The Soul of the Cosmos
The Anima Mundi
The soul has been described in Latin and other languages with a feminine noun. The Oxford Dictionary describes the soul as an entity distinct from the body, as the spiritual aspect of man in contrast to the physical aspect, as the seat of the emotions and feelings and as the aspect of our nature which survives physical death. Metaphysically, it was regarded as the vital, sensitive, or rational principle in plants, animals, or human beings. But millennia ago, it was regarded as the animating principle of the world, the invisible containing Reality which underlay all form—the Anima-Mundi.
The current concept of the soul in modern reductionist science is revealed in the title of a debate (October 30th, 2011) called “Battle of Ideas” and subtitled, “Is there a ghost in the machine?”
Jung’s comment is perhaps appropriate here: “The general under-valuation of the human soul is so great that neither the great religions nor the philosophies nor scientific rationalism have been willing to look at it twice.”
What has been lost in descriptions of the soul is the Platonic understanding that the Cosmos has a soul and that this Cosmic Soul is the origin or ground of our own individual soul and our connection with the deeper levels of the Cosmos; our individual soul is an inseparable part of the Soul of the Cosmos.
To understand Soul as an invisible cosmic reality, we need to broaden our concept of it to embrace the inner or unseen life of the visible universe and, recognize that it is alive, conscious and the eternal ground of our own consciousness.
The reason the soul has been thought of as Feminine is, I believe, because the idea of the soul evolved out of the image of the Great Mother whose cosmic womb was the source of all life. One of the most important ideas derived from the image of the Great Mother, was that “life was instinctively experienced as an organic, living and sacred whole, where everything was woven together in one cosmic web and all orders of life were related, because all shared in the sanctity of the original source.”
The idea of Soul as a cosmic reality was defined in the extensive cosmology of Plotinus and his idea of the Anima-Mundi or Soul of the World. A similar concept can be found in the Shekinah of Kabbalah described in Chapter Three. Familiarity with the ancient cosmology surrounding the image of the Great Mother and later Great Goddesses as well as the Shekinah helped me to understand what the idea of ‘Soul’ once signified and what it could signify again.
Heraclitus was right. Even though we travel by every path to discover the limits of the Soul, we could never fathom its depths. For the depths of the Soul are the depths of the Cosmos itself and the multitude of invisible worlds about which, with our limited perception, we know virtually nothing.
Selected Excerpts from Chapter 3 & 15 of my Book: The Dream of the Cosmos
Soul as the Fathomless Sea of Being
And imagine the small vessel of our individual consciousness sailing on the surface of an infinite sea of light which is continually surging, dancing, flowing into being.
The Many Dimensions of Reality
The first two realms of Spirit and Soul are filled with multiple concentric belts, spheres or zones of matter far finer than the composition of our world and varying in vibratory frequency.
The Shekinah of Kabbalah
Every aspect of creation, both visible and invisible, is interwoven with every other aspect. All is one life, one cosmic symphony, one integrated whole. We participate in the divine life which informs all these mysterious levels of reality.
The Shekinah and Divine Immanence
The Shekinah as the Holy Spirit of Wisdom—divinity present and active in the world—supplies the missing imagery of divine immanence which has been lost or obscured in the orthodox traditions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
A Prayer for the New Millennium
May Her Light and Love shine through our hearts and illumine our minds. May She help us to become aware of the oneness and sacredness of life and to care for our neighbour as our self.