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The Anima Mundi - The Soul of the World

God redeems humanity, but nature needs to be redeemed by human alchemists, who are able to induce the process of transformation, which alone is capable of liberating the light imprisoned in physical creation.



The world is a living spiritual being. This was understood by the ancient philosophers and the alchemists who referred to the spiritual essence of the world as the anima mundi, the “Soul of the World.” They regarded the World Soul as a pure ethereal spirit diffused throughout all nature, the divine essence that embraces and energizes all life in the universe.

Throughout history our understanding of the world as a living being with a spiritual essence has dramatically changed. Plato understood that “the cosmos is a single Living Creature which contains all living creatures within it. While this tradition was carried on by the Gnostics and later the alchemists, the Church fathers imaged a world that was neither divine nor sacred. A transcendent divinity was the source of all creation, and humanity lived in exile from heaven in a state of sin. This doctrine created a split between matter and spirit, causing the world to be seen as separate from its creator.

The understanding of the world as sacred resurfaced from time to time over the next centuries. In the Gothic revival of the twelfth century, and later in the Renaissance, the created world was briefly seen through the image of the World Soul. In their cathedrals the Gothic architects reflected their vision of a sacred order within creation that belongs to this feminine divine principle. The World Soul animated and formed nature according to divine proportions, which the architects, masons, sculptors, and stained glass artists imaged in their creations. We need the magical powers within nature in order to heal and transform our world. But awakening these powers would mean that our patriarchal institutions will lose their control, as once again the mysterious inner world will come into play, releasing forces once understood and used by the priestess and shaman, whose existence the patriarchal world has forgotten. The science of the future will work with these forces, exploring how the different worlds interrelate, including how the energies of the inner can be used in the outer. The shaman and the scientist will work together, the wisdom of the priestess and wisdom of the physician renew their ancient connection.

But the first step is to awaken these powers, not just individually but for the whole world. We are moving into a global era, and any real changes need to be made globally. If we try to grasp powers for our own individual use, we risk descending into black magic, which is the use of inner powers for the purposes of the ego. Our next step in evolution is to realize the primal truth of oneness and to reunite our individual light with the whole.

The work pioneered by Jung has given us access to the science of alchemy, revealing this hidden part of our Western esoteric tradition. Psychological techniques have been developed to help reveal an inner world of energy, power, and creative potential. We no longer need to stay locked in the surface world. But our tendency has been to take this access for our individual selves, our own inner journey, and not realize its larger implications. Real alchemical work was always for the sake of the whole. In our inner journey, our own alchemical process, to work for the sake of the whole means to acknowledge the dimension of the anima mundi. ״The light we discover in our own depths is a spark of the World Soul, and the world needs this light in order to evolve.״ When we make this connection in our consciousness and our imagination, we begin to change the fabric of life. The alchemists knew the potency of this spark, this philosophical mercury. The same substance that transforms our individual self is the primordial world-creating spirit, the “universal and scintillating fire in the light of nature, which carries the heavenly spirit with it.” When we liberate it within ourselves but do not claim it just for ourselves, solely for our own inner process, we create certain connections through which this energy can flow into the core of life. We participate in the alchemical work of liberating the anima mundi. This is the first step in the work. What does it really mean, to liberate the anima mundi? In our individual alchemical opus we experience the effects of freeing the light, energy, and creative potential that lie within us. We know how this liberation can radically change our vision and experience of life. We are taken into a different dimension of our self, and life begins to magically open doors that before were closed or hidden. Of course these changes are not always what we may want—they do not fulfill our surface desires, but they have a deeper meaning and purpose. Something within us awakens and the life of the spirit begins. The info in this article was partly taken from Anima Mundi: Awakening the Soul of the World by Llwewllyn Vaughan-Lee / Sufi Journal

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