Sophia, Gnosticsim & Ecology

Sophia, Goddess of Wisdom

I’ve been pondering writing a book that centers on a gnostic ecology and the Goddess Sophia. At face value this seems paradoxical because the Gnostics were a fringe group that sought to transcend this material world, which they saw as a grand illusion made in error by a being known as the Demiurge. This being was at best confused and misunderstood, and at worst just down right evil, intent on deceiving the beings that occupy the realm of the material. So, the Gnostics had good reason to want to get the hell out of this world of deception and become one with the infinite Mystery through a process called gnosis.

But there is way more to the story. While the world of matter is problematic to the Gnostic for all of its sticky, clingy being-ness, it’s also necessary for any soul on the road to gnosis.

So, what is this gnosis? I will warn you now, I can’t answer that in a short definition. So, this is a very bad answer to that question. Gnosis is to know the divine mystery through direct participation with It. It is mystical knowledge of the Divine that one arrives at through an interactive process.  There are many Gnostic writings that survive today that give some insight to that process. But gnosis is an ongoing thing that one engages in throughout their life. It is in the experience.

The Demiurge was a latchkey kid

The gist of the Gnostic cosmology is this (and this is greatly simplified for the point of this post), the great divine Mystery, who existed before all else, wished to know Itself. To know Itself it divided into two and thus created duality; Consciousness (male) and Soul (female). There were others and they subdivide and carry on some. Soul or Psyche, now in the form of Sophia, descended into the material world thinking she caught a glimpse of her Parent in a flash of light. This was a mistake (or was it?). Through the power of metaphor she ends up reproducing in error. One of those reproductions was the Demiurge who then really went to work creating all sorts of things. But the Demiurge thought he was the only deal around. He didn’t know about Consciousness, Soul or the Great Mystery. He had no idea that his mother even existed. He wanted to be worshiped as the creator of all things and in his defense, he had no reason to believe there were bigger fish out there. Sophia sees that he’s a dick and doesn’t get involved with him directly, but realizes she needs to correct things because he’s making a mess of creation. When she sees Demiurge’s creation of Adam, she implants consciousness in him and then brings it into the world through Eve. As a result of this trickery, we are all souls with the spark of consciousness buried in us caught up in a cycle of reincarnation. We are asleep in the underworld, the material world, until that day the spark of consciousness is ignited and we begin the journey of true awakening through reaching gnosis.

According to the Gnostics, we are all on that journey and at various stages of it.

Anyone else get the feeling that the Great Mystery pulled a fast one on us? It divides itself, and then divides again and again and on and on in order to get to know itself. It creates the world of duality and the material world so that our little sparks of consciousness can do shit. All sorts of shit; the good, the bad and the ugly! And by doing all of this shit, It grows in knowledge. Each living thing, at whatever level of consciousness is has, contributes to the knowledge of the Great Mystery. This is in line with a branch of philosophy developed by Alfred North Whitehead in the early to mid-20th century known as Process Philosophy, for which Process Theology emerged.

Fluffy Spirits – ayakashi fox from Kakuriyo no Yadomeshi

But the point here is that this makes the material world entirely necessary to the Divine experience. To know Itself the material world must exist. Each thing goes through its life collecting knowledge. For us to awaken and achieve an understanding of our own consciousness by witnessing the reality that our souls’ experience, we must be born to this material world. It is not superfluous and merely something to be transcended.  In the end, we are all part of the Great Mystery. We’re all One. So there is no actual distinction between spirit and matter – duality is illusion. To look at it from the perspective of polarity, matter is the denser end of the lighter, fluffier spirit side.

I’m attempting to formulate an argument of how Sophia, the Goddess of Wisdom on Earth, the World’s Soul, the Anima Mundi, can be the Goddess of our time and a rally cry for an ecological spirituality based in Gnosticism.  

Thus far I have read – or – have on my reading list:

Jesus and the Lost Goddess, by Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy

Sophia: Goddess of Wisdom, Bride of God, by Caitlin Matthews

Not in His Image: Gnostic Vision, Sacred Ecology, and the Future of Belief, by John Lamb Lash.

Images of the Feminine in Gnosticism, by Karen King

The Myth of the Goddess: Evolution of an Image, by Anne Baring and Jules Cashford

The Gnostics, by Jacques Lacarriere

In the Shadow of Ancient Ruins: Hellenism and Gnosticism in Contenporary Environmental Ethics, by Jim Cheney (article, 1991)

Primary Sources:

The Nag Hammadi Library

Pistis Sophia (annotated version)

Corpus Hermeticum (not Gnostic, but of an age)

If anyone reading this has some thoughts on sources that you think may be helpful, please drop a line in the comments or send me an email to awakeningthewitch@gmail.com. I appreciate the information!

Trip the Light Fantastique

I hope everyone reading this is well. If you are not well or if you are caring for someone who is ill, I wish you and yours a speedy recovery.

 Sometimes, even in these uncertain times, a little sun shines down upon us. This happened for me last Tuesday evening when I conducted my Aries New Moon ceremony.  The New Moon is an eclipse after all, so the Sun plays its part and for me it was the final revelation I needed to put everything together. Everything I’ve studies over the past twenty-five years, all conversations I’ve had, the gurus I’ve listen too, the countless books, the writing I’ve done and the inward journey – it all paid off in a five minute mystical experience where it all came together simultaneously in one magnificent cosmic knowing.

Mystics often state that the experience is ineffable. It cannot be sufficiently related or described in a way that helps others understand it. They are correct. I tried to relay the experience to my partner and found it fell flat. There was just too much to translate in a linear fashion. I know I need to work on the processing portion of the experience a lot longer, but here are the major highlights:

* Each individual is a microcosm of God consciousness. We hold an entire universe in our mind. This is the first principle of Hermeticism – All is Mind. But it was the unquestionable experience of that reality that occurred for me. I know this now, it’s not theory or a quaint view. I know it.

* I attained union with my Higher Self. Through this I understood things like how my intuition works, how magick works, what it really means to be an empath, why my tarot readings have been so accurate and why they go amuck when I freak out. It was like a download of information that happened so fast, I’m still unpacking it all.

* Perhaps the most beautiful part of the experience was the sudden realization of why Venus chose to work with me over the past few month – nearly a year now. It was something I never understood because I never had an affinity toward her before that moment when she stepped forward and made herself known to me. It was out of knowhere that I heard her voice telling me she was the one who could take me the furthest. That night I had sudden and fast revelations about myself that I had never understood before. I intuitively knew I was on the right path with her. 

So, this New Moon, I finally realized that she represents the self-acceptance I was missing in my life. All the beauty and love and jealousy and envy and grace and femininity and wrathful anger and the proclivity towards getting in a snit over small things, and divine forgiveness, all these wonderous paradoxes that Venus represents that I refused to allow myself to acknowledge – that was the Great Lady simply reasserting herself in my personal pantheon. Venus is Self Love. She had long been telling me: Know Thyself.  It finally all clicked.

I could now with total awareness incorporate these earthy aspects of sexuality, sensuality, beauty, the physical – these things I was taught to be ashamed through experience and hard lessons. All those years of internalization that I was trying to deprogram, just fell away in an instant!

* And finally, your truth is yours. If it gives you energy and helps you grow, then embrace it! If it causes you pain and suffering, then let it go. It’s not as easy at it seems. So many of us hold on to destructive beliefs because we’ve been told it’s the path to salvation.  But if you aren’t thriving, you are still in pain, and you are not growing, it’s not be the right path. There is no right religion or belief.  Some are more conducive to growth than others. Some are more restrictive.  Some are downright harmful.  Find something that brings you happiness and light. But most of all, find what helps you to grow in spirit. If it shuts you down, walk away. There’s something else out there that’s better suited for you.

Anyway, that’s my peace for today.

Stay safe. Stay indoors. Be kind to each other.

~Stephanie