Sophia and Quantum Physics

THE ANCIENT DESCRIPTIONS which point to Sophia as Anima Mundi/World Soul – hence “wisdom that lies hidden or bound within matter”; “the reconciliation of nature and spirit”; “the pre-terrestrial vision of the celestial world” – have strong similarities with the descriptions made by quantum physicists about the quantum realities behind and within matter, the world and the universe.

Quantum physicists describe symmetries and archetypes beyond matter and enfolded in the material world. They speak of wholeness of matter and mind at the quantum level and nonlocal space-time. They describe consciousness within matter; active information directing matter. They talk of archetypes, acausal orderedness, as a basis for science, and quantums of information applicable to both mind and matter.

Some quantum physicists have explicitly acknowledged a return to the concept of Anima Mundi/World Soul with the discovery in science of quantum phenomena.

Shortly before his death Werner Heisenberg argued that what is fundamental in nature is not particles but the symmetries which lie beyond them. These symmetries can be thought of as the archetypes of all matter and the ground of material existence.[i]

Bohr’s theoretical physics emphasis on wholeness and the nonlocal nature of spacetime is compatible with Sophianic Anima Mundi/World Soul. This deeper nonlocal order has been found to be essential to thought processes. Here mind and matter appear to have something in common. “Indeed this leads to the general proposal that mind and matter are not separate and distinct substances but that like light and radio waves they are orders that lie within a common spectrum”.[ii]

Bohm’s theory that quantum processes could be interpreted as having what could almost be called a “mental” side – is also in accord with Sophianic Anima Mundi/World Soul – whereby active information has a directing effect on quantum processes, playing a formative role in unfolding the elementary particles out of their grounding quantum field.[iii]

Carl Friedrich Von Weizsacker is one who argued for the re-emergence of the World Soul motif on the basis that, indeed, quantum theory is to be understood as a theory of information – a holism that encompasses all that exists in both the realms of mind and matter:

“In his recent discussion of implications of his theory of ur-alternatives, von Weizsacker has drawn attention to the possibility for the re-emergence of the World Soul: he has argued that if quantum theory may be understood to be a theory of information, then it applies to information about mental events as well as physical events. According to the ur theory, res cognitans and res extensa must then enter into appearance together, and thus Cartesian dualism is theoretically strictly refuted. The consequence of this is a holism that encompasses all that exists in both the realms of mind and of matter that brings forth the question of the possibility of a World Soul.”[iv]

Sophia World Soul – Celestial Light 

JUNG WAS EXPLORING along similar lines to the quantum physicists when he introduced the idea of a psychoid archetype (unus mundus) which he said contains both mind and matter and yet goes beyond them both. Jung coined the term ‘psychoid unconscious’ to account for the unitary nature of psyche and world.[v] It is rooted in the unconscious, rather than being unified by an external metaphysical being or reality.

More precisely, “the ‘psychoid unconscious’ can be considered a further gradation of the unconscious where self and world meet, and where all opposites are reconciled”.[vi] The Anima Mundi/World Soul is very similar to the psychoid archetype or unus mundus.

The physicist Wolfgang Pauli took up Jung’s psychoid archetype because he saw it as a major contribution to understanding the ‘laws’ of nature:

“For Pauli, the psychoid archetype represented a sort of ‘missing link’ between the world which is the legitimate study of science, and the mind of the scientist who studies it. Jung’s postulate was not just ‘the bridge to matter in general’ but to ‘a cosmic order independent of our choice and distinct from the world of phenomena’.”[vii]

Sophianic Wisdom and individuation, as we have seen, are closely identified, if not identical. Individuation, to embrace the whole, both the known and the unknown in oneself, is also associated with Anima Mundi/World Soul and Jung’s psychoid archetype, or unus mundus.

In alchemy Sophia is associated with the evolution of one’s conscious. This transformation process is individuation.Sophia is here associated with symbols which express the depths of the self, psyche and soul in the world, where body becomes spirit and spirit becomes body.

One of these symbols is of Sophia as a Tree, another is of Sophia as Salt.[viii] Light, lightning, illumination, shining, gold, ‘incarnated light’, are also associated with Sophianic Wisdom and individuation; where body becomes spirit and spirit body, where heaven and earth are connected in the depths of self, psyche and soul in the World, World Soul.[ix]

Henry Corbin describes Sophianity from Mazdean to Shi’ite Iran, as “for the human being to accede here and now to the Celestial Earth, to the world of Hurqalya, world of ‘celestial corporeity’, which is that of the subtle bodies of Light”.[x]

In a strikingly similar description, scientist Darryl Reanney also writes of light and consciousness. Reanney points out that those rare moments when consciousness breaks free of ego are described as “moments of illumination”; the “inbreaking of light” and “the metaphor of consciousness as a light-bringing agent is widespread in all mystical literature”.[xi]

Individuation is a breaking free of ego consciousness into a realisation of Anima Mundi/World Soul: “Individuation does not shut one out from the world, but gathers the world to one’s self”.[xii] Individuation here is self-realisation which involves the psychoid archetype – unus mundus – in other words, Anima Mundi/World Soul.

The enfolded and implicate in Anima Mundi/World Soul becomes unfolded and explicit. Individuation becomes the self-realisation of the psychoid archetype. Whitmont describes it this way:

“The new Aquarian view, ushered in by twentieth-century physics, no longer thinks in terms of discrete objects; rather it conceives of a continuous flux of process, vibrational fields, quantum pulses of an undefinable, nonmaterial substratum. This is a universal consciousness, perhaps, yet prior to what we call consciousness. Prior to energy and matter, it results in both. It is a self-directed flow that gives form. The dynamics of our world, in the view of the modern myth, do not flow from a maker or director outside of it, who manipulates it like an object. The world is inner or self-directed, an immanense groping for self-realization in the three dimensions of space, and in the fourth dimension of time as well. Consciousness and conscience now discover self-direction. They find themselves in relation to the newly emerging Feminine – the Yin – as inner-directed awareness, with its growing transformative aspect – time.”[xiii]

This is a description of the new, yet at the same time ancient, Sophia Anima Mundi/World Soul Archetype.

Archetypal Philosopher James Hillman maintains that we need “an aesthetic response to the world. This response ties the individual soul immediately with the world soul”; indeed they are inseparable as “(a)ny alteration in the human psyche resonates with a change in the psyche of the world”.[xiv] The return of the Anima Mundi/World Soul should therefore be a therapeutic goal both for the individual and the world.

Geographer Peter Bishop influenced by archetypal psychology, maintains that the study of a country or a place and its people should be a task that contributes “towards the return of soul to the world, to an anima mundi psychology”.[xv]While there has been a long tradition of locating the psyche somehow within both the individual and the world, this has been lost in recent centuries. However, as Hillman warns, “the more we concentrate on literalizing interiority within my person the more we lose the sense of soul as a psychic reality… within all things”.[xvi]

In his study of Tibet, for example, Bishop found that the place had a logic and coherence of its own, its genius loci: it was not a ‘silent other’ but alive, substantial and compelling. “It was part of the world calling attention to itself, deepening our soulful appreciation of mountains, of deserts and rivers, of light and colour, of time and space, of myriad peoples and their cultures, of fauna and flora, of the plurality of imaginative possibilities”.[xvii]  

This is an instance of a return of perception of Anima Mundi/World Soul; and a return of the Sophianic Wisdom Archetype. In short, spirituality is to be sought in individuation, the opening up to the unus mundus; or in other words the Sophianic Anima Mundi, World Soul. This deep realisation of Self lies at the heart of all religious intimations of the essential oneness of life.

[i] F. David Peat, Synchronicity — The Bridge between Matter and Mind (N.Y & London: Bantam Books, 1988), 94.
[ii] Ibid, 185-186.
[iii] Ibid, 186-187.
[iv] Charles R. Card, ‘The Emergence of Archetypes in Present-Day Science and its Significance for Contemporary Philosophy of Nature’, Dynamical Psychology (1996), 26-27.
[v] C.G. Jung, ‘Mysterium Conjunctions’ in: The Collected Works, vol.14, para. 552.
[vi] Curtis D. Smith, ‘Psychological Ultimacy: Jung and the Human Basis of Religious Meaning’, Religious Humanism, vol.25: 4 (1991), 177.
[vii] Stevens (1982) Archetype, 74.
[viii] Damiani (1998) Sophia: Exile and Return, 76-77.
[ix] See Titus Burckhardt, Alchemy: Science of the Cosmos, Science of the Soul. (London: Stuart & Watkins, 1967), 82-83.
[x] Henry Corbin (1981) ‘Towards a Chart of the Imaginal’, 32-33.
[xi] Darryl Reanney(1991) The Death of Forever – A New Future for Human Consciousness, 220.
[xii] C.G. Jung, ‘The Structures and Dynamics of the Psyche’ in: The Collected Works, vol. 8, para, 226.
[xiii] Whitmont (1982) The Return of the Goddess, 221.
[xiv] Hillman, ‘Anima Mundi – The Return of the Soul to the World’ , Spring: An Annual of Archetypal Psychology and Jungian Thought ( 1982),79.
[xv] Peter Bishop, The Myth of Shangri-La – Tibet, Travel Writing and the Western Creation of Sacred Landscape (University of California Press, 1989), 251.
[xvi] Ibid.
[xvii] Ibid.

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