Sophia as Divine Wisdom and Higher Mind.
Sophia is very close to my heart because she stands for 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 is 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 dogmatized spirituality and, in some cases, of the repressed Divine Feminine.
Symbolically speaking, repressed material comes up in our unconscious — in our dreams, daydreams, 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. 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 post 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 if 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 and philosophical terms.
In mythical terms
There 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 partner 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. 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.
In philosophical terms
Sophia has also resurfaced in all spiritual traditions.
In Hinduism, she is called the Buddhi – the higher intellect; in Christianity, she is called Intellection — the Higher Understanding which allows us to grasp the Truth without rationalizing, to understand all at once or at one glance, so to speak. The Gnostic philosophers called her Nous, while New 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 rationalizing, and how it can change our attitudes towards life?
Dr. Joanna Kujawa is the author of Jerusalem Diary (a spiritual travelogue) and many short stories, essays and academic pieces. She sees herself as a Spiritual Detective who asks difficult questions about spirituality, such as ‘Can spirituality and sexuality be experienced as one?’, ‘Who was the real Mary Magdalene?’, ‘How can we include eco-spirituality in our belief systems?’ and ‘How can we bring back the Divine Feminine to create a more balanced and interconnected world?’ Her goal is to create and participate in the shift in consciousness about spirituality, our connection to nature, and our place in the Universe. She has PhD from Monash University, and MA and BA from the University of Toronto. She is immoderately passionate about her Goddess News blog. You could connect with her via her website, Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.