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The Story of Sophia

Written by Rosamonde lkshvàku Miller

Copyright 2004 by Rosamonde Miller

The Gnostic Eucharist represents in ritual form the saga of the feminine principle of the Divine, her descent and imprisonment into matter, and her liberation and redemption not only of herself, but of all the sparks lost in darkness. While mainly based on the Gnostic mythology of the holy Sophia, it is liberally imbued with the Lurianic myth with my own experiences, and with material derived from the Holy Order of Miriam of Magdala all reminiscent of the Vow of the Bodhisattva, where the Bodhisattva vows not to return to Nirvana till all existence has been liberated. In the myth of the Sophia, we find that before Chaos came into existence, the highest God was contented and passive in his Fullness.

The highest God is seen as androgynous in nature, if we dare give God a quality for the sake of the story, and the feminine expression of God is called Sophia by the Gnostics. The Sophia desired to create a reflection of the highest heaven and went about doing this alone, without the concurrence of her consort. Her thought became a creation and a veil came into being between the highest heaven and the lower regions or aeons. The light of her thought cast a shadow-not substance, not life, but a shadow of thought-and this shadow realized that there was something stronger than itself and became envious. Envy was born permeating all the worlds and regions below the highest heaven. But that envy was an abortion, an excretion without essence and devoid of divine spirit.

The hatred and envy were cast into a part of the chaos and matter came into being. From this origin of matter (which was before matter as we know it took form), the creator god or demiurge came into being. The Sophia thought that this spiritless demiurge may rule over matter, and a great being came out of the waters with great authority within it but ignorant of its origins. The Gnostic writings call him Ialdabaoth or the accursed god because he made the visible world and kept humanity from knowledge by warning Adam and Eve against the tree of gnosis or knowledge.

When Sophia saw what came into being because of her error, she was sorely troubled. In the fierceness of her love and compassion she abandoned the Fullness and came into the world of matter to breathe her life into the depths of the abyss. Through his word, Ialdabaoth, the ruler, had created worlds, and heavens and earth, and orders and hierarchies in his heavens.

He was arrogant in his creation and caused all creatures to praise him saying, "I am the only God. No other exists before me." In one of the Gnostic writings the Sophia cries out to him, "You lie, Samael," Samael meaning "god of the blind." In this passage we can see why the Gnostics do not consider sin the cause of evil, for there is no sin and its attending guilt for the Gnostics, only ignorance and blindness.

In the world of matter the Sophia is promptly set upon by the archons or rulers of this world who defile her and, in their rage, render her blind. She cries in despair and regret at the tragedy she had caused to exist and suffers bitterly from her separation from her heavenly consort. The cry of her voice spans across countless universes searching to be heard by the most high, which in Gnostic language is called the Alien God, for he did not participate in the creation of matter. In her voice, we can hear our own blindness and ignorance reaching for a touch of gnosis of the divine Presence.

The highest God, in his love for his own feminine self, sends into the world of matter a redeemer, a reflection of his own self, whom we call Logos, who restores the Sophia's sight and reunites with her. In their reunion, the lost sparks of humanity can also be made whole and with her, be reunited with the Most High. The Gnostic story of creation of Adam and Eve differs dramatically in meaning and perspective from the one found in the book of Genesis. The first Adam or Anthropos is an emanation from the highest God and is earlier and superior to the demiurge or creator god. The first Eve is an emanation of Sophia. The serpent that appears in the second story of creation is an emanation of the Heavenly Eve and is the wise one who instructs Adam.

The demiurge creates the second Adam, but cannot give him the Divine Spirit because he lacks it in himself. Either the highest God or the Heavenly Eve infuses the second Adam with Spirit, which places him above the creator god. "Furthermore, the inspiration of the Heavenly Eve bestows the capacity for redemption upon the first man. The archons, the powers of darkness, see that the second Adam is alive. They see Eve (the Heavenly Eve) speaking to him and are confused. They do not wish Adam to have power over them, so they fall upon this Eve in order to cast their seed into her so that they, and not Adam, shall have control over her children. But the Heavenly Eve turns herself into the Tree of Gnosis, and only her likeness (the second Eve or earthly Eve in the Garden) remains with Adam. The archons make the sleep of forgetfulness fall upon Adam and they say to him in his sleep that she (Eve) originated from his rib, so that the woman might be subject to him and he be lord over her. [Emphasis added] The archons defile the likeness, and then they become confused and take counsel together and go in fear to Adam and Eve. The demiurge then tells them that they can eat from every tree in the Garden, but forbids them to eat from the Tree of Knowledge telling them that if they do, they will die.

It is only through the intervention of the serpent that Eve eats from the tree and also gives it to her husband to eat. "Then their understanding (nous) is opened, for when they have eaten, the light of knowledge (gnosis) is opened to them.

The rest of the story continues as usual, the creator god and the rest of the archons curse Adam and Eve and expel them from the Garden of Eden into the world. They surround the Tree of Life with a great terror, and set a being in place with a flaming sword that turns around in all directions so that access to it is barred to Adam and Eve and all their descendants. The ritual of the Eucharist and Bridal Chamber attempts to outwardly dramatize the saga of that which is within us, complete with demiurge, archons, ignorance and blindness, plus the presence of the holy Sophia: The element that chooses out of love and compassion to dwell in darkness. It is this holy Presence, suspected and spurned by many, that spurs us toward wholeness against all odds. It is her voice, which is also our own, that from the depths of ignorance and alienation manages to reach the Most High God, creating a bridge across the stars that move within the space that is us, permitting the Divine Bridegroom to extend his healing touch and, with a kiss that is bathed with tears, to turn our blindness into sight. The Consecration and Communion are the call to the wedding feast of celebration, the lifting of the veils that cloaked divinity, the revealing of the Bride and Bridegroom, face to face, and sealed by the bridge to the Most High.

Reprinted with permission from the author
Gnostic Sanctuary
Palo Alto, California
http://www.gnosticsanctuary.org/


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