Baptism was an important sacrament for many ancient gnostics, who found in the reflecting waters of the baptismal pool a ready symbol for the illusory surface-existence of life.
With baptism, the gnostic initiate penetrates the shimmering mask of the material universe to be submerged in the reality of the pleroma, the invisible, all-enveloping, ever-present and eternal spiritual plane of which this world is but a fragile, fleeting parody:
“And as soon as Christ went down into the water, he came out laughing at everything of this world, not because he considers it a trifle, but because he is full of contempt for it. He who wants to enter the Kingdom of Heaven will attain it. If he despises everything of this world and scorns it as a trifle, he will come out laughing.”
(The Apostle Philip, the Gospel of Philip, before A.D. 165, from Willis Barnstone’s the Other Bible, 96)