the three basic structures of all spiritual systems. Nine, Six and Three in that order of descent also indicates the formless Transcendent Divine coming into Earth, and into the soul of the individual, making time and form manifest. The Zero at the centre of the symbol is where the One emerges, the Immanent Transcendent - the source of the new being and a new consciousness, the future race of gnostic people.

In her autobiography, Thea wrote that one of her most important realizations in the early 70's was the wholeness and integrality of numbers. During her period of Initiation with the Mother, she asked her the meaning of the nine, and was told ‘it is creation in matter'. What followed was not only a deep realization of the nine, but this also opened up the meaning of the zero.

She saw that the number scale was zero to nine, not one to ten, as had been taught in all other esoteric teachings. And once she had this knowledge, she was given the key to the Gnostic Circle. Thea wrote: "...Symbols were no longer abstract figures; they lived. There was no separation between what they stood for and the actual figure. I had penetrated a realm in which these separations do not exist... I had reached the Source of every symbol, of everything in creation in fact. And that source was the Divine Mother. (1)

After this experience she discovered what she called the Map of the 12 Manifestations. (2) Once she could chart the Ages of Man, then the dates and appearances of the evolutionary avatars on earth were possible, as well as their mission during their incarnations. The avatar is not the founder of a new religion, she told us, ‘he/she is the seed of a new movement, a greater expression and realization of the Divine'.

The feats of Sri Ram and Sri Krishna - the avatars of the 7th and 8th Ages - are well known to the Indian people and they are celebrated all over the nation. What Thea added was the knowledge about this 9th Age of man, and the fact that the work of the Avatars was carried out over a definite period of time by four incarnations. Sri Aurobindo and the Mother of Pondicherry were born during the latter part of the Piscean Age - they are the Transcendent ( 9) and Cosmic (6) energies; Thea, born at the beginning of the Aquarian Age, is the Individual (the 3) in the triangle. The fourth incarnation (the 0) is the 9 reborn as the One, making the 9 and the 0 equal. We see, by this, the ancient symbol of the serpent biting its tail; with this descent, the circle is complete.


When I found the Gnostic Circle in February of l985, I was married and had finished my PhD at New York University. I was teaching and working as a psychotherapist in New York City. On the third of November of the preceding year I'd celebrated my 50th birthday with family and friends. I remember feeling satisfied with my life, having accomplished many of my professional and personal goals. On the surface, I felt happy. Down inside, I wanted to know what was the purpose of my life in the many years ahead of me.

And further down, there was unrest. It was hard for me to just be. Looking back, I must have sent out a big call to the Divine. When a friend suggested I meet one of Thea's students, who had been with her in India, I was ready. On that snowy February day in her home, she showed me the book which contained inside it the large diagram of the symbol.

I went home and began to read THE MAGICAL CAROUSEL, a story of two children who find themselves speeding toward the sun, in their rocket, named Fritz. They embark on a journey, which starts in Aries-land, the first sign/place of the zodiac and ‘follow the sun' through each of the twelve signs-lands. Thea wrote in the commentaries of this text that "...The symbol-images of the zodiac are all the different aspects of the Divine Consciousness, or the Absolute in manifestation. ...The Supreme is no longer outside of creation but is revealed as its most intimate part, through the evolving consciousness of the human being."(3) In this story, she said, there is no mention of a stern creator above, looking down on his sinful children, or of a God or heaven or hell, none of the traditional stories that have become a part of our particular religious belief systems.

In Chapter 10, the children enter the tenth sign of the zodiac, or Capricorn-land, the sign of the mountain, material creation. They are directed to go deep inside, into the cave of the mountain. It is here they meet the time-spirit, and their initiation begins: alone, face to face with the Divine they must forge their own stable constant, that centre or core of inner truth.

Capricorn is the sign that starts the last of the four quarters of the zodiacal journey, the spiritual plane. The children have reached the summit and it is here that I saw that the story and reality are the same: it is towards Capricorn that the planet earth now moves, toward that ‘Golden Age', when we will know the full truth. The children are the first travelers on the path; we must follow them. And the direction of the journey, they show us, is deep into the mountain.

Some time later I started reading what Sri Aurobindo wrote about the evolution of humankind. He saw that a great change was needed in the direction or the goal of traditional yogic quests; our lives needed to be transformed by what he called ‘Integral Yoga'. Indian yogis of the past focused on dissolving the mind and finding a static peace, or the Brahman consciousness. There was no need to deal with all parts of their human nature, or focus on the earth, because after all, they were eventually going to leave their bodies and their cosmic home. Through his yoga, he unlocked the key to the Rig Veda, one of the oldest spiritual texts in the world. Describing the progress of the human soul evolving from man to superman as a journey, a pilgrimage and a battle, he wrote, it is "a travel toward the gods." (4) The Vedic journey was done in twelve stages - our earth year of twelve months; it moved through the four planes of consciousness - from the physical, emotional, mental to the highest summit of the spiritual - our four seasons marked by the four Cardinal points of the earth.

I began to see now what Sri Aurobindo and Thea were getting at. For the Vedic seers, the earth measure IS the divine measure. And the Vedic ‘sacrifice' or journey in twelve stages through four planes of consciousness, is our journey as well. It does not stop at the mental level of development. There was no need to deal with all parts of their human nature, or to focus on the earth, because after all, they were eventually going to leave their bodies and their cosmic home.

These realizers saw that at the core of our being was the compressed divine seed, hidden, veiled, perhaps lost, and their hymns expressed this in such similes as the rays of the sun that were darkened, or as lost cows hidden in a cave. They needed to be found and liberated. It is the Divine Agni who is hidden in the core of our being, their hymns sang out; it is he who leads the march or drives the evolution; it is he who releases the penned in cows or finds the lost rays of the sun.


When the Gnostic Circle first came to me, I was working as a psychotherapist. After I'd left my religious community, I felt lonely and in need of maturing on an emotional level; psychotherapy offered me that personal growth and healing. Later, I was able to give this kind of healing relationship to my clients. But as I grew into the Gnostic Circle, Thea explained the differences between psychotherapy and yoga, between ‘the patterns of a lower and higher destiny'. Psychotherapy helps to form and/or heal the ego; it facilitates our growth into a separate and conscious person, distinct from others. In my case, therapy was necessary for living a more successful daily life or a ‘lower pattern of destiny'. Therapy is effective ‘to cushion the human being into acceptance of our limited being', she told me; but cautioned that at a certain point it would be a hindrance. I needed to find something more than the small personal self, or the ego. A rational mind and healed emotions were not the end goal of my search. ‘Psychotherapy cannot resolve that inner unrest,' Thea explained, 'the void at the centre of your being'. But these kinds of therapies had done their job well, she added; the deeper levels of the psyche had been stirred to such a pitch that people are at the level where they felt dissatisfaction with the present human condition and were aware of the need for something more.

Regarding our anxiety and suffering, it is not that we are a sinful people, in need of salvation by a Savior. It is rather that we have not yet found those ‘rays of the Sun' which could give us the complete knowledge or truth of our being. It is ‘ignorance' which lies at the base of our dilemma; we've only traveled so far on the journey. Time is the key. As the human being is now in the evolutionary scale, a void is in the center of our being, and as a result, we use many ways to escape the dis-ease we feel. ‘The future goal of a divine life here on earth, or a higher destiny, needs a completely new process', she taught us; ‘a keener instrument than mind or ego is needed for the next part of the journey'. Because the Avatars were now working on earth, it was a sign that it was time for this ‘collective leap' to take place.

It took awhile for all this to sink in. Since I'd completely rejected religion, I was banking on therapy to help me. In an early letter to her I wrote that I was so busy trying to help myself and the earth, that I had no time for the Divine, implying that I certainly did not see any purpose or value in the spiritual paths I knew. They had not gotten us anywhere; they had not resolved our inner dilemma or our outer problems of war. To Thea, this was the real crux of my problem. I was out on a limb, separate from the Divine, enamored of my own way. I would write her of my ideas about spirituality, send her the psychology books I liked, and try to convince her of their value. In response, she would start out by writing the merits of these different healing modalities - their strong points, and their limitations. But inevitably she came down to the fact that in all these quests the individual was at the centre of the circle; just like in the old earth-centered astrology, the person is placed in the centre. The new times demanded a new cosmology.

The image of the solar system was her model, with all planets harmoniously circling the luminous Sun in the centre. It is not possible for one of the planets in our Solar System to do its own thing, to stray off on its own path. Each one had its unique properties and individual beauty in relationship to the Sun, not to mention the fact that it is utterly dependent on this giant orb for its very existence. Or she would refer to the shruti, the musical note or ‘drone' used in South Indian ragas to set the mood or scale. All members of the ensemble played their instruments in tune with that background pulse. Growing into the Gnostic Circle meant seeing the uninterrupted flow of time, and the tremendous beauty and power of the earth. It meant seeing the descent of knowledge from the highest planes of consciousness into earth time, via the powers of the 9-6-3-0 incarnations. Thea wrote to me that: "The number Zero, or the Sun in the centre of the Gnostic Circle is the Core. Nothing can change in ourselves and hence civilization unless actions stem from a Core, and this is the essence of the message I have to give out. The Core is the great secret... my task is to realize that... (5)

As my understanding deepened, I felt as though I wanted to sing out, just as the ancient seers did. Despite the chaos erupting all over the earth, this was really a time of great hope. The dissolution we see all around us of the old structures is appropriate, perhaps necessary. A great ‘reversal' has taken place; the stranglehold of the past has been broken and the victory of a new way is ensured.

1. Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet. TENTH DAY OF VICTORY. Aeon Books, 2003, in print.
2. Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet. THE GNOSTIC CIRCLE. Aeon Books, l994, p. 50.
3. Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet. THE MAGICAL CAROUSEL and COMMENTARIES. Aeon Books, l979, pp. 12-13.
4. Sri Aurobindo. HYMNS TO THE MYSTIC FIRE. Sri Aurobindo Ashram, l971, pp 28-29.
5. Patrizia Norelli-Bachelet. THE SACRED FULLNESS: LETTERS FROM MY TEACHER - Publication pending.

Patricia R Heidt, Ph.D is a resident-student at Aeon Centre of Cosmology in South India.
21 October, 2006