The Ophites (from the Greek word ophis, “serpent”) reinterpreted the mythological theme of the Fall of Man in Genesis. According to the Ophite view, the serpent of the Garden of Eden wanted Adam and Eve, the first man and woman, to eat from the tree of knowledge (gnosis) so that they would know their true identities and “be like God” (Genesis 3:5). The serpent, thus, is interpreted as a messenger of the spiritual god, and the one who wanted to prevent Adam and Eve from eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge is viewed as the Demiurge. In their rejection of the God of the Old Testament, who gave the Ten Commandments, the Ophites flaunted their sexual freedom from the law and conventionality by extreme sexual license, a trait common to other Gnostic groups as well.

The Phibionites in Alexandria were a Gnostic sect described by St. Epiphanius of Salamis. They gathered at banquets that became ecstatic orgies. Married couples changed partners for dramatic sexual performances. Sperm and menstrual blood were gathered and offered as a gift to God before being consumed as the Body and Blood of Christ. By such erotic communions they sought to re-gather the elements of the world-soul (psyche) from the material forms into which it had been dispersed through a cosmic tragedy at the beginning of time. The re-gathering amounted to salvation, for all things would be gathered up into the one glorious body of Christ.