Sophia as Divine Wisdom and Higher Mind

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‘If you want to be spiritual, ask uncomfortable questions,’

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Dearest goddesses, gods and fellow seekers (and why not?),

goddessI would like to extend a warm welcome to our new friends who have joined us recently from different parts of the world, as well as the brave Jungians from Sydney who signed up after my recent talk there. Thank you for being such a fantastic, tuned-in and insightful audience, and thank you for keeping me on my feet J. This newsletter is open to your suggestions for topics, formats and art, as it is still very much open to experimentation. We do not want to confirm or, worse still, create, any dogma here, but rather wish to explore spiritual questions, longings, stories and methods used in the past and still used in circles of independent seekers. Curiously, while reading about religions across the ages, those past and those still around, I can’t help but notice many similarities, which suggests that on the universal level of the soul – we are one. Indeed, it seems we have encoded in our subconscious memory some sort of spiritual DNA. In the past, when I was attached to the belief that only one religion could be correct (e.g. the one that I followed), I felt threatened by these ancient and constantly repeating stories. I was afraid that the unique story of salvation I had been told – had lost its … well … uniqueness. But sometimes when we are confronted with new evidence (and this includes spiritual evidence) we need to shift our thinking about it.  Time after time, when I have begun experimenting and practising with different religious traditions, I have learned that if something challenges me at the deepest level,  it is not because that thing is wrong. It is because I have become stuck in my expectations about how things should be and what divine story should be told. I have learned since then that this feeling of challenge is a prerequisite to growth, and that we cannot grow without changing our thinking about our lives and the place of any spiritual experiences in our lives. Thus I hope we are ready to be challenged a little so we can all learn, discuss, and hopefully grow together. And, importantly, that we enjoy growing together in this forum.

Sophia as EveIn July’s newsletter I would like to focus on the topic of Sophia. I already mentioned her briefly in the earlier newsletter ‘Two Secret Traditions: Gnosis and Tantra’.  The topic of Sophia is very close to my heart because it deals with the rejected feminine in our belief systems. But, as Carl Jung says, nothing can be rejected forever, and what is repressed will eventually come out – both symbolically and literally. An example of the repressed and buried coming back to the surface in a literal, physical way were the discoveries of Gnostic documents in Nag Hammadi in 1945 and of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947, and even earlier the uncovering of Gnostic documents such as The Gospel of Mary Magdalene in the 19th century. All of these discoveries point us in the direction of a less-dogmatised spirituality and, in some cases, of the repressed divine feminine.

Symbolically speaking, repressed material comes up in our unconscious – in our dreams, Sophia 1  day-dreams, in our half-remembered memories. This would not be so surprising on an individual level but it is truly magnificent on the collective level – when all of humanity starts to remember something! And now, in our time, large parts of humanity are seemingly remembering the goddess or some aspects of the divine which are missing in our lives and were represented in ancient myths and religions as the goddess. We are beginning to awaken to this goddess and beginning to wonder who she is and where she is. It might start as a simple curiosity, a strange blog read in a rush, or a longing. The mystics of all religions spoke of this longing – the longing for the divine. And now we long for the goddess, for the lost aspect of the divine, for the lost aspect of our own personal lives.  We know that something is missing and that the materialistic world in which we live and which we are told is the only one does not give us a full story. It may even mask a very important story in our lives. It is almost as we wake from a limiting dream and want to spread our wings but we are not sure how. Does this sound familiar?  Let’s look at Sophia in mythical, philosophical and personal terms.

In mythical terms

Sophia 6There is one particular story of Sophia, which illustrates this feeling in mythical terms.  Sophia, also known as the Holy Wisdom of God or Divine Wisdom, was known in Christianity as the Holy Spirit (after translation into Latin she ceased being called Sophia and was called Spiritus Sanctus) or the aspect of Wisdom of God. But in this translation something beautiful, something feminine, was lost. She was the bestower of Grace, or in Hindu terms, the bestower of Shakti.  Indeed, she is the Grace, she is the Shakti, and the mystics, as well as those initiated into different Sophia/Shakti traditions, know this as the ecstatic union with the divine, when we perceive the Universe to be as one with us. In Western religious traditions the story of Sophia has been told many times and it is always a story of loss. Sophia is represented as the wisdom, the light of God who descended to Earth to bring knowledge and to bring light, but instead fell into corporeal matter. She fell into our earthly concerns and attachments, and either forgot who she was completely or remembered who she was but had no means to return to her previous glory. In some stories she forgets herself and we forget her so much that she is forced to prostitute herself. She is forced to sell herself for a living – not necessarily literally but perhaps symbolically. She sells her life for material goods, for material success, and for the trapping of our diminished selves.

There are Gnostic stories of Sophia – under the new name of Helena – who was the  Sensual Sophiapartner of Simon the Magician, a charismatic man/saint/alchemist who lived in Jesus’ time and met him. Simon is also described in the Bible, though not in very complimentary terms. Mary Magdalene was considered by some Gnostics to be Jesus’ Sophia. In mythical terms, she is always seen as the partner of a sage, she is his wisdom and also often his beautiful and sensual partner (more of this in the coming blogs when we discuss elements of the spiritual Tantra). She is the feminine aspect of his masculine wisdom, as these can never be separate. If they are separate, as they are now, there is no balance in our lives and there is no balance in our world. In some Gnostic stories the sage eventually grows old while Sophia stays young and is represented as an ageless woman. Why? Perhaps Sophia represents our forgotten true selves, our forgotten soul, while the old sage represents ancient traditions in which the key to reviving our knowledge of Sophia lies.

Philosophical Terms

Sophia has also resurfaced in all spiritual traditions. In Hinduism, she is called the Buddhi Sophia 2– the higher intellect; in Christianity, she is called Intellection (the Higher Understanding which allows us to grasp the Truth without rationalising, to understand all at once or at once glance, so to speak). The Gnostic philosophers called her Nous, while modern age alternative spiritual traditions refer to her (in a somewhat vague way) as Intuition. Thus, in philosophical terms, Sophia is our ability to see all at once with both mind and heart, OR to see the essence of a given situation that the mind is not capable of grasping. This is a holistic way of seeing things. It bypasses apparent differences and is the ability to see oneness everywhere. If Sophia is the place where mind and heart meet, do you see how different it is from cold rationalising? And how it can change our attitudes towards life?

Practical application or Workbook for the Goddess News Spiritual Blog:

Sophia 4Who is Sofia within us? It is one thing to mourn a dethroned goddess and another to find a practical application of her into our lives. How can we tap into Sophia in our personal lives? If we find the way, our lives will be immensely enhanced. Sophia is the lost goddess within us, she is the lost dream of wholeness, the deeply cherished dream within us that we have forgotten but which still haunts us. She is the ‘Ah! wouldn’t it be wonderful! …’ And the ‘If only …’  The good news is she is there and awaits your awakening to her. She wants to be uncovered and to manifest within you, in your life.

As always, please comment and let’s keep the dialogue going :),

Sending Love, Joanna

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