Studies in Sophiology #1 Böhmean Theosophia

O virtus Sapientiae,

quae circuiens circuisti

comprehendendo omnia

in una via, quae habet vitam,

tres alas habens,

quarum una in altum volat,

et altera de terra sudat,

et tertia undique volat.

Laus tibi sit, sicut te decet,

O Sapientia.


St. Hildegard of Bingen



Few figures in the Biblical mythos are as mysterious and have given rise to such an abundance of speculations as that of ‘Wisdom’ (Sophia, Chokmah), which appears not only in the aptly called ‘Wisdom Literature’ of the Old Testament, but, as could be argued, reaches back even to the very beginning; for many exegetes have seen already in the very first words of Scripture (in principio… Gen 1:1) an allusion to this enigmatic ‘Wisdom’.


Thus for example St. Thomas Aquinas tells us that ‘in the beginning’, could also be read as ‘in the Son’, meaning: ‘in Wisdom’[1], according to the Psalm: “Thou hast made all things in wisdom” (103:24) as well as the Pauline saying that “in Him all things were made” (1. Col. 1:16).


Aquinas, echoing the consensus of the Holy Fathers (already the Apostle calls Christ ‘the wisdom of the Father’; cf. 1. Cor. 1:24; 2:7), thus identifies the figure of ‘Wisdom’ with the ‘Son’, the 2nd Person of the Trinity, the Word ‘by which all things were made’ (Joh. 1:3).


Now, the patristic interpretation is certainly prudent, for sophianic speculations have not seldom lead to introducing a ‘4th hypostasis’ into the Trinity, or, as in the case of the (soi-disant) ‘gnostics’ and their myth of the ‘fallen Sophia’, have served as the basis for sprawling speculative systems, populated by syzygies, demiurges and innumerable archons and aeons, which stray far from orthodox doctrine. Nevertheless we can’t help but wonder if there isn’t more to this mystery, a suspicion that is certainly not without basis in Scripture.


Thus Salomon tells us that Wisdom was ‘created’ by God in the beginning of his way (Prov. 8:22), which can obviously not be applied to the co-eternal Son, the Divine Logos. Furthermore he clearly seems to conceive of Wisdom as ‘female’, calling her his ‘sister’ (Prov. 7), his ‘bride’ even (Wis. 8), so that some translations even speak to us of ‘Lady Wisdom’.


Now, all these objections have ofc. long been addressed; thus some tell us that the passage in question can also be rendered as ‘possessed’ instead of ‘created’ and others are quick to point out that the ‘Lady Wisdom’, the celestial virgin Sophia, we encounter in the Salomonic texts is merely a poetic image; after all, ‘wisdom’ (like ‘justice’ etc.) is of the female genus (sophia, sapientia, la sagesse, die Weisheit …) in most languages and thus allegorically depicted as such.


However, all these objection haven’t stopped many from delving deeper into the sophianic mystery, the greatest among them being without a doubt Jakob Böhme.


As is well known Böhme starts his ‘theogonic’ vision with the Ungrund, the divine ‘abyss’, which is the mysterium magnum in which all things in heaven and in earth, visible and invisible are eternally contained,  analogous to the ‘One’ of the platonici or the Ein Sof of the kabbalists.


In this Ungrund there is a ‘bottomless unoriginated will’, which “is desirous, it willeth to be somewhat, that it might be manifest in itself”. Böhme describes this primordial will also as an ‘Eye’[2], which is yet ‘blind’, seeing nothing because it gazes into an undefined, unlimited infinity, meeting no ‘object’. Thus it ‘fashions a mirror for itself’ in which to behold itself. This ‘mirror’ is not to be understood as ‘created’ but could more accurately be considered the ‘feminine’ (passive) aspect of the ‘androgynous’ Ungrund. [3] Böhme calls it ‘eternal Wisdom’, the Idea or Magia (‘mirror of imagination’), and describes is now as a ‘mirror’ now as a ‘virgin’ (Jungfrau):


A maiden who stands, in the dawn of eternity, before the God who gives Himself up to Self-manifestation, and who, so to speak, allures Him to manifest Himself, by showing Him the exceeding riches of His glory … The Maiden stands before God as if in a vision, a morning-dream of Eternity, which prophetically reveals to Him what he can become, what He can make Himself (Martensen, Jacob Boehme, p.59, 62).


In this ‘virginal mirror’ (for it begets not, but only receives and reflects the image) is revealed the whole pleroma of the Ungrund, not only the entirety of ‘archetypes’, but also the image of the Triune God.


The Wisdom is the true Divine Chaos, wherein all things lie, viz., a Divine Imagination, in which the Ideas of Angels and Souls have been seen from Eternity in a Divine type and resemblance, yet not then as creatures, but in resemblance, as when a man beholds his face in a glass (Böhme, Clavis).


Beholding (‘admiring’[4]) itself as Trinity (as of yet only per speculum in aenigmate), the will, rapt in the contemplation of his possibility, desires that the ‘image’ becomes ‘reality’ and, seduced by the play of the maiden, yearns for his manifestation. Through this desirous ‘imagination’ the ‘eternal nature’ in God is aroused (which is not to be understood as in any way ‘material’ but, as Baader says, more as a ‘spirituous potency’), which posits itself as a contrarium (for manifestation always requires duality – “in yes and no all things exist”, says Böhme) to the Idea.[5] There are thus two opposite ‘wills’ (which are really only one, but bifurcated into two ‘principles’ or centra), the ‘nature-will’ of the ‘desire-centre’ (which is ‘selfish’ and ‘bitter’, a ‘contraction’ and a ‘hunger’; the eternal no) and the ‘spirit-will’ of the ‘imaginative centre’ (the eternal yes; expansive and out-flowing, ‘centrifugal’), which become entangled in a hostile struggle. Amplifying their opposite tendencies, the ‘contractive’ (1st quality) and the ‘tractive’ (2nd quality) become entangled in an agonizing ‘rotation’ (3rd quality), the ‘anguish wheel’ (Angstrad), until finally ‘nature’ is subdued by ‘spirit’ (the lower by the higher) and ‘liberated’ from its ‘wrath’ by that which Böhme calls the ‘lightning’ (Blitz) or Schrack (the 4th quality, which marks the ‘birth of the Son’), its ‘hunger’ quenched by the victorious ‘break through’ of light and love (the ‘Sun’ which shines into the darkness of the Father); thus the ‘anguish’ of the ‘dark ternary’ (the centrum naturae) is overcome and out of the darkness of the ‘wrath fire’ is born the mild flame of boundless love. The ‘light ternary’ (5-7th quality) is identical to the ‘dark’ one but now everything is transfigured by the light of spirit; the ‘bitter’ contraction (‘centripetal dynamis’) becomes a loving inclination of the two in which all powers are concentrated into unity, the ‘anxious’ flight (‘centrifugal dynamis’) becomes[6] compassionate ‘out-flowing’ in which this unity is ‘breathed’ forth into separation (Schiedlichkeit) as ‘intelligible sound’, resounding in a great harmony[7]; in the 7th quality finally, Wisdom is made manifest (the ‘virtual’ is realized) as the ‘Uncreated Heaven’ in which all is gathered in a harmonious unity, God's ‘Kingdom’ (analogous to the kabbalistic Malkut), His ‘Glory’ (doxa) and His ‘Corporality’ (Leiblichkeit ist das Ende der Werke Gottes, as Oetinger famously remarked), “the house[8] of the Holy Trinity, and the Ornament of the Divine and Angelical Worlds”.


Thus the ‘incomprehensible  abysmal will’  generates in itself a ‘comprehensible will’ in which it apprehends and ‘finds’ (finden & erfinden) itself, the ‘Son’, who is the ‘centre’ and the ‘heart’ (or Gemüth) of Divinity, the ‘Sun’ that shines into the paternal abyss, his Fassung (‘gasping’, ‘conception’ of Himself), or his ‘foundation’ (the Begründung, in which the abyssal Ungrund ‘grounds itself’ in the Grund or byss’, marking the passage from non-being to being). The exitus of the ‘bottomless will’ through the conceived Ens (the Son) being the Hl. Spirit (qui ex Patre per Filium procedit), which goes forth as a ‘movement’ and ‘life’ of Father and son. But the ‘product’ of this processio, or, as Bohme also calls it, the ‘fourth effect’ (or ‘operation’), is called the Wisdom or Visibility (Beschaulichkeit) of God, which is the communal Aussprache (emission) of Ternario Sancto,  and wherein the three ‘Persons’[9] eternally behold and ‘discover’ themselves. [10]


It is the outspoken, which the Father speaketh forth out of the Center of the Heart with or by the Holy Spirit, and standeth in the divine Formings and Images, in the Sight of the Eye of the Holy Trinity of God; yet as a Virgin without generating (Sex puncta, I.26).


As such Baader also calls her the logos ekthetos (‘outspoken’ or ‘expired’ word), which he distinguishes from the logos enthetos, which is the Son, both logoi being ‘one yet distinct’ (Einheit und doch Unterscheidung) and, in a sense, ‘identical’ (for the manifestum, manifestans and manifestatum are one).


In summa one could say that that all ‘powers‘ of the Fathers are concentrated in the Son, which are then ‘diffused’ (ex-spirited) by the Spirit, Wisdom being the reflection of the entire Divinity in which all multiplicity is restored to unity and in which all previous ‘moments’ (or ‘qualities’) are eternally aufgehoben (Trinitas reducit dualitatem ad unitatem).[11]


To use an image employed frequently by Baader we could say that the Ungrund is the ‘central point’ which then ‘explicates’ itself into a triangle (the Trinity), Wisdom being its ‘encircling periphery’ (the ‘infinite periphery’ to the ‘centre that is everywhere’).[12]


In Wisdom is reflected the totality of the divine pleroma, she contains all archetypes, the  ‘blueprint of creation’; she is distinct from God, yet inseparable from Him, not to be thought of as a ‘person’[13] (even less a hypostasis) but a pure reflection, his ‘glory’ and ‘kingdom’:


A breath of the power of God, and a pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty … a reflection of eternal light, a spotless mirror of the working of God, and an image of his goodness (Wis. 7:25-26).


If the Father is the ‘uncaused cause’, principium sine principio, Wisdom is the ‘uncausing caused’, the ‘product’ which stands at the end of the theogonic process. [14]


It seems that, just as in Böhme there is distinction between the ‘esoteric’ God that contemplates Himself in the ‘still mystery’ of the Ungrund and the ‘exoteric’, manifest God, which shines forth in his glory[15] (analogous the ‘lesser’ and ‘greater face’ of Kabbala), we seem to meet in Böhme with ‘two’ Sophias (which can also not be, in the last consequence, two separate realities): The ‘esoteric’ Sophia, the virginal Idea (which we might also call the ‘essential[16] Wisdom’) and the ‘manifest’ Sophia as the Uncreated Heaven, the ‘radiant garments’ (or Leiblichkeit) of Divinity, His ‘Glory’ (‘substantial[17] Wisdom’). The first is the medium quo for the manifestation of God as Trinitarian Life (the Theotokos)[18] the second that by which his manifestation ad extra is realized, the ‘tissue’ from which the ‘luminous veils’ of creation are woven.[19] Sophia is thus the mirror-image of God and creation that of Sophia.


We might say that the second (‘substantial’) Wisdom is the reflection of the first on a ‘lower level’, them being analogous to the ‘Universal Possibility’ and the prima materia (although the theosophical notion of this primordial 'substance' strays quite far from the aristotelo-scholastic notion of hyle), or, in eastern terms, that of mâyâ-shakti and mâyâ-prakriti.[20] As Guenon explains:


Mâyâ is the material power (shakti) through which divine understandings acts … As such it is inherent to Brahmâ Himself, or to the Supreme Principle. It is therefore situated at an incomparably higher level than prakriti, and if the latter is also called mâyâ, notably in the Sâmkhya, this is because it is in reality but the reflection of this shakti in the ‘cosmological’ order (Studies in Hinduism, X).


Guénon also goes on to link this notion of mâyâ to that Sophia as understood in the Judeo-Christian Tradition, calling it the ‘maternal aspect’ of the Principle. Another obvious comparison is that of the kabbalistic notion of Binah[21] and Malkut (the two ‘waters’ or ‘mothers’; the two Heh’s of the Tetragrammaton), as ‘upper and lower aspects of the Schekinah’, which are ‘separated’[22] by the 6 sefirot of construction (analogous to the 6 qualities of Böhme, the 7th, Malkut, the ‘Kingdom’, being Wisdom manifest). The Schekinah is also the ‘maternal matrix’ and the ‘womb’ or ‘luminous space’ of manifestation.


Shechinah is like a pregnant woman who is continually gestating, giving birth, and nourishing her children. Divine space is called ‘mother’ because it shares its lifeblood with its progeny like a womb. The ‘children’ are the endless reflections that arise and dissolve from its mirror-like nature (Smith, Kabbalistic Mirrors, p.17).


One last role of Sophia, which is of great importance in the Böhmean mythos, is that of ‘celestial humanity’.[23] The protos adam is created androgynous, as a ‘male virgin’[24] (männliche Jungfrau); standing in all three Principles[25] (i.e. participating in the fullness of divine qualities), he carries both ‘tinctures’ (male and female, ‘fiery’ and ‘aqueous’, or, to use the kabbalistic terms: ‘severity’ and ‘mercy’; these being a reflection of ‘nature’ and ‘spirit’, ‘wrath’ and ‘love’ in divinis). As a child of God he was bestowed (versehen) with the Divine Image (imago et similitude Dei), the celestial virgin Sophia, as his bride and ‘gift of his divine sonhood’ (das als Gabe uns gegebene und anvertraute Geistwesen der Sohnschaft):


The soul's image stood in the virgin image which in the Deity had been seen from eternity. The pure image of Adam came from the wisdom of God. For God willed to see and manifest himself thus in an image, and that was the likeness according to God's Spirit, according to the Triad, an image entirely chaste, like the angels of God. In this image Adam was the child of God,-not only a likeness, but a child, born of God, of the Being of all beings. (Böhme, De Incarn. I.24).


However this ‘image’ ist not yet ‘fixed’ (fixiert, gefasst) or ‘confirmed’. Adam, who in the divine plan is supposed to be the kingly ruler of creation and mediator between God and nature, first has to  pass the ‘test’ to ‘negate’ (tilgen) the posse animal fieri (or posse mas et foemina fieri) by ‘subjecting’ nature to himself (mirroring the submission of nature to spirit in divnis); only through this ‘subjection’[26] (at the same time a true ‘subjectification’, Verselbständigung, i.e. an entering into the archetype, a passage from Abbild to Urbild) can this posse, this ‘potential’ be ‘sublimated’ (aufgehoben) and his true idea be ‘fixated’ in the Divine Wisdom.


But alas! Adam fails the test and succumbs to the ‘downwards tendency’ (Nieder-tracht) of spiritus mundi. Already when God presents him the animals, he, upon ‘seeing’ (mirrare) the duality (bi-sexuality) in nature, is seduced into ‘developing’ the posse mas et foemina fieri instead of ‘overcoming’ (aufheben) it. Ensnared by this ‘possibility’ he ‘in-magines’ himself into the lower animal nature (ein Imaginiren und sich Versehen in die Thiernatur) and falls under the dominion of spiritus mundi. His ‘sleep’ (Gen. 2:21) is thus already conceived as a petite mort (Hypnos is the brother of Thanatos after all) a ‘descend’[27] into the astral or ‘sidereal’ realm. He wakes up finding that his celestial spouse (‘the woman of his youth’, as Salomon says) has fled him due to his unfaithfulness; his ‘false in-magination’ (Einbildung) has led to a loss (or rather a ‘darkening’) of his divine image (Entbildung or Verbildung). The Fall thus already commences with the naming of the animals (the separation of the sexes prefiguring already that of ‘heaven and earth’), similar to how this ‘separation’ in other ecclesiastical authors such as St. Maximus, Erigena and St. Gregory of Nyssa is conceived of as a ‘preventive’ measure to mitigate the effects of the already inevitable fall. Instead of his ‘internal aid’ Sophia (Weisheit ist Weiserin) he now finds himself confronted by an external companion, which is ‘flesh of his flesh’ and ‘bone of his bone’ (cf. Baader’s Ueber das zweite Capitel der Genesis).


The separation of sexes was thus effected to put a stop (arrêt) to Adam’s ‘adultery’, to limit the damage (for non est homini bonum solum esse) and to restrain his further descent into ‘bad androgyny’ (i.e. from the unitive pole of ‘quality’ to the dispersion of ‘quantity’). Through the loss of Sophia Adam’s masculine tincture (which instead of passive ‘mirroring’ desired to ‘produce’) is enflamed in a fiery wrath. Adam’s feminine, ‘aqueous’ tincture (‘contaminated’ by the ‘ignition’) is detached via Eve to ‘constrain’ the fire. [28] Adam (originally destined to ‘mirror God’ or ‘in-magine’ himself into Sophia) and Eve now ‘mirror’ each other ‘horizontally’ to stop the further vertical (or ‘tamastic’) descent. But at the very moment that Adam abandons the virginal Imaginatrix, Christ enters into it in a ‘spiritual incarnation’[29] (geistige Menschwerdung) to fill his empty place and make redemption and the ‘restoration’[30] of the divine image (Inbildung) again possible in the carofactio. [31] Christ, being completely ‘married’ to the Idea, has fully ‘confirmed’ the image of celestial humanity and by ‘putting on Christ’ we thus also put on the ‘wedding garments’ of his heavenly bride Sophia. (cf. Baader’s Begriff des Versehenseins & Böhme’s De Incarnatione).


That may thus recover the lost pearl of celestial Wisdom, so help us God. Amen.


[to be continued...]


[1] An interpretation also current in jewish esoterism, for in Kabbala Chokmah (wisdom) is the very first emanation of the superessential nothingness of Ain Sof; a fact already indicated by the first words (B’reshit – ‘in the beginning’). As Isaac the Blind says: “The letter bet is the highest keter, and it is therefore written larger than all other bets. However the word B’reshit is in fact chochmah. In truth, then, two sefirot are encompassed in this word” (Process of Emanation).

[2] We find here striking similarities with the doctrine of Plotinus, who also talks about out a ‘searching gaze’ (atypotos opsis), or a yet ‘indeterminate gaze’ (opsis oupo idousia), emanating from the ineffable One, which then ‘finds itself’ (fassen) in the Nous (as a ‘thinking’ or ‘seeing’ of the noetic pleroma), as well as the doctrines of Kabbala: „In sefirotic language it is said that Keter, the supreme principle, sees itself through Hokhmah, the ‘wisdom’ or first irradiation, in the mirror of Binah, the ‘intelligence’ or infinite receptivity. In this supreme mirror God contemplates His seven lordly aspects” (Schaya, Universal Aspects). 

[3] This notion of ‘Divine Bi-Unity’ which is only implicit in Böhme and has been explicated by Baader, was also developed by Coomaraswamy: “All tradition speaks of in the last analysis of God as an inconnumerable and perfect simple Identity, but also of this Supreme Identity as an identity of two contrasted principles, distinguishable in all composite things, but coincident without composition in the One who is no thing. The Identity is of Essence and Nature, Being and Nonbeing, God and Godhead – as it were masculine and feminine. Natura naturans, Creatrix unversalis est Deus … The conjoined principles in divinis are those of a static essence (bhutata) and dynamic Power (shakti) … when these are actually divided, static and dynamic become active and passive” (cf. Divine Bi-Unity).

[4] Spiegel, speculum, mirror, mirare, admiratio, miraculum, Wunder (miracle), bewundern (to admire) etc. Pride (Hochmut, Hoffart) which is identified by Baader as the sin of Lucifer is thus ‘self-admiration’ in the most literal sense.

[5] „J. Böhme nimmt nun den Urwillen für diese unmittelbare Einheit, welcher im Acte der Selbstcontemplation, sich beschauend was er doch ist, in zwei Abstracta, in die Freiheit ausser der Natur (Sophia) und in die Strengheit in der Natur, in die objective Lust, das Schauen und Sehen, und in die subjective, activ verlangende Begierde aus- und gegeneinander tritt. Denn jedes Erkennen beginnt mit einer solchen Abstraction des Objects und des Subjects und vollendet sich mit dem Begriff beider – Cognovit eamDans l’ordre vrai, sagt St. Martin, la connoissance et la jouissance doivent coincider – J. Böhme nimmt also den noch unerfüllten Willen für die

wenngleich noch unentwickelte, ungeschiedene und also auch noch nicht realisirte Einheit oder Mitte von Gedanke (Lust) und Begierde (Natur)“ (Baader, Werke I.266).

[6] Of course temporal language can only be used analogically here, this ‘process’ being really timeless. Thus what the Sefir Yezira says about the sefirot also applies for Böhme’s 7 qualities: “Their beginning is in their end and their end is in their beginning, like a flame in burning coal”. For as Baader remarked their progressus is at the same time a regressus and ingressus, the 4th quality being really the center point and the ‘dark ternary’, the centrum naturae (which is the ‘root’, the ‘coal’ on which the ‘love flame’ of Divinity burns and without which no Divine Life could sustain itself) being eternally ‘concealed’ (aufgehoben), being ‘opened’ only by the primordial rebellion of Lucifer.

[7] Or we might say that in the kindling of the ‘light’ goes forth the Spirit (5th quality), which then exhaled (6th quality), almost as a ‘sigh of relief’; a movement which can be conceived as inhaling – exhaling: “The Entering into itself to the Center of the Ground; is the Spirit; for it is the finder, which there findeth continually from Eternity, where nothing is; and that goeth again from the Center of the Ground forth, & seeketh in the willing, and then the Looking-Glass of the Eye, viz. the Fathers and Sonnes Wisdom becometh Manifest: and thus the Wisdom standeth before the Spirit of God which the Abysse manifesteth in it” (Böhme, Sex puncta I.24).

[8] Already in Kabbala the 2nd sefira ‘Wisdom’ is linked to the second letter beth, which also means ‘house’. The idea of the ‘house of Wisdom’ is ofc. also found in scripture (Prov. 9:1).

[9] Although we can hardly speak of ‘Persons’ here (at least in the orthodox sense of the term), for the Ternario Sancto of Böhme is really monohypostatic in nature (for, as Böhme says, Gott ist keine Person als nur in Christo), this ‘hypostasis’ being ‘begotten’ in a threefold eternal generation.

[10] The ‚Ternary‘ is thus always a ‚Quaternary‘ – quand on est à trois, on est à quatre; an idea which plays a huge role esp. in Baader. The pattern of the ‘quand trois: quatre’ is also found quite frequently in Scripture, for those with the ‘eyes to see’.

[11] „Endlich sprechen die Theologen in demselben Sinne von einem Suchen und Sichfinden des Vaters im Sohne, des Sohnes im Vater, beider im Geiste, des Geistes im Vater und Sohne, so wie aller drei in der Sophia, der Herrlichkeit, Doxa, Ausbreitung oder Himmel“ (Baader, Werke I.437).

[12] Similar in Kabbalah the three supreme sefirot of the ‘greater face’ (arich anpin or Macroprosopus: Keter, Chokmah and Binah) are often described in terms of a circle (Keter being the ‘central point’, Chokmah the ‘emanative’ radius and Binah – the sefira, which corresponds most closely with the theosophical notion of Sophia – forms the periphery.

[13] According to Baader Sophia constitutes precisely that element of ‘apersonality’ in divinis which he sees as a presupposition for Divine Personhood as such (cf. for example Werke II.436).

[14] Baader differentiates ‘three causes’ (Wirker) and ‘three effects’ (Wirkungen) in divinis: „Wir haben hier drei Wirker und drei Wirkungen oder Gewirkte zu betrachten. Der Vater, als die in die erste Selbstfassung oder Grund gehende Freiheit, selber ungewirkt, agennetos, wirkt in sich den Sohn, das Wort, als die die Enthülltheit des Vaters bedingende erste Einhüllung oder Fassung als ersten Gewirkten und zweiten Wirker, weil selber in sich als eine Kraft, in welcher der Vater sich auf einmal zusammennimmt, die Vielheit oder Allheit der Kräfte in sich wirkt, und mit oder in welchem, da diese Einhüllung oder Selbstfassung keine Einsperrung ist, der Vater den Geist wirkt als zweiten Gewirkten und dritten Wirker, weil der Geist sammt Vater und Sohn die Idea oder Sophia (die Entfaltung der Kräfte) wirkt, als drittes Gewirktes und doch nicht eigentlich als vierten Wirker, weil diese Idea als Ebenbild des Ternars nicht selber wieder wirkend oder Person ist, sowie der Vater nur wirkend und nicht gewirkt ist … Dieses dritte Gewirkte oder, mit obiger Einschränkung, diese vierte Wirkung geschieht oder besteht, wie J. Böhme sagt, in den ausgehauchten Kräften, als in der göttlichen Beschaulichkeit, Idea oder Weisheit, in welcher sich der Ternar augenscheinlich oder evident wird, und der mit den Kräften, welche in der einen Kraft, dem Sohne oder dem Worte, gewirkt werden, und mit dem in diesen Kräften ausgehenden Geiste als Operator und Formator als einer einigen Kraft mit sich selber spielt (divina comoedia), da er sich in Formungen einführt (Schauungslust ist Bildungslust), gleich als wollte er ein Bild dieser Gebärung der Dreiheit in einen besonderen Willen und Leben einführen, als eine Fürmodelung der einigen Dreiheit“ (Baader, Werke XIII.156).

[15] Here too ‘their beginning is in their end’, for both ‘faces’ of Divinity are reciprocally ‘consubstantial’ and inseparably one: “God eternally goes forth out of His inwardness to manifest Himself in externality, and from this externality He again returns, enriched, into the tranquil inwardness” (Martensen, op. cit. p. 97).

[16] Which is really ‘unessential’ (unwesentlich as Böhme says), meaning ‘super-essential’. We use the terms ‘essence’ and ‘substance’ (which are both renderings of the greek ousia) in the Guénonian sense here.

[17] Substance in the most literal sense as sub stare, the Unter-halt or ‘foundation’ of creation, which yet stays ever virginal and does not itself descent into matter: „she remains entirely within and does not give up her virginity” as the Chaldean Oracles say (cf. also Plotinus’ notion of psyche tou pantos and his polemic against the gnostics and their myth of fallen sophia).

[18] Thus say the abbé Stephane (in a quite ‘Böhmean’ fashion): „Being, according to René Guénon, is the primary determination of Non-Being. It corresponds to the Son, primary ‘determination’ of the Father. As for ‘Existence’, it has to be evidently considered in its principal reality; it is thus identifiable as Mâyâ or the Universal Possibility; this is Mâyâ in so far she is the Theotokos, that allows for the ‘existence’ of God, and she also the Holy Spirit which ‘reveals’ the Father and the Son to each other [cf. the idea of ‘hypostatic maternity’ of the Spirit]. The ‘descending Hypostases’ appear thus like degrees of the (principal) Reality or like the determinations of the Absolut in the relative, but always in divinis, which confers onto them the ‘illusory’ character of Mâyâ, for it is in divinis that Mâyâ has ‘conceived’ (the Immaculate Conception). Mâyâ is thus the ‘Play’ of God with Himself and is identifiable to Wisdom: ‘The Lord possessed me from the beginning of his ways, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting … I was daily his delight, rejoicing (‘playing’) before him at all times’. This is thus Ananda, Blessedness, Love: ‘I am the ocean of Infinite Felicity, and it is in me, that at the capricious breath of Mâyâ, all the waves rise or appear’ [quoted from Shankara’s Viveka-cûdâ-mani]” (Introduction à l’ésoterisme, I.1.3).

[19] “Radiance sowing seed for its own glory, like the seed of fine purple silk wrapping itself within, weaving itself a palace” (The Zohar). Thus the archetypical ‘veiled Virgin’ (Isis) is at the same time ‘veil’ and ‘weaver’ – So schaff ich am sausenden Webstuhl der Zeit / Und wirke der Gottheit lebendiges Kleid.

[20] Baader explicitly connects the Böhmean idea of Magia explicitly with the Hindu notion of Mâyâ (as does Coomaraswamy).

[21] The manifestation of Binah is avira (ether; analogous to the Hindu akasha), which is the primordial substance, corresponding to Böhme’s idea of the primordial ‘temperature’ of Quinta essential (or, in Hindu terms, mulaprakriti in which the three gunas are yet in perfect balance). Binah is also called the ‘Supernal Mother’ and Malkut, her ‘daughter’, the ‘lesser mother’ (we might think of St. Anne and Mary; cf. Anna Selbdritt).

[22] This ‘separation’ being ultimately a mere illusion.

[23] Baader also draws connection between Sophia and Adam Qadmon, as the ‘celestial human prototype’. As such Sophia is the ‘image’ (idea) of humanity (the ‘Adam’ of Gen. 1:27), in which the creaturely Adam (the Adam Ha-Rishon of Gen. 2:7) was created and which he has to ‘confirm’ or ‘fixate’ by his ‘marital union’ with the Idea.

[24] Androgyny meaning here simply being ‘above gender’ and not to be understood as having ‘two genders’ (which is, as Baader points out, merely  ‘hermaphroditism’ and a caricature or ‘inversion’ of androgyny – In der Androgyne ist kein Geschlecht, in der Schlange sind beide nebeneinander entzündet). The ‘androgynous union’ of Adam and Sophia is really a ‘quaternary’ (which finds it archetype in the ‘quaternary’ process of Theogony as Father-Son-Spirit-Sophia), each carrying both ‘tinctures’ in different potencies (A/b – a/B). ‘Sin’ means also: reducing this quaternary to a ‘bestial’ bi-sexuality/duality (A - B). Androgynous union thus operated not on ‘bi-polarity’ but ‘quadropolarity’ or double polarity, in which both respective poles need their harmonious ‘mediation’ (Vermittlung) in the most literal sense (as ‘meeting in the middle’, i.e. in a descensus of the masculine and ascensus of feminine). Cf. Antoine Faivre, Love and Androgyny in Franz Von Baader.

[25] The 1st Principle is the ‘dark ternary’, the ‘wrath fire’ of the centrum naturae, the 2nd is that of light and love which ‘overcomes’ it, and the 3rd is the ‘manifestation’ or Ausgeburt in which all is gathered and eternally aufgehoben, the ‘synthesis’, so to say.

[26] This ‘subjection’ of the inferior by the superior element ist not to be understood as an violent ‘suppression’, but as voluntary submission, both ‘tinctures’ being not antagonistic but complementary (and become corrupted when separated or isolated from each other), requiring nevertheless the right ‘hierarchy’ in their union. Baader frequently uses the image of center (or ‘head’) and periphery (or ‘body’) for this harmony, which ofc. finds its archetype in the relation of God and Sophia, or Christ and the Church. the ‘inferior’, ‘receptive’ principle has to ‘mirror’ the ‘superior’, ‘active’ principle. Only in this reciprocal giving and receiving can they each come to their completion, a relation mirrored in all levels of being (as the Apostle lays out in Eph. 5):

“Wie wir in der zeitlichen Lebensregion dieselbe nature-principe sehen das Männlein (als negative strenge Verselbstigungssucht und Hunger) vorrufen und ihm das milde, Selbheit aufgebende Weiblein als Speise zuführen, damit in ihrer Conjunction beide, sich zur wahrhaften Selbheit (Genitus) ergänzend, einander finden und in dieser erhalten, so gilt dasselbe suo modo von der ewigen Lebensund Sohnesgeburt des ewigen Vaters, welcher gleichfalls in der Union seiner ewigen strengen Feuerpotenz und seiner milden Lichtpotenz (Sophia oder Idea) seinen ausser der ewigen Natur in sich gefassten Sohn in und durch die ewige Natur in Feuer und Licht ausführt und gebiert. Auch gilt hier par excellence jenes: Pater in Filio, Filius in Matre“ (Baader, Werke IX. 219). Baader also uses the image of the ‘vowel‘ (masculine tincture) and the ‘consonant’ (feminine tincture): The vowel needs the consonant in order to be able to express itself, and be fully articulate. The consonant needs the vowel in order to be expressed.

“The feminine tincture tempers the masculine and receives warmth from it; the masculine is sustained by the feminine. There are four generative forces in this erotic-androgynous system, since each of the two tinctures potentially contains something of the nature of the other. The gentle feminine tincture looks for its corresponding gentleness in the harsh masculine tincture, to excite and provoke it out of its latency, so that by uniting with what is feminine within the masculine, it is able to soften the harshness and keep it from turning itself into a destructive fire. Likewise and inversely, the harsh masculine tincture looks for its corresponding harshness in the feminine gentleness, to compel it to leave its passiveness, give form to what is still formless, and prevent this ‘water’ from remaining stagnant and putrid. Thus, the feminine unites with the feminine within the masculine, and the masculine unites with the masculine within the feminine” (Faivre, Access to Esoterism, p.204)

[27] The word for this ‚deep sleep‘ (tardema) in Hebrew already indicating this ‚downwards movement‘. Cf. also the connotation of ‘sleep’ in the NT (for example in the ‘foolish virgins’) and much of patristic literature.

[28] The ‘feminine’ (aqueous) envelops the ‘masculine’ (fiery) core as ‘protective’ covering (notion also developed in jewish esoterism; cf. the works of F. Weinreb).

[29] „Die geistige Menschwerdung ging der wirklichen voran. Jesus wurde im Momente des Falles – im Eingang und der Vermälung mit der Sophia (Urbild des Menschen) Christus. Gottes Herz zog Menschengestalt an, um unser alterirtes Bild geistig zu durchdringen und wieder herzustellen. Gottes Herz ward also in diesem primitiven Bilde des Menschen empfangen und mit ihm incorporirt in seiner ewigen Liebe oder in seiner ewigen Weisheit, welche ewig Jungfrau ist, obschon keine menschliche“ (Baader, Werke XII.331).

„… im Momente dieses Falles, in welchem der Mensch aus Gottes Idea wich, und die Anlage zu ihrer Reproduction in ihm verblich, [ward] Jesus (der Ausgang und die Bewegung des Herzens Gottes), in das ewig vor Gott seiende Urbild des Menschen eingehend, zum Christ d. i. geistig Mensch (Logos ward Sophia), wie es denn begreiflich ist, dass so wie der Mensch aus der hohen Stelle wich, welche seine Sendung ihm bestimmte, ein anderer und kräftigerer Agent diese verlassene Stelle (Thron) sofort einnehmen musste“ (ibid. VII. 275).

[30] Which is not really a ‚restauration‘ (Wiederherstellung) properly so called, but really the ‘actualization’ (Herstellung) of this image in the first place (since Adam failed to do so): “Ich sage: Herstellung, nicht: Wiederherstellung, weil, falls das Gottesbild, in das und zu dem wir geschaffen wurden, bereits durch den Menschen fixirt (leibhaft) geworden wäre, seine Wiederentleibung nicht statt gehabt hätte. Noch bemerke ich, dass die Tilgung des finsteren Menschen gleichfalls nur durch eine Entleibung des Geistes der Sünde geht. – Die vom Menschen nicht geschehene Leibhaftwerdung der Sophia geschah bekanntlich durch die Incarnation des Worts“ (Baader, Werke IV.223).

[31] This ‚restoration‘, also restoring the union of ‘fiery’ and ‘aqueous’ tincture in the androgynous ‘mercury’, possible; a union that can also be ‘anticipated’ here in via by love (cf. Baader’s ‘Erotic Philosophy’). 

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