From the Greek meaning “authority,” it is from the same root as “archangel.” In Gnostic belief, the Archons were planetary rulers with various spheres or planes of control. In Gnosticism, while you are alive, they prevent you from focusing on spiritual development. When you die, they prevent you from traveling to God. The only way to get past them is via the recitation of certain magickal formulas. Thus, having the sacred knowledge allows you to reach God, a concept which may be a metaphor for Gnostic practices.