THUS, IN SOPHIANIC mystical philosophy, the Earth is both a vision and geography, indeed, a visionary geography.
To perceive the soul of the earth is to perceive one’s own soul. As Corbin states:
“We can therefore say this: the Imago Terrae, while it is the organ of perception itself, also signifies those aspects and figures of the Earth that are perceived, no longer simply by the senses nor as sensory empirical data, but by the archetype-Image, the Image a priori of the soul itself. The Earth is then a vision, and geography a visionary geography. Hence it is the Image of itself and its own Image that the soul rediscovers and meets.”[i]
In other words and to reiterate, the:
“[P]erception of the Sophianic mystery of the Earth, of geosophy, obviously cannot take place in the framework of positive geography. It presupposes a visionary geography, what has been rightly called a “landscape of Xvarnah”… [This landscape] is not spread over profane, previously determined space, but is concentrated or concentrates a sacred space… and this space does not need to be situated, since it is of itself situative.”[ii]
The psyche and the landscape have become one.
“Geographical features, mountains for instance, are here no longer merely physical features; they have a significance for the soul; they are psycho-cosmic aspects. The events that take place there consist in the very seeing of these aspects; they are psychic events.”[iii]
In a visionary geography plants, water, mountains are transmuted into symbols. The mountain tops of the Earth are the mountain tops of the soul. “The mountain tops of the Earth of visions are the mountain tops of the soul. The two archetypal Images, the Imago Terrae and the Imago Animae, correspond to one another: the mountain of visions is the psycho-cosmic mountain.”[iv]
The hierophanies of visionary geography offers an example of a case of psycho-geography unlike any other.[v] Corbin points out that visionary geography creates a mental iconography that offers Spenta Armaiti, the Sophia and Feminine Angel of the Earth support for meditation on what we previously called geosophy – the Earth in its spiritual form, – and is inseparable from eschatology (theology concerned with the end of the world) because its function is “essentially to prepare the birth of the earthly human being to his celestial “I,” which is Daena, the daughter of Spenta Armaiti-Sophia”.[vi]
To recognise oneself as a son or daughter of the Spiritual Earth (or Angel of the Earth) is to have one’s soul awakened to consciousness of a celestial kinship. It is to undertake in one’s own being Sophianity, Sophia. By assuming this nature the human being is in a true sense the child of the Earth Angel and is so able to have a mental vision of her.[vii]
One is no longer a person “imprisoned between the boundaries of terrestrial birth and death, but a human being in his totality, including the past of his pre-existence and the future of his superexistence”.[viii]
Corbin maintains that “the active Imagination of the celestial Earth, is not a “fantasy”; it is a power capable of “substantiating” and “vivifying”.[ix]
As we have seen, many explorers of the natural world and the psyche, postmodern ecologists, mountaineers and lovers of the natural Earth would agree, that contact with the Earth does have a substantiating and vivifying effect and that the Earth does seem to have a ‘soul’ with which we can become attuned ‘in soul’.
For example John Bierman, in his biography of Laszlo Almasy, writes of Almasy’s consuming passion for the desert where “Almasy believed, one could escape the tensions and temptations of modern living and find one’s real self. There, body and soul were cleansed and man felt ‘nearer to the Creator’… ‘The desert is terrible and it is merciless,’ he would write, ‘but to the desert all who once have known it must return’ ”.[x]
Opening up of Soul
DEVOTION TO THE SPIRITUAL EARTH tends to cause the opening up of the anima, the secret presence of the Eternal feminine in man – Sophianic Wisdom.[xi] Sophia is associated with both the Anima and the Soul – the opening up of consciousness and hence Wisdom. Sophia as Soul and Anima, preceding male and female differentiation, is the imaginative consciousness in the form of an archetypal feminine being:
“[E]ternally Feminine, preceding even terrestrial woman because preceding the differentiation of male and female in the terrestrial world, just as the supracelestial Earth rules over all the Earths, celestial and terrestrial, and exists before them. Fatima-Sophia is in fact the Soul: the Soul of creation, the Soul of each creature, that is, the constitutive part of the human being that appears essentially to the imaginative consciousness in the form of a feminine being, Anima. She is the eternally feminine in man, and that is why she is the archetype of the heavenly Earth; she is both paradise and intuition into it…”[xii]
A “Psychological Geography”
IN 1953, HENRY CORBIN argued for a psychological geography, a new line of study in which the “intention is to discover the psychological factors that come into play in the conformation given to a landscape”. Thus:
“Out of geographical studies, a new line of study, described as psychological geography, has developed in our day: The intention is to discover the psychological factors that come to play in the conformation given to a landscape. The phenomenological presupposition implicit in research of this kind is that the essential functions of the soul, the psyche, include the projection of a nature, a physis; conversely, each physical structure discloses the mode of psycho-spiritual activity that brings it into operation. In this sense, 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, whether by projecting the vision on an ideal iconography, or by attempting to inscribe and reproduce a model of the vision on the actual earthly ground.”[xiii]
Corbin concludes: “This is why each of the hierophanies of our visionary geography offers an example of a case of psycho-geography unlike any other”.[xiv]
We are defined by our landscapes. The categories of sacredness “which possess the soul” can be recognized in the archetypal landscape(s) with which it surrounds itself. This is the essence of the inner Sophianic Wisdom Archetype – within the Postmodern Ecological Landscape.
Perhaps no other postmodernist ecological writer, explorer of the psyche and lover of the natural world, gives a better lyrical working illustration of the Sophia Wisdom Archetype (Anima Mundi/World Soul and Mundus Imaginalis) – the inner landscape perception within the Postmodern Ecological Landscape in our time, than does Barry Lopez in this passage from Arctic Dreams:
“I bowed. I bowed to what knows no deliberating legislature or parliament, no religion, no competing theories of economics, an expression of allegiance with the mystery of life. I looked out over the Bering Sea and brought my hands folded to the breast of my parka and bowed from the waist deeply toward the north, that great strait filled with life, the ice and the water. I held the bow to the pale sulphur sky at the northern rim of the earth. I held the bow until my back ached, and my mind was emptied of its categories and designs, its plans and speculations. I bowed before the simple evidence of the moment in my life in a tangible place on the earth that was beautiful. When I stood I thought I glimpsed my own desire. The landscape and the animals were like something found at the end of a dream. The edges of the real landscape became one with the edges of something I had dreamed. But what I had dreamed was only a pattern, some beautiful pattern of light. The continuous work of the imagination, I thought, to bring what is actual together with what is dreamed is an expression of human evolution.”[xv]
[i] Ibid, 29-30.
[ii] Ibid, 16.
[iv] Ibid, 35.
[v] Ibid, 30. Note: Hierophany and hierophanies is from the Greek root ‘hieros’ meaning “sacred” or “ holy” sign; “to reveal” or “ to bring to light”; signifies a manifestation of the sacred.
[vi] Ibid, 36.
[vii] Ibid, 37.
[viii] Ibid, 36.
[ix] Ibid, 40.
[x] John Bierman, The Secret Life of Laszlo Almasy – The Real English Patient (London: Viking, 2004) 38.
[xi] Corbin (1989) Spiritual Body and Celestial Earth, 40.
[xii] Ibid, 66.
[xiii] Ibid, 30.
[xv] Lopez (1988) Arctic Dreams, 414.