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Hagia Sophia: The Divine Spark in All

In Cultural Bridges, Current Events, Middle East & North Africa, Religious Freedom, Spirituality, The Search for Peace on August 2, 2020 at 3:20 PM

By René Wadlow

 

There is a certain irony in the return of the Hagia Sophia to being an Islamic mosque which it had been from 1453 to 1934. From 1934 till today, it was considered a museum and was visited by many especially for the fine quality of its artwork.

Sophia is the incarnation of wisdom in a feminine figure, providing light in a dark, material world. Only the feminine, the channel of creation in the world, has the power and compassion necessary to overcome the darkness of ignorance.

Sophia as the incarnation of wisdom was a concept among the philosophers of Alexandria and from there entered Jewish thought. (See the Book of Proverbs) The Sophia myth was widespread in the Middle East at the time of Jesus. (1) Sophia was also an important part of Manichean. The Sophia image was also used in various gnostic systems and underwent a great variety of treatments.

Hagia_Sophia,_Constantinople,_Turkey,_ca._1897

Probably developed independently, the feminine embodiment of wisdom and compassion is Shakti in Hinduism and Kuan Yin, the compassionate Bodhisattva in Taoism and Chinese Buddhism.

In our own time, Carl G. Jung highlights the Sophia myth as a many-layered structure of an individual’s search for health and wholeness. Jung stresses the archetypal fall into darkness and the return to light in related myths such as the Egyptian Isis and the descent of Orpheus into the underworld to rescue his wife Eurydice.

It is not certain that all who go to pray at the newly restored mosque will know of the cultural and spiritual meaning of Sophia. However, the central theme of Sophia is that wisdom is the divine spark within each person. That spark is there if one knows the myth or not.

Note: (1) See James M. Robenson (Ed), The Nag Hammadi Library in English (San Francisco: Harper Collins).

Prof. René Wadlow is President of the Association of World Citizens.

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