Norea (Noria) is a figure that pops up in various Gnostic texts. The most popular Norea text is titled “The Thought of Norea” and is presented as a prayer in the third person to the Monad. If you haven’t read it, here it is:
Father of All, Ennoia of the Light, dwelling in the heights above the (regions) below, Light dwelling in the heights, Voice of Truth, upright Nous, untouchable Logos, and ineffable Voice, incomprehensible Father! It is Norea who cries out to them. They heard, (and) they received her into her place forever. They gave it to her in the Father of Nous, Adamas, as well as the voice of the Holy Ones, in order that she might rest in the ineffable Epinoia, in order that <she> might inherit the first mind which <she> had received, and that <she> might rest in the divine Autogenes, and that she (too) might generate herself, just as she also has inherited the living Logos, and that she might be joined to all of the Imperishable Ones, and speak with the mind of the Father. And she began to speak with the words of Life, and <she> remained in the presence of the Exalted One, possessing that which she had received before the world came into being. She has the great mind of the Invisible One, and she gives glory to <her> Father, and she dwells within those who [...] within the Pleroma, and she beholds the Pleroma. There will be days when she will behold the Pleroma, and she will not be in deficiency, for she has the four holy helpers who intercede on her behalf with the Father of the All, Adamas. He it is who is within all of the Adams, possessing the thought of Norea, who speaks concerning the two names which create a single name.
Norea takes on various roles in the “Gnostic” cosmology. She is sometimes portrayed as the daughter of Eve, sometimes as the syzygy of Adam, or the personification of Sophia in her fallen state, and finally as the wife of Noah. For this particular post, I am going with the Noah’s wife narrative.
Unfortunately this story is lost (or as I would like to say, not yet discovered, as I like to keep hope in these matters!). The only description of this comes from Epiphanius of Salamis in his Panarion work against heresies. In his section regarding the Gnostics (and I mean that in regards to the actual Gnostic sect), whom he says they are also known as Borborites, Epiphanius mentions several of their texts such as “Noria”, “Gospel of Eve”, “Gospel of Perfection”, “Gospel of Philip”, “Apocalypse of Adam”, “Greater Questions of Mary”, etc…. I look forward to posting about some of these other texts in the future. For “Noria”, he dedicates a page towards the book. He claims the group identified Noria with the Greek figure, Pyrrha of Thessaly. Then he goes on to state the following:
Then these people who are presenting us with Philistion’s mimes all over again give a reason why Noria was not allowed to join Noah in the ark, though she often wanted to. The archon who made the world, they say, wanted to destroy her in the flood with all the rest. But they say that she sat down in the ark and burned it a first and a second time, and a third. And this is why the building of Noah’s own ark took many years—it was burned many times by Noria. For Noah was obedient to the archon, they say, but Noria revealed the powers on high and Barbelo the scion of the powers, who was the archon’s opponent as the other powers are. And she let it be known that what has been stolen from the Mother on high by the archon who made the world, and by the other gods, demons and angels with him, must be gathered from the power in bodies, through the male and female emissions.
Like other gnostic texts, what is presented here is another retelling of a story but this time of Noah and the ark. We have Yaldabaoth wanting to destroy Norea in the flood with the rest of humanity but she kept burning the ark down numerous times. Norea is portrayed as being a follower of Barbelo and it’s mentioned how Yaldabaoth and his minions have taken power from the Mother. Now in some tales it is Sophia he takes from, but here it is Barbelo. Technically Barbelo is the source of everything (except the Monad) so this falls in line with traditional thought. The last sentence is pretty interesting, especially the phrase “through the male and female emissions”. The Borborites, per Epiphanius, were very sex based in their rituals / beliefs and this phrase here states how the power that lies within humans come from their “emissions”. The mixture of such would be what creates human life after all.
Now is this text really lost though? What about “The Hypostasis of the Archons”, aka “Reality of the Rulers” from the NHL? Let’s see what it states regarding Norea and the ark incident:
Again Eve became pregnant, and she bore Norea. And she said, "He has begotten on me a virgin as an assistance for many generations of mankind." She is the virgin whom the forces did not defile. Then mankind began to multiply and improve. The rulers took counsel with one another and said, "Come, let us cause a deluge with our hands and obliterate all flesh, from man to beast." But when the ruler of the forces came to know of their decision, he said to Noah, "Make yourself an ark from some wood that does not rot and hide in it - you and your children and the beasts and the birds of heaven from small to large – and set it upon Mount Sir." Then Norea came to him, wanting to board the ark. And when he would not let her, she blew upon the ark and caused it to be consumed by fire. Again he made the ark, for a second time. The rulers went to meet her, intending to lead her astray. Their supreme chief said to her, "Your mother Eve came to us." But Norea turned to them and said to them, "It is you who are the rulers of the darkness; you are accursed. And you did not know my mother; instead it was your female counterpart that you knew. For I am not your descendant; rather it is from the world above that I am come." The arrogant ruler turned, with all his might, and his countenance came to be like (a) black [...]; he said to her presumptuously, "You must render service to us, as did also your mother Eve; for I have been given [...]." But Norea turned, with the might of [...]; and in a loud voice, she cried out up to the holy one, the God of the entirety, "Rescue me from the rulers of unrighteousness and save me from their clutches - forthwith!" The (great) angel came down from the heavens and said to her, "Why are you crying up to God? Why do you act so boldly towards the holy spirit?" Norea said, "Who are you?" The rulers of unrighteousness had withdrawn from her. He said, "It is I who am Eleleth, sagacity, the great angel who stands in the presence of the holy spirit. I have been sent to speak with you and save you from the grasp of the lawless. And I shall teach you about your root." (Norea apparently now speaking) Now as for that angel, I cannot speak of his power: his appearance is like fine gold and his raiment is like snow. No, truly, my mouth cannot bear to speak of his power and the appearance of his face!
So is this the same story? In a sense, yes. Now we have had other instances where a story is told in a gnostic text and retold in another, but with differences (the fall of Sophia being one such example). There is no mention of Barbelo in this story, though that could be due to a translation / copy error. Personally I like to think there is a different Norea text out there.
Midjourney artwork based on Norea burning the ark.
Thought of Norea: http://gnosis.org/naghamm/nore.html
Pyrrha of Thessaly: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyrrha_of_Thessaly
Hypostasis of the Archons: http://gnosis.org/naghamm/hypostas.html