Christianity has a through line of wisdom that originated long before Jesus came on the scene, and Sophia is the feminine principle of wisdom. Sophia is, of course, Greek for wisdom, an Old English word with Norse and Germanic roots. In ancient Greek philosophy, Sophia did not show up personified. That was Athena’s job (note Athena’s owl on the arm of the statue above).Sophia was a divine feminine principle, a mystical experience, a cosmic force, that appears in Christian apocrypha. If we understand that alchemically the universe is balanced between light and dark, masculine and feminine, then as feminine principle Sophia would be the feminine balance to the masculine God. In mystical Christianity, then, Jesus/Christ has the job of being the child of these parents, i.e. the Christ is the manifest universe, the “creative issue” of the merging of the masculine and feminine. Of course there are other ways to think about this.
There are also all kinds of ways to create holy trinities. And the Christian church, like all major religions, has had innumerable shifts over the years due to arguments and realizations of all kinds. Mother Mary, for example, has been sanctified and then disenfanchised over and over, as human meaning-making determines current beliefs. Mary is multifarious, since she had to take on the whole of the feminine principle. She does have some help from saints, of course. Mary and Sophia have held very similar positions as all encompassing feminine divinity, historically and regionally. For example, Sophia was once pretty important in the Eastern Orthodox Church. Since I know more about early Christianity than contemporary, I can’t report on how Sophia fares now, but I’m sure it varies across the branches.
Now let’s cut a little closer to the Our Mother chase. Rudolph Steiner (1861-1925) (click for Wiki article) was the founder of anthroposophy, Waldorf education, and biodynamic gardening/farming. He also was into the rebirthing or resurrection of the feminine principle in the form of Sophia (as you can see from the title above, the Egyptian Isis held much the same position as Mary and Sophia; Isis was huge in Greco-Roman culture). I haven’t read much Steiner (not much of a writer, he) but I have read some of his followers, i.e. folks who incorporate some of his philosophy into theirs. Robert Powell is one such; back to him later.
In Russian Orthodoxy, around Steiner’s time, popped up a Sophiology movement; a desire to instate Sophia as equal to the masculine Father and Son. I’m sure it’s more complicated than that, since church reform always is, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to wander into the historic whys and wherefores. Now we come to Tomberg, Valentin to be exact (1900-1973) (click for Wiki article). I love the description of him that prefaces the article; “…was an Estonian-Russian Christian mystic, polyglot scholar and hermetic magician. T. H. Meyer and other Anthroposophists claimed that Tomberg was the 20th Century incarnation of the boddhisattva who will in time incarnate as the Maitreya Buddha.” ‘Hermetic’ refers to alchemy. How would you like your life to be thus summarized? Well probably you don’t unless you’re over the normalcy line like me. ;))
Almost ready to add the Our Mother, a prayer I have used for years. I would like to first reference the organization from which I learned this prayer, quite a few years ago; The Sophia Foundation,(click for link). Robert Powell and Karen Rivers’s baby. It’s an educational institute, basically, that also promotes Sophia and both human and planetary healing through ritual, sacred dance, astrology/cosmology, and theater.
OK, here it is:
Our Mother, Thou who rise from the darkness of the underworld
May the holiness of Thy name shine anew in our remembering.
May the breath of Thy awakening kingdom warm the hearts of all who wander homeless.
May the resurrection of Thy will renew eternal faith, even unto the depths of physical substance.
Receive this day the living memory of Thee from human hearts, who implore Thee to forgive the sin of forgetting thee, and who are ready to fight against temptation, which has led Thee to existence in darkness.
That through the deed of the Son, the immeasurable pain of the Father be stilled
By the liberation of all beings from the tragedy of Thy withdrawal. For thine is the homeland, and the boundless wisdom, and the all-merciful grace
For all, and everything in the circle of All,
I love that the prayer asks us to remember this principle. Mother has just been forgotten, that’s all; and whatever is gone from our memories is dead to us. Thus Tomberg’s “living memory” (I assume the original prayer was written in Russian). I consider this a good use of memory power, though it’s a deeper experience by far than remembering where you put your car keys, or the capital of South Dakota.
The simplest way to think of the feminine as being “in the underworld” is just that the feminine powers are not acknowledged, utilized, or activated very much in our daily living. This assessment is addressing the contemporary Euro-Western, Judeo-Christian culture, of course, a culture which is very widespread now.
Surely we are wandering homeless in a number of ways. We are separated from the larger, connected (feminine archetype) experience of our selves and our planet, one reason we’re busy ignoring Mother. As Kevin Nealon said in Happy Gilmore, it’s circular.
I like the idea of the feminine earthcentric and soulcentric will, which would order growth and development (of wisdom, for example). In order to access wisdom development, we align with the feminine will, understanding to the best of our abilities Her ways and means, Her valuations and objectives, this Her that we All are. “Eternal faith” is the knowing that all is well, from the higher perspective; being able to tap into that knowing.
If you don’t like the word ‘sin’, I certainly could not blame you, as it has been used for moral bludgeoning purposes. However, etymologically it really just means a cleft or split. Thus sin is whatever has cut us off from the Divine.
“Fighting against temptation” is part of that valuation project, as I said in the last blog. In order to align ourselves with the feminine principle of Wisdom, we are required to step outside of the “little Me” mode of operation, and “warm our hearts”. We release our tenacious grip on “stuff”, on physical security. This only happens when we ground ourselves sincerely in feminine values, balanced with the masculine, of course. This is the beauty of a faith that moves “even unto the depths of physical substance.” It is a faith that is embodied, not airy and otherworldly, not busy trying to escape physicality, not condemning the flesh and scorning and belittling the Earth experience. This embracing of incarnation is very challenging for my culture, requiring a pretty constant balancing act. If I am an example.
The “deed of the Son” refers to resurrection, being “born again” transformed from the fear and greed that characterizes those who are strangers to the cosmic Feminine, who are unable to develop towards wisdom. It also speaks of the fact that “the son” (it could very well have been “the daughter”) is the result of the holy marriage, the hieros gamos, merging the balanced divine masculine and feminine, the resulting child being perfectly balanced, as well.I love that Tomberg refers to the pain of the Father, however anthropomorphizing it might be. Christianity’s big advantage in monotheistic religion is, indeed, this personalization; the weeping Mother, the immeasurable pain of the Father. Of course the mystical aspect is, that this heavenly drama is on the incarnate level also the HUMAN experience of this event. What happens in us, happens metaphysical realms as well, and vice versa. When the Mother is gone, the Father suffers, and we are playing this out in our human lives. Father-god is suffering for lack of Mother, and such suffering, such disconnection, begets more of the same. For we are the handmaidens and.. handmen? of the Divine on Earth.
I would be remiss if I left this subject of Sophia without mentioning the Sophia devotee whose prayers I used for many years, Joyce Rupp (click for her website). Rupp’s prayers to Sophia are so personal, so deep, and they are good poetry to boot. Here is her Prayer to Sophia. Notice she refers to the Circle of All, as did Tomberg:
Wise and Faithful Guide,
you lovingly abide in my depths
and graciously guide my every step.
You lead me to ever stronger growth
and draw me more fully toward inner freedom.
I thank you today for the awesome ways
in which you constantly enter my life
as I pledge my life to you again.
This day I renew my life’s purpose
of being faithful to our relationship.
I give you my openness
trusting that you will lead me on paths
that are meant to help me grow.
I re-commit my intention
to listen to you in all of life.
I promise you my daily discipleship
so that I may be an instrument of your love.
Most of all, I give you the loyalty of my heart.
May I do all in the circle of your wisdom
and learn from your dance of compassion
in every corner of this universe.
Source of Inner Luminosity,
thank you for being a loving radiance.
May the lantern of your perpetual goodness
always shine in me and through me.