Any challenge we face confronts us with a choice. Do we decide to not take the challenge or do we move forward? This is a dilemma that is a crux of human and spiritual growth. Though some obstacles might be too great to overcome and so pulling back is the best option. However, it may seem just easier to pull back, and therefore, we become stuck in the old and fail to step into the new.
The Via Creativa, the path of the creative, is what we are tasked with when faced with an initiatory challenge. To collapse in the face of it, to fall back, is to regress. But the creative process in general is the expressive and energetic movement of mustering one’s inner strength, one’s inner truth, to push against the undertow of one’s suffering. In my own life, it wasn’t until I realized that holding onto myself as “victim” was keeping me small, did I then begin to not just fall into powerless blame, but began to take responsibility for my life’s direction.
Blues music is a wonderful example of this, where in the face of suffering, soulful songs and rhythms help to ease the pain and even becomes the creative solution out of that pain.
In the last chapter of this story, the Negativa, Sophia had fallen into matter where her Light was stripped from her by her tormentor, Yaldabaoth. In this next chapter of the Story of Sophia, she is faced with this powerful condition of being imprisoned and tormented. She could collapse and give up, surrendering to a fate of being forever beaten down. Or she could turn, not give up, sing her song of the blues, and refuse to give up.
At this point in the Pistis Sophia (1), there are extensive passages where Jesus is describing to his disciples how Sophia is going through what could be described as a metanoia, a deep change. This is a great turning where she is both acknowledging her shortcomings while also knowing that there is great injustice to her abuse.
In a most beautiful literary form, Sophia sings a number of songs, where she is grappling with her suffering, and calling out for help knowing that she her tormentors are far more powerful than she is without her Light. “This is the song of praise which Pistis Sophia uttered…” says, or possibly sings, the gnostic Jesus.
“Save me out of the matter of this darkness, that I may not be submerged therein, that I may be saved from the emanations of god Self-willed which press me sore, and from their evil doings. Let not this darkness submerge me, and let not this lion-faced power entirely devour the whole of my power, and let not this chaos shroud my power. Hear me, O Light, for thy grace is precious, and look down upon me according to the great mercy of thy Light.” (PS1:32, 14-16).
Mary Magdalene, who addresses Jesus far more than any of the other disicples says, “My Lord, my indweller of light hath ears, and I hear with my light-power…” whereupon she recalls the Biblical Psalm of David that equates to Sophia’s lament.
“Save me, O God, for the waters are come in even unto my soul.
I sank, or am submerged, in the slime of the abyss, and power was not.
I have gone-down into the depths of the sea; a tempest hath submerged me.
I have kept on crying; my throat is gone, my eyes faded, waiting patiently for God.
They who hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of my head; mighty are my foes, who violently pursued me.” (2)
There is a beautiful expression of this Sophianic cry in the Song of Songs:
“I sought him, but I did not find him. I called him, but he did not answer me. The watchmen that were going about in the city found me. They struck me, they wounded me. the watchmen of the walls lifted my wide wrap off me.”
The Pistis Sophia goes through 13 song cycles, where Sophia moves through various stages of her repentance, reckoning with her grief, torment and shame in the aftermath of this tragic fall. In this way, Sophia is modeling what Jung would call “Shadow” work, where emotional expressions of the soul’s journey into darkness where, like the alchemical heating away at all that is impure, transformation is possible.
In the words of Jesus in the Secret Book of John,
“And when the mother (Sophia) recognized that the garment of darkness was imperfect, then she knew that her consort had not agreed with her. She repented with much weeping. And the whole pleroma heard the prayer of her repentance, and they praised on her behalf the invisible, virginal Spirit (Higher Sophia, Pronnoia).” (Apoch of John)
Finally after some attempts at her rescue that resulted in even harsher persecution from the Lion Faced Yaldabaoth, the fallen Pistis Sophia sang her thirteenth repentance.
“Hearken unto me singing praises unto thee, O Light of lights. Hearken unto me uttering the repentance for the thirteenth aeon, the region out of which I have come down…” (PS1:57)
So deep was her call, so fully in her darkness was her embodiment, so far reaching was her cry, it was then that her call was heard.
The Descent of Jesus
This is a specific and astounding theme in the earliest wave of the gnostic texts, called the Sethian texts. This Christ describes himself as a high angelic being who descends through the gates of the aeons that are under the control of the archons to rescue Sophia.
“For as I came downward, no one saw me. For I was altering my shapes, changing from form to form. And so when I was at their gates I assumed their likeness. For I passed them by quietly, and I was viewing the places, and I was neither afraid nor ashamed, for I was undefiled. And I was speaking with them, mingling with them through those who are mine, and trampling on those who are harsh to them with zeal, and quenching the flame. And I was doing all these things because of my desire to accomplish what I desired by the will of the father above.” (Second Treatise of the Great Seth)
Here Jesus is describing how he descends through their lower regions below the Pleroma and, in order to get past their guards, he disguises himself as being one of them.
“And he consented; and when the invisible Spirit had consented, the holy Spirit poured over her (Sophia) from their whole pleroma. For it was not her consort who came to her, but he came to her through the pleroma in order that he might correct her deficiency. And she was taken up not to her own aeon but above her son, that she might be in the ninth until she has corrected her deficiency.” (Apoch of John)
This is the text that I included in my first “bardic” presentation of the Gnostic Creation Story of Sophia in 1998. (3)
“It was the Christ who came to her in the form of Jesus, to meet her on the material plane. She saw him and at first she was ashamed and she put a veil over her face to hide. But then, when she saw his warmth and the love that he had for her, she ran to him and they embraced.
“And she looked into his eyes and she knew that he was there to help her. She cried again because of the pain that she had carried for so long and there he was to help hold it for her. She was moved. Her emotions moved in a way that she was no longer bound or weighted by them; because this lover of hers could penetrate through all the shame and the terror.”
Jesus continued. “It came to pass then, when Pistis Sophia had said these words, that the time was fulfilled that she should be led out of the chaos. And of myself, without the First Mystery, I despatched out of myself a light-power, and I sent it down to the chaos, so that it might lead Pistis Sophia forth from the deep regions of the chaos, and lead [her] to the higher regions of the chaos, until the command should come from the First Mystery that she should be led entirely forth out of the chaos. And my light-power led Pistis Sophia up to the higher regions of the chaos.” (PS1:58)
Then Jesus brought a light from the great heights, and brought it back to Sophia and she flew up with him into the 9th heaven, out of the reach of Ialadabaoth where she found her place not in the heavens, not in the place where she came from. She was not fully returned but she was safe and she had a light back that she had received. But it was not her light fully, for Ialdabaoth still possessed her light. She sat there and looked down, gratefully relieved for the help that was brought her.
Jesus places a “light-wreath” on her head that gave her a final protection.
“It came to pass then, when Pistis Sophia had finished saying these words in the chaos, that I made the light-power, which I had sent to save her, become a light-wreath on her head, so that from now on the emanations of Self-willed could not have dominion over her. And when it had become a light-wreath round her head, all the evil matters in her were shaken and all were purified in her. They perished and remained in the chaos, while the emanations of Self-willed gazed upon them and rejoiced. And the purification of the pure light which was in Pistis Sophia, gave power to the light of my light-power, which had become a wreath round her head.” (PS1:59)
Mother Mary then quotes the 19th Ode to Solomon, one of the rare Wisdom texts that are referred to in the Pistis Sophia.
“The Lord is on my head as a wreath, and I shall not depart from him. The wreath in truth is woven for me; and it hath caused thy twigs to sprout in me.” (PS1:59)
“My dear one (Sophia-Shulamite) has answered and said to me (Light of lights-Christ), ‘Rise up, you girl companion of mine, my beautiful one, and come away. For, look! the rainy season itself has passed, the downpour itself is over, it has gone its way. Blossoms themselves have appeared in the land, the very time of vine trimming has arrived, and the voice of the turtledove itself has been heard in our land. As for the fig tree, it has gained a mature color for its early figs; and the vines are abloom, they have given their fragrance.” Song of Songs
- Keep in mind that this version of the Pistis Sophia is likely a later edition. Like how the Sophia of Jesus Christ is a later version of the Eugnostos the Blessed, certain additions and techniques were part of the trend of texts, for various reasons, to become more “Christianized”. We find in both the Sophia of Jesus Christ and in the Pistis Sophia the technique the narrative form of Jesus talking to his disciples, rather than just giving a general teaching.
- The implications of the Psalms of David being what would historically be far later versions of the far earlier laments of Sophia is quite compelling. Was David tapping into these ancient songs of Sophia?
- Craig-Morse, Dan. (unpublished). The Myth of Sophia, Recalling an ancient gnostic creation story. Masters Thesis to fulfill graduation requirement at the University of Creation Spirituality. 1998.