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The Gnostic term Barbelo refers to the first emanation of the Absolute. She is variously referred to as Thought, Providence, Forethought, or Foreknowledge.

In the Apocryphon of John, a tractate in the Nag Hammadi Library, Barbelo is described as "The first power, the glory, Barbelo, the perfect glory in the aions, the glory of the revelation."

The Apocryphon of John continues:

"This is the first thought, his image; she became the womb of everything, for it is she who is prior to them all, the Mother-Father, the first man (Anthropos), the holy Spirit, the thrice-male, the thrice-powerful, the thrice-named androgynous one, and the eternal aeon among the invisible ones, and the first to come forth."

Relation to other systems of thought

The Gnostic account of Barbelo is quite similar to Tantric thought. In Kashmir Shaivism, Shakti is similarly the second Tattva or first emanation of Shiva.

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