About the book

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Published 2020 by Harpagornis

Distribution: Available at bookshops, libraries. Distribution by IngramSpark/Global Print Distribution Partners. Also available on Amazon.

Press release 

Sophia Geography, “A Neo-Pagan Theology” , 2020

This is the 2020 edition of Sophia Geography – Exploring  Spirituality, Landscape and Archetypes,    “A Neo-Pagan Theology”.

The author states;

“It was only some years after I had completed my Ph.D and the early revisions of  Sophia Geography that I realised  that this book is a Neo-Pagan Theology”

Sophia Geography re-casts the Pagan world view in a modern contemporary context. The result is a new Pagan theology.

The last two chapters   Sophia’s Return  and Sophia Geography in particular  contribute significantly towards  a Neo-Pagan Theology.

However all the chapters have a thread running through them leading us to this conclusion.  Hence the chapters – Spirituality Comes of Age, Landscapes of Geography, Imaginal-Visionary Landscapes, Towards Archetypal Landscapes , Mother Earth ,  also contribute significantly towards Neo – Paganism and a Neo-Pagan Theology.

Now in 2020 recognising the essential Neo-Pagan theme thread running throughout this book, it is hoped that Sophia Geography will be recognised as a valuable philosophical and theological contribution to the study of spirituality and religion in its broadest sense.

In 2018 Sophia Geography was a finalist in the Ashton Wylie Charitable Trust Book Awards.


“Tell Me Your Landscape and I Will Tell You Who You Are”

– Ortega y Gasset

Religious Studies is the academic discipline concerned with spirituality, religion and theology in its broadest sense.

Sophia Geography  approaches the spiritual inherent in landscapes from a secular point of view. Spirituality, landscape and archetypes  are ideas which can be explored historically, analytically and descriptively, or phenomenologically.  Sophia Geography  is an exploration . It is an academic quest for clarification and enlightenment on ideas about spirituality , landscape and archetypes – and finally it comes to a realization and explores the forgotten  and hidden Gnostic Sophia. This is not a dogmatic book , but rather  it is a phenomenological  exploration. Everything is up for discussion  and disagreement . Setting out, this writer did not know the destination. The conclusion , like a lost continent emerging out of the mist, was a rediscovery. Whether it it real , is up to you.

Explored in this book are the following topics: History of Western Spirituality; Geography of Landscape, Place and Spirituality; Archetypal Psychology and Archetypal Landscapes; Paganism and Animism– New Zealand Maori, American Indian and Australian Aborigine Primal Religions; Green Ecospirituality; Philosophy of Science and Spirituality; Postmodernism; Postmodern theology and science; Feminist and Ecofeminist theology; Gnosticism and Persian mysticism as interpreted by Henry Corbin; and the long lost Sophia – philosophy of the Soul and the Soul of the Earth.

The seminal thinkers drawn on are: Carl Jung, Anthony Stevens, James Hillman, Walter A. Shelburne, Peter Bishop, Denis Cosgrove, Barry Lopez, Lynn Ross-Bryant, Edward C. Whitmont, Kathleen Granville Damiani, Carol P. Christ, Lloyd Geering, Thomas Berry, Charlene Spretnak, James Lovelock, Wolfgang Pauli, F. David Peat, David Bohm and Henry Corbin.

Reviews – Sophia Geography

“Sophia Geography takes readers on a journey to redefine the earth and their relationship to it, and the book is a veritable tour de force of philosophical, mystical, geographical, ecological and psychological writings. Antill knows the territory well, and uses Jungian archetypes as signposts to help the reader navigate the terrain.

The volume begins gently, but soon gathers momentum, with fascinating sections on the earth as mother archetype and technology as the trickster archetype. However, it is the final three chapters that are the most compelling, as they transport readers to the promised land where the outer landscapes of the earth and the inner landscape of the psyche merge. This fusion could best be described as enlightenment.

Why read this book? …We live in a time when those in power are exploiting the environment to satisfy their own greed. Their actions threaten to destroy life on earth. The scientific community has repeatedly warned of the dangers, but the voice of reason has not been loud enough to bring about sufficient change. What is needed now are new narratives that inspire each of us to live in harmony with earth’s energies”

– Dr Heather Kavan, Massey University, New Zealand

“…sparks with insight, commitment and understanding…it is a significant contribution to the field of large-scale archetypal synthesis, especially those which attempt to apply themselves to urgent and important social concerns…the writer’s strength lies in her ability to synthesise and in her understanding of and empathy with the Sophianic perspective, particularly as articulated by Henri Corbin. The attempt to apply Corbin’s interpretation and exposition of Ibn ‘Arabi’s seminal work to the field of eco-poetics is both original and important. This is difficult work and is a profound challenge to dominant paradigms of understanding, perception and experience in most societies, not merely western…”

– Professor Peter Bishop, ‘The Myth of Shangri-La — Tibet, Travel Writing and the Western Creation of Sacred Landscape’




Sophia Geography is dedicated to:

All those who have glimpsed
their landscapes in themselves,
and themselves
in their landscapes,
and wondered…

Introduction to ‘Sophia Geography’ by J P Antill

“TELL ME YOUR LANDSCAPE and I will tell you who you are.” We are defined by our landscapes, as the Spanish philosopher Ortega y Gasset said. Yet this book shows that it is the archetypes which are behind our landscapes, which permeate our values and inform our spirituality. These form our inner landscapes.

Sophia Geography approaches the spiritual inherent in landscapes from a secular point of view. Spirituality, landscape  and archetypes  are  ideas which can be explored historically, analytically and descriptively, or phenomenologically.

When I was about eleven or twelve, I tried to read the American evangelist Billy Graham’s book World Aflame. It was picked at random from my mother’s eclectic bookshelf and had probably been given to her and  never been read. My mother was a gardener,  a nature lover and naturalist as well as a tolerant liberal Christian and  a fan of New Zealand’s heretical theologian Lloyd Geering. Her bookshelf also  contained environmentalist Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. Rachel Carson’s book was where her heart lay, in protecting the natural environment. World Aflame made me feel sick. It was a gut reaction which I did not understand at the time. I later came to realize it was a visceral reaction to a world view which was at violent variance with my own natural world view – a sunlight filled alive landscape which I perceived to be inherently spiritual, beautiful and good. This was my God, a Spirit in everything, and I unknowingly was a young animist Pagan.

However Billy Graham did have a point to make. All was not good and beautiful with the human world. Rachel Carson would have agreed! Today we have a world of “clashing religious fundamentalisms”, as has been described by Tariq Ali – which is increasingly being countered by a wave of implacable and brilliant atheists arguing The God Delusion. Have you gleefully surfed this atheistic wave with the religious skeptics, who rightfully and righteously dump on religious bigotry? Or do you wonder if something has been missed and lost, some essence which could have been salvaged from the sullied great religions? Do you feel confused, as if you and your old religious beliefs have been hit by the wave of secular scientific materialism? Well maybe and maybe not… However do you seek refuge and salvation in the alternate realities of cyberspace? And do you sometimes wonder ‑ while playing at the secular ‘card table’, within the ‘genius’ man-made world of technology, commerce, and consumerism – whether we are not after all going to ‘hell in a handbasket’? Do you seek solace in the landscapes of the natural world? If so, this book could be for you.

IN THE FIRST PART of the book, Chapters 1 to 4, explored are the concepts of spirituality, landscape and archetypes.

Heraclitus said “You could not discover the limits of the soul, even if you travelled every road to do so; such is the depth of its meaning”. But perhaps you feel that spirituality makes no sense in our scientific and materialist age? If so, I hope Chapter 1 – Spirituality Comes of Age will change your mind. I hope to persuade you that although spirituality has been undermined by twentieth century modernists and positivists, it is, nevertheless, a legitimate and credible concept which has changed over history. It was Carl Jung, on the trail of the ancient Gnostics, who reintroduced the idea that all religious experience is psychic in nature. Archetypal and Depth Psychology has established this tradition once more in the twentieth century. Hence spirituality is inherent to the psyche (soul) and all the Gods are archetypes inherent within the psyche. Individuation is an inner spiritual quest or process towards the fullest possible realization of the self and the imago dei (the God-image) within the psyche or soul. Not only is this an ancient Gnostic idea of an inner spirituality – but increasingly spirituality is seen as a contemporary postmodern issue, in terms of creativity, inner experience and process.

Geography is above all the study of landscape. Geographers have argued that “Although the land exists, ‘the scape is a projection of human consciousness, an image received’ (Erlich 1987). Mentally or physically, we frame the view, and our apperception depends on our frame of mind”.

Chapter 2 – Landscapes of Geography explores landscape. Landscape is more than what is found in the viewfinder of a camera. It has a connection with one’s self. We often have a fondness for a particular landscape, perhaps a childhood landscape – some even talk about “my landscape” as if it is interchangeable with “myself”. Artists, poets, philosophers and travellers have pondered this relationship, as have geographers. Like spirituality, landscape has been a mobile and changing concept. From the objectivity, positivism and literalism of modernism to the inward subjective focus of humanistic, existential and postmodern geography, landscape would seem to be, like spirituality, an inner concept originating in the psyche. It is argued by this writer that landscape is a ‘focus of perception’ and it is relational rather than objective.

For Belden C. Lane, “Landscape is a connector of the soul with being”. The Arctic explorer and environmentalist Barry Lopez argues “Our perceptions are colored by preconception and desire…the landscapes in which history unfolds are both real, that is, profound in their physical effects on mankind, and not real, but mere projections, artifacts of human perception”. Geographers have long recognized a link between mind, imagination and landscape.

In Chapter 3 – Imaginal – Visionary Landscapes it is shown that landscapes are both imaginal and visionary. They derive from personal and collective imagination. Imagination in creating landscape is inherent in postmodern geography and it becomes most apparent in a consideration of spiritual or religious landscapes.

In the West there have been discernable historical changes in spiritual imaginal-visionary landscapes – hence this writer describes 1) the primal, sacred, Nature/Earth Landscape; 2) the Judeo-Christian revelatory Anthropocentric Landscape; 3) the modernist, ‘secular’ Technological/Materialist Landscape; and 4) the Postmodern Ecological Landscape which points to an Inner Landscape

“All landscapes are symbolic, they express ‘a persistent desire to make the earth over in the image of some heaven’, and they undergo change because they are expressions of society itself, making history through time”, geographer Denis Cosgrove writes.

Chapter 4 – Towards Archetypal Landscapes is the pivotal chapter which threshes out the case for symbolic and mythological archetypes within landscapes. In order to give credence to the idea that there are archetypes behind and within our landscapes Chapter 4 takes us on a journey towards an archetypal analysis of landscapes. Postmodernism sets the climate for an archetypal analysis. We explore what is meant by postmodernism in philosophy, science, religion and spirituality. Postmodern geographers have already recognized that there are connections and similarities between the knowledge perspective, or epistemology, of postmodernism and depth archetypal psychology.

We explore the evidence for Jung’s theory of archetypes. This is controversial and fascinating stuff. Jung regarded himself as a scientist using scientific method. However Jung and his theory have been viciously attacked from some academic religious quarters, surprising as it may seem to those outside the ivory towers and the religious establishments. The stakes, apparently, are high. Here the author wades in unflinchingly, in support of Jung’s challenge to religious orthodoxy. The evidence to support Jung and his theory of archetypes is strong. It comes from philosophers and scientists – in the form of similar or associative evidence from other disciplines and scientific evidence, evaluated by philosophical analysis, and orthodox science itself.

Again, ironically, having made this case, Jung’s ideas were also a challenge to orthodox science. They were on the growing fringe of science where theoretical quantum physicists liked to play. Hence Jung’s life-long collaboration on the theory of archetypes with Wolfgang Pauli, the winner of the 1945 Nobel Prize in Physics. Both Jung and Pauli saw complementary aspects in physics and the psyche and fundamental dynamical patterns which were both mental and physical. Archetypes in matter and mind account for synchronistic phenomena, in other words these abstract patterns could determine behaviour of matter in a noncausal way.

If you accept that archetypes exist, the rest of this chapter describes the essence of archetypes. The conclusion is that an archetypal analysis of landscape will involve: 1) looking for images which are universal, trans-historical, profound, numinous, generative, highly intentional and necessary; 2) looking for images which are ‘a way of seeing’, a locus of imagining and ‘a way of seeing with the heart’ (insight); 3) Looking for images which are inherently feelings, have an emotional possessive effect and that bedazzle consciousness; 4) looking for appropriate components of the psyche, Gods and myths; 5) looking for root metaphors.

THE SECOND PART of the book Chapters 5 to 9 uses an archetypal analysis to explore the four imaginal –visionary landscapes described in Chapter 3.

Cultural historian Theodore Roszak has argued that “Mother Earth is as universal a symbol as our race possesses, at home even in those societies that have moved on to more civilized ways”.

In Chapter 5 – Mother Earth it is shown that the Mother Earth Archetype is behind and imbues the nurturing values and spirituality of the Nature/Earth Landscape. An archetypal analysis is given which includes the shadowside of Mother Earth – destruction, chaos, death and annihilation of the ego. She is found in the ancient and terrible Goddess Kali, as well as in the warnings of twentieth and twenty-first century environmental and Gaian scientists.

Ecotheologian and Catholic priest Thomas Berry has famously made the observation, along with many feminists and environmentalists, that “The biblical tradition begins with the creation narrative wherein the Earth Mother of the Eastern Mediterranean is abandoned in favour of the transcendent Heaven Father…The natural world is no longer the locus for the meeting of the divine and the human. A subtle aversion develops toward the natural world, a feeling that humans in the depth of their beings do not really belong to the earthly community of life, but to a heavenly community”.

Chapter 6 – Heavenly God-Father makes the case that the transcendence of the monotheistic Heavenly God-Father Archetype over the universal Mother Earth Archetype amounted to a clash of archetypes in history and the repercussions continue today. A new Anthropocentric Landscape, with man as the central ‘focus of perception’, was brought forth and the Nature/Earth Landscape and Mother Earth were de-divinized, objectified and made ready for exploitation. Pagan religions, polytheism and in particular Goddesses and feminine power were driven underground by this jealous male Heavenly God-Father of monotheism. However this separation from Mother Earth and the Nature/Earth Landscape was necessary for the development of the Ego and Hero and individual identity. The shadowside of this archetype is scapegoating and warmongering against the ‘othered ‘ and ‘not chosen’.

For Erik Davis “Technology is neither devil nor angel. But neither is it simply a “tool” a neutral extension of some rock-solid human nature. Technology is a trickster…[The Trickster] Hermes became agoraios, “he of the agora,” the patron saint of merchants, middlemen, and the service industry, while the god’s epithet “tricky” came to mean “good for securing profit”.

In Chapter 7 – Trickster it is shown that phenomenologically, the Trickster Archetype (and allied developing Ego and Hero) imbue the Technological/Materialist Landscape ‘focus of perception’. The Trickster Hermes in mythology has had a long association with the marketplace, commerce, the deal, cross-roads, boundaries, trickery, magic, trade surplus, profit, transformation, technology and communications. The Heavenly God-Father is now ‘dead’ and the new usurper Trickster God is Man, Hero, Ego, Player, the Measurer and the Creator. Trickster’s ‘morality’ is an amorality and a supra-morality. Trickster’s shadowside is the world of I-It. Without care and love, the ‘I’ uses that rendered objectified or ‘It’ as a possession, play-thing, tool, ‘means to an end’, gratification. The I-It world of the Trickster is objective, casual, cool and impersonal.

Who is Sophia? Chapter 8 – Sophia’s Return is a rediscovery and an exploration of Sophia, the Wisdom Archetype, found both in the ancient world and today. The Sophia Wisdom Archetype (Anima Mundi/World Soul) values and spirituality are inherent in the Postmodern Ecological Landscape ‘focus of perception’.

Sophia’s return has been forecast by a number of philosophers and psychologists, as well as predicted in ancient religious texts. Physician, psychoanalyst and writer Edward C. Whitmont wrote “The Goddess is now returning. Denied and suppressed for thousands of years of masculine domination, she also comes at a time of dire need… Mother Earth herself has been pressed to the limits of her endurance”.  It is shown that Sophia Wisdom (Anima Mundi /World Soul) is both premodern and postmodern and is found in quantum physics, archetypal psychology and ecopsychology. Sophianic Wisdom, like Deep Ecology, involves the asking of deeper questions and the apperception of deeper realities.

Have you ever wondered how your inner Self connects with your outer landscapes? Explored in Chapter 9 – Sophia Geography is the Postmodern Ecological Landscape and the Sophianic Inner Landscape (Mundus Imaginalis) – together with Sophianic Harmonic Archetypal Perception (Ta’wil) and the Visionary Geography of the Soul.

The role of the inner landscapes in the formation of outer landscapes is illustrated in the arguments of postmodern ecologists such as Barry Lopez; quantum physicists such as Wolfgang Pauli, David Bohm and F. David Peat; as well as that of philosophers Gilbert Durand and Henry Corbin. They point to the power of the imagination, inter-worlds, parallel worlds – the necessity of recognizing and rediscovering psycho-spiritual structures in order to perceive and meditate the Earth – hence ta’wil, harmonic perception, holographic perception, archetypal perception.

Henry Corbin wrote “…ultimately what we call physics and physical is but a reflection of the world of the Soul; there is no pure physics, but always the physics of some definite psychic activity” and “The earth then is a vision, and geography a visionary geography…the categories of the sacredness “which possess the soul” can be recognized in the landscape with which it surrounds itself and in which it shapes its habitat…”

Thus in the end to perceive the Sophianic Soul of the Earth is to perceive one’s own Soul. The psyche and the landscape have become one.



THIS BOOK IS A CAULDRON of ideas by thinkers and writers on the subjects of spirituality, landscape, archetypes and Sophia. I have tried to acknowledge them all by referencing meticulously all sources. I owe a debt of gratitude and pay homage to these thinkers, divinely inspired. They have enriched my life and I hope that the interested reader will seek out and follow up on the original source books and articles, as well as their other writings.

A PhD ‘Spirituality, Landscape and Archetypes’, completed at the University of Waikato in 2009 is the basis of this book. In fact it was begun about 16 years earlier, in the early 1990s at Victoria University, but it had to fit in with life, children and establishing a vineyard. This was not a PhD rattled off fast. However I don’t think it suffered because of the length of its gestation. Because of my other commitments I was given time to think, explore, wonder and ponder.

While he bears no responsibility for the final contents of this book, I owe a debt of gratitude to Professor Douglas Pratt, University of Waikato, for his editing, cheerful professionalism, patience and competence in seeing the PhD through to completion.

However without the recognition of the importance of the subject and the initiative by Professor Jim Veitch, Victoria University, the research project would not have been started. It was he who suggested the research should be turned into a book. Dr George Armstrong listened bemused and patiently in the initial gestation of my ideas and investigations.

Throughout, I could not have done without the on-going friendship and unfailing support, at crucial times, of Dr Heather Kavan, Massey University and    Julian Young my partner, who tirelessly gave invaluable technological support. Professor Peter Bishop, University of South Australia gave perceptive feedback on the original PhD. David Famularo, journalist, artist , gallery owner and Green Party activist gave unwavering, enthusiastic encouragement to turn the thesis into a book and patiently proof read the manuscript and made editorial suggestions.  Julian Young  was the technical publisher.

CRUCIAL TO MY THINKING ABOUT SPIRITUALITY has been the second-to-none quality of academia, rigorous scholarship and teaching standards that I encountered years ago as a young student in the 1970s at the University of Canterbury. Colin Brown headed the thriving, exploratory Comparative Religious Studies Department, which viewed religions and spirituality in their broadest sense. He left a life-long legacy to the students who flocked to his department. Here as well as the standard fare of a ‘History of Christian Thought’, ‘Philosophy of Religion’, ‘Islamic Theology’, ‘Judaism’ and ‘Martin Buber’ – I was introduced by the mountaineer Dr Jim Wilson, to ‘Maori Spirituality’, ‘Buddhism’, ‘Hinduism’, ‘Confucianism’; and of special fascination for me, Englishman Dr David Brewster introduced me to the philosophy, theology and translations of Sorbonne Professor, Henry Corbin and ‘Eastern and Western Mysticism’.

In Wellington I attended the Victoria University Continuing Education lecture series given by Emeritus Professor Lloyd Geering, a fearless Christian theologian, scholar, original thinker and brilliant teacher of religious philosophy in its broadest sense. Geering rekindled my intellectual interest in religion and spirituality.

Much appreciation goes to research librarians Barbro Harris and Justin Caygill at Victoria University who fielded my many requests to libraries, and to Jean Sunko, Carolyn and Marie of the Victoria University creche, who looked after my precious little Elinore and Roald with such care.

Towards the end of researching my thesis, Ngai Tahu Corporation and Dr Te Maire Rawiri Tau endorsed me with a postgraduate scholarship grant to complete the university funding of my PhD, for which I was very  grateful.

Finally, heart-felt love to my mother Alison Antill(nee McIlraith), naturalist, environmentalist, feminist, liberal Christian, tramper, gardener and one of the world’s great arguers; Frank Gillett, mountaineer, skier, botanist and humble spiritual lover of the mountains. Also respect and love to Elsie Locke, fearless social activist for justice, the natural environment and tramper extraordinaire; my grandmother Ruby McIlraith, aunt Sylvia Gillett and Elizabeth Richards, pioneering woman high country farmer, for a wonderful childhood in New Zealand’s back country. Trevor Antill, my father, a Bluff -Riverton based Fiordland fisherman, his mother Flora Jacobs Antill from the Chatham Islands (descendant of Chief Iwikau of Akaroa, signatory to the Treaty of Waitangi) and my farmer grandfathers Bill McIlraith and Daniel Antill –  all humble lovers of their land and their Te Wai Pounamu landscapes, rivers, coastline and seas. Their spirit, heart and soul is in their Te Wai Pounamu South Island of New Zealand.  Arohanui.

Cover photo: Painting  Lake Kanieri, New Zealand, 1800s, by GR
Cover design: Mirabelle Thomas, Independent graphist
Back cover photo: Tyler Roberts
Interior design: Simon Gregory
Technical publishing:  Julian Young
Designer: www.elinoreruby.com
Blog site manager: My son

Chapter Keywords

Spirituality Comes of Age – Carl Jung and Gnosticism, Gods are archetypes, Depth Psychology, Individuation, religion and science, feminist ecospirituality
Landscapes of Geography – spiritual meanings of landscapes, landscapes are a ‘focus of perception’, Peter Bishop archetypal- imaginal analysis of landscape
Imaginal-Visionary Landscapes – postmodern geography and geography of religion, geography of spirituality, all landscapes are symbolic, Denis Cosgrove,
Towards Archetypal Landscapes – Carl Jung’s theory of archetypes, postmodernism and archetypes, science of archetypes, Wolfgang Pauli
Mother Earth – Maori spirituality , American Indian spirituality, Goddess spirituality, Gaia philosophy, Gods are in nature, Paganism
Heavenly God-Father – patriarchal monotheism, separation and transcendence over Mother Earth, Hero, Ego, war
Trickster – Trickster Archetype and technology, Trickster God is man, technological materialism
Sophia’s Return – ecophilosophy, ecospirituality, ecopsychology, Sophia wisdom, Henry Corbin, Edward.C.Whitmont
Sophia Geography – Sophia World Soul, Gnostic Sophia, Henry Corbin, Ibn ‘Arabi, Ta, wil, inter-worlds, harmonic perception, visionary geography

Keywords: Goddess Ecospirituality, Mother Earth religions, Maori Religion and American Indian spirituality, Jung Archetypal Psychology, Henry Corbin Sophia Gnosticism, Mind Earth Pagan spirituality, Heavenly God-Father, Patriarchal monotheism, Hero, Ego, War, Trickster Archetype and Technology, Geography and spiritual landscape, Geography of the mind.