Goddess of wisdom, justice, and balance
In order to more effectively surf the intense waves of fear and anger that are plaguing our modern lives, I have been finding myself seeking out wisdom in the form of Sophia. (a.k.a., Wisdom, God’s feminine soul). She was once symbolized by the dove, which was later transformed into the symbol of the Holy Ghost. In the early days of western monotheism, Sophia‘s powerful goddess characteristics didn’t fit into the emerging dominator model of the patriarchal religions, so she was replaced with the more neutered image of the Holy Spirit, the dove. In this guise, she retained her basic role as the anima mundi or world soul, yet was stripped of her darker primal nature. Living without her or with only her neutered form, our inner and outer worlds are prone to developing into wastelands because without her wisdom and sacred duality (both dark and light – the ultimate source of wholeness/unification), we are left in a world without the wisdom (sense of Truth) to make healthy decisions and actions (sound familiar anyone?).
She is both the Black Goddess, who is often portrayed as veiled, aged, and dispossessed, and the Queen of Heaven, beautiful, ageless, and transcendent. She is often associated with justice, whose darker side manifests as chaotic, destructive retribution. Many of us are searching for Sophia, desperately craving her influence, her justice and wisdom. The sense of injustice felt by so many, and all of the different ways we are mistreating each other, are frighteningly common and cannot be easily denied. We are all suffering in Sophia‘s absence, in our ignorance. We have become agents of injustice by denying her. When we decide not to act from a place of wisdom, we are responsible for her absence:
Wisdom went forth to make her dwelling among the children of men, and found no dwelling place; wisdom returned to her place and took her seat among the angels. Book of Enoch 1:42
For our own well-being, we need to welcome her, to know her. For me, it begins with reclaiming the feminine gifts she represents.
In gnostic creation myths, she is Sophia, Mother of All. She is born of silence (Sige) and gives birth to female (called as Achamoth) and male (called Christ), who together create all of the elements in the material world. In eastern Christian creation myths, Sophia is created either simultaneously with God as his companion, or she is the waters (which already exist) upon which God looked to form creation. Eastern Christians also believe that Sophia, as a dove, entered Jesus at his baptism, and that she appeared to the Virgin Mary as the dove/Holy Spirit and entered Mary in order to conceive Jesus (and Elizabeth for John the Baptist), and upon their deaths, ascended back into heaven. She has also appeared in Jewish Kabbalism as Shekina, the consort of God. In her honor, eastern Christians even built the beautiful Hagia Sophia, the church of holy Sophia, in Constantinople during the sixth century A.D.
The Roman Christians, unable to vanquish the stubborn Sophia completely, turned her into a virgin martyr, who has been given three daughters: Saint Faith, Saint Hope, and Saint Charity. Which is probably the result of the ancient saying that wisdom gives birth to faith, hope, and charity. Even though many efforts have been made to remove her influence, her deepest desire has always been to be with us, as is shown so eloquently in The Bible:
Wisdom cries aloud in the street; in the markets she raises her voice; on the top of the walls she cries out; at the entrance of the city gates she speaks… “because I have called out and you refused to listen, have stretched out my hand and no one has heeded… When distress and anguish come upon you… They will then call upon me, but I will not answer… yet I love those who love me and those who truly seek me diligently find me. Proverbs: 8 & 9.
As these passages suggest, Sophia shows her darker aspects when ignored and her enlightening ones when sought after in earnest.
Thanks to the long-standing acceptance of her in many Eastern churches, some of her precious gifts have come to us through their influence. A Russian philosopher, Vladimir Soloviev, made a suggestion that I find hopeful and empowering in our modern terrorized state , “ In light of the dangers threatening our world… we need to become absorbed in Sophia, and let her creativity work out the solution, manifesting through many illuminated souls.” One good first step would be the reestablishing of the sacredness of womanhood and of the human body. This, at least, would begin to heal our sense of exile from ourselves and from each other. Another Russian, an artist named Nicholas Roerich, observed, “Women, indeed, you will weave and unfold the banner of peace… To both east and west, images of the great mother, womanhood, are the bridge of ultimate unification.” With Wisdom, it is possible for us all to nurture ourselves both body and spirit, discovering our creativity, maintaining our integrity, and supporting justice in ourselves and in our world. She wishes to awaken us to the unity that we share with all of life, a strikingly simple yet immensely powerful spiritual wisdom. As author, Caitlin Matthews so beautifully states, “Sophia is the companion of every soul; she is the Goddess’ mirror, and within us lie all of the divine reflective shards.” When we truly see the divine shards within us all, we may finally begin to live with Wisdom. Then, she can help us to create the type of world in which we all may thrive. Sophia is our best hope for a better world, the true source of faith and charity, and especially hope… go now and seek her diligently, with arms wide open in welcome!