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REVIEW: UNIVERSAL GODDESS TAROT BY MARIA CARATTI &ANTONELLA PLATANO

UNIVERSAL GODDESS TAROT

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

MARIA CARATTI uses Tarot, runes, I Ching and a crystal ball for divination, she also deals with magic and focuses on the cult of the Great Goddess, paganism and spells. She is the author of Wheel of the Year Tarot and Wicca Divination Kit and has also collaborated in the development of Secret Forest Tarot and Harmonious Tarot decks. She lives with cats.

Find out more about her on her website:  http://www.mariacaratti.com/

ANTONELLA PLATANO (called by Maria Caratti ‘MagicaAntodalleManidOro“‘ meaning Magical Antonella of the Golden Hands) is an Italian cartoonist. She was born February 12 1973 in Cuneo and graduated from an art college in 1991. She has always been fascinated by comic books and collaborated with Sergio Bonelli Editore, the comics oriented publishing house (she is the co – author of such titles as Legs Weaver and Nathan Never), she has also collaborated with such publishing houses as San Paolo and Rainbow. Antonella has illustrated some popular Tarot decks released by Lo Scarabeo: Witchy Tarot, Gay Tarot, Tarot of the 78 Doors and Wheel of the Year Tarot.  Her favourite techniques are pencil and ink. I have not come across her personal webpage but you can find her profile in a Wikia about comics here.

You can also check the deck’s profile on Lo Scarabeo page and all the cards on Maria Caratti’s Youtube channel. She has also posted some initial sketches of the deck by Antonella Platano on her Facebook profile.

ADVANTAGES

Most important advantage of this deck is the fact that it indeed presents 78 goddesses and nymphs from all over the world. Authors have matched them quite adequately to the Minor and Major Arcana and included not only the most important goddesses but also those less known making the user search and google them. Maria Caratti explains on her page that she initially intended to publish a deck called The Ladies of Magic consisting of around forty cards and presenting the Wiccan themes, however Piero Alligo, an artistic director of Lo Scarabeo, suggested she could instead create the Tarot deck where a goddess would be assigned to each Arcane. It was a real challenge and required deep research in the mythologies, legends and folklore of the world. I have already mentioned in my review of the Goddess Tarot that it is not an easy task to connect the goddesses’ myths, elements and symbols with the original meanings of the Tarot cards.

Most of the choices the author has made seem to  merge successfully goddesses myths with the basic meanings of each Arcane. The best associations seem to be Athena as The Emperor, Aphrodite as The Lovers, Hekate as The Hermit, Arianrhod as The Wheel of Fortune, Ishtar as Strength, Kali as Death, Lilith as The Devil, Morrigan as The Tower and Gaia as The World. As far as the Minor Arcana are concerned , the best assignments seem to be Psyche (Two of Chalices), Leto (Five of Chalices), Maya (Seven of Chalices), Calypso (Eight of Chalices), Hestia (Ten of Chalices), Yemanya (Queen of Chalices), Saraswati (King of Chalices), Sif (Five of Swords), Nehalennia (Six of Swords), Blodeuwedd (Seven of Swords), Fortuna (Ace of Coins), Juno (Queen of Coins) and Lakshmi (King of Coins).

In most cases goddesses are presented in accordance with the cultures they were venerated in and are depicted in archetypical situations and places with typical attributes (with some exceptions which I will present below).

The order and names are taken from a traditional Tarot de Marseilles (Justice as the eighth card and Strength as the eleventh one), authors kept the original names of cards with the exception of The Wheel of Fortune which is renamed simply as The Wheel and The Star (the Pleiades are presented on the card so the name takes plural The Stars).

DISADVANTAGES

I mentioned the cards which seem to be well assigned to the original Tarot meaning but there are also some to which I have some serious objections. Starting with the Major Arcana, I do not think that Demeter, the goddess of earth and vegetation, should represent the card of The Mage who is linked to the element of fire. I believe that much better choice for this arcane would be Brigid who appears in this deck as King of Wands. I do not understand at all the assignment of Kuan Yin to the card of Queen of Wands, firstly because she does not fit the original meaning of Tarot card and secondly because I associate her with the element of water rather than with fire typical for Wands. Studying the legends about her, you will indeed find the description of fire as it is seen on the picture but it is just a piece of plot and it does not characterise the heroine. I absolutely do not perceive Kuan Yin as Queen of Wands, in reality she seems to be her complete opposite smirk2. I would rather match Freyja to this card, especially that she is not present in this deck at all. I do not really understand the reasons why Flora was assigned to a swift like an arrow whizzing in the air Eight of Wands (particularly that she encourages: Lie down with me on this soft grassy carpet and close your eyes in the deck’s booklet), I’d rather see Iris here, however she is Knight of Wands in this deck. I would connect Oya not with the card of Knave of Wands but with Knight of Swords as she is traditionally linked to the element of air, storms and expressing oneself i.e the domain of Swords. I do not really understand what is Inanna, Queen of Heaven, doing on quintessentially earthly Four of Coins.

You also have to face the basic problem whether a goddess really is a goddess zeby. What to do with the figures who are not clearly defined in stories as women? Is it really worth to risk including them in the deck? I can understand attributing Lan Tsai Ho (Lan Caihe), one of Eight Immortals, whose gender is not determined, to the arcane of The Fool, this choice can be explained by the original meaning of this card (ambiguity, lack of focus, numerous different possibilities, something which may lead to many options). However, in the case of Akycha (Seven of Wands) it is doubtful because according to the sources I accessed, Akycha is male. Ten of Wands shows a very interesting motif of Caeneus/Caenis whose myth seems consistent with the original meaning of this arcane, however if we followed this way of thinking, Tiresias could equally be included in this deck.

Unfortunately, unlike Maria Caratti I am not amazed by the illustrations made by Antonella Platano. I do not like this cartoon and comic like style. As far as I know, opinions about Lo Scarabeo’s artwork vary, there are certainly a lot of fans but there is also a large number of opponents. I always repeat after Romans, de gustibus non disputandum, however I have got the right to disagree with the way of depicting goddesses. They are mostly presented in a manner adequate to their eras and civilisations, but in some cases their clothing differs radically, the most obvious examples are Pandora (Four of Chalices), Nehalennia (Six of Swords), Rhiannon (Knight of Swords) and Aine (Knight of Coins).

pandora

nehalennia1

Rhiannon in Universal Goddess Tarot deck by Maria Caratti&Antonella Platano

aine

Honestly speaking, I do not know whether it is a deliberate action or just a mistake (however after doing so much research, it seems to be rather unlikely). Perhaps I am a traditionalist in this particular area but I simply do not accept such attitude. When I watch the cards of goddesses or historical series, I do want to see the clothing from that particular era and civilisation, not a fashion show à la goddesses or catwalk clothes “inspired by” a certain dynasty. I only accept a deliberate modernisation of archetypes as it happened in case of Cordelia Brabbs’ deck.

ISSUE

78 cards + 2 additional ones, a title card and the one with other Lo Scarabeo decks enlisted

a booklet in English, Italian, Spanish, French and German, it contains introduction by both authors, short messages from goddesses on each card and a spread called The Temple

a box

universal goddess tarot

A booklet added to the cards contains a short presentation of each goddess and her first person message consistent with the original meaning of the Tarot arcana.

The size of cards is  12 x 6,5 cm

Back sides of cards show double female profile joint by a hexagram inscribed in a Wiccan symbol.

EXAMPLE CARDS

Athena as The Emperor

Athena in Universal Goddess Tarot by Maria Caratti&Antonella Platano

Brigid as King of Wands

Brigid as King of Staves in the Universal Goddess Tarot deck

Demeter as Mage

Demeter in Universal Goddess Tarot by Maria Caratti&Antonella Platano

Isis as The High Priestess

Izyda – Hathor w Universal Goddess Tarot Marii Caratti&Antonelli Platano

Lakshmi as King of Coins

Lakszmi w Universal Goddess Tarot Marii Caratti&Antonelli Platano

Seven of Wands

seven of wands

Nine of Chalices

nine of chalices

Five of Swords

sif1

Seven of Coins

seven of pentacles

Back side

2

©2006 Copyright Lo Scarabeo

Publisher:  Lo Scarabeo

ISBN: 888395523-4

MAJOR ARCANA

 0. THE FOOL – Lan Tsai Ho
1. THE MAGICIAN – Demeter
2. THE HIGH PRIESTESS – Isis
3. THE EMPRESS – Astarte
4. THE EMPEROR – Athena
5. THE HIEROPHANT – Aditi
6. THE LOVERS – Venus
7. THE CHARIOT – Eos
8. JUSTICE – Maat
9. THE HERMIT – Hekate
10. THE WHEEL – Arianrhod
11. STRENGTH – Ishtar
12. THE HANGED MAN – Frigg
13. DEATH – Kali
14. TEMPERANCE – Anahita
15. THE DEVIL – Lilith
16. THE TOWER – Morrigan
17. THE STARS – the Pleiades
18. THE MOON – Selene
19. THE SUN – Amaterasu
20. JUDGEMENT – Cerridwen
21. THE WORLD – Gaia

MINOR ARCANA

WANDS

Ace – Bast
2 – Ataentsic
3 – the Horae
4 – White She Buffalo
5 – Pele
6 – Andraste
7 – Akycha
8 – Flora
9 – Angerona
10 – Caeneus/Caenis
Knave – Oya 
Knight – Iris
Queen – Kuan Yin
King – Brigid

CHALICES

Ace  –  Habondia
2 – Psyche
3 – the Graces
4 – Pandora
5 – Leto
6 – Hina
7 – Maya
8 – Calypso
9 – Nike
10 – Hestia
Knave – Hebe
Knight – Epona
Queen – Yemaya
King– Saraswati

SWORDS

Ace – Bellona
2 – Fides
3 – the Norns
4 – Ch’ang O
5 – Sif
6 – Nehalennia
7 – Blodeuwedd
8 – Persephona
9 – Ate
10 – Sakuntala
Knave –  Diana
Knight– Rhiannon
Queen – Tara
King– Coatlicue

COINS

Ace  –  Fortuna
2 – Hemera and Nyx
3 – the Esperides
4 – Inanna
5 – Hel
6 – Acca Larentia
7 – Estsanatlehi (Changing Woman)
8 – Nu Kua
9 – Rosmerta
10 – Ben Saiten
  Knave – Fulla
  Knight – Aine
  Queen – Juno
King – Lakshmi

REVIEW: THE GODDESS ORACLE BY AMY SOPHIA MARASHINSKY AND HRANA JANTO

THE GODDESS ORACLE

by Amy Sophia Marashinsky&Hrana Janto

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

AMY SOPHIA MARASHINSKY is a writer, director, theatre producer and spiritual counseller who began her interest in mythology&fairy tales when she was just ten. Her other books and oracle card decks include Mermaid Magic and Oracle of the Grail Code: Restauration of the Feminine.  She has worked in New York, Japan and she currently resides in Western, MA, US.

Find out more about her on her website: http://www.amysophia.com

HRANA JANTO is an artist oriented at fantasy, history and mythology. She has provided images for television, book covers, goddess calendars, magazines and has exibited her work throughout the United States; she also paints portraits and do private commissions. She lives in New York.

Find out more about her on her website: http://www.hranajanto.com

ADVANTAGES

The choice of goddesses to this deck is definitely very good, you will find here not only European and Asian deities but also the African and American ones. It also has to be said that the attention is paid to all the cultures so there is no overrepresentation of any in particular (in other decks I have noticed domination of Celtic or Egyptian goddesses). It was also a good idea to include goddesses which may seem ‘exotic’ to an average user; in the deck you will come across not only Isis, Athena, Freyja or Lakshmi, but also Gyhldeptis, Pachamama, Sheila Na Gig or Vila. Authors ‘have done the homework’ in the field of psychology, psychoanalisys and modern interpretations of ancient myths which can be clearly seen in the choice of some cards such as Baba Yaga (who is considered to be Goddess Mother by my favourite Dr Clarissa Pinkola Estés, she claims that when Christian beliefs were introduced Baba Yaga was condemned as a dangerous witch and pushed away into the subconsciousnes) or Eurynome (who is de facto the main heroine of the Pelasgian creation myth quoted in the Greek Myths by Robert Graves). I also find it very correct that ONLY REAL GODDESSES are included in this deck and authors did not attach such cards as the one of Mary.

Another advantage is the book added to the set which indeed faciliates working with cards. It can be noticed at the first glance because it is much bigger than standard booklets added to similar decks. The content is a real encouragement to do self-work, ask yourself questions and make some effort. It is not a typical  ‘comforting deck’ just as many other oracle cards. I do not always agree with the author but I support her focus on psychology and overcoming problems thanks to our own strength. You will also find invocations and ritual to each goddess apart from the myths and divinationary meanings. Another helpful thing is the name of each card (eg. Amaterasu – Beauty, Aphrodite – Love), it helps to connect and memorise them.

Images of deities are consistent with ancient archetypes and heroines are depicted with their typical animals, plants, symbols, objects and themes. I think that the diversity in showing goddesses is surely appreciated by many users of this deck. Deities are presented in a various ways depending on their origins and the features their worshippers attributed to them: they have different skin and hair colours, types of body, age etc.  Authors  are not afraid to present them nude if it is adequate to their nature. I consider it to be a big advantage of this deck because I have seen the ones where nudity is persistently covered. Perhaps it is due to the times we live in and we are between a rock and a hard place: on one hand we are tempted by all the forms of pornography and on the other in our culture&mentality all the matters associated with body, nudity and sex remain a taboo. Sometimes I get this impression that it was easier to show naked body in ancient Hellas than in contemporary America where it is an offense to morality for a woman to show a breast (even if it is only to feed her child). I think it is also visible in the self censorship which art imposes on itself so I appreciate the authors of The Goddess Oracle even more for not following this hysteria.

DISADVANTAGES

Seeking for disadvantages I came to conclusion that some goddesses seem to be doubled when it comes to meaning such as eg. Yemanya and Oshun or Bast and Sekhmet. Personally I find the size of cards to be the greatest disadvantage; they are really big and thus difficult to shuffle. It would be much more comfortable to have them in smaller or even mini format.

ISSUE

52 cards

a book containing introduction and information how to use the cards plus some example spreads

a box

set

In a book each card is presented in the following way:

– name of a goddess 

– name of a card

– a first person narrated poem representing the goddess

– mythological background

– divination meaning mainly containing qustions for self work

– ritual suggestion

The size of cards is 9,5 x 13 cm

Back sides of cards show Sybil, the legendary Roman clairvoyant who offered her chronicles to the rulers to reveal the future of the city

EXAMPLE CARDS

Athena (as Minerva)

Athena in The Goddess Oracle deck by Hrana Janto&Amy Sophia Marashinsky

Brigid

Brigid in The Goddess Oracle deck by Hrana Janto&Amy Sophia Marashinsky

Demeter

Demeter in The Goddess Oracle by Hrana Janto&Amy Sophia Marashinsky

Isis

Isis in The Goddess Oracle by Hrana Janto&Amy Sophia Marashinsky

Lakshmi

Lakshmi in The Goddess Oracle by Amy Sophia Marashinsky&Hrana Janto

Back side

sybil

The Goddesses Oracle © 2006 U.S. Games Systems, Inc.

Publisher: U.S. Games Systems, Inc.

ISBN: 1 – 57281 – 546 – 9

Amaterasu
Aphrodite
Artemis
Baba Yaga
Bast
Blodeuwedd
Brigid
Cerridwen
Changing Woman
Coatlicue
Corn Woman
Demeter
Durga
Eostre
The Erinyes
Eurynome
Freyja
Gyhldeptis
Hathor
Hecate
Hestia
Inanna
Isis
Ix Chel
Kali
Kuan Yin
Lady of Beasts
Lakshmi
Lilith
Maat
Maeve
Maya
Minerva
Morgan le Faye
Nu Kua
Nut
Oshun
Oya
Pachamama
Pele
Rhiannon
Sedna
Sekhmet
Shakti
Sheila Na Gig
Sophia
Sphinx
Sulis
Tara
Uzume
Vila
Yemaya

SOPHIA (CHOKMAH/SHEKHINAH)

SOPHIA

God’s wisdom and the co-creatrix of the world considered by many Christian philosophers and artists to be a female manifestation of God appearing to the humankind and Holy Spirit,the third person of Trinity. Sophia means Wisdom in Greek.

ABOUT GODDESS

The concept of Sophia i.e. Wisdom has already been known in the times of antiquity, Pitagoras, Socrates and Plato perceived philosophy literary as philo (‘love for’) – sophia (‘wisdom’). According to Plato, Wisdom was one of four cardinal virtues (as Prudence) therefore it was believed that the philosophers should rule the Utopian country because such rulers would admire prudence. The love for wisdom itself was also shown in the behaviour of Socrates when he said I know that I know nothing. Contrary to what may seem, such statement opens the mind for Wisdom because this makes it resemble an empty jar which can be filled with knowledge; it is also a contrast to the attitude of Sophists who claimed they were able to teach wisdom, for an appropriate price of course. Later the Hellenistic philosophers merged the concept of Sophia with Logos (‘Word’), this idea was then adopted by the author of the Gospel of John (introduction: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God) and it is resulted in perceiving Jesus as the Word of the Father.

Sophia has a special status in monotheistic religions. Wisdom is called Chokmah/Hokmah in a Jewish tradition and she is the subject of many books of the Old Testament (Proverbs, Song of Songs, Psalms, Ecclesiastes, Book of Wisdom, Wisdom of Sirach). The part which is crucial for the interpretation of Divine Wisdom is the quote from Proverbs when Wisdom speaks about herself

The Lord brought me forth as the first of his works,
before his deeds of old;

I was formed long ages ago,
at the very beginning, when the world came to be (…)

I was filled with delight day after day,
rejoicing always in his presence,

rejoicing in his whole world
and delighting in mankind.

(NIV Bible, Proverbs 8:22).

This fragment is widely discussed, some claim that it the basis to assume that Chokmah is a divine person while others believe that it is only a symbolic representation. Honestly speaking  I am not surprised at all by the latter attitude because the female element is usually treated in a symbolic way in monotheistic religions . The description of creating the first human is an additional reason to believe in a personal, not symbolic interpretation of Chokhmah

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness”

  (NIV Bible, Genesis 1:26).

If God was all alone, he would probably have said ‘my’, not ‘our’. And from limited but still logical human point of view the personal interpretation seems to be justified, in the end you need both male and female energy for the act of creation.

Those interested in the Kabballah are aware of the fact that  Chokmah is the name of the Tree of Life’s sephirot, which together with Binah is the closest to the sephirot Kether (it must be said however that Chokmah represents male energy there). The word Shekhinah meaning God’s Presence on Earth (e.g. in the Temple of Jerusalem, in the burning bush when God appears to Moses, in the inspiration of the prophets and King David when he creates psalms) is feminine which allows some researchers to identify her as Chokmah basing on what she speaks about herself, I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence, rejoicing in his whole world and delighting in mankind (NIV Bible, Proverbs 8:22).

According to the Jewish law Shekhinah is where at least seven pious Jews gather. In Kaballah Shekhinah is also called Matronit and in some religious songs she is identified as the Bride from Song of Songs. According to the Jewish tradition Shekhinah is the essence of womanhood with whom every man contacts through his wife.  Kabballah teaches that every pious Jew has two partners, one on Earth and the other in Heavens; the mystery of matrimony reflects in the fact that mating with his earthly companion he becomes close to the heavenly one in a natural way because the one on Earth represents the one in Heavens. There are also different interpretations of the name Ruach Ha Kodesh which is used to describe God in Psalms 51:11 and in the Book of Isahiah meaning ‘the Divine spark, the Divine inspiration, insight, breath, wind, invisible moving force’ (‘ruach’ is also feminine).

In Christianity Divine Wisdom is also one of the most important themes as it appears in gospels and apostolic letters. She is particularly worshipped in the Eastern Christianity where she is identified as Divine Word (Logos) which was incarnated into Christ. In the Orthodox liturgy the priest is introducing the reading of the Bible with the word Sophia! to make everyone pay attention. The best example of the big respect shown to Divine Wisdom is certainly basilica Hagia Sophia (which had been built in Christian Constantinople, later it was turned into a mosque and it is a museum now).

 

Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia

However in the Western Christianity there were also people who had a special reverence to Sophia. These were among others  Hildegard of Bingen (below you will find her picture of Sophia), Jakob Böhme , 16th century visionaire whose philosophy strongly influenced other thinkers or Jane Leade, 17th century English mystic who was describing her visions and dialogues with Sophia (similarly to Vladimir Solovyov who will be presented later).

It may seem natural for Christianity to follow the Jewish tradition of Chokmah and Shekhinah and to attribute the feminine features to the Holy Ghost. Indeed the representation of the Holy Trinity as Father, Son&Sophia remained in the church in Urschalling in Upper Bavaria

However, when the Old and New Testament were translated into Greek, the Holy Ghost was described with the word pneuma (literary ‘breath’, it is neuter) and in Latin the form Spiritus Sancti was used (it is a second declension so the gender is definitely masculine). The Holy Ghost was therefore presented either as a man (below you will find a famous icon Trinity by Andrei Rublev, all the three divine persons are young men) or as a dove.

It should be mentioned that doves have always been connected to womanhood (below the picture of Aphrodite from the deck by Hrana Janto).

Nevertheless if you asked an average Christian what does the Holy Trinity look like, the answer would probably be, An old man, a young man and a bird .

It was Gnosticism, the religious and philosophical movement popular in the East of the Roman Empire in the first and the second century, which developed the concept of Sofia. The Gnostics were inspired by many beliefs and religious systems such as Judaism, Christianity, Zoroaster and Hellenic and Roman philosophers. Its main assumption was the belief that the material world in which we live is imperfect and gnosis (cognition) is the only way to liberate oneself from its limits. It is difficult to analyse it nowadays because not many materials remained and particular Gnostic currents differed from one another but there are some common points for all of them:

1. Sophia is a female emanation from the very beginnings (which connects her to SigeSilence Before Creation). It is in Pleroma (Fullness, Oneness) with other  emanations (aeons). It is associated with the Divine Wisdom known from the Jewish stories which was co-creating the world, although in the Gnostic version it happened in quite an untoward manner. Sophia is an emanation of God and represents his female aspect who extracted herself spontaneously from the unnamed highest creature, the primary aeon (Jah/Bythos) as his „reflection”, mental power and wisdom. She is his lowest and furthest emanation together with Christ (aeons are paired, male and female ones exist together).

2. She experiences the first cognition, Sophia becomes pregnant all by herself, without the participation of God, and brings Demiurge (also called Archon or Yaltabaoth – ‘Child of Chaos’) to the Universe (quoting The Secret Book of John from the Nag Hammadi archives, And an imperfect product appeared from her, and it was different from her pattern because she created it without her partner. And it was not patterned after the likeness of its Mother, for it had a different form. When she saw (the product of) her will, it was dif­ferent, a model of a lion-faced serpent. His eyes were like flashing fires of lightning. She cast him out from her, outside of those places so that none among the immortals might see him, for she had cre­ated him in ignorance).

Demiurge organises the material world which is not perfect because it lacks a spiritual element. He is not aware of God’s existence therefore he considers himself to be God and together with seven Archons (‘Rulers, Watchers’) keeps the mankind in the veil of illusion thus breaking the primary divine oneness. There are different reasons given to explain why Sophia becomes pregnant, it is either the will of disconnecting from God or haughtiness  or an uncontrolled need of creating or madness.

3. Through disconnecting from the divine oneness it is also Sophia who has to exist in two forms: Sofia Ennoia i.e. the High Sofia, Neverending One, The Power of the Thoughts as well as the Low Sofia called the Small Sophia or Sophia of Death. In this way Sophia combines two elements: the divine and the human one.

4. After the creation of the material world, Sophia gets stuck there and God feeling compassion for her, sends Christ to help her. Thanks to him, Sophia gets rid of low motives and comes back to the Oneness with Divinity (in another version it remains in the material world for the sake of the humankind whom she loves). Christ comes to Earth to teach people how to recognise wisdom so that they could participate in Pleroma, too.

In 19th century a movement based on the Gnostic tradition called sophiology was born in Russia. Sophiology is a belief in the metaphysical cognition of the Absolute through the contemplation of Sophia as his emanation. The Russian movement was started by Vladimir Solovyov, a thinker and esoteric whose doctrine was called ‘a mystic intuition of Sophia’. According to what he said himself he had experienced three meetings with Sophia which enlightened him; his first vision occurred when he was nine and during the service he saw a female image of God. When he grew up and this image kept appearing in his dreams, he decided to take up theological studies. He was particularly impressed by the texts of Jakob Böhme and Emanuel Swedenborg, he also got interested in Kabballah and then Sophia reappeared to him and ordered to go to Egypt to continue his study about her. Probably because of that Sophia had some aspects of Isis: the vision was accompanied by the scent of roses, goddess’ flowers,  besides it was Egypt where the cult of Isis began to transform into the belief in Sophia identified as Mary and all the doctrines assuming the faith in the female aspect of God’s Wisdom such as Hermetism, Gnosis and alchemy also originated from Egypt. Sophia’s message to Solovyov and other people was that the world is changing through love and human choices which allow to return to the divine Oneness.

Solovyov paid attention that regardless of a language her name is always feminine: in Hebrew it is ‘Chokmah’ (Wisdom, Knowledge), in Greek and Russian – ‘Sophia’ (Wisdom), in Hindi ‘Maya’ (Idea, female image of divinity), in Latin ‘Sapientia’ (Wisdom). He also claimed that throughout the Jewish and Christian tradition she has never been a separate deity but a female emanation of God. He perceived Sophia through the Gnostic and Kabballistic tradition as both Chokhmah and Shekhinah (a female beginning in God). The messages conveyed by his automatic writing survived  and among them there was one with the notice An-Soph, Jah, Soph-Jah wchich can be translated as An Soph – ‘Hidden God of Kabballah’, Soph – ‘End’, Jah – ‘Unnamed God’. The whole notice means that Sophia is  ‘the end of God’, a link between God and human kind, a mediator between energy and matter (which corresponds to the Gnostic tradition of Sophia as the aeon closest to Earth). Solovyov also maintained the Jewish belief that a female aspect of God is reflected in the beloved woman on Earth and love allows to see his visible image in the material world. He was following the philosophy of Jakob Böhme about death being the disintegration which began when the sexes of a primary androgenic creature were divided. He also assumed that a human who comes back to Oneness can become immortal therefore a harmonious relationship based on higher feelings can lead to the eternal life.

It is interesting to notice that in the 19th century Solovyov had only been capable to study Gnosticism from the texts of its opponents such as St.Irenaeus, Origen, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria or Hippolytus of Rome because a great number of Gnostic works was not discovered until the forties of last century when the archives of libraries in Nag Hammadi and Qumran were discovered. And yet despite Solovyov’s unacquaintance of these essential texts, his sophiological concepts are surprisingly consistent with the main assumptions of Gnocistism.

Solovyov has created very personal and sensual poems to Sophia which somehow resembled the relation between a priest and his goddess. He was calling her Eternal Friend, Queen, Goddess, Mystical Bride, Nature of the Universe, Most Beautiful Lady, Heavenly Maiden, Maiden of the Rainbow Gate, Dawn (Aurora), Ewig Weibliche, Boehme, etc. Sophia has many names in his works because she is divine therefore she can be anything. Solovyov has showed a special appreciation to love making because it is a chemical bond of two creatures thus it leads to the oneness. Even maternal love cannot be compared to it because it is always accompanied by the mother’s loss of individuality. This is why building good relationships with other people especially with women was for him the best expression of worship Sophia as woman had an exceptional position in sophiology.

Solovyov has immediately found many followers even though revelation is an individual and very intimate experience. Among those who shared his belief in Sophia were his brother Mikhail and nephew Sergey Solovyov, Alexander Blok, Boris Bugaev (Andrei Bely), also Pavel Florienski, Nikolai Berdyaev and most of all Sergey Bulgakov who perceived Sophia not as a part of Trinity but a being co-existing with the Trinity, equally powerful and acting as a female force apart from male Trinity (which was considered to be a heresy). Why was sophiology so popular in Russia? A possible explanation is that unlike Western Europe this country has not gone through the Age of Reason with its cult of logics and rational perception while the Orthodox Christianity retained some aspects of old religions with its visions of a cosmic order which resulted in mysticism and following spiritual leaders. Moreover, if you take a closer look at the Western culture, art and literature in the second part of the 19th century, you will find an image of a femme fatale as a main representation of womanhood (the motif of Salome with the head of John the Baptist was particularly popular). Such attitude was probably caused by progressive emancipation of women and men’s fear of losing their position. Meanwhile in Russia the trend was totally different. Some kind of mental revolution occurred in the middle of 19th century which promoted the image of woman being an intellectual partner for a man as the ideal image of a woman. This is why the well – born maidens were educated and encouraged to develop themselves, of course it was only possible in those families who were able to afford it.

IMAGES, SYMBOLS AND ANIMALS

In Hellenic culture Sophia was rather a philosophical concept but sometimes her personifications have been made (here is her allegoric figure from the Library of Celsus in Ephesus).

It was similar with Shekhinah as the Israeli were forbidden to represent God through sculptures or pictures thus there are no figures nor other images of Wisdom neither.

As it has already been mentioned the most popular symbol representing Sophia in the Western Christianity is a dove while in the Eastern one the sophiological iconography is well developed.

Sophia’s symbol in the Christian culture is also a circle of seven pillars of knowledge (Proverbs again: Wisdom has built her house; she has set up its seven pillars. Proverbs 9:1)

There is also a certain riddle concerning The Creation of Adam fresco by Michelangelo. Here it is if you don’t remember the details

Have a closer look at the person with blond hair, distinct eyes and slender silhouette who is embracing the Creator and differs from other cherubs.

The identity of this person was discussed; some believe that because of her female beauty this may be the figure of Eve waiting to be created, however if you look at the other parts of the fresco you will find Eve painted in a completely different manner

So who can that be? At least a couple of researchers believe it is Sophia herself.

According to Proverbs, I was formed long ages ago, at the very beginning, when the world came to be (…) Then I was constantly at his side. I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence, rejoicing in his whole world and delighting in mankind, which implies that Sophia must have been present at the creation of the first human (additionally look at Genesis 1:26, Then God said, “Let US make mankind in OUR image, in our likeness”).

It makes sense for me 🙂

I also highly recommend the article by Miguel Conner from Aeon Byte Gnostic Radio about Sophia and her connections to pagan myths.

DIVINATION MEANING

Person

This card represents someone who is wise, not only intelligent. Unlike the card of Athena which concentrates on facts and cold logic the card of Sophia pays attention more to an inner wisdom gathered by observations and not necessarily based on the bookish knowledge. In my personal understanding the card of Athena means studying Science while the one of Sophia talks about Humanities and Foreign Languages). This knowledge is based on love and understanding for others regardless of age, education or race. The person shown by this card is open and forgiving and in negative superficial, unable to predict the consequences of their acting and conceited.

Professions:  a scientist, a lecturer, a teacher (rather on university level than on primary school), an inventor, a person using the intellect and language in their work, a mediator and any kind of intermediary.

ADVICE

Your thoughts create your reality, filter those which may harm you.

Look deeper. Observe without judging. In the situation you are inquiring about you may be expected to behave on a higher level than others. Trust your own wisdom, no those who surround you. Know when it is good to speak and when it is better not to. Do not be discouraged by difficult beginnings, help will come.

This card confirms that your way of perceiving the world is correct. You may feel like being caged in structures, superstitions and superficiality. You may feel lonely and underestimated. Loneliness is often the price of wisdom but remember that wisdom itself has not got a high value if it is not shared.  Others may learn from you and you from them.

Find inspiration.

Education. Understanding. Enlightenment. Time to think. Communication. Mediation.

Love

If you are in the relationship: this card often signifies the beginnings of a relationship, time of joy and playing but accompanied by other cards it also suggests the need of strengthening the bond and behaving in a more careful way. Your partner’s mistake comes from their ignorance, not malice.

If you are single: your loneliness may be caused by the fact that you have not become mature enough for a stable relationship.

Finances

In the situation you are inuring about you may need to consult a specialist or a intermediary. Beginnings of a new project which is very probable to be successful despite initial problems. Do not focus only on profit, look from a wider perspective.

Health

Beware of psychosomatic illnesses and those resulting from stress. Migraines. Insomnia. Possible miscarriage or premature delivery. Endangered parts of the body: psyche rather than a particular part of the body.

CARDS

My favourite image of Sophia and the favourite card of all the possible decks is the one from Goddesses of the New Light by Pamela Matthews (referring to Gnostic philosophy)

The image of Sophia in Goddess Inspiration Oracle by Kris Waldherr resembles the style of Orthodox icons which undoubtedly makes sense if you take into account the respect shown to Sophia by Eastern Christianity

Sophia in The Goddess Oracle by Hrana Janto&Amy Sophia Marashinsky is presented as being pregnant (again in accordance with a Gnostic tradition), she is holding a chalice of wisdom in her hands and is accompanied by a dove (a Western Christian tradition), you can also see the halo of Shekhinah above her head (a Jewish tradition)

Sophia in Goddess Card Pack by Juni Parkhurst has the face of Black Madonna and roses attributed to both Isis and Mary

Sophia in The Goddess Oracle Deck by Thalia Took, I have an impression that this deep look of her eyes somehow refers to the fresco by Michelangelo which was discussed above

Sophia in Goddess: A New Guide to Feminine Wisdom by River Huston&Patricia Languedoc (as Chokmah)

Sophia in Goddess: A New Guide to Feminine Wisdom by River Huston&Patricia Languedoc

Based on:

Rzeczycka Monika, Fenomen Sofii-Wiecznej Kobiecości w prozie powieściowej symbolistów rosyjskich (Andrieja Biełego, Fiodora Sołoguba, Walerija Briusowa), Gdańsk 2002, Divine Sophia: the Wisdom Writings of Vladimir Solovyov by Vladimir Sergeyevich Solovyov, Judith Deutsch Kornblatt (available here), The Christian Goddess: Archetype and Theology in the Fantasies of George MacDonald Bonnie Gaarden (available here), http://youtu.be/Azrh3IwLFTM, http://www.jstor.org/pss/3045958, http://www.jstor.org/pss/1483492, http://www.oocities.org/athens/agora/6776/break1.htm , http://northernway.org/presentations/godwife/33.html , http://northernway.org/presentations/godwife/38.html ,http://www.gnosis.org/naghamm/apocjn-long.html and English Wikipedia. All the quotes from the Bible come from http://www.biblegateway.com (NIV)

And because that was the most complex and the most extensive post I have ever written about any goddess then let me reward myself with an appropriate music which may suit you too

Therion The Perennial Sophia

And one more, very different but also equally moving:

Victoria Williams Holy Spirit

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