Meet Sophia: A Partial Outline of Various Perspectives from
Which Sophia Is Experienced and Interpreted
|Philosophia: from 12th century. This shows Sophia with wisdom flowing from her breasts to nourish the seven liberal arts. Plato and Socrates sit on the bench of philosophy.|
Torah/Old Testament: Sophia is the Greek word for wisdom which is a "she" who personifies integrity, honesty, clear perception, the power by which kings and princes rule, and the creative power present with Yahweh at creation. (Cf. also C. G. Jung's Answer to Job about the "anamnesis of Sophia" referring to the recollection by God of Wisdom.)
New Testament: Sophia was first equated with Jesus, then deleted from mainstream religion because she was a problematic presence in the exclusively male monotheistic theology.
Ancient Wisdom Goddesses: Isis as the "Black One." Greek Pallas Athene. Egyptian Maat. Themis as Maat's Greek counterpart, the foundation of law in nature was the basis of development of Western law.
India: Sakti (Shakti) as the Dyad, the creative principle, the manifesting power: "I am the form of the Immensity; from me the world arises as Nature and Person (prakrti-purusa)." In the Rg-Veda, Vak, the Word, is the vibration of Truth.
Iranian Sufism: Sophia is Perfect Nature, the object of ecstatic ideation, which was described in an 11th century text as "the philosopher's angel." (Cf. H. Corbin, Man of Light in Iranian Sufism.)
Gnosticism: Two Sophias, higher and lower: Ogdoad and Sophia Achamoth, the generative wisdom of the world. (Cf. also "The Thunder Perfect Mind" in Nag Hammadi Library.)
Alchemy: Sapientia (Latin for Sophia, Wisdom). Moon, tree, ogdoad, alchemical salt. (Cf. Jung's writings on alchemy.)
Kabbala: Shekinah sometimes equated with or compared to Sophia. Shekinah derives from "dwelling place," possibly a metaphor for the heavens; God's bride and the soul of the community of Israel. (Cf. Caitlin Matthews, Sophia)
Christian Black Madonnas in cathedrals throughout Europe: may represent Sophia in exile, blackened by association with either the sun, solar principle, or the earth, as in alchemy, black earth.
Western mystical /philosophical/ humanistic tradition: Dante, Boethius, Jacob Boehme, William Blake, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Rudolph Steiner . . .
Russian Sophiology: Vladimir Soloviev, Pavel Florensky, and Sergei Bulgakov.
Nietzsche: "Supposing truth is a woman . . ." (Beyond Good and Evil)
Feminist spirituality (Susan Cady, Marian Ronan, and Hal Taussig; Joan Chamberlain Engelsman; etc.)
Christian mysticism: Boehme, Boethius, Steiner, Blake, etc.
Jungian psychology: the fourth and highest stage of anima development in male psychology; also archetypal psychologists after Jung: Erich Neumann, Robert Sardello, Marion Woodman, etc.
Contemporary spiritual schools: Anthroposophy, Creation Spirituality movement, Sophia movement in American churches, and Robert Sardello's Sophia school.
Kathleen Damiani, Ph.D.
copyright © 2005