Jakob Böhme and the three principles of the divine

 Theosophia revelata, das ist, Alle göttliche Schriften, Jakob Böhme, 1730 US public domain via wikimedia
Theosophia revelata, das ist, Alle göttliche Schriften, Jakob Böhme, 1730 US public domain via wikimedia

In Fearful Symmetry,  (1947) Northrop Frye discusses Böhme’s work in relationship to William Blake. This is a great book, highly recommended for all those interested in the imagination. According to Frye, Böhme’s work concerns itself with three stages or ‘principles.’ Frye succinctly describes these principles:

“The first ‘principle’ is God conceived as wrath or fire, who torments himself inwardly until he splits open and becomes the second principle,” (p. 157)

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Jakob Bohme and the Split within God

Theosophia revelata, Jokob Böhme, 1730- US public domain via wikimedia
Theosophia revelata, Jokob Böhme, 1730- US public domain via wikimedia

Böhme’s cosmology includes a division into the light and a dark aspects of the God image. For Böhme’s the God-image is split from within. The split is between the Holy Ghost as the light aspect and the Father as the dark.

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Jakob Böhme & the dynamic unity of light and dark

Jacob Boehme, ‘Vierzig Fragen von der Seele’ Forty Questions Concerning the Soul -1620. US Public Domain
Jacob Boehme, ‘Vierzig Fragen von der Seele’ Forty Questions Concerning the Soul -1620. US Public Domain

Jakob Böhme (1575 – 1624) was a German mystic.  He wrote several mystical treatises which influenced G.W.F. Hegel, Carl Jung, and other German thinkers. Carl Jung speaks of Böhme’s work. He says:

“A historical example of the [division into light and dark] is Jakob Böhme’s mandala, in his treatise XL Questions concerning the Soule… It is an image of God and is designated as such.” (CW 91, para. 717)

 

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Mircea Eliade: on inner ecstatic experience

Sioux Chief Black Hawk c.1880-1881 . US public domain.
“Dream or vision of himself changed to a destroyer and riding a buffalo eagle” by Sioux Chief Black Hawk c.1880-1881 . US public domain via wikimedia

Eliade’s (1950) research found that Visionary states appear as a cross-cultural manifestation in shamans (Eliade, 1950). What differentiates the shaman from other individuals in the tribe “is his ecstatic experience” (p.107).  The shamanic vision is an “inner, ecstatic experience” (Eliade, p.65).  The vision transforms the profane individual into a “technician of the sacred” (p. 33).

The vision is a spontaneous experience loaded with universally found symbolism. Eliade found that the most common shamanic experience is “the passage from one cosmic region to another” (p. 259). The vision gives the individual mastery of “break-through in plane” (p. 259). ‘Break-through in plane’ is an experience of moving between the world of the living and the world of spirit. This is most often symbolized as moving from earth to sky and from earth to the underworld.

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Shadows and Light: religion is a vital link with psychic processes

Christ is tempted by the devil. The painting in the church of Hauho in Häme, Finland, is now ruined. Painted in the middle age. From Kari Tarkiainen: Sveriges Österland, p. 277. US public domain, wikimedia
Christ is tempted by the devil. The painting in the church of Hauho in Häme, Finland, is now ruined. Painted in the middle ages. From Kari Tarkiainen: Sveriges Österland, p. 277. US public domain, wikimedia

Carl Jung is so bold as to tell us: “Religion is a vital link with psychic processes independent of and beyond consciousness, in the dark hinterland of the psyche…” (Carl Jung, CW 9I, para. 262). Religion affects psyche and psyche affects religion.

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